I want to help you

Well this whole rant came out this morning but it’s so relieving to share - my heart is to help you practically - although I share a lot about my faith please understand that my heart is genuinely to practically help you, not to sell you on any religion. If you don’t have anywhere else to look. I’ve been there!

I became a believer at the age of 16 on a missionary trip to the Dominican Republic. Missionary work is a term that gets judged very quickly. Often people jump to the idea that you went to another 3rd world country, lived in the nicest conditions amongst those struggling and did nothing practical to help just tried to force your religion upon them. Although those missionary trips exist I’m sure. I’ve never been a part of an organization that’s done that. I was fortunate that in my early years of going out to do missions, there was a strong emphasis on modeling the behavior and love modeled out in scripture by Jesus. We would live in their environment, we would spend more time listening than talking, more time helping them with building homes for the homeless, feeding the hungry, caring for the orphans, comforting those that have lost loved ones and offering a shoulder to cry on. I’ve always had culture shock during these trips and I’ve always had a difficult time coming back home after witnessing such extreme poverty and struggle. I thought that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and then God started to put people around me in my own life who needed help. Southern California is full of just as much poverty as there is wealth. My family went thru all kinds of poverty when my daughter was born. We had no home, although we were fortunate that our family put us up, we had no money but accumulated ungodly amounts of debt via credit cards, we had no health insurance, I have debts because of that that I will likely be paying off the rest of my life. For those of you who don’t know, Ellie had a ton of health complications when she was born. The simplest problem we faced was that she could not suck. Whats the big deal with that right? How does a child eat who cannot suck? It’s a serious medical condition that some newborns face, a delayed motor skill. We visited all kinds of lactation consultants from the first day she was born and nothing really helped. We visited pediatricians and doctors who basically said if we don’t have money there’s nothing they can do to help. What kind of world do we live in where Doctors can look at your newborn daughter who cannot eat and say its a money problem. The health insurance problem in America is the biggest shame, and the exact opposite of what Christ asked of us. People who make decisions on it have never been where we and millions of Americans have been but that’s a whole other story. My wife came up with the idea that when Ellie was sleeping we would very carefully prop open her mouth and drop bits of breast milk into her mouth and do it very slowly until we would get thru an entire meal. So when she was awake we cared for her and when she slept we cared for her. There’s no greater accomplishment that my wife and I have done than keep our baby alive during those times so that she can be the amazing person she is today at 6, having no memory of that struggle. That’s just a peek into how difficult that time was. At one point we were so desperate we moved to Idaho for a job offer in the produce industry (the industry I worked in previously) that provided health insurance and when we arrived the company cancelled the opportunity before I even started so we were stranded, had to ask for help from family to pay for our way back to CA to live with family and in that process we also racked up a lofty lawsuit from our landlord who was not satisfied with keeping our 2 months rent deposit when we left after only living there for 3 weeks, again witnessed to more opportunistic greed. We lived in a small room and all doors were closed in terms of job opportunities. We weren’t even thinking of jobs all we wanted was the most basic need - health insurance. I went to art center for one reason - they helped us get health insurance. Not many people know that. I had no intention of staying there for 2 years, our plan was one semester, get the help we needed then bail. God literally closed every door except that one so we had no time to find a better solution - we just said lets do it. But that’s how beautiful Gods plan is. That even out of our deepest needs he provides then tops it off with blessing beyond what we deserve and I discovered that for a person who never painted - I loved to paint. Jesus was asked once what the most important commandment was and he had a very simple answer. There are 2! 1. Love God 2. Love Everybody. That’s it and he clarified that every other thing that may be asked of you is covered under those two. He was the first peaceful protestor that I’m aware of and was ultimately killed because Love can be an offensive message. People couldn’t accept that God had sent down his only son to love them, he was either lying or his message was threatening to them. If you’re rich and unwilling to help those in poverty living amongst you then you don’t know God. That’s an offensive message to people who love money more than God or people. My heart breaks when I see where our culture is headed. The selfishness is out of control and I have recently decided that although our lives are out of control busy, I could be doing more. This blog is a long winded way of saying I want to help you. I don’t know how or what I can do practically. I don’t have a lot of money or time but I have a heart for you and would love to be available to you as long as you can be patient with me as sometimes it can take time to get back with people. I’m an artist and understand that struggle goes beyond just building a portfolio. It can often times be an emotional battle you’re fighting and I’d love to offer you my two cents on how to get settled into this industry, how to deal with road blocks and how to not give up. I have been helped by so many people along my journey into this career and I truly truly needed every last one of those pick me ups. More than those people will ever know. So feel free to email me at drewhartelart@gmail.com - All I ask is that you’re patient with me because it can sometimes take a while for me to find the time to give you a genuine response.