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A group of Winnipeg teenagers just got back from Los Angeles and what they saw was eye-opening.

Riverwood Church sent out six leaders and 13 students to the LA Dream Center last week, to serve in whatever capacity was needed.

"Each day we showed up and came with humility to serve," the youth pastor, Mark Roslund, said.

The LA Dream Center gives away a million pounds of food a month, according to Roslund. They also have foster care programs, and discipleship opportunities for recovering addicts, among other things.

The team had the chance to do many things, but Roslund said their favorite was the food truck. The group would take the food truck, load it up with food, then drive it out to a site and hand it out.

The main area they went to was Skid Row, which Roslund described as a 50-block area with permanent homeless residents.

"People would start lining up before we got there because they knew we were coming," Roslund commented. "At the end of the line, there would be a group of students and leaders that prayed for them."

Roslund said the amount and depth of poverty was more than any of them could have imagined.

"That was eye opening for our entire group," he said. "To see that this is happening on such a large scale here was mind blowing."

Christina Duerksen, one of the youth on the trip, agreed.

"It was crazy to see how little of LA was like the Hollywood part," Duerksen said. She mentioned that was the impression she had about all of Los Angeles before she got there.

One of the moments that stands out to her was a woman they met while handing out food in Skid Row.

"A [homeless] woman starting preaching to us, when we were supposed to be preaching to her," Duerksen said. "That was really inspiring."

That's a moment another youth, Joshua Fernandez, said stood out to him as well.

"Knowing that there were people like her in the streets, that we couldn't be there 24/7, but she could, it brought joy to my heart," Fernandez said.

Both Duerksen and Fernandez said they are hoping to bring back a desire to help those in Winnipeg and engage with those on the fringes.

"What I've taken back is getting out of my comfort zone," Fernandez said. "Pray for other people and help them out."

Roslund said it really impacted the youth and they got back with a new desire to help.

"By Wednesday, they wanted to get out and do the same things they did out there," Roslund said.

Next week, the group will be handing out burgers and water to those who are experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg, as they look to bring their Los Angeles experience back to Manitoba.

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