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It’s been two-and-a-half years since Nathan graduated from the Mission’s Life Recovery Program, and while he hasn’t traveled far, he continues to make great strides.

Nathan stayed in the program house after his December 2018 graduation, helping out with some operations. He also prepared food for the clients in the life recovery and transitional living programs, drawing on his past as a chef.

Nathan awarded an internship at the Mission, which he completed in June. “With the adversity we live with, coming together with people going through homelessness and other things, it’s important to be, well, ‘bendable,’ so we can all be together and live together,” Nathan said. “They are learning— it’s all about love.”

For the last six months, Nathan has been employed by the High Desert Homeless Services. Nathan has struggled with some health issues, and the heat and stress of working in restaurants wasn’t for him anymore. But at the shelter, he is able to practice his passion without the high-stress environment of a commercial kitchen.

“I get up every morning at 8 and I get home by 4,” he said. “I get to prepare whatever I want to from all the stuff I have. My favorite thing to make is something different, something someone has never tasted. The whole time I’ve been working at the shelter, I’ve made the same thing only two or three times. Whatever comes in, we can cook it, prepare it.

“I really love it. I am able to stay so in touch, and am able to communicate with some of our clients at the shelter. I can communicate the Word of God in the simplest ways: Jesus loves me … and Jesus loves you.”

The joy of being able to serve people in his employment has been more of a benefit for him, Nathan said. “I’ve been able to grow and learn more in the culinary world, enough to teach people. It’s been humbling. There are so many people out there who need this.

“I’m helping feed people. When you don’t have food, you don’t have energy to take the next steps. Healthy people get jobs easier. It’s all connected.”

Nathan lives in the transitional living house now. He has appreciated staying connected to the program over the last couple years. “I’ve had plenty of opportunities to pull roots up, but it just wasn’t the right game plan,” he said. “I spoke with Pastor John (program manager) one day. He was talking about and writing about roots. If I made certain decisions, my roots would get pulled up. I’ve been waiting and being patient in the Lord, for he always gives us strength.

“Now I have a new car—well, it’s new to me—and it’s wonderful and reliable. I have my driver’s license, a stable job, and I have stayed connected to so many people around me. I just trusted God. I stayed in this wonderful floating area, not sinking, not rising.”

Nathan did acknowledge that in the near future, he may have to work harder to stay connected, as he will be living on his own. “There’s going to be a day coming soon where I’ll need to focus more on my job, and staying connected with my church,” he said. “I’m going to miss it here when I leave. It’s a great place.”

The opportunity to take time to grow his relationship with God and get to a stable place has been invaluable, he said.

“I’m so grateful for that. Moving forward, I’m just going to let Jesus guide me like he has the whole way through.

“I didn’t have anything, now I have so much. I’m so thankful for everything: (Mission Director) Bill’s encouraging words, Pastor John’s support. There is always enough food, there are always enough people around here so you have someone to lean on. As far as knowledge, grace—I’m so much stronger than anything I could ever reach for.”

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