Monday, June 28, 2010

from shelby

WOW! I dont even know where to begin. Thank you Kelli SO much for everything you did for us.

Everyday God used to speak to me like intensely either through a person or a situation. When we got stuck in the ice cream shop a man talked to me and Will and I got SO much out of it. He talked about a tortoise and hare in a race and related it to faith. I realized that our faith isn't just all gonna burst out at once and take off cuz then where would you go when you got to the end but it goes slowly and grows and takes time to get to the end to fulfill God's plan for us.

On the el train God gave me the opportunity to actually talk to some one about their religion which I have always been scared to do but it got intense and it just showed me how we are meant to bring life to others with Christ but it is easy to turn people away when we say we are christians but we don't act like it. And for me I would get really bored with the Bible and stuff and so I asked this lady on the train if she was bored with religion and she said no. She said religion was probably one of the most interesting this there is which hit me and really made me think.

One of the most life changing things was the gospel choir, me and three others listened to them all night one night and at the end we got to go up and pray and sing with them! They had SO MUCH passion it was incredible, I wanted that passion so bad and just thinking like that is natural for them its crazy. I love it! God showed me right then that there is NO WAY this should be boring like its all out fun and we should love it and have that crazy passion.

The people and kids in chicago were another testimony. they were so open, like anyone would just walk up to you on the street and just talk to you and tell you their life story and it felt good to have that bond for even just two minutes and just here from another person God made and relate to them. We really gotta be more open here like just tell people how your doin and just love them. And the kids! wow to see their faces having us there and just having that attention and love was amazing. having to leave them was so hard. One 16 year old boy was going along side the van when we left friday and he told us he loved us and just thinking how we were only with them 3 days and how much we impacted them and what God did. That song "your love never fails" I thought about that and its like our love is gunna go away and leave them but God's love never fails and its always gunna be there for them. Its sweet!

The rap concert was crazy fun just seeing people worship like that was sick and just goin all out! Loved that too! And the talks joel gave were SO intense and so much info it was hard to take it all in but it was SO good because I think we all needed something new and getting all that info makes you think so much and find answers and it was just a huge positive.

God really showed me what I want to do in life and it was the first time I actually felt like legit so close with God and a for sure answer of what I should do. like I can't even explain it.

Before this I always said I wanted God but I don't think I did but now dude its like I really do want him like that passions is sweet just thinkin about it all the time and its obviously not even close to perfect. And i'm scared this feeling is gunna go away but I think thats what makes you strive for it all the more. Like God really did change my life and I hope he did for everyone else. And don't let the things we have cover stuff up talk to friends talk to God, go out and do stuff, reach for it and don't go back! Go forwards! Now since I've gotten back its crazy cause I have wanted to talk to everyone I see and go down and talk to the homeless. I wanna go back to chicago really bad. This trip was legit amazing, sweet, all God!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

home and happy but everything looks different.

Welcome home Chicago Team.

What a blessing this last week has been. I was talking with some of you about how we haven't just been on a missions trip but I feel that we have come through something. I have said it many times this week but I am so proud of you all. For the way that you worked, served, reached out to each other and the community. I think even more though, I am so excited about the way you really dove in to the teaching & experiences. You allowed God to break your heart for the things that break his heart but then, in the light of the gospel, you are looking for hope. And - this might sound cheesy but it is absolutely true - you are the hope. Your love for Christ and his people is exactly what he will use to bring hope to our broken world.

Feel free to send me your thoughts and we can keep posting and keep talking. This was not meant to be a week where something happened. This week was a catalyst and we get to go from here.

I love each of you and I know I speak for all the leaders when I say, it has been a sincere pleasure to serve with you!!

Some famous words from our trip:

Heavenly Father - Lord, we need you - in our lives.

Oh yeah!!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday - last day? it all went by so fast.

It is funny how when you are on a trip like this each day feels like 5 days in 1 because you are doing and experiencing so much. On Wednesday we were joking that we have been here for months. Now it is Friday and we are all wondering where the time went.

What a day yesterday. Both the tour and the EL were great experiences for our kids. Stepping out in faith to talk with people, deepening our understanding for this city and it's neighborhoods and racial divide, and having fun.

Last day of work groups. For those groups working with kids this will be a tough day to say goodbye and leave Jesus' mark as best they can, trusting that he will continue to do the good work in both their lives and in the lives of the kids. For the other groups it means completing work and saying goodbye to each other - the bonds have been made on these special teams.

We will switch experiences today and ride the bus or the El. Then we will come 'home', pack and have pizza with the sunshine staff and the other churches that we have been sharing this space with.

We are too large a group for Friday night lights, which at first was a disappointment but the Sunshine staff is taking us to a Christian rap and break dancing contest wtih worship through rap and dance. The kids are PUMPED! Following that we will share and pray and close out this time together before we get on the bus and head home to you.

Last night Joel encouraged them to keep talking, to pay attention, to reach out. To keeping seeking God for all of his people and the roles he has for us in fighting injustice, loving others and being more like Jesus.

Then the church choir invited us to watch a rehearsal. There were dancers and singers and the band was awesome. The drummer was 'sick'! It was so fun to watch our musicians soak in that band and their amazing skills but how they worshipped through playing. The experiences here have been so varied and so rich. I am so excited for tonight to hear all the stories! WOW.

Thank you thank you for praying and encouraging. They have loved your notes. If you have a chance to write today I will come and check once more so I can share it with them.

We are asking God to give us energy for this one more day. To hold off the homesickness and to use us powerfully. Bob is our bus driver. He will be off this afternoon and evening to rest for the drive. Pray for him if you would. And for the people of Sunshine who will be here when we go. Pray that we will have left a positive impression for their ministry and for Jesus.

I wish we could all get together so I could tell you face to face how great your kids are. Paula, Joel's wife, told me this morning that they see a lot of groups but that our kids and leaders are at the top of the list. I think so too!

Thanks for sharing them with us. What a pleasure. We will see you tomorrow! 10am.


A few quick notes from some kids...

We went on the El train yesterday. We rode through all of the stops there and back. One experience was we were sitting and we could see all of the change in the housing and the landscape and people. We were probably the only white people once we got passed the Sox stadium. It was a very cool and different experience.

Last night there was a choir at the church. They were just practicing but it was heaven (shalom). A group of us stayed really late. The choir finished and then they had us come up with them to pray. It was so raw! There was not any shame and it was all God. It was so cool how we came together no matter the race.

One thing God has taught me throughout this trip is to be thankful for the life you live.
Also, this trip has taught me to contribute to others. The day we ate with the homeless was incredible! It felt amazing to help out people in need. It also felt amazing to be helped. The homeless people taught me so many outstanding life lessons, and it was a reality check. I came on this trip hoping to change someone's life and the funny thing is...someone changed mine.

Before I came on this trip, I only thought that God could be worshipped by conventional things, like singing, praying and reading the Bible. Even though these are all ways that we can worship our Father, I have realized that God can be worshipped by painting or listening to a friend. This trip has opened my eyes to so much and I want these new ways of worship to be a part of my life. I have realized, that though I cannot change the world by myself, I can make an impact on others. I feel so blessed to have been on this trip and grow in new relationships. We love you and we'll see you soon!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We can't believe it's Thursday!

The sun is back out!

Wednesday was quite a day. We were certainly tired. We were wrestling with that mid-trip emotional feeling. We were trying to assimilate a lot of new information and difficult challenges into our own experience and make some sense of it. And we felt the spiritual warfare coming down. In the midst of that - your kids served with great attitudes and even more dedication. Kids were leading each other through prayer and sharing. People were opening up and diving in in even deeper ways.

The leaders decided we needed to get out and just have some fun so 'we' had a great plan. We would finish up the afternoon activites quickly, push back dinner and take our kids to the beach for a few hours. They were pumped and we were pumped! We ran into delays, rain and misunderstanding. But, we saw that we can have fun just getting out and being together. We laughed and helped clean up an area outside our church where water had gathered and was flooding a bit. So - we got wet, got to serve and had a great time. His plans are always better.

Last night Joel allowed for a time of question and answer. The kids have been learning a lot about the history of this neighborhood and our country and our world. They have been looking at injustice, race and poverty. About sin and circumstance. I have been so proud of how they have really focused in and are taking this all seriously but it can be difficult to understand and process. Joel did a great job of helping them sort through it. He ended early so we could get some rest. Many of us kept talking and sharing and trying to understand each other and how we identify first as Christians and we can and should filter all of our experiences through that. Amazing stuff! Ask them about it and be prepared to be amazed at their depth of knowledge and new found love for God's people! :)

Last night before bed we had a special treat. A gospel group was rehearsing in the sanctuary of the church that is our home this week. They allowed us to listen in as they rehearsed but they worship through rehearsal and our kids did too. It was so fun and a perfect way to end the night and begin our final days here.

Today they are back at their work sites. This afternoon they will either do a bus tour of the city - super interesting as Joel shares about the history of Chicago and how that ties into what we have been talking about this week. Or they will do the El experience, taking the El through the city and witnessing first hand who lives here with the goal of having spiritual conversations. Tomorrow the groups will switch so everyone will have a chance to do both.

Prayer requests: Praise God everyone is more rested today and we are staying healthy!
Please pray that the kids would continue to ask the tough questions and be open and honest as we discuss them. And pray that we would finish well.

Below are a couple of notes from kids as well.

We love you. They miss you. Thanks for being with us on this journey!


This has been a very eye opening experience. Between spending time with adorable children with tough family lives at sports camp, having lunch and conversation with the homeless, visiting an energetic black church, hearing and dancing to worship by these incredible singers and Joel's stretching talks - there has been so much fun and learning and tears. God has revealed himself in so many ways to us and these past few days have been some of the best moments of my life.

Kitchen duty is the bomb! Every day is a new experience - some days we chop veggies, or make chocolate cake. Every day we head out to other work group locations to drop off goodies and one day we were able to shop at the Restaurant Depot which is three times the size of Costco! Each day my favorite part is talking with Paula (Joel's wife) and my group in the kitchen. We discuss the previous night's session and our feelings on each topic. This trip is impacting the people we meet and also ourselves. I am so blessed to be in Chicago deepening my relationship wtih Christ and Wooddale friends.
Maddie Bloom

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday and rainy!

It is rainy outside and gray and we are feeling a little tired.

Thanks for all the great comments. Can't wait to share them with your kids!

Tuesday was a great day. Long and, well, emotional. Work projects are going great. I will add more pics as soon as I can. The afternoon was our opportunity to share a meal with the homeless community. There were some frustrations mixed with gladness as we struggled at first to find people to share with. Eventually everyone interacted with some of the homeless. Some had long conversations, some just short interactions, some prayed for people and many of our new friends prayed for us. It was humbling, in unique ways for all of them. It was also joyful for many. But no doubt we were left with a sense of sadness for God's people but hope and hearts softened for our Lord. I would describe my experience Tuesday as wonderful and terrible. Wonderful because of the blessings between us all and our new friends and terrible because people shouldn't live that way. Stereotypes are being shattered and love for all of God's people is touching our hearts deeply. Whew.

In the evening Joel continued to challenge our view of the world. Not that we are wrong but that our view is just one view based on our experiences. The kids are learning a lot but it has also been a lot to take in. They are really engaging and wrestling and praying through it all. They are honest and opening up and it is pretty amazing.

Put the emotional & spiritual stuff we are experiencing together with the work and lack of sleep and today our prayer requests are for rest, both real and supernatural. For hope, as we see the difficult realities, they are longing for hope. The cool thing is each day they are participating in the hope as we work along side the people that are here every day bringing the love of Christ.

We covet your prayers and are thankful knowing you are on this journey with us.

More soon...I hope to put some kid testimonies and pics up later.

Oh - we sang to Drew this morning and he was blessed to receive his birthday book from his family & team!

Love in Him, Kelli

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


By the way... if you take the time to leave a note I am copying them and sharing them with the group so I encourage you, if you have a minute, to send some love!

Tuesday morning and it is hot!

Good morning!

We are off and running this morning! The pictures above are from two of our work teams and our ministry visit. One is a picture of a mural that they will trace and paint today. The others are from a work team that is installing insulation into apartments in the Sunshine building. These apartments will house Sunshine staff and people from the neighborhood in need of shelter. Other groups are out taking kids to the zoo, swimming, building a wall and cooking and delivering food.

Monday was a great first work day! I have a few testimonies of the day after my update.

In the afternoon our ministry visit was to PGM, Pacific Garden Mission. This is one of the largest missions in the U.S. They serve thousands of people each day. Our tour guides were graduates of their bible program. These men had come in homeless and now have earned certificates for a year of Bible study. We heard powerful testimonies of transformation. We saw first hand an amazing ministry helping many but also the challenges and realities of serving the homeless.

Joel, the Sunshine director, gave a powerful message last night based on Jeremiah 29:4-7. He encouraged and challenged our kids, our faith and what we think of as poor. We are no better off and if we just came here to serve not only will we miss out but we will not help. We must see that we all have something to give each other. We need them as much, if not more, than they need us.

In the afternoon a group of us walked to Walgreen's for some supplies. It was great to be in the neighborhood. It was totally safe and everyone was very friendly. It is funny how God works in the unplanned times. A young man was talking to Shane Connelly(we were all together but he picked out Shane to talk to). He was telling Shane a bit about his life. Shane will give details but the 5 minute talk ending in Shane taking the initiative and praying with this man. Our kids are doing great and God is at work in and through them! Thank you for praying!

Today after work groups is the day we share a meal with the homeless. We are going to the business part of town - super safe - and sharing a meal in the afternoon. Pray for compassion, boldness and ears to hear someone's story.

A few other prayer requests: that the group would continue to mix and match and be open and accepting to one another. for servant heart's in the midst of stretching circumstances. for the people of Sunshine and the Woodlawn neighborhood. and thank Him for his amazing love, protection and grace.

Here are few notes from some of our students! More tomorrow! Love...Kelli

So far, Chicago has been awesome. We experienced our first ministry day yesterday. My group worked with kids at a day camp. It was so awesome to be able to spread love onto them as they latched onto me and were constantly calling my name. God is evidently at work here and I am excited about what he will continue to do in the next couple days.

The first couple days of our trip were surprisingly different than what I expected. God is showing me different ways that I can serve other than being in direct contact with the Chicago children, which was my first expectation. God put me in the cooking/food group where we make dinner for our team and treats for the kids. I have to put my trust in him and he has challenged me to change my mind set of what ministry is. Monday night, Joel talked to us about the idea of shalom and how we ALL are without shalom and in poverty. This means that if we don't have the right mind set in going on this trip then we are like the blind trying to lead the blind. We are not here to help the Chicago people because they are at a disadvantage but we are here to learn from the poor. We are here to humble ourselves to their point and learn from their lives. This is what God has revealed to us on the first day and I am SO excited to see what else God has in store for us.

The Chicago missions trip has re-enlivened me in faith and excitement for serving God. The cliques in our group have relaxed and comfort zones stretched. We are learning from the people here as we help them. Theirs is an honest culture that says things like they are. A valuable lesson when thinking about how we act "Minnesota nice" about something when it would be way better to speak the clear truth, minus the sugar-coating. More importantly, you can see the good effect of your actions upon people here and they will treat you just as nicely. This kind of interaction helps dissolve built up stereotypes and allows you to see the other person equally. And this is the only way that will enable you to minister to anyone effectively; you need to respect them and see them as equal to yourself.
The love and protective spirit of the almighty Father are definitely with us, looking over us.
God Bless,

Amen? Amen!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday morning from Chicago!

Happy Monday All!

We now have access to internet everyday so I will be able to update you each morning.

Saturday was a great day! The kids did so well listening and being patient especially considering my voice (I lost it Thursday night and it has not yet returned although it is much better this morning. Thank you for your prayers!)
The travel was smooth. Bob, our bus driver, is quite a character and the kids love him. He is one of the family.

After a quick stop for lunch we drove into Chicago and headed to Giordano's for some Chicago-style pizza. The kids loved seeing the city and we got to see a lot as we sat in traffic :)

Sunday morning we went to Christ Bible Church for an 8am service. Our kids loved the music and worship. It was father's day so there was an all male choir and several men sang spirited solos and we all participated. This church was the most welcoming church any of us have ever been too. Jamie introduced our group and the church sang a welcome song to all of the visitors and then came over and we shook many hands and gave many hugs - right in the middle of the service. It was very special. The pastor gave a rousing message for father's day that was challenging and encouraging for us all. After the service one of our girls came to me and said 'thank you bringing us here'. Another person said they had only seen a church like that in movies and loved being a part of it.

The rest of the day was our chance to see a bit of Chicago. We went to Millenium Park, had brunch and explored the awesome sites there. We walked to Grant Park and then down to the Field Museum. A good day of fun and enjoying the Chicago skyline as well as some great discussion on all we heard at church and saw at the Field Museum.

Sunday night we returned to our home for the week, New Beginnings Church, and had orientation with Sunshine Gospel Ministries. There are two other churches here with us, both small groups of 11-20 people. We had a great dinner, the kids signed up for their work teams and the executive director of Sunshine, Joel went over the vision for the week as well as logistics for saftey and navigating the neighborhood. Then we spent some time in worship. As we prayed as a team before bed the kids were thanking God for the wisdom that has already been imparted to them - in just one day!

Our students are split up onto 6 teams. There is at least one Wooddale leader and one Sonshine leader for each group. The teams are: painting murals, running a sports camp for kids, running two other kids camps in neighborhoods, cleaning/organizing a church nursery, building a wall, preparing and delivering all the food, getting a lot ready to become a parking lot.

Today is the first day of the work projects. This afternoon we will tour PGM which is a homeless shelter and tonight Joel will begin the discipleship/bible study teaching.

Know this - we are totally safe. The kids are really listening and doing a great job following directions and having great attitudes. We are already being challenged to be more patient, gracious, and understanding.

God is good! More tomorrow!

OH! The kids wanted me to be sure to say HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!