Friday, June 22, 2012


Just a quick reminder that the team should arrive at 9am saturday morning at door #5. if the time will be significantly different than that i will post it here by 8am.

Friday morning

I can't believe it is already Friday.  Yesterday was a long work day, but the cooler weather and a little rain was a big blessing.  We had some very dirty, smelly people at the end of the day from demo of a ceiling (city church group), playing in mud(gardening group), to chasing children all day.  After some much needed showers, we had a lesson from Sean Murphy.  He is the Bridge Builder coordinator.  Bridge Builders is the name of the Sunshine ministry that runs the short term mission teams like us.  Sean talked about that part of our identity in Christ is to be others-focused (Philippians 2:4).  In this, we need to empower people we minister to.  Not do what we think they need, but do what is best for them.

Here are recaps from each service group.

Today was such a fun day! I work at Sunshine ministry with children and they are all so cute! We can always look forward to their smiling faces when we walk in. They are so excited to see us and we always have so much fun playing with them. Today we practiced verbs with them, made masks of animals, and played outside on the playground. We also did some dancing and the kids really loved it! It's going to be really hard tomorrow to leave all these precious kids, but all we can do is love them and pray for them. I also have enjoyed getting to know the kids individually and even the staff. They are all so caring and loving and especially with the staff, you can really see how passionate they are about God. After VBS today, it was really nice to catch up on sleep!
Chicago has been such an amazing experience so far, and I am so excited for tomorrow!

Ellen Warrick

All I can say is wow. This week has been so huge for me!  As I came in to city church and  received my work project, I was a bit worried.  I was on the drywalling team. I had never even lifted a sheet before. Through some act of God, Rick was also on my team.  He has been immensely helpful in teaching us how to hang the huge boards.  Days later, we finished one of our rooms!  Our team has been able to grow really close together, and we have a blast, no matter what we do.  It really has been awesome getting to know these hilarious, Spirit filled men in my group.

Tyler Martel

So far on this trip I have learned many things but, there is one specific thing that seems to keep showing up and that is that no matter where you are God is always there and ALWAYS has a plan and a reason for bringing you there. Coming to Chicago I was a little nervous because everyone said how different and dangerous it could be. We are doing things I never dreamed of doing such as tearing down walls, talking to complete strangers, and just living in a completely different culture. But, even with all the fears I felt before doing these things, I am glad to say that I feel completely safe and that God has his hand on us. I am so thankful for all of these people that God introduced me to on this trip and I can't wait to see what he has in store for us this last day here in Chicago!

Tammi Luecke

There are so many amazing things that have been happening here in Chicago! One of the people from Sunshine told us when we first arrived was that we didn't bring Jesus with us here on our bus, but that he was already here at work in the south side, and this is so true. There are so many amazing people who are living here who have changed my thinking and have blown my mind. I have been gardening all week and the lady who has been leading us, Trina, has taught me so much. It has been so cool to see her passion and just the community! Today was a long work day so we got to our site at about 9:30ish and worked until 4. We have been working on clearing this sidewalk so that we would be able to lay some mosaic tiles down. So we have been shoveling this dirt for three days and we finally finished today. And I was told to wash down the newly cleaned sidewalk, but the water was not draining, and decided to dig a new trench for the water to drain in. During this process i got covered in mud from head to toe, it went everywhere! Next I mixed the concrete for the mosaics And because here on the south side they don't always have the materials you need, we had to become creative so I used my hands to stir and scoop. The mosaics look wonderful, so bright and happy and will add so much to our garden.

Finally today we went to a different garden to help pull weeds and just make the garden look nice. I got the opportunity to climb a tree to cut down a few dead branches :) SO MUCH FUN! Anyways I had one of the best days today down here just getting completely dirty and serving with my heart. It has been so rewarding to see all our work just come together. Thanks so much for the prayers everything has been going smoothly, we are all clean and about to start worship. Love you all see you soon!

From the south side,
Amy Buchstaber

The past week has been incredibly interesting. My work crew was scheduled to work at a house belonging to a woman named Sylvia, but unfortunately, due to certain situations we weren't able to. We had to be flexible and instead we worked at Sunshine Gospel Ministries doing small time maintenance. It's been really great helping them out because they're always so busy helping others. I feel like I was really making an impact that is meaningful to the people there. I've also been getting to know Sean, who is the Bridge Builder Coordinator at Sunshine. He has been a really cool person to get to know and learn from.

Forever tired and ready for bed...
Justin Jochim

I will add some pics later today. I don't know about you but I am incredibly blessed hearing your students articulate all that God is doing. To him be the glory!
I will update the blog early Saturday morning with a more exact time of arrival for the team. Please continue to pray for safety, for final thoughts and lessons, for Bob the driver and Jordan and the other guys as they drive through the night and for lasting change in our students that has future kingdom impact.

Praying with you...Kelli

Thursday, June 21, 2012

wednesday pics - post below!

from wednesday night

We survived the heat another day. Tomorrow's forecast looks cooler. Today the students continued at their work projects in the morning and then experienced the El train. In this experience, we rode the red line ( runs north and south) to the end and back again. We were challenged to strike up conversations with people which might lead to some discussions about faith. Below you will find a few testimonies from your kids about the experience.

In the evening, we heard a message from Brian Dye. He is the pastor of several home churches in the area. He spoke on Matthew 28: 16-20 and challenged the students to really understand what it means to be a disciple and what we are called to do.

Tomorrow ( Thursday) is a long work day. Please pray that the students have the energy to serve with their whole selves.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! So I just got back after an amazing train ride. I was scared outta my mind until we arrived at the first stop where I saw a kid who was wearing a shirt that said '' don't worry, God is in control. Then it all got better. I tried to talk to about 5 or so people. But they mostly just ignored except for 1 guy. His name was men-din and he said he escaped from north Korea! I didn't believe him at first but after he told me about the many ways to move about like sneaking in the back of a mining truck and got in touch with one of the few news photographers in north Korea. He acted as the mans assistant and fake IDs. He said the reason he came to chicago was for work far away from the coast. I wished him good luck and god bless as the train doors closed. I thanked God for the chance to meet such an amazing man and hear such an awesome story.

Zachary Goldberg
P.s. I love u mom! Happy birthday and enjoy Norway, you deserve it! Tell everyone else hi if you see this.

Today, I really enjoyed the L experience. I got to talk to 8 people, and it was really cool to hear their stories. One lady told me how her dad and sister died and how she wants to go back and finish college. It was so cool to hear all their stories and meet so many different types of people.

Also, today on the gardening team, we worked on a puzzle that will be laminated and hung on the fence to beautify the garden. We all pitched in to buy a new wheelbarrow, and we used it to move dirt from the brick street. It's looking really good now, and we're excited to make mosaic tiles tomorrow. Praise God for all the cool people we've met!

Emily Erickson

P. S. ~ I love you, mom and dad! I'm really enjoying the trip! Pet Daisy for me.

We went on the El today, it was super fun! I was a little nervous at first because there were so many directions given to us for the train, like what stop to get off at and switch trains but I ended up being just fine. We met this really cool guy named Daniel, he was Mexican and spoke mainly Spanish, which is the language I take at school so I guess it sort of came in handy! He was holding a guitar so I asked him to play for us(Greta, Amalie, Megan and Linlea) a song in Spanish and he played La Bamba and we sang along and enjoyed our trip on the train! Also on our work project today we went on a tour of the city and got to see President Obama's house!!!

I hope everything is going well back home, love you all!
Savannah Lasley

Today was so much fun! We went in the El and it was a really cool experience. At first, I was really nervous because I had no idea how I was going to start the conversation but I soon got into a really cool one with a guy named Devian. He was very open about his life and we talked for almost the whole ride. He let me share a little bit about me, including why I was in Chicago.( he thought it was really cool!). On the way back a guy named John easily picked me out as not being from Chicago. We talked about many things including sports, school, and most importantly Jesus! Riding the El was so amazing and I hope all is going well at home!

Love you all!
Claire McCartan

Hi everyone!! God really moved today. I was riding the el today and was feeling a bit discouraged because my meal share time yesterday didn't go as I'd hoped it would. God totally shook me up. I walked onto the train with my partner Linlea, and I saw maybe five people in the whole car.i made eye contact with a man and didn't really think anything of it while I sat down. A minute later I commented on how beautiful this woman's hair was and it quickly became a whole conversation between the woman, the man and I. He seemed super nice, and was very genuine. I noticed a stack of papers in his hand and I wondered what it was. (i later discovered it was a biblical foldout sheet for witnessing) Later in our conversation, the woman disengaged herself, but he continued speaking with me, going on to tell me his life story about when he grew up, was in a gang, dealt drugs, lived on the streets, his siblings' passing away, his alcoholic father and other stories. The conversation moved to faith and his faith in God. I asked him if he was a christian and he replied yes, which made us find an even deeper connection. He was so real, there is still something about him that I cannot put my finger on. :) Later we talked about the church and how God is NOT a God of fear. Then he told me about his family, how he cared for his remaining siblings and their children and how he strives to be a provider. His story really challenged me. He had such joy and peace while he talked, and that really inspired me. I will never forget what happened today. On the ride home I met a man who was carrying a guitar, Savannah asked him to play for us and we had a connection. I love music, so I was super excited. Then he played and sang in Spanish for us!!!!! :) I currently am learning Spanish and I got to talk with him in Spanish and translate for him in our group's conversation. I had an awesome experience today and I thank God for opening a door for me into other people's lives.

God bless!!! -Megan Shirley (sorry for writing sooooo much!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Late Tuesday night

It feels like late July or August in Chicago, but the students were troopers working through the heat at their service projects.

Tuesday afternoon is one of the most powerful of the week. The meal share is an opportunity for students to engage in conversation with the homeless while sharing lunch. The group heads downtown and in groups of 3 they spread out with an extra lunch and look for someone to share it with. They had open hearts during the meal share and it was really neat to see the students be bold and loving.

The leaders have expressed such positive things to me from Joel's passion, knowledge and skill as a teacher, to hearts being opened in new ways. God is moving! One of the work crews plans had to change this week and now they are helping out at Sunshine. They feel so blessed to do this because Sunshine can use the help around their offices but they are always sending people out to help others. Our team is loving serving them in this way.

Here are a few testimonies from a few of your kids. Thanks for your continued prayers and encouragement. They are feeling it!

Blessings and love, Kelli

Today was amazing. God was totally at work in new and eye-opening ways. Our work crew service time was a little shorter than the other days because we got to do something super cool; we did the meal share. It was a humbling experience to see how God was teaching me through the many stories on the street and through realizing how I was viewing the world. God has radically transformed my view of others and of missions by showing me that people are not a means to an end, as in we should serve others not just as a way to share the gospel but to love them and to represent the gospel. We finished the day with some pizza and time of fellowship at the lake, It was so beautiful!
- Annie Kronlokken

The things that I experienced today were very impacting. I am in the gardening work crew and we are helping a woman named Tarina fix up some vacant lots. Today we helped her dig up a ledge along a fence that was covered in dirt. We also helped her put a puzzle together that she was then going to laminate and hang up on the fence along the garden. At the end of our day she had this passionate talk to us about how she felt about the community and how she wanted it to just be a better place. I found this talk very powerful because she volunteers so much of her time helping out the community and has so much passion for making it a better place and helping out others. She is a very impacting person and I can't wait to go back and help her work on more projects this week!
- Allie Denn

God is so Good! I am working this week in the basement of Living Hope Church, and my job along with 7 others is to drywall. The ceiling of the basement is 6ft high and me being 6'3'' is a little difficult. I have broken light bulbs and bumped my head into hanging beams but it is all good because of the cause and dedication of the church's pastor Brad. He is so encouraging and his courageous works in this community is incredible. He started Living Hope by branching off of a church in the North side of Chicago, and rented out a room in the University of Chicago. He started very small with only a few college students but it has grown into a family. The church has an amazing diversity of people's including Latinos, Blacks, Asians and others who join together to worship. To make a long story short they needed a building to their own so they recently bought a beat up building a few blocks away. It is old and very dusty in the basement but are progress is very encouraging. I believe that God decided for me to work in dry walling for a lesson in patience and the opportunity to build with the people in my group. The meal share today was awesome, Brooke, Alex and I were assigned to a group and we met SeBron outside of a McDonalds in the shade. He didn't want to eat with us because he told us he is diabetic and has cancer but really wanted someone to talk to. So we had an hour conversation with him where he did almost all of the talking. As we were talking to him 3 different sets of people came up and started talking to us, it was amazing how a little interest can make their day! Finally we met a man named Elijah who had a very difficult time talking. We gave him our extra meal and although he couldn't talk, it was interesting how he was so proud of little items such as orange juice he had bought with his own money earlier in the day.
Love you family
-Caleb Sprenger

tough gardeners!

praying for the mealshare experience

working hard!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Living Hope church...getting ready to hand out flyers in the neighborhood with Pastor Brad.

jamming at City Church

making lunches for Tuesdays mealshare

work crew at the Sunshine offices

garden team...working together

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday night!

First day of service!!!  The students had a busy day getting started with their projects.  Below a few students shared their experiences.  The group then toured Pacific Garden Mission which is the largest homeless shelter in the country and is funded with only private donations.  They also really enjoyed some time to take their first shower of the trip:). The day ended with Sunshine executive director Joel Hamernick teaching about poverty and social justice issues.  The students are doing a great job! - Beebe

Today I was in the gardening group. It was a great experience- there were so many options to help beautify the community and it was great to be able to talk with people who had questions about what we were doing. I was touched by how eager Tarina was to make us comfortable. It had never occurred to me that the very people that we came here to serve would be so focused on our own comfort or well being. It really reaffirmed in my mind that there is always a give and take when doing missions work.
- Abby Bilger

My group stayed at the City Church today and we started clearing out this little fenced in play area outside because there was a lot of weeds and trash and stuff in there. This man, Lawrence, who kind of helps to run the church told us his story and it was so crazy and awesome to hear how God has completely turned his life around. Today his face is pretty much completely structured by plates under his skin and he has a bullet that has healed into his spine....ah! It was so cool to listen to him talk about the passion he has for the lord and the changes he wants to help make in the city. He kept saying how inspiring WE were to him because we came to the South side of Chicago, slept on the floor, and sat on the ground weeding outside in Jesus's name. So that was really cool and then we ended up finishing earlier than the other groups and w e got to take showers before they all got back yay!
- Alex Orlowksy

Today, I worked with Mr. Wright, Justin Jochim, and Zach Goldberg in the group sent to serve the local widow named Sylvia. On our way to her house, however, we were informed that she would be indisposed for a few days due to a family emergency. We continued on to her house just to take a look and then were informed that we would have to be a little flexible, something that all 61 of us are trying to practice. After we took a look at her house, we headed on over to Sunshine to do what ever we could do to help. As of right now, we do not know what we will be doing for the rest of the week, so this gives us yet another opportunity to practice flexibility.
- Jacob Hann

Today I worked, helping the living hope church gather kids for a summer youth program starting on Friday. Me and a group of other students and some leaders went door to door asking if there were any kids interesting in coming to the summer program. We had many houses where no one came. Some with no kids, and some who just did not want to talk. But through all the rejections I saw God in many of the people. Many people politely declined but some said yes! I am just excited to see all the kids we met today at the summer program this Friday.
- Cole Michaelson

Today, I helped out at the vacation bible school that Sunshine Gospel Ministries runs. I worked with a few other students and a leader and we basically played with the kids and just showed them love throughout the day. We played some games outside with them, did some arts and crafts, and helped them with math. Even though we were new-comers and the kids had never seen us before, we were welcomed with open arms and felt extremely accepted. It was amazing how the kids just attached onto us. I am excited to see God work in these young children's lives throughout the week, and I hope that what we do with these kids in this short week makes an impact in their lives.
-Lindsey Carr

And this is just the beginning. Thanks for continuing to lift up this trip. I would ask that you specifically pray for the leaders and the families they have left this week. Feel free to check out the link for the Guatemala team's blog as well. It amazes me when think how big our God is and how he is using our little Wooddale Senior High at home, in Chicago, in Guatemala and more. He is good.

More pictures in the morning! Blessings...Kelli
I thought you might be interested to know which work team your student is serving with. Right now the teams are off and running for their first day. Thanks for continuing to pray for health, safety and for our God to move in and through them. Amen!

Gardening team
Kari leader
Danny leader
Rachel B.
Amy b.
Allie d.
Cole g.

Living Hope work team
Jordan leader
Brandon w.
John a.
Aaron c.
Aaron s.

Living Hope children's team
Kelli leader
Julie leader
Brooke n.
Rachel s.
Cole m.
Sarah w.

City church team
Mel leader
Blake e.
Samantha p.
Bill f.
Alex o.
Allie w.

Sylvia house work team
John leader
Jacob h
Justin j
Zach g

Sunshine Children's team
Dave leader
Joe d
Samantha k.
Megan s.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday pm from Beebe!

Greetings! We have had a wonderful start to our missions trip in Chicago. After a full day of driving with some short stops in between, we arrived in Chicago to enjoy the all-famous Giordonos. We had a short tour of Sunshine Gospel Ministries and some good group prayer time before heading to bed. Overall, it was a safe, good first day. We started our day today-Sunday-early with an incredible church experience at Christ Bible Church. It was truly a unique group church service that the students are still talking about. After church we hit the city of Chicago with Millenium Park, the Bean, and lunch, followed by a fun water taxi ride that brought us right to Willis Tower, which was so fun on a beautiful sunny day in Chicago, including a reflection time at the top of Willis Tower. We are now heading to our church lodging at City Church to have dinner. We are preparing to switch gears as we officially begin our missions time with Sunshine. Tonight we will meet the staff and find out our service groups, which kick off bright and early tomorrow morning. Thanks, as always, for your prayers! Continue to pray for good health and strength as we prepare for tonight and tomorrow. Also pray for everyone's spiritual growth and patience-areas we have already been so impressed with already from all the students.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

They made it!

They made it! They are all together in Chicago and enjoying a little Chicago-style deep dish. Right on schedule! Tonight they will stay at Sunshine Gospel Ministries. Tomorrow they will attend church in the neighborhood and then enjoy their tourist day in Chicago. Orientation for their week with Sunshine is Sunday night. Feel free to comment here and Beebe will share your comments with the kids. Or you can send me an email and we will be sure they get your notes of encouragement. More tomorrow! Kelli

Friday, June 15, 2012

Welcome Chicago Team 2012!

Welcome friends and family of Chicago Team 2012! We will update this blog daily throughout the trip to Chicago. Thank you for your prayers and support. See you tonight at the Send-off Prayer service from 7-8pm in the Hillside. It is going to be a great week! Blessings, Kelli