Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday morning

What a day family!

I am thinking you may not recognize your babies when they get home. They have been changed and it is good! God is good!

Thursday service projects saw answered prayer and new adventures. A few members of the children team volunteered to get up early to go to the school and help set up for an all school fun day. The whole team spent the day face painting, manning booths and playing with the kids that they have spent this week getting to know. It was a Fun Day!

The Living Hope team continued their work projects around the church but they also had the opportunity to walk the community and hand out flyers for the church's VBS that starts next week. It was fun for them to get out, see the neighborhood and interact with the community.

The SGM team continued to dig that hole. They had some positive interactions with the neighbors and they were also questioned by neighbors that wanted to know what they were doing and why they were in the neighborhood. They had prayed to interact with the neighborhood and they got a whole picture. They handled this interaction with grace and love and God was glorified.

The afternoon was spent traveling the El train to see the city, the different communities and segregation as well as to interact with the people of Chicago in the hopes of spiritual conversations. This is a "step out of your comfort zone" situation and it was a joy to watch our kids reach out around them. They had so much fun and had amazing conversations. Even the most shy kid took some risks and had a blast.

My Lia and Will and their helper Elizabeth are doing amazingly well. Thank you for keeping them in your prayers. Lia and Will have LOVED being with your students and it has blessed me much to see your kids love on my kids!

We had some more Chicago style pizza for dinner at Sunshine. Then we headed to the beach for a little quiet time and some fun. They swam - the brave ones - it was freezing! They walked, talked, played worship music and a big game of ultimate. It was a beautiful evening!

We went back to the church and had an amazing night. We spent some time sharing our El train experiences. Mark called from Guatemala and we prayed for them and they us. The family members from both trips got to talk and it was very sweet. We can't wait to be all together again Sunday morning!

Then we spent some time reflecting on all that God has done in and through us this week. We focused on how he is speaking to us. We spent some time in silence and the leaders served the students in a powerful way. We worshipped and responded to God after the leaders prayed over each and every student. The students prayed for each other and it was nothing short of beautiful.

We ended the night with everyone sharing aloud to give God the glory for what he had done in them. After the prayer, Micah yelled "one more song!" and the kids began to chant and so did I. One more song to give glory to him!

A few more testimonies from the students...

This trip has been so fun! I went into this trip very skeptical and wondering what it would be like. But after spending a week here and with these people, I know that I was meant to come on it. Working with the kids, though hard and frustrating at times was definitely rewarding. The biggest things i have seen was that even though there is so much brokenness and poverty, people are still able to have tuna and make the best out of their situation. Dani Marty

Being on this trip has had a huge impact on the way I look at other people. Getting to know the residents of the neighborhood and seeing the love for the people and the passion for helping them that Sunshine has has helped me to understand the love of Jesus in a new way. Micah Winters

This trip has been so amazing! Last night the leaders washed our feet, just like Jesus washed his disciples. It was so cool! It as overwhelming (in a good way) to see so many of us in surrender to the King. I was so filled with joy seeing our encouraging and united community. Praise God! Janelle Cross

So today we have our final day. Hard to believe it's over. They are finishing up projects and saying goodbye. This is especially hard on the Wadsworth Elementary team. They have built some real sweet relationships with those kids and they will truly miss them.

This afternoon we have the opportunity to tour Moody Bible Institute. Then we will pack up and clean. Debrief our time at Sunshine and end the week with a worship concert of hip hop music and dance. We will load the bus and head back to MN, more unified, with more humility and wisdom, with new passions and new friends and I do believe, more like Christ.

Thanks family for your love and prayers. Last night we were reminded of his goodness and how he always shows up and he never ever lets us down. Amen?

Mama Kelli

Thursday, June 20, 2013

thursday noon-ish

Wednesday was a good day. In the Thursday morning post below you can hear a little bit from each of the service teams.

We met Pastor Jay last night. He is our speaker as we finish out the week. He is an African American pastor who was called back to the south side. The kids loved his style and his heart and the solid biblical foundation from which he shared with us. He had some really good, really memorable words for us. God calls us to be unified. and there is no unity without diversity. He challenged us to look at the first few times the gospel is shared in Acts. 1. the disciples were out in the community. 2. the holy spirit does something. 3. people ask a question. 4. the gospel is always the answer.

Just a few nuggets from Pastor Jay.

Then we spent time as a group sharing the experiences of the day and encouraging each other. It is so fun and encouraging to hear how they are seeing God's glory in each other.

thursday morning #1

good morning. we have had a busy morning all ready. i want to give you these testimonies and i will send more details about our day a little later.

thanks for praying for service teams, the el experience, and our team night tonight.

What an amazing missions trip we are experiencing all together! God has been so good in providing so many cool, unexpected moments as we have travelled and served together! I am blessed to be with the Sunshine work crew, and we are working hard - bucket after bucket and wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt and mud from an old basement. The students have such incredible, positive attitudes as we work hard together, and I am so impressed with their strength and ambition, beyond all of our expectations because of God working through us all! As a leader, I have so loved working with these students and watching them push themselves individually and as a group, seeing them serve others and serve the Lord through this experience! God is truly working in the hearts of all of us, and I am beyond blessed to be here with them, seeing them grow in their faith and pushing themselves beyond their expectations…all because of the Lord (and also because of all your prayers - thank you!) Leader Kari H.

The trip has gotten us all thinking. With each day there is an experience that has the power to transform anyone who is openly willing. I see God working in people who i would never have expected it. Our perspective on the world and people is being flipped as we continue to look for Jesus in others. Lauren

This trip has the ability to transform people into completely open=hearted disciple makers of Jesus. Coming into this trip, I never would have expected that I would have either the willingness or openness to branch out and touch people's lives. Not only am I now open and willing, but I also want to live a life like this, being the salt and light in dark places. Michael

When arriving in Chicago we had a different picture in mind. We were picturing tall buildings, much like the inter city of Chicago. We had no idea the people of the south side has so many struggles, much different than our own. When traveling around Chicago it was cool to see the other cultures. Emily and Claire

I painted a stairwell with my team to help a Muslim family move in to a new apartment. It was cool because they decided to go to a church service to see what Christianity was all about. Emily

I went to Wadsworth. Everyday I help out in classrooms leading 3rd graders. It was interesting to see the different culture connections. I love seeing the kids faces everyday as I enter the room. They taught me to be more open and always seek the positive side.

God is working!! More details soon! and pics!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday morning!

We are eating breakfast and everyone is smiling and looks great!

Tuesday was another full day for everyone.

The SGM and Living Hope teams had long work days and accomplished so much.

The SGM team is digging down the basement floor in the new Sunshine building across the street. Check out the wheel barrel pictures. Hard and rewarding work. As hard as they are working and as dirty as they are getting they might be the team that is laughing together the most.

Living Hope worked in a city lot next to the church. Weeds were as high as 6 feet but no more. They enjoyed the hard work in beautiful weather and were able to really see their progress. Another part of the team worked in the stairwell cleaning and painting. This group works with Pastor Brad and at lunch gets blessed to hear all God has done to bring the church to the place it is. They get to see how many people stop by and how many "interruptions" come into his day. He is ministering at all times to people in need and our kids our seeing how God loves his people and is always available.

Wadsworth (the elementary school) had a short work day. The kids were once again all over the school serving in classrooms with Pre-K thru 4th grade and working to organize supplies. This school is one of many schools in low income neighborhoods that will be closing this year so there is much confusion, sadness and also excitement during this last week. Then The Wadsworth team did their homeless mealshare experience. We will share more about that tomorrow as the other groups will do that experience today.

Here are a few words from your students....

Being with the children's team is great and really eye opening seeing all of the poverty in the schools just me more motivation to help. Everything is going great here! Maddie Griggs

I have been working with an amazing 3rd grade class. i quickly learned that the teachers don't yell because they are mean and want to but because they have to. [the kids were a little thrown but the different ways teachers communicate in the school here - much more firm and loud than the schools back home]. Yesterday I tutored kids in math all day. The one on one time with the kids was amazing. The Lord has been working in amazing ways! We have all been blessed by the kids at Wadsworth Elementary! Nathan Schmid

I have been packing up a closet in the main office of the school. We have been putting school and office supplies into boxes and taking inventory. It has been hard work but it is rewarding to help the administration and staff. This work project is teaching me patience and always having a good and positive attitude. I'm so excited to see God's glory and power as the week continues. Christina Solfelt

Over the past few days, I have seen the joy and light of God shine through each of our students as they minister to children at Wadsworth elementary and each other. It has been exciting to walk down the halls of Wadsworth and see our students one on one tutoring second graders in math, or taking the time to sound out every word in a short chapter book with a student who was falling behind with her reading skills. The amazing thing is that God is not only using our high schoolers to spread his love to the students at Wadsworth, they are also showing us the love of Christ. There is nothing quite like the instant acceptance these children are giving to us through their hugs, sharing of stories and laughter. In Matthew 19 we see how dear children are to Jesus and it is great seeing our young students follow in the footsteps of Christ as they invest wholeheartedly in the students of Wadsworth! Leader Kari

After the work projects we had some team time. We went to Hyde Park and had ice cream. Then walked to a park for some quiet time and then hang out time for a bit before dinner and teaching.

We had our last talk with Joel and he spent some extra time just letting our students ask him questions about all we have covered so far. He knows his bible and he knows how to communicate so well. Many students have commented that his teaching times have been some of their favorite parts of the trip so far.

Today, thank you for praying for our second group as they experience the mealshare, for the Wadsworth team as they have a long work day and for continued positive attitudes and God first mind set of our awesome students!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

updated setting

FYI - i updated the settings to, hopefully, make it easier for anyone to leave comments on the blog.

Tuesday morning

Good morning family and prayer team! Thank you so much for your prayers. We do feel them.

Our first service day went well. The kids dove right in and got dirty, sweaty and joyful!
The post below this lists the teams everyone is on so you can see where your favorite students are serving this week.

Mondays experience was the tour of Pacific Garden Mission, the largest homeless shelter in the US. The tours are given by men who were once a part of the homeless community, came to PGM, found the Lord and now serve.
A theme of the week is to look for God's glory on display and also the brokenness of man. It is cool to see the kids finding all the amazing ways that God is working at PGM and also things that are harder and more challenging.

Joel, the director of Sunshine, has done the teaching these last two nights. Monday nights talk asked the question "Why are people poor?". Many of our students hadn't given that question much thought so it was eye opening for them to discover together the many different reasons that someone might fall into, or stay in, poverty. Then Joel talked abut the causes of poverty listed in the bible. Tragedy, personal sin and oppression and injustice. And which one does the bible talk about most? Oppression and injustice. This is always a challenging talk as we look at God's heart for the oppressed and what that looks like on the south side of Chicago and where we live. The kids handled this college level talk with patience and wisdom. We did some debriefing and will continue to explore what this means for us and how God calls us to join him in his work for justice.

Today the kids head out to work. Wadsworth will have a short work day as they will do the meal share experience this afternoon. SGM and Living Hope will have long work days and they are excited to complete the tasks that they began yesterday.

Here is what some of your students had to say so far...

I was at Wadsworth Elementary School with Mrs. W's 4th grade class! It was so amazing seeing how the children opened up to us within minutes of walking in the room. I am so excited to see how God continues to work in the children's lives and also mine! (Because he is for sure at work in me). Emma Gulden

Today I got placed in demolition group (SGM). I realized I had so much more strength then I thought I had. It was AMAZING. I felt so alive with God that I'm ready to take on tomorrow with a huge smile! Jessi Erickson

Today we stared our service at Wadsworth Elementary School. We began by touring the school and getting assigned to different classes. It was a very interesting experience considering we were the minorities. The kids here are very different from the ones back home. In this week we want to be a positive influence on them. The kids love having us there and we love serving them. The kids also think we have a Minnesotan accent and that we looked weird. Even those these kids are different that the ones back home they just want to be loved and we hope we can share the light of Jesus with them.
Signing off, Ron Steinhoff and Colten Dover

For our work project, we spent time with Pastor Brad at Living Hope church! We were able to help touch up paint, clean and organize an apartment over the church that they are renting to a Muslim family. The best part was later that evening, we met the family moving in and were able to carry up their mattresses and boxes. They were so appreciative of our help and it was such a blessing to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Leader Kate

Excited for the day and what God has in store. Praying that you are also looking for and finding God's glory on display in your day!

Chicago Service Teams

SGM - Heavy Work Crew at Sunshine Gospel Ministries
Kari - leader
Steve - leader
Michael N.
Karl D.
Steve M.

Living Hope - light(ish)work crew
Kate - leader
Jim - leader
Sara M.

Wadsworth Elementary School
Kari K - leader
Hamdi M - leader
Mel A - leader
Alayne B - leader
Valarie Cross
Abby Halloran
Emma Screpal
Amanda Depesa
Emma Gulden
Callie Guimont
Dani Marty
Betsy Jasper
Maddie Griggs
Nathan Schmid
Connor Halling
Jonathan Willet
Dylan Naylor
Joe Welsh
Colton Dover
Jack McDaniel
Claire Little
Janelle Cross
Amy Greeninger
Lara Breedlove
Alyssa Norby
Christina Solfelt
Sydney Carlson
Seth Barnaby
Ron Steinhoff
Wilson Barnard

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday night!

Hello family! I am so happy to be blogging to you! I have found access to Internet and will be able to get these updates coming!
We had an uneventful and great travel day. We enjoyed Giordano's pizza upon arrival in Chicago and then headed to Sunshine for orientation. The team is staying at Living Hope Church. Wooddale has been a part of building that church each summer and now we get the blessing of sleeping there and making it our home away from home for the week.
Sunday started with an early breakfast and worshipping at Christ Bible Church. Pastor Ford brings a challenging and encouraging Father's Day message each year and today was exceptional.
Next we headed downtown to see the fun and beauty of the city and did we had a gorgeous day for it! We checked out Millennium Park and walked along the lake to Navy Pier for lunch. Next we took a water taxi to the Willis (Sears) Tower. We enjoyed the view and challenged each other to step into the glass boxes over looking the city. And then each kid took their devotional and looked out over the south side as we prepared to dive into the ministry part of our trip with reflection and prayer.
Tonight we had our first teaching time we Joel and the kids were excited, moved and interested in what he had to say.
And then to bed. Tomorrow begins their service projects. The kids know their teams and can't wait to get started. Tomorrow I will send a list of who is on what team so you can know where everyone is serving.
My Lia and Will did great and Elizabeth is taking amazing care of them.
We thank you for your prayers and we count on them!
It was a fun day of fellowship and exploring and tonight, some kids even got showers!
**please forgive my typos. I am doing this on my phone ;)
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Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Welcome Chicago Team 2013! We are excited to set off to Chicago this weekend. Thank you for your prayers and willingness to serve! This blog will be updated daily with stories and pictures and prayer requests. Feel free to leave encouraging comments for the kids as we will share them each night with the group.
Believing for great things and God to move in and through us over the next week or so!