Friday, June 20, 2014

more from Thursday...

A few more words from our students and some pics to follow! Thanks for the comments and prayers! It means a lot to all of us.

"Working on the sign pairing team has been an incredible experience not only because of the relationships we've built but also because of the lasting impact the signs will have on the community. Sunshine has entrusted us with painting the logos that will cover the outer walls of the shop. It has been, despite many layers of paint covering our bodies and clothes, a really fun time! Most of all, next year when the senior high scones back to Sunshine they will be able to see the signs we painted across the street that will be attracting customers and helping get the people of Woodlawn jobs." Rachel

"Yesterday the whole crew piled into 8 train cars and traveled down town. The plan was to talk with strangers on the L and just shine the light of Christ through conversation. When I sat down I knew God had great things in store I just had to step out of my comfort zone and trust him. So I sat next to this young college looking guy and started to ask him the stereotypical question, "what is your favorite thing about chicago?, how long have you lived here?" and more. Soon the conversation flowed to his college major which is abnormal psych, which he got interested in because his little brother has special needs. I was able to talk and relate to this complete stranger because my cousin also has special needs. We had a great conversation around this. It is amazing what God can do with a person being willing to move out of the comfort zone." Kirsten

Today is our final day! We are working an extra long day so we can finish much and finish well. Tonight we will have our final teaching from Joel and a time of worship and reflection before heading on the bus for the drive home. Please pray for our drivers, Bob, Kelli, Chris, Eric and Dean. Please pray for the kids to finish well and to truly see God's glory on display in the neighborhood, in each other and even in themselves. See you soon!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

late late Thursday...

Wednesday stuff:

Today was morning work and then the 'L' experience. The kids were rock stars as they opened up and took risks to have spiritual conversations.

In the evening Joel taught on the Glory of God and the brokenness of man on display and how each of these is true. He challenged us to see the glory of God in everyone and everywhere, not just the brokenness. A great challenge to take home with us tomorrow.

Thursday: What a beautiful day. It started out with a fantastic hot breakfast, a little rain and some cool weather. Prayers answered.

Then off to work projects. Joel, the executive director from Sunshine, shared how thankful he was for such a large group because we were able to make a really big dent in their projects and get them closer to their goal of opening July 1st.

After a longer work day we all loaded up and went to the beach for a little devo time, ice cream and fun. The water was cold but the sand was warm and there was plenty of space to run or just sit and be with friends.

After a surprise dinner of Harold's chicken we had the pleasure of attending a prayer service at New Beginnings - another church in Woodlawn. They are believing for big impossible things from God and we got to pray with them and they also prayed over us. It was a really really great day.

We spent some time at the end of the night talking a bit about what God has been doing. The students are seeing God's glory everywhere and want to bring this perspective back home with them. Such great insightful kids you have. I am trusting God to continue to press and make them uncomfortable so they will be moved for him.

Some of their words:

"God has given me a new perspective on the homeless through the mealshare. On Tuesday I met Carl sitting on the side of the walk. Our group approached him hesitantly as this was pushing us way outside of our comfort zone. We talk dot Carl for an hour and a half. He was previously addicted to hard drugs but praised God that the had freed him from that horrible habit. I admired Carl's openness to talk about his struggle and and God's glory through all of it Carl also talked about his few near death experiences including a 3 month coma. Carl knows he's here for a reason - to further God's kingdom. PS miss you fan - disappoint you haven't written any embarrassing blog comment :)" Aly H.

"I have been working on the construction and shoveling crew and have been shown God's love and kindness through off the people in the community. They always are so kind and generous to su even when they have so little, which has motivated me even more. The L train and mealshare were really fun and entertaining because we go to see and experience the city as well as the people. It has been a real eye-opening experience that has showed me that I should be more thankful." Hunter

Must sleep. More tomorrow! Thank you thank you for your prayers! We really do feel them!

At the beach!

All is well here. We are at the beach! Details on our day coming soon...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wednesday morning!

Good morning! All is well here in Woodlawn! We hope you are well back home. The kids are loving hearing from you so keep those little comments coming.

A couple of prayer requests first:

It is very hot and humid so continued prayers against heat and exhaustion would be greatly appreciated.

This is the day in the week where people get tired so we will take your prayers for attitude of grace and encouragement all around.

We could always use your prayers for the logistics of feeding, sleeping, and moving 81 people around the city.

We would love your prayers for a productive few work days as we are all very focused on helping Sunshine to open that coffee shop in a few short weeks.

Last night was an amazing night of teaching as God stirred our hearts about injustice and oppression. Joel's teaching on the reasons behind poverty according to the Bible is always challenging and humbling. This group responded so well and it was exciting to hear them discuss ways that God is moving in them to be influencers for Christ by entering in with oppressed people and working to right injustices. Please do ask them about this and let them share what they have learned and how God spoke to them when they get home. You will be amazed and this will help them to apply this stirring at home - which I believe is what God wants us to do.

The work projects are going well. The mural is traced and will be painted today. The chairs are starting to get stained. The children's team is loving life with those kids. The lawn care/gardeners are making a dent in the weeds. The painting team is starting to put color on the walls today I think. Everyone is busy and content.

I have been especially impressed with the positive way kids are responding to the discomfort of the heat, the waiting around and just some of the annoyances of a trip. They are positive and going with the flow and it makes the job of the leaders so much easier!

Rest assured - God is at work and your kids are growing, safe and awesome.

Some testimonies:

"God is present and active on the south side. I see God moving in the hearts of our teams as they begin to see the image of God in the people they meet in Chicago. I have seen God generously teaching a key fruit of the spirit...patience. This group has also exhibited joy in response to minor inconveniences. This has been a huge answer to all of your prayers. Thank you!" Dean (leader)

"I have seen how God is moving when we did the homeless mealshare. The man my group talked to had a tough story, yet he was grateful for what he had and he was very knowledgeable about the Bible. His passion for the gospel was inspiring and it has pushed me to become more excited about what God has done, is doing and will do." Bennet

"I've learned a lot about educational and racial problems in American through Joel's talks. It has really opened my eyes to problems that are occurring in our country and made me realize how much they need to be fixed. Things happen in this neighborhood just because it is this neighborhood that can effect them for their whole life that is not fair." Blake

"Even though I'm only half way done with this trip, my perspectives have changed and I've come to a realization of some things. I've learned that I have to be grateful of the things I have but not prideful because I don't deserve any of it. From the mealshare, my perspective has changed in the way I view the poor or homeless. Just because they are homeless or poor doesn't mean they are lazy or lost all of their money through bad choices. Everyone has their own unique story and God loves each person the same. Even though some people are considered "unlucky" or "lucky" it doesn't matter in the end as long as they praise and glorify God. I'm so excited to see what else is in store for the rest of the trip. To learn more an understands more about this community and God." Amanda B.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday noon!

Good afternoon from hot, humid and beautiful Chicago.

First of all - so sorry to the family of Tess! She switched teams at the last minute. She is a painter! She really wanted to paint some walls!

As I type the work crews are finishing their morning work and having lunch. Half of the group is headed downtown to share a lunch with someone from the homeless community while the other half prepares to tour the Pacific Garden Mission homeless shelter.

Our first two days of work have gone well. It is exciting this year as the students are getting to work on many needed projects in and around Sunshine itself. Sunshine hopes to open a coffee shop on the corner across the street from their offices on July 1st. This is one way they hope to create business in the community. Our students get to paint, scrub, build, sand and put their love and sweat into this endeavor side by side with our ministry partners. It is a real blessing and they are embracing the work and the heat like champions!

Yesterday afternoon half of the teams experienced the homeless mealshare and the other half did the shelter tour. Both groups came back with stories of God's faithfulness, his sovereignty and our needed humility. One student shared with me that the entire experience of walking downtown looking for someone to share a meal with helped him to see people through God's eyes in a new way, not just homeless people, but all people. God is moving in their hearts.

Last night Joel taught on the concept of Shalom. We are meant to be at peace in our relationships with God, each other, ourselves and creation. Because the world is broken - we are not. We learned how God gives us glimpses of this shalom - the way things are supposed to be. We get to be a part of bringing more shalom to the world around us.

We also saw God's heart for the city and how many ways God's glory is put on display in the city. We often think of the negative things about a city but there are many beautiful things. Our students came up with a list. Diversity, architecture, close community, sustainability. The city is not better than the country or the suburbs of course but it is wonderful to take time to see past the crowds and the dirt and look at the way God is at work powerfully in the city.

Your students have been doing a great job. Very attentive and engaged in all activities - with each other, with the new people they meet, in learning and in working. Everyone is not always comfortable but everyone is always present and positive. I am proud and thankful!

I asked a few kids something they were surprised about so far. They talked about how friendly the people have been. How different it is to be in the minority. The little children are so open and best friends right away. They also have amazing names that are new to our kids. ;)

Here are the words of some your students:

"I am on the painting team. We are helping paint a new coffee shop, that's going to be a place where people from the community can go and hangout. We started off by peeping the walls for paint. We taped paper to protect the wall from the paint. I am amazed by what we accomplished in just two days. I am seeing how God is using us for his purpose on this trip." Sarah T.

"I am on the painting team and we are helping paint the alls of the new coffee shop called the Green Line Cafe. While we took a break we started collecting trash and some people from the community came outside to pick up trash in their yard too. That is one way we saw God working." Alexis C.

"The homeless mealshare opened my eyes to the way God can work through anyone." Cole

"I am on children's team and I love it! The kids are awesome and I know I'm already going to miss them. God is truly touching these children in Sunshine and I'm thankful to be a part of it." Chris K.

"I am on the children's team and it's awesome. I et to see kids grow in stature with God and each other and I know I'll miss them" Levi

God is beginning to build relationships and stir hearts. All of the kids are doing well and taking care of themselves and each other.

Thank you for your continued prayers. We are praying for fruit in this ministry, in the kids we are working alongside and in the hearts of our kids!

More tomorrow!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Service Teams

Each morning we will be working on various service teams around Sunshine and the Woodlawn neighborhood. They are already hard at work today. It is hot! So we'd appreciate prayers for smart kids drinking water and staying healthy. Listed below are the teams each student is on with a brief description of the project. Thanks in advance for your prayers that each team would be effective, positive and safe.

Construction Work Crew (lots of digging/excavating) they are pumped!

Leaders: Chris & eric
Elisa I.
Annika M.
Emily S.
Amanda B.

Living Hope work crew - various jobs from completing apartments to cleaning to lawn work at a church that Sunshine Partners with on Cottage Grove Ave.

Leaders: Heidi & Dean
Elyse S.
Ali B.

Mural Team - they will be priming, painting and hanging a mural that will go on the wall of Sunshine's new building pointing people to the coffee shop.

Leader: Hamdi
Rachel K
Emma W
Eryn R
Rachel B
Annika N
Cat W

Sunshine Vacation Bible School/Summer Blast Children's team - children :)

Leader: Beebe
Jake B
Jon S
Chris K
Katie M.
Rachel M
Holly B
Haylee S
Ally R
Annie M

Painting crew: priming and painting walls in the new coffee shop

Leaders: Marc and AnaMaria
Sarah T
Alexis C

Sanding team: sanding preparing and staining chairs for the new coffee shop

Leader: Mike
Katie S
Greta D
Aly H

Lawn/Gardening: cleaning, mowing, weed pulling, beautifying the lots around Sunshine and their properties

Leader: Kari
Stacy S
Maddie M
Rachel H

Lauren is spending time with different groups each day, documenting and jumping in when needed.
Elisabeth Lia and Will - my kids and their nanny have various excursions. I would very much appreciate prayers for them as well.
Kelli - I am the blogger, the shopper, the buffer, the problem solver.

We are already having a great time! Your kids are doing great! More tomorrow from the first full day of ministry.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday night

We had a great day exploring Chicago!

We started the day at Christ Bible Church where Pastor Ford preached a powerful challenge to fathers and men but also for all of us to stand up and serve. We all especially enjoyed the worship music and Pastor Ford's passionate and animated style of preaching!

Then it was on to sight seeing day. We visited Millennium Park, had lunch on Navy Pier, took a water taxi through downtown and visiting the Skydeck at the Willis Tower.

Then we headed to the church where we will have our teaching and worship each night. Joel gave an orientation on Sunshine and safety and began what is sure to be an exciting and enlightening dialogue on God's heart for the poor and his heart for us.

We begin our service week tomorrow. The kids were pumped to get settled in tonight and to get moving and serving tomorrow. I will post work team lists so you can know who is where and also pray for each group and each name.

It was a great fun day and now we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get busy!

Thank you thank you for your prayers and love and support. It is the only way this happens.

Blessings...More tomorrow!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's Saturday night and all of the kids are tucked into their sleeping bags. We had a smooth travel day and we are excited to get to church tomorrow and enjoy some of the joys of Chicago.
Thanks again for your prayers and support. We are feeling strong and excited for the day. Happy Father's Day to you father figures! Blessings from Woodlawn...

Made it!

We are enjoying Girodano's pizza in Greektown, Chicago! Photos to come!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Welcome Chicago Team 2014!

Welcome to Chicago Team 2014!

We are excited to get this trip underway and see what God will do through and in all of us over the next week and months to follow!

Thank you for partnering with us to love on and support the people in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Thank you for your prayers and for trusting us with your precious cargo. We will take good care of them!

This blog will be updated daily, most often before 10am, with prayer requests, updates, pictures and stories of how we are seeing God at work. Please feel free to leave comments and messages of encouragement for the group or for your Chicago Team rep. We will read them each day.

We also pray for you to experience his peace, love and power this week wherever you are!