This being my first missions trip and also my first time in Chicago it was a blast! Without the support of family and friends, my participation on this trip would not have been possible.
I believe God called me on this trip to use my technology knowledge and make Backstage With The Bible a ton of fun for the kids and leaders. My patience was also tested! Everyone knows that with technology nothing goes as planned. I was in charge of setting up and giving people tasks to do. Me being quiet, I am used to being told what to do not telling others what to do. This was a challenge! Starting out the week with only three and a half hours of sleep made the first day of VBS a challenge for everyone. We were able to push through and get some more sleep throughout the week.
Every night after the girls got dropped off we (the guys) had reflected on the day. The first couple of nights it took some getting used to. As the week progressed for me I was able to share some deeper thoughts with the group and Tony about where the youth group is going and things I could do to make youth group more exciting! God really opened my eyes to guide me to be more involved in the youth.
The thing that really opened my eyes is Tony and I were talking when we went to down town Chicago and he brought up that we pass hundreds of people everyday that are not Christians and we don’t do a thing about it! We are not sharing the Gospel to our brothers and sisters and at least give them the chance to hear the word. We live in a world that revolves around ourselves. We need to stop thinking about what people will think of us and start living out what we believe in.
Thank you for everyone who supported us on the trip! This VBS would not have been easy without all of your support.
“I’ve never been on a missions trip.” “It’s too much money; I cannot afford it.” “Who would want to give money for me to go?” “I don’t want to disappoint them!” So many doubts raged against my desire once I heard and felt God’s call/nudge for me to join the group going to Chicago. But then came the reassurances from friends, my family, and God’s still, small voice, saying “If God has called you to go, He will provide…” and He did… in abundance! He taught me that truth: if it is His will, He will bring it to pass in my (your) life. (Proverbs 3:5)
Going on the trip… I felt a strong urgency, not only to pray, but that God would preserve and give me a servant’s heart to step out wherever the need or opportunity. I also wanted to have and practice having intentional spiritual conversations and have the courage to reach out to strangers to share with or show God’s love to them. God does answer our prayers and made that continually evident. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:15) Saturday morning, when we received our “marching orders”on all that had to be done in preparing, creating, setting up, etc. caused panic and the sense of being overwhelmed and pulled in many directions inside of me. All of a sudden, I felt drawn to ask Emma and Beth, two precious COSC women who happened to be there, to pray with me for this endeavor and I confessed my feelings to them. Not only did God’s peace come over me, but a bond was established between the three of us. Those prayers were later answered that afternoon as Bella and I laboriously discussed groupie assignments with the pre-registrations, check-in procedures, and record-keeping. It felt like a huge mountain that she and I were climbing together, but through the struggle, I learned better how to communicate, share in this task, but even more so: to trust in [Bella’s] ability to take the lead and follow her suggestions. I learned how to empower her in successfully handling these tasks. As a result, I was blessed to get to know this special and dear young lady more than just as one who came regularly to youth group.
God gave me opportunities to talk: with a former homeless man, two women on the subway train to/from downtown Chicago, a mother and a grandmother from the neighborhood while VBS was taking place. He broke my heart as I saw beyond the exterior of individuals into the inside where their lost, hurting souls were crying out for love and acceptance. A couple conversations were on a deeper level, a few were simply friendly conversations, but all were with individuals I was drawn to; for whom to specifically pray, and I can still see their faces… Through Pastor Lito (Pastor Paul Guimary), their youth pastor (Josh) and Pastor Tony, I learned how easy it is to slide into a spiritual conversation, whether or not it ends with the person acknowledging their need for a Savior and coming under Jesus Christ’s authority as their Lord. I am eager to continue looking for these opportunities. 🙂
It’s one thing to talk about God’s power with His strength being given to us and made perfect in our weakness; however, when it happened personally, it took on a much deeper meaning. We were getting pretty tired by Thursday and on Friday afternoon, but we were not done with VBS. I was close to tears from exhaustion with all that I had been doing and was bunchy (with no one around, thankfully!). It was for both of these times that God spoke to me the night and morning prior, as well as when it hit me: “‘Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6) And,“I can do all things through Christ, Which gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13b). As I cried out to Him softly for help, He turned my focus off myself and onto the team goal of helping others and getting the task done. I love helping others and I have learned earlier this summer that our tests and trials come from within our strengths. I had been telling the youth to keep pushing through their tiredness and here I was in the same boat! I realized that I could not (cannot) rely on my efforts, strength, and abilities, but on the Holy Spirit.
As a follower of Jesus, having a prayerful and submissive heart to God are vital. I experienced that when I was and am in this position. This posture also brings an awareness to what God is doing (opportunities); responding to His invitation results in realizing that THAT is when life is becomes exciting, rewarding, and has meaning. 🙂
Thank you to everyone who supported us through prayers and your financial gifts. Thank you to the parents who supported allowing their children to be a part of the team for each person was a valuable member of the team, whom I enjoyed getting to know beyond youth group on Wednesdays, I am eagerly looking forward to the next opportunity, Lord willing. 🙂 May God abundantly bless each of you!
I am so thankful for everyone’s prayers and support. I learned a lot on this Chicago missions trip. I was able to meet a lot of new people. I was also able to grow closer relationship to God and learned to trust in Him more.
I met this preschooler named Arianna. The first day during games she did not want to play. I had no idea what to say to her, but I trusted God would help me. So I went up to her and asked her what her name was and she told me her name was Arianna. I told her what my name was. I also told her I liked her outfit and I told her that I wish I had one like that. She smiled and we talked a little while more. Then I asked her if she wanted to go play a game with me. She said yes, grabbed my hand and we went to play some games. Every day during vbs we would hang out, talk, and do the activities. I could have never got to know Arianna without God’s help.
Matthew 5:16 says “Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
The past week at Chicago was so amazing. It was such an eye-opening experience for me, especially since I had never visited Chicago until the mission trip. The first thing we did in Chicago was go to Taste of Chicago. I had never seen so many people in my life. To be completely honest I was freaked out, because there were so many people and so much diversity. It was something that I’m not used to seeing considering that I live in Haugen, WI (population 287). I had to trust that God wouldn’t let anything to happen to me :), and at the end of the night I had a lot of fun. After that, we got ready for VBS and once the week started I thought that I was so prepared for all of the kids and all of their energy. I was wrong. You see, when you get 6hrs of sleep and you are leading 20 kids, you have to trust that God will give you the energy to go crazy for the next 3 hours.I honestly don’t know how I did it. 🙂 It was a lot of fun though.
I was able to have spiritual conversations with some of the kids, and I talked with one of the girls about her baptism. Another girl was Catholic and she shared some of her beliefs with me too. In past Vacation Bible School’s I have never had the opportunity to have those kinds of conversations with the kids. It was so much fun to be a leader and to participate and do all the activities, because who doesn’t wish they were little enough to be in VBS?!
Throughout the week I also got to grow closer with youth from COSC and some of the people from our youth group. A couple of girls that went on the trip with me I didn’t really know, and I am so happy that they went on the trip because I learned that they are amazing people. I felt our youth group grow a lot closer, and I am sooooooo glad that everyone who went to the Chicago trip came. I really got to know people, and I think that that was one of the best parts of the trip. Thank you to everyone who supported us on the trip it was a ton of fun.