Chicago Vision Trip 2016: Day 4 & 5

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It is the end of the night on Tuesday, August 9th and we have now reached the half point in our trip.  We praise God for what he has been doing in and through us.  Here is a recap of what we have done over the past two days.

Monday morning we traveled from our various host homes to Christ Our Savior Church in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago.  We ate breakfast and then spent some time doing individual devotions using our “On Mission” devotional book.  Following that we traveled to the south side of Chicago to Pacific Garden Mission where we served from 10am-2pm.

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We mostly helped sort bedding and prepare beds for the several hundred homeless men that stay there overnight.  We ate lunch in their cafeteria and following lunch, half of our group helped serve lunch to the homeless people that came there for a meal while the rest of us finished making beds in Dorm A, B, and C.  At the end of our time there we were given a tour of the facility by Darius (who works in Hospitality and found himself homeless only about 6 months earlier). Afterwards, we returned to the church to finish prepping for our first evening of VBS.  Preparations were all going quite well….until the power went out in the building around 5:30pm.  We checked the breakers thinking that we were simply using too much power with all the components and lights we had drawing power.  We were wrong.  The breakers were not tripped.  I called the local power company and learned that 4,089 customers in the area were experiencing a power outage due to an unknown issue.  The estimated restoration time was 7:45pm.  Our VBS was supposed to start at 6:00pm.  In the busyness of us depending largely on our own plans and abilities to make the VBS happen, God taught us to to come to Him in full dependance.  We spent some time in prayer seeking God and leaning on Him.  We prayed that the gospel would still be made known regardless of what happened with the power that night.  Fortunately, we already had planned to serve the meal outside and everything was set up for that when the power went out.  So the meal went on without any problems.  We made a plan B to at least start the VBS outside.  We finished our remaining preparations and then praised God when the power came back on around 6:25, which was about 15 minutes before we planned to have the program start.  The rest of the evening went quite well and everyone had a great time.  Just under 30 children participated including some families from the neighborhood.

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Tuesday, we had scheduled a longer time in the morning for breakfast, individual devotions, group discussion on what God was teaching us so far through the devotional book, prayer, and debriefing from Day 1 of the VBS.  It was neat to see the youth sharing some from their hearts about what God was teaching them all.  After lunch we went to the park called Portage Park where there is an olympic sized swimming pool and some nice grassy areas.  Some swam while others played ultimate frisbee and others relaxed in the shade.  Day 2 of the VBS went quite smoothly and the team did a great job.

Thanks to all who are praying for us.  Please pray that the children understand the gospel.  Pray that more neighbors from the local community would join us in the remaining days so even more may hear the gospel truth.

 

Lessons from Chicago (Michelle Nord)

2 Kinds of People

I was once in a Beth Moore Bible study where Beth talked about two kinds of people.  She said some of you are not getting involved in serving your church and you need to step up and get involved.  Then, she said others of you need to step back because you are in the way of allowing someone else to step up.  Her comment for the second type of person really struck me because I am the kind of person who always steps in and gets involved.  I never thought about my over-involvement as preventing someone else from serving.  This lesson was lived out during the missions trip to Chicago.

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Although the youth had not been very involved in any pre-arrival preparations for the VBS program, the plan was to assign them all to specific roles and have them prepare their own areas.  My goal was to entrust the work to the youth, rather than do it myself.  Sometimes there was only one way to complete a task and I just had to provide the instructions.  Sometimes, there was an end goal, with no specific plan of how to accomplish it.  I would talk through ideas with the youth and have them come back to me once they came up with a plan.  There were many times when I had to force myself to walk away and allow the youth to take the lead, even if it might mean failure on their part.  I had to step back so that I wasn’t preventing the youth from becoming the responsible, mature young people that they are capable of being.  This was not an easy thing for me to do!

In some ways, my other challenge was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to step back in many ways.  Being 8 months pregnant, there were many times when my physical condition required that I sit down and rest.  DSC_0075Not only did I have to step back to allow the youth to step up, but I had to sit down and put my feet up.  I couldn’t micromanage them, to make sure they were doing their tasks the way I wanted them done.  I had to trust that they were getting the job done.  Fortunately, the One who called them to serve on this team is FAITHFUL and it is He who equipped and sustained them through a busy, challenging, and exhausting week!

Unlike many VBS programs I have been apart of, where the youth were merely junior helpers or assistants, in many ways, the youth were running the program.  Sometimes there was an adult helping out, but other times it was solely on the youth to make sure their part of the program ran smoothly.  I was so proud to watch them rise to the challenge and become leaders along the way.  I am so glad that God enabled me to step back and get out of the way, to allow another generation of His followers to learn how to become leaders in His church.

I want to share two examples of how the youth grew in maturity during the trip.  Every day after the VBS program was done, we would gather together for lunch and spend some time debriefing how the morning had gone.  This gave the adults an opportunity to guide the youth as they were taking on the responsibilities of running the program.  It also gave the youth an opportunity to both affirm and critique one another.  Instead of being frustrated or complaining/gossiping about things that didn’t go well, we had a forum where frustrations could be voiced in a constructive way, with the goal of improving the VBS program, not tearing one another down.  On top of that, the youth and adults also affirmed one another in what was done well.  This was probably one of my favorite times of the day, listening to the youth build each other up with encouragement and praise.  You could see in the faces of the youth how much the peer affirmation meant to them.

DSC_0232The second example was one evening while we were debriefing in the van about the day and decided to stop and pray together for some specific requests.  I know many of the youth are not comfortable to pray out loud in front of others, but the majority of them not only courageously prayed aloud, but their prayers were a reflection of their maturity and spiritual growth.  I was blessed to be apart of that corporate prayer time.

This missions trip to Chicago was a blessing to so many – our team, Christ Our Savior Church, and the children who attended the VBS. Thank you so much to everyone who supported us financially and through prayers!

~Michelle Nord

Lessons From Chicago (Josey Clark)

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I would like to thank you all for your prayers and support throughout this trip. It really meant a lot to have so many people back home praying for us. So, thank you.

While I was in Chicago I learned quite a few things, and grew a lot in my relationship with the Lord. There were many days where I was so tired and worn out. Honestly, the only thing I could do was to lean on the Lord and trust that He would give me strength. And He did.

So whenever a problem came up I would pray about it and try not to worry so much like I usually do. And it really helped my faith grow, along with my prayer time with God.

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I loved hanging out with the kids.  Being in charge of photography was a little hard because I would bounce around from group to group.  So, I wasn’t really able to bond with a certain group of kids. But the thing is, by bouncing around I got to see all the kids having such a blast. And that really just made my day, it made my week!

And it made me really proud to see some of the teens step up and help out with the kids and just get things done and it helped me step up and take a lead on something and get it done.

Another thing that impacted me was that Michelle decided to put me in charge of taking orders for everyone in both groups one night, and the cleaning list for a couple of days.  That meant I had to make sure the teens were getting things done. At first it was really hard because I don’t like talking to a bunch of people and especially having to tell them what to do. But after a few days I really got used to it. And I am really thankful that Michelle did push me to go out of my comfort zone because I really needed to grow in that area.  So, thank you, Michelle! 🙂

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It was really great to get to meet the people at Christ Our Savior Church and getting to work with the teens of COSC.  It was really amazing having both our youth groups get along so well.

I already miss my COSC family.

I would also like to say how very glad I am to have gone on this trip, and to be able to grow closer with the youth on the team, especially the youth from the Soul Garage.  I have never talked to some of them before and it was great to become so close. I dare say we are all like family now.

– Josephine Clark

Lessons From Chicago (Nathan Kaus)

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I had thought the cost was too much for us to be able to pay and that trying was going to be the worst part, but then Pastor Tony shared many ways in which we could pay down its cost.  So we took him up on his suggestions.  Later, in one of our final meetings, he passed out updates.  When I read my little slip of paper, I was shocked with what came in!  That is when I thought about what I have learned about God: He can provide!

Now, I was apprehensive on going because I had no idea what the host families would be like. Would they be nice? Would their kids be disrespectful to us? But, I learned that they were VERY generous and their kids were VERY unique and interesting… in a good way… especially the “tablet kid.” 😉 They listened to their parents and respected them. They loved sharing their ice cream and food with us! They were good examples for me because I myself struggle at that point: in not listening when I have been told to do something right away by my parents and teachers.

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When I was in Chicago, one thing that I really had trouble with, and not just while there, is patience. Some example include: when we driving to Chicago in a cramped truck, when we had arguments in the truck, in traffic, etc. But the biggest trial, that really frustrated me, was during game time with my first rotation of kids; for they would get so crazy. They would run all over the place and not follow the instructions. They wouldn’t even play the game, but just go and do their own thing or ruin the course for the other groups who would be doing it after them. It was really hard to calm them them down or get them to listen.

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I also learned that prayer is real.  I prayed to God during game time and when I went to bed to give me patience for when the kids were acting crazy. Sometimes, in the crazy days, I would always ask God to help me with the kids in how to deal with them and to also give me ideas for filler games because I was the one in charge of leading them all week.  As the week went by and as I was doing this, I became more aware that I wasn’t getting as frustrated with them and had begun to have more fun with them.  I also see that since I have been home, I have had more patience.

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When I got home from the trip, after all the excitement and fun, I realized that none of this would have been possible without everyone’s prayers and financial support for me and my mom. Thank you so much!IMG_2233

Nathan Kaus

Lessons From Chicago (Hannah Farm)

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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.”

Thank you again for all your prayers and support.

God Bless,

Hannah Farm

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