Chicago- last day here…

On Wednesday, our group went to a place called Care for Real that gave out free food and clothes. I was surprised to see that the place was on a busy road and not in a more secluded, quiet place with less buildings. The woman who was in charge was really nice and was really funny. I didn’t get to know her that well though because I was working on organizing the clothes room and household items with Quincy, Andrew and Chris. I expected the working progress to be boring and quiet but it was really fun and exciting. Every once in a while we would switch jobs and had fun while cleaning. When the customers came, I thought they’d be quiet and minding their own business but they were really talkative and kind. They would each say “thank you for volunteering” or “thank you so much for your help”. The clients would talk about what they were getting and asking opinions about each item. This woman let us play with her baby boy named Jeremiah and had a small conversation with me and Quincy. A man who needed some clothes and shoes would always ask us what we thought about a shirt he found. He reminded me of a woman from Deborah’s Place with all the conversations we had. After the volunteer work, we headed to the Tribune which had pieces of famous buildings around the world. Each piece were gifts from their home and made me think how generous people can be, giving a part of their home to someone. When we were finished with the Tribune, we went to the Navy Pier and explored the place. I stayed with Emma and we were determined to get to the end of the Pier. It was so cool that there were rides and many restaurants with music performers. The pier was something I’ve never seen before, with all the party boats and inside gardens. We stopped to see the fireworks and eventually headed back to the hostel and started packing. Helping people and serving them made me really happy especially at Deborah’s Place and just brightened my day.

~Sarah

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Riding the L to our service site

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Sorting clothes for clients
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Preparing for clients to show up
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Folding and sorting 
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Ready for the food pantry to start
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Soritng donated food items for the pantry
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A little fun while sorting…
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Serving…
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Clean up
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Tribune Tower

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Pieces of different walls/buildings across world on side of Tribune Tower

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Chicago at night
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Navy Pier

Yesterday, we got up early and embarked on a new service project. When we arrived at Care For Real, they welcomed us with open arms. We were not the only volunteers there, and we got to know quite a few of the others. Their day started early-9 am-when they began to let people in their doors for free clothes and food. All of the people that we met were low-income and in need. I worked on setting up and handing out food to people who got staple items (beans, rice, noodles, cereal) once a month. I was shocked by how these people didn’t always take all of the food that they were offered. At home, we usually keep a surplus of food in our pantries, but these people would say, “Oh, I still have some of that” or “I don’t need any more of this.” The services ended at noon and we helped the other volunteers clean up. That afternoon, we had some free time which we all enjoyed. Before going to back to the hostel to get ready for dinner, we made a stop at the Chicago Tribune building. This building has many different pieces of walls and monuments from all around the world placed into the walls on the outside of the building. We did some journaling and talked about how we have broken down walls this week. I wrote about the attitudes before and during this trip. Most of us probably had some kind of idea of how the people that we were going to meet should be treated. I think those walls were broken down this week in our minds. We learned that even people whose lives are not ideal or might be in a hard place should be treated with respect and love, and they will be kind right back. The people were met were so thankful for the lives that they had and were so kind towards us.

The day ended with a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant, and an evening at Navy Pier, where we lucky enough to enjoy a fantastic fireworks show.
Emma Mehigan

 

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Today we went to Deborah’s place again after eating breakfast and making our lunches in the kitchen at the hostel.  This time, we focused more on moving things around and straightening up the storage area.  But before that, we all got riddle packets that some of the ladies had made for us after we stumped them with a few of our own riddles yesterday, which I thought was really nice of them to do.  Later on in the day a lot of the ladies played bingo for prizes (some of which we brought, and others were donations that were already there).  A moment today that felt particularly like a “God moment” to me was during the second round of bingo.  One of the ladies said something along the lines of “Please Lord, let me win this box of tissues.”  And then she was the first to win in that round and got the box of tissues.  It probably wasn’t any sort of Pulp Fiction style divine intervention, but I just thought it was a little heartwarming.

-Chris

 

We left Deborah’s place after a series of pictures, goodbyes, and overall heartwarming moments, and found ourselves at the hostel for a little R&R, and soon after the city library. It had nine stories, and a decent collection of books. There was also art showcased there, including 6 old paintings depicting different moments from the Bible. We then decided to do something a little more touristy, and visit the observation deck of the John Hancock building, where the majority of us participated in the main attraction, The Tilt. Essentially what happened is, we went on a wall on the 94th story that tilted downwards about 45 degrees. We had a perfect view of Chicago, all the while contemplating what would happen if we fell, except me of course. I also took some pictures of the city from this view, which would have been even better on a sunny day. We decided to finish off the day by going to 7 11, as it was the 11th of July, for free slurpee day. To our dismay, we arrived a little (probably a lot) too late. As both stores we visited were out of cups. However, the second store was much cooler about it than the first one, as they used Jumba Juice cups, in place of the other cups. However, there’s a Yin for every Yang (I know I used that expression wrong, but I don’t care), and the second store was running out of everything, save the Coca-Cola flavor, and cotton candy. Both of which were bad, but it was better than nothing. It is worth noting that the first store had all of their flavors working, they were just being uptight with the rules. Moral of the story, be the second place, everyone will like you then.

-Alexander P.

Chicago–day 3 and 4

On Sunday morning, we went to church, as usual. We took the L to the cathedral of the Diocese of Chicago. It was a huge, beautiful cathedral. We got there a bit early and spoke to one of the ushers about the history of the church, and the church in general. One thing I found really interesting was that Abraham Lincoln once worshipped there. The service was beautiful- I especially loved the wonderful choir and organists. I also loved how, in the Episcopal tradition, the service was almost exactly the same as our service at Holy Comforter. There were a few differences, like when we sang the Lord’s Prayer instead of speaking it. Multiple people asked us where we were from, and in a strange way, even though we were in a different state, I felt just like a do at holy comforter- at home. 

-Colleen 

IMG_5246IMG_5248IMG_5249IMG_5251IMG_5253IMG_5254IMG_5255IMG_5258IMG_5261IMG_5265IMG_5266IMG_5271IMG_5282IMG_5283IMG_5285IMG_5289IMG_5291IMG_5298IMG_5299IMG_5304IMG_5306IMG_5308IMG_5310IMG_5317IMG_5318IMG_5322IMG_5325IMG_5328IMG_5332IMG_5334IMG_5339IMG_5340IMG_5344IMG_5346IMG_5358IMG_5362Today we woke up at 7:00 AM to go and have breaks before we went to Deborah’s Place.  After we got off the train, we had to walk about fifteen to twenty minutes.  When we got there, we walked through the hallways to the learning center.  There, Juanita introduced herself and gave us a brief summary of Deborah’s Place.  After, the boys and girls split into two different groups.  The guys moved boxes of supplies into the supply room while the girls cleaned other parts.  When everyone was done with their first assignment, everyone pitched in to clean the meeting room.  Once the meeting room was finished, we had lunch and played a lot of games, since we couldn’t go on our phones.  After lunch, we played The Price is Right with the women that are currently at Deborah’s Place.  It was very entertaining.  All the women were very competitive.  Once we were done, the women thanked us for coming.  It was great to interact with them because even though they were dealing with things in life they all had a smile on their faces.  That made me very appreciative of everything in my life.  I know that the others felt the same way.

-Alfred Gri-Abbott

 

Sunday, we went on the architecture boat tour.  Chicago had some very interesting architecture.  It had a lot of old historic buildings and some new ones with nice shiny glass.  I really liked seeing Trump Tower.  It was so cool to see one in person.  This is my first city I visited with huge skyscrapers, looking at the buildings was so cool.  I also liked the building that was narrow and got wider as it got to the top.  The architecture and vastness of those buildings really made me think about the magnitude of all we’re able to accomplish as human beings, and how great God must be to create something as complex and imaginative as the human mind.

-Max Lyons

 

I came late due to a wedding, so while I missed the first couple of days, my first one was very enjoyable and rewarding.  We visited a women’s housing facility called Deborah’s Place.  All of the tenants and staff were so welcoming and friendly, and the whole experience was really fun.  From Max freaking out about the questionable deadness of a spider to Alfred and Max being utterly confused by a riddle game to playing a super high-energy and enthusiastic game of The Price is Right, it was just an amazing experience.  Afterwards, we went to a huge playground.  It was surprisingly large, and although jeans made it difficult to enjoy the vast array of slides, we had a great time.  On the way home, the sprinkling rain made for a lovely, cooled-off walk back to the hostel, where we had time to relax and bond with each other, which, to me, is almost as important as the service work we’re doing together.

-Quincy Behning

Chicago–Day 1 and 2 Reflections

Greetings and Salutations! This is the blog for the Chicago mission trip and each day you will get reflections and perspectives from different members of the group. Today’s blog is brought to you by Sam Eastman and Maeve Mehigan!

Friday night we arrived in Chicago Midway Airport. We met our tour guide Brittany, and took the orange line to our hostel. We then got settled in and walked into the city to get some authentic Chicago pizza. After, everyone was exhausted, so we participated in a short compline and headed to bed.

Saturday morning, we started the day with a leisurely breakfast at the hostel. We walked to Grant park, where we explored the connecting parks and saw iconic tourist attractions such as The Bean in Millennium Park and Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. The group moved to Maggie Daley Park and split into small groups to journal and study a short bible passage from Philippians. As a quick lunch, we had classic Chicago hot dogs, then briskly walked back to the hostel to change and prepared for the afternoon service activity. We took the “L” to a nursing home near Lincoln Park called Little Sisters of the Poor. There we met a volunteer coordinator named Zipora, who told us a brief history of the organization. We then asked residents if they would like to join us in the grotto for chair yoga and ice cream social.

Next, the group split and the first ‘stone soup’ supper small group traveled to the grocery store to buy supplies while the rest went back to the hostel for free time. The stone soup group prepared a delicious meal of chicken parmesan and pasta with garlic bread and watermelon for dessert.

The bible passage that we read in the park was a letter from Paul. He wrote it during his imprisonment for spreading the word of God. He says that no matter what form God’s word is in, that he is grateful for it being spread. We discussed the meaning of this passage as relating to our trip. We came to the conclusion that on this trip we will also be spreading the word of God and our church to everyone we come in contact with. We must remember Paul’s words as we go about the city of Chicago, and spread his good news.  We also have to remember that God is with us on this trip, and to look for him in many places. A place that I saw God today was at the nursing home. We had to take the elderly to an ice cream social in their courtyard. I took an Irish lady named Mary. Her hearing was failing her and she was hard to understand because of her accent. Even though we had a difficult time communicating, we still managed to connect. It was amazing to learn about all the different peoples lives that had been so much longer than ours. I am looking forward to many more service projects this week, and I can’t wait to see God in lots of great places.

– Maeve Mehigan

Today was extremely memorable for me. As we wandered around the parks in the morning, especially when we sat and wrote in our journals at Maggie Daley Park, I felt God. The weather was absolutely incredible, complete with a brightly shining sun, a cloudless blue sky, and a breeze to relieve us from the heat. Before writing in the journals, I sat for a moment to take everything in, and despite the very active city around us, I found the setting so serene. This sense of tranquility also happened while at the nursing home. At the beginning of the chair yoga activity, Zipora, the volunteer leader, had the group perform the following actions for five seconds each: inhale, hold our breath, and exhale. While we took in our deep breathes, she instructed us to close our eyes, allowing us to focus on the benefits of the exercise. Again, the weather, combined with the soothing sounds surrounding us in the grotto at the nursing home, including the birds and the faint conversations occurring around us, made me feel so completely at peace. My time at the nursing home was one of the most touching experiences I have had the pleasure of participating in. Although it was difficult for me to fully embrace the idea of talking with strangers, I got the chance to speak with some remarkable people. As soon as I engaged with the residents and found subjects to converse about, the discussion began flowing and I got to hear stories from childhoods in Ireland, war experiences from Vietnam, and even opinions on the presidential election (which was tense and somewhat awkward at times). I am so extremely glad and grateful for the opportunity to speak with these people who have lived through events I might never be able to experience, and I am excited to serve Chicago for the next week.

Samantha Eastman