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.