Monday, March 30, 2009

~*~ Chicago Part 2 ~*~

Day 4: This morning we were at Chase agin in the morning, I worked mostly on AR Data Entry fro Ms. Ryan and talked with a couple of the students they are working on the Three little Pigs story from the wolfs point of view and had to compare to the traditional story. The two children I talked with were two that I helped the day before with practicing sight words. I also talked with MS Ryan when the children went to lunch about teaching she had previously worked at an Alternative High School with severly behavioral disorder students, and has been at Chase a few years. She was telling me all these amazing places to visit in Chicago so I am hoping to go back someday and visit some of these places. After the School we were again given a map (ha ha) and taken up town to "meet a need". With this project we were given $5 and some boundries as to where we could and could't go. So Alecia, Drake, Michael and I headed off. I think my theme for the trip was getting lost, because we realized after a few minutes of walking that we had gone one street over the boundry lines. We turned around and headed back in the right direction. We walked for a few minutes and talked a little bit about what we thought we might do to meet a need, not one of us had a clear idea so we walked. We came upon a school and we all knew instantly that we wanted to do something for the children playing on the playground. Alecia went and aked if we could buy popcicles for the children and the the playground moniters said yes. I went across the street to Aldi's and bought two boxes of popcicles. We passed them out to the school children, and had a box and a half left so we decided to pass then out as we found our way back to our meeting spot. Most everyone we asked was thankful for the cool treat on this unusually warm afternoon. We passed all the popcicles out and met at Mc Donald's. We stoped to get a snack since we wouldn't be having dinner till late. During this Michael had bought a cheeseburger, fries and a drink. When I saw him again his food was gone I asked where it was and he said "Mom, there was someone outside who needed it more than I did." So he had given someone else his food. I was so proud of him and offered to but him more food and he said "NO, She really needed it more than me!" I was very proud that he could see someone elses need above hi own and he was willing to act on it. After this we headed over to Crossroads Community Center to serve food in thier kitchen. We walked in and it was dark and dirty and sad. Very institutionalized. Not very welcoming. We quickly doned aprons, gloves and hairnets and set to work. We had the kids work the serving line and I went to the back to wash dishes. We saw very quickly that there was not a lot of love for those being served and it saddened me. We were told it was ok that the trays werent coming clean as long as thier wern't big chucnks of food on them. It made me sick to my stomache to think that it was ok for these families to eat off of dirty plates and have food cooked in dirty pans. Some good things came of us being there Debi connected with a mom and her children and was able to make sure she got back what she lost thier. We saw God at work even in this dirty little room.

After CCC we went to Vietnemese for dinner and The Mom's all sat together, it was nice that we had an opportunity to do this. We laughed and ate and shared and just thoroughly enjoyed each others company! I feel so Blessed to get to spend time with them and get to know them each better.

Day 5: Our last day at Chase, was bittersweet many of us purchased things for the individual rooms we were in, and to hear the stories of the children's reactions to the sports equipment bought was incredible. I think each one of us wanted to stay and work and do more but we couldn't. I know I wish I had, had more money to help supply more of what they needed. Today I was able to talk with MS Ortea the teachers aid in Ms. Ryans class and she is a wonderful person. We shared about our children, and the struggles we have trying to get them to see that they are blessed to have what they do have.

After working at Cahse we went and had Chicago Style Pizza and it was so delicious! We then went ot the Chicago Food Depository. It was such a fun place to work there were 100 + volunteers and we went into the wharehouse were they had a u shaped conveyor belt and we boxed food. We packaged over 1,100 boxes that would feed a family of 5 for 3 days thats like 20,000 + meals! They had such a rythm going that your could hear the beat it was really neat to see everyone at work and truly wanting to be there and serve. I got to see Michael in action!

After debriefing we came back to the house and finished up for the night Debi and I went to the basement to wash a few things and we cleaned the staff bathroom, boy did it need it! We got to giggeling and headed upstairs and just when we get the girls quieted down Debir, Christy and I get to giggeling and can't stop, I think exhaustion takes over cause we finally get to sleep and prepare for our departure the next morning!

Day6: We get up and take our final showers at CSM and Christy and I walk over to get a Coffee at Starbucks, it was nice sharing with her and getting to know her so much better on this trip. Busy day of Sight seeing visiting the Science and Industry Museum, then to Navy Pier and dinner at Bubba Gumps. After our long day we head over to the Church we are stayin at and get settled in for the night! We palyed some cards, and really enjoyed our last night of Chicago!

Day 7: We get up make breakfast and clean up the church. It was so neat to see each of us take an area and really work at cleaning. My favorite part of this day was Valen getting in the Baptismal and scrubbing it! We drive to our final stop along the way. As we are driving we (all the Girls) have some discussions and its really neat for me to see these girls open up and share from thier hearts. We get to the Church we are staying at and they have fried Chicken for us for dinner! Yummy Yummy! We eat, get showers and have some fun time. Even here at our final stop we knew and felt God with us.

Day8: Driving, Driving, Driving..... That's basically what we did all day! I feel like I have gotten so much out if this trip. I have gotten closer with some of the students and many of the adults. I feel like I could and would do this again tomorrow! I feel blessed to have been a part of the team that went! I am excited to see how God will use this experience in each one of us.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Give me Your Eyes...

This past week I had the privileged to go on a mission trip with the Youth of FBC here is Augusta. 24 of us left Saturday morning and began an adventure that would change all of us forever. I have been on Mission Trips before and they have always made me come back feeling on fire to serve and each time I get more involved in serving others in some way, so I am excited to see what else God has in store for me and for each one of that were changed by this trip. As you read through this I included those things that may seem boring to others but I wrote it as I remembered it I hope you will take the time to read through the entire post, and I promise to finish the story...

DAY 1: Saturday was spent driving, driving, and a little more driving. Praise: No one got sick! However it did take us a about an hour and a half to leave the church parking lot! :) There was a light out on the trailer and we needed it to work. We did make it to our First stop right on time and enjoyed some Basketball, Volleyball, and Hot dogs with the youth at FBC Highland MO. Some of the group went to showers and a couple of the mom's stayed behind and got snacks ready for the evening and lunches ready for the next day's departure. Our first night Christy and I were in a room together and I am so thankful she had an air mattress I could use on this trip because we were sleeping on cold tile floor, and someone forgot to set the heat so that we would have it all night and we were freezing in the morning! We survived the giggles, ticking clock and squeaky air mattress!

Day 2: Sunday we woke up had a yummy breakfast prepared by some of the ladies at FBC Highland and then attended their service. After the morning service we loaded up the vans and lunches and got on the road. (it was after this, that Pastor Dick realized he had left his Debit card in the machine the night before). But we pressed on! and drove.... We arrived in Chicago right on time. We quickly unloaded then had a leaders meeting to go over the weeks schedule. Then as if we hadn't been in the van's long enough we load up again for a prayer tour of the city. We drove around Chicago, getting a feel for several of the different neighborhoods we would be working in and praying for the work that would be done and those that would be helped. We returned to the CSM house tired and ready for the week to begin.

Day 3: Monday was our first full day of work in Chicago. We were separated in to two groups, Group one: The High School Students, Dick Jake & Lacey. The Second Group was the middle schoolers, the Mom's(Christy, Debi, Alecia, & Myself) and Kip. My group went to Chase Elementary and we were able to choose from several classrooms as to where we could go. I chose to work with Ms. Ryan she teaches Special Education. When I first came to the classroom, Mrs. Orta (Teachers Aid) had me working one on one with students going over their sight words. I loved doing this! I think I may have ignited a new passion! (I will be praying about this) After working at the school we went back to the CSM house for a quick break to wait on the other group. Our task for the evening was called Immersion. This had to be one of my most memorable nights. We had a teams of 5 and we were given $10(total) to purchase our dinner, a map(ha ha) and a scenario(we were uneducated, working minimum wage and couldn't afford both housing and food for our family) Our Group consisted of Me, Alecia, Michael, Drake, and Stewart. We left the CSM house and made our way to the train. We got to our stop and got off. As we were walking we came across a man named DJ Mike, he was a street performer and very obviously homeless. We talked to him for a few minutes and he touched each one of us. As walked we noticed that many of the people seemed to be in such a hurry, they all had cell phones or headphones on like they didn't want to hear anything that was going on around them. And I tried very hard to smile and make eye contact with everyone we came across and the majority wouldn't look at me or anyone else. This surprised me, and I am not sure why. It saddened me as well. We finally decide where we are going to get our dinner, 7-eleven. So we go in and look at Ra men Cups but decide on the Pizza instead we can get 6 slices for $7.00 and that means we can help someone else eat who may not have had the opportunity to eat. We all knew that we wanted to take the extra slice of Pizza back to DJ Mike. We even throw in a chocolate donut to go along with the pizza, plus the $2 and change we had left over. We head outside and eat our cardboard pizza(it was really bad!) and turn to go back to where DJ Mike is. But we quickly realized that we couldn't we hadn't made it to our final destination yet and we had to make sure we were back in the allotted time. So I said to the group that it's OK I am sure that God will show us someone who really needs this food. (and He did). We continued on our path and this man had come out of a store with a small brown bag, we were all stoped at the corner together and we were looking at our map to figure out how many more streets till we came to the Subway entrance we needed. He was very friendly and began talking to us and told us we had about 8 blocks to go. We began walking and talking for several Blocks, then we came upon this man digging in the trash (I didn't see this, I was talking to our new friend) Stewart looked at me and I nodded to go ahead, so we stopped and the boys went to the man searching in the trash and asked if he wanted the pizza. He seemed surprised and then very happy. He told Stewart that he was looking for something to eat. So he accepted the Pizza, donut and money and went along his way. As we came to the next intersection my new friend said goodbye and we went the next few blocks to our subway entrance point. We were in awe of how God had put someone in our path that really needed the food we had, and I lead us on the wrong train. Now anyone who knows me knows I have no sense of direction! And I can not read a map! So we are on the train for about 15-20 minutes before we realize that we are going the wrong direction. I sorta laugh because this is very typical of me, and I said to the group it's OK we have time and I don't believe that God allows these things to happen with out a purpose. We may see the purpose and then again we may not, this time we did. The next stop we got off and the were able to get on the train going the right direction. As we all sat down we kinda laughed, and we knew we were going to be cutting it close time wise but we should still make it back in time. The next stop a a man and his son got on. He looked at all of us and said: "I don't do drugs, or drink alcohol, I have fallen on some hard times and my son and I are homeless, if you could do anything to help God will bless you." No one moved and so he moved on to the next car. At the same instant Alecia and I looked at one another and we knew we had to do something. (you ever get that feeling that you were supposed to do something and you didn't and regretted it?, Well I knew this was one of those moments!)We began to dig in our bags and each took out some money and the three boys went to the next car to give it to the man and his son. As they came back I found a tic tac toe game/notebook in my bag and some colored pencils and so they took that to them as well. As the man and his son came back through our car he kept saying Thank you and God Bless you. I knew at that point that God used my weakness my lack of sense of direction to help this man and his son. Had we gotten on the train going the right direction form the beginning we would have never come across this man and his son. I believe that sometimes God can allow those roadblocks, times of running late etc.. to see Him in others. I prayed before going on this trip that God would open my eyes to those around me, that He would allow me to see them as He does. He did that time and time again on this trip. I will share more very soon! Have a Beautiful Day and Know you are Loved, Thought of, & Prayed for!

Love Christina

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chicago here we come

Well as I write this we have less than 24 hours before we leave for our trip to Chicago, to work with CSM. This is not my first and I hope it won't be my last missions trip. I am excited and nervous at the same time, but I know and believe that God is with us on this trip. Not sure who all reads this but if you are reading this be praying for the team that is going, 24 students and adults leaving Augusta to head to Chicago for this week ling mission trip. We will be working everyday in two schools helping students with tutoring and whatever else may need done, we will get to eat lunch with these same students and spend the entire week serving them. In the afternoons/evenings we will be working with two local shelters to help prepare and serve meals to the homeless and then one night we will be working in a food bank to help organize, sort and give out food to those in need.

I am so amazed at how God works sometimes. When we think we have nothing God shows us we have all we need, and more. As we prepare for this trip I have so many memories of two previous trips I took with the youth at Stonebridge, of course Atlanta which changed my life... I will never look at a pair of socks with out thinking about the men and women we interacted with there, but my hear always thinks of Chuck. He was living on the streets of Atlanta and had been for several years, originally from Alabama, his smile, his eyes will be in thoughts forever. You see we did these mission walks where we filled backpacks with needed items: socks, T-shirts, toiletries etc... and then walked the streets of Atlanta. On my first and only mission walk in Atlanta we met many, but Chuck is the one who touched my heart. When we first met him he was very quiet and wouldn't look at us directly. We had been surrounded by men who need items and they knew what we had. So as we were talking with these men and passing out supplies I looked at Chuck and asked what he needed and he said if we had some socks to spare he would take them. I found him a few pair of socks and a t-shirt and some toiletries, as he was fumbling to get these items in his backpack I offered to help and he refused and quickly walked away. I thought that was the last I would see of him but God had other plans. We gave out what we had then continued on down the street we were on, and stopped a few more times, about a half a mile from where we first me him Chuck, he was sitting on the side of the road putting on a pair of the socks we had given him, our students called out hello to him by name and that's when I saw he had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. I asked if I- could sit with him for a minute and he said yes. So I did. We sat there and I asked if he needed anything else and he said no he had everything he needed. (and we think if we dont have the latest and greatest of everything we are missing out!) So as we talked I learned a little about his family and that he had been in Atlanta about 2 years and he had children in Alabama, that he missed. He also said he hadn't had new socks since around Christmas. We were there in July. I asked him if there was one thing I could pray about for him and he said yes that he would get a job so that he could see his family again. As we stood up the team came around us and we prayed for him, I looked up as we were praying and he had tears gushing out. He couldn't believe that we would take the time to talk with him, to share what we had with him and to call him by name. And that made me cry. We all want to belong, to be wanted to be loved! I know I do. I went to Atalanta thinking I was gonna change someones life and I did, MINE! God can work in us in ways we don't even know. I truly believe that I will see Chuck again someday, not because of anything I did but Because of God's Love in me. And as we prepare to leave for Chicago, my prayer is that God will use me. That I will see others with his eyes, and I will Love them as He does! My Prayer for you out there in cyber land that you will begin to see people with God's eyes that you will see past what's outside but that you will see their hearts. Have a Beautiful Week, and I look forward to posting on the Amazing things God does in Chicago!

Know you are Thought of, Loved & Prayed for!
Love Ya