Thursday, July 26, 2007

Photo's from Day Four

DAY 4--Thursday Evening

Tonight was a wonderful way to close out an amazing and powerful day! We got dropped off downtown by the Sears Tower and had a little time to kill while waiting till 6pm when we had dinner reservations. We had a little fun with the cameras and jumped around a little bit. Some of those pictures may make the blog...

As we were wrapping up and about ready to head to dinner, a man approached us and started talking with us. He started by saying "Listen to your moms and dads! Listen to Jesus! Stay in school young people, don't ever drop out!" We were caught a little offguard, but decided to talk with him for a few minutes. His name was Rolan and this is his story.

Rolan is 46 and currently does not have a job nor a place to stay. He is in good health and is trying desperately to get a job. He wants to work and he wants to share Jesus with others. When he was younger, his little sister was raped and killed by her boyfriend. Rolan was so upset that he went after the guy and murdered him. And for this Rolan got locked up in prison. He was truly filled with sorrow for taking the life of someone, even someone who had done all that to his little sister. Well while he was in prison he found God. He began to read the Bible while in prison and during our conversation was steadily quoting more Scripture than any of us could probably say from memory. He told how he had seen so many awful things in prison, guys getting murdered, beaten and shanked and he recognized that the only reason he made it out alive was because of God. Since then he has been sharing his story with others and encouraging young people to listen to their parents, stay in school and follow Jesus. Rolan asked if he could pray for us, but before we did, he shared another lesson learned with our students. He explained to the students that we are to love everyone and share Jesus with them and if they are positive influences to our lives than we are to stay around them, but those that are negative influences we need to still love and share Jesus with, but we need to keep our distance so that we are not pulled down. The students got a chance to pray for Rolan and Rolan prayed for us.

It was an amazing experience and one that I'm sure these students will not forget for a long time and to some this may have been the highlight of their trip.

After we stuffed ourselves at Giordano's we made our way all the way up to the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower and had some time to look around all of Chicago. We gathered as a team and talked about what we had done that morning and how much of an impact we had. The team then had some time to personally reflect on the morning and to be honest with themselves about giving it their all this morning. They looked specifically in the areas where they had been praying and were able to identify many of the buildings and remember praying for all the lives that interact with that building. It was a really cool moment of reflection.

Well, it's off to bed now and we'll finish strong tomorrow! We'll be going strong all the way through to 8 o'clock tomorrow night when we pull into the GCC parking lot!

See everybody soon!

Chicago Group Photo

DAY 4-Thursday

Today was INCREDIBLE! The team got WAY beyond their comfort zones today! Even the leaders got a little bit stretched by everything we did today!

Quick recap, on Monday the team spent time in Little India and really expanded their minds and did some mental work. Tuesday and Wednesday we were at Lathrop Homes doing some serious physical work as we were cleaning, painting and moving furniture.

Well, today the team got to do some serious spiritual work! We headed downtown where Bus Driver Phil dropped us off by the Art Institute. We broke into our three teams again and spread out to cover a large portion of the city in prayer. Each team had several streets they were responsible and we spent about 3 hours walking down the streets, praying for every building. The team prayed for the workers in the building, for those that lived in the buildings and the patrons that would visit the countless stores and restaurants. Jeff and Sarah's team got to pray for those filming the new Batman movie in Chicago. Loretta and I's team had several federal buildings, including the courthouse and post office as well as the Chicago Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

All in all we covered every building from Michigan Avenue west to Upper Wacker and from Congress Parkway all the way up to Upper Wacker. All in all the team walked a total of 10.5 miles and covered every building along those stretches in prayer! You should be proud of this team! They were hot, they were tired and yet they persevered and kept pushing through! Afterwards we enjoyed lunch out by the planetarium and looked back at the awesome skyline! We're currently back at the hotel for some quick showers and then it's back into the city for a fun evening. I'll tell you if you can keep a secret because most of the students don't know yet...

Alright, we're going to load up on the busses and head down to Giordano's pizza in downtown Chicago which may be the most amazing Chicago Pizza EVER! And the best news is we have a group deal set up and it's an all you can eat buffet! Then it's over to the Sears Tower to go ALL the way up to the skydeck to have a sunset view over the city and ALL the buildings and people that we spent the entire morning praying for! Should be a cool night! More pictures to come this evening!

Hard to believe it's Thursday evening already...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Photo's from Day 3


Today was another FANTASTIC day over at Lathrop homes! We got a TON accomplished! Split into the same teams as yesterday we started tackling projects left and right. We took the truck and trailer with us today and offloaded ALL the furniture and beds that we brought with us. Everyone pitched in to get everything wiped down, freshened up and vacuumed clean, ready for delivery.

Team by team, we loaded up in the back of the truck with a few items at a time in the trailer to drive a block down the street and start on some new apartments while finishing some apartments from yesterday. Jeff and Sarah's group spent the day working with Trina. They were able to put together a new dresser that Trina had gotten for her daughter and they also assembled a new stand for her living room. We had brought a donated bunk bed with us but after a few minutes found out why a stranger gave it to us for free... There were several mission parts to the bed like side rails and braces and a few other important parts. So the team kept working and cleaning and Jeff and I made a run to a local furniture store and bought Trina a brand new bunk bed for her girls. Cool thing is today was her daughter's 5th birthday and she gets to sleep in a brand new bed with a brand new mattress!

Loretta and I's group headed over to help Flora out. We tossed out a really old couch that was beyond any hope and replaced it with a couch that had been donated from one of you guys! It was pretty apparent that the apartment could benefit from some deep cleaning so the team jumped on it and worked like crazy until lunchtime. After lunch it was back to Carol's apartment to help her continue on with the massive project of cleaning her apartment. We brought with us two donated dressers and a brand new bed for Jason. Jason is Carol's 18 year old son who has decided to join the national guard in order to help make a difference and to earn money for college. He was extremely grateful for the new bed and new dresser. We also helped fix her younger son, Jasper's, dresser that had been falling apart, but just needed a little TLC with some nails and a hammer! Carol was so grateful for all the help that the team had done over the last two days and is determined to finish the projects we helped her start so that if and when we ever come back to help again, we'll be proud of her continued progress!

Dave and Carol's group helped deliver furniture to several different places. One apartment they delivered a brand new bed for Lillyanna who just had her baby on Saturday. She had been sleeping on a twin that was in worse shape than anything that anybody reading this blog has probably ever laid on, much less slept on. They also helped deliver to about 2-3 other apartments in the morning that had different items of furniture that we delivered. After lunch they hopped on over to Flora's apartment to do some painting and final cleaning.

This evening then it was off for round two at Wendy's! Apparently the team enjoyed it on Monday so much they were ready to go back!

As were were sitting around this evening after dinner, we spent time talking about the day once again and sharing stories of what we all did and of the amazing experiences we had. If you are a parent of a student on this trip, you should be proud. If you are a freind of someone on this trip, you should be proud. If you are the son/daughter/spouse of one of the leaders on this trip you should be proud. This team gets it. Their actions over the last 3 days has shown that the words "Other People Matter" are a lot more than a catchy phrase or cool shirt. This team has shown love to other people by serving, by talking, by caring, by acknowledging someone else in this world other than themselves. The residents we worked with over the past two days many times could not put their appreciation into words and sometimes it spilled out in tears of joy and thankfulness that someone cared. There are over a dozen residents in Lathrop homes that have witnessed firsthand the love of Jesus because of what your students are doing. There are hundreds more residents of Lathrop that have been impacted by seeing your students love and care for and clean for total strangers when many times they are not even willing to help each other out as neighbors. The impact is far from over. Dyla and CeCe from Service Connector are so grateful, impressed, amazed and in awe of this team that they extended an open invitation to come back and help pretty much anytime! And I think we'll take them up on that offer!

The team is doing well. Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for the comments. Keep on praying, keep on commenting. The kids love hearing encouraging words from back home. And remember that you are as much a part of this team as those of us sitting here in Chicago. Your support, your encouragement, your prayers, your money :), and all the years of you raising such good kids has made this trip what it is. There is NO way this could be possible without all your support and of course your permission for me to take your kids to Chicago!

Good night! Be praying for the team tomorrow! We will be stretched and pushed beyond our comfort zone in a big way tomorrow! We'll update tomorrow evening!

Love from CHICAGO!
Johnny and the team.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007