Thursday, July 2, 2009

More Pictures!!!

I've finally been able to narrow down all the hundreds of photos to 150! I had no idea how many pictures we actually took. These are the best of the best taken by several people on the team and even a few of the boys from the Angel's team. None of us have even close to the photography skills as Jeffrey but enjoy all the same.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When God Shows Up...

What a week! Today was a very powerful experience for all of us on the team. God made himself very present as we walked the streets praying. We divided into two teams in order to cover more territory. God met each team right where they were at just the right time. This is a long post but well worth reading.

I started my day with group 2. They got off to a great start so I decided I would head over and see how group 1 was doing. They had encountered some opposition from the people passing by. Some even made some rude comments. They were discouraged and drained. I tried to give them a good pep talk but it was evident it did very little to their spirits. So I hung back from the group and prayed for them.

Less than a block later, the group met Vincent, a culinary student hoping to be a world famous chef. He noticed they were praying and asked if he could join. The team said sure and the next thing they new is was walking with them praying. A few yards later the group was passed by two women. They turned around and asked what church we were from. After answering a couple questions one of them rounded up everyone in a circle and prayed for them. Then they turned and left.

Everyone figured Vincent would return back to whatever he was doing at this point but he didn't. He walked side by side with our students praying for them, Chicago, people passing by and all sorts of things. As our students were praying he would take the lunches we prepared and distribute them to people. I watched and thought, "That is just like God." Here are group was tired and God provides someone to share the burden. God brought the group Vincent to encourage them. And Vincent stayed with them for quite awhile.

Seeing the group moving along strong I felt the need to check in and see how group 2 was. They were a few blocks away so I decided to join them. We didn't walk far until we saw a man who said, "Here come the saints!" Didn't expect that one. He was a simple man just chilling on a fire hydrant. He wasn't asking for anything, just waiting for us to come. He even told us he had been waiting. I didn't catch this first part of the conversation because I was standing further back hoping to snap a few pictures and just watch the group pray with him. I was not expecting what happened next.

His name was Minister Sam. He noticed me and called me over saying he could tell I was the leader. He then started telling me all sorts of things about me and how I lead the team. He shared very encouraging words and I just kind of let it go. Then he looked at Seth and started describing personality and some of the giftings God has given him. All of which were similar to a conversation we had earlier in the week. Now I'm praying for discernment about what exactly is going on here. Then he went to the next person.

Sam continued around the circle sharing things about each group member and revealing different abilities and strength each person has, telling each person different things God is doing in their lives. At this point I just told God I would finally shut up and quit being so cynical. Every thing he shared was directly in line with Scripture. His describtions of people were very accurate. His words had power and were incredibly encouraging. Eventually he finished and said he needed to sent us on to finish our work. We prayed with him and walked away completely in shock of what we just experienced.

As one big team we talked a lot about both encounters and how powerful the prescence of God felt in each one. A beautiful picture of God's Spirit helping us carry out our call through Vincent. The beautiful sound of God's Spirit speaking truth into our lives through Sam. I'm still trying to wrap my limited mind around the whole expereince.

Praise God for his abundant faithfullness on this trip! He has provided and met us. We are changed and are prepared to tell our stories. So parents, friends and anyone else be ready to listen. After we catch up on some sleep we've got some God stories to share with you!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Finishing Strong

Hey everyone! Here we are, our last day in Chicag09. We still have much to do today to show others they matter.

We started our morning by worshipping with the amazing people at Good Seed Ministry. We spent the afternoon with them spending time together, eating pizza, throwing a few balls around, and watching Pastor Bone pitch for his baseball team. We spent the evening together as a team to celebrate Carole and Stephanie's birthday. Trace even made a guest appearance for the day and took our team pictures. All we had to do was share our Chicago pizza with him!

Today we return downtown to pray over the city. This prayer walk is a very stretching experience for many of our students. Pray for focus and endurance today. We had some left over lunch supplies so we'll be sharing some lunches with people we meet on the streets.

We will be returning to GCC at 6 PM Indiana time. After we unload and pray together one final time, students are welcome leave and start sharing their stories. Everyone is more than welcome to come to the church early and welcome back the team.

I will be blogging tonight with a recap of today. I'll also be posting more pictures and follow-up info so be sure to check back in a few days.

internet problems

I tried to get online tonight to blog about our last day at Good Seed but i'm having some problems. I'm posting from my phone right now. Very challenging! I'll try again in the morning. Until then know that we had a wonderful day and everyone is excited about heading back downtown tomorrow.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Baseball, Worship and Conversations

Today was one incredible day. After three years of Good Seed's baseball team trying to find a field to call their own, the boys played their first home game EVER! It was an incredible thing to witness and the boys were so excited. It was another hot day in the sun as my very red skin proves but our team cheered on those boys like they were in a championship game.
All of the boys were so excited when the found out there were signs with their names on them. Almost all of them asked me if there was really one that had their name on it. I always answered, "Not just your name but your number too." They would get really excited and run to find their sign. One boy named Terrell read his sign over and over again. After several times of reading it he realized exactly what it said yelled thank you and ran to the field. It was such a blessing to watch them be encouraged and feel like they were the most important baseball team ever. They are!
This is Pastor Bone sitting with Joshua or Little J or Flamming Hot, which comes from his love of Flamming Hot Cheetos. Josh is the youngest boy on the team and very much the little brother. The other boys get frustrated with the fact that he is still learning the game and hasn't developed some skills as much as they have. BUT today Little J walked and then stole second base. As soon as they called him safe his eyes lit up and his smile was was big as his face. He quickly looked over to the bench and fans and saw everyone cheering for him. Once he scored a run he ran to our group who was holding his sign and gave everyone about 20 high fives. He was on cloud nine.
Nathan and Trent were recruited to play for the team. Nathan hit a home run and Trent made some amazing defensive plays. They were encouraging the boys from the field and the boys were encouraging them. Pastor Bone is trying to get them to join the team again in the tournament they are playing in South Bend next weekend!

John and I were asked to throw out the first pitches on the new field. That was a very humbling experiences. As you can tell from the picture. I clearly have no clue how to pitch! I made the boys promise not to laugh again but I think I laughed the hardest when I threw the worst pitch in baseball history.

We spent the evening worshiping at Willow Creek Church. It was interesting to hear our students reaction to a church that is much bigger than GCC. We ended up sticking around for quite some times just eating in their food court and enjoying each others company.

I absolutely love this team. We have had so many great conversations about what God is teaching us and where we are in our journey. Our students are asking great questions and our leaders are giving some very wise advise from their own personal experiences. I'm so proud of everyone for staying focused and diving deep this week.

I would post more pictures but it took forever for these to upload. Continue to pray for the team to stay focused and push hard the last few days we have here. We don't want to miss any opportunities!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Unexpected

Hello parents, family, friends and other Chicag09 blog followers! It's John here and I wanted to jump on the blog and share some stuff that has been happening.

I'll be the first to say that this trip has not gone as planned. Sarah shared all the stuff that happened the other day with weather changing work plans, some of the camera gear/equipment getting stolen off the shuttle, the shuttle breaking down and the list goes on. Through it all though God proved Himself faithful to take care of us all along the way proving that He will not allow us to be overwhelmed by more than we can handle.

Today, we were ready to hit the streets and feed the homeless and after finding free bus parking, I was ready to join up with the team until someone passing by pointed out the flat tire. After some phone calls to Tom Zachary at GCC (who has been helping SOOO much with the shuttle issues) and calling around the neighborhood we got the spare put on and $18 later all was well.

Now by this time the team was done and I picked them up and headed back on the Eisenhower Expy to head back to the hotel. About 10 minutes away from our hotel there was some traffic backup which ended up being a guy who had ran out of gas on his way to work and was stuck in the far left lane of expressway traffic! Already being in that lane it made sense to immediately throw on the flashers and I jumped out to see what was the problem. Sarah, Seth and I were able to stop 3 lanes of traffic and got his car pushed to the side of the road. We ended up giving him a ride to the gas station, bought him a small tank with some gas and got him back to his car and got him on his way.

One main theme we've been discussing as a team for awhile and I've had on my heart in regards to all GSM missions is the reality that God works in our planning months in advance but God also does work in the moment. Had we not had that flat, we may have never been able to see that guy on the Eisenhower. Had I not been working on the tire, I may not have had the urge to get in on serving others. God did amazing stuff today through the homeless ministry we planned months ago and God did amazing stuff through the flat tire which led to helping our friend on the freeway.

And here's the point of it all. As we finished filling the gas tank, the gentleman we were helping (i never did get his name) thanked us and said "You guys are like Jesus to me today!" and I shared with him that that was exactly what we were doing this week and it's what we're about. It's what your students are about, being Jesus to others and showing them how much they matter to God.

Be proud of your students, they are working hard, they are playing hard AND they are being attentive to what God is doing in and through them! They truly are amazing!


(PS-No, I did not let any of the students out on the freeway while we were pushing the car :) Just in case you were wondering...)

Exciting Day = Long Post

It was long but good! A conversation from this afternoon...
Steph: Describe today in one word.
Megan: Awesome.
Steph: Excellent.
Sam: Restful.
Sarah: SMOOTH!
Steph: You know you've had a rough week when you call the day that you get a flat tire smooth and find a guy stranded along the road.
It's true! Despite it's challenges, today went so smoothly compared to previous days. We started the day heading downtown to feed the homeless. We've never had this project go as well as as quickly as it did today. I loved watching them pray for the people they met and share with them how much the matter to God. Everyone has incredible stories to tell about the day. I wish I could share them all but I will share this one.

I spend the second half of the project with Stephanie's and Seth's groups. After we stopped for lunch, we counted four more lunches to give away. A few blocks later after giving away 3, Steph informed the team they were doing well and had several lunches to go. Now I taught math and am confident 4 minus 3 does not equal several. It seemed like there were extra lunches growing out of the bottom of Steph's bag. We felt like the disciples when Jesus fed the 5,000!

John missed all of the project because he had to fix a flat tire we had on the shuttle. We later realized it would open the doors to help some others we would come in contact with. But I'll let John tell that story in the blog I asked him to write tonight. But it let to a great conversation about John 3:8 and how our lifes should be getting "interrupted" if we are listening to the Spirit.

Since we finished early we gave the team some time to nap, relax, swim or just hang out. They have been going strong all week and deserved a little break. Then we surprised them with WHIRLYBALL! Imagine lacrosse plus polo plus basketball with bumber cars. That is whirlyball. It was so much fun. It was exactly what we needed as a team to re-energize for the last few days of the trip.

We came back to the hotel with all the supplies we needed to make a TON of posters and banners for the Angel's first home game tomorrow. It was awesome to see the students argue a bit over who was going to make who's sign because they have already bonded with the team. The signs look great and the Angel's aren't going to know what to do with all the enthusiasm and energy we are going to bring.

Thanks for being patient with the pictures. I'll be honest, I'm too tired to upload them tonight. Perhaps tomorrow. (Jeff needs to come back from the wedding he is shooting soon! His photography skills are much better than mine!) Thanks so much for all of your continued prayers, twitters and comments. They team appreciates it greatly.