Thinking about the future

I really don’t have to do a whole lot of serious thinking yet, compared to others about the future- but one thing that i have learned about myself over the past (almost 20 years now) is that I can’t help but think and dream, and plan for what is to come.

It is social justice week at school. Meaning a portion of students who have volunteered, will sleep outside in cardboard boxes on the lawn between two of the academic buildings for the week. most of us wont shower, eat regular meals, or change clothes. There are speakers every night, and worship every morning at 7:00 a.m. Last night it was cancelled due to freeze warning and because it started raining before boxes could even be set up. This bothered a lot of people, because the homless don’t get to simply not sleep on the street because of the weather. But, since we do have responsibilities to school etc, AND because we have beds and roofs over our heads, we decided to wisely take advantage of those blessings last night, and to thank God for them.

The speaker did not cancel his meeting (and thank GOD he didn’t). The speaker works with an organization  in the inner city of Philadelphia with his family. He told us his story and how God has been walking with him and his family. It was so inspiring. This closley followed – mind you – the annual address of the University President, about living not for significance, but out of, through, and for faithfulness.

I realized that I struggle with thinking and being satisfied with the small. All that encouragment to dream BIG, really worked on me- to the point where I was deeply unsatisfied to think that I would not have a grand and adventurous life at some point in time.  However, even if I do have a grand and adventurous life at some point (and I believe so far i may even have had a bit of one)- I remember that God doesn’t just use the significant, or those in power, or with influence. God uses the woman by the well, the mary magdalanes- the nobodies- in seemingly small ways through their faithfulness, for what later turns out to be magnificent things which are glorifying to GOD.

I have always wanted to go back over seas. To work in an adrenaline-rush environment… where I could actively see the fruits of my labor, and feel as if i was doing something big and really worth while. I struggle to clearly identify my motives behind wanting to go to another country and help. I do truly love culture, travel and being among displaced people, because that is where i truly feel at home, however, i also want to be of value. I want to do something GREAT. Something that people will remember. To have significance.

I am starting to realize that my greatest challenge may be staying here. It may be working in the inner city of America. It needs help too. And why do people always feel like they need to go somewhere else to love people and share God’s love with them?? People in America need it too! Last night God even gave me an image a dream for what I could do in the USA, if this is where he called me to be. A big house, in the inner city, where we could cook BIG meals for homeless every thursday, and we could have immigrants come in and get help- maybe even offer shelter! offer free art classes (through government grants) to kids who are going to incredibly tough schools. Things like that. Be apart of a community and just offer love.

I don’t know where God is calling me… but he has given me dreams and passions for many – and i mean MANY different things…

We will see where God leads. My heart is stirring. I have so much more peace with the uncertainty of where God may take me in my future! Praise God for everything he is doing, has done, and will do in the lives of those around us, and for what he is doing in us! AMEN!

CHI-TOWN

after a mad rush of crazy movement into a city from one of the most rural areas i have ever been in, we dove into the flow of the week.

our team started off with a night of bonding at one our leaders houses. We filled ourselves with incredible food, games, prayer, and fellowship. The next day we headed into the downtown and settled into the big church on the corner, where we would be dwelling for the following 9 days.

easter was spent in an african american church, with a lively congregation and many dancing children of God. The paster was sweating floods, and frequently dried himself with a towel, and the rest of the congregation including the rural white kids all jumped, clapped and jived.

after the service, we prepared food and met at sunshine ministry to begin the series of urban exposure sessions.

Joel and Sean were our teachers and guides. we learned about racial reconciliation,  homelessness, the social injustice in the city, poverty cycles, etc.

My brain went and still is on overload.

we visited and experienced the culture shock of Chinatown, where the live turtles, frogs, and fish that were killed before our eyes. we also visited a ministry located there that helped teach ESL classes and minister to the masses.

tuesday we cleaned the church while the boys dry walled and worked on instillation in a building, and then proceded to embark on a 2 hour ‘El’ ride where we were meant to engage in conversation with various strangers.

I had 9 different conversations. i met sylvester, marc, 2 foreign exchange students (from brazil and korea), yata, and a couple other random conversations.

The conversations were awesome. One conversation was held with a woman who spoke of her 2 years in various refugee camps, and the hardships that she faced there, another was with a high man, who was asking for kisses, and although having made a poor first impression, actually engaged in a conversation about Christ with me. I had asked him what his passions were and he told me that ‘really the thing that is closest to my heart right now is getting saved.’

i was startled and asked him who he was waiting to be saved by? he said Jesus Christ, and then changed the subject back to random and at times rude things. But he was my friend, and before he left we hugged and wished one another well.

I saw a piece of Christ shine through him- and it was incredible.

That train ride in general was an adventure. About 6 stops before ours there was a power shortage and a huge bright bright blue light flashed and smoked. chicagonites emptied the cars screaming, ” IT’S GUNNA BLOW!”

not being a native- our team obeyed and ran – staring and asking questions as the train emptied onto the platform. no one knows what happened- but everyone was o.k. and after the excitement was over, every one proceeded to find their seats again and  continue on their merry way.

the next day the girls work project was canceled, so we were put on a scavenger hunt as the boys finished the instillation project. This may have been one of the most impacting incidences for me. we started the scavenger hunt but ended on the second site where we got coffee and were offered a tour of the ‘little black pearl’.

this is a fair trade coffee joint, that has an art school and gallery in the back of the building. the facility is incredible! it inspired me in such incredible ways. they offer sculpture, mural, mosaic, drawing, dance, and many other classes to students stuck in some of the worst school in the nation. the students get commission jobs where their art is displayed on sides of buildings, lampposts, highways etc. through out the rest of the trip i saw at least 2 of their major projects around the city.

it was incredible to see how transformed these students were once they entered the studio. it was inspiring and brought me to tears.

i felt a VERY strong desire to be involved with the school, and am hoping to intern there for my art major one summer.

after that we met back at the ministry to go tour Pacific Garden homeless shelter. That facility stands as an incredible beacon of Christs faithfulness and power. it is a beacon of hope, like a lighthouse in a storm.

it houses close (if not) a 1000 people and requires and therefore provides showers for each guest every night. It is working to build a greenhouse so that it can be self sufficient in several ways, and all of its food  is donated by various organizations every day. they have classes, job options, a free and good medical clinic, etc. it was incredible- and to think it is over 100 years old and started because of a womans vision.

incredible. God is really at work.

thursday we visited JPUSA, and interesting experience and community. we visited their homeless shelter, and were then told to go in pairs to talk homeless people on the street.  we had many interesting conversations. I went with adam G. We talked to tom and roger.  tom was from a group home but couldn’t find his way back- lost in chicago with no way for me or adam to help him find his way back. Please – if you think about it pray for him.

friday we engaged with the muslim and hindu culture of north chicago. we listened to an apologist and were then sent out again to explore the neighborhood and meet people. we met one woman who worked at a books store and who shared her hindu beliefs!  it was really cool to hear her stories and beliefs.

saturday we embarked on our journey back after debriefing a bit with our team, roamed downtown Chicago for an hour, and headed on the 4- 5 hour trip back to campus. The next morning the team reconnected to attend a local baptist African American church. it was such a blessing to attend and be apart of that community locally.

our team has bonded so strongly, and learned so much. our hearts have been exposed to much pain, and we will be working to be active in our community here on campus with the knowledge we have gained. i will be involved in a childrens innercity ministry, and may start attending the african american church 15 mins away.

I feel a strong desire to be active in the inner city and all of its blessings and trials in our society.  we will see what else God has in store. i will share more of my lessons learned later- but for now i must say good night and finish homework.

thanks for all of your prayer and support!! much love and blessings,

Sarah