Wednesday and Thursday – Chicago

Lucy with a portion of the boxes we made.

Wednesday the entire group went to MAC – Mothers and Children which is a ministry of Catholic Charities.  They provide a box of food for a month to mothers as well as to the elderly.  We spent the day making boxes with tomato and grape juices, milk, canned foods, rice and beans.  By the end of our time there, we created 801 boxes with our 12 person group.  After a day of physical work, we had an evening of fun and went to a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley field.  Tristan was just a little excited about being at Wrigley Field!  We got to enjoy the game along with Josh Clayton and Matthew and Megan Gertzen.  It was great to see some of our former youth group folks.

Thursday, the groups went in different directions but both groups were out working in the garden.  One group went to Rogers Park United Church to work.  Miranda tells of her experience there.  The other group went to West Chicago to work in a garden that is a Memorial to a young boy killed in a hit and run accident.  Delphia and Jake speak to their experience.

Today we went to a church to help with the peace garden. The church was Methodist and was filled with love and an accepting atmosphere. We pulled grass out of a garden that was over grown so that the other plants had room to grow and flourish. Most of the plants were native to the dry and sandy soil surrounding much of Chicago. The deacon that helped us plant and move the plants around the garden, kept saying remember the “why”. One time he said “Remember why you are planting these plants, not because the city needs more beauty, but because the butterflies and bees pollinate plants. These plants will help take care of other plants because of the insects.” Along with the flower garden there was also the vegetable garden full of plants including tomatoes and cucumbers. Most of the plants in the different gardens were native plants that would help the environment. The work we did today was just the start of the summer long project to create a labyrinth and possibly a gazebo. The deacon explained that the city needs more places that are sacred and safe for people to enjoy. The church has a number of events including a sewing group that also incorporates a bible study time to time. The church also had free bread and a thrift store next door for anyone in need. The Deacon also expressed that people are people, to him everyone should share the same rights. The welcoming atmosphere made me feel likeno judgement was normal, the belief that people are people will stick with me throughout my life. I am beyond grateful that I got the chance the meet the Deacon as well as begin a project that will be amazingly beautiful with the help of many people this summer.      -Miranda

Today when our group was traveling from the garden we were helping fix up, we had to board a bus. The bus was packed and so at first all 6 of the people in my group had to stand. As the bus made its stops the bus slowly got less crowded until everyone but myself had a place to sit. I was fine standing – it wasn’t a very bumpy ride and I had 3 days of practice under my belt – but one of the women sitting next to an empty space I hadn’t noticed got my attention and told me to take a seat. As I approached her I double checked that it was okay for me to take a seat next to her on such a crowded bus. She told me to go ahead and sit, and mentioned that I looked like I had been working hard and deserved to sit. I tooka seat, and to my surprise she kept talking. She asked what I had been doing to make myself such a mess, and when I told her she said that she appreciated it – and that it was such a good thing to do, since during the summer ‘everyone gets lazy’. I agreed and said that it was rewarding to see the progresswe had made. She laughed and agreed. After a short silence, she said that sometimes it was hard to get active, I nodded and said that for me, the hardest part is getting started. Once again, she agreed, and we fell into another short silence. After a little while, she told me that one of her friends was beautiful with ‘long hair, perfect skin’… and then told me how this friend had gotten into drugs somehow, which took her nice hair and skin. She said that she was so glad that her friend was alive, but that it is easy to take things for granted until you lose something. The way she talked so casually about the fact she almost lost a friend kind of struck me, and all I could do was nod vaguely. A silence fell once again, until Karen told me that the next stop was ours and that I should pull the rope to let the driver know. The woman next to me called out the name of our stop just as I was pulling the rope. I stood up, she said to have a nice rest of the day, gave me a broad smile, and then I had to exit the bus.   – Delphia


Today at the garden we did mulching, mowing, cutting bushes and picking up trash. Sorry I don’t have much but that’s really all we did. – Jake


A few pictures

These are a few pictures of the first couple days.  More will be posted as we gather them.  And in the bottom right of the stained glass is MLK Jr who had an office in the church where we are staying.IMG_6269IMG_6271IMG_6294IMG_6272IMG_6273IMG_6281IMG_6286

Tuesday – DOOR Chicago

Today Group 1 went to the African Heritage Community Garden to work.  They were done a bit earlier in the day and had the opportunity to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo (Group 2 had the chance on Monday).  The zoo was opened in 1868 and is free to the public.  Group 2 worked at Vital Bridges, a food pantry that serves those with HIV/AIDS.  The menu they shop from is high protein and rich with fruits and vegetables, in large part to the dietary needs that come with taking their medications.

Tuesday night we heard from the DOOR city director and had conversation about systemic racism and the problem of only hearing a single story.  Single stories are what perpetuate stereotypes and it is important to find out more of the story about people.

Posts for today are from Ted, Lucy, Daniel and Harper.

Today I went to African Community garden to plant flowers. We sifted compost (prompost) and planted marigolds and petunias. We sanded down the old red paint on a bench so it can be refinished. We watered a lot of plants, and I got my feet very wet. We went to the zoo afterwards and saw a water-cow (hippo) and a cow. We saw a monkey fight.  – Ted

Today was an extremely unexpected, yet beneficial day of  growth  for me.  This morning we piled into a minivan and on our way to the work site and were given a brief tour from Juan Pablo Herrera, the director of the program we are working with.  We learned about all of the empty lots in the neighborhood that we’d be working in.  They were results of the white flight that occurred after MLK Jr.’s assassination. These lots are still empty today and a majority are overgrown and littered with bottles and candy wrappers. This inevitably creates a lack of community in the neighborhood and causes residents to feel they have no stake in their community. Therefore, they continue to litter and not keep their property looking nice. This becomes an endless cycle of not respecting the community, and then not caring for it.

Something that residents and volunteers in these neighborhoods do in order to strive for a more beautiful Chicago is turning these empty lots into community gardens.  Today we worked in The African Heritage garden. This garden was different from most in to respect that it wasn’t built by “white do-gooders form the suburbs” as our site director called them, but by members

of that community.  The African Americans in that neighborhood came together to plan, build, and grow a garden that honored their African heritage.   However, after it was built the community had trouble maintaining it because of their work schedules and volunteers stepped in to help with the care of the garden. So we spent the day in the warm sun planting flowers, sifting compost, watering plants, cutting down large limbs, rolling giant (at least 100 pounds) rocks into new places, and taking the occasional break to run through the sprinkler.  There was one point where the rest of my group was off somewhere working on compost and I was left by myself in this beautiful bed of flowers (fun fact: the flower bed was shaped like Africa)

Sitting in this flower bed there was just this moment of peace where I could be digging in the mud, with these bright yellow marigolds. I hadn’t felt that sort of bliss in a while and it was a really cool moment.  I was so muddy and sweaty and my legs hurt from kneeling own for an hour to plant all of these flowers, but for a moment that all didn’t matter in this short time of peace.

In the time that we were at the garden, we sifted and turned over 3 piles of compost, planted more than 100 marigolds and petunias in the Africa flower bed, cut down a gigantic bush of overgrown irises, cut down several trees, moved 9 rocks that were half my size, cleaned up the sidewalk and surrounding areas, and had some fun while doing it all.  When we left it looked like a new place, in only a few hours we had added so much color and life to the place. That Africa Flower garden where I had that peaceful moment will always hold a special place in my heart. And the good that garden will do for the community makes my heart warm.   – Lucy


Today I served people who have contracted the disease HIV aids. We were given a shopping list,and we grabbed the items on the list and put them in our cart. Then we unpacked them onto a counter and gave the food to them. It was interesting. – Daniel


Today I went to Vital Bridges, a food pantry for people who are living with HIV/AIDS. We got a list of food the client wanted, and went through the pantry and got the food for them. After that, we went and read out all the food. They then packed their own bags. Many people of different genders and races were there. It was very educational and humbling. I enjoyed doing good, even though I didn’t do much.    – Harper

DOOR Chicago – Monday

We were in two groups today.  One group went to Turkey Chop to prep and serve lunch.  The other group went to Cornerstone to serve lunch as well.

Today I met a man named Quinten Love. Every Monday he gives food to the community for free. He had us youth and sponsors (Me, Lucy, Ted, Miranda, Andrew, and David). Today I met a diverse group of people. I saw God in everyone there. From God helping people to God strengthening people. There was particularly one person that stood out to me. That person was Quinten’s grandma. She prayed for Ted and she talked to everyone and always was kind. I was glad I got to help at Turkey Chop today and if I was given an option to do it again I would do it in a heartbeat.   – Tristan

We worked at Cornerstone food kitchen today.  We chopped vegetables and helped get lunch ready.  After lunch we also cleaned and washed dishes.  I saw God today in helping the people at the food pantry and serving food.  People who came for lunch said thank you to me.  I also saw God in the signs on the wall.  My favorite was erasers can fix mistakes.    –   Kaylee


May is here!

May has arrived and we will be celebrating with our youth.  Congratulations to our graduating Senior class!  Blessings as you go forth.  Also congratulations to our confirmation class.  The 8th graders have spent the semester learning more and pondering their faith.  They are writing faith statements and preparing to meet with the Session in the coming days.

As always, May is a busy month with graduations, parties, proms and tests.  But we look forward to the upcoming mission trip to Chicago as well!!