Thursday, December 18, 2008

No clever title . . .good thing there's pictures!

All my blog titles sound like news headlines. . . perhaps it's because I wait to blog until I have 12 things to blog about . . . so I'm going to write about last night before anything else comes up.

Last night was the Christmas Program and dinner at the Agape Center. Children's programs are the same everywhere - the kids aren't sure they really want to be there. Mary and Joseph were 2 tweens who definitely didn't want to be there! :-)

These are the 3 wise men - Montrell, Corey, and Kijuan. When they went to give their gifts to the baby Jesus they realized that they had forgotten them under their chairs. So they went clamoring (?) across the stage and over their chairs to get their gifts. The things that you try to rehearse away are always the best part of the show.
MarKayle and Porshe.

Danielle and Megan


Corey and Trevon

Trevon put his crown on me just as they took the picture. . . :-)

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I went day-after-thanksgiving shopping! I am not necessarily recommending this to anyone, although my friend Jenni and I already have a plan about next year. :-) I can't post any pictures of me from the experience because I was lookin' a little mangy. We left the house for Walmart at 4:45 when it seemed acceptable to be mangy. I didn't really consider that we'd still be out at noon in Kohls and still looking mangy. My big find (and motivation for getting up early) was a GPS. My grandpa's been telling me I should get "one of those things that tells you where you are and finds where you are going". I've officially gotten lost enough to agree that a GPS would be helpful. My job involves going new places to meet new people, so it will always give me the opportunity to be lost. Besides, not all of the places I am going are places I want to get out of my car alone to ask for directions. I think with all this cheap gas I might road trip it to NY - only 10 quick hours away! - to try out my new toy.
Walmart had 28 dollar pink vacuums on their sales. Right now I only have a little patch of carpet in my apartment to vacuum and a very friendly land lord who has a vacuum downstairs - but I decided it was one of those things I would want to have for the rest of my life. And since it was on sale and pink it was the second great find of the day.
If you haven't yet played Settlers of Catan I am recommending it in this order: 1) Believe in Jesus, 2) learn to play Settlers, 3) come visit Megan in Chicago. It's an "exploration and strategy" game with multiple variations so it really is never the same game twice. I got to play twice a day for 3 days during Thanksgiving with some friends in Michigan that I went to Bible School with.

I found this giant tool box on sale for 15 dollars at Sears, making it my 3rd great find for the day. It's definitely also the least practical purchase - making it the one I'm the most excited about! So I took the tool box with me to the dollar store and sat myself down in the container isle to find perfectly sized containers to fit in the tool box and hold my game pieces.

There are containers under the containers and some spots on the lid so I have plenty of room to expand my strategy board game collection. I even found a game shop down the street from my house that has strategy games and every Tuesday night people come play games. You can trust and believe that I am going to make my way down there soon!

It's still a little surreal to me that I live here and am doing full-time ministry with urban children! I've been in Michigan all week for staff development, helping with the high school retreat, and meetings . . . and look how pretty it is here! We get "lake effect" snow, which is big and fluffy and just sits in the trees. This is your official invitation to come volunteer at Winter Blast on Feb 20-22 with campers and experience camp in the winter!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas Cultural Lesson #1

So everything they say about fall in Michigan is true - it's beautiful. But kinda leafy. Especially after living in south eastern Idaho where a tree doesn't grow unless you water it.

These pictures are from camp's November event: Rake n Rock. The local Christian radio station hosts it and local youth groups come help us rake leaves. This is me pretending I raked this giant pile of leaves myself. It was raining (well, okay - had rained all night and was misting) and cold and I was helping to host the high school leaders in training with camp and it was hard work! Turns out wet leaves are heavy when you have to drag acres of them into the woods.
This is me laying in the leaves . . . really only because I was already filthy and I like pictures. Thank God for oxy clean and my friend Em who washed my stuff!

Before and after pictures of Jabri. Her mom combed her hair out and we were going to take pictures and Jabri was like, wait - this needs a guitar. Funny. I did these braids! :-) I'm clearly still tickled that I'm learning how to braid. Yesterday I did braids and beads in 1 hour and 5 minutes! Wahoo!
I found gas in Michigan for $1.83! You know me - had to take it's picture . . .

Me and Shawneesha. She loves me, just not pictures.

These pictures are from our Partners in Discipleship (PID) Christmas party. We had 34 people there!! It was a lot of (loud) fun! Yes, I too make fun of people who do Christmas things before Thanksgiving, but that seems to be what worked out, so . . . It was a chance for the mentors and kids to come to a party together and meet others involved in PID.

So, apparently white elephant is not a multi-cultural game - who knew? Maybe I should have guessed since it's called WHITE elephant, but . . . We had to do some creative explaining to get people to play. It appears that people in the city do not think that having their present stolen is fun. However, once we got going the kids got their hussle on. The kids (and some adults) who didn't like their gift would try anything to get the next person to steal it. The bottom picture is of some kids trying to convince Miss Frances that she should choose their gift - it was loud, crazy, and fun. Picture an auction with about 10 auctioneers. :-) Or if you are from the city you can picture the guys that walk in traffic to sell stuff, about 10 of them.

(We are taking suggestions for next year's gift exchange. :-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We are going to have a Black president!

(if you don't like that this plays music you can mute your speakers or scroll to the bottom and push pause / choose another song)

Wow! America has elected a Black president! What an incredible moment in history! Whether you agree with Obama's politics or not, this moment is a triumph for social justice! It doesn't heal every wound or negate current and real racial injustices, but it is a large step forward for racial equality. Imagine the story of that 106-year-old woman who attended a segregated school and now voted for a Black president! Wow!

I didn't go to Grant Park. We talked about it but frankly I don't trust large crowds and we wouldn't have been in the area where Obama was at all - just in another whole section to the park watching ABC NEWS. So we watched the news on the couch. But look, I took a picture of Obama elected president! Wow.

As I was sitting on my couch watching the election I heard gun shots outside - twice in an hour! It's still a little surreal to me sometimes that I live and work in the inner-city. But something about watching the election with gunshots as the background noise was REAL surreal!

This reporter was interviewing people in the hood and there was this guy with Obama hats, t-shirts, pictures, socks (!), water bottles, etc. and she said "there's a very entrepreneurial spirit here tonight". Yeah - that's there every day! That guy walks in between traffic selling popcorn and water and umbrellas and roses and whatever else fits his fancy . . . it's always an "entrepreneurial spirit" down here. :-)

Then she asked a guy how his life would be different now that Obama is president. He looked at the reporter and said "Obama is a president for everyone. Black people, Europeans, old people, whatever you is. . ." Now, admittedly it would have been tough to identify her ethnicity with confidence, but really? "whatever you is"?!?!?!?! FUNNY! That's why you don't be handing your mic to just anyone. HA! I was crackin up!

Look, my bangs are swooping like I want them to. (mostly) And my eyes are greenish, also like I want them to. Did I tell you that when I got my Illinois license the man asked what color my eyes were and so I asked him if they could be green. He was like "usually people don't ask me what color their eyes are, but sure - if you want them to be green they can be green". So, if you ever have to give my description to the police because I get snatched or something, remember: I think my eyes are green!

More pictures of Jireh. Actually, people say they want some pictures on my blog that include me since they don't know any of the "my" kids. So this is a picture that I was in. :-)

I got to braid Jireh's hair last weekend, but first I made 2 puffs just for the purpose of taking pictures. 2 puffs is my FAVORITE, even though they are super impractical. I hope someday I have a little girl who has 2 puffs. :-)

This is Kent and he has clearly been practicing pool more than I have. The rest of these pictures are from the Agape Community Center in the south side neighborhood of Roseland. The Agape Center is a ministry of Here's Life Inner City, which is a division of Campus Crusade for Christ. Visit to learn more. They have many outreach programs for all ages and groups, but the one that I get to participate with is called Say Y.E.S.!, an after school program for 1st - 8th graders that offers hope through Bible teaching, alternative and positive activity options, tutoring, a safe location, and relationships with adult Christians. The Agape Center sends many children to camp each summer, and as my schedule allows I get to volunteer!

This is Shaquan. Many of the children at the Agape center need specific help with homework - and some positive one-on-one interaction. Here's another way that God is using my time in Idaho - it's not like you can't tutor kids unless you have a teaching degree, but there are things about it that clearly help. I get to teach Bible lessons during camp sessions as well - teaching the Word is definitely one of my favorite things to do! The goal of this game was to get the correct answer to multiplication questions and then "earn" the most money. I lost.

Diamond came to camp this summer. She's supposed to be working but mostly she's hoping I will take her picture. :-)

This is MarKayle and Keuan. Keuan is 7 and he accepted Christ yesterday as his Savior! He told me that he decided to go to heaven and when I asked him why he would get to go there he said "because Jesus died and I believe it!" Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine . . . to Him be the glory!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

So much to say . . . so few to listen :-)

Okay, so I am a little homesick. Correction: I am people sick. I can't really say I miss Idaho, but I COMPLETELY miss my Idaho people! Thanks to the people who have called, emailed, and written. (hint: And since I haven't blogged in a minute - and I can't just let pictures go to waste - I already feel like this is going to be long. If you just can't muscle your way through it I will understand. :-)

So I continue to be entertained by the city. It's better than being overwhelmed by everything that's new or frustrated by everything that's inconvenient. This isn't a church sign, but it's still funny to me. Do you think the Lord has an opinion on caskets? I definitely pulled over and got out to take this picture and a bunch of people waiting for the bus all moved across the street - I wasn't getting them in the picture but they couldn't have known that.

These are my friends from Bible school. Anastasia (left) lives in Michigan like 2 hours from the camp and Tricia (right) lives in Portland. Tricia is how I got involved with Beechpoint in the first place. She had worked at camp and told me I would love it and look, I love it! Tricia was here for a visit so we all met half way and spent the day together. This is us at Applebee's where we at, played Memory (a nice non-aggressive game, Court!) , and played Settlers. We were there for about 4 hours. Anastasia won.
Tricia and I also went to IKEA. This was my first IKEA visit and I must say it was a little overwhelming. It had 3 stories and it's all home decor/shelving solutions (my favorite)/utensils/etc. It would have been more fun if I needed a shelf. :-) IKEA is in the north suburbs and we got so unbelievably, embarrassingly lost trying to get back. We had to stop to ask for directions 3 times and the third time we asked a taxi driver who said "You trying to be in Chicago?? You sure is lost!" By that point we were in a west side suburb and had been driving for about an 2 hours. We even stopped at a gas station and tried looking at a map but we couldn't find ourselves on the "Chicago and vicinity" map. It was almost enough to make me break down and buy a GPS!

I finally made it to White Castle!!! Wahoo! About half my friends say I have to go to White Castle in order to call myself a Chicagoan. Actually, I'm not sure if that's what a Chicagoite calls themselves or not. Chicagonese? I'll stop. The other half of my friends warned me against going to White Castle... I will say that I had some trepidation about eating a burger called the "original slider" that costs 59 cents. It just sounds sketchy. But I finally went, and to tell the truth my original slider had too many onions for me to want to eat it. But the root beer was great! :-) I may yet learn to love me some White Castle since they are all over. Next they tell me I need to eat some Harold's Chicken. . .

One of the things I am doing for my job is visiting Good News Clubs to help out and talk about camp. This Good News Club meets in a school on the west side. It was my first time being at a Good News Club since I was a kid. It was tons of fun (although a little hectic) and it's nice to be in various neighborhoods recruiting kids for camp. What we hope will happen is that kids will know who I am and be able to come to camp just because they know someone who will be there. We are also trying to get the leaders excited about camp so they will sign up their kids to come - it's hard to get the paperwork filled out and the kids to the bus stop and we need community partnerships for that to happen. I also been able to volunteer at Sunshine Gospel Ministries and the Agape Community Center. I definitely want to continue to look for these opportunities because it lets me spend times with kids. I have also been busy setting up meetings to talk with ministries and churches about sending their children to camp.

God is so good to give me more babies here! Her parents are joining the full-time Beechpoint staff right now too. Aaron is going to be the Program Coordinator. Marissa is also joining the full-time staff as the Food Service Coordinator. Pray for them as they are in the midst of support raising. It's been so nice to go through this transition alongside some other people who are giving their lives to missionary work. It's also nice to be joining the staff at the same time as 2 other young people. Camp is growing and changing in so many ways and it's exciting to be aligned with it. Aaron is a visionary and definitely has faith to see how things could be - I love just sitting around and dreaming with him about camp in 20 years!

This is Partners in Discipleship (PID) Central in Allegan. They get together once a week and take turns doing the lessons individually with the leaders. I got to help out while I in Michigan. I go to camp once a month for staff meetings and events. There are 50 kids in the discipleship program and 30 mentors. Some of the kids have been in the program for 5 years! Pray for mentors in Chicago and Michigan so that waiting children can begin the program with partners.

This is Jabari and Jabri's extended family. They invited me to go on a wonderful outing to a place in Indiana where they had statues of Jesus from the Last Supper to the Ascension. It was beautiful and moving and powerful. It was also nice to see the family and meet a couple of new family members. The kids were really impacted by seeing the statues as well. We spent about 2 hours walking through the exhibit and then went to the Golden Corral. Look how good God is! I used to go to the Golden Corral with my Boise family and now, not only did I get to spend the day with a great family, but we went to the Golden Corral of all places. God loves me!

This is Jireh. She is Jabari and Jabri's little sister and she wants her picture to be taken too! She is about to be three and just the sweetest little girl! Her mama would want to watch me to be sure I don't just up and leave with Jireh. :-)

This is me, Tavaris, Tamyra, and Tavontay at the zoo. These kids are in PID but they don't have a mentor - they have to do the lessons by themselves and then mail them into camp. So I picked them to spend the day at the zoo. Chicago has a free zoo - how cool is that? They were so good and they played in the leaves for an hour. It's fun to watch them just be kids. I love when I get to be with kids and families. Building relationships takes time but it's definitely fun time! Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Partners in Discipleship

so, it's been a little while since I have updated this. all is well in chicago. oh, just a comment: if you leave annonymous messages on my blog you need to sign them so i can know who loves me! :-) i've been driving for my job A LOT! pray for safety, a good sense of direction, and cheap gas! yesterday i found gas for $3.89 and it is $4.45 at the expressway in my neighborhood. i'm learning to stop for gas when i see it even if i don't need but $3 dollars to top off my tank. :-)
this is my friend iesha. she's been at camp for the past 2 summers and so far we have gotten to see each other every couple of weeks. we are about to start a Bible study together that i am really excited about. last week she introduced me to baba's flavored lemonades. when you come visit i will take you - it's good stuff! courtney and katy. . . i might even like it more than a sno cone.
partners in discipleship (PID) is the beechpoint-developed follow-up program that i am working to connect kids to. i am also working to strengthen partnerships with urban ministries and churches. i've had lots of opportunities to interact with child evangelism fellowship staff and teachers and will be visiting good news clubs to help those children come to camp. the kids i mentor in PID are jabari (12) and jabri (10). get used to seeing pictures of them! this is jabari.

jabri and jabari at the park. pray for jabri that she will work hard in school even when it is difficult. pray that she will continue to be excited about God. pray that jabari will continue to desire to learn about God and that God will give me wisdom as i teach him. pray that God will raise up Christian adults who want to mentor children in a one-on-one setting and that He will bring me into contacts for this purpose. pray that children from the city will be connected to camp in a long-term way and that camp will have a generational impact in the city.

i've decided that while i am driving around i am going to start taking pictures of churches because many of their names are interesting to me. i'm going to make a portfolio of interesting church fronts/signs as a way to keep myself from being frustrated with all this driving. if this church google's itself it may not be happy to find itself on my blog under "interesting" - but since it's my first "sword of the Spirit church" i took its picture.

okay, now this one is funny and you can tell them that i said so. this is the "golden angel missionary baptist church". i took this picture out of my backseat window while sitting at a red light because i don't really understand the sentence under the name. first, what is "that"? second, why are we asking if Jesus is bigger? third, this is why you have someone proof read. real funny.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Getting Settled and the Shedd Aquarium

It's hard to believe that I have been in the city for less than three weeks! It feels like much longer because so much has been happening. . . I am beginning to feel settled and am learning my way around. I feel pretty confident in my neighborhood but I'm definitely still working on the rest of the city. So far, so good though. Lesson learned this week: Mapquest will get you there - but there is probably a better way.

This is my friend Krystal. She worked at camp like 6 years ago but we've kept in touch. She grew up in Chicago so she taught me how to ride the train and the bus when I got here. I live 6 blocks from the Blue Line train which makes me very accessible to downtown. I haven't yet dared to drive downtown (mostly because it's tricky/expensive(!) to park downtown) - so it's nice to live next to the train. Taking the train is no fun since I get easily motion sick . . . but it's still good to know how to get around on it. I'm still working on knowing bus routes because you have to know major streets to know where the bus is headed. . .

These children came to camp this summer (well, not the little ones but they had to be in the picture too!). They attend a church I visited last week and they are beginning the Partners in Discipleship program (PID). The woman in the middle is Auntie Glo - one of my new friends here.

One of Chicago's sky lines. Did you know that almost 3 million people live here?!?! I was driving in 8 lanes of one-way traffic the other day - but it wasn't overwhelming because we were only going about 4 miles an hour. In order to see campers and mentors I've been driving 3 - 5 hours every day. Not because things are far (although I do live about 20 miles from the south side suburbs), but because I keep hitting rush hour traffic. This is happening because I need to schedule meetings after school when the kids are home. As I become more familiar with the city I will know more about alternate routes and traffic patterns and hopefully it will get a little better.

This is Tavaris and Tamyra. They are campers from this summer and they are also beginning PID. Please pray with me that God will raise up mentors in the city who are committed to discipling and want to work with urban kids. These kids are going to begin the program by mailing in their weekly lessons to the camp. This will provide them with accountability to complete the Bible lessons. But what we really want to have is a Christian adult who can meet with them once each week to talk about what they learned that week, answer questions, and build a relationship. One of the roles of my job is to recruit and equip mentors for PID. This past week I kept busy meeting with parents and campers so they can begin in PID. I also had meetings with other potential ministry partners to continue or begin a working relationship.

This is my friend Karla. She's the camp nurse and I have known her for 6 years! She works one week each month as a nurse in Chicago and but lives by the camp. I will go to camp (2.5 hours from where I live) for monthly staff meetings and for major events that happen throughout the year. The Shedd Aquarium was free today so we went (with my roommate Elizabeth) and then spent some time hanging out downtown.

This is a sea dragon. My camera has a setting for aquariums - how cool is that?! He was one of the few animals in a tank by himself. I wonder if that is because he is just really cool, or if he's mean, or if he's defenseless . . .