Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Daddy Came To Chicago!

After a few weeks of uncertainty due to Idaho's spring weather, my Dad was able at the (very) last minute to fly out for 3 1/2 busy days with me in Chicago! He's going to need to come back because we weren't able to see it all - but we sure made the rounds.

I made him take about 30 pictures with me so we could be sure we got a good one, even though he thought the first one was just fine. But he did it any way ..... cuz he LOVES me!

Megan and Wayne, April 18 2009

This is an anti-climactic view from the top of the Sears Tower, it has 103 stories. It was a little overcast the day we went, but nice just the same. We walked through downtown - a new experience for both of us, really. My job doesn't have me downtown much .... and 3 blisters later I can't say that I am sad about that.

This is the entryway to the Sears Tower. Chicago is a bid-city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, along with Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. I don't know when they decide, but this is a big topic here right now. It mostly comes down to an economic question (will this help Chicago or create a new/big debt for Chicago?), a social justice issue (the buildings that will be built have the potential to displace people, and it won't be weathly people moving), and a practicality issue (is Chicago safe enough to host an international event?).

We went to the Field Museum for a day. These are the man-eating lions from the movie "The Ghost and the Darkness". They would have been bigger in real life because the person who killed them made them into rugs. Then when they were sold to the Field Museum and stuffed the rugs wouldn't cover them at their original sizes.

You could go the this museum every day for a month and still not see/read everything. This was a display on the country of Benin, Africa. My friend Laura Ziulkowski is a missionary in Benin with Mercy Ships and she writes an incredible blog. We grew up together, did ministry together, went to camp together, and dreamed of being missionaries together. Well, we never really saw ourselves together in the same place, just together in ministry. I was commissioned by Paul Baptist Church on the same Sunday as Laura and for me, it was "picture perfect" to start full time ministry the same moment as my childhood friend!
p.s. Did you know that a thirsty camel can drink 30 gallons of water in 6 minutes?! Seems like he would have to hold his breath. Or that his tongue would get tired.

This was from a display showing various mammals. It is funny to me that they felt they needed to label this doll as "model: not life-size". In case what? A jelly fish reading the display assumes people are 4 inches tall?

Last night I was driving back to Chicago from camp in a torrential downpour. I have decided I don't love driving in rain because even with my wipers on high I can still only half see. There are these electronic signs on the expressway that typically tell you how many minutes to downtown, etc. But last night, through the blur of the water on my windshield, I read "Caution: Wet Pavement". Hmm.

Perhaps the guy who labels exhibits at the museum also works nights for the department of transportation?
While my Dad was here we walked around my neighborhood and drove around various neighborhoods that I do ministry in. My mom would have loved it because there are lots of old buildings, but she wasn't able to come because she's teaching classes at CSI. This picture is from Sunshine Gospel - we helped out with their after school program for part of an afternoon. I can send home all the pictures I want but it's still not the same as being here and getting to see places in the city. He didn't make me fly home with him (although I suspect part of him wanted to), so I guess that means it get to stay. ;-)
The highlight of the trip for me was that my Dad got to meet my Jabri and Jabari. These children are beautiful and sweet and I love them! God always gives me people, and living here is no exception!

We also went to a coin dealer - dad's new hobby is coin collecting. It was .... interesting. Some really little coins sure do cost a lot. The dealer had a penny for $4000. Imagine putting that in your pocket and then accidentally spending it to make tax for a hamburger. Probably not the hobby for me, eh?

Dear Daddy,

Thank you for coming to see me! Thank you for finding a way to make it work, even at the last minute! Thanks for being a good sport about taking so many pictures. Thank you for giving me a reason to have ice cream at the house. :-) And remember - St. Joseph, MI is right down the street and Money Magazine called it one of the 6 best places to retire.

Love you, Megan

Monday, April 6, 2009

My new church in Chicagoland!

A couple of weekends ago I attended a conference for urban ministry leaders called RELOAD. It was nice to be with people who love what I love - and to attend sessions specifically geared toward what I am doing and want to do. The conference also highlighted the violence in Chicago. Last school year, 26 Chicago Public School students died violently. A slide show commemorating the now 32 Chicago Public School students who have been killed this school year - with 3 months to go until summer break - was shown at the conference. This video cuts out part way through, but you can read the article as well. More than 500 students have been shot in the last 18 months, and this number does not include teens who have dropped out from school. This article is about a month old, but definitely makes you stop and think. It is jarring to see how extreme the violence in this city is. Please pray for the families, neighborhoods, and schools affected by violence.

This is my shirt from the conference. I love it! And I wore it to my new church home in Chicagoland! (Sidenote: Chicago and it's suburbs is referred to as 'Chicagoland'. Someone told me this is because people who live actually in the city scoff at people who live in the suburbs but try to say they are from Chicago. Funny to me, since there is no Boiseland. Or Rupertland.)

I have been praying, really even before I moved, that God would lead me to a church in Chicago. I've never really had the experience of looking for a church before. I grew up at Paul Baptist, and I think St. Paul Baptist was the second church I visited in Boise. So the past 7 months have been, well - long. I am both excited and overwhelmed to begin to develop relationships within my new church home.

I've been praying that God would make it clear where I am supposed to fellowship. Specifically, that I would walk in and feel like it was my church, like this was where I was supposed to be. On Sunday I went to Christian Life Center in Tinley Park, Illinois (this is a suburb of Chicago - hence my new church is in 'Chicagoland'). I've been there before and I have visited about 4 times.... because I like it! But it is 34 miles from my house! 34 miles in Chicago ain't no punk - especially in traffic. I can make it there in 45 minutes on a Sunday and in about 2 hours on a weekday evening. The distance had been my big concern - but last Sunday God was like "Really, you don't think you can drive to hear the Word? Really?" My preacher in Michigan taught me that when God talks to you like that He's not really looking for a reply. The good news: once I move in the fall I will be potentially 18 miles closer to church!

The moment that really confirmed it for me this past Sunday was the baptism service. The preacher preached on water baptism and then said (this is a definite paraphrase) 'If you heard the Word today and want to walk in obedience in response to God - then you can be baptized today! Some of you are thinking that you didn't come prepared. But we are prepared for you. We have dark colored shirts and dark colored shorts and flip flops and private changing rooms and make up remover and make up and blow driers and curling irons and boxers for the men and underwear and sports bras for the women and the children's ministry will keep your child after service. Maybe you are thinking that you want your family to see you be baptized. We are going to take a picture of everyone who is baptized today and next week we will give it to you and you can give it to your family. So, you could be baptized today!"

About 12 people left to be baptized. Now, presumably some of those were already planning to be baptized this Sunday. But as the baptism service continued more people decided to be baptized. One man didn't even change clothes - just got in the baptismal with his church clothes on. It was a beautiful half hour of praise and worship as people were baptized. Now, not everyone's hair gets wet easily. And to see people abandon appearance in favor of obedience made me want to be home at this church. I love that they thought ahead to create an atmosphere of instant response!

So, when YOU come to visit me in Chicago ...... you can come to my church!