Today was really the first day since I started my downhill spiral that I really won a battle in this war. It definitely didn’t start out like a winner, in fact it began just the opposite.
I woke up around 10 am and laid in bed not wanting to be disturbed by anyone. I had work at 4 pm and so my plan was to stay in bed until 3, go to work, come home and go back to sleep. And I would have if I hadn’t made lunch plans with a guy down the hall named Eli. I wanted so badly to cancel on him and just lay there all day. Also in the morning, two people on mission send messages to the GroupMe message for us all to read. One of them, from my friend Sara, shared with us on mission how the night prior her brother accepted Christ into his life and wanted to learn what having a relationship with him was like. The other message from my friend Hannah was a message asking people to post or to text her with specific prayer requests so she could more completely pray for others on mission. These two texts stood out to me because of how I felt immediately after reading them. I was furious, and felt filled with anger and disgust towards both of the messages. And this was something that I picked up on and knew was not how a Christ loving person would react.
During lunch, Eli asked me how I was doing and I just opened up completely to him. I told him how I didn’t feel like I had been myself the past several weeks and how I didn’t feel like I was contributing at all to the community here. I also told him how I was having a very hard time praying to God and felt very disconnected to Him, as well as how the text messages from the morning affected me. After I told him these things he said he was getting the feeling that I was going through spiritual warfare and that I was being attacked by Satan. The fact that I didn’t feel like myself, and that I couldn’t connect with God or with other people, he said, is exactly what the devil takes enjoyment in. I of course had no idea what this all meant and just asked what he thought I could do. He gave me some really good advice, the main theme being to pray to God even though I don’t think I can. And then he prayed over me and really asked God to come into my battle and to rid any evil that had come over and taken hold of me. I remember having the same hatred towards the text messages fill me as soon as he started praying and it made me shake while I was sitting trying to keep still. I felt like I was going to explode and really wanted to get up and run away. As he was praying I started to feel the weight and the hatred slowly leave me and my shaking eventually turned to tears. I don’t know how to better explain it other than I feel as though I had been attacked and evil had taken root inside me and I couldn’t get rid of it the previous couple weeks. It really wasn’t until Eli prayed that God cast out anything not of Him and His love that I started to feel light again and not be consumed by hatred. Continue reading
It has been a very busy and draining couple of weeks and I have not been able to find time to post anything recently. So I wanted to take some time and catch up on the big things.
On Thursday the 14th, a bunch of us went to see The Secret Life of Pets and then surprised my friend Eli with a surprise party in his room afterwards. The movie was fantastic! If you have thought about seeing it you should go see it 🙂 Below is a picture of those of us who went!
This past Saturday night was Men’s Event, and it was my team’s responsibility to plan, and execute a night of fun and learning for the guys on this trip. It was an amazing night! We started off by playing Tank Ball in the Graffiti room which is kind of like Dodgeball but with a twist. We split into teams of two and blindfolded one of them. This person is the only person able to touch and throw the balls. the other person is the team’s eyes. He has to control the other by words and cannot touch him or the balls. It was a blast! Then the guys played some four square while we set up the snacks and drinks in the Skylounge. I got to jump in for a few games too! Once we all got some snacks and settled down, Caleb, Chris and I all gave a brief talk on the verse for the night, 2 Timothy 1:7. I gave my talk on the Spirit of Self-Control and how I was struggling with being intentional with others on mission. For the past two weeks I hadn’t really spent time getting to know anyone nor did I have the desire to spend time in community with them. Finally sitting there and telling them all was so relieving. I felt so much better and the past two days I have really started to feel like part of the community again.
Picture from Tank Ball:
Video from Tank Ball:
So we can learn to pick ourselves up. – Alfred from the Batman Movies
This quote basically sums up this past weekend and past few days. I have really been struggling here in Chicago and fighting with God and what he has planned for me the rest of this summer. As I am getting more hours at work, I am feeling more and more worn out and discouraged about being able to build community here with other students on mission. Looking back, I’ve already been here for 5 weeks, and, although I have met some wonderfully awesome people, I don’t feel as though I have the connection and relationship with them that makes me comfortable. Looking forward I see less and less free time that I will be able to dedicate to making the strong friendships I desire. And then I started to think to myself, “I am only going to see these people for another 5 weeks and then it won’t matter what type of friendship we had on mission”. And I started to get complacent with my relationships. This began my fall. Continue reading
And with those words, all the staff walked off stage, out the door, and left the Church. Last night was the staff farewell night as their 5 weeks in Chicago has come to a close. The next 5 weeks are completely and entirely run by the students, everything from community events, to finances, to food catering, and campus time. I knew this time was coming but I still was shocked when the staff left and realized, this is it, this is our time. I am so excited to see all of us step into our roles and take on the leadership the staff has had these past few weeks as we make this mission trip our own. We have learned so much from the staff and now it is our turn to put teachings into action and watch what God can do when we all work together.
Photo Credit to my friend John!
Last Day on Campus with my Discipler Kyle before Staff Leaves:
Left to Right: Clay (staff), Ian, Michael, Caleb, Me, Kyle (staff)
Well, this is it. Staff leaves at the end of this week and then the students are taking over from there. Yesterday we had our last action group and spent the night getting food from a new place in Chicago called Small Cheval before going to Jeni’s for ice cream. Then we did our shortened Bible Study out in a local park in the area. It was a really great time. I am both excited and anxious for the staff to be leaving as we have to take everything over and continue to do all the events we have currently been doing including meetings on Monday and Thursday nights, campus time on Sundays, Tuesday fun events at night, Action Groups, regular work (Chick-fil-a for me), and campus outreach. I expect next week to be really difficult at first as we all begin to figure out what needs to be done and experiment with some trial and error. I am so excited to be spending the next 5 weeks with just students here while we learn how even as students, we can keep a whole summer mission trip functioning just normally. It is going to be crazy.
Pictures from the 4th:
I know it has been a long time since I have posted but I am going to try and catch up to today with what has been going on. I have been learning so much from everyone here on mission with me and I’m so blessed to get to spend my summer in Chicago with them and with the Lord. In the past couple weeks I’ve gotten to spend lots of time with friends while watching Finding Dory/Big Hero 6, playing soccer on Saturday mornings, playing volleyball until the lights turn off on the courts, playing games in the skylounge, going to Church on Sundays and getting to hang out afterwards…usually at Velvet Tacos! I’ve gotten to meet a couple other people from the Dwight Lofts that aren’t here on Mission with us, one guy Iran is from Jerusalem and I got to meet him as he was moving in. I also got to meet this girl from Miami whose name is Lina and she is actually part of Cru back at her school, what a coincidence! Sunday the 26th we had a staff vs students kick ball game which was a ton of fun as we all dressed up in USA colors and wore face paint to take on the staff. Tuesday night the 28th we had a movie night and watched Zootopia….such a good movie! After the movie night we play a couple games together and hung around in the skylounge. Wednesday I had my first really good conversation with someone at UIC. My discipler (Kyle) and I got to meet and talk with these two guys from UIC named Nathan and Kyle. Kyle was Catholic and Nathan was 7th Day Adventist, and we got to go through Soularium with them to learn about their background. Continue reading
Today one of the girls on mission with us hurt her ankle at work and was taken to the Urgent Care to get it checked out. She returned in the evening with crutches and couldn’t put much weight on her foot. She posted in the GroupMe and asked if anyone wanted to take the bus with her to the Break Room (Thursday meeting). It was so cool how many people showed up to take the bus with her. There was probably 25 people on the bus and most of us had never taken the bus before to the Church; we had always taken the train. It was amazing to see not only how many people wanted to help her but also how much she let people help her. She was offered piggy back rides from several people and accepted many of them. She let me give her a piggyback up and down the steps of the church for the meeting. As the night went on it was just fantastic to see how she never let her ankle slow her down and how she was so accepting of all the help she was offered. One thing I have always struggled with is letting others help me. I never want to be a burden and cause someone else to go out of their way for me…even though I love doing that for others. I am really inspired by how she was so willing to let us all help her in any way we could. I am so impressed with how our community gets along here and how, just by making a need known, so many people offer to help.
Today is Jay’s birthday so we decided to get our friend Tim to take him out for Night with the Lord while we make a cake for him for when he gets back. There was a terrific thunderstorm during our quiet time and it was so awesome seeing the city lit up by the lightning. When Jay and Tim got home we shared the cake and then got into a really deep discussion about struggles we have had while on mission and how everyone has felt during the past few weeks. It was such a blessing to hear us all comforting each other and how they really cared about me when I was sharing with them. I am so happy that God placed them in my life for the summer and I am so happy none of us walk alone in our battles. We ended the night with a round of Hot Seat where we got to ask each other random questions and build a stronger connection with each other.
The past few days have been a struggle for me and I’ve been feeling disconnected from the group a bit. My energy levels are running low and I cannot seem to be active in group settings and hang outs. I really just wish there was something I can do that’s just a one on one conversation where I don’t wear myself out. That’s what I was thinking as the day went on. I skipped going to campus because I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone and instead stayed home trying to regain some of my energy. To my amazement, God had something planned that would help me get back on my feet that night. After a friendly game of Family Feud, one of the guys on mission asked me to be his Giant for the day. I knew a little bit about what he meant when he asked me to be his Giant but I had no idea what it all entailed. We went up to the graffiti room and grabbed a chair and sat down to talk. We had an amazing conversation just the two of us. He has questions he asks a different person every day to get to know them and then has us design a perfect world in our head where we are a Giant. Not in the sense of being huge, or being a monster, but in the sense that we can help a lot of people and our world view is exactly as we want it. He asked me to describe it to him. He had some follow up questions before giving me a change to draw or write something on the wall. At the end of the night he took a picture of me and my quote and posted it along with a description of my answer to his question: “What does true peace mean to you?” My post can be found on his wall of Giants here (see his other Giants here). It was the best way to end the night. I went to bed feeling loved and ready to take on the rest of the week.