Flexibility has been the theme of this week. it seems we go to bed each night unsure of what we will be doing the following day. The weather changes every two hours making it difficult to plan. We have been making decisions on the hour according to what we are dealt. It is never desirable to be reactive as opposed to proactive, but in this case, we do not really have a choice. We only had half a work day today. We sent the groups back to Adollum and the school. There is so much work to be done at both places, but with the rain it limits what the stduents are able to do. They have made the most of it though. While one group worked on finishing what we started at the beginning of the week, another group prepared one of the floors for future groups by organizing everything on the floor into categories and placing it throughout the floor. The place looks great. It is not what they were hoping for, but once again, the students have been great about not complaining and doing whatever they have been asked to do. Such a great group! The real fun happened late afternoon through the evening. Thursday evenings are the community cookout night that Next Step puts on each week. The kids in the neighborhoods get so excited for Thursdays! The bouncy house is a huge hit, the hot dogs are devoured within minutes, and our students are swarmed by tiny people from the moment they arrive until they leave. We played football, tag, bubbles, face painted, sang songs, danced and were human horses for a three and a half hour period. The students were tired, but loved every minute of it. I think they would go every day of the week if it was offered to them. The neighborhood kids were begging our students to return on Friday. Unfortunately, we will not be able to. We don’t get to see the larger picture. It is difficult to understand how God is at work, or what he is doing as he ministers and loves through us. It is fun to take part in bringing God’s Kingdom, but only being here for a short week does not reveal much. That is why it is so much fun to here stories from those that have been around for years. It gives hope, and it gives a reason to continue serving. Here is an example. The neighborhood where we hosted the cookout, played with the students, and sang worship songs was not such a welcoming place a couple of years back. In a couple of years this neighborhood has gone from having the highest neighborhood crime rate to completely dropping off of the map in the city of Milwaukee. The youth pastor at the church informed us that this past year the church received an award from the FBI, because of the dramatic drop in crime, and the restoration work in the neighborhood. Talk about a story of God’s redemption. We get to be a part of that work!
Rain, Rain, Go Away…
We got hit by a torrential downpour today. it delayed our departure Wednesday morning, but the students made the best of it. Just as the rain was getting the best of us, the students ran outside and started dancing in the rain. Dancing turned into a mini celebration, which then became a giant mosh pit in the largest puddles. Before we knew it, the students were lying in the puddles swimming upstream. A great way to wake up and start the day!
After drying off and changing for the day, we loaded the vans to do more damage on the city of Milwaukee. We split the groups up and sent half of them to Adollum and the other half to the school. Frank’s garage is out for the rest of the week. The students got too much done too quickly! They are waiting on an inspection on the work that has been completed on the garage before they are able to move forward with the project. So, we are down to two.
The group has done a great job of being flexible and open to whatever work can be done. They have worked so well together. It has been such a fun group to be with this week.
Our evening time together was very powerful. After a short study on servanthood, we looked at John 13, the first footwashing ceremony. Following the teaching time the students gathered in their groups to wash one another’s feet and spend time in prayer for each other. Each student had their feet washed and each student spent time in prayer as we made our way around the circle. it is fun to watch these kids love each other. They do it so well. What an awesome example of how Jesus said that the world would know that we are his disciples…by our love. Man, I wish people could witness these typed of things outside of the church walls!
Thursday is our community cookout. We are hoping for no rain in the afternoon. This is such an instrumental means of reaching the community. It is also the best way to usher in reconciliation that is needed so badly in this area. Should be a great day!
We dodged the rain today. The forecast kept telling us that we would be stuck inside, however, the Lord opened up the skies and gave us a beautiful day of sunshine instead! This allowed us to be working outside the entire day. Pray that the same will happen tomorrow. Rain would make it difficult to find work for this many students indoors. Unless, God has something else planned for us, then just pray that we are able discern what that plan might be.
Frank’s Garage: In the last two days the students have finished the framing for the garage, and have also boarded up the entire frame. it is amazing what these students can accomplish when they are working together. While that is exciting, it has been even more fun watching the students interact with Frank’s sons. His two youngest sons have been outside for the last day and a half. The first half of Monday, they were quite unsure about our group of students, watching from the inside. Now, they are out all day, working alongside our students.
Public School: We had been told that we would be needed inside helping the teachers clear out the rooms and organize the rooms. We have not been inside yet. Our students have been working tirelessly clearing out tennis courts (believe it or not there is brush and even young trees (3-4 ft. high) growing from cracks in the tennis courts). They have mowed almost the entire property, and hopefully before the week is over will have the rest of the property finished. This has all been done with a push mower…for you parents that are wondering if your students can work hard, YES!
Adollum: In the last two days One room has been wired with electricity, stuffed with insulation, and completely dry walled. Three others have been sanded and mudded. They are ready for painting. We are not sure if we will have an opportunity to do so or not. There is three floors of work to be done, so we are ready to serve wherever we are most needed.
Racial segregation is a very big issue in Milwaukee. There are neighborhoods in complete poverty that butt up next to wealthy areas. These lines are rarely crossed. Our group is a very small part of this racial reconciliation process. But it is fun to watch happen. Pray for continued work to be done here, and for continued healing in the area for the city.
Well, we arrived safely yesterday and had a very enjoyable and relaxing evening. The students had plenty of time to spend with each other playing basketball, four square, and a little football. Our first evening session was an overview of our week and the ministries that we will be working with. There are three sites, and we have four groups, so we will be rotating throughout the week.
Site 1: ADOLLUM: A vision by a man named Steve. He is a compassionate guy with an incredible faith. Adollum is a large warehouse building that will be used to meet the needs of those in the community. Some of those needs would be Clothing distribution, bedding distribution, an after school program/hangout lounge, worship, prayer and bible study, and counseling. There is also a desire to build a 24 hr cafe, and an indoor skate park.
Site 2: Frank’s Garage: It is a garage, owned by a man named Frank. Frank is a father of four kids and has been doing ministry in Milwaukee for the last seven years. He was saved in prison out of a life of drugs and theft, and has spent the last seven years doing community ministry as part of four different ministries. He is a great guy with an awesome story.
Site 3: Public School: There will be both inside and outside work for the students. Mowing the lawn, weeding, mulching, cleaning, organizing…
There is a great need to make the school a beautiful place once again. This will raise the students perception of their own value and self worth.
These are our ministry sites for this week. We will have pictures and stories to share as the week progresses.
Please pray for eyes to see others the way Jesus sees them. That our hearts would be filled with love and compassion for people. That we would be able to get a lot of work done, but no be so focused on the task that we miss the PEOPLE we are ministering to. That our students would take notice of God’s redemptive work in them and through them this week.