Day 3 Chicago 2016
Day 3 – Senior Adventures
Hello from Chicago, it’s Allyson, Anna, and Lisa! Today was another beautiful day in the Windy City (but, it actually wasn’t windy). Any who, we had a full day of work, playing with kids, and visiting with the senior citizens of the community. We started the morning doing a variety of tasks: cleaning the church, setting up for tomorrow’s community dinner, picking up trash, and filling confirmation retreat goodie good bags for 200 kids. It was a great day in the neighborhood! Here are our personal reflections for the day:
Hello… It’s me…. I’ve been wondering what all the seniors are up to and couldn’t wait to meet them. During our bible study and lunch with the senior citizens, I had the pleasure of meeting Erika. Erika was born in Germany and made her way to the United States after a series of tragic life events. I was privileged to hear about her journey and experiences. Learning about someone’s life and their hardships can really put your life into perspective. Erika has six children who were not only raised by her, but the entire community of West Chicago. Some of the many events that she has encountered were traveling to the US (from Germany) alone with children after her husband lost contact with her in the military. Once here, she struggled to get housing and lived with her sister. She reunited with her husband, only to develop an unhealthy relationship with him. She gave birth to one of her children alone on the kitchen floor, while trying not to awaken the rest of her children upstairs. Her life was threatened by her husband who said if she wanted a divorce, he would behead her and use her head to juggle with. Hearing these horrific stories and many more made my problems and struggles seem so simple and mundane. The best part of spending my afternoon with Erika was seeing the joy that she had. Even after everything she has been through, she always had a smile on her face and cares immensely about this community. The neighbors of West Chicago are her family, even with the many problems that are here. I am personally excited to continue our conversion tomorrow at the community dinner. Just in the short time we talked, I feel like I learned a lot about the need to appreciate the small joys in life. Peace and love to all
– Allyson H.
In preparation for this trip, we have been talking a lot about finding God in others. In mass on Sunday, I was reflecting on this and making a conscious effort to see Christ in every person present. While I was contemplating this, I realized that often times I forget to acknowledge that Christ is within me as well. It made me take a step back and think about how I am reflecting the person of Christ in my everyday encounters. How are my actions demonstrating God’s love and mercy for every person? Thinking about this has helped to guide my actions thus far this week. Not only have I tried recognizing Christ living within me, but in all those I encounter. This afternoon we had the opportunity to hang out with some kids at the after school program down the street. Today, I got to spend time with Lakayla, Jenny, and a few other kindergarten and first grade girls. They are all so full of energy, excitement and joy! It is really life giving to be able to spend time with them. We worked on their homework and they read me a few books. I saw God in their simple joy and enthusiasm for life. After dinner, we headed to the Immaculate Conception parish to have mass with the parishioners there, who were finishing up a parish retreat. After the mass, we went to a reception where we got to visit with some of the members. Don, one of the parishioners, made quite the impression on our group. Don is an incredibly outgoing and friendly man who is about 86 years old. He absolutely loved the fact that we were from Montana and would sing songs about Texas whenever one of us said where we were from… It was great. He had everyone laughing and had something to comment about each of our majors. Don’s love for us was evident, even though we were strangers to him. I think he really demonstrated what it means to be a family of God. Everyone is welcome, invited and loved. His loving, goofy presence is where I saw God the most.
So far, it has been a very blessed and eye opening experience. The people here are truly amazing and I am so excited to see what the rest of the week will bring!
Peace and blessings,
Peace and blessings,
– Anna F.
Hi everyone! Today was another blessed day working with the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of the Angels. After serving with them these past few days, I have come to truly appreciate all the work (especially the behind the scenes jobs) they do and the amazing impact they have on the community here. While dusting and cleaning the back closets of the church this morning, I thought about how every job has meaning and purpose no matter how small it may seem; the Sisters have taught me that. The Sisters do every job, whether minute or important, with such joy and so much energy, it’s infectious! I am having more fun than I ever thought I would working here at the mission. While cleaning out bins yesterday, I reflected on how every person is called to serve God by serving one another in little, indirect ways along with the big, direct ways. I truly see God in every single Sister, especially in the way they treat the people they serve here (who they refer to as their neighbors). I have been very blessed to witness God’s love in all the people I have interacted with thus far (shout out to Ms. Agnes, the adorable elderly lady I visited with this afternoon at bible study!) and am excited to interact more with the kids later this week. Thank you to everyone at home for your prayers and well wishes! Good night and God bless!!
– Lisa V.