Written, photographed, and filmed by Maddie Schaafsma, Class of 2018
DAY 1 (WEDNESDAY):
My heart is broken that the Honduras trip was cancelled. I know that God has known all along that this group was meant to be in Chicago instead of Honduras, and God’s ways are far greater and higher than ours. Regardless if he reveals his reasoning to us or not. That was supposed to be my life-changing trip, and I do not feel like a trip to Chicago can compare.
Before we left, Mr. Mitchell told us that our attitudes are going to make this trip. If we have a positive attitude, we’re going to have a great time and vice versa. I am setting my mind to having a positive attitude this entire trip, no matter what gets thrown at us.
We had an introduction to Sunshine Ministries, the place we’re staying and got a rough layout of the week. The leader of the ministries then gave us a lesson about shalom, which means perfect unity with God.
DAY 2 (THURSDAY):
Today was a workday at the ministries. Three other girls and I were put to work crafting bulletins and deep cleaning the kitchen. While the work was not my favorite thing in the world, a five-year-old girl named Camryn, who spends her days at the ministry, kept us company by giggling, sharing stories, and helping. God’s light showed right through her two front missing teeth.
We also participated in a poverty simulation. Questions popped up on a computer such as: You’re a single mom and your child is home sick. Do you miss work and risk being fired or leave your child at home alone? All these situations were things people in the community are facing.
This stimulation left me wondering: How can God be in a place where there is so much pain and suffering? How can we make a difference if we’re only a small group of people, facing such a huge problem?
DAY 3 (FRIDAY):
Today was by far my favorite day of the trip. This morning all the kids from the ministries after school program were invited to come roller skating with us. As soon as the kids walked through the door, the room was filled with smiles and hugs. They all chattered on to us about their favorite Bible stories, their families, and their favorite parts about going to Sunshine Ministries.
When we got to the roller rink, all 30 of us started lacing up the kid’s skates, grabbed their hands and headed to the roller rink. God’s love and presence was so apparent in this small rundown roller rink. For hours, we helped the kids skate around as we laughed and raced around the rink.
During lunch, we all got to pray with the kids and talk about our faith. One of the girls in the group had a pair of best friend necklaces that formed a heart. She pulled one out of her pocket and looked up to my friend Claire, “This one’s for you, since you’re my best friend now.” God is so good.
We spent the rest of the afternoon riding the train on the Brown Line and the Green Line during rush hour. We split into small groups of three and were encouraged to make conversation with the strangers around us. We were being pushed to be uncomfortable, because that is where growth happens. We laughed with strangers, we cried with strangers, and we shared life stories with them.
God showed himself so clearly through the people we met today.
DAY 4 (SATURDAY):
Today was another uncomfortable day. It was a long day at Pacific Garden Mission, which is a homeless shelter. It was heartbreaking to see so many homeless men, women, and children. Although the conditions were tough to see, all the people in were so full of life. We were able to share a meal with them and worship with them for a few hours.
Although I’m tired and want to go home, I know this is where God wants and needs me. I can feel God teaching me lessons about loving everyone, seeking truth, and opening my eyes and my heart to this community.
DAY 5 (SUNDAY):
Out of the thousands of church services I’ve attended in my life, not a single one compared to the church service this morning. As soon as I walked into the small gospel church, I could feel God’s presences and energy. The entire congregation turned and sang a welcome song to us at the end, and by this point I was in tears. I had never felt so welcomed and at home in a brand new place.
Tonight was our free night, which was spent at the Blue Man Group concert and then dinner at a Spanish restaurant. We laughed and bonded together even more.
DAY 6 (MONDAY):
Today we packed lunches and walked around downtown talking to homeless people. We were encouraged to sit down on the curb next to them, talk to them, share a lunch with them, and ask for advice.
Sitting on the curb, we received many strange looks from people passing by. We all were uncomfortable, but we also were all growing. No matter what, we knew sitting on that curb with a sack lunch in our lap, we were doing God’s work. By the five minute conversations we had with these strangers, it was apparent that they were so grateful for the little time we had spent with them. We too, were so grateful for the advice and encouragement they gave us.
DAY 7 (TUESDAY):
Today we visited three different ministries: Grace and Peace Ministries (GAP), Breakthrough Ministries, and another ministry site in Chinatown. At GAP, we were able to hold a food pantry for the people in the surrounding community. It was such a powerful moment to be able to help the ministry put this on and connect to the people we were giving to. Breakthrough and the Chinatown ministry were both so informative and helpful in giving us ways that we can serve beyond this trip.
This entire day was so encouraging to me. I know that after this trip I want to get involved and continue to serve these communities.
DAY 8 (WEDNESDAY):
Today, we are headed home after a long week here in Woodlawn. Our final debrief was so emotional, vulnerable, and empowering for all of us.
We were all asked to chose a word that described our week. Mine was joy. Joy is not a situational thing. It is trusting in God and taking delight in his word no matter what the situation is. This week, we took delight and trusted in God and eagerly served him. We saw so many instances of pain and suffering, but we used God’s word and with joy, took hold of the situation in the ways we were able to.
We were also asked: What’s next? We all wrote down different ways that we will continue to serve this community and other communities like it over the next six months.
After hearing of the political turmoil, earthquake, and tsunami threats that took place in Honduras during the week we were suppose to be there, it was apparent that God had our safety in his hands. Every day on the trip, and continuing on, we are praying for peace for the people of Honduras.
Experiences like these, and the growth that took place, cannot be taught in a classroom.