Hi Everyone, This is Hannah. I kept a journal the whole time I was in Chicago. I thought I would share it with you, as it is the best way for me to remember this wonderful experience!
On March 9, 2014, I went on a mission trip. My church took a group of fourteen to Chicago, Illinois. We left on a Sunday morning, and got to Chicago in the late afternoon.
All of us took our bags, and unpacked in our dorms. We slept on a college campus in some apartment buildings. Our room had seven girls in it. It had three sets of bunk beds, and one regular bed. We were crammed, but it was a good bonding experience.
The very first night we got there, we went on a two-hour prayer tour. Our group got in a van and drove around the bad parts of Chicago and just stopped and prayed for the people, and the organizations that we would be helping through the week. For dinner that night, we had Mediterranean food. I didn’t really like it. There was fallaphels, humus, peeta bread, and many other exotic foods.
After dinner we went back to the apartments, and had a discussion time about the prayer tour, and what we had seen. The prayer tour really convicted my heart. We have so much, and we still find a way to complain. Some of these people with little to nothing were happier than the wealthiest people in the world.
The next day we woke up at 6:30. That morning we ate breakfast together and then we left to go to an elementary school. This school was pre-K through eighth grade. We each got assigned a class to assist. I was with a third grade class. I want to be a teacher when I get older, so this was really fun for me. All the kids were really sweet and welcoming. You could tell they loved attention, and that they were hardly getting any at home. I helped the teacher make copies, I tutored some kids, and the teacher even let me do some math problems on the board with the kids.
We left the school at 2:00. Then we had some free time, so we got some snacks, and then we went back to work. At 4:00 we went to a soup kitchen, and volunteered there. I was part of the crew that helped greet the homeless people that would walk in. I would get them seconds and talk to them. It was fun. One of the cool things to see when I would look around is that before they ate, some of the people would pray for their food. Even though they were in a really low situation, they didn’t give up faith in God. That was one of the things that really touched my heart that day. That night for dinner we went to a Chinese restaurant. It was really good! Our group really did some great bonding that day.
On Tuesday we went to the school from 9:00 to 2:00. I really bonded with the kids, and I really made a connection. When I told them that I was from Texas, they freaked out. They asked all sorts of questions like “ How old do you have to be if you want to be a cowgirl?” “Are you a cowgirl?” “Do you have the same money in Texas?” “Is there cars in Texas?” “Why do you say y’all?” It was so cute.
After the school, we went on to our second activity. Instead of going to the soup kitchen, we did something a little different. Our group of fourteen split up into three groups, and we did an exercise where we got to experience what it would be like to be homeless. We were each given $2.00 for dinner that night. We had to walk everywhere we went, and find our own form of transportation. I went on a train for the first time. It was fun. The hard part about it was that it was cold. Another challenge, was finding dinner. My group ended up combining our money, to buy a burger. We split it into fifths. The activity really opened my eyes to what it would really be like. It made me so thankful for what I have, and that I have a place to come home to every night.
The next day, was the hardest. Wednesday would be our last full day in Chicago. That morning we went back to the school. It was great! I helped tutor some more kids, and helped the teacher. Then 2:00 came. I told them that I had to leave. One kid said, “See you tomorrow!” and then I told him I wasn’t coming tomorrow, and he said, “What!?, When are you coming back?” and I had to tell him I wasn’t coming back. That was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. His name was Damien. He was so sweet to me. Him and I really bonded. He started to cry when I told him. One little girl said to me, “I’m never gonna forget you.” It was hard. By the time I left the classroom I was balling. Being with those kids, really showed me how God’s love can work. I still miss them a lot. I asked one of my leaders what I could do, and she said just pray for them, because prayer goes a long way. As I was walking out of the classroom, a little girl handed me a note that said, “I miss you already, have fun in Texas.” After we left the school, we helped clean up a thrift shop. We hung up clothes, and sorted through things. Then we did another exercise where we went and talked to homeless people, and just kind of let them tell us their story. It was very moving. The guy we talked to was 83 years old. It was just a good look on what the life of a homeless person is really like.
On Thursday we just travelled all day. This trip showed me how fortunate I truly am. I take a lot of things for granite. It also showed me how a little bit of love can go a long way. When I was working with the kids, I could tell how much they just needed someone to love on them, and play with them. Working with the homeless people showed me that we should just treat them like we treat anybody else. We should treat them like normal human beings, who just have different circumstances than us. I’m so thankful to everyone who helped me to go on this trip. Thank you. I love you. Hannah.