Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"How's work going?"

So I was texting a friend the other day. And one of the things my friend asked me was "How's work going?"

It's weird but sometimes I forget that this is work. I wrote down how many hours I was with the group or doing things for CSM last week and it came to 73.5 hours. I get random breaks during the day. (Like now, my group is on immersion and I'm just chilling at a local coffee shop getting "connected" as my mom told me.)

And they are long days but I'm not 'working.' I'm just taking them to the different ministry sites. And trying to become their friend. And just living out the gospel.

So I guess works going good when you don't even realize what you are doing is considered "work."

Roseland/Pullman Boys and Girls Club

This is where I go everywhere morning from 9 till 2. It's a great place.

Paul Luu is the director and he is one of the coolest guys I know. He's probably early thirties, has a wife who's expecting for the first time, Chinese, born in Champaign, IL and all the kids respect him. He is not necessarily out with the kids all the time but they all know his name and just listen to him.

He is one of the people responsible for raising funds and support for the club. He always takes time out of his week the first day I bring volunteers to give them background on the club and Boys and Girls clubs in general. So here it is, as best as I can give you. I'm no Mr. Luu.

It started during the Industrial Revolution when boys needed a place to hang out during the day. And this was in Hartford, Connecticut by a group of ladies. But it was only for boys because girls were expected to help with their own home chores and what not. It was called the dash away club because mostly run aways were in it (get it?)

During Theodore Roosevelt's presidency, he officially made it the Boys Club. And then, finally, in the early nineties, it became the Boys and Girls club. They are a non profit organization and they have lobbyists in D.C. trying to raise money. (I never really understood the lobbyist profession. I just know that I would be bad at it because I'm a terrible fund raiser participant. Except when it came to girl scout cookies. But those things practically sold themselves.)
This Boys and Girls club partners with Salem Baptist church, which is the biggest church in the Chicago area and is pastored by Reverend Senator James Meeks. I hope attend this church sometime this summer. But its on the south side. And by public transportation it will take an hour and a half. And I would be ok with going by myself; I just know some of my co-hosts would be disappointed if I did that. The church isn't on this property but they do have offices here. The House of Hope that is the sanctuary/worship center for Salem Baptist is literally just down the road.

They are so blessed by their facility because they have this huge open grass area. So much room to just run around. And P.S. this week's weather has been amazing. No humidity. No random rain storms. I was wearing a jacket last night.

They also have this huge indoor facility where they can play hockey or indoor soccer or basketball. At the end of summer programming they have show that they present to all the parents. I'm sad because I'm leaving before it takes place.
But that's the way it goes. I would have to be here another two weeks. And I just got the date of when I have to be back for athletic training: August 8. I'm flying home on the third. Yep I'm pretty sure I'm going into a sleep coma those few days...

Afternoon delight

I just want to take you on my afternoon commute home.

"Oh wow, look at that great skyline"

"The sears tower is so tall" (1,454 feet with the antennae and 110 stories)

"The ride is going nice."

"Oh, hey breaklights. Always love having you around."
Hate is a strong word but in the case of the 90/94, I think its quite appropriate.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Cove

This past week this was my group. They were from Rockford, IL and attended a church called First Evangelical Covenant Church. They were absolutely so fun to be around because they had such a go with the flow attitude. The leaders also were just amazing because they were so easy to work with and talk to. I was so blessed to be a part of their family this week.

Since the pastor (Dave far left) was a returning participant to CSM they were given the option of taking public transit all day. They are the first group to ever take CSM Chicago up on this offer. Our anchor site is 111 blocks south of downtown Chicago. And our housing site is already 50 blocks north of the city. So we had a long commute. However, public transit in Chicago is just amazing. And we only had to make one transfer between the 'el' lines and ride the city bus for 10 minutes. The group was such good sports about it too. It did take an hour and a half but I really think they enjoyed themselves. I know I did. I just love the 'el' and people watching. There were definitely some characters out there too.

It was such a long week but it was such a good week. I barely had time to breathe because it was go go go with only about an hour break during the day. And this is the rest of my summer. Who's excited? My hand is raised :)

My new best friends.

For the rest of the summer I get the opportunity to go to Roseland/Pullman Boys and Girls club in the mornings. It is my anchor site (CSM's fancy word for the only consistent thing in our schedule). This past week was my first week there. I absolutely love it.

There are over 150 kids there with ages ranging from 6 to 14 years old. They have a rotating schedule where they go from class to class. There is an arts and crafts class, PE class, social recreation class, fine art class and education class. The kids spend only an hour at each place so that they don't get bored and cause more trouble then they already do.

There are four different age groups. The cadets are aged 6-7 and they wear the red shirts. The preps are aged 8-10 and they wear the green shirts. The juniors are 11-12 and they wear the blue shirts. And the intermediates are 13-14 and wear the grey shirts (this is by far the smallest group).

The groups that I bring go with whatever group they want and follow them from class to class. This past week, the volunteers did so good just being there and helping the staff in whatever way they could.

I was more of the supervisor and went from group to group. But if I could stay with a group it would be the cadet boys. These boys will definitely be my new best friends this summer. (This isn't all of them.)

The staff at Roseland/Pullman is also just so fun to work with. I'll probably write about them later on.

It's not the ocean...

but I guess it'll do till I'm back in California.

During a break between ministry sites, I got to take my group to the lake to hang out for about an hour. There were so many people. But it was so nice.

There's a nice little fence closing for the dogs of the city.

We went at such a pretty time during the day. It was so peacful and there was a beautiful breeze.

I could have sat here for hours. But it was a nice little break from the go go go of this week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

They didn't cover this in training...

This past week has been a HUGE growing week. I have learned so much about myself and really what to expect the rest of the summer and just some lessons about people.

The group that came in was from Milford, Ohio. I wasn't supposed to be a host this week but since some of there people didn't come, my director told me that I was co-hosting five minutes after they got here. So not much time to prepare. There were eight kids in all: one boy, seven girls, with ages ranging from eighth grade to a senior in high school. The leaders were all volunteers and they had daytime jobs. The main youth pastor wasn't able to make it since his wife's father had just passed away. So it was an interesting beginning to the week.

The first day, after we take them to dinner, we take the group on a prayer tour of the city. Joseph, my co-host, and I are in different mini-vans. Due to drivers not listening to instructions, we end up taking the group an hour out of the way before even starting the tour. Again, an interesting start to the trip. We get back pretty late and after debriefing, it is evident that this group is timid in praying and talking about anything.

The days go on and I let myself not get totally involved with the group because it feels like I shouldn't be here anyway.

And then Friday comes.

This is the groups of kids with two kids from the neighborhood, outside of Will Feed, which was our anchor site for the week. It's a place where kids can come to hang out and essentially stay out of trouble. They get two meals for free and our volunteers just go to hang out with them.

It's about 4:15 when we leave Will Feed on Friday. And it is also when a huge thunderstorm decides to accompany us back home. We were on our way to get to a 5:30 reservation at Siam, our Thai food restaurant (one of my favorites).

The 90/94 is the highway that we take from the south side to get to the far north side of the city, because that's where our housing is. However, the traffic is comparable to the 91 during rush hour; there's a lot. I encourage Joseph that we get to the 55 and take Lake Shore Drive but he thinks that we'll get there too fast and we have time to kill. So we take the 90/94 and we are creeping along. Joseph then calls me and says ok, let's get off and take surface streets up. So we get off and get to Halsted which turns into a one lane and we are going slower then if we had stayed on 90/94.

So I tell Joseph, let's cross downtown on Jackson to get to Lake Shore Drive, he concedes and we start getting over. Then a wonderful impatient taxi drivers cuts in between the two mini vans and hits Joseph's van. All I could think was, they did not go over this in training!

The impact was only from 6 inches away so no one was hurt and there was only minor damage but since the leaders rented the vans they knew they needed to file a report. So we tell the taxi driver who agrees, but then drives off after saying he'll pull over. Not really surprised at this.

We end up pulling to the corner of Monroe and Wacker, right in the middle of financial district.

Here we are at the corner. The kids have to pee but we have to wait for the cops and Joseph is convinced that it will take two hours for the cops to show up. And we are definitely not making our reservation.

It all works out in the end. But it was definitely a bonding experience. I learned that you have to learn to speak the groups language. This group was highly sarcastic, and I tried to not be sarcastic this whole week so that I could maintain some professionalism and because I didn't want to become too attached to a group. But as soon as this happened, I just let my guard down and became appropriately sarcastic with them. We bonded immediately. I'm going to miss this group. They gave me some headaches this past week but all in all it was a good time.

Saturday Thrifting.

Saturday, Stacey, Nicole and I went on an adventure to Lakeview and Wicker Park to do some exploring and thrifting.

Here we are at the start of the journey.

This is the first place we ventured into.

Books were everywhere! I could have stayed in here for hours. I was listening to a patron talk to the owner and he asked if he could bring some books in. The owner said of course any time. The guy replied ok I'll bring it in and you can look through it to see if you want them. The owner then said to not worry he'll take them all. That's how much he just loved books. This is definitely one of my dream jobs.

Vintage shopping under a vintage sign. This place was a little spendy but the ambience was exceptional.

This is at a different store in Wicker Park. Stacey caught a candid shot when we started laughing that Stacey had taken a shot before we were ready. The couch was wonderfully comfortable from all the walking. We wanted to take it with us back to the apartment but it seemed very unfeasible to take it around with us.

The Buffalo Exchange. Got some awesome sunglasses from here.

We then needed a coffee break if we were to continue our journey. And we found this adorable little place that opened only a week and a half ago!

When we walked in there were shirts on the counter that I started to pick up to look at and the lady said "Take one! They're totally free." We jumped on this offer. They were just fun shirts. Nicole and I talked about how we would definitely move to Chicago for just all the eclectic coffee shops that reside here.

This place was also adorable. They had a lot of fun shirts. Also a bit spendy.

And then we found this awesome store. Read this sign.

It's called The Boring Store and it has a tutoring center for kids in the back and in the front there are all sorts of things they sell. Like books that some of the kids have written.

They also have this awesome map.

We continued on and found a store with regular clothes on the first floor and used clothes in the basement after you pass this fun mural.

Yeah, I found this sweatshirt nestled in the hoodie section. It caught me by surprise. I just had to take a picture with it. I was tempted to buy it, but then I remembered I have about five jackets/sweatshirts from APU...

And then it was time to eat and we found this noodle place that was cheap, good and filling.

Now we were so famished before we got here that Nicole, a vegetarian, was willing to settle for a hamburger and fries, as long as they got to eat soon. But since we found this place, she was able to get her tofu.

And I got my coke, which was something I had been craving aaallllll day. There's just something about a coke after walking around that just makes my day.
All in all it was a great day.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


GCFD stands for Greater Chicago Food Depository

It provides food for the greater Chicago area. It could be soup kitchens or elementary schools or really anything that needs food. Its a very highly organized place. Our group went and we got to package pasta into 3 lb bags to be labeled and packed and shipped off.

Here's some of the kids from my group. We worked in a place called the clean room. So we got to wear these highly attractive outfits.

This is the pasta we packaged. It really was barley. I never really had barley before. And after being around it for four hours, I really have no desire to add it into my diet in any way.

These are just some stats about GCFD. Its a really cool organization. It operates a lot on volunteers. There was a woman that I met there named Sandy. She works as a consultant in downtown Chicago. She is currently on vacation and decided to come volunteer at this place. How cool is that? Usually vacation means not having to stand for four hours dealing with a bunch of loud teenagers while being forced to wear a hair net. Just saying. I think she was a really cool example to the group.

Attractive, I know. Don't be jealous. I felt like I was going into surgery.


This is my Chicago roommate Katie Norregaard. For some reason, we get along ridiculously well. She has a habit of talking really fast and not waiting for an answer when she asks a question. She's just always on and excited about life. She's really just an encouraging person to be around.

We always have Sunday adventures after going to church. (We really just have adventures in general.) One Sunday we were walking back from the el stop and there were mangoes for sale. 12 for $4. Of course we bought some because we both love mangoes. And of course we took a picture.

This is currently our bed set up. At the beginning our beds were more in an L shape. And we joked about putting them together. Then we actually decided to do it two nights ago. It takes up so much space. But it really doesn't matter since all we do in the room is sleep. Our next thought is that we are going to make a fort in the room. Who's excited? hand is raised.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Living Room Cafe

Tonight I had the opportunity to go to a soup kitchen with some co-hosts today. I took a little break from my group and went with three other girls: Nicole, Meagan and Alysa.
This is Nicole. She's from Olympia, Washington. She's is such a blessing in this whole experience. She was a host during the spring so she has a lot of wisdom. She is also always willing to just listen when I need to vent or when I need to just talk something out.

Living Room Cafe is different from other soup kitchens. It serves only about thirty people and these guests are involved in the different programs the place partners with. They have to sign up. They come in and someone goes around and takes their order.

We got there at four and immediately started helping making dinner while the radio was on. This guy named Roy was the head cook who gave us all our tasks to do. We made spaghetti and salad and garlic bread. It was so fun because it was so laid back. And everyone was dancing. Even Roy.

(Nicole, Brian, Meagan and Alysa)
This is Brian in the picture. He was a whole lot of fun. He came at the end of the cooking. And immediately started washing the dishes and singling along to the songs. When we were taking a picture he of course jumped into the front.

There's our spaghetti sauce. Not as good as my mother's but pretty darn tasty. Those bagels in the background were the garlic bread. To make them we melted butter on the stove top and put garlic salt in it then spread the butter over the bagels. They were so good. Also one of the things Roy put in the spaghetti sauce was sugar. I have never thought about that.
We dished up the plates and took them out to the guests. We then served outselves a plate and ate with the remaining guests. I can't wait to come back to this place with a group. It was a good experience.

Park House

This is the place that my group went to this morning. Its a elderly care facility but it doesn't necessarily mean that all the people here are senior citizens. Some of the patients were definitely in their late thirties or early forties.
The group played BINGO and bought a whole bunch of prizes that the residents were super excited about. When we were touring everywhere to see all the ministry sites, our director told us that this is a place that you don't go to feel good about yourself. And its true. The group that goes to this place makes it what they can. They cannot expect a whole bunch of happy residents because that may not necessary happen.
It's a really sad place. Playing BINGO was probably the highlight of their week. The residents here don't have any friends or family besides each other.
I was sitting next to a lady who I never got her name. But she kept asking me about Shirley Temple and if she had died. That is just one example of the residents.
It was definitely an experience. But I'm glad I got to go. Not many people know about this place. It's really just a hole in the wall nursing home. Who knew there was such a thing?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hosting Week 1

As I've already said I just finished my first week of hosting.

These were two of my three hosts from this week. From the left: Matty P and Julie. Funny story about Matty, he goes to APU with me. But we've never met. He's from Denver and he's one of the coolest and nicest guys I know. He always goes out of the way to help everyone out. He is also always willing to walk me to the office when I have to go back at ten at night to do the finances.

Julie reminds me a lot of me. We're both athletic, competitive and always trying to solve problems. But we're also different in a lot of ways. So we even each other out when we co-host.

The host not pictured is Joseph. He doesn't like having his picture taken and he doesn't talk much but he has quickly become one of my favorite people in the world. He'll probably have his own post sometime during the summer.

Hosting itself has been quite interesting. It has been draining but so rewarding. In my last post I talked about Chase elementary. We would go to that site in the morning and in the evening we would do different things. On Monday and Tuesday we went to soup kitchens. It was so cool seeing the group of Sophomores and Freshmen just willing to serve in any way possible. My position is supposed to be more of a supervisory role but at these places I got to help with the serving of the food. I loved seeing the people of Chicago and having the most random conversations.

On Wednesday we went to a men's shelter called Epworth. This is a place where guys can sign up for a bed in the morning and come to the place later that night. There is about sixty guys there. We go to just talk to them and listen to their stories. It was the night of the Stanley Cup finals so we also got to watch the game where the Blackhawks officially became the champions. It was fun. These guys just love to talk, too. And really that's all anyone wants in life: someone to listen to them.

Thursday night, the group broke up into four groups and explored four different neighborhoods with only $2 each for dinner. When we debriefed that night, it was so cool hearing what the different groups did. One group went to Trader Joe's and another group went to Jimmy Johns (sub shop) and bought day old bread for 50 cents.

And today they had a full day off to walk around downtown. That meant that all the hosts had a day off too. Since the week was draining, we didn't make any extravagant plans. Matty P and I watched the South Africa vs Mexico game this morning. Then Julie made the suggestion to go the beach. I took her up on this offer because the wonderful humidity that Chicago is known for came back this morning even though yesterday was an absolute beautiful day weather wise.

The day started off overcast.

And then it started to rain. But we weren't going to be moved. We had only been there for an hour and we were not ready to go back.

We got in the water but it was freeeezing so I only went in up to my knees. You could go out pretty far and it still was shallow.

And then the sun came out. We were laying out and reading but we kept getting attacked by bugs. Julie made a joke that we would have a better time reading in the water. So of course we took our books and cameras and made it a great photo opportunity.
Sunday is when the next batch of groups come. There will be a total of nine groups so it doesn't necessarily mean that I'll be host. But there's a good chance.

Chase Elementary

So this past week I have had my first group. It has been quite a growing experience. I've learned so much about what to do next time and I feel confident that I can do this for the rest of the summer.

In the mornings I would take the group to Chase Elementary where they helped in the different classes. This place had the coolest mural all throughout the school building. It was designed by the kids and even a lot of them helped paint it. The following pictures don't show its entirety but the general idea of what all the walls were like.

This was Salmon P. Chase who the school was named after.

The skeletons are mosaics.

They even portrayed the el.

Soldier field. Daaaa Bearrrrrs.

I wonder who number 54 is/was...

Margie's Candies. Apparently its pretty popular. I'm going to have to check this place out.

This is an actual fountain in the city.

P.S. There's a Jazz festival this weekend. So pumped.

Take me out to the ball game. Take me out to the field. Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks.

This was a sign on one of the classroom doors. It made me go 'aww.'

I have a real picture of the lions in front of the art institute and the Chicago sign.

Apparently there were a whole bunch of cattle statues around Chicago a while ago. I don't know much about them.

Ugh this picture is so dark. But they had a picture of the U.S. so I just had to take a picture with California.
All in all, Chase Elementary was a fun place to be at.