An Inner City Experience

The Team at Victory Park in Milwaukee
It is hard to believe that our students have finished their finals, completing their first semester, and are now packing their bags to head home. So much has happened over the last 3 ½ months; we’ve already traveled 1,957 miles, with our last trip for the semester taking place in Chicago and Milwaukee.
From November 4-13, we packed our bags for Chicago and Milwaukee. This trip was filled with “firsts” for many of us. The first time being in an inner city, or being in a city over 100,000 people, the first time seeing so many in poverty and homelessness, the first time working in a soup kitchen, and so on. Each city, each experience was different and we made a lot of friends on the way. What was so special was while we were working with and for people of various backgrounds, very different from any of our own, we were able to see just how big the Kingdom of God is. We experienced ministry in a predominantly Latin neighborhood in Hermosa, and a contextualized Hindu service in “Little India” while in Chicago. From there we served alongside an organization called City on a Hill that works with youth and families that are in poverty in Milwaukee. It was such a blessing to see so many different people, of different culture, background, and even race work together to bring people closer to the Kingdom, and to our King.

Here are some of the team's personal experiences...

While helping with Grace and Peace Community Church in the community of Hermosa in Chicago, we were able to go out and minister on the streets. "In the period of walking just a couple blocks, we came into contact with many people. I noticed my mindset changed when I saw someone walking within the general vicinity. I wanted to run up to every individual and have a conversation with them. My eyes were opened to more of the world, and my heart was burning inside to know how so many people were living without purpose. A few people refused prayer, but as I came to learn throughout the week, I can’t let that get me down, but try to focus on the good soil." - Arianna

"While in Chicago, we were given the opportunity to pass out our blessing bags and pray for those on the streets. It was an awesome experience that gave each of us boldness and allowed us to pray blessings over those struggling in hard times. Walking the “Magnificent Mile” was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to people and getting a little bit of their backstory. Many of them poured a lot into my life and had some really wise words, so I enjoyed learning a little something from every person we talked to." - Olivia

We had the amazing opportunity to visit "Little India" and experience a Hindu contextualized service. "I never knew that Hindus had so many different rituals for worship and learning about God.  Learning about their culture really confirmed in my life that I am supposed to work specifically within that culture of people.  I have never felt God’s confirmation more in my spirit than I did during that time at the South Asian Friendship Center.  What the South Asian Friendship Center did was take a Hindu worship service and use it for worshipping God, rather than the Hindu gods.  They put Christ in the context of a Hindu service.  I believe that contextualization is biblical if there is a lot of thought put into how it is developed and accomplished.  Western Christianity is not “right” Christianity.  I think that the South Asian Friendship Center did a great job of staying within biblical context and boundaries and they made it very clear that these people were worshipping God and serving Jesus." - Michelle

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"I learned so many things about poverty while I was at City on a Hill. A common phrase was that “a statistic can't be felt”. But for me, that wasn't true, I absolutely felt the statistics and I didn't realize I had so many misconceptions about poverty. Had no idea how many people actually lived in poverty, how many people were unemployed and how many children’s realities existed in this. I also had no idea how many times poverty and justice issues were mentioned in the Bible. This is always something that my heart has really gone after and I honestly had no idea that it was something that was so Biblically based. Though I definitely felt the statistics very strongly, the poverty simulation absolutely helped me to feel this in a way I could have never felt before." - Lyvia

City on a Hill's Motto

City on a Hill's Motto

"Our last full day in Milwaukee was spent helping with the Health Clinic. I was in the group that helped the eye doctors. We spent our time helping find paper work and helping others fill out paper work. The eye doctors were able to give out around seventy five pairs of glasses during the hours the clinic was open. I felt like the City on a Hill group was really doing what they can to improve their community. This health clinic was something that they would do every month. They were not only focused on fixing short term problems but they were more focused on fixing the long term problems." - Marcus

Helping the GAP Center tear down the tents that had been used for revival services & cleaning up the area where their new church will be held!

"Overall the trip was an amazing experience to be a part of and one that I will remember for the rest of my life. The team grew closer together through our trials in the poverty simulation, working together to pull down tents, and many other experiences we had. The trip challenged me spiritually by forcing me to trust in God when I stepped out of my comfort zone and trusting that he provides freedom everywhere and in every situation." - Colten

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"Our inner-city experience was great and I am very glad I chose to be a part of Pack Your Bags this year. All the people I have met and memories I have made are just the beginning. God has grown me so much even in my own personal life and my life outside of Ellendale, and I know He only wants to do more. After Christmas break, we still have another semester with two weeks in Israel and six weeks in South Africa. Pack Your Bags is not over — in fact we are just getting started." - Becca

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Holly's Perspective


Holly shares her story...

Holly shares her story...

As the team has been settling back into normal college life it is amazing to see how each of us have been careful not to forget the memories and experiences that we had, during our trip to Wanblee, South Dakota. Each member of this team had the honor and privilege to be a part of something greater than ourselves.

 

 

Personally, I loved being able to physically do the work of God and see the results of our work. Gus and Terry from Eagle Nest Life Center kept us all busy with tasks like repairing fences, cementing and replacing windows, and collecting trash. The fellowship and friendships that developed from our hard labor and challenges will last a lifetime.

 


As a team we had the opportunity to host what Gus calls "Kids Klub," where we sang a few worship songs, gave a Bible lesson and played "Simon Says" among other games. My favorite part during this time was the opportunity I had to speak life into a young girl who lived on the reservation. She was strong-willed, determined and a leader with such force. She was only in the seventh grade, yet she had aspirations bigger than any college student I know. Not only did she want to attend Minnesota State University, but she also had dreams of playing for the WNBA owning her own cafe and bakery. Did I mention she also wants to be a teacher?


In the few short days I had with her, this young lady shredded all the pre-conceived notions I had about these people. They are human first, and I think as short-term missionary students it is easy to forget that. We are on the same level as these people, if anything we should think of ourselves as less than them. Everything that could go wrong, does. Yet these children and families have a faith so strong it could move mountains. When our trip was coming to an end I had the opportunity to witness to her, and she was receptive and encouraged by the fact that she has a Savior who loves her and forgives her of all of her sins. I was humbled and honored to share the gospel with her.

As the weeks have passed since our return I have continued to pray over her and her dreams so that she would never lose the fierceness God has blessed her with. It is my hope that as the year goes on I can continue to push through with as much exuberance and passion as our team had on our first mission trip. It is truly an honor to be a member of this team.

 

The Beginning..

The year has officially begun! This diverse, fun-loving, compassionate, and bold group of 22 has truly become a family in just a few short weeks! Here is a little bit about what we have been up to so far!

Over Labor Day, we packed up and headed north to Lake Metigoshe for a weekend of team-building. Through various challenges we learned that to properly build crucial trust and effective leadership  within the team we needed to rely on one another; this type of cooperation has laid the foundation for our course of ministry ahead. Each team member rose to the occasion when it came to challenging themselves, all in all, making our “family” that much stronger.

This week we are preparing for our first ministry trip which will take place on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota where we will be working in the Oglala Lakota Native American community. We will be partnering with Wings as Eagles Ministries to help with various kids clubs, services, work projects, and outreach events. The team is very excited to go on our first ministry trip as a group! God has been working in all of our hearts and we are looking forward to all He has planned for Pine Ridge. Please continue to be in prayer for us as we start this journey as a team. It's only the beginning of all that God has in store for this year!

 

The team at the Peace Gardens during our Team Building trip!

The team at the Peace Gardens during our Team Building trip!