September 9, 2019
Chicago Dream Center Mission Trip 2019 | Update #3
August 3, 2019
We started our day extra early but it was full of joy and excitement- literal joy as Kathy initiated a spontaneous dance party in the parking lot at 6:10 am! Nothing gets my heart ready for the day quite like music so this was such a blessing. We arrived at New Life Covenant Church at 6:30 am for our HopeFest assignments and breakfast. Judy, our partner, blessed us with a fabulous hearty meal and plenty of liquid energy (shout out to all of us coffee drinkers!) sure to keep us going all day. The church family and hosts that we have partnered with have been such a blessing to us, truly going above and beyond to care for us in every way. The way that they love Jesus and people is incredible and so inspiring!
After breakfast, we began the final stages of setup. We knew this would be a huge event by the sheer size of the area set up but I was blown away to find out today that we were not only able to help provide practical needs and care but spiritual care to over 1,500 people! This event is such a big deal in their community; so big that people were lining up at 6:00 in the morning!
Our team was spread out all over today—setting up games, painting nails, praying for people. Personally, I love to serve and have a heart for children so I was sure my assignment would place me in the Kids Zone; this was the area everyone wanted to be, truly it was a sight to see! Full of music and color, carnival rides, games, candy, popcorn, and the sounds of laughter. What could be more rewarding than being present for the fun stuff and seeing the joy on the faces of the children? It turned out God had other plans for me today.
Some may know that I am a licensed hairstylist and worked in a salon for 14 years. Two years ago after much prayer, I left that profession to pursue a job that would allow more flexibility to be with my family and pursue more opportunities to serve and take classes at church. I no longer cut hair for anyone other than close friends and family. While packing for the trip I remember looking at my tools and wondering if I should take them. In the end, I decided not to because I didn’t want to be roped into doing hair when I could be serving in some other way. Yesterday Judy walked right up to me and said, “I hear that you cut hair, you are the answer to my prayer! We do not have enough stylists to provide the free back to school haircuts. Would you be willing to do this if I can find you the tools you will need?” How could I say no to this? I often thank God that I have this skill because it is a useful and practical way to care for my friends and family. To know that this skill was the answer to prayer was pretty incredible!
This morning after much scavenging for tools, I was provided with truly the basics and I set to work on my first hair cut. I immediately asked young Vanessa to tell me something amazing about herself. She said there was nothing amazing about her. I tried asking the same question in multiple ways but she responded the same each time. Finally, after thinking and praying on this, I was able to share something with her. I asked her if she had ever heard that we were all made in God’s image. She had not. I asked her to look around the room. I pointed out how she looked different than her sister. They looked different from me. The room was truly diverse, we were all so different in so many ways, like personality and appearance. But we were all made in God’s image. How big He is! How diverse! I said to her that there is something amazing about her. She looked up at me with a smile, I said to her God created you and He loves you. You are created in His image and He loves you and that is AMAZING! She smiled and said no one had ever told her that. I immediately knew that this was why I was assigned this particular task.
This evening we met at Carmen’s house for an incredible meal and fellowship. We were privileged to hear her testimony of how God has moved in her life and how He saved her. (Carmen and her husband, Ivan, run the teen shelter home here at the Dream Center.) She reminded us transformation is possible no matter where you are when you surrender it to God. She said something that touched us all so deeply. She said people ask her, “why do you do it?”. There are times when the desire to serve and give of yourself so fully is not easy to understand. She summed it up so well. She said “how could I not? After
After a long day, we gathered for worship led by CarolAnn and it was so moving. I love how amazing and faithful God has been and it was such a privilege to gather and give Him some glory and love this evening. How could we not? To God be the glory.