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St. Charles Family Mission Trip 2018 Day 2

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I’m happy to inform you that we have survived our first full day of our mission trip! This morning we woke up grateful for a good night's rest in the basement of St Mark’s. Like last year, we are blessed with wonderful hosts  at St Mark's and at the Norris Recreation Center where we use the facilities. And after working outside this afternoon, I know some of us are saying extra prayers of thanks for both of these blessings tonight.

We started the day off with one of our favorite serving opportunities at Feed My Starving Children. While there, we worked as teams to help pack food bags to be sent out to children who may not otherwise eat well. It is an amazing organization and it is a great opportunity for the kids that are five and older to get a hands on serving project. It’s indescribable how moving it is to watch our kids and friends work passionately as teams to serve as many as they can. God worked through us and we were able to help pack 191 boxes which equates to 41,256 MEALS in just one morning of packing! We learned about a sweet girl named Corina who lives in Ukraine who benefited and thrived thanks to this organization and packs just like the ones we filled. Also, we each tried this summer to raise some funds to donate to FMSC today and with that money, they will be able to feed at LEAST seven kids for a whole year, all by the grace of God.

As I mentioned yesterday, we were very eager to help St. Mark’s knock out some major to dos. They have been so generous to host us, feed us and volunteer with us that it only feels right to find small ways that we can make their life a little easier as well. One way we were able to do this was by splitting into teams to take on different tasks. One team set out to fix their spotty WIFI. It wasn’t a planned task but like most of God’s little boosts, we saw a need had the tools on hand, and had the expertise in a few of our brains and hearts that were ready to serve. A second team headed downstairs to put together a new preschool room, because they’ve been blessed so much this year that they’ve been able to expand a little.

Two teams headed outside to do some groundskeeping tasks like laying mulch and seeding the lawn and by the end of it they had the area looking mighty fine. Another team headed out to pass out some flyers for the Block Party this evening. This task was a little more complicated than we had originally thought. Seeing kids get excited to invite people to come play and eat with us was awesome! However, the difficulties that come with several children in car seats getting in and out meant we had to get a little more creative and step outside our comfort zones. And, of course, the Block Party turned out wonderfully and we were able to dine, play, and have fellowship with new and old friends. The last team worked very hard with St Mark’s member Dennis, to make some meals for Lazarus House. As with any task God leads, things went His way and not ours, and they adapted to His plan with smiles on their faces and serving hearts making a meal for today and a few to freeze for future weeks.

Tomorrow we look forward to spending some time with the Residents at Bickford of St Charles Nursing home for an ice cream social. We are also super excited to take on our traditional Blessing Quest on the streets of St Charles. This is a new experience for many of us. But for those of us who have been there before, we know the awesome ways that God is able to work through us during this adventure.

Til Tomorrow!

St. Charles Family Mission Trip 2018 Day 3

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Today we had the pleasure of embracing a new opportunity to serve this community. We spent our morning at Bickford of Saint Charles, a beautiful assisted living and memory care home. We started with the kids doing a great job singing for the residents upstairs. We then took the party downstairs to the common areas and the kids put on yet another concert of their favorite Sunday school songs. Some residents watched with smiles, some sang along, and some even cheered us on with shouts for encores and a few 'AMEN's. We even got to serenade one resident, Bob, with a round of 'Happy Birthday'. Bob loved the song and even got an extra treat when our Alex taught himself how to play 'Happy Birthday' on his Viola.

The residents then joined us in some light beach ball tossing and a few games of Bingo. Even the residents who weren’t interested in playing the game were sweet enough to help some of the little kids with their bingo cards. Together, they giggled and chatted and worked to be the first to win some chocolate bars. After a few rounds of Bingo, we were treated to piano performances by our St Mark’s friends Tate, Lexi, and Clara along with almost-three-year-old Oliver joining in with his rendition of ‘Oliver tickles the ivories.’

Then came the ‘cool’ part. We served the residents some ice cream and made sure that we brought all the toppings to make some yummy sundaes. We ate a delicious sweet treat with our new friends and walked around the halls giving some ice cream to anyone we could find. I have never seen kids so excited to give someone ELSE ice cream. Sometimes, it’s easy for those of us without older relatives to forget how little things like ice cream and a hug can brighten up our elder friend’s whole week. And, based on the report that Pastor Tim got from one of his members whose mom lives at Bickford, the resident’s had just as much fun as we did.

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.
– Proverbs 16:31

After lunch we split up into teams again for our Blessing Quest. This is a Family Mission Trip tradition and this year, like in the past, it did not disappoint. The concept is much like a scavenger hunt but instead of finding THINGS, we find PEOPLE to bless and pray for as we challenge ourselves to listen to how God is going to use us for His glory. We prayed for several businesses and people that we came across, and handed out water bottles to those working outside. We paid for coffees, fruits, and sandwiches for some neighbors and emergency personnel. The kids handed out bubbles and stickers to children and dog treats to some lucky pooches.

The spirit of giving in God’s name spread throughout the community in a short period of time. The children got to see first-hand that blessing just one person can snowball into more giving. One group, handing out some free drinks, was blessed by a recipient giving them MORE money to continue the journey. Another group went to the local Pet Co. to hand out some doggie treats to the puppies that were getting haircuts. The associate helping them ended up sending them off with bags of treats that they were able to pass out at the local dog park. Listening to the kids talk about their experiences gave us goosebumps and was a great reminder that they are also watching out for everyday God moments. As our little Sophie said perfectly today, “We should do this all the time!” Afterwards, we shared some of our experiences before heading out for another tradition, dinner at Portillo’s, a Chicago-area chain known for their hot dogs.

Tomorrow we head to Phil’s Friends to donate care package contributions, pack some boxes, and make some cards. We’ll have some time afterwards to unwind and reflect on the trip before we share our last meal with our St Mark’s family.

Till Tommorow!
Liz and the Team

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