Tuesday, December 11, 2012


ok ok, I'm going to have to start with the quotes of a song again.. Maybe I should just have you listen to this song.


I have recently faded from listening to the contemporary christian music. I feel this is because I am growing in other ways, but when I do find myself listening to some of the older christian music I used to be hooked on I find this inner self. This part of who I used to be come back. The simple me before I was open to the truth of the world. This is a great feeling of innocence though, it reminds me that there is still need for innocence in the world. It also reminds me that within all of us and because of our human nature we are all the same when it comes to love. I am not talking about romantic love but the love that Jesus taught us in the Christian Bible.

This is a recap of what I have been experiencing the past few months in Chicago. The experiences I have seen have painted a picture of the love that human nature composes. What I recognize is that everyone no matter what race, income, gender, etc has moments when we come out of the blindness of reality and let kindness talk for you. I have been particpating in an amazing ministry in the South Loop. It's called South Loop Campus Ministry and was started up by a local pastor I am friends with from the Bridgeport neighborhood. I was invited of course because I'm a college student and I sometimes attend the church in Bridgeport. I went the first night to the South Loop campus ministry at Grace Point Church on Dearborn and expecting to meet 15-20 other college students and make new friends. Out of my surprise my new friends were not other college students, but homeless folk. That night at the ministry there were 3 college students including me. My boyfriend, our friend Charlie and myself. We ate the dinner that was made for us and the 4 or 5 homeless people joined us for a meal. The thing about this ministry is that it was initially for college students in the South Loop, but the house was opened for anyone in the area so the homeless folk are welcome to participate as well. Well, after our meal that night there were tons and tons of bread, lunch meat, chips, cookies leftover. Pastor Tom had mentioned lets just pack up the extra and take it to the people on the streets. Not one of us questioned him. We all looked at each other and began packing up what we had with what we had! We had plastic shopping bags, plastic bowls and saran wrap. The 4 of us began getting this food together and in a matter of 20 minutes we found ourselves walking the streets of Chicago down to Michigan Ave and Grant Park then back up to State and Dearborn. We found the people living on the cold streets and they were more than happy to see us. After doing this that night my heart was pounding with some sort of joy. A spontaneous mission turned into hope for about 20 people that night.
Well this mission did not end that Sunday. The South Loop Campus ministry still is in action today. Almost every Sunday night we have been gathering at Grace Place to make sandwiches, eat and, make friends. It seems like each night there are more of us involved as well. The homeless folks that come tell us stories of their lives in the shelters they are living in, and about their past careers. Many have lost jobs, many are retired veterans, many are out of college and can not find a job. They are people with dreams and goals just like myself. I think that I why I seem to have a hard time distinguishing who at our table of about 30 people is homeless and who isn't. To me now this does not matter. We all have our stories and our communities that we are from.  This has just become our time to collaborate our lives and communities together.

When walking the streets of Lower Wacker last Sunday I began to see the homeless community of Chicago. They stick up for one another just as I do for my friends and neighbors. One of the warmest feelings is when one of the people we give bags of food too become so energetic and point out where more people are sitting, and then we head that way. There are also many homeless folks that deliver food with us after the meal. They tend to always know the best places to take us. It is quite fun! The smiles, laughs and running, cold weather (such a random list) makes our mission even stronger. The help from our homeless friends makes it even stronger. We depend on them, their stories, their adventures and their truth to make our mission succeed. As blind as we are it is really not that hard to open our eyes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Trampled Rose, Israel and Palestine

As I ponder through my Israel pictures I can't help but think about the loss of my journal. I ended up leaving my journal on the Canada Air plane, and I have not seen it since. I can only hope that someone is reading the stories of my adventures in Israel and feeling some sort of entertainment, love, hope or any positive feeling. I guess I have yet to really share my experiences from the trip on this blog. I seemed so devastated that all my writing was lost, I had no urge to rewrite it. Walking through the streets of Israel was pure amazement in my eyes. The question that kept coming to my mind was, how could this be the holy land? How has God chosen this such corrupt part of the world to be also one of the most religious areas in the world? Our God, he works in the most mysterious ways. He is always at work teaching us lessons. In the bible Jesus did not live an easy life, but he made it true that there is a light on this earth and with faith, hope and love life can achieve a sort of happiness that most importantly fills the hearts of you and those around you. As I was on my adventure in Israel traveling from Tel-Aviv to Bethlehem, to Jerusalem, to Hebron, to the Galilee, to the Golan Heights and everywhere else I began to see the journey of Jesus's life and how he used his teachings to shape each of us today. At many times I felt like Jesus's teaching were still like a rose that had been trampled on the ground, but like the song "Above All" says he took the fall, thought of me and is above all. Within all the corruption, interrogation of human rights and the source of many other religions God is still speaking to this land. 
My adventure seemed to follow the paths of the gospel of Mark, Matthew and Luke. We started in Bethlehem and went to the Shepard's field, Church of Nativity, and many more.  A few days later in the Galilee traveled to the Mount of Temptation where Moses and Elijah stood beside the Lord. We traveled to the ruins of Capernaum located at the northern shore of the Galilee, this is also the home of St. Peter. We stayed a night in Nazareth and attended a beautiful ceremony at the Church of Annunciation. This is where the angel came to Mary to proclaim to her that she would give birth to a child. In Jerusalem we walked the path Jesus took with the cross and stopped at the many locations of where he fell. We went to the church of holy sepulchre. This was the last stop Jesus took with the cross and where he hung on the cross. Also this is the location of the graves. We walked the Palm Sunday Path coming from Mt. of Olives down to Mt. Morriah. We visited the church of Ascension which is on the Mt. of Olives. This is where Jesus ascended into heaven. There is also a rock that dates back that was the rock that has footprint. The way I word this must say I am true believer. I say this was the place and this happened here and it is all the truth. The thing I thought about several times while I was in Israel and Palestine was that I have many other religions; Jews, Muslims walking all around me that make up the majority population of this country. They are in these places and were surrounded by this their entire lives. I am so humbled to be walking the paths that Jesus Christ once walked and to be standing in the holy places of his teachings and works, and these individuals of different faiths do not have my beliefs. My eyes come to tears when I think about my experience standing in these places and the thought of the person living in the home next to me does not see this. I am confused of even what to think. I do feel that all faiths should have religious freedoms and am a firm understander of Interfaith. I know while I'm standing in Israel with my aye of being in the location of Jesus's Christ's walk I can not force my religion on other beautiful religion. I can pray that the other religious people of different faiths see me and my peers and other christian travelers portraying the words and works that our Christ taught us. I can hope they feel the joy of our kindness and our spirtuality and see that our Lord does make beautiful things, especially in the hearts of his people. 
Religion is one of the biggest conflict barriers in this country. Above I only did a very quick summary of my journey. Digger deeper into the pockets of my trip there was such a education I learned about this country. One of the most shocking experiences I had was traveling around the West Bank, which is the Palestinian territory. I have copied the letter I wrote to many family members after this experience while I was there. This shows my feelings immediately after the journey to Hebron. My reactions then were reflecting off what I had seen in just the first 3 or 4 days in Israel, before taking the path to the Galilee where Jesus did much of his teaching. 
    This is the first time I have been able to get on a computer to email you. The last 2 messages were from someone's phone, and I had about 10 minutes to send. We have done soooo much in 2 1/2 days. It's crazy how much I have already seen and learned. This country has beautiful people to start off with. Whether they are Palenstians, Jews, Christians or Israelis they have all been extremely nice to us. They welcome us with open arms always willing to serve us something and very polite. When we arrived at our first location which was Bethlehem and still is they had juice and pastrys for us at the hotel door. Even when we resisted to take them they continued to say yes yes for you! So far we have seen almost all of Bethlehem. We started off visiting the historical sites. This was wonderful! We went to Sheperd's field first which right off the streets of Bethlehem. This is the field that the shepards saw the angel that told them Jesus was going to be born. The shepards actually housed their sheep in caves, and there were several caves we went into here. Today there are people who have worship services in these caves. The next place we went was the sheperd's field. This is the field that the shepards saw the angel that told them Jesus was going to be born. The shepards actually housed their sheep in caves, and there were several caves we went into here. Today there are people who have worship services in these caves. The next place we went was the Church of Nativity, where Jesus was born. This church is actually very big. All other churches were demolished during the.....age, but there was a picture of the wise men in this church that looked similar to the.....age's look and the Church of Nativity was kept standing. Today this church is a .... The line to see where Jesus was born was quite long, but of course worth it when you got to it. We had to go through this tiny door that took us underground. There was this small corner with a star with 15 points that marked the spot where the manager sat. Many people were kissing the star others praying and crying. I just looked at it and thanked God for Bethlehem is a beautiful city. All of the buildings are this white rock. When you look out all you see is the white rock buildings for miles. Also there are several buildings with unfisnished windows. This is because each building is owned by a family and these families do not have the money to finish the building right now due to the economy and war. I am finishing this letter on the next message.
We also went to an orphnage. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. The owner told us that these children are not allowed to be adopted because of the law. Therefore they stay in this place til 6 years old and then move to another orphange. The first baby I met had a tremdous story. It is illegal for women who are unwed to have a child and that is why many of the children have to leave their homes. The first baby was born from a 16 year old girl who was raped by her uncle. The uncle was put in jail, but the sad part is when the uncle gets out of jail he can come get the child. The other children were a bit older I played ball with a cute little boy. These children were all so quiet for their age and not very active. Going on with what we did today. I will tell you I was actually pretty scared! But I was reading Luke today and read where Jesus told the discplines not to be scared and asked where is their faith when the boat was being flooded with water. I have been taking this passage with me a lot today and kept thinking my faith is in the Lord and he is protecting us through this. We went to 3 different communities all of which are enemies of each other. To start out...the what is happening between Israel and Palenestine is very confusing. It is def. not black and white. The first community we went to was a Jewish community. This was a pretty well off community, nice homes, people practicing their religion 24/7. A Jewish man from Chicago who is actually from Israel let us into his home and told us many stories about how the Jews do not like the Palenstines and the sucide bombs the palenstians take action in affect the Jewish settlement. This was his side. The next community we went to was a agriculutral community. We went to the center of Freedom and Justice here. This was actually a very very small building. This town was very poor and very torn. Just a week or so ago a young boy was killed by an Israel soldier. The man here was telling us how he does not like the settlements growing and becoming in their land. Their sueage( SOrry can't spell) is killing their plants. There were sooooo many grapes. He took us on top of a building in this community and pointed out these settlements. The building we went on top of was old with no windows and people lived there. The entire town was like that. This man is also going to speak to the UN next week. The next place we went the city of Hebron was the "scary" part for me. This is one of the biggest cities in the West Bank. Mostly Muslim. Our guide that has been taking us around could not go into the places we went becasue he was an Arab Israel. and Christian. We were dropped off with these two palestian men. They talked to us about what has been happening in Hebron with the Jewish people and the Israel govt. We then went through a check point in the city. This check The soldiers all armed and big checked our bags and we headed up the empty street. This entire area was torn apart by Israeli soldiers only about 7 to 5 years ago. The buildings were empty, graffitti on the walls. We then went a back passage way through trees and rocks almost like we were climbing a mountain. We finally got to the top where these men had an organization. It was also a home like building old no air no furniture, broken windows and graffit saying free Palestine. The men talked to us about their life. There were several small children who would walk past and wave. They then offered us this great lunch, rice chicken etc. They put us in this back room and shut the door. As we ate they showed us videos about how innocent palenstians were getting beaten by Jews in Hebron today. These men actually flmed these videos themselves. You can go to Btselm to check them out on youtube. As we left the room, I looked out and not but like 10 feet away sat the soldiers. Just watching us leave. We were American so they loved us. As we left we could not walk back with our two new friends. Since they were Palestians they had to take another route. They droppped us off down the hill and the soldiers checked out passports and said go on... We walked this completely empty street with broken windows and all for about a mile and then we got the the markets. 
There is a lot more to this story, but I am not going to post this online. Please contact me if you would like to hear the rest of the story of Hebron. I have not included any names or exact places that we were located.

This is what we have done so far. When I first arrived to BEthlehem I would look out my window and up and down the hills see beauty, now after today I look out and see corruption. I have reminded myself though that there is always beauty in God's land, and sometines I can imagine Jesus standing on the rolling hills in the distance raising his arms.
This writing came completely from the day experience of living in Israel. I still find it fascinating to look back at this writing to see how excited I was about my experience. I am blessed to have seen this part of the world and most blessed to have been walking the path that Jesus walked. I gathered many shells from the Sea of Galilee and I hope to start making bracelets and picture frames with these soon for my friends and family. I handed some of the shells out at a local church I attend in Chicago and one of the women who took one prayed with me as she held the shell in her hand. She said told me she was touching the shell that Jesus walked on and this shell he had touched, while smiling. There are moments when you can see the Lord working in your everyday life, and this is was one of the moments when I saw the light shine down and let the love shine. Above us he shines down and speaks to our hearts and in the midst of an amazing journey of busy days waking up early, walking in hot temps and even in the people you encounter in your home country he is there above us with all power.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Crossing Paths, Thoughts before Israel

In three days I will be traveling to the land I never expected I would have the opportunity to step foot on. This is the place that I have read about in my Bible since the day I was born. Stay updated to my blog posts about my service trip to Israel. I have been very blessed to have the support from my church family, Mckendree Memorial United Methodist Church and my family and friends from Middle Tennessee. One of the most rewarding feelings is knowing that there are individuals supporting and loving you no matter where you are in the world. I have been in college near Chicago, IL for the past 3 years. Because of my time in Chicago I have not had the time to visit my loved ones in my home church. Getting the nice notes and letters from all you filled my heart with so much joy. I know I am going on this mission with the lead from the Lord, and we were all placed in each others life to see the Lord through one another. The letters from you, made my eyes come to tears as many of you wrote about the memories of me growing up in daycare, Sunday school, and church services together. You all prepared me for my trip to the Holy Land, and even more for my journey of missions. This trip will be my first social justice service trip as well as my first trip abroad.

My expectations of Israel are vivid and still in imaginary mode. I still can not believe that I am getting this opportunity. My trip itnerary includes me traveling around the entire country from, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jericho, Hebron. As well the visit to the several churches and communities. I have had many people ask me what I am most excited about and what I tell everyone is that I am most excited about meeting the people. I'm interested in hearing their thoughts about living in this land. Do they feel blessed or honored to live here? What traditions do they still follow?

As my journey starts I take the words from the Christian Bible with me, and the good samaritan crossing paths and touching many individuals.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Yes, I'm going to talk about the leadership awards that I just witnessed at my North Central College campus. I am over joyed right now to thank that the every award honored tonight was based off servant leadership. Servant leadership meaning-- individuals demonstrating the characteristics of empathy, listening, stewardship and commitment to personal growth toward others-- I am surrounded everyday by people with big hearts. We may be in the Chicago suburbs where our environment could be classified as or was once classified as, "The American Dream" atmosphere. 
During my experience at North Central I have found myself lost and alone, and constantly saying as stated in the previous blogs that I want to leave here as fast as I can and be in a place I belong. The reason I felt lost is because everything seemed too perfect for me. Growing up in a community of the majority of blue collar workers and coming to school in a privileged  private liberal arts school I was in my words lost in the perfection and the endless opportunities. Over the years I have gotten to know some incredible people here and I have realized we each carry stories. These are the stories that make up the servant leader frame North Central performs. I have become friends with students of different cultures. My freshman year I remember the theme being diversity at North Central. I became friends with those students from China, Japan, Vietnam. I have begun to listen to them as they tell me about their homeland. I see these students still honoring their home buy organizing fundraisers for the Earthquake and Tsunami that happened in 2011 in Japan. I have met an incredible individual from the Congo that has opened a school in his African community for the children to receive a better education. Along with this he has partnered with many North Central student organizations and is beginning to make this a campus wide event. He has definitely displayed the action of the famous African Proverb, "If you are going to go fast go alone, but if you are going far go together." He may be far from his home but he has taken his community with him here and take North Central back to the Congo. There are students at North Central who lead and participate in various service trips on the global and domestic foundation. All striving the better the life of others and reach justice. I have become friends with those who attend trips to Hati on yearly basis and bring their stories back to North Central as well as those who travel to Ok, AL, LA, NY, WV, FL, PA, VA and probably many more places to do the hands on work of the servant leader. These people have inspired me. There are others who strive for justice actions and perform a different scale of servant leadership work, the advocates. In all, each type of person I have met at this school inspires me. Although, being at North Central is not quite what I want to do in my life as being a servant I have learned a nice framework to my goals of the work of making a difference in the life of others. My passion is to live in the environment of the ones I'm helping. In this case may require me to live in the inter city and what many people may say a dangerous area. ...Quote. As stated, I have during my experience at North Central became friends with those people from these environments I hope to one day live for. These friends of mine are the ones who brought the initiation I want to take with my service. I see how they feel privileged to live in Naperville, IL and go get a college education at a school like North Central, and what I can do for them is take what they have gave me and their stories to go out of this comfort zone. I was once out of the comfort zone in this historic perfect suburb town and now that I feel at home I know it is soon time for me to graduate and take all I have learned from this diverse family and serve the world again. I have served by this community by living in the environment here in Naperville and I hope my way of serving has been motivational to those around me. They have taught me many things about life and world that I will take with me. I have one more year here, and I will cherish this family and work hard to finish my journey of serving in the suburbs. No matter where you are in the world and how privileged one environment is over the other there is always a need for hope and perseverance for the community. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Call

It's been a while.. I will now continue writing my blogs of my ups and downs in college. I write this not for myself, but for the readers to remember that we are all walking our individual path's in life. Like always I will start off with one of my favorite quotes, Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. "As many of you, I live off quotes. We go to sites like Pinterest and scroll through each picture (many which are motivational quotes) and say to ourselves "That's my life" "That's perfect for me" etc. You know you do it.
Lately I have really been able to find myself. It's the last term of my junior year here at North Central and I feel like I finally belong. As you read the blogs below this you will see many many times where I wrote I don't belong and I'm lost in the dark skies and fast talking people. In all though, I realized I have to stay true to myself and true to my faith in the Lord and finally let my tears dry up. This year has been one hectic year, crazier than the past two, and while my life was caios ( can't spell) I found myself smiling more and more. There comes a time when you accept where you are and why God has put you there. I have told myself I will not shut the doors without entering them and I will live for the rain and the sun. This year alone I started a new major that changed my life, Global Studies. Of course, I love to travel. Again as you read during my 2nd year of college I studied abroad. Overall, best experience of my life! Changed my life for the better and told me that I want to see the world. This was my introduction to traveling as a student and seeing many of the world-known tourist attractions. The places in history books that I thought I would never see I saw. When I visited these place it was like a magical dream. This fun learning experience made me want to pursue a Global Studies major. Yes, at first I had no idea what this was. I just saw the word global, and thought, yep! sounds perfect! My first advanced global studies class International Law, shocked me to death! It was hard and extremely challenging. I had never spoken to anyone in those proper political terms. I had no idea what I was reading. The first week of class I knew I was in way over my head. It seemed like everyone in my class wanted to be a lawyer and were already well-educated on world issues and all the domestic laws in the U.S. that I was unfamiliar with. I had the best professor I could wish for though and he helped me along the way. The issue of human rights for women and children sparked my interest more than any of the other subjects. maritime law, international sea boundaries etc..again..nah..not my thing. Human Rights though, sparked my interest because I have always had the concern to help those less-fortunate than me. The stories of child soldiers, and women of Congo broke my heart. I wanted to jump right into helping these people. I am blessed that continuous global studies classes slowed me down a bit. I was able to educate myself before I jumped in too fast and brought harm. Other issues I have studied and continue to pursue are human trafficking ( I am currently volunteering at WAR Chest boutique, an organization that provides safe homes around the world to women who are at risk or those who have been trafficked. Also I being a faithful adovocate for social justice on domestic and international levels. I had the opportunity to attend a conference in DC called Ecumenical Advocacy Days. This conference changed my life. Again, while attending this conference I could not have been blessed enough to have already taken global studies classes that introduced me to each subject matter that the conference covered from globalization of material goods, justice issues, as well as international boundary topics. All I can say is, wow.. this has all been a rocky path with everyday life events ( sister getting married, failing grades, deaths) triumphing over my new studies. I am still finding my way to the path that God is leading me too. That is the purpose of this blog, I am finally answering God's call that I have seen since my freshmen year of college while attending Exploration, a United Methodist Student Ministry conference. I see a call to ministry for my future. I want to continue following this call with travel and performing missionary work to build justice around the world to my friends, my family and overall to my family of God.