You can read Part 1 here
I m pretty speechless right now thinking about the past ten weeks of my summer, but I am going to try to capture how amazing it has been in words. Most things usually don’t meet or exceed my expectations but Chicago Summer Mission has blown them out of the water.
Whether it was late night heart to hearts, weekly meetings, bible studies, sharing on campus, kissing Nate and other guys on the lips (if I ever kiss you on the lips accidentally I am sorry, it has just gotten so normal to do that I might forget it isn’t socially acceptable), hallway parties, megabed, hot seat, losing what are the odds (I never knew eating salsa out of a hairy dude’s belly button could taste so good), cigar nights on the lake (sorry mom, I promise I’m not a chain smoker), wearing Brenna’s shorts (I need to invest in some jorts. I pulled those off so well.), the munchkin challenge, adventures to Boystown and Englewood, wellness tea, worship and sharing nights, community events, beach days, messing up literally everything possible as a Chocolateer at Ghirardelli and making all the managers mad that I don’t do a good job at “protecting the brand”, meeting people from Russia, Albania, Macedonia, Turkey and a half Eritrean, half Somalian girl from Russia at Ghirardelli, messing around with a 40 year old super ghetto dude named Clinton who works at Ghirardelli, becoming friends with Gustavo (who is literally the funniest and nicest guy I have ever met) and Samar (who I also love) from Brazil, breakfast man dates, discipleship time with Kyle and Evan, approaching a street preacher and an LGBT rights activist, helping a drunk dude named Jesus Flores find his friends, talking to and joking around with a homeless man named Allen for like an hour and a half, having a spiritual conversation with a man named Rob who was selling water bottles outside of Lollapalooza, meeting a German flight attendant named Hans, while sharing on the beach, who new the German pilot who crashed the plane, weird groupme messages, came shakes, scavenger hunts, watching the NBA finals, DTRing, inside jokes (baby girls, DRA), finding weird and potentially demonic notes signed by Cthulhu above Justin’s bed, sleeping on the supposedly haunted 15th floor in a room that I didn’t belong in, rooming with Adam, Rodney and Max, going to GhettoDonalds like every week, men’s time which basically consisted of 32 guys wrestling in a grassy field, a creative date picnic on the lake, seeing the Reds play at Wrigley, seeing a White Sox game, staying up all night the last night, David’s hilarious stand up, ping pong tournaments, violent duck duck goose, losing in Assassins after only 9 minutes, learning the Red Line, listening to “Shut up and Dance with Me” way too many times, and a million other things I cannot remember right now. I will look back on these memories and those I made them with, with smiles in the future.
Yeah so about the people. I love these 67 other messy people to death. I didn’t know it was possible to become so close to so many people so fast. But apparently it is. Gosh freaking dang it, I am about to cry right now thinking about it. Oh yeah, and about crying. I just don’t cry much. I wish I could. I want to, but for some reason I can’t, but I cried. Hearing people share their testimonies absolutely wrecked me. I cried my eyes out hearing Caleb and Alex share their testimonies. I also probably would have cried at Jacklyn, Rodney, Hanna, and Brody’s had I not heard most of them before they publicly shared them. John’s was really good too. Actually they all were good. The amount of redemption in the lives of these people is incredible. The depressed, the suicidal, the sexually abused, the sexually abusive, the physically abused, the psychologically abused, addicts, products of broken homes, those with same-sex attraction, all redeemed and loved.
I have learned a lot of things the past ten weeks. A lot of practical things like how to more affectively lead a bible study and how to do outreach but there are two things I will take away more than anything else.
1. I am not alone.
This is huge. On our last bible study Evan out leader asked the one thing we had learned over the summer. Oh man, has this been drilled home to me. I came into the summer never having really talked to a Christian who experienced depression the way I do, but after this summer I am dear friends with several brothers and sisters in Christ who share the same mental torment that I do. Having wellness tea and other long conversations where we discussed our various struggles with one another has been by far one of the best and most profitable experiences of the summer. I cannot thank Jacklyn, Hanna, Max, Alex, and Ellie enough for how much they have been a comfort and encouragement to me and how they have pointed me to the cross of Christ, through which one day my mind will be fully and forever renewed and my pain redeemed. I don’t know whether there are just way more depressed Christians than I though or that God just brought all the depressed Christians to Chicago. It’s probably some of both. And then right when I thought I was done learning about this, I had a brief conversation with Tia. I hadn’t really talked to her that much all summer but we were walking back from the lake together and I kind of randomly asked about what she wants to do after college and she said she wanted to do non profit work for those who struggle with depression and are suicidal. Like what the heck? Oh my gosh. That’s so crazy.
2. I am loved.
Due to my depression, it is hard to feel loved by other people. Even if you tell me that over and over again, I have a hard time believing it. However, I have felt loved by this group of people God has placed around me in Chicago. It is hard to feel cared for, but I think these people actually care about me. If they don’t, they are doing a really good job faking it. I have been provided with so many amazing people to pour out my heart too. Oh yeah and when I thought I was done with that, I was prayed over at megabed. Who the two guys are that prayed over me is very significant. It was the very same two guys who I had mentioned to someone earlier that day that I had terrible first impressions of and thought were complete jerks. Sorry Ryan and Lucas. I don’t think that anymore. Hopefully you aren’t too offended. You guys are awesome. But to think that the two guys who I thought were jerks at the beginning prayed over me with such love on one of the final nights of our summer mission blows my mind.
It is freaking down right absurd how much of a magnificent community His Holy Nation is.