Milwaukee Summer Project 2011

So I keep feeling like I need one last final blurb about Summer Project (‘cuz I can’t just leave you all hangin’ there!).  So here we go:

Sum up of the Summer

Oh!  Where to start!  This summer was AWESOME!  You may be asking, “What was the best part of your summer, Anna?”  You know, ‘cuz that’s what people ask.  My answer?  God.  He really revealed himself to me.  And, as he was revealing himself to me, he revealed parts of me that I needed to surrender to him, that we could have that much closer of a relationship.  He totally rocked my summer!

An overview of what we all did: Week One = Training.  Weeks Two-Seven = Ministry Sites (my team went to Liberty & Truth, New Beginnings, Tabernacle, and Hopewell).  Week Eight = Cleaning/Wrap-Up/End-of-Project Retreat.  Every weekend, we did an outreach, a social, and went church-hopping.  A typical week looked like this: Monday = Action Group; Tuesday = Weekly Meeting (where we could invite the public); Wednesday = Date Night with Jesus (what a few of the guys called “Man Time with Jesus”); Thursday = Training Night; Friday = Social or Outreach (the other is on the Saturday).  And during the day, we were either at jobs or ministry sites.  There were two ministry site teams, and mine went to: Liberty & Truth, New Beginnings, Tabernacle, and Hopewell.  I forget where all the other group went to, but I believe they went to: God’s Kidz in the Hood, Citybrook, New Beginnings, Liberty & Truth, Jesus Camp(?), Genesis.  Pretty sure.  We worked with a lot of kids and a lot of people in general.  It was exhausting, but fun!

We had a ton of spiritual conversations, did a ton of gospel presentations, had a ton of people ask Christ into their heart!  I don’t have exact numbers on everything, but I think there were 36 decisions all summer (in the 8 weeks we were there) to ask Christ into their heart!  Now that is what I call exciting.  (Doin’ a little kingdom welcoming dance!)

I made a ton of close friends, and have been staying in touch with many since the end (which was almost a week ago)!  Oh man, that is a scary thought.  A week ago?  The challenging part for pretty much all of us (everybody I’ve been talking to, anyway) is integrating back into the “real world.”  And then school starts, and we should be applying everything we’ve learned this summer on our campuses!  So that would be a big part of the prayer requests I send out to you today: for all of us who were on project, that we can apply and fit back in to society like we should be.  Other prayer requests include the seeds that were planted this summer, no matter what kind of soil they landed on (but let us hope that the seeds actually took root in good soil!).

Soooooooo.  I am really sad that the summer is over.  But at least we have a ton of pictures and even some videos to jog my not-so-great memory!  And God keeps doing his work, no matter where we are.  I know I have continued learning so much even after I left project!  And God is just awesome.  I am so thankful that I could go to Milwaukee for 8 weeks this summer and learn and grow and be used by God for his work!  It was SUCH an experience!  If you come and find me sometime, and ask me about it, you should tell me right away how much time you have.  ‘Cuz I could just keep talking and talking.  It’s okay if you just stop me sometime.  But please, wait until I finish the current sentence.  =)

I love all of you so much for supporting me throughout my summer!  I give thanks for YOU!  You are all incredibly awesome!

Ever smiling, Anna =)^2 (smiles squared)

Attrace is taking this picture, but it pretty much explains our group.=)

[Title of Post]

Carrying one another’s burdens?  Lifting each other up when we are down?  Laying one’s life down for his or her friend?  I knew what that meant, figuratively, metaphorically?  But I’d never experienced it like I did today.

When we got to Chicago, I had some energy (what I like to call my “morning high” by this time also mixed with some coffee- smiley face); it wasn’t HOT outside, and was still a little on the “cool side,” that being in the 80s, I guess.  But I had gotten kind of worn out a little over this last week, and my body doesn’t always recover as fast as I want it to.  So my walking was slower than everyone else’s.  I guess it would have been, either way, but it was slowing everyone down, having to make sure they didn’t leave me Ashley, and Jill, who were walking with me, behind.  AND THEN (said with intenseness) Ashley hosted me up on her back and gave me a piggy-back.  The beast, she was JOGGING with me on her back!  I was passed to Caitlin, but then given back to Ashley.  All the way until we finally found a Panera, I was carried.  So Ashey, Jill, and Bryan hung out with me at Panera for a few hours.  We mostly played cards—Rummy 500, more specifically.  I creamed Bryan for beating me a few days earlier.  And when we dealt in Jill and Ashley, I was in the lead on the score-keeping paper (despite what Bryan said how I would not have been in the lead if such-and-such were or weren’t counted) when we left.  Destination: Chicago-style pizza, where the rest of the group was.  All three of them took turns carrying me via piggy-back or failed two-person carries or whatever.  I am so blessed!  They stayed back with me instead of walking to the park with h rest of the group, and they CARRIED ME, literally!  At the restaurant, it was quicker to divide into groups and get smaller tables than wait for a big one that would seat all 17 of us.  So, because the four of us got there at the same time, we ended up sitting at a table together

Me and my awesome friends who I spent the majority of the day with!

After dinner, we discussed and divided into groups based on when we wanted to head back.  I was going back with the earliest group, but Bryan, Ashley, and Zack walked us to the train station.  Zack took a turn at carrying me a distance before Ashley took me on her back.  God gave her energy boost, ‘cuz even after having carried me for even having carried me for so long throughout the day, she was walking pretty quickly.

I am so blessed, to have such willing friends who carried me when I was struggling to walk.  I guess they sort of carried this MS burden I’ve struggled with for so long.  They had my back—Ashley always making sure she hoisted up my left leg when I got on someone else’s back or hoisting me up when I was falling down (yes, even on someone else’s back).  Humor was present throughout the day, and I love my friends for the way they loved on me today—it was AWESOME!  Praise be to the Lord who blessed me with these friends so dear!

Week Two: Official

Wednesday was my date night with Jesus!  He showed me how incredibly awesome he is the with Colossians 1:15-20.  I then read John 20:11-18 when Jesus appears to Mary.  How awesome Jesus is, and he calls out, “Mary!”  Jesus, who is the beginning and the end, the being in all creation, the one through whom God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things by making peace through the blood of his cross, calls, “Anna!”  And how many times has he done that?  I also ended up reading through Philippians.  The verses that stood out to me in that book were similar to the ones that stood out to me in Colossians.  The one that stood out to me most: 3:17-4:1, “Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears.  Their end is in destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.  Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.”  THIS IS WHY WE EVANGELIZE!

On Thursday night, we had training night.  We listened to a talk by John Ortberg (I think that’s his name) via video.  He started out by comparing an admirer to a follower.  An admirer of Michal Phelps is impressed with his Olympic victories and approves of his actions which scored the USA more golds.  A follower?  One that is devoted and does all he can to become “Like Mike” or the next Olympic swimmer.  Jesus constantly challenges people to move from admirer or him to a follower.  In the progress, one moves from stranger, to admirer, to follower.  Oh, but America has recently added a step.  In between the progress from admirer to follower is inserted “user,” or, one that wants to use Jesus to get into heaven when he or she dies.  Now remember, I’m just telling you what I heard and impacted me.  The thing that impacted me most, though, was the different kind of convictions.  Public convictions = things that I say to make you think I believe them.  Private convictions = things that I think I do believe.  Core convictions = things that I demonstrate that I believe by things that I do.  THIS is what God has been calling to my attention.  I have been passionate about this very thing!  Because everyone I know back home and at school call themselves believers (or most, anyway), do I have the right to worry about where their heart lies in relation to Jesus?  I have been getting so pumped up for Jesus in these  last couple weeks here, that I want EVERYONE to experience the awesomeness that comes with being in a relationship with him and trusting him completely with everything you are.  It’s freakin awesome!  I can’t see into a heart, and it’s not up to me to judge.  So, all I can do is pray for those whose hearts don’t yet hold the core belief of Jesus and the salvation he offers.

And at Liberty and Truth, this week’s ministry site?  Awesome!  I had my first conversation of the year today while we canvasing/passing out fliers for the clothing giveaway next week, the food pantry, and general information about Liberty and Truth. I wasn’t part of the first rather successful conversation, but the guy was looking for a job and a new church home.  The couple that I talked with was really encouraging for me.  Fey and Marshall are believers, and we prayed with them.  Fey is starting dialysis soon and her children all volunteered to be tested to find a match because she needs a new kidney, praise Jesus.  Please join me in praying for Fey and Marshall!

Tonight, we did some outreach.  Because it wasn’t raining, our group split into three and  we went to three different parks.  I shared with Noel.  The first lady we talked to agreed to take our survey and we ended up having a two hour conversation with her.  Noel and I shared the gospel four times, but she kept talking.  I feel like she was trying to tell us how good of a person she is, but we had a lot of small talk conversation that was good to develop relationship.  She left  us with her number, and I really want to call her up one day for coffee or something.  I praise God that we had the opportunity to share the gospel so many times with her, and I pray that the seeds we planted today may prosper and do something in her life.  (Pray with me!?)

It is Friday night now as I write this, and I am DRAINED from the week.  Please pray for my strength to keep up as well as my general health, for my infusion is this next week (which will weaken my immune system temporarily).  All of the girls on my floor seem to be drained from the week, and I pray that we will all be re-energized this weekend before the adventure of Week Three starts at our ministry sites.

I woke up this morning, saying to myself, “I get to share the gospel today!”  And I did!  I praise the Lord for his glory and everything he did for us, making it so that we GET to share his amazing gospel with all!  I thank God for the experience I had today, sharing his word, and just partaking in conversation.

Thank you to all my ministry partners, whether financially or in prayer!  You guy are awesome!  I am having an amazing time here, and I am so excited for the adventures that the rest of the summer brings!

A beacon of smiles, Anna :)^2

Since My Last Update….

So, I’ve been kinda typing into a word document when I’ve had free time over the last couple of days.  I finished tonight after my date with the Lord, so that’s why that one happens to be in more detail than the others, I guess.  So I invite you to find out some of the general things I’ve been doing, and some of the depths of my heart conversations with the Lord.

Tuesday: Soul to Soul Night.

Our Action Group shared testimonies with each.  My action group consists of Meg, Ashley, Ariel, and me, as well as our leaders Noel and Courtney.  We went to Ian’s Pizza (which was awesome, cuz Ariel got us a free slice of pizza and they have awesome food in the first place) and then to Noel’s place to share our stories.  We were surprisingly the first group done.  Which meant we could hang out with each other and nobody else was even on the floor yet.  Which was fun, I guess.  And then another group came (my roommate’s group) and needed to finish up so they were in our room until 11-11:30.  Only two of us cried, and one teared up.  It was a good night, though.  We were real with each other right away, which has only strengthened our exponentially growing friendships.  I love hearing people’s stories, and my heart aches for those who don’t have a family of believers as I do.  I am so blessed!

Wednesday: Ministry Site Tour

Okay, so going around and seeing what all these places are already doing for the people in the city?  So encouraging!  And then we get to come in and assist and boost the confidence of these wonderful people!  I am so excited to see what God is gonna do!

Thursday: Break out into groups/Date Night with Jesus

Team One with Bryan, Chelsea, Meg, Jenny, Rachel, and me.  We will be going to four different churches/ministries to help out over the next seven weeks. Again, so excited to see what God is gonna do!

I call it “Date Night With Jesus” because it really is me and the Lord just getting to know each other.  Truer than in any other kind of relationship, Jesus likes to reveal more that I didn’t know about myself, and helps me grow.  He is awesome, and I am so glad that I have an intimate relationship with my Lord!  Earlier this week, I asked God to break my heart for the people of Milwaukee.  I guess I kind of had a tugging at my heart before, but tonight I realized I totally have a heart for nonbelievers everywhere, whether they are willing to admit it or not!  Ya’ll need Jesus.  Just sayin’ it.  My heart aches for those told of in Colossians 2:20, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?”  Which is everyone.  The world likes to encourage my struggles with worry and control, my mind not on things that are above, but are here on this earth.  How does that change?  Jesus.  I don’t know how to relate to everyone that giving everything up to God feels a whole lot freer than struggling and hanging on to your burdens.  I don’t know how to tell everyone I see that a relationship with Christ is the best thing in this universe and that ain’t no lie.  Without smothering them, of course.  That’s just not me.  So, I have given God all of me, and told him to use me where he needs me.  I am working on writing my testimony in such a way that it can be told to all people, whether they believe or not.  God gave me the testimony I have.  Everything I think, do, or say, I have decided to give it all to God’s glory.  That is what I am doing here.  That is what I am supposed to do.  That is why I am here.  For God’s glory!  So I give all praise to him!  Amen.

Until next time!  Smiling always, Anna