Friday, July 25, 2014

St. Louis Mission Trip: Prayer Walk

Yesterday a group of leaders and students had the amazing opportunity to go on a prayer walk around the neighborhood we were working in this week with some of the families we were helping. We didn't really know what to expect on the prayer walk, and we didn't exactly know what we were doing; but we felt God calling us to pray for His city. Before we started walking one house owners we were helping, Leslie, told us some of the struggles the neighborhood was having. She said there is a lot of violence in the area and how the school her children went to lost it's accreditation and now she has been struggling to find a school where her children feel accepted.

 Leslie asked us to pray for peace in the neighborhood; that God would make himself present and shine His light on the people she is surrounded by. When Leslie told us this, these lyrics came to my mind:

          "If you gotta start somewhere why not here?
           If you gotta start sometime, why not now?
           Through the fog there is hope in the distance.
           From cathedrals to third world missions.
           Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave.
           Tonight's the night,
           For the sinners and the saints.
           Two worlds collide,
           In a beautiful display."

I really felt God calling us to pray for His children in that neighborhood. In an area with so much hurt, pain, and suffering God was allowing us to love on every person in every house we were going to walk past. As we were walking through the neighborhood we stopped at a few different places to pray as a group for different things we saw or felt God saying to us. I felt God present in the way He was speaking to us through prayer. Students who never talked were praying on street corners for people they didn't know and never met.
Towards the end of our walk a car with a husband and wife pulled over to ask what we were doing. We told them how we were on a mission trip working on repairing houses and had some extra time to walk around the neighborhood to pray. The woman in the car, Bertha, told us she had lost her leg and was on her way to the doctor. We ended up holding Bertha's hands and praying with her from outside her car. When we finished praying Bertha had such a huge smile on her face and was so appreciative of us taking the time to pray for her. I really felt God telling me that our group didn't just come to St. Louis to repair homes and do yard work; we came down to build relationships and to show people that God's love is more powerful and meaningful than anything else we could ever experience.
Right before we went back to our work sites our prayer group stood together on the corner to hold hands and pray one more time before we left. Leslie closed us in prayer and I have never been more moved by a prayer before this. The Holy Spirit was moving Leslie and we could all feel it; it moved through all of us and I felt God laying His hands on us and everyone in the neighborhood. He has not forgotten any of His children.

-Gina Ellis 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

St. Louis Mission Trip: Sessions

Every morning and every night we load up in the vans and take a 10 minute drive to a local church called Journey Church. 

Here we get to meet with all 400 students on the Engage trip for a time of worship, prayer and teaching. 

Tonight the projector wasn't working, so we had to skip the videos and sing without words on the screens. But no matter- these kids still took full advantage of it! They were singing and dancing and praising louder than ever, and even urged the band for an encore! 
The band, of course, abliged and sang one more song for us. A very cool experience. 

Here are some other photos from session time: 

Brian, Bobby and Jon on the front steps if Journey. 

The 8th grade girls small group!

PJ's almost famous, "Excitemint" 

He's a lucky man. 

St. Louis Mission Trip: Josh's Hospital Vistit

 It started with a swollen hand and ended in isolation at Glennon Children's Hospital, in St. Louis. After waking up in the travel van after two hours of driving I noticed that my hand had started to swell, and there was some sort of bite mark on my hand. Once we had gotten to St. Louis, the entire back of my right hand was swollen and red. The leaders were concerned about me, so Pastor Jon and Yoon first drove me to Smiley Urgent Care. Which looks like a set out of the walking dead, which makes Smiley Urgent Care a perfect name for it. We then ended up at downtown Urgent Care, after they couldn't figure up what was wrong with me, they sent me to Cardinal Glennon Children's hospital, and after driving 25 miles out of our way, we realized that the urgent care had given us the wrong address to the hospital. Despite this, we sought out care  at this hospital. After 4 hours of the same questions, and lots of waiting, the hospital decided they wanted to keep me overnight as they still didn't know what was wrong with me. However, to spend the night I had to be transferred to Cardinal Glennon, the hospital they were supposed to send me in the first place. 

At this point is was already almost midnight and we were on our way to the right hospital, which was only a mile away from the dorms that the rest of the group was staying at. After all the same questions, the hospital put me in an isolation room because they didn't know if I was contagious or not.  

Yoon had gone back to the dorms because the rest of the group needed the van we were using for transportation, so it was just me and Pastor John chillin like villains in a hospital room.

 After many more of the same questions and many phone calls to my parents for updates on my conditions and location, Pastor Jon crashed on the couch and I crashed on the hospital bed after a 21 hour day. Something important me and Pj did learn is that if you eat Oreos and chips ahoy before you go to sleep you wake up with a very unpleasant taste in your mouth. Without boring you with more details about the questions they bombarded me with and all the doctors that had to put on special gowns to come see me, they eventually concluded that I had been bitten by something and the bite had gotten infected by a bacteria. They put me on an antibiotic and sent me out of there at 3 o clock. Me and PJ had finally escaped! When Yoon came to pick us up he drove 30 miles an hour past the hospital with the door open and me and PJ jumped in before the hospital could imprison us any longer! Okay I'm just kidding about that last part- there were speed bumps, Yoon could only go fifteen miles per hour.

- A novel by Joshua Wadlow

"Did a bug bite you?" -Jon H. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

St. Louis Mission Trip: Work Sites Day 1

Jon Versluis and I led one of the houses across the street from Brian's group. We worked mostly inside our house. 

These boys removed and replaced some tile flooring. 

We also had a group of girls doing lots of mudding and drywall repairs. 

Levi, Ariel and Gina worked on repairing a hole in the kitchen drywall. 

We also replaced some ceiling panels. 

Then we got hungry. 

We also did some outside work: 

We found a snail friend!

And we celebrated when the M:stl ban arrived with more supplies for us!

It was a good day at the sites, but there is SO MUCH more to do tomorrow. 

St. Louis Mission Trip: Work Sites Day 1

Today was our first day at our work sites! After breakfast and morning session, we made our way the Mission: St. Louis to grab our supplies and head out. 

(An iconic mural on the M:stl building)

Since we have 48 people, we divided up into 4 work groups. The cool thing is, all four houses at on the same street! So, our groups can easily share the equipment trailer and walk from worksite to worksite. 

Brian, Amy and Christie's group did a lot of outdoors weeding and cleaning with their homeowners!

We have some strong ladies!

Of course, we took a break for lunch too! 

There was a lot of work to so outside: 

St. Louis Mission Trip: Mission St. Louis

River Rock Church is doing this mission trip with an organization called Christ In Youth (CIY) : Engage.  This organization provides service and mission opportunities for Jr./Sr. High school students and college students. They really focus on Christ's call to be kingdom workers. They have trips available in many different cities in and out if the country.  To read more about CIY or Engage check out their website:

In the city of St. Louis, CIY partners with a local organization called Mission: St. Louis. M:Stl is based in Forest Park SE, in a 48 sq. block neighborhood called The Grove. 

(Photo from this mornings drive)

M:stl exists to empower people to transform their neighborhood. Based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, M:stl seeks to provide opportunities to build relationships and empower people in the Grove while maintaining their dignity. 
They do this through 4 main ministries. First, they run an after school program for youth development at Adams Elementary. Second, they provide job and leadership training for at-risk men ages 17-35. They also provide many senior services, and finally they so home repair in the Grove. Our group is participating in the final ministry, home repair.  
If you would like to learn more about M:stl check out their website. There is a cool video on there that shows what they are all about!!

Also, if you have time, help M:stl out by voting for them on Facebook to help them receive $20,000 for their organization! Here's how:
-go to Facebook and search for: "Grow St. Louis"
-click "like"
-find the "vote here" link
-click on "all categories"
-Click on community services and family services 
-type "Mission: St. Louis" in the search bar
- click on Transforming lives at Mission: St. Louis and vote!!
This will help them out!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

St. Louis Mission Trip: Safe Arrival

The sun shone off the beautiful steel curves of the St. Louis Arch this afternoon.   We saw our first glimpse of the iconic structure around 3:15pm. We pulled into "Slu" (St. Louis University) moments later. 

After checking in, we unloaded the trailer and handed out room assignments. 

Students moved into their dorm rooms and unpacked. It took all of 15 minutes before they started their first game of "spoons". Although, they substituted the spoons for their wristbands they received at check-in. 

After a yummy dinner of Mac n cheese, and chicken or cheeseburgers, we packed back into the vans.  We drove a short 10 min drive to a nearby church, where we will have all of our large group sessions. 
We had an awesome time of worship and teaching alongside the 300-400 students here for the mission trip this week. 

We got introduced to our theme focus for the week: PRAYER. After session we drove back to SLU and broke into our small groups. We talked about how prayer is a very important weapon we can use in our battle against satan. 
Though hesitant, I think we are excited to have the week to work on and discuss the power of prayer as kingdom work. 

St. Louis Mission Trip: On Our Way!

We gathered at church this morning around 5am, and after collecting all our paperwork, started the day with a small devotion and prayer time.  

God has some amazing things planned for this trip. God is looking forward to communing with the 48 students and leaders, and revealing himself to us. He is going to use us in big ways. And Satan knows it. We talked about the battle that Satan has been, and will be waging with us. He is going to do anything he can to keep is from receiving the blessing God has for us this week. 
We read about the strength that we can find in The Lord:

"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’ ” (2 Chronicles 20:17 NIV)

The battle is already won! We can find our power in Christ! We prayed that God would guide us today, and this week. That we would be protected by the name of Jesus Christ. 

We are all excited that this day is finally here! Our 4 vans and one truck and trailer pulled out of the parking lot around 6:15am, ready for the long ride to St. Louis! 

By 7:45 we had to pull over to clean out 2 of our vans, and give a couple students a chance to settle their carsick stomachs.  But, we were on our way soon after! 

Since then we have listened to our burned CD mixes at least 4 times each: 
We will know all the words to the songs soon. :-) 

We also stopped in Pontiac, IL for lunch: 

And now it's back on the road!!

We love sitting so close to each other!!!