14 youth and adult staff took part in a transformative trip when we journeyed to inner-city Chicago on April 9-13.
The Chicago Mission Trip was an urban immersion service experience, where participants came along side with and listened to those whose voices are marginalized in our society, worshipped, prayed, reflected in journals about and wrestled with issues of racism, privilege, poverty, inequality, and hunger…all along working alongside programs in place to make a difference against these issues.
Each of the following areas were a focus and part of our urban immersion mission trip experience…
From the get-go, we immediately immersed ourselves into life taking public transportation. For starters, we waited an hour and a half for our (what turned out to be) 13 hour Amtrak train ride to Chicago from Buffalo – overnight. Once in Chicago, the challenge presented to the youth missionaries was to find out how – using public transportation – to get to our home for the next four days. From that initial experience using the “El” and buses of the Chicago Transit Authority, youth became well versed in navigating the system throughout our trip. It was indeed an experience riding crowded, not-so-crowded, multicultural, and at times quiet and other times very active buses and trains.
Upon arriving at our home at the Youth In Mission House on the campus of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, we quickly learned the ins and outs of living in “intentional community”. We had to go grocery shopping for 14 of us for 4 days (plus supplies for making food to feed the hungry) – using buses and our own two feet to do so. We cooked – and cleaned up – meals and ate together. We had to live in close quarters and get along without too much fuss. We did all of this with abundant grace.
Of course, we made sure to have some fun time as well, touring the city and visiting the Cloud Gate, or “Bean”, which is a giant, mirror-surfaced public art piece popular with tourists. And being in Chicago, we tried deep dish pizza as well!