The hype zone and a rat….

Somehow Steve let me guest blog today!! How exciting!

Tuesday was our first day at By The Hand in Cabrini! Our first-timers seemed a little nervous in anticipation of what to expect at By the Hand but by the end of the day, they’d fallen in love as all of the students have come before them over the last 10 years! 

We started the day in the morning meeting with the By The Hand staff. Sarah James and I came up with a “devious” plan for the week since this is the 10-year anniversary trip for HP! We decided that the students and their team leaders would earn points throughout the week by doing things that promote team spirit, getting to know each other (testimonies, meeting parents, etc) and on Friday at our get-together with the staff, we, as “the judges”, will announce the winner! It’s allowing the students to really get to know their team leaders which is an element that hasn’t been true for every student every year. It’s things like Miss Shanta calling Jan Pride so their purple team can earn more points! Sarah also mentioned we’d accept bribes – I can say I’ve received my first chocolate rose on this trip! Oh and the automatic win is if they find us our future husbands by the end of the week – all I can say is apparently we are pickier than we thought considering we’ve had to say no to quite a few options they have pointed out on the street!

After the introductions, our students did whatever their team leaders needed them to do. Most of them cleaned tables, set up the rooms, cleaned out some closets, talked with their team leaders, and even planned some team spirit elements! We also had a couple groups doing some odd jobs like taking a load of coats down to their basement so they can use them next year and cleaning out votives for their Spring Benefit in April. 

At about 2:45, the kids started rolling in! They have a “hype” zone for the younger kids that get here early that includes a whole lot of dancing! Once chapel started, our students jumped right in to singing and loving on the kids! Our skit team (Michelle, Morgan, Mariah, McKinzie, Paige, Bailey, Caleb, and Isaac) did a FANTASTIC job telling the story of the resurrection from the disciples perspectives. Then they joined their teams for homework time and electives. During our “debrief” last night, many of the students made comments about how much they enjoyed encouraging the students on their homework assignments and the various stories the students would tell them. They noticed how much the kids light up with encouragement and one-on-one attention and the team leaders so appreciated having so many volunteers (a team of 30 students from Clemson University are also here serving) providing that for their kids. 

After helping with dinner and clean up, we headed out to Portillos! Many of us look forward to this dinner throughout the year. If you’re ever in Chicago, try it – they have some great Chicago dogs but their pasta is amazing (my personal fave is the Pesto Chicken!)! 

We got around this morning, had our breakfast, spent some time reading in Daniel 4 and breaking up into pairs to pray for each other. Great start to the day! Arrived at By The Hand, after taking a scenic drive on Lake Shore Drive, to start some more projects! Our focus was closets! We had a supply closet upstairs that had mostly school type supplies in it. We had a snack closet to reorganize. And we had a locker-room closet to clean out. (All of which Sarah walked in later in the day and just turned and smiled at how wonderful they looked.) The best moment of the day was hearing a shriek from Bailey, Kelsey, and Lauren as they ran out of the locker-room closet; quickly finding Brian and Lane to frantically explain they found a “used” mousetrap! Brian and Lane calmly reply, “you should probably find a broom and dustpan then”. The girls look at each other and head off to find a broom and dustpan! I won’t say that they were able to remove the mousetrap without some additional shrieking but they did it!! Now that’s what I call sacrificial service!! 🙂

An organization donated some bicycles to By The Hand but when they received the bikes, they were in bad shape. All of them unridable and even needing parts to be able to be usable. Sarah had a volunteer group a few weeks ago take them apart so they could take the metal to the recycling center. We had a team this morning take the parts from the basement to the vans and then a couple of us headed to the recycling center.

After lunch, the group finished a few more projects and made sure the rooms were ready for the kids to arrive. The group welcomed them at the door and joined the hype zone again! Today the teaching team (Kelsey, Taryn, Lauren, and Madison) presented to the kids what the Resurrection means for them – that their sins are forgiven – they have a pure heart because of what Jesus did for them. 

The students joined their team for homework time and electives and are now getting ready to help them for dinner! They are all having a great time and enjoying every moment with the kids and serving their team leaders! It’s been a great week so far and will only get better!!

Continue praying for the group to have the energy to continue to serve the By The Hand staff the next couple days, to continue to love and encourage each other, and please pray for a few of us that are fighting off the allergies in this 80+ degree Chicago weather! 

Hopefully they will let me guest blog again – it’s kind of fun!! 


Steve    Shanna


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