Friday, June 23, 2023

Our Last Day :(

Today was so much fun. I cant help but smile as I’m writing this. God answered so many prayers. I can see how God responded to my biggest prayers in the perfect ways. First I'm going to start with some background information so you can tag along in this journey with me. On Wednesday my team and I were on for servant evangelism (it's where we give time for the holy spirt to move in and around us). We started off just praying for signs and feelings of the Holy Spirit urging us in any direction where God needed us. We then started to drive around and God put on my heart that we needed to go to the Brewsters (one of the project) and do something for or with the kids who lived within. So where did we go the, we went to the Brewsters. We drove in and there was no one. no one walking around, no one sitting on there porch, there was no one.  So the we left and had to go pick up a prayer walking group in Cass Park. On our way to Cass Park we saw boys from the Bewsters selling water at a stop light. We picked up the team from Cass Park and we head right for those boys selling water. We pull up and Amanda asked if any of them had ever been to Big A (the VBS we do here in Detroit). However, the light was green and we had to continue on so Amanda, being Amanda, yelled "WE'LL COME BACK FOR YOU". We whipped a U-turn and waited for the light to turn yellow (or red) and right as we got to the light God answered a prayer. The light turned yellow and the entire car went crazy! This provided a connection with the kids selling water (from the Brewsters) and rekindled those past relationships. The next day my team went back to the Brewsters and saw two kids walking. The ironic part was they were waving for us to come near, not the other way around. It turned out to be two kids (who weren't selling waters) that I had a previous relationship with. The interactions from that moment were overwhelmingly positive and filled my heart with an overflowing love. We invited them to Big A and they actually came. That was the best birthday present ever, since Thursday was my birthday. God was moving in those moments yesterday and today, I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in everything connecting the dots of each event. Now tonight, we got a different experience.  Not only was today the hardest day yet, but it was the most fun. After Big A we came home to Mrs. Lori and her "Boujee-quare" restaurant, which was essentially a fancy pizzeria in the kitchen. We had our own personal chef (the wonderful Mrs. Lori) serve us table-side and I would leave 5 star review on yelp. Then we were off to the baseball game, which conveniently was the Twins against the Tigers and the Twins won! The joy in these moments was evidence of Gods presence. It was so breath taking to see how the once in a life time opportunity brought out the best in every single one of them. And  a little cherry on top was to spend time with Kenny and Diamond (people from Detroit). To finally rap this up, skipping down the street with Kenny and others on the team was the most perfect way to end they trip:)

From the girl who ran into the pole,   Natalie 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Day 6!

 Day 6 is now complete in Detroit! The time spent here has gone by SO quickly. Throughout this week, God has been present throughout my team and the Holy Spirit is at work.

Today, my team and I had the opportunity to prayer walk the neighborhood surrounding where we are living. If someone hasn't already mentioned, we are staying in 'Poll Town' and the place we live for the week is the old community center building for the Polish people coming to Detroit. Throughout our prayer walk, we prayed over church communities of Detroit, school systems, along with the community of the neighborhood. We were able to encounter some people in the community as well! One of the ladies we came across was a native of Detroit. She had a massive garden and she gave us a tour of her garden. It was incredible. We ate some of her strawberries, and tried mulberries for the first time! Her and her husband bought surrounding properties and have hope to build community in the neighborhood. It gave me immense hope that people are actively investing in the city. The life she is choosing to live is a life of simplicity as well which gave me perspective. It was a reminder of what matters in life- even though she wasn't necessarily a believer in God.

And then it was Big A time. God answered some prayers for Big A today. Amanda and I had 15 or 16 kids in 15+ (kids that are 15 year olds or older). What a blessing it was to be able to share God's word and love with kids. 2 brothers who had come before ended up coming today and it was so sweet!!! Not gonna lie, I was able to show the Detroit guys that I could hoop which was a fun flex on them too.

Overall, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to come back to Detroit. As I've mentioned, God has been moving through our team. Please reach out if you want other stories from the week!

God bless :)


Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Only Two More Days?!?

     Hello All!!

    As I write this letter at 12:00 at night I reflect on how amazing this trip has been. I can't believe we are already over halfway done! If you were to ask anyone of my close family members or friends how much I was looking forward to this trip they would tell you little to none... With that being said, I have absolutely had a 100% change of heart, Detroit, Big A and D-Love has won over my heart. 

    Today was day 3 of VBS (Big A) and it was filled with fun, laughter, singing and dancing. The day started with an amazing breakfast as always (a HUGE thank you to Mrs. Lori for making all of the amazing food on this trip), we then moved into devos. Today we focused on the attributes of God and how they all function together and equally. This idea changed my thinking and allowed me to open my eyes to all of the ways God works in my life. We then moved onto our service projects of the day which I will never forget. 

    My group was assigned with Servant Evangelicalism today which is something that I have never been apart. We started in prayer and silence and waited to see what God wanted to place on our hearts and minds. After 30-or-so minutes of reflection our group landed on main ideas: cards, flashing lights, city skyline, the song kumbaya and a casino. With these ideas in mind we first played a game of "Go fish" to see what God was calling us to do, next we headed to Motor-City casino with a deck of cards, a table, chalk and goldfish (because of the game of "go fish").  We had no plan or idea with God lead us to do the things we did, but we had faith in his plan for our time and wanted to see what He had in-store of us. After arriving we found a table to sit outside the casino and decided God put us here for a reason. During our time there we were able to spread the Gospel and spread Gods goodness through drawings on the ground in chalk as well as grow closer as a team in time spent together. After Servant Evangelicalism we headed back for lunch and into our "normal" afternoon schedule. 

    Afternoons are filled with Big-A prep, which for me looks like filling 75 bags of goldfish for the kiddos, rest (either in the form of a nap or bracelet making) and chores. As we get closer and closer to 4:00 you can feel the anticipation of what we will spend our next 2 hours doing. Today I had 8 kids in my Big-A small group which is double what I have the past 2 days. Although more kids to be in charge of may be a challenge, the joy of being able to spread God's love to these kids is enough to cancel out any stress that may be caused. After Big-A it is back to the D-Love building for and amazing dinner, worship (one of my favorite parts of the night), stories of the day and prayers of the day. After our "normal scheduled activities" the team played games and spent time together having fun and laughing more than ever. I think you could definitely say the delusion is kicking in. 

    Tonight Natalie and I were able to go with Amanda on a night drive to bring home Kenny and Diamond. Seeing the city at night is truly breathtaking, although you see the beautiful downtown, full of stores and lights you also see the neighborhoods less than a mile away with houses nearly ready to collapse. The difference in the areas is mind-blowing and heartbreaking to me, but I believe with time, care, and proper attention the difference could be lessened. 

    If you would told me 2 weeks ago that I have absolutely fallen in love with Detroit I would call you crazy. This trip has led me to grow exponentially spiritually as well as emotionally and I would not change this opportunity for anything. 

Thank you for taking the time to follow along with us! 

-Ellie Wolthuizen

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Detroits got Talent

Hello, and good whatever time you're reading this at to you.

    Today was another eventful day in our time here in Detroit, but before I talk about Detroit, I have a message for a certain someone back home. Today, June 20th, is my sister Maren’s birthday, and I want to wish her a VERY happy birthday! (even if it is a belated one by the time you read this). You'll be getting your permit here soon which I hope you enjoy, and always remember to change out your blinker fluid. Anyways, I hope you had a very happy and blessed day doing something that you enjoy.

    This morning I was able to get an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Now this may not seem like a lot, but it felt nice. Breakfast this morning was really good, as per usual with Mrs. Lori's cooking. After breakfast and a slightly changed up morning schedule, it was time for devos. We're studying 1 Peter, and are getting further into chapter 1. The conversations that we're having about it are deep, and I'm looking forward to the conversations that we are going to have in our next 3 days here. 

    After we finished our devos, we put our bibles and devotional books away and got ready to go serve and spread God's word and the gospel, Yesterday, I prayer walked the neighborhood around the Detroit Love building, and while we did end up praying for the community and buildings in the neighborhood, we didn't end up being able to pray for anyone that was out and about, as people were just being kind of closed in and not wanting to talk. Today, I prayer walked Cass Park, which is an area that is impoverished and has a decent amount of homeless people living in and around it. We ended up talking to a lot of people, and ended up praying for most of them. The really cool God moment of the day though was when I got back to the building. When we got back and started talking with other groups, I found out that the group prayer walking the local neighborhood ended up praying and talking to a lot of people. Last night, I made sure to pray that people would be more open and willing to talk to us, and to see that prayer answered the next day was really cool to see. 

    Before VBS we ate lunch, got prepped for VBS, and most of us took small little naps, and then it was time for VBS, or Big A. I am actually really enjoying Big A, and playing basketball or football with the children that come. Yesterday there was a lot of basketball playing, but today, as soon as I walked in to the building, on of the kids saw a football in the bag and wanted to throw around the football, so that's what we ended up doing. 2/3 of my group members that were here on Monday, weren't here today, so Ashley and I's groups ended up merging together. The game got me completely winded, and the craft was complicated, but I liked it. I think one of the phenomenal things about Big A is seeing how God is loving on the children through us. It's something that I haven't really ever seen before, and it's something that is really cool to see. 

    The taco Tuesday tacos were some of the best tacos I've had in a while, and if I could eat those for every meal until we leave, I would. The game that we played tonight after supper was an interesting one. We split up into two groups, and each came up with an act for an impromptu talent show, Detroits got Talent. Our group came up with a skit that re-enacted the very eventful day that was Sunday. Now, I'm pretty sure that the final verdict was that everyone won, but in my opinion, my group's skit was way better. 

    This is my first time going to Detroit, so I really didn't know what to expect, and have kind of just been going with the flow, but I'm starting to really like it. I came here to see God in action, and to help grow my relationship in Christ, both of which have happened, and are continuing to happen. I'm starting to really love what we're doing here and I'm enjoying it, and looking forward to it more and more each and every day. 

Thank you for taking the time to read the giant essay I've written

- Tyler Wallin


Monday, June 19, 2023

Almost fell asleep writing this :)


It's 10:15 pm, the team is chatting and dancing around the dinner table, and our VBS song seems to be permanently stuck in my head (Phenomenon by Hillsong Young and Free if you're interested).  I think we're all a bit tired to the point of delusion. Yet, there's this permeating desire to stay together - to hang out together and love on each other. We've grown much closer over the past few days. I love to see it.

When considering the day we've had, it's especially remarkable that we still have the energy to laugh together. Our morning started with making pancakes, eating pancakes, and doing devos. After a good conversation about 1 Peter 2:9 we grouped up for different activities. My group and I went on a prayer walk through the most dangerous part of the city. After that it was lunch, then VBS prep, then VBS! The kids were energetic (per usual) and we had a great time running around with them. Finally, after VBS we came back to our building to eat, worship God, and hang out. Many miles of walking and memorable  moments later, we're here.

I'm exhausted, and it's only day three! I think at this point it's abundantly clear to our team that the strength and energy that's going to power us through the week is not our own. God is good, and even this early in the trip I see him equipping us for his plans. I feel so blessed to get to play a part in them. We are also strengthened by the time we spend together (even us introverts, believe it or not). God truly created us to live in community - the encouragement, comfort, and accountability God gives us through others makes this evident.

So we're tired, but we dance and sing and laugh and all those other crazy things that don't always make sense. We pray a lot for each other and the people we encounter. We mop floors endlessly and stuff ourselves with Mrs Lories cooking. Best of all, we watch for God moving, and we follow.

Let me tell you, God had already led us in some crazy cool places! The team is looking forward to sharing more with y'all at home. For now, it's about time for me to get some sleep!!

Thanks for listening,

Tabitha :)

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Sunday from the Heart of Grace


Today we met a man at the GM Center on our walking tour of the city. I have never seen a person talk so openly about how personal the bible is for them. He seemed so brave and he didn't care what we would think about him. He wanted us to know about his faith. It was really admirable. We should be more open about our faith. 

Then we went to church at People's Baptist Missionary Church. It was different than what I have experienced church to be before. It was less about the people and more about the message and Jesus. The worship was very different. The people sang the songs with such soul. The fellowship was open and including. 

After church we came back to the building to prep for tomorrow's Big A (VBS). The whole team worked together to pack snacks, prep supplies and practice our worship song. 

We then began our study in 1 Peter. Our task was to read the whole book in one sitting. As I was reading, the verse 1 Peter 3:1 stuck out to me in a new way. Before I was very confused by it, it sounded like it was the wives duty to have a faith for her husband. Today God showed me a new understanding that it is the wives duty to show their faith to others so they can make it their own. I see this same thing through a parent relationship with their children. 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Turkey Plate - Ashley Wallin

     Today we got into Detroit around 1pm and I had 3,328 cows. Now you might be asking yourself, "What is she talking about?" Well, today we started a game where you can acquire cows by doing a handful of tasks, and let's just say I'm a boss. That's besides the point.

    Our travels today were safe and the Lord was definitely with us through different moments, but we're here in one piece! Besides the handful of stops we made, my car played old maid, sang songs and took well rested naps. Through this joy I could see the Lord working in our hearts alongside the tiredness to bring out the best of us. Our laughs were genuine and I got to know the real people with their guard down. 

    Once we arrived Mrs. Lori had a wonderful lunch prepared for us and we spent more time bonding over silly things in our lives. My God moment for the day was after lunch. The willingness I saw in the hearts of this team was an answered prayer. The months before this trip were spent praying for bonding and unity. This was a big focus of my prayers as well. To see this being answered was truly beautiful and it filled my heart. 

    After a handful of different activities and another wonderful meal by Mrs. Lori, she took us on a tour of the building. There we found treasures of all sorts. Things like urinals, tricycles, shoes, glasses, an old cash register and a turkey plate. Once they were taken from the depths of the building (thanks to Ellie for helping me carry the cash register) the turkey plate became the most valuable possession. It is a simple serving plate with a turkey and oddly-spaced vegetables on it. Though it's nothing special to an ordinary person, it became special to us as a team. It reminded me of how the Lord views us. Though we might not be special to everyone, we are special to Him.

    Now to bring it full circle, I have over 50,000 cows (and counting) and yet again, that's not the point. However, fun moments like that show me the joy the Lord has given us. I will be praying He lets it overflow within us and I hope you will too. 

                                                                                                                           Champion Cow Collector,

                                                                                                                                        -Ashley Wallin