Sunday, June 7, 2009

and the awesomeness that is the slideshow...

is also available for download (or just watching over and over and over) at this website....

all the photos...

and by all, i mean almost 500 of them! wow.

they are all at this website and you can download them ALL onto your very own computer.

sunshine mail...

one of my FAVORITE parts of choir tour is the sunshine mail. during the quieter moments of the trip we all write little notes to each other and they are handed out by the sunshine mail crew. it is so much fun to get the little notes and to write them to everyone on the trip.

but this year i STUNK at writing sunshine mail (almost as much as our choir shirts all STUNK after 3 days of wearing them). i think all the blogging and posting photos ate up my free time (and my sleeping time, and some eating time). but i plan to remedy that now....

i call it e-sunshine mail because i am going to write my sunshine notes here on the blog. and i will not refer to anyone by name, but by their count off number... so find your number and read your e-sunshine mail from me....

1. you are darling! and your laugh brightens up the coldest chicago day!

2. you have the sweetest spirit and it is also GLUTEN FREE! amazing!.

3. thanks for all the hugs. and for always having a great attitude.

4. you think of everything! who knew we needed a tour mascot????? and by the way, my new nickname for you is "bebo".

5. i am SO glad that you got on stage at the improv. and so sad it wasn't me. 

6. whenever i start dancing i want you around to cheer me on. you make me think that i am slightly cool. and can you make my name in paisley?

7. hey sharon. i love the way you are friends with my daughter and i love the way you will FINALLY smile in photos for me.

8. call me.

9. elvis leg on moses. cracks me up every time.

10. thanks for being in the lea marshall dance fan club. but no thanks for being cuter than me. work on my paisley name poster please.

11. text me. oh wait, you can't. i have your phone. hee hee.

12. you are my favorite cousin on this trip. really, you are.

13.  you are my favorite cousin on this trip. really, you are.

14. i love that you are on choir tour with me. it makes me think i am young again and your mom and i are at summer camp together! 

15. you are the only rapper i will ever love....

16. thanks for knowing the BEST items to order of the menu and for being such a good sharer.

17. wow. you can sleep through anything. and you and maxx had the BEST room!

18. don't tell #13 or #14 but YOU are my favorite cousin on this trip. thanks for taking such good care of maxx and the younger guys. you are a hero. and you know how to make a bed so tight that a quarter bounces on it. wow.

19. you are my favorite son EVER. and your room cleaning skills that you developed on this trip better be put into use in your own private domain soon. and i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE you. thank you for WANTING to go to frank lloyd wright and the art museum. 

20. you are the prettiest girl on this trip and all the other girls are jealous of you. thank you for going to frank lloyd wright and the art museum even though i bribed you to do it. and thank you for having a good attitude even though you weren't shopping. and yes, i will take you to h&m sometime soon....

21. your love for Jesus and people and life is incredible! i just love to watch your face when you sing and watch you interact with all of the audience members. what a testimony of love!

22. take off that hat and let me take a photo of your cute self please!

23. i just have a few more questions for you to answer. it will only be an hour or so of your time.... 

24. i know have this obsession with kfc thanks to you. and i have to start using night cream to try to look younger, again thanks to you.

25. there is NOTHING better than when you smile! will you come shopping with millie and i and carry all of our packages?

26. choir tour isn't as fun unless you ride in my car. but seeing your leadership skills grow every year is amazing. i am excited for your senior year.... and yet still a bit frightened....

27. you are one fun girl. and you are becoming such a leader. i don't know where you get that from....

28. thanks for rooming with millie. she is hard to live with. but she does organize bathroom products well! and so do you! i love you, your mom, and even your brother sometimes....

29. oh, i mean i love you ALL THE TIME. especially when we talk cameras and when you use mine to take photos. and i am going to miss you in the movement choir, you rock that movement choir....

30. wow. you are tall. does that make space for extra goodness? because you are extra goodness.

31. sure i won't put any of those photos of you in the slide show.... sure i won't....

32. could you try to be less photogenic? it would help me to get over the fact that you are leaving. thanks for the way you always played the games on the bus like they were the most fun thing EVER. nice acting skills.

33. "it is the same as having a gun".... and thanks for forgiving me and maybe still loving me.

34. you are my favorite pitts boy. don't tell your brothers.

35. stop being so cute or i will continue to take hundreds of photos of you. tell quinn to call me.

36. eleven is a GREAT age to be. don't try to hurry it too fast. and make up more songs about me.

37. i can hear you saying "THIRY SEVEN" in my head as i type. thanks for liking f.l.l.w. and for being a chaperone's dream!

38. you are so sweet and lovely and fun! thanks for being a great leader among the girls!

39. love the short hair and the way you are always helping out without ever being asked!

40. you rock that alto section. and basically anything else you do rocks because of you too.

41. how come you look so good in a hair net? you are always so sweet to everyone, thanks for your kind heart.

42. fun. fun. fun. that is you. and i loved the song you wrote for me!

43. thanks for being such a great leader and for always lending a hand when it is needed. i always see you working hard to help get everything done.

44. 3 choir tours with me down.... 9 to go. i am eternally your dancing monkey (but i am not always "family friendly").

45. can you wake someone up for me at 3:45 a.m.? how hard could that be....

46. i have never seen anyone describe a cupcake in more loving terms... i wish i could make gluten free cupcakes for you because i think you cried when you left that bakery behind....

47. i love the way you handed me money. really, i think i am in love with you.

48. you are the best seat mate and you like to listen to ALL my stories (or you fake interest really well). either way, i love you. and hopefully after this list is done i have written more sunshine mail than you. but i doubt it.

49. i had no idea you were the unibomber. you must have been in a great prison program because you have really reformed your ways.... (and even if you hadn't i wouldn't mention it because i would be scared of what you would do to me)

50. you are the CREW CHIEF and you rock it. is there anything you don't do well? let me know because i am a bit overwhelmed by your awesomeness...

51. ignore those other remarks to other cousins... because YOU are my favorite cousin. because you can buy jewelry AND feed starving children at the same time. what a woman.

52. dance monkey dance.

53. driving a mini bus full of women around. your dreams have come true....

54. one day in heaven we are going to schedule a whole chunk of eternity to sit and chat. until then let's have a day at the beach together soon. you know that i want to be you when i grow up.

55. you had me at "here is your 10 dollars".

56. crew chief #2. i love your skillz. and how you totally took over laundry duties. thanks be to you.

57. you live with 4 men. and you still have a shred of sanity. that is the Lord working in your life... i love you and i promise to never wake up up for a conversation in the middle of the night again... well, maybe not....

58. i cannot imagine youth group without you. i could write 476 posts on how Omazing you have been for my daughter. and how Omazing it was that you didn't kill me for typing blog posts late into the night and early in the morning while you were sleeping. that shows great restraint and a love for the Lord...

59. freshaliciousation, you had me at "du". i could not be the dancing monkey without you.

60. next year there will be 4 wilhelms on this choir trip. wow. i am resting up already.

61. now you know all about frank lloyd wright and your life is complete. you totally saved us with the map in your purse! thanks.

and a sunshine note to all the blog readers (thus making me a more prolific sunshine note writer than carol cartee).

thanks for reading and commenting and hopefully laughing out loud sometimes (we laughed out loud a LOT during this trip). but most of all thank you for your prayers. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

my artistic day...

today was all about ART for my group (which consisted of grady, june, shari, erin, millie, maxx, and luke scarboro. art is not a HUGE draw for the youth, unless you bribe them, which is why MY kids went on this tour). we spent the morning in oak park to see frank lloyd wright's home and studio and a took a guided walking tour of oak park to see other houses that he built. amazing.

and then a long afternoon at the art institute. seeing so much art that i think if you cut me i would bleed impressionistic paint. 

oh, and to all the youth who WANTED to bring their headphones on this trip but didn't because it was in the rules to NOT bring headphones... i took this photo of the ibelieve ipod at the art museum (apple doesn't really make that product, by the way). that made me laugh. and that would still be unacceptable to bring because headphones are like weapons. (inside joke).

then we had a little visit to millennium park and we saw the giant bean in person. well, if a giant reflective bean was a person.... and we took photos of ourselves reflected in it. so it kind of was like seeing a person in the bean. it was great to be able to take a photo AND still be IN the photo. 

and since it was an artsy kind of day, i thought i would add this verse about what the GRANDEST work of art any one can do in this life...
So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. 
Grow up in Christ. 
The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on "salvation by self-help" and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we'll stay true to all that. 
But there's so much more. Let's get on with it!
i think these choir mission trips are GREAT for taking all those foundation truths that we have been learning all year and putting those truths out on the road (literally) and seeing how this all works in the day to day tiredness and hunger and having to get along with LOTS of other people who don't alway do things the way WE would do them (which is the RIGHT way, of course). not that i am speaking for myself here. i am just surmising what i think the "youth" might be learning.

and now the bad news... this is my LAST blog post that will actually be while i am ON choir tour. maxx and i have to catch a 5:45 a.m. flight (yes, you read that correctly) tomorrow morning. which means catching a cab at about 4 a.m. (yes, you read that correctly). maxx has to be back to go to scout camp on sunday morning and i have a friend and her twin 4 year old daughters coming in to spend the week with me. which will be exciting for her because i plan to sleep for most of next week and let her do laundry, cook and clean for me all week. 

BUT i will be posting again with a link to a website where i will be putting ALL of the photos that i took this week and you can download any or all of them for yourself. AND once i make the slideshow of photos set to cool music, i can post that on this blog too so you can watch it also at your own leisure and watch it OVER AND OVER AND OVER... not that i do that on nights when i can't sleep...

see you all at 7 on sunday night for the return worship service. it really has been such a pleasure to read the comments and stay in touch with you all this week. it has helped me to "forget myself" and follow Jesus as i thought all day about what i wanted to say to you all about the amazing experiences that we have been having...

good morning merry sunshine!

i understand that it is a rainy day in tallahassee. but it looks like a BEAUTIFUL day in chicago.

we are splitting up today and pursuing different goals...

for those seeking THRILLS: a group left early this morning for cedar point amusement park.

for those seeking GILLS: a group is just now leaving for the shedd aquarium and the natural history museum this afternoon.

for those seeking BILLS: there is a shopping excursion leaving here in an hour.

and for those seeking to see someone who had SKILLS: my group will be leaving to go and see frank lloyd wright's home and studio and take a walking tour of oak park to see some of his work. then we will visit the art museum also.

tonight a group goes to the white sox baseball game. and some of us will stay here and do some laundry (we need to wash the shirts that the kids have been wearing over and over all week. really, it is VERY necessary). and some of us may do some blogging. i am not mentioning any names... but i think you know who that will be.

i wanted to add a few more photos to show you one of the really neat facets of pacific garden mission.... they take compost and dirt and old newspaper and they grow WORMS (yes, jill that is what is crawling up allison's arm in that photo). then they use those worms to make some GREAT dirt to grow beautiful flowers and plants. they have two HUGE green houses and outdoor gardens also.

it reminded me so directly of what they are doing with their "guests" at the mission and what we are trying to do as we "forget ourselves" on this mission trip. as we let go and see our sinfulness, our selfishness for what it really is... trash. only then can we give ourselves truly to God and can we be used through His plans to grow some beautiful flowers in the world. to really spruce up the place. and i do like to spruce up.

from refuse, we have been rescued. from redemption we will radiate the beauty of the Master Gardner. what a Savior we serve. what a mission we are on EVERYDAY.

the young man who showed us around shared his story with us (we split into three groups and each group had a different guide). all of the guides are a part of the pacific mission Bible program (most of them came there as "guests", all of them came there seeking refuge for various reasons). our guide is 23 years old and was clean cut, in a coat and tie and was very well spoken. he shared with us that he never graduated high school. in fact, he never finished a class that he passed without cheating to pass. he heard the gospel preached a year ago and he accepted Jesus as His Savior and he had heard the radio drama from pacific garden mission (unshackled) and his mom thought it would be a great place for him to go and attend their Bible program and work. and so he is doing just that. he has been there 8 months and it has changed his life and his heart. he truly has "forgotten himself" and has found joy and purpose.

there is a free clinic at pacific garden mission with a full time doctor who makes about 1/4th the salary that she could make in the "real" world. but she loves working there and treats the heart as well as the body. she has "forgotten herself" also. and wouldn't have it any other way.

everyone that we saw that worked there was so joyful. so welcoming. so loving. and they work with the "least of the least" day after day. perhaps they see the work as God sees it... as the GREATEST work in the kingdom of God.

testimony after testimony.... i hope we all have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that responds....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

late night posting...

but posts a lot of photos. i have no words and fewer brain cells left. it was a BIG day. hopefully i will have some time and some REFRESHED brain cells in the morning to really explain some of the great moments of the day...

first couple of pictures are from room checking in the morning. we have some kids who are VERY into the room checking and are doing EVERYTHING they can to pull out all the stops and make their rooms special. that includes origami towel sculptures, candy bribes for the judges, and even original songs for the judges... oh, and they are keeping their rooms very neat too. you could bounce a quarter on those beds. and yes, we tried it.

then there is that lovely necklace bought by becky liner at the feed my starving children food bank yesterday. and here is the quote that went with the necklace, "i bought jewelry AND feed starving children! how much better can it get?"

we had an amazing morning at the pacific garden mission. amazing. and i really hope that the kids listened to the guys giving the tours. their stories could be the stories of ANY of our kids. but we serve a God of 2nd and 3rd, and 567th chances.

and just why is jonathan mason holding luke byler? some questions cannot be fully answered on this blog.

then to portillo's for lunch and hot dogs. yumerlicious. that is all i need to say.

and then straight to the cerebral palsy center. they were so sweet and as you can see, they really love interacting with the kids.

tonight we had GREAT stuffed pizza and LOTS of it. and then onto comedysportz. which was soooooo fun. and luke byler was called up on the stage. and we laughed a lot.

and now i need to sleep a lot.

just a quick note

before i head to michigan avenue with erin to take a couple of sweet photos with erin and pam...

today was wonderful. pacific garden mission was an incredible testimony to the power of Christ to change lives. the cerebral palsy center was filled with love and laughter (and perhaps me doing some more dancing). you would have been tearing up with all of us as the students sang "in this very room" while surrounding the clients. God was certainly in that very room.

tonight will be filled with pizza and improv theater. who could ask for anything more?

well, one could ask for photos? but you won't get them until later tonight...

and i could ask for sleep... but i won't get that until MUCH later tonight...

oh well, we will rest in heaven. until then, off to see more of the city.

rise and shine...

...and give God the glory glory.

(lesser known 2nd verse) rise and shine and give lea a venti awake tea from starbucks with splenda and cream...

get right on that now and perhaps this post will have less misspelled words and grammer gaffes.

most likely not. and most likely none of you are heading out to starbucks to grab that for me... but erin might be. all pause for a moment of thanksgiving prayer to erin.

i love God so much better in the morning after i have had a cuppa tea.

we had a nice little sleep in until 7:30 this morning (and by "we" i mean those of us who are young and CAN sleep in. yours truly was up at 6.)

which gave me lots of photo editing time. so i am sure that those of you who were praying for more photos had your prayers answered by the Holy Spirit waking me up that early - and STOP IT. 

i like to name all my photos so i will tell you the names for the above photos in the order that they appear (if i was more computer savvy OR if erin would hurry back from that starbucks run i could do this right after each photo... but alas neither of those things is happening this morning).

#1: boys holding hands and skipping. 
one of those boys, the red headed one, is the same boy that portrayed col. sanders so nicely in a previous day's posting. and i am exacting my revenge on him for his greeting me at the retirement home as if i lived there. so this photo is PART of my revenge. 

#2 and #3: the unibomber's parole status
if you hear rumors that the unibomber is out on parole and is serving community service hours touring with a youth choir... don't believe it for a minute. believe it for 30 seconds though while you look at those photos.

#4: head and shoulders above the rest
oh josh palm, you are the reason we didn't set up risers in our previous venue because your head would have hit the ceiling. and your kindness exceeds your height by MILES.

#5: mrs. pam talks to the window
she may have lost it. we may have helped her lose it. OR there might be some people inside that window. i am betting on all three choices.

#6: new shoes
extra points if you can identify all those feet.

#7: warehouse boys
those guys worked HARD yesterday lugging boxes of food, rice, and supplies to everyone. and they looked good doing it.

# 8 and #9: packed with love
just one of the boxes that were packed yesterday. it has the date on it. it will be opened and people will be fed. and to God be the glory, GREAT things He has done.

#10: see i worked to feed starving children
not that taking all those photos isn't work. but it doesn't feel starving children.

#11: ferris wheel
did you know that this very site (navy pier) was where the FIRST ferris wheel ever stood? it was during the chicago's world fair in 1893 and it was twice as tall as this one (this one is 150 feet tall) and i would NOT have taken a ride on it with some 6th grade boys... but i did ride on this one with them...

#12 chicago at night
beautiful and COLD. but mostly beautiful. i have a GREAT view of the sears tower right outside my window at moody too. it is so great to go to sleep to the sound of big city traffic. it is not so great to wake up a couple of times at night to big city police sirens racing down the street. but you take the good with the bad.

#13: the cutest kids at the fireworks show
which could also be named "the most embarrassed kids at the fireworks show" when i started dancing. and there are NO photos of that. sometimes wisdom prevails.

today we are off for two concerts. first at pacific garden mission. we will also do a tour of that mission which is the oldest homeless mission in the country. then grab a chicago hot dog at portillo's hot dogs for lunch. and onto united cerebral palsy for a worship service. then tonight is giordano's stuffed pizza to make us stuffed. and tonight we go to comedysportz for a FAMILY FRIENDLY improv show. they told me 6 times it was FAMILY FRIENDLY when i called to check it out. it might not be so FAMILY FRIENDLY if some of our group volunteers to participate...

i am sure there will be pictures. and stories. so stay tuned....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

it is photo time!!!!

actually it is bed time but i could NOT sleep with a clear conscience unless i uploaded some GREAT photos from today....

first up is some photos from the room check for the girls. we had some STELLAR rooms this morning. neat, clean, decorated, and filled with chocolatey bribery. i love my job.

you can see our first worship service of the day... the indoor service

and the second one... the outdoor service. we did sing "in this very room" during that service, but we thought about changing the words to "in this very natural habitat" (thanks rachel for that joke). if it looks like we are singing to a side of a building... we are. but there are people inside those windows (i think). and as with most good things... you just give your all for the Lord and don't worry about the praise of man... or whether man is watching from the window or not.

and then just a few of the photos from "feed my starving children" project. this place was so wonderful. and it was really more like fun with an incredible purpose. i was so aware with every bag that i sealed that some mother would be opening it to feed her family and that it might be the ONLY meal they had that day and how GRATEFUL they would be for this food. when we were done filling bags with food and boxes with bags, we prayed over the boxes. the people there told us that in the many years of doing this they had only lost TWO shipments of boxes. which is unheard of in that kind of industry and they attribute that all to the fact that the boxes are covered with prayer. 

and then some photos of fun moments from the navy pier tonight. i had a GREAT time with a group of 6th and 7th grade boys and sammy mason birthday boy, the mason parental unit and alan kung. i have two observations from the evening. FIRST i will NEVER ride the ferris wheel with anton glass again, let's just say that he isn't a fan of heights. and SECOND to whatever lucky girl has the opportunity to go out on a date with alan kung... well, she will find a gentleman and a scholar AND a guy who know what is good food to order.

i also have to say that if your children tell you stories of erin and i DANCING wildly to an ACDC song during the fireworks that those are HUGE exaggerations of our dancing demeanor. HUGE exaggerations....

good night, God bless. and thank you for reading and for praying.