Monday, July 9, 2012


I have waited nearly two weeks since our return to write about our annual trip to Chicago, but it isn't because the trip wasn't memorable, but because, as always, I was blessed more than expected.  I think I've probably waited this long to write about it and share photos because looking at the pictures makes me miss the city, the food, the fun, the kids, and especially Pacific Garden Mission.

If you aren't familiar with the purpose of PGM, you can check out their website here, but in short it is a homeless shelter which gives more than food, they give hope, help, and the message of Jesus to those in need.

For ten years now, my parents, sister, Jason, and some conglomeration of kids/teens have gone every summer for a week to volunteer at PGM.  Over those years we have heard many stories of hard times, but also of redemption, love, and hope that this place brings to so many.  For 10 years we have gotten to spend a week with the workers at the mission, including Chef Turnbull and several others.

Most years our time is spent in the kitchen, wiping down tables, serving food, making sandwiches, etc..., but this year, due to another group providing extra help, we also spent this year making hundreds of beds, stuffing envelopes with the mission's newsletters, and I even had the opportunity to help archive scripts from the 1950s of the mission's radio program "Unshackled".

Each year I go hoping that I can be a blessing and a help to the workers and overnight guests at Pacific Garden Mission, but I always leave as the one who has been blessed by them.  It is one of the most transforming experiences of my life, and I hope that I won't ever miss a summer volunteering there for many years to come.

This year was extra special because besides Jason, Dad, and Connor, all the students we brought along were young ladies, and that made the trip even more fun for me.  They were (almost always) on time, excited to walk around the city, shop, and were just overall so pleasant and wonderful.  It is on my list as one of my overall favorite Chicago trips, if not the best ever.

Love these people!

After all the work is done, we do make time for fun (and especially food).

first night in the city -- pizza on the roof

best pizza ever (Giordano's) and one of my favorite things about Chicago

pool time

Sydney last came along with us when she was in 5th grade -- one of my favorite parts of the trip was having her back with us as an adult

While everyone else headed to the mission for the first day, it was my turn to stay back with Connor, so we had a little date at Gino's East (not as good as Giordano's, but pretty yummy).

Navy Pier

Connor 'building' a Chicago Cubs bear

ice cream at Navy Pier

mustache while eating at Grand Lux Cafe

silly daddy

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lego Store at Water Tower Place

Oak Street Beach

Millenium Park (another one of my favorite parts of the city)

one last trip to enjoy Giordano's pizza

Besides Giordano's, my second favorite food in Chicago: Sprinkles Cupcakes

I am already looking forward to next year.

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