Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tuesday in Chicago

On Tuesday morning, Sami went out early to pick up an order of Paczki's, a Fat Tuesday tradition. We left earlier for the Ethiopian Community Association and made it there with time to have devotions in the van. We shared the paczki's on the way.

The teacher for the class had called out sick. We had worked with the students who needed special attention the day before while the teacher had taught the "advanced" students. Since the teacher was sick, the director asked for volunteers to help with the advanced class. Tim and I jumped at the chance.

The director gave us their worksheet. This group was working on superlatives and comparatives. Easy!

Or so I thought.

They may have been advanced in that they could speak english. But because we were using words like small, smaller, smallest, they didn't quite comprehend the meaning. We had a marker board and we drew shapes to describe the words. That worked until we got to poor and rich. At that point we moved on. We stopped teaching the class as a whole and handed out new worksheets. The new worksheet had story problems and the students had to write sentences like the example. Here is my example:

Jen went to the grocery store in the morning.
Jen planted flowers in the afternoon.
Jen listened to music in the evening.

Did Jen go to the grocery store in the morning? Yes, she went to the grocery store in the morning.
Did Jen listen to music in the afternoon? No, she listened to music in the evening.

I started helping a woman who reminded me of my mother-in-law. She was very sweet and was taking copious notes. She understood answering the question in the positive but had difficulty understanding the negative. She answered everything with a yes. No matter what. I worked with her until the end of the class. I think by then she got it. She called me teacher and thanked me. All of the students asked if we would be back tomorrow? No, we were going home. They said, you'll come back tomorrow. We kept telling them no, we were going home. But so were they, so they figured we would come back too.

From there, we drove over to Greater Chicago Food Depository. We made a quick stop at the McDonald's drive-thru and we ate our lunches in the car.

The GCFD is very similar to the one in Philadelphia where we volunteered. It was a huge, clean warehouse that receives large donations from all over. Then GCFD goes through and sends out food to different food banks, schools, etc.

At GCFD, we put labels on individual peanut butter packets. Everything that is packaged and goes out has to be labeled. Since these came from the manufacturer, they were not labeled (I think because they were not for individual sale). Each box had 120 packets in it. There were several other groups there. We needed to get 4,000+ labeled. By the end, we had done over 6,000! They had several statistics on food insecurity in the Chicago area. Of course it was too many facts, my brain was on overload and I don't remember. Just know that the numbers are high.

Their mission statement is,
We have 1 goal, 
1 mission.
To fight hunger,
1 dollar,
1 meal,
1 person at a time.
Until the day
no 1 goes hungry.

In Grand Rapids, one in five children is food insecure. I've heard the phrase "one is one too many" and I know that hunger is one thing that we can all fight together.

Back to our trip. After we finished at the food depository, we dropped Tricia off at her house. She had a volleyball tournament and needed to change and get her car. We went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, (where Tricia met up with us before her game). 

We headed our separate ways after dinner. The rest of the group went back to the housing site where we bought t-shirts, packed and cleaned. We loaded up the van and were headed home by 7pm (still local time). 

Sami dropped me off at 11:50pm (Eastern time). Whew! We made it home.

Just in time! The next morning, Sami went to start the van and it wouldn't start. Big Red got towed to the Ford dealer. I haven't heard what was wrong, but she's back in the church parking lot as of tonight (Sunday) and even had a bath! (Boy was she dirty.)

That was Chicago!

I am thankful that we made it back. I'm also thankful for all of the organizations working to deliver, receive and distribute food to those with food insecurity.

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