By Emily Shubilla
Today, we drove. It was a pretty calm adventure- some laughs, singing, chatting. At one point, some questions arose about the exact work that we would be doing. My answer was, “I don’t know. They will tell us when we get there,” which isn’t very satisfying, but true. Mission trip work is often based around the group that was there before- group 1 builds the fence in week 1, group 2 tills the soil in week 2, etc. Organizations cannot always predict how much will be done, leaving ambiguity in work assignments.
When we arrived in Chicago, we were shown to our apartments and asked to return to Sunshine Gospel Ministries later. As one always should, we shared dinner first- deep dish Chicago pizza- and the leaders had a meeting to discuss logistics and basics. We all learned about Chicago, our new leaders, this ministry and more. Then we went outside and did our first of I assume many, getting-to-know-you activities. This one was different from many beginning activities though. We didn’t do trust falls, 2 truths and a lie, or similar games. Instead, we stood shoulder to shoulder and answered questions by taking steps forward and back. The questions were not superficial. These were hard hitting questions that took real consideration and set the tone for what to expect this week. Like, “take a step forward if you perceive the education you have received as adequate,” or “take a step back if you have ever been profiled based on your race, religion, gender identity, etc.” At the end, some of us ended up way in the front of the pack and others trailed behind.
This activity not only was a way to get to know those around us, but also to get some perspective on our own lives. It also showed me that for our youth to follow, we as leaders have to go all in. We must show our faith in the organization to lead us without knowing what work we will do. We must be vulnerable around our youth and answer the difficult questions too. It is essential for us to step forward and back when it’s appropriate. It’s hard. Really hard sometimes. But I find peace knowing that each step we take, that God is also there. Jesus teaches us that one of the best ways to lead is to walk beside. I am looking forward to walking beside our youth more and more this week.