Friday, July 2, 2010

Dog Chat from Rei- Mission Trip to Chicago South side

Mom started packing and putting stuff together, getting my food and stuffing all this stuff into a bag so I knew we were about to head somewhere. She said something about going to the south side of Chicago to a very rough neighborhood to help out Ms. Pearl, of the the Roseland "Good News" Daycare. She said that Ms. Pearl is an amazing woman that provides free childcare for teen moms in the poverty stricken area to finish school and try to make something better of themselves. Mom and I had went up to Ms. Pearl's back in December, but it was just a day trip and we stayed there in the daycare all day and helped with stuff inside, but mom said this time we'd be staying overnight for a couple of days and get to make some new friends, help with the daycare, do some chores for Ms. Pearl, and help feed the homeless throughout the weekend.

So we got up early Friday morning and Mr. Ed, our trip leader came by and picked us up in the church mini-bus and we met up with the other people going on the trip with us. We all loaded up tons of bags and boxes of clothes that Mom said were going up to be given to the homeless in the area. So once the stuff was loaded up, everyone split up between the mini bus and the 15 passenger van that the group was going in. Mom and I rode in the bus so I could lay in the aisle and have a little more room to spread out since all the seats were taken with all the stuff in the back seats. We took off and made our way up north from Indianapolis to the Merrilville area and made a pit stop to eat some lunch and stretch our legs and more importantly so I could go break!

Everyone loaded up again and it was about another hour before we pulled into the neighborhood and got out. Ms. Pearl was loading up her daycare kids with another church group that had been there for the week and doing VBS for them, to head to the park. We were standing and waiting as everyone unloaded and hear the sirens of police cars and shouting as we were greeted by the norm of this area, and it was explained to Mom that someone had jumped in someone Else's car and taken off with it.

Everyone took their bags and bedding to their sleeping areas and Ms. Pearl warned us that no one was to be in the building besides us and to be mindful and not to hesitate to tell someone to get out. She was going to the park to take the daycare kids as on the third Friday of the summer months and with the end of VBS week, they always go to the park and cook hot dogs and have chips to feed the homeless. We all then worked on getting all the clothing out and set in the yard and then we put up the tent in the yard for the "street fair" we'd be having on Saturday morning.

Mom tied me down with some water in the shade as it was doggone hot out there and the guys that stayed behind started working on the deadbolt lock for Ms. Pearl's garage, since people keep breaking in and stealing things. The gals that that stayed behind and Mom started going through all the clothes and sorting them by sizes. After they spent a couple of hours sorting, Mr. Ed came and rounded up the group and we all loaded up in the van and went to the park too. We were to go walk around and play with the kids and give testimony to the people there. Ms. Pearl told everyone that the homeless all congregate in the park during the day with their children since it's shaded, there is the water pad to cool people off, and the kids can play and be near by.

Mom and I got out and we went and walked over to the area where the other group was passing out hot dogs and chips to the homeless and people that came up and we kind of kept our distance as Mom was worried for some reason about people being afraid of me. Ms Pearl had told Mom that in that area, that all dogs are mean fighting dogs and that the people are afraid of big dogs like me. So we walked up to some of our friends we came with and there were several little girls with them and talking. Mom asked if I could come up and sit down with them and the little girl said yes, but she was very afraid. Mom put me on the other side of her from the little girl and the girl asked what my name was. She asked Mom if she was going to tell me to bite her over and over again. Mom was patient and told her no, that I was a good girl and began to rub my belly. I rolled over on my side and the little girl started to try to pet me. Mom kept telling her that I was a good girl and wouldn't bite. After about 20 minutes,the little girl was petting me and had become comfortable with me and wasn't so afraid anymore.

The other people watched Mom and I very closely and kept their distance from us, so Mom and I went over and sat down on a bench with one of the other church group ladies who was holding a daycare baby that had fallen asleep. Then when the groups began to gather up and the food was all gone, Mom and I went over and stood with the rest of the group. JD, who is Ms. Pearl's grandson, he came running over and asked if he could visit with me as soon as he saw us since he loves me from when Mom and I visited before. Mom told him that he could pet me and then the other kids saw this and became curious about me. They came over and after some re-assurance that I wouldn't bite and seeing that JD was loving all over me and I wasn't being mean, the other kids began to pet me too, which I was all over it, rolling over on my back so they could rub my belly! Mom's friends laughed and Ms. Janice commented that I can make a friend anywhere I go!

Before long it was time to leave and head back to the daycare so we all loaded back up in the van and went back to Ms. Pearl's place. After we got back, Mom checked to see if there was anything she could help with and since everything was pretty much done and ready for Saturday, everyone was pretty much taking it easy and sitting around the yard. JD had come back with us and asked if he and I could play, so Mom went and got out my Kong and took off my harness. OH BOY! Was I a happy pup! JD and I played for nearly 2 hours as Mom watched us. He'd throw my Kong and I'd run and get it and come running back and lay down in the shade in front of Mom. If she hadn't have told him the command to "drop it" I'd have had it made! I knew though that since Mom was sitting there, I had to be a good girl, so I'd drop the Kong so JD could grab it and throw it again. He even went inside and got my bowl and filled it up with fresh water for me too. Boy we had so much fun playing together!

Ms. Pearl soon fried up a bunch of fish for everyone and goodness, no one shared any with me! Too bad us guide dogs have to be such good dogs and leave the people food alone. Mom was sitting in a circle of people and everyone had such yummy smelling food, and yeah I was watching for someone to drop something, but no one did. Boo! After dinner, it had cooled off and the weather was really nice, so Mom and everyone else went outside and sat and talked about various things until the mosquito's came out and started to bite. So then everyone went inside and started to get settled in for bed. Mom and I slept on a double air mattress with all the other ladies in the downstairs room to the daycare.

Everyone got up early on Saturday morning and began to set up all the stuff for the street fair. Ms Pearl had probably 10 large boxes of clothing and Mom's group had brought up a bunch of clothing in bags and boxes along with some baby gear to give to the homeless. Mom and all the people set up 8 big tables of clothing and stuff to give to the homeless and there was a ton of toys too. It was amazing, as many of the people we saw at the park came and so did many in the neighborhood, who were unemployed and the ladies of the women's shelter came by and Mom and the others were happy to see the smiles on their faces as they left with nice clothes to wear for them and their children. Was was even more amazing is that in 2 hours nearly everything was gone.

Everything had been set up outside the fenced yard to keep most of the people from coming into the daycare itself and to minimize the possibility of things being stolen. Mom stayed inside the fence so people wouldn't be afraid of me and helped with sorting out the clothes held back for reserve by size as did Mr. Ed and several of the other guys who were re-roofing the back porch that had lost all it's shingles in the latest storm. The street fair lasted from 9am to 1pm and then everyone helped with cleaning up the remains of things and then worked about the daycare with several repairs that were needed. They cleaned the gutters of the 3 story building and trimmed tree limbs that were overhanging the neighbor's house. Mr. Ed finished the roof and they put a dead-bolt lock on Ms. Pearl's garage since people kept breaking in and taking things. Mom and I actually went and laid down for a bit because Mom had a headache from the heat that day. When she woke up, Ms. Pearl had suggested the group eat dinner and then go to downtown Chicago to Navy Pier and walk around.

Mom let me snooze on the air mattress while she got a quick shower and then we went upstairs and oh man, Ms. Pearl had made some finger licking good ribs. Mom and everyone else was eating like uncivilized dogs, using their hand and chowing down on them ribs and they call us dogs messy. Several people asked Mom if I could have the bones, but noooooo, Mom wouldn't let me have just one. I gave the people all around Mom the saddest puppy dog eyes I could muster, but they still didn't give me any.

After dinner, everyone loaded up in the van and Ms. Pearl drove us to Navy Pier and we hung out for a couple of hours and Mom and I walked up and down the Pier. There were lots of people and things to do. There were all kinds of boat rides, food to eat and shops. Mom said there were some amusement rides up on the upper level, but we didn't go up there. Mom was looking for some gelato, but she couldn't find what she was looking for, so she and Ms. Sherry got a waffle cone from the Ben & Jerry's stand. Mom took some pictures too of the Chicago skyline, the light house, and one of me with some flowers too. The group met back up and walked through the indoor corridor and through the stain glass exhibit which Mom said was just beautiful. We all loaded back up in the van and headed back to Ms. Pearl's place for our last night in south Chicago.

It was an interesting ride home, as Ms. Pearl drove along Michigan Avenue and we got to see the parks along the lake front and the Taste of Chicago was in town. There was also a Dance Summer event happening with a lot of people and loud music too. I just hunkered down between mom's legs though so I wouldn't be stepped on as people were all tight together in the van. Then as we got close to Ms. Pearl's place, we had to turn around and go down a different street since all the power lines had come down for some reason and was laying across the road. Then we saw another strange sight since there was this big fire because some people had set fire to a log or something, right on the sidewalk! Mom couldn't believe it because it wasn't even 10 feet away from the house, but they were burning something right on the sidewalk and the fire was shooting up 2-3 feet in the air too. Crazy humans!

After we got back to the daycare, everyone started getting ready for bed right away since we had to leave the daycare to head to Ms. Pearl's church at 5:30 to fix breakfast for the homeless. Mom decided to put some more air in our air mattress since she was hitting the floor the first night. So she pulled out the 10+ year old air pump to do this. You'd think that Mom would have realized something was wrong when she got a bit of a zap when she took a hold of the handle and pressed the on button to make sure it was plugged in. She continued on though and hooked it up to her air mattress and hit the button again. Holy Smokes, I don't think Mom has ever moved that fast! Sparks went flying into the air and Mom kept hitting the floor where they'd landed. Ms. Emily that was right beside Mom let out a yelp too and I didn't know what was going on! All I know is that Mom told Ms. Emily to unplug that sparking contraption and went and threw it in the trash saying something about the wire was broke and she nearly caught Ms. Pearl's daycare on fire with it and that her heart was beating faster than anything! Of course I had to get my nose in to make sure Mom was OK and sniffed her fingers and hands all over and gave her quite a scolding look for all this!

Sunday morning, Ms. Emily's alarm clock didn't go off on her cell phone, so Mom and Ms. Emily woke up late. They had both laid their clothes and stuff out the night before, so they both were able to get ready in amazing time. Mr. Ed offered to take me out to break and since I had drank so much water the day before in the heat, I was more than ready to do my business quickly even though it wasn't Mom on the end of the leash telling me to get busy.

So everyone as all gussied up and pretty and we all loaded up again and headed the several blocks to Ms. Pearl's church. Everyone pitched in to carry stuff inside and I guided Mom down the stairs and into the church ever so carefully since there were all these uneven spots on the floor. Most of the ladies immediately went to work in the kitchen to start preparing the pancakes, sausage patties, and stuff to feed nearly 90 homeless people and our group too. Mom and I went into the dining hall area with the others and Mom put me at a down-stay in front of a podium. Since it was well lit, she was helping set up the tables and chairs and before long, she realized that the podium had been moved and she couldn't find me. Mom started calling for me in a frantic voice, which I don't know why as I was right behind her. Mr. Ed started laughing at Mom and told her to turn around. She did and saw that I'd been right behind her as she'd been walking around looking for me. I don't know why she didn't think I'd stay with her!

Once the room was all set up, Mom and a few other people sat down at a table in the corner. I took the opportunity to snooze at Mom's feet and the homeless began to come in and sit down at the tables. Mom said she was going to stay put so she wouldn't cause an alarm amongst the people and I had an itch and so I stood up and shook. Mom just looked to see what the reaction would be and of course everyone in the room heard my harness rattle. One gentleman came running over and sat down next to us and he asked if he could visit with me. He missed his dog terribly, as he was now homeless, but was working hard to stay sober and to be an example to the others. He talked with Mom and Mr. Ed for a good while, while rubbing my ears and you could just tell as he became more relaxed and a big smile spread across his face.

Before long, it was time to head up to the worship service, that would precede breakfast, so everyone moved upstairs to the sanctuary. Thankfully it was much cooler up there. Most of Mom's group tried to spread out through the sanctuary to try to intermingle with the people that came in. I laid at Mom's feet, just as I do when we go to our church and pretty much everyone didn't even know I was there. Unfortunately for Mom though, this was a smaller church and she didn't have any assitive listening devices, so she was able to make out very little of the sermon. The Chicago accent along with the deep guttural voice of the pastor was very hard for her to understand, but I was proud of Mom as she stayed awake through the sermon even though her eyes were getting quite droopy! Right before the end of the service, Mr. Johnathan tapped Mom on the shoulder and told her we had to head downstairs to finish with set up for breakfast. Mom stood up and I did my usual shake out the willies, and you could have heard a pin drop in that room. EVERYONE turned and looked at Mom and the looks of surprise and stares at Mom and I was very intense. Everyone knew I was there then!

Mom and I went on downstairs and we manned the juice station. I laid quietly at Mom's feet and she handed out cups of juice to the people coming through the line. After everyone had been through line, Mom and I want through line too and she got some breakfast for her. We tried to sit down with some people but the silence was thick and Mom kept trying to come up with something to start a conversation. She couldn't refer to the sermon since she didn't hear it and being that these were homeless people, she couldn't ask what they did for a living, where they lived, or about their kids. Before we knew it, the people around us had cleared out and we were soon sitting on our own. So when Mom was done eating, we got up and started to pick things up and clean up since the men of the church had their Sunday school in the same room. Mom and I started getting the folding chairs and carrying them over to the rack to hang up.

Mom went to get some chairs from the table along the wall and there was an older man sitting at the end of the table, just all dressed in black. Since Mom still has central vision, she could see and nearly feel his piercing eyes following us about the room, so when she needed to approach and go around him to get to the chairs she wanted, she asked him if she could go around him. The man jumped up out of his chair and grabbed the chair and practically ran across the room. Mom just shook her head and we continued on our way and could feel the searing stares as the people watched us moving about the room. We quickly ran out of time and it was time for Sunday school to start. The homeless had all left and it was church members still around helping with things. The ladies all went down the hall to join the women's Sunday school and the men stayed there and joined in on the men's Sunday school class. It was a good lesson in I Thessalonians and we were warmly received there.

As we were in Sunday school, a very strong storm came through and as one lady was giving her testimony, she talked of how she felt that God was telling her, "Be Still! Be Still!", we heard a loud crack of thunder and the power in the whole building went out and stayed out. Everyone just gasped in awe and one lady said, OK Lord, we hear you!. LOL! Once through our lesson there, we went back to the entry way and it turns out the men were longer winded than the ladies, so the ladies helped bring some food in for a dinner later on in the day. We also went on out to get to the van and found nearly the entire parking lot under water as it had rained so hard in such a short period of time. A couple of Mom's friends just took their shoes off and waded through the water. The water felt so good to me since the blacktop was hot from the sun. If Mom had let me, I'd have rolled and played in the huge puddle, but since I was working I had to be a good girl.

Mom and I hopped into the van and the men soon came out and got in to go too. We all went back to the daycare and unfortunately had to miss the main service since we had to leave to head back to Indiana. Everyone finished packing all of their things and got everything loaded up in the vans. We all gathered up at the front steps of Ms. Pearl's place and got the neighbor to take a group picture of everyone. So we all loaded up and headed back to Indiana and boy was Mom and I ever glad to be back home in our own beds and some good working AC! We had a lot of fun though and Dad will be going back to see Ms. Pearl in August, since he is going to help her set up a new computer.

Mom and KT and I will be going back in December too. When we go back, we'll be helping Ms. Pearl fill gift bags with baby goodies for Ms. Pearl to take to the 5 area hospitals to give to all the moms that are in the Labor & Delivery or Maternity wards on Christmas eve. Ms. Pearl and her friends will share the good news about Jesus and give care packages to these moms so they have some nice things for thier new babies.or to pray with them if they've experienced loss.

Mom says that she and Ms. Char have plenty of blankets, but they are still needing baby bottles, small bottles of baby shampoo, baby powder, baby lotions, onesies, and sleepers for the babies. If you have any or come across some that Mom can take to Ms. Pearl, please give Mom a buzz! So I'm really looking forward to going back and seeing Ms. Pearl and JD again!

High paws and puppy kisses,

P.S. Mom says she'll post pictures tomorrow probably, after she gets some of the pictures from a couple of other people.