(mil.wau.kee)


as promised, the long-awaited milwaukee post!

last weekend ben and i drove up from bluefield to milwaukee, wisconsin to check out transformation city church and all that God is doing there.

we also pit stopped in grand rapids, michigan to visit grandma betty (on ben’s side) – whom i had never met before. pure awesomeness. i love spunky old people 🙂

let me just go on record and say that taking a 12+ hour road trip with your prospective spouse could be the most intense form of pre-marital counseling out there.  the drive was sweet, but definitely not without its fair share of stresses.  first of all, we had to drive through chicago to get there.  (nothing more needs to be said on that one).  second, we got lost…twice.  and third, the car we rented had xm radio which led to the epic debate of whether we would listen to ESPN radio or 80’s pop for hours at a time.

(our compromise, we listened to dave ramsey’s “financial peace university” cd’s for about 8 hours straight!)

but we finally made it to milwaukee despite lack of direction, radio debates and chicago.  we arrived on friday afternoon and, after briefly meeting the lead pastor, Jason, were whisked off on a driving tour of the city by the youth pastor, Kevin.  milwaukee is the tenth poorest city in the united states.  as with most places, this poverty affects every facet of life.  literacy rates are incredibly low and high school drop out rates are high.  in short, milwaukee is hurting.  but as we drove around we saw not just incredible poverty but extravagant wealth.  much like bluefield, the poverty line in milwaukee can literally be just across the block.

Kevin drove us around and told us about the city (which is also really fun, by the way. fun artsy district, lake michigan, professional sports… 🙂 )  and bought us some incredible, real, wisconsin cheese before taking us back to eat dinner with the community pastor Tim and his wife Sommer.

saturday we went down to the community house for a church work day; this is when we really started to get a taste of what transformation city is doing to, well, transform their city.

but first, you may ask, what is a community house?

the community house is a duplex in the central part of the city that the church purchased last year with the vision of having it become a place where people from the church would come to live and invest their lives in the community.  pretty cool really.

currently, Kevin (the youth guy) and Ben (a church guy) live in the upper unit in the community house.  our work day project was to work a little in the lower unit, getting it to a livable condition and to dig up the backyard so that Kevin and Ben can plant a community garden this spring/summer.

we got to meet several people from the church and work alongside them.  it was truly amazing to see what God can do when people live their lives with reckless abandon and in authentic community.  we also got to meet some of milwaukee’s finest…

…the kids of course!

we had a great time scraping paint and turning up soil, and i even learned how to throw a football the right way (the fifth graders can still out throw me though…)

ben and some of our new friends 🙂

football in the lot down the street, please note the awesomeness of the mid-air catch

 sunday we went to church; transformation city meets in a movie theater which brought back sweet, sweet memories for me of set-up and take-down from back in the days of new century in roanoke 🙂 (i love you guys!)

the service was solid, Jason preached on simplicity (a theme that, all-too- coincidentally was echoed in my oswald readings for the rest of the week, hmmm…) he used a video in his sermon called the story of stuff, i would encourage all of you to download it and watch it.
after church, we got to spend some time talking with Jason, Tim and Kevin, as well as the leadership team at the church about what they’re doing and about how our ministry might could tie in with theirs.
sunday evening we had the opportunity to hear theologian and bishop of durham, N.T. Wright speak at Elmbrook – milwaukee’s mega church.
(which for the record, has a membership the size of bluefield’s population)
i, having read Wright for a class last year, loved this.  Ben, enjoyed, but didn’t nerd out to the extent i did.
(think 12-year-old girl at a backstreet boys concert back in the day, that was the level of joy in my heart)
we left early monday morning with an epic 13 hour drive ahead of us.  the drive home was much more enjoyable than the drive up, we didn’t even hit traffic in chicago!   we made it through almost all of our dave ramsey disks, leaving us feeling like we were on the cutting edge of financial savvy, and we even struck a balance between ESPN and 80’s pop.  (i listened to the 80’s during ESPN’s very long commercial breaks)
thanks so much to all of you who were praying for our safe trip, please continue to pray as we have some big decisions on the horizon!

one of the neighborhood kids, jamarco, took this one of ben and i after we played football

grace and peace,
megan
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