Today was quite amazing indeed. I got up before my roommate's alarm (I forgot my cell phone charger, so I can't leave my phone on overnight until it gets mailed) again went through my usual morning routine. I don't know if I mentioned the internet situation here, but apparently we get access to the shortest-range wireless network I've ever seen; we have to crowd in the hallway right outside the office with our laptops to use it, and we're discouraged from using it for over half an hour a day. So I've been composing posts offline before heading to the "internet hallway" and posting them--hence the time stamps on the bottom to indicate when I actually wrote things.
Anyway, with no internet on my floor, there aren't many distractions from enjoying time wirh God and awesome fellowship with my floormates. I had quite a bit of quiet time, reading some John Owen, continuing my trek through the Bible (on Psalms now) and reading the book of Colossians in preparation for studying it. Today was church day, and the men had decided to get dressed up; my new friend Tim provided us with ties, and we were looking pretty snappy when we went downstairs to the chapel to wait to go to church.
The drive to church was fairly uneventful, save for us turning into oncoming traffic and almost getting into a crash while following another car. We were still in the midst of the deleriously happy adrenaline rush of almost dying when we got to the church, praising God for still being alive. It was good to get back to basics.
We were attending the Berean Family Worship Center, a predominantly African-American church in a somewhat nicer area of Milwaukee. We'd been briefed on the church and told that it was a friendly, energetic church, which definitely turned out to be the case. I got a hug and several kind greetings just entering the sanctuary. The worship was incredible; everyone was so clearly on fire for God, and their passion was contagious. I didn't know all the words to all the songs (they weren't projected and there were no hymnals), but even when I wasn't singing it was hard not to be focused on praising God in words and prayer.
Then for the offering instead of passing a collection plate they had everyone walk up to the front past the plates and back to their seats, even if they weren't giving anything. Like our project leaders said, they got pretty excited for giving; apparently the church has been debt-free for a while. I had the verse "God loves a cheerful giver" running through my mind the whole itme.
The pastor was also a really good speaker, very God-saturated and Bible-focused. Apparently he'd trained himself to say something like "Praise God" instead of "um" and "uh", which was pretty cool. His sermon was on the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of God, and the progression between the three. We start by learning the basics facts about God, then His Spirit leads us to understanding and ultimately wisdom in how to apply the knowledge to every part of our lives. He was constantly citing diverse parts of scripture; I wouldn't have been able to keep up if I hadn't had Bible tabs. Overall it was a really powerful, beneficial sermon; I even got a CD of it for later. (It was extremely impressive how fast they got those CDs out)
After this we returned to the ministry center for lunch, and after another briefing by staffer Jeff and his heart for the city of Milwaukee (or "Muhwahkee", as he constantly pronounced it), we went on probably the most fun I've had on project yet: a tour of the city. We got directions with tour narrations for someone to read as we drove through the whole city. Starting from the more run-down parts of the neighborhood, we went into the downtown area (or at least among lots of large buildings; I'm not sure where downtown Milwaukee is) and then to some nicer, wealthier neighborhoods. The shift from starting in the dangerous neighborhood of the ministry center to mansions with immaculate lawns was pretty jarring.
For dinner, we stopped at a burger and frozen custard place called Kopp's. I was expecting more of a sit-down restaurant, but it was more of an assembly line, with us standing in lien to place our order and then waiting for our number to be called. It was REALLY busy and the wait was pretty similar to that of a sit-down place. After dinner we returned for another meeting on building policies (fun!) and then had the night to ourselves. Dave soon warned us that the surprise we were waking up at 8:30 for was apparently a "poverty simulation" which comes in a box. I'll see how that goes. Today was pretty epic and I can't wait to see what God does with tomorrow!
Composed ~8:30 PM, Sunday, June 13th