March 4th, 2013

BAMA Day#2


Today was a very fun, informative, sunny and delicious day! It was a great way to relax and get used to the area before actually starting to do hard core work.

The morning started off with a delicious breakfast made by Lexi and Chuck. Picture this-waking up to a warm breakfast of eggs, pancakes and bacon. The pancakes were extra fluffy, the eggs were definitely better than the eggs at TDR, and by what others said, the bacon made by Chuck was the epitome of perfection with crunchiness.

We then cleaned up and decided to pack our lunches for the day. They consisted of the classic PB&J sandwiches, turkey/ham sandwiches or wraps, fruit, chips, water and some other things. Then, we had some down time, but at around 10:00 am, we left for Walmart because we were meeting our coordinators, Tim and Julie, to follow them to the Sunday service.

We arrive at Walmart, and….kind of overestimated how long it would take to get there, so we ended up hanging out in the Walmart parking lot in our mini van for about a half hour. We mainly listened to some music, took some pictures and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Finally, we found the green Jeep that belonged to Tim and followed him to the church.

Upon arriving to the church, we were surprised on how big it was. The community is very involved and there are about 650 people that attend the services. This Methodist church was especially interesting because it had both contemporary and traditional services on Sunday. We attended the contemporary one, which started precisely at 10:55 am. We sat down and people just started coming up to us with a smile. They welcomed us and thanked us for being here. Personally, I had never been to a service before, so it was very interesting hearing about the Christian religion and seeing how they worship and come together with such open,honest and faithful relationships. The atmosphere was exciting, fun, moving and deep, which made the contemporary style service interesting and different for many of the people in the group.

Julie gave us a tour of the traditional service sanctuary and of the church, and we met many people that are members of the church. After the service, we had to make at stop again at Walmart, because us girls (Lexi, Maria and I) had to get groceries for the dinner competition. Then, we came back to camp and finally ate the delicious lunches that we made. Many had food comas after, so some took naps or just hung out until Pastor Woody from Camp Coker would take us on a tour of the city and disasters from the tornado.

All I have to say about Woody is that he is a VERY knowledgeable man. He would always start off with one story and go off on a tangent into four other stories. Not only did he show us every aspect of Tuscaloosa and University of Alabama, but he also told us about all of the politics, drama and facts about them. He is a very nice man though. We had to even cut the tour short because we had to get back to cook. And on our way back, we got pulled over by the popo of Bama. Yes, I did just say that. They thought Woody was picking up people in a shady way because we were in a van. The city is on the lookout because a woman was recently murdered in the neighborhood that we were driving in.

After all of us were struggling to keep our eyes open in the van, we made it home and got cooking right away for 11 people. We invited Julie and Tim and a couple living next to our camp. Everyone helped because we were kind of in a rush. We made chicken fajitas, rice, guacamole, and brownies, and had COMPLETE food comas.

Now as I write on this blog, everyone is laying on a couch still thinking about if they should get up or just sleep where they are. Maria was laughing hysterically at something John said-typical. Chuck was playing guitar. Lexi is cuddled up in a blanket and I actually don’t know what Jack and Zach are up to.

I am being accused of writing a novel, so I should probably stop. Sorry if I bored you with my long paragraphs filled with details, but I thought I might as well tell you about everything that we did while it was still fresh in my head.

I am looked forward to the week, as we start with some installation, insulation and painting. I love this group and we are already comfortable with each other and as Maria says, “we are getting our weird out!”

Have a good night!






March 4th, 2013

Disaster Relief – Tuscaloosa, AL – Day 1

Hey Y’all

Coming together on an Alternative spring break trip is a large commitment, especially traveling with members who you normally do not spend your regular day with. I think it is safe to say that we have a great group that is ready to have an incredible experience building here in Tuscaloosa.

A little bit about our mission:

Tuscaloosa was ravaged by several tornadoes in the year 2011. With that, the only thing that wasn’t destroyed was the Hospital (fortunately, the city warrants this to the power of the hand of God because of how quickly the tornado changed it’s path). Thus, we are here to help rebuild the community.

A little bit about our first day:

Traveling was very smooth. It is me (Alexis), Zach, John, Jack, Ayah, Maria, and Chuck. I ended up waking up about a half hour late and Maria woke up late but we still made it to the air port on time. We left campus at 5:30 a.m. and made it into Alabama around 1p.m.

traveling in Alabama was smooth and the crimson tide was extremely evident. Football is religion in Alabama as we were advised to not wear any U of M colors.

The group is staying at a camp known as Camp Coker. The owners of Camp Coker had recently taken over at the camp so they are still working towards establishing their volunteer services.

That night we needed a taste of real barbecue so we headed out for some of the local fare and returned back home to unpack and by the time we were settled, we needed some supplies that would not fit into the luggage so we headed to Wal-Mart for a family shopping trip.

headed back home, we arrived back at around 7:30 at night and it felt like 11 p.m. We headed for the outdoor showers and called it a night.

Roll Tide Roll,

Alexis Konja

March 9th, 2013

ASB Chitown 3/9/13 – El Fin

What a day! A whole lot going on… physically and emotionally.

The day started off with the Stations of the Cross, an emotional and extremely meaningful way to start the day.

After that was donut break time, quickly followed by our daily routine with the kiddies; lots of games and lessons. The kids are too cute, with their smiles, ears, and twinkling eyes. Oyyy.

Before the kids left, Angelina took us aside to say goodbye… a really sad moment, but we will definitely be looking around for her at school! Then the kids began to leave… and we realized that they, on the other hand, would not be at UDM, but would have to stay here in Chicago. This was the last time we were going to see their little faces.

The sadness lingers, but we had to keep going with the day. Being Friday, it was time to look for a mosque here in Chicago… the first one we found was an Ahmadiyya mosque… that’s a no go. But the second mosque… bingo! The sermon was really meaningful, and the mosque leader; just imagine one of those baptist preachers but placed in a mosque instead. So much enthusiasm and energy! Perfect!

After the mosque, it was time to work with the after-school kids. My little man, Emiliano, didn’t show. I went to my bed to lay down, realized I never even gave him a proper goodbye… and decided that the next time I’m here in Chicago, I will be stopping by Port Ministries at 3 PM when Emiliano is here. I need to see mi corazón again.

I had to push forward and we finished some painting in the children’s room. I think we did a nice job!

Then came bread truck time, a great experience as always… lots of grateful people and a feeling of happiness in return.

We ended the night with reflection, a fish and rice dinner, tons of laughter, and a family to remember for ages.

Remeber: we can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone. (Ronald Reagan)

^ Alani and Michelle are currently painting out the Detroit skyline and going to leave it at Port Ministries with this quote. 🙂

– Simon Shamoon


March 7th, 2013

ASB Chicago (3/7/2013) : The last day with the whole Family together

Today we started our day a bit earlier than normal for mass next door, as opposed to our normal morning prayer. We sang happy birthday to one of the members, and had cake for breakfast (Ahhhh too much sugar! Now we had too much energy like the kids!)


After mass we prepared for activites with the younger children, painting, lessons on less and more, and other activites to keep their minds busy and learning. The kids were excited about all the activites we had planned. Personalluy, Kyle and I ran the Painting station. It was so cute to see the kids mixing the colors and what ideas they came up with for their pieces of art. The kids were excited about the activites. After everyone had a chance at each activity, Mrs. Kriss went over the lesson of Less and More.  Some of the kids understood it better than others. And almost all the kids had a case of squirming. But over all they seemed to learn a lot and really enjoy themselves.


After preparing a nice meal of pasta and marinera sauce which we shared with all the staff at Port Ministry, they told some of us about how some of the people here have many options to take care of themselves, like food stamps, Line cards (similar to Bridge cards) and some people work the system. It was a bit disheartening to hear that, and sometimes no matter what you do, there will still be that possiblity of people using the system like that.

While many of the others took naps or were balencing finances, I personally wrote letters to all my wonderful sponsors / donors who helped me get on this trip. I am truely thankful to everyone who helped us be able to be here in Chicago, and have the experiences that we are having. I felt writing personal letters / post cards to my donors was a nice way to thank them and let them know what is going on.

Once the older kids came we got back to work. The kids had a lot of school work today, so we didn’t get to play as much as we all woud have liked. But the kids needed to understand that the homework came first.  Angelina, Alani and myself got our fingernails painted by some of the girls while Simon and Kyle played with the boys in the gym.



For dinner we went out to a local resturant suggested to us by the Ministry staff. We preordered our food so we made sure we had enough time to eat and make it back for the Bread Truck. The food was delicious and very filling. The staff was very kind and helped us with our many refills on water. Would definetly visit this place again



Once we headed back and helped Anthony load up the truck we headed out. Anthony requested that I take photos tonight, so I was off hot chocolate duty (which i held the last couple previous nights). I was disappointed I wasn’t going to be able to help that much. But I was glad I could help in my own way of talking to the people who came, and getting photos for Anthony who had done so much for us.  The number of people making their way out the bread truck has been increasing every night, so that has been great to make sure people get a nice meal in them.



We just finished our evening refleciton, and unfortunetly Angelina will be leaving tomorrow morning for a wedding of a close friend of hers back in Detroit. I feel we all have grown so close in this short ammount of time. Many of us were strangers in the beinging, but it will not be the same with out all of our family here. Angelina is such a wonderful spirit, a great friend,  and fantastic with the kids, we wish her a safe journey home.


As we approach our final days here at Port Ministry, we think about the bonds we have made this trip, the thought and feelings that we have expereinced while doing service. We have all grown so much in our own individual ways. We have grown to learn so much about this area in this short ammount of time we have been here. The people of Chicago are fighters. They are perservering. So is the city of Detroit. We will rise from the ashes of these hard times, and we will build for a better time.


Peace and Love,

Michelle R.


March 7th, 2013

Bama Day 5!!

Day 5 was very cold in Alabama. We started our morning at the newest house being built, all bundled up. We huddled around a fire while we received our directions from Boss-man Mike. We quickly worked up a sweat shoveling heavy clay and sand under the front porch, so no one else tripped in the holes (whoops)! After our warm up, we started putting up the scaffolding for the shingling process, although most of us used it for a jungle gym! Boss-man Mike gave us a quick lesson with the Nail Gun (Nail Gun 101) and away we went with the shingles. Jack and Ayah worked together while Jon and I teamed up. We could hardly keep up with Ayah who looked like she had been running a nail gun since she was born!

At lunch time, our group was invited to First United Methodist Church for a lasagna feast! The Bosco sticks and homemade southern Sweet Tea were a huge hit!! After lunch, we returned to the job site to continue shingling. We ended our day at the job site with almost half of the roof covered in shingles. For dinner, we were invited to St. Marks (where Sunday service was) for some chicken spaghetti and peanut butter pie!

When we finally returned back to camp, we decided to play some card games. Maria taught the group how to play Signal, but she must not have told us all the rules because somehow she won every game….We also played a couple heart-wrenching games of speed and spoons, followed by a two and half hour reflection!

Laughter, service and happiness are the best words to describe our days in Alabama so far. I always look forward to waking up and working with these guys. I am truly honored to be a part of this group.

Roll Tide Roll,


March 7th, 2013

WE’RE IN CALI BABY!!! Day #6 – Sacramento

Greetings from sunny Sacramento!

Today started off with reflection in the morning with Garren and Tricia. Afterwards we all split off into our groups: ReShawn and Sarah worked at the Legal Clinic (maintenance), Colleen and Jameela at Maryhouse, Deena and Sister Beth at Mustard Seed school, and Maggie and I in Friendship Park.

In Friendship Park I was assigned to help guests get their meal ticket by checking them into the computer and handing them their ticket number. Many of the guests were very friendly and I even got to chat with some of them for a while. I had at least 2 new guests that I checked in while I was working today. One of the guests was from Florida but has spent much of his time traveling. He had a guitar on his back and told me he has been searching to join a band but having no luck, so he makes what money he can by playing at popular tourist locations like Old Scaramento. He is ultimately trying to make it back to Florida for the birth of his nephew. Everyone I meet has such interesting stories and information on where they are coming from and some even share where they hope to be in the future. Maggie was working at the next counter helping people get shower times, laundry, mail, and other items they requested. Sarah, ReShawn, and I also got to pass out candy before lunch and that sure put a smile on many peoples faces.

I got a tour of the park by J.M., one of the JVs working here, and he explained more about how the park functions and what services people can get there. He introduced me to the horseshoe gang, the regulars at the park who play horseshoes most of the day. They are all very nice friendly guys who enjoy eachother’s company and especially new players. My time before and after lunch was spent playing and watching horseshoes with Mario, Lee, Warren, Isaac, Del, Corry, and others who would jump in for a game. Deena and Sarah joined later and played with Mario and Lee;

the girls really make them laugh. They were all bummed to hear that tomorrow is our last day.

Tonight we are all having dinner downtown at the JVC house with the Jesuit and Mercy volunteers. They are cooking dinner and we are bringing some ice cream for dessert. I’m sure it’s going to be a fun time. Then tomorrow is our last day, we will be catching a red eye back in the evening. It’s been so much fun here and a very enlightening experience into the lives of the homeless and the wonderful organization of Loaves & Fishes.

Nic Stroeters

March 7th, 2013

ASB Chi City – Day 5 (3/6/13)


A swell day onChicago’s south side, the illustrious Chi Ci-team received a tour of the Back of the Yards community area; a former meatpacking capital of the country. A mobile history lesson by a man named Jim, who might I add, projected his voice as if God fashioned his vocal cords to lead tours. Upon our return to Port Ministries, we instantly hopped into action working with the young children, with whom we are actively trying not to get too attached. After a delicious mac n cheese lunch made by our very own chef Letang, we had a collective nap before getting back to work tutoring with the older batch of kids. We also began a painting project during that time, which should be completed by tomorrow. After dinner we progressed to part III of the Bread Truck Shenanigans to wrap up the work day.

-S. Bilbeisi

Sitting on the big comfy couch

March 6th, 2013


Today we met with Sister Libby and reflected on the past day and the various work we were involved in.  As a group we shared our experiences and were grateful for the opportunity to be able to come out and serve in the Sacramento community and here at Loaves and Fishes.  Afterwards, the groups were split up to do their daily task.  Sister Beth and I served at Mary House, ReShawn and Sarah were at Friendship Park, Jameela and Colleen helped out at Mustard Seed, and Maggie and Nic worked in the Dinning Room.

Sister Beth and I volunteered at Mary House.  She spent the day handing out many of the women’s mail and I spent my time in the dispensary handing out products and necessities that the women needed.  The products consisted of everything from shampoo to toothbrushes, and also from diapers to baby formula.  Furthermore, Mary House was also a place where the women could take daily showers, so we provided towels and the basic supplies they needed to do so.  After spending my time at Mary House, I visited Friendship Park where I saw ReShawn, Colleen, and Sarah playing horseshoes with the guests.  Miguel, Mario, Kivado, and Lee were some of the people playing with us.  They were so much fun to have around and to spend time with.  They were always cheering us on and including us in on the game.  It was a tough match, we were up neck to neck, but my team won against Sarah’s with the help of Mario.  Sorry maybe next time 😛 We’re planning on joining in on another game with them tomorrow so maybe some of the ASB members could redeem themselves lol.

Afterwards, Maggie, Sarah, and I decided to go on a run around the city.  I didn’t know if I could hold up for so long, but we ended up running 4 miles!  I’ve got to say though, seeing the beautiful city and the capital definitely made the run seem a lot shorter.  There was so much to see and the weather was just absolutely gorgeous.  During the run, we were able to see the Capital building and learn a little bit about its history.  Heading back to Loaves and Fishes, however, was an amazing feeling.  Many of the guests were cheering us on to the end of our destination.  So, it was heartwarming to have their support and to see their enthusiasm and joy.

Later, we all headed off as a group to Mary House to have dinner with the ladies.  They provided food and ReShawn and Sarah helped prepare some of it.  It was nice sitting down with the women that stay at this shelter and to share a meal with them.  It gave us the opportunity to get to know them better and to communicate with them about our day and how our stay here was so far.  Dinner finished off with ice cream sundaes which was a tasty treat after all the hard work we’ve accomplished today.

Looking forward to another blessed day tomorrow.



March 6th, 2013

Alabama 3/5/13

Hi everyone!

Today was another wonderful yet eventful day here down in  Tuscaloosa! Our day started off early- lunches packed and breakfast eaten by 8 and we were on the sites working away. We first went to a nearly completed house to see what groups before us had helped accomplish. Seeing the all but finished product was a cool experience, you could see all the hard work put in the craftsmanship. I cannot wait to see the reaction by the person who is moving in! There’s a chance that our group will be able to witness the dedication, and I sincerely hope we  do.

After a tour of the house one group cleaned and worked on the finishing touches while Ayah and I went to the house that we all had worked on yesterday. Once there we went back to work, nailing in all of the hurricane clips around the beams up top and nearly completed all of the ones towards the floor- I think we would’ve finished had I not mistaken my finger for a nail with the hammer. My finger is about as purple as a grape but now I know how to properly hammer. While we were working, a man walked into the house and introduced himself. He told us that we would be living in it when it was completed. I really enjoyed being able to meet the man who would live in the house that we had all worked so hard on. I could see the genuine appreciation in his eyes- something that I don’t think I’ll forget. Anyways, while we were hammering everyone else went to install light fixtures in another house. This proved to be an adventure due to the fact that not all the fixtures were in the right place and the lack of any lights in the house didn’t help either. Oh, I almost forgot to mention- today around lunch time was extremely windy and for about five solid minutes, it was an absolute down pour, so much rain!

We headed back to Camp Coker after a long day of work, it quickly became very quiet as many members of our group took much needed naps. While I was reading about our very own Ray McCallum Jr. winning the Horizon League POY, which is fantastic news by the way, the door knocked and an older gentlemen showed up and dropped off a bunch of supplies for the camp to use. He was so happy to drop off the supplies and I was so glad to see how much the community cares about the volunteers here. After everyone got up from their naps, we made dinner- this time it wasn’t BBQ but instead frozen pizza made  by Chuck himself! Then, we went on our daily run to Wal-Mart to pick up some food for the remaining week. Hopefully that was our last trip there!

Before  tonight was over we had a great reflection session, I think everyone enjoyed it and it was a fitting way to end this great Tuesday. Well it’s time to put some more ice on this finger but I hope everyone is doing well both on the other service trips and back at UDM! Have a great night everyone and remember no matter where you are, it’s good to be here!


March 5th, 2013

asb-chicago March 5 2013

Today the Chicago group finally got our hands dirty with our first full day of work. We had a fun time playing with the children, like Victor, Kenny, and Clatilde during daycare. It was nice to know that we were also really doing their mothers a generous service so they could attend classes at Port Ministries for enlish as a second language, aquiring a GED, or anything else they needed. Later on we helped the after school tutoring program. Once again, like yesterday, in the evening we loaded up the bread truck and went off to give out sandwiches, hot chocolate, and candy in the nearby neighborhoods. We went despite the heavy snow and the locals were very appreciative. We also had a couple snowball fights. All in good fun of course.

Kyle Burkardt

March 5th, 2013

WE’RE IN CALI BABY!!! Day #4 Sacramento

Today, we started our day by meeting with Sister Libby again. We each talked about our day yesterday and shared our favorite stories. After, our groups split up again and we each went to a new project. Sister Beth and Deena went to Friendship Park, Maggie and Nic went to the Legal Clinic, Sarah and ReShawn went to Mary House, and Jameela and myself worked in the dinning room.

Jameela and I spent the morning helping to chop up lettuce for salads and fresh red bell peppers! Before we knew it, we started getting ready for lunch and were both assigned the position of being a hostess. When the guests came in the doors, we were to help get their food if they were in a wheelchair. We also kept the water pitchers full, kept the tables clean, and passed out napkins or plastic bags to anyone who asked for them. I personally enjoyed being able to interact with the guests as the day before we worked with the maintenance crew behind the scenes. After lunch, we helped cleaned everything up.

For dinner tonight, we plan on going out and exploring Sacramento some more. Jameela has family here, and so she is meeting up with them to go out to dinner! After, we plan on having a movie night with ice cream! 🙂

Until next time….


March 5th, 2013

WE’RE IN CALI, BABY!!! Day #3 – Sacramento



Our day started out with orientation in Sister Libby’s office. We introduced ourselves then Sister Libby told us the history of Loaves and Fishes. We also received a tour of the facility…which takes up an entire block! It was absolutely beautiful and surprising! In addition to programs such as Mary House, the Dining Room, Friendship Park, the Legal Clinic, and Mustard Seed, Loaves and Fishes even offers a day shelter for pets!

Upon conclusion of the tour, our group split off into four different groups.  ReShawn and I went to Mustard Seed School. Mustard Seed is an enriching school for homeless children, educating the pre-school level up to the eighth grade. It was truly moving to witness the joy the children possessed, despite their very difficult and unstable home-life.  The children all signed a piece of paper that said “Loaves and Fishes” and gave it to me (to remember them by)! I will make sure to hang it in my dorm room. 🙂

Our group then went to Old Sacramento. Colleen, Maggie, and I went for a 3.5 mile run through Old Sac and along the river while the rest of the group went shopping! By that time we were sooo hungry. We went to Fanny Anne’s Restaurant in downtown Old Sac and all ordered DELICIOUS burgers. Nic got a peanut butter, bacon burger. He thought it was delicious…

We then wrapped up the night with a pit stop to the grocery store and LOTS of ice cream. That just about sums it up for the Sac Crew. Over and out!

Peace and love,



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