Our Milwaukee/San Antonio week started off with 2 nights of Halloween fun. Dressed and on a mission the kids trick-or-treated their little hearts out Saturday night with their cousins in their neighborhood and then again Sunday night in Granny & Poppies neighborhood .... we have NEVER seen so much candy!
Monday and Tuesday we got to play tourist in Tom’s home state. With a fun trip up to Horicon Marsh on Monday to learn about bird migration and Horicon’s fascinating history (glaciers and lakes and scandal oh my!).
A wooly mammoth at Horicon Marsh, WI
Tuesday the kids explored the Betty Brinn Children’s museum. We drove the bus, rode motorcycles, played receptionist, experimented with circuits (a huge highlight!), and cheered physics. The kids could have spent the whole week here and were appalled at the mention of lunch time.
Tom even got to show off the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum with it’s famous wings up for show. Frankie was super into it.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the kids and I (Shannon) continued to explore Milwaukee with a tour of Clock Shadow Creamery (I mean it’s Wisconsin!.... you got to take some time to learn about cheese right?), and a fun trip with the cousins to the zoo. Tom’s folks were gracious hosts as their home practically burst with non-stop action for 8 days...
While we ate cheese and yelled at lions Tom flew to San Antonio, TX.
River City Christian was a small school right in the center of San Antonio. I (Tom) could really feel how much the administration cared about these kids. Many of the students struggled at their previous schools because of anxiety, bullying, discipline issues, and/or were on the spectrum. It was very clear that the heart of this school is that everyone is valued. I met with the principal Mr. Ezzard Castillo before the assembly, he explained how God gave him a vision to start the school and he committed to buying the build, which was run down, before he had any funding. He had 6 months to raise $500,000. The school is located in a depressed area and raising that kind of money was not going to be easy. Mr. Castillo told me as soon as he said yes to God, that money started to pour in, and on the day the offer expired someone walked up to him with the exact remaining balance. A check for $85,000, only God can make that happen. I was so moved I asked if we could pray, and in Mr. Castillo’s office, together we called down heaven and asked Papa to bring revival to their city, thru these kids that others have written off. It was a powerful and memorable prayer meeting, as I’m sure there were more then just he and I in that room! This was all before the assembly started. Needless to say the assembly went well and because it was a smaller school I got to open it up to q&a. One of the first questions was “what does Jesus mean to me?”. I sure had fun with that one! A normal assembly lasts about 45 minuets, but today I was able to spend an hour and a half with these kids. Our whole team felt blessed and encouraged by this school.
River City Christian School
Thursday we were off to Ed White middle school. This school is also in a rough part of town. The counselor told me that gangs were a problem and that probably half of the kids would be high. She also shared that 80% of the students parents were incarcerated. I did 3 assemblies in the gym, one right after the other and communicated with over 1200 students. This was one of the more difficult schools I have spoken to, but our team prayed before for help and it went well. There were some that didn’t want to listen but over all the kids were hungry for the message of hope that we delivered. After reading all 1200 response cards, i would say that 90% of the cards were kids that were encouraged and thankful to hear that they have the control to choose their attitude, choose their dream, and choose their friends! They had this great set of wings painted on the wall by their art teacher. The school mascot is the eagles, and their motto is to soar and rise above. Thank you Jesus, for you are the reason we can ‘soar and rise above’.
Friday ended with 3 assemblies at Hobby Middle School, another 1000 students.
Here are some cards from this week that stood out...
This week was a great reboot for our family. It was wonderful to spread out and sleep in our own rooms, or at least have the option... The girls made it half a night in separate beds before finding their way back to sleeping 2 inches from each other, which Tom and I found hilarious after 3 weeks of fielding complaints about who’s squashing who each night.
We are off to Oklahoma this week, big Bertha is on the move again. Everyone was happy to climb aboard, so maybe we are getting the hang of this #RVlife?....5 weeks to go!
Thank you for your prayers and support!
Love from the Gilles Family