Live the Love

Peace Church - Lombard

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A Fun Day while "Living the Love" at Phil's Friends!

In February, our Adults on the Go group from Peace met at Phil's Friends to serve together.  Phil’s Friends is a Christian Ministry headquartered in Roselle. IL.  This organization provides Christ-centered support and HOPE to those affected by cancer.  Cards of hope and care packages are sent directly to cancer patients to their homes or hospital.   The founder, Phil Zielke, a two-time cancer survivor himself, runs this organization with a passion born of experience.

After our orientation, we were given a "special" job.  Phil's Friends sends out 13,000 cards of hope across the country each month!  The cards are colored by volunteers, and contain an encouraging Bible verse, perhaps an extra message from the volunteer and a corny joke to keep the mood light.  In front of us was a daunting task.  13,000 cards and they all  needed envelopes.  I would like to tell that we did all 13,000...but we did not.  However it was estimated that we stuffed about 5,000.  

Phil's Friends also showed us how they pack a box and/or nylon string bag.  The boxes/string bags are filled with items that someone undergoing cancer treatment would find useful; a Bible, tissues, lip balm, mouth freshener, puzzle book, slippers, a blanket, hat, hand lotion, and a water bottle. All these gifts are provided by donors to the organization.

At the end of our shift, Kandy, one of Phil's Friends employees, shared some thank you notes with us.  It was very humbling to hear how much the recipients appreciated these small gifts.  The packages and cards really do make a difference to them.  It is just that little ray of sunshine that picks up the spirit and says people do care.

The time flew by and we all enjoyed helping this ministry.  We were able to chat, share the best way to stuff an envelope, and learn a few new jokes.  It was a wonderful and fun day to serve!  And by the way, if you would like to know "Why did the orange lose the race?" volunteer at Phil's Friends.  They will be happy to provide the answer!

Submitted by Vyonne Scheiwe, Peace Church member


Mostly Mary, Sometimes Martha - WEBS

WEBS our Women's Evening Bible Study meets Tuesday evenings, 7:00-8:30, at Peace, providing a place to build faith-based friendships and to grow in God's Word (the Mary part) - all women are welcome to participate. Sometimes a service opportunity arises, which occurred when new participant Kym Zamsky, also a member of the Women's Network of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI), asked if the group ever did service projects (the Martha part). The ladies said, "Sometimes."  She told them about the plight of foster children as they are placed in a new home by LSSI:

When babies and children are removed from their birth families, they are taken to foster homes with only the clothes they are wearing and a few personal items in a plastic garbage bag. The Women's Network of LSSI decided in 2015 to begin a program of providing additional items for these children. Welcome Kits are used by social workers to effect as calm and soothing a transition as possible in the midst of a situation which is traumatic for both the child and the foster parent. The backpacks for babies are filled with toothbrushes, diaper cream, wipes, toys, books, gift cards for essentials, and little stuffed animals. They are also given a small blanket for snuggling. Older children receive a larger blanket to keep them warm during the night.

Their hearts being touched, the WEBS women said, "Yes."  The Foster Children Welcome Kits and Blankets Project was born; Kym agreed to coordinate the efforts.

Following detailed instructions from the Women's Network, WEBS plowed ahead to make it happen. Janet Stuckey requested a Thrivent Action Team designation, which was approved as part of its #livegenerously program.* Jean Romer-Kenealy designed the publicity flyers. Kerby Kerber, WEBS leader, facilitated the blanket-making portion of the project on January 9 - fleece blankets in infant and youth sizes were cut and tied.




The Peace Family was asked to be involved through "Fill Diaper Backpacks for Foster Children in February." Kym made a display board for people to choose a specific item to donate. Using the seed money from Thrivent, the diaper backpacks were purchased. At the Packing Party on February 20, more blankets were made and the backpacks were filled. Total Results: 18 blankets were hand made for the foster children and several more were made for LWML's World Relief project. 9 diaper backpacks were completely filled with the items donated by the Peace Family.

Pastor Marty Hufford led the group in a prayer of blessing over the assembled items. “We are so grateful for the generous donations; we are letting these children know that God loves them,” he said. 

There's no better way to say it: That's what Sometimes Marthas do . . .

Submitted by Janet Stuckey, Peace Church member








* Thrivent Financial, through its #livegenerously program, is dedicated to strengthening the communities, congregations and causes their members care about, and provided seed money for the project.

Reflection on Peace's November '17 FMSC Mobil Packing Event


It's hard to imagine that just a couple of months ago 1300 volunteers gathered at the Odeum in Villa Park to pack meals for Feed My Starving Children!  It was an incredible day.  A special thank you to both teams from Peace and St. John's, Lombard.  

In reflection, Linda, our Executive Director at Peace, shares some thoughts on this incredible serving event...

"Feed My Starving Children is an amazing Christian ministry that provides meals specially-formulated for malnourished children in more than 70 countries around the world. They have 3 warehouses in the Chicagoland area where volunteers can pack those meals and pray over them before the food is shipped abroad.

I have been volunteering with Feed My Starving Children since their Aurora warehouse opened in 2008. When I volunteer for a 2-hour shift, the time flies by. At the end of the shift, praying  over the meals we packed is a very powerful experience.

Not all meals are packed in warehouses. FMSC provides all the supplies and training need for organizations to host on-site events in their own communities. Organizations provide space, volunteers, and the funds to pay for the ingredients to pack the meals. Peace has participated in 4 such events since 2012…two held at Peace, one at St. John’s Lombard, and the most recent held at the Odeum in Villa Park on November 4, 2017.

What an experience to pack 278,000 meals with 1300 volunteers (men, women, and children) in one day! Enough food to feed 760 children for a year!!

Go to the FMSC website ( Watch the videos, read the stories, and volunteer to pack some meals. I promise that you won’t regret it!"

Feed My Starving Children - A Serving Experience Worth Repeating!


Judy Leimbach (1st row - black jacket) and her JoyBreak Women's Small Group-

Serving at Feed My Starving Children facility in Aurora, IL

My husband, Tom, and I first participated in a packing event for Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) several years ago; before they moved to their permanent facility in Aurora.  Our Peace small group we belonged to at that time attended a packing event at another church.  I remember the FMSC facilitator showing us pictures of children before receiving the food packets; and then months after receiving the FMSC meals.  This made an impact on me and I got hooked on the FMSC ministry right away.  

I was impressed by the fact that the food was not sent to government agencies, but to orphanages and missionaries in the countries where it was needed.  Working with other Christians, counting the number of packed meals, hearing how many children that those meals would feed for a year, and then praying over the food made the whole experience one I wanted to repeat over and over.

When my Joybreak group, years ago, was discussing a possible mission event we might choose to participate in, I suggested FMSC. Our group spent one of our Wednesday morning sessions working at the newly opened Aurora facility.  Everyone was uplifted by the experience.  Since then, many women have continued to participate in several packing events.  I was excited when our church, Peace, decided to host a mobile packing event for the first time in April of 2012.  I volunteered to serve on that committee.  Since that time, Tom and I have participated in several fundraisers and packing sessions for this wonderful mission.  We've even have attended several packing events with Peace's Adults on the Go.  We are pleased that Peace will be participating once again in sponsoring the community wide event this fall.

Submitted by Judy Leimbach, member of Peace Lutheran Church - Lombard

Honduras? Where Is That Anyway?

Ever heard of WGO?  Do you know Fred Steinbach?  Anyone know how to spell Tegucigalpa?  (I confess, I had to look it up).

A little over 10 years ago, I could not have answered yes to any of the questions above.  Actually, I did know Fred.  After a couple of years of Fred twisting arm just a little bit, I took the plunge and headed off to Peace on their annual WGO Honduras Mission trip.  My life was about to change in ways that I would never have dreamed.

I thought I had to be the worst candidate to make this trip; however, I decided to go and serve on the "Construction" team.  We not only construct things, but we also tear down things.  Later, they just changed the name to "Ranch Serve Team" which is probably better, because construction/destruction team would maybe confuse some folks.  

When I left to go to on this mission trip, I had the big idea that I was going to hep and do something good for  WGO, Honduras, and all those great kids that reside at Rancho Ebenezer.  Again, it's a little weird to call it a ranch, because of the way we might think of a "ranch."  There is no cows or horses, but it's just a a wonderful place for these kids to live - it's "kid's ranch".  

Since that first trip, I have made eleven consecutive trips there!  It has been one of the most rewarding and wonderful experiences in my life!  Each time I go, a little part of me changes in such a positive way.  (My wife suggested that perhaps I should go more often to speed that process up just a bit. :-) )  I went there to give and help.  Looking back at my trips, I have certainly done plenty of helping and, hopefully, in some small way made a difference in the lives of others.  But what I did not plan on was what I have received in return.

I am so fortunate that for many of trips, we had many of the same folks return to Rancho Ebenezer each year to serve.  What I have received is an incredible relationship with many of them that is grounded and rooted in the love we share for Jesus and others.  I was never a huge participant in church Bible studies, but in Honduras each night I have loved the small group Bible studies we have during the week.  I think this is where the magic started.  Actually, it was not magic, but it was Jesus.  I have had some of the most interesting and loving conversations in Honduras during these study and devotion times.  I have learned more in one week than I would have learned in years of attending a larger group setting.  I have heard folks share personal stories of difficult situations in a setting of confidence and trust of everyone there.  Some of the WGO missionaries sit in on our devotional time and just pour their hearts out to us.  We hear about folks that need our prayers.  It is truly something I look forward to each year now for a completely different reason when I took my first trip.

And if that is not enough to wet your appetite about coming with us, then you should come for the evening game time that takes place right after our Bible study.  At night we hang out, share stories, and play games together as a mission team.  Our favorite game is Mexican Train Dominos.  Game time can be a lot of fun with some friendly competitiveness.  

So, if you are thinking about a trip to Honduras, I would tell you to go!  You will be smarter than before you went.  And with any luck, you will be able to spell Tegucigalpa when you return.  Most of all...  you will be truly blessed.

Submitted by Randy Frinfrock, Peace Church Member.  

Coloring to Share HOPE!

Living the Love at Phil's Friends

My husband, Ron, and I try to share our blessings and give back to the community for the blessings received in our lives.  Sometimes finding regular volunteer jobs that work with our crazy schedules can be a challenge.  Since we spend a good part of the year in Florida, it can be difficult to commit to a consistent volunteer position here in Illinois.  We try to help out at one-shot volunteer jobs because of the needed flexibility of our schedules. 

I heard about Phil’s Friends on Moody Radio several years ago, but recently K-LOVE radio hosted a Thankful Thursday event at Phil’s Friends headquarters in Roselle.  It did not require an RSVP or a regular commitment.  We jumped at the opportunity to serve and in the process, found out more about the ministry.  Phil’s Friends, a Christian Ministry headquartered in Roselle, provides Christ-centered support and HOPE to those affected by cancer via cards of HOPE or care packages sent directly to the patient’s home or hospital room.  The founder, Phil Zielke, a two-time cancer survivor himself, runs this organization with a passion born of experience.

This organization is well run and family-friendly because they allow children to volunteer.   We liked that we didn’t have to sign up weeks in advance.  There are two days a week when Phil’s Friends has walk-in hours that do not require an RSVP, so now we serve regularly on Monday evenings there.  Groups are welcome and can come at pre-arranged times, but we appreciate the flexibility of walk-in hours.

Some of the activities include stenciling or coloring the boxes that will contain care packages of HOPE sent to cancer patients all over the country.  A personal message needs to be written inside each card that will be included in each HOPE box.  Those cards are personalized with color in addition to the message.  There are no restrictions or requirements on how to color – we just let our creative juices flow!  Boxes are stenciled specifically for men or women, boys or girls, so we get to choose any fun box to decorate.  Each volunteer also gets to pack a box, ringing the bell when complete.  At the sound of the bell, everyone in the room stops, claps, and cheers.

Most of us have had someone in our family or friendship circle who has been touched by cancer.  Volunteering at Phil’s Friends makes us feel like we’re touching family members all over the US.  It warms my heart to watch my husband with markers in hand, busily coloring away...who would have ever expected that!  We plan to continue volunteering there until it’s time to go south, and we get to pick it back up next spring when we return. 

Currently Phil’s Friends serves those in the United States but is looking to expand internationally.  There are many volunteer opportunities including packing the HOPE boxes sent to patients which is done at their Roselle location (1350 Lake Street – look for the Thornton station), either by prearranged groups of 10 or more OR during individual walk-in volunteer times which are Mondays from 6:30 – 8 pm or Thursdays 9:30 – 11:301 – 3 pm, or 6:30 – 8 pm.  You do not need to RSVP for the walk-in sessions; just show up.  They are quite organized, and the atmosphere is fun and festive.

Contact them at 224 653-8315 or with questions or to schedule a group.  It is such a simple and enjoyable way to serve the Lord.

God Sightings in Serving - Youth Workcamp Mission

This year, I attended the Workcamp Mission Trip to Charleston, WV with my high school youth group.  I was really nervous to go mainly because this was my first one.  As soon as we got to the middle school where we would be staying on Sunday, I was met with nice people and a happy environment.  That night, we met people from all over the country - Illinois, Virginia, Ohio, and Georgia, just to name a few.  Everyone was super nice and I instantly knew that I made the right decision to come.  We met with our crew Sunday night and were told about our job assignment.  We were to help a resident whose house had been severely damaged by the floods the previous year.  I went to bed thinking about what the next day was going to bring.

In the morning, I met with my crew and we all piled up into a van with another crew.  After we dropped the other crew off at their site, we went to ours.  When we arrived, I looked at the house and tried to assess what we were going to have to do.  The paint on the deck, railings and foundations was peeling and worn.  In some spots, there was dirt all over the outside.  It was mud left over from the floods.  We met the family.  The mom, "Mollie", greeted us and she had three kids - two boys and one girl who was a little over one year old.  We introduced ourselves as the people who where there to work on her house.  

The first day we were at their house, we painted some trim and doors inside.  Mollie even decided to join us for devotions after lunch.  Mollie shared with us that her daughter, "Ella", had a lot of complications at birth and they were not sure if she would survive.  When the flood happened, their daughter wasn't allowed to live in the house for nine months because of health issues.  She and her mom had to live in a camper in the backyard.  

Throughout the week, we took time to look for God sightings.  When we power washed the house on Tuesday, we saw that the kids were watching us through the window.  Ever since then, we would notice the kids watching us work through the window, especially little Ella.  On Wednesday, when we were about to start devotions after lunch, we looked up.  Through the window, we saw Ella looking out on us.  Right away, we all knew this was a God sighting!  This little girl, Ella, who was a living miracle, was watching over us as we were about to start talking to God.

On Friday, I wasn't ready to leave.  I had grown so close to this family in the short time that we had with them. Right before we said our goodbyes, we gave each of the kids a rock with a cross on it. We wanted them to remember that we were there and that their faith in Christ should remain strong.  Holding back tears, we took pictures, said our goodbyes, and drove away slowly watching Mollie, her boys, and even little Ella wave goodbye to us. 

Looking back on this experience, I am so glad that I decided to go to Workcamp.  I made great friends, amazing connections with the residents and family.  These memories will last a lifetime.  Most importantly, I strengthened my relationship with God a lot.  I think this trip gave me people that will walk with me on the road with God.  I am definitely going on the Workcamp trip next year.  I would hope that other high school youth will come, too!  Sure, the showers weren't warm.  Sure, I cam back with sixteen bug bites, but I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. I will never forget this experience and I am so grateful that God chose to shine through me on this trip.  I can't wait to see what the future holds for me as I keep walking on the road with God.

Submitted by Megan Garazin, member of Peace Lutheran-Lombard

Peace HS Youth Workcamp 2017

The Measure of Greatness - Serving Others

How do you measure or define greatness?  When I read the news, listen to talk shows, or browse through other types of media, I see how the world defines greatness.  I would agree with Rick Warren’s observation that he made not too long ago:

      “The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position.  If you can demand service from others, you’ve         arrived.  In our me-first culture, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.” Rick Warren, Daily Hope, May 2014

So true, being the one serving hasn’t always been a popular choice.   However, in recent years, a growing or renewed interest in philanthropy and social justice issues has emerged.   Schools, corporations, small businesses, etc. are looking for ways to contribute to their communities and those in need.  The motivation to play a philanthropic role may differ for each organization or individual, but there is a great opportunity for the church to partner with these individuals.

We know that Jesus spoke of “greatness” when talking to his disciples:

     But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among       you must be servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”               Mark 10:43-45

Pastors and ministry workers today are recognizing that what draws people to being part of a church community is the shared concern for those in need.  Offering opportunities for individuals to take action on social justice issues, feed the poor, and comfort the hurting gives a sense of purpose.  Many individuals today are searching for purpose and meaning.  One way they look for purpose is through helping others; feeling like they are making a difference.  What a wonderful opportunity for the church to provide opportunities for those in our community to serve.  More hands and feet mean we can do more.  While we work together, we can share the love we have for Christ and build relationships - Living the Love together.

As we serve and live the love, how can we bring others alongside us to serve?  Are there areas such as work and school that we can engage others to be part of what we do?  Who can you invite to serve alongside you?

Submitted by Katherine Richards, Director of Family Ministry, Peace Lutheran-Lombard

VBS: Learning and Serving with Joy - Part 2

Encourage Someone - Share Your Story!

Living the love is about action.  We want to show God's love through helping others.  One simple way, but perhaps a very effective way, is to share your story.  Stories can be a great way to encourage someone.  How has God's love helped you?  I'm sure you have a story if you think about it.

At our VBS this year, we talked a lot about sharing our personal stories with others.  When we share our story, we are reminded of how God has helped us.  It helps us remember how much He love us.  We can use our personal stories to encourage others that God loves them, too!  

We asked our elementary and middle school aged VBS participants about their stories.  Our question was:  "When has God's unfailing love helped you or your family through a hard time?"  Here are just a few of their responses:

When my cat ran away

When my grandma moved

When I broke my arm

When my grandma got cancer

When I get sick

When my dog gets sick

When I had a broken arm

When my brother had a seizure

When my mom and dad were trying to find a new house

When my older brother had cancer

When my grandpa had a heart attack

When my parents divorced

When my grandparents died

When my pet died

When I moved away from my friends

When my mom was pregnant with my baby brother

When I cry and I am sad

When I am alone

As I read many of their responses, I could relate!  I had experienced times when I was sick, I was sad, I was worried, etc.  When we share our story, people are able to relate to our experiences.  Sharing stories are a great way to build relationships. When we share how God helped us through those times, we are a witness to God's love.  What a wonderful way to live the love by offering encouragement through our stories.  What's your story?  When was a time you were able to share your story and encourage another person?  As you think of God's love and faithfulness in your life, pray for an opportunity to share your story with others. 

Submitted by Katherine Richards, Director of Family Ministry at Peace Lutheran


VBS: Learning and Serving with Joy - Part 1

Smiles and More Smiles: The Joy of VBS!


As I walked through the halls this week at church, it's hard to believe that last week was VBS!  All the decorations are down, no kids jumping and playing games outside, no VBS music playing in the sanctuary, etc.  It's quiet, but I still have the VBS tunes running through my mind along with good memories of last week!  Our theme is different every year at VBS, but some things still remain the same each year...

Every year, I love the smiles and laughter from the kids during our VBS.  I especially like watching when a child comes to our VBS for the first time - to see their reaction.  This year, I met "Sam".  I could see he was a bit shy and quiet the first day.  As I walked by the games station on Monday morning, I saw him sitting with his crew looking a bit sullen.  I went over to sit by him and introduce myself.  We talked a bit and Sam shared that he was missing playing legos at home.  I agreed that playing legos is a lot of fun.  As we sat together, I talked to him about the next couple of days and what he will get to do while he is at VBS.  Our theme, "Maker Fun Factory", was a perfect for a boy his age who loves creating all kinds of things with legos.  At the end of our conversation, I encouraged him to give VBS a chance and that he might just be surprised to find out how much fun it can be.  I kept my eye on Sam each day.   I loved that his smile got bigger and bigger each time we saw each other.  Smiles turned into passing high fives.  He was interacting with other kids and moving to the music during our closing time.  Finally, towards the end of the week, I asked Sam what he thought about VBS.  He said he really liked it.  I asked, "So do you think we will see you next year?"  And with a smile, he said, "Oh, yeah!"  I hope so!

Yes, those moments like Sam and other children who come to VBS fill my heart with joy that only Jesus can fill!  There are times that I wonder what lasting impact does our VBS ministry have on the children who attend?  It can be difficult to know; however, there are indications that lives are being touched and changed by the love of Jesus that we share during VBS.  For example, several our young crew leaders each year are former VBS participants who don't attend Peace, but love serving at VBS.  Parents will often talk with me during family night or when I run into them out in our community.  They share how much their children love VBS.  Many parents have commented that the VBS music CD that we send home gets played over and over in their car.  I like knowing that the families are enjoying the music.  After all, there is a message of God's love in each of those songs!  And every so often, parents will share with me how their child told them how much they love Jesus.  Our last day at VBS this year, a mom pulled me to the side and shared with me that her daughter told her the night before that she had asked Jesus into her heart.  This mom was so happy to hear her daughter express love for Jesus and she thanked our church for being such a blessing to her children through VBS.  

What a blessing to be able to serve God and His children!  To serve in this way, fills our hearts with joy!

Submitted by Katherine Richards, Director of Family Ministry at Peace Lutheran 



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