Home of Wheaton Bible Church's Quarterly Magazine
By Angie Roberts, Volunteer Staff Coordinator
Each year in May, our church participates in CareFest projects all around DuPage County as a way of building bridges of love and compassion within our local community. But this year’s CareFest also built another kind of bridge: for Gregg and Joy Hillesheim, CareFest became a bridge into meaningful service.
A past negative experience with volunteering had left Gregg and Joy feeling more than a little wary of getting involved in serving again. But as CareFest 2015 came on the horizon, Gregg felt the Holy Spirit prodding him to get involved—and he couldn’t ignore what he was feeling. So he went to the church’s website to take a look at the different projects lined up for this year. As he scrolled down the list, he saw that Puente del Pueblo needed help with some electrical repairs at its Main Park site.
Having a passion for science, especially electronics, Gregg thought this would be a good way to use his gifts and to step back into serving. So he and Joy headed over to Puente’s Main Park site on the Saturday of CareFest to help do some planting and some electrical work.
“It was the most beneficial thing we’ve been part of since we’ve been at Wheaton Bible Church,” Gregg said.
He and Joy not only loved serving the Lord in this way; they also loved being part of the community of people serving there. They were two of the few non-Spanish-speaking people serving at Main Park that day, but they felt warmly welcomed by everyone there.
They were an amazing group of people who just worked together so well—and they treated us like family,” Joy said. “Then they invited us to stay for this massive feast they had prepared.”
Gregg and Joy couldn’t finish all the electrical work that day, so they continued their CareFest project into the following week. And through that service, they got to know Rosie Delgado, the Main Park site coordinator, who was also helping to lead the Puente del Pueblo Summer Program, which was held this summer on the Wheaton Bible Church campus.
Rosie asked Gregg if he could teach an electronics elective to the kids. Gregg agreed, and they created modules for the kids to learn different aspects of electronics. Not wanting to miss out, Joy volunteered to use her skills as an artist to teach an elective class on watercolor painting.
They taught their classes over two weeks during the summer and found it immensely rewarding both for them and for the kids. Joy, whose classroom was next door to Gregg’s, could feel the excitement of what was going on in his electronics class.
“We could hear the kids in Gregg’s class and could tell when they succeeded in lighting up a lightbulb, because a beeper would go off,” Joy said. “They were laughing and having fun. Some of the girls who painted with me even decided to take his class too.”
Joy not only saw a lot of promise in the kids’ skill levels in the arts, but she also became attached to her students, especially to one who was still learning the English language.
“I told him, ‘You have to help me learn Spanish, and I can help you with English, and we can be friends,’” Joy said. “After that, he would see me in the hall and jump out of his skin waving at me.”
Gregg and Joy have discovered a new passion for serving. They loved teaching the kids and want to continue it in some way. “By far, this is one of the better experiences in our lives,” Gregg said.
They are hoping that they can find a way to continue sharing their knowledge and interest in electronics and art with the kids at Puente. “We want to open up a door for them,” Gregg said. “We want them to be able to do something that is meaningful to them—to see something they made, created, or painted and be able to say, ‘I did that.’”
They love not only the kids’ enthusiasm for learning but also being a part of the kids’ lives in some small way.
“I think we earned a little bit of their trust in the two weeks we were with them, and they are comfortable with us,” Joy said. “If you can use the gift God’s given you and have an impact on their lives, then it’s well worth the time you invest.”