Rebekah Guzman thought her main task on Immanuel Church Unleashed Day was to build bunk beds and deliver furniture to a family in need.

After all, when Rebekah and her small team walked into the family’s Waukegan apartment after being commissioned for a service-inspired work day at Iglesia Evangelica  Bautista Emanuel, Immanuel’s granddaughter church in Waukegan, it was apparent that the family’s need was great; the family had one queen-sized bed, one smaller bed for their four children, a few fold-up chairs and some clothes that family members were quickly outgrowing.

But as the team got to work on the beds, Rebekah actually found herself switching gears from building to conversing.

“The woman we were building the bunk beds for actually began talking to me about personal life,” Rebekah said. “I didn’t expect that …  much of what she’s been through, I’ve been through, too … she said I was the first person she’s really talked to about her life in many years. “

By the end of the team’s time spent with the family at their small apartment, the air of gratitude was undeniable.

“When she got the furniture, she couldn’t stop smiling; she was was really happy,” Rebekah recalled. “She gave me a hug and said not only was she thankful because we gave her furniture ‘but because you gave me your attention – and that’s something I will always carry in my heart.'”

Rebekah said she left the apartment with the same feeling of gratitude about her time spent there.

“At first, I was thinking we’d be building bunk beds, not hearing her life,” she said. “It was a reminder that so many people feel alone and  lost. … When I left there I felt like I did something useful not because I built something but because I could listen and relate to her.”

While expectations were exceeded at ICU Day, other expectations were decimated.

“I wasn’t really prepared for what I saw,” said Marion Medina, Immanuel Church evangelism and community action director, of the level of poverty she witnessed.”ICU Day was like going on a mission trip in our very backyard,” Marion said.

After the work projects were finished, all 40-some volunteers from both Immanuel Church and Emanuel Batista gathered back at Iglesia Evangelica  Bautista Emanuel to share a meal, worship and pray together.

Rodney Karlstrand, who was on Rebekah’s bunk-building team, left ICU day with one prevailing thought.

“It was amazing to see the people gathering that morning — gathering cheerfully, praising God,” Karlstrand said, “even through the language barrier.”

The 2013 ICU All-Church Service Day is Saturday, October 26 from noon until 7 p.m. at Igelisa Emanuel, 1300 10th St., Waukegan.

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