It's interesting to me that I now live in Milwaukee and feel totally at home here. Growing up, I used to play for a soccer club that would often require travel to the Milwaukee area. My parents probably drove me to Milwaukee at least every other weekend - if not every weekend. At that age, I didn't really know where I was, though, and now realize that we traveled to many suburbs of Milwaukee (specifically I remember Cedarburg, Brookfield, and Delafield)... but I was hardly ever in the city.
I wish I had pictures from those years on my computer... my team was the Middleton Fire. We had some of the ugliest jerseys imaginable - yellow and blue in kind of a checkered pattern. Okay, maybe there are worse... but none are coming to mind.
My senior year of high school, I had a friend who went to Marquette University whom I visited several times throughout the year. It's funny to me now that I was literally blocks away from the office I now work in - in a neighborhood that she had warned me to stay away from.
I continued to travel to Milwaukee for soccer throughout high school. At the end of my senior year, my varsity soccer team went to the state tournament at Uihlein Stadium and we won first place. The year before, I had broken my nose at that tournament and we wound up 4th. I was glad to have ended high school on a better note.
As a freshman in college, I began to visit my boyfriend at UW-Milwaukee monthly... the drive from Madison became very familiar and I grew very excited at seeing landmarks like Miller Park and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd that told me I was getting close to his apartment. I remember driving up and down Oakland Ave quite often, and even spending several cold hours in my car outside of Noodles, listening to Fernando Ortego over and over while I waited for him to get out of class.
But after he transferred to Madison our sophomore year, the visits to Milwaukee stopped.
For whatever reason, though, God brought me back the summer after my sophomore year to experience one of the most impactful, memorable, and cherished seasons of my life. That was the beginning of my experience with Here's Life Inner City and a group of people who lived out the gospel like I had never seen before.
Fast forward through countless visits back for fun, for volunteering, for comfort, for truth and grace... and here I am. So different than when I first came, yet struggling with some of the same things. So similar to when I first came, and yet seeing how much deeper and sweeter my ties not only to Milwaukee have become, but also to my friends here and to the truth of the gospel. I'm so thankful for this opportunity to be in this city and to learn. I have so much to learn!