Saturday, July 18, 2015

On the Way Home

     We have truly had a great week. It is nice to have the mix of those with experience having been out here before and those who come with fresh eyes gaining a new knowledge.  For those of us that have been before these trips have become a wonderful reconnection with old friends. For those who who are new it is a refreshing introduction to a simpler, harder, more beautiful way of life and being. We learn so much while we are here about respect for the earth, the animals, and each other. We offer friendship and encouragement to a group of people who don't or haven't always receive/d that from the "white" people they know or have known.  We hear stories of racism against the Lakota and other Indians and it infuriates me. But, then it causes me to pause and reflect, to ask myself are there people in my own life on whom I knowingly or unknowingly inflict the same kind of pain. Are there people or people groups whom I unfairly judge before taking the time to get to know them? Are they Republicans or Democrats? Are they black, white, or other? Are they rich or poor? Are they from another Christian denomination or do they have another religious belief system entirely? Are they gay? Are they too young or too old? Too many times I know I can say I have judged someone before I have even gotten to know them and hear their story. Shame on me! I must do better. If you can think of times when you have done the same then, shame on you too. We MUST recognize all people as children of God because they are. We must recognize all people as worthy of our time and effort because they are. We must recognize all people regardless of socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, age, race, creed, or religious belief as people and not categories; as individuals not a group; and as someone who can teach us instead of the other way around. I think there is a natural respect for a teacher. If we view all people as our teachers we might actually learn something. We should talk less and listen more. We should ask questions then be quiet and listen for the answers. Who knows? God might use others to teach us a thing or two. ;) !  I didn't mean for that to be so heavy, but these blogs are a way for me to decompress and reflect on the days and the week we've had. Thanks for bearing with me!

     Yesterday was our sightseeing day. We drove from Bridger after saying, "We'll see you later" (there is no word in the Lakota language for good-bye). We drove through The Badlands and the National Buffalo Grassland. Unfortunately, we did not see any Tatanka (buffalo) this year, but we did see groundhogs and Big horn sheep. We went to Mt. Rushmore and The Crazy Horse memorial and museum.

    My prayer as we re-enter our normal routines is that we do not forget the lessons we have learned this week, that we do not forget the friends we have made and the struggles they deal with on a daily basis, and that we continue to lift them up in prayer.

   A picture may be worth a thousand words, but even our words cannot capture the beauty of these people or this land. However, they can give you of glimpse of each. Enjoy these pictures of our final day.

The team pictured with Bud and Beth Lone Eagle (left), Zora Lone Eagle (front), and Sylvester Waloke (right).

The mountain in the background with a bronze replica of what the monument will look like in the foreground. 

In the museum we found a case of pictures. Three of these pictures had Sylvester in them!

     Thank you, FBC Augusta, for supporting us financially and through prayer as we have been away this week! I ask that you continue to pray for traveling mercies today, that flights are on time and luggage is received. We look forward to returning home to our loved ones to share our many stories.


Smudging of the New Building Addition

     In the course of this blog I hope to show the progression of the building addition at the Bridger church. We arrived at the beginning of the week with a platform and some very basic guidelines for the new structure. 

   It's had been mentioned to me that it wou be great if we work on the walls while we here as that would be the next step in the process. I accepted the challenge and began work on the structure on Monday after consulting my resident construction guru, Allen Hardin, via text and email. Chip pulled up a YouTube video as well. Work started slow as we were also asked to mow a few lawns in the area after getting the lawn mowers working. 

     Eventually, as we got our act together so did the building begin taking shape.  We got our "test" wall up and were easy to begin getting to the serious work.

     Things really got cooking by the end of the week. On Thursday the grass was mostly cut. Emory and James went up to Debbie Day's to do her yard. Chip was chafe ring them while also running to the store, getting gas, and talking a bit with Debbie after he dropped the guys off.  Meanwhile back at the church, Chiles and I continued working on the addition and to the second wall ready to be. Raised by noon. Chip went to go pick up the lawn mowing men and with their help we got the wall up.

     As it was nearing 3:00 on Thursday and the second wall was now in place Chip asked if we would attempt the third wall.  Having cut most most of the studs the day before I answered in the affirmative. So, after a water break we got back to building the third wall.  Very soon we were calling all those around to participate in the raising of the final wall of the addition! What a sense of accomplishment to have finished the building with a small crew and no real construction experience to between us. Does World Changers count?

     A little while after we were finished with room our friends started arriving for dinner. Marvin was Johnny-on-the-spot and grabbed my camera for a posed shot with Pastor Byron, Buffalo Chip, and myself. 

     Tonight we had a special gathering and dinner with the Texas group, folks up from the community,and Toni and Byron. After dinner we had a time of sharing what we had seen God do this week. There were some great stories of mutual respect and mutual giving and receiving of ourselves and our individual gifts. Folks from the community shared stories and songs with us. We also had a wiping of the tears ceremony for one of our new friends from Texas who has had three deaths of very significant people on her life in the last 6 months.  Byron also blessed the new room by smudging it before we began the ceremony.

     Toni was sharing with me earlier in the evening about how she plans to lay out the room to accommodate the quilting machine. I ca tell that she is very excited about the possibilities that machine and ministry holds.

     Our team had a wonderful day today and has had a really great week. Jackson, Jane, Paula, and Savanna went on a long hike today with Eric. I wish I had the pictures that Jackson took on his phone. I wish even more that you, reader, would be able to take in the beauty of this place from my words or these pictures. We are sad to leave but excite do see our loved ones again.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A New Part of South Dakota for Me

     Last night the guys and Savanna went fishing with Rodger and Tameka.  They got back to the church about 2 in the morning. Needless to say this morning got off to a bit of a slower start. Chip, of course, was the first one up and began digging holes for the support posts for the wall. When I got up I dug most of the second hole and got the wall ready to be raised. When the guys got up we all worked together to get the wall secured into place. 

     Then, Chip took Emory, Chiles, and James up to Sylvester and Deena's to finish mowing the grass.  While they were gone the rest of the team did the needed chores around the church until some of the kids showed up around lunchtime. Anna came back. Today we also got to see our old friends Aleika, LaQwan, and Dawson whom we haven't seen all week. Joy has done a great job this week with meal preparation and execution. I appreciate also all that Jane, Jackson, and Paula have done in straightening up, cleaning up, and entertaining our guests that have come each day. Joy not only takes care of us,  but here you see her getting water to the chickens. (Chiles got 54 eggs from the coop today!) 

     Chip and I had cut the studs to length for the second wall while we were waiting for the guys to wake up. So, while they were all up the hill I framed up the second wall.  Marvin was concerned that I would not be in any pictures so he came out to catch me working!

     I wanted to return the favor so when Rodger and Tameka took Debbie (from Houston), Marvin, and Savanna on a horse ride I wanted to be sure I got a picture of it. They all did very well on the ride. Rodger took them on a trail ride up to the ridge where they could oversee the valley. Of all the views I have seen looking into the valley is one of my favorites.

     Tonight we got to enjoy the spoils of the fisher people's labor as Rodger and Victoria brought the cleaned and filleted catfish from the night before to fry as part of dinner. He made up his own spices and it was very good. Joy supplemented with chicken strips and hush puppies that were all fried right on the tailgate of Rodger's truck.

     Chip and I went to Pierre this afternoon to get a few lawn mower parts. It seems that the ministry of the lawnmower is never ending. Perhaps it is becoming a ministry to the lawnmower! This was my first time to Pierre. While we were away we saw the effects of some pretty damaging winds that they have experienced recently. The drive to Pierre consists of driving through or by many farms. Several of the silos had been severely damaged if not ripped right from their foundations like tin cans. It is pretty crazy to see the degree of damage that wind can do.  The land is not necessarily flat, but you can still see for miles in any direction. Words and pictures do not do justice to the beauty we have seen in God's creation. A camera lens especially and even our human eyes can scarcely take it all in.

     When we returned to Bridger there was quite a crowd already gathered. Byron and Toni had come down earlier and Byron had erected a tipi with the help of Chiles and others on the church property. It made for a beautiful foreground for the sunset picture below. Again, the camera lens fails to capture the full beauty of God's handiwork.

"Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9