Sunday, July 24, 2005

The American Indian Council ... and other news

Well I'm back. My luggage is still somewhere between here and Rapid City and I'm hoping and praying that it arrives before we leave Saturday. If not, I'm in trouble since all my clothes for the trip are in there.

My week was good. It was not what I had hoped for, but it was good. I know God's hand was in it in a big way and I have no doubt that He knew exactly what was needed and had me there for a reason. When I made the last minutes plans to go, I had in mind a nice week of leisurly getting to know some of the Lakota people better, the adults as well as the kids. That was not to be. At least not in the way I had hoped and imagined. When I arrived and Paul greeted me with "Are you ready to get to work?" I knew things might be a bit different than I imagined. :) I ended up spending the week doing a LOT of cooking and a LOT of cleaning. You know, the monotonous daily grind kinds of things that no one relishes in but that someone has to do. As I cleaned and cooked for the AIC I was reminded that very often missionary work is not the glorious, exciting things that everyone dreams of doing. More often it is doing the daily grunt work. It's choosing a lower positon and becoming a servant who is willing to do whatever is needed rather than striking out to do "great things" for God. Sometimes I think those daily events of life, be it on the reservation or in your own home, are the things God uses to shape us ... the stuff of spiritaul growth. Rich Mullins has said,

I would like to encourage you to stop thinking of what you're doing as ministry. Start realizsing that your ministry is how much of a tip you leave when you eat in a restaurant; when you leave a hotel room whether you leave it all messed up or not; whether you flush your own toliet or not. Your ministry is in how you love people. You love people when you simply call your wife to let her know that you'll be late for dinner rather than letting her burn the meal. Loving people - being respectful toward them - is much more important than doing music.

.... If you're a Christian, ministry is just an accident of being alive. It just happens.

In doing what I did, I was able to build a better relationship with the missionaries there and have been blessed for it. I saw a side of Paul that I imagine most workcampers never get to see. Yeah, he is still Paul but he is also a sweet and gracious man. Who knew?? Many times he tearfully thanked me for coming and said he didn't know what they would have done without me. I've never felt so appreciated. And I think by being willing to work hard I won his respect. That will help to lay the groundwork for future mission trips. Even though Paul and Kathy will be retiring, they will still be around to influence the new missionaries and I am confident that they will have noting but good things to say about our group. Let me assure each of you who are going or who have been that they are VERY grateful for your sacrifice and hard work there. They could not do what they are doing there without each person who is involved and they know that. If you've ever questioned "why are we going" or wondered if your week there really makes a difference at all, let me tell you that it does. I saw how much of a difference it really does make by being there this week.

And least I forget, in the end, God did give me a reward. Breeanna, a 3 year old Lakota girl (pictured below in a post) remembered me from last year and clung to me almost the entire time. I remember her being very shy last year and shrinking back from all of us. Not so this year. She lit up when she saw me and would not leave me alone. I also saw Bubba, Michael, and I got to know some of the adults that attend the church better too. In fact, I ate every meal with them from Wed - Fri.

The trailers

Someone had donated 2 trailers to the church there and they were both pretty much trashed. I arrived on Monday and the AIC (American Indian Council) began on Wed. so there was still a LOT of work to be done to clean the trailers up enough for people to be able to stay in them. They needed to be scrubbed down - many times. I got 4 buckets of black, dirty water out of the kitchen cabinets in one trailer and we vacumed up a lot of nails, staples, screws, etc out of all the rooms. The Radison they aren't, but at least they are now in good enough shape to sleep in. The people from the AIC slept in them and they all survived. Nice to know they tested them out for us, eh?? BTW, they now also have a pot-a-potty in them. That will save everyone a long walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night if nature calls. Now, that said, I must tell you that Terry (Paul's son-in-law) placed them in the living room of each trailer. :)

Construction of Pam's Court Begins

On Monday or Tues (I forget which), Cody ) began digging out the basketball court. That was a nasty job. The dirt there is like cement and is very hard to dig up. He used the bobcat to scrape of the top layer of dirt and grass and then began tilling it to losen it up enough to be leveled out. Because the dirt is so hard it had to be tilled several times. I also attempted to help by raking the dirt in a vain attempt to level it up a bit. Of course, I have no idea what I'm doing so I probabaly only succeeded in moving the dirt around. To make the job even harder, it was over 100 degrees that day. Imagine us covered in dust and dirt and sweat and battling the cement hard dirt and you can get a picture of how that day went. On Monday of this week Paul and Cody will be working on it some more. They will be forming it up and filling in the sand and rebar so that it's ready for us to pour next Monday when we get there. Better pray the sand doesn't blow away. The first night Cody arrived they had a sand storm with 80 mph winds. Our sand may well blow away if that happens again. That is the only day Paul has to work on it though ... what is, is.

Buying the sand and ordering the cement proved to be ... interesting. I know where the cement place is but the man who owns it is apparently never there. The day Cody and I went in to Martin to find him and order the cement we were told to "look for a Ford pick-up with a backhoe on it". Hmmm ... needless to say we were not in Cincy anymore.

Cody's softball ministry

Tues evening Vi drove me and Cody and Paul and Kathy's grandkids into the village to visit with Ella a bit. We were not there long but it was nice to see her again. Then we were just driving around to show one of the grandkids the village and happened to notice several young adults playing softball over at the school. We stopped and went over to watch. Cody slowly worked his way into that group and ended up playing with them. Once they saw him play they were thrilled to have him play and asked him to play with them in a tournanment. He has been playing every night and getting lots of chances to witness to them as a result. When our team goes out, he will be not be with us for the Teen Nights because he has a ministry in place there at the softball field and I think it is wise to let him continue that. Let me just remind everyone that the rule that no one goes into the village alone still applies to our trip. Cody will be the only exception because he has already built up a rapport with the Lakota people on that team and I don't want to hurt what he has started. No one from our team will be allowed to go over to watch either .... the reason being .... while I was there a number of us when over to watch and I got the impression that we overwhelmed them a bit. I don't think they were comfortable with us being there. I didn't sense that they were hostile, just uncomortable. Once the ohter left and it was just Cody and I, they seemed much more at ease and began talking to us some. I just don't see any good coming out of a number of us going over so the rule is that no one will. I hate to see us hurt what has been started there.

The American Indian Council

When I left I was not sure what an AIC was. I had been told by someone here that it was where all the tribes gather to make their laws. That was not correct. It was the First Church of God's missionaries to all the reservations in the US coming together for a campmeeting of sorts. They had confrences all day long and then services at night. Many of the FCOG missionaries are Native American so it was cool to get a taste of each culture. During one of the confrences we divided up into groups with a member from each tribe in each group and we discussed some of the problems the reservation faces and what needed to be done to deal with them effectively. I decided that since I was just along for the ride to keep my mouth shut and listen. To my surprise they asked me for my input so I was able to contribute a bit and left feeling very humbled by that experience.

It was heartbreaking to hear the missionaries talk about the problems they face. The discouragement they feel is truly overwhelming. I don't know how they continue on. Surely it is only through the grace of God that they do. The need is just so great and the workers so few. Time and again I heard them speak of their need for help - especially help to work with the teens ... and there is just no one to step up to answer the call. In the past years that I've been to the rez I've not cried but this time, listening to the missionaries express their need and their discouragement and knowing that there is just SO much to be done and no one to do it, made me cry like a baby.

Please keep them in prayer.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

107!!! You've got to be kidding!!??!?!?!

Cody just called from Paul and Kathy's. It's good for mom to know he arrived safely. Last I talked to him he was crossing the Nebraska state line and was sleepy. That's just what I wanted to hear. When he called he asked if I had asked Paul about something and he had said "Yes". I had no idea what he might have been talking about and Paul couldn't remember but thought he remembered saying yes to some request. Hmmmmm .... we could use this .... I'm thinking about that water fight we wanted to have last year. :) Just kidding.

A water fight does sound nice though .... from the weather reports it was 107 in Allen today. Arrgghhhh ... we could be in for a hot one. Maybe the kids will use the water bottles to douse us with water??? We can hope.....

I head out tomorrow. I'll have lots of updates when I return.

What is, is.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Pam's Court

I know everyone always likes to have an idea what we're doing and what's planned for these trips, as if any of us know, so I thought I'd let you know that we PLAN to place the stone for Pam into the basketball court on Wed. morning. IF all goes as planned, we'll be pouring cement on Monday and possibly Tues. By Wed. the court should be ready for us to place the stone. We PLAN to do this right after breakfast and that will take the place of our morning devos.

I also have a possible surprise for our trip - please be praying that this works out! At this point, it doesn't look likely but you just never know .....

What is, is.

What's for dinner?

Sheri and I went to Cosco yesterday to buy some of the food for our trip. It's amazing how much stuff you can cram into a car. This will be a mission trip where we will be eating well. :) I don't have a copy of the menu so I can't post that, but I can tell you that breakfasts will be a serve yourself thing. We have poptarts, cereal, danish, and that sort of thing for breakfast. Lunches will be pretty simple since we'll be herding all the kids through the lunch line. I think she has PB&J's planned for one lunch, and hotdogs for another and hamburgers for another. I can't remember the other lunches. Evening meals will be a bit more substancial. And on Saturday we'll do the picnic with lunchmeat and chips and pop. We have a lot of food from Pierre again. You can look forward to:

Rib-B-Q sandwiches, Chicken nuggets, pork chops, chicken breasts and mashed potatoes to name a few items. Pierre also gave us some breakfast sandwiches and french toast boats. Those were really good last year so I'm sure you'll love those.

We also have punch for drinks - or water if you don't want something sweet to drink.

John, Sophie and someone else - probably Brian, will be going over to Pierre early on the 30th to pick up the food from there.

As for snacks, you can bring whatever will fit into your luggage, or you can buy some along the way. I'm sure we'll be making a trip into Martin (a white town near the reservation) at least a couple of times during the week too so you can always have Sheri, or whoever shops, to pick something up for you.

We will not be having a box of snacks in each van this year. John did that out of the goodness of his heart last year and I think he paid for it out of his own pocket. I didn't think it was fair to Sheri to put that expectation on her this year. We make a LOT of stops along the way so there will be plenty of opportunities to buy snacks on the road.

In addition to all of that, I think Bev and Steve have footlong hotdogs planned for one of the teen nights. They are also doing an ice cream night too. It doesn't look like we're going to starve on this trip. I've been on a few mission trips to other places where I thought that might be a possibility but when we go to the rez we eat well. :)

I went dumpster diving again this past week. On my way to work I saw some boxes sitting out in someone's garbage just waiting for someone like me to come along. You can bet I pulled the Jeep over and grabbed them. I could still use some BIG boxes though. We have a lot of paper products that we really should pack. I'll be out of town though so we may end up just throwing them in the truck as is - unless someone want's to volunteer to hunt down a couple more boxes.

What is, is.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Well our last meeting is history. I think we had everyone there with the exception of one person. Woo hoooo!!!

I've been busy getting ready to leave for my trip and getting last minutes stuff taken care of for the team's trip. Our devo books are printed up thanks to Brian. They aren't as nice as last year's but they'll work.

Sheri and I are going shopping for groceries on Monday. Hopefully we'll be able to fit it all into my Jeep. And hopefully most of it will be boxed already so we won't have to deal with a whole lot of packing. One can hope.

I've also been assured that the vans are working. They were taken to the shop last night after the meeting to be checked out and serviced. I think Steve is going to have the oil changed and the tires rotated again after the Alpha group gets back from Texas so we should be good to go.

Two of our team members practiced driving the vans in the parking lot after the meeting last night and I think they are feeling somewhat comfortable now. After the fiasco that followed I've vowed to get a key chain that I can hook to my belt loop so MAYBE I'll be able to find my keys. I'm notorious for losing keys. Poor Dennis, Steve, Lisa and Kristen may kill me soon. I was riding in the van with Theresa so she could get some practice driving in and laid my keys in the cup holder of the van. Naturally I forgot I'd put them there until I was ready to leave the church and realized that I had no car keys. I went back into the church to try to figure out where I'd left them and came up with nothing. Then it occured to me that I'd left them in the van. Problem - they had already taken the vans to the shop. No problem - Lisa was on her way to the shop to pick Steve up so I could go over there and get my car keys. Cathy drove me to the shop but as soon as we pulled in Steve said that he had just locked the vans and put the keys in the shop's lock box. We ended up calling Dennis who had an extra set of keys to the van. Unfortunately he had already left the church and had to make a special trip back over to bring the keys. Opps. I think he was ready to kill me. Then Steve and Lisa had to drive me BACK to the shop to unlock the van and get my keys, then drive me back to the church where my Jeep was. *sigh* I'm sure Steve and Kristen will find a way to get me back at some point. And I think I'll just avoid Dennis for a while - unless I have a peace offering with me. :)

What is, is.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Change of plans

OK, don't anybody freak out - it's a change of plans for me, not for the team. Just thought I'd get your attention. ;)

It looks like I'll be flying out to the rez on the 17th of this month and then will return on the 23rd. I have no idea what I'll be doing there, but hopefully I'll get to know some of the people there a bit better. I know the American Indian Council is going on that week so I'll be part of that. Don't ask me what an American Indian Council is because I have no idea but I suppose I'll find out.

This will be a good chance for me to soak up the experience. When I take a group there I'm often pulled in 20 different directions and have a hard time just enjoying being there because I'm caught up in "stuff". It will be refreshing to just be able to "be" there without the distractions and responsibilities. I'll be back a full week before our team leaves so I'll still have time for those last minute emergencies.

Bev also came over this morning and ordered blankets. We ordered 180 of them!! I'll talk to Paul and Kathy when I'm out there to see if there are any especially needy people who could use one since we will certainly have more blankets than kids.

Wow, things are really happening fast now. We'll be out there before we know what hit us. :)

What is, is.

Opps, I forgot to mention

When I talked to Kathy yesterday she also told me that a man in Rapid City has given them two mobil homes which they have sat out in the field. Their plans are to fix them up and build an open deck between them and then use them for retreats and to house workcampers. That will make it so much nicer for everyone. I can't imagine how Paul and Kathy do it having people in their home all summer. I don't know if working on the trailers will be part of our work project this year or not, but possibly so.

Bev is on her way over to my house as I type this. We will be ordering the blankets for the kids. At last count she had close to 180 blankets! The support we receive from our church family just continues to blow me away.

What is, is.

Monday, July 04, 2005

July 4th!

As I type this I'm thinking about the 4th of July 2004. Those who went will remember that we left for Pine Ridge on the 4th last year. Some of us were a bit bummed that we might be missing the fireworks but figured we would see some as we drove through all the different cities. Little did we know that God was going to take care of the fireworks. :) I remember driving through some state, I can't even remember which one it was, and watching in silence as the sky light up with the most AWESOME lightening display I've ever seen. No man-made fireworks show could begin to compete with what we watched that night. Just another example of how God must care about even the smallest of details that concern us. He saw fit to bless us with something beyond our expectations.

I talked to Kathy today. There is a chance, a small one, but a chance, that I will be flying to the reservation at some point this month. I'll be back in time to travel out with our group on the 30th, so don't worry. :) Now all I have to do is find someone to cover my shifts at work - no easy task, and then I'll be able to get a ticket and fly out. If all goes as I hope it does, I'll be there for the American Indian Council. I'm really excited about this possibility. It has long been a dream of mine to live on a reservation and work with children there. Way back in the day I was majoring in Social Work with the hope of moving to a reservation to work with the children there. That never quite worked out so I've settled for taking short-term mission trips there each year. Being able to spend a week more there would really mean a lot to me so I'm hoping....

Kathy asked that we keep them in prayer - especially tomorrow and the next day. Some of the people who've been there before may remember Larry, the older Lakota man who was with Paul a lot. He was a BIG help to Paul and Kathy and a very active memeber of their congregation. Larry passed away a couple of days ago. He apparently had collapsed on the floor of his house and was there for a day or so before anyone found him. He passed away shortly after being found. The problem is, there is a workcamp at the Pass Creek church this week and they are concerned about how the funeral will work out with the group of workcampers there. And then there is the heat to consider - never a good thing when you have a dead body laying in the church. Kathy sounded stressed and asked us to keep them in prayer.

Remember our meeting this Wed., July 6th at 7PM.

What is, is.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Spiritual Attack?

Just a couple of updates to report. Cody has arrived in CO where he will be taking classes with Campus Crusade. He has been hiking through the Rockies and next week will go whitewater rafting. I suppose at some point they will have class too.

I think it's time to call in the troops. I know that for myself putting this trip together has been a nightmare. It is truly the first time in my life I've really asked God what in the world He was thinking in putting me in this position. Even when we were kicked out of a church and left on the street with nothing I didn't ask that question, but now I'm asking. And I'm not too proud to tell you that I'm not handling the stress well at all. I think I've gained 5 pounds in the past 2 weeks because I'm eating like there's no tomorrow. It not that I am concnered about how things will work out. I've done too many of these trips to worry about that. I know things will go wrong. That's OK. The thing that stresses me is dealing with all the people issues that have come up this year. I've never been involved with a trip where this kind of stuff just keeps happening. And I'm not the best person to deal with issues like this. Talk about being out of your comfort zone! I am really being asked to operate outside of my area of giftedness.

Please be praying for all of our team. I am not the only one dealing with "stuff". A few of our team members are going through some really difficult times and really need your prayers. What I'm dealing with is small potatoes compared to what they are having to deal with in their personal lives. Keep them, and all of us, in your prayers as that is the only way we are going to get through all that is ahead.

With all this pre-trip stuff, I am beginning to think that we may be under spiritual attack. Those of you who know me, know that I don't make a statement like that very often. Honestly, I don't know what's going on but I do know that this trip and the crew members really need to be kept in prayer.

OK, on a lighter note.... I've warned out team that our family is weird and that we often quote movie lines to each other when something just "fits". I suppose the funny part of that is that I am always quoting them wrong. I jsut can't seem to get a quote right to save myself, but they're used to it. Brian and I were watching Pirates of the Caribbean a few nights ago .... remember the scene where Jack Sparrow is gathering his crew and has them lined up so he can walk down the line and check them all out?? He says, "Do you have the courage and fortitude to follow orders and stay true even in the face of danger and almost certain death?" Brian (no not me - him) dreamed that night that I was doing that bit with our crew. I'm not sure which crew member was which pirate so don't ask. :) Speaking of pirates, I do have pirate blood in me, or so I'm told by some batty old aunts. Apparently we are related to Sir Francis Drake. So, those of you going, "Can you sail under the command of a pirate, or can you not?" OK, enough with the silliness. Nah, if it wasn't for the silliness, I'd not survive. In all seriousness though, I do think we need to keep our swords handy. :)

What is, is.