Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Greetings to and From Pine Ridge

Each of these are less than 4 min. long.

A Video Christmas Card from Our Crew to our Friends on Pine Ridge Reservation

Christmas Greeting from Pine Ridge Reservation

The Outtakes & Bloopers Reel

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Deadline is Close


The deadline for the '08 trip to Pine Ridge is getting here fast. All of your registration materials along with your first payment must be in by Sunday, January 6, 2008.

To register you need to turn in:

  1. Your Team Member Information Form
  2. The Emergency Medical Information Form
  3. Team Member Agreement Form
  4. Your first non-refundable, non-transferable payment of $100

All of the forms can be found in your packet.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Winter Pics of the Rez

The Badlands covered in snow

Some of the housing on the Rez

The sactuary of the church with new carpet and new chairs!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Family in Need of Christmas Gifts

The missionary asked if our church could provide a family in the village with Christmas gifts this year. She is asking each church that goes there for workcamps to take a family and give them Christmas gifts.

Here are the ages, etc.

  • Hazel, the grandmother
    likes bath items
    Already Purchased - earrings, bath soap set

  • Marie - the mother
    Likes anything for her house, earrings, bath items,
    Favorite colors are marroon and hunter green
    Already Purchased - Winter Coat, flower arrangement, bath soap set

  • Charlie the father
    Likes tools and movies, gloves, cologne, hair clippers
    Size 3 or 4 X shirt
    Already Purchased - Watch, flannel shirt, hair clippers

  • Arlo - age 11
    Likes football, head and wrist bands, pants size 14 regular, man's size large shirts
    Favorite color - blue
    Already Purchased - football, basketball, wrist bands, blue shirt

  • Michael - age 8
    Likes Spongebob,
    Man's shirt size large or XLarge
    Favorite colors - yellow and green
    Already Purchased - Spongebob dominos & Bingo game, game, green shirt

  • Everet (Bubba) - age 7
    Likes "Transformers"
    Pants size 8 Regular
    Favorite color - red
    Already Purchased - Trouble game, game, red shirt

  • Aleaha - age 6
    Likes horses and dogs
    Favorite color - pink and purple
    Already Purchased - Gap hoodie sweatshirt, my little pony, pink running set
All of the children like art supplies, games, and sports.
If you have purchased something for this family, let Amber know and it will be posted here so we don't duplicate items.

Please do not send used items.

See Amber for the address

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I got a call yesterday from the missionary on the Reservation. She was distraught and asked us to be praying for the Lakota people, and for them as they deal with several tragedies.

In the past few weeks several young people on the Reservation have committed suicide by hanging themselves. The oldest was 21 years old. The others were younger still. The impact this has had and is having among the people there is hard to imagine. Perhaps the best way to illustrate it is to tell what the missionary told me yesterday.

One of the mothers in the village called the church in a panic because she had caught her 6 year old little girl with a noose around her neck and with the end of it thrown over the doorway and was about to pull it when her mother found her. This is a family that those of us who have gone out there know well. My son Logan has had a special bond with this little girl.

For us, this is not a story of tragedy far away. It affects our friends, our extended family if you will. It's personal and heartbreaking.

Please pray.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Porcupine Clinic Update

THANKS to all who donated toward helping the Porcupine Clinic. We collected $800 at church yesterday and today the check will go in the mail. I spoke to a lady at the Propane Company this morning and she is thrilled to know that help is on the way. She works for the propane company but is also working very hard to help the Clinic get it's needs met. She seemed to really care about the people there.

The latest news is that they now have enough money accumulated to get them through 1/3 of the winter. They also have an old cook stove that is about broken down - they are smelling propane leaking from it. They are unsure what to do about that.


I also talked to Stella White Eyes at the Porcupine Clinic. I called to let them know that our church had a check for them that I would be putting in the mail. Here is a piece of that conversation ..

"Porcupine Clinic, can I help you"

"Is Stella White Eyes available?"

"She just stepped out to get the mail. Can I take a message?"

"My name is Amber and we normally come out to Allen each year. We heard about your need of propane and I wanted to call and let you know that we collected $800 yesterday at our church and I will be putting that check in the mail tomorrow."

Before I could finish my sentence, I heard a wild gasp and the lady on the phone said, "OH! Wait and let me get Stella ... she will want to talk to you!"

A bit later Stella came on the line and I told her the same thing I had said to the other lady. She was very touched and grateful and told me to "thank all of those people for me".

It was cool to hear the relief and excitment in her voice.

The clinic is back up and running but they still have many needs. Continue to pray for these folks.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Urgent Need @ Pine Ridge Reservation

Porcupine Clinic, located in the small community of Porcupine, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota [Sioux] Reservation is out of heat.

According to Stella White Eyes, Administrative Assistant for the Clinic, the Clinic has closed its doors until it can find resources to fund their heating costs.

Porcupine Clinic is the only independent Indian community-controlled health clinic in the United States. It is not connected with the Federal Indian Health Services (IHS) program and is funded primarily by grants and donations. Unfortunately, those resources have become exceptionally rare this year.Porcupine Clinic opened its doors in 1992 and serves the entire Reservation as well as the Porcupine District in which it is located. Patients are billed according to their ability to pay and many patients, including low-income Elders and children, receive free health care there. In 2004, the Porcupine Clinic opened its dialysis unit, saving countless lives of those diabetic patients who could not journey 120 miles away to Rapid City for needed dialysis treatment several times a week. The only other dialysis treatment available on the 11,000 square mile (2.7 million acres) Reservation is located in the small IHS Hospital in the community of Pine Ridge. But that facility hosts only a handful of dialysis beds, is up to 100 miles away from the more remote areas of the Reservation, and is completely unable to treat the vast need of the entire Reservation.

Recent statistics state that the diabetes rate on Pine Ridge is 800% that of the National average and the life expectancy rate is 52 to 58 years old. It is said that 55% of the adults on Pine Ridge over the age of 40 have diabetes.

Ms. White Eyes states that the Clinic has been unable to pay their annual propane tank rental fees of $245 (for both the Clinic and dialysis unit tanks) or for the propane to fill them. They have three tanks: a thousand gallon tank which services the main clinic and two five hundred gallon tanks servicing the dialysis unit. The minimum propane delivery from their provider, Western Cooperative (WESTCO) out of Chadron and Hay Springs, Nebraska, is $360. If all the tanks were filled, at $1.69 per gallon, it would cost well over $3,000. Further, that will need to happen more than once this winter.

While the dialysis unit helps to fund at least part of its own propane use, the Clinic is out of funding now, just as winter is approaching fast. Harvey Iron Boy, Porcupine District Vice President and Head Man, spoke of the vital role that the Clinic plays in the local district as well as the Reservation as a whole. Not only are the health care services, bi-lingual assistance, diabetic education, and dialysis treatments all meeting critical needs on the Reservation but there are more basic needs met by the Clinic as well. He pointed out that locals often come into the Clinic simply to get warm on days when they have no heat in their own homes. Ms. White Eyes has contacted various non-profits and assistance organizations but has largely gone unanswered.

Anyone wishing to donate towards propane fuel for the Porcupine Clinic may do so directly to the propane company. Please contact: Loretta at Western Cooperative (WESTCO) 170 Bordeaux St Chadron, NE 69337-2342 Call Toll Free 800-762-9906 Credit Card and Bank Card donations by phone will be accepted. Small donations are also welcome and will accumulate until the minimum delivery has been reached and then the company will make a delivery of propane to the Clinic.Please clearly mark any donation "For Porcupine Clinic." Donations may also be sent directly to the Clinic.For more information, please contact:Porcupine ClinicStella White Eyes, Administrative Assistant P.O. Box 99 Porcupine, SD 57772 Internet Information: 605-867-5655Note: Due to lack of heat, there may or may not be anyone available to answer the phone at the Clinic at this time. Please leave a message.Stephanie M. Schwartz may be reached at Visit other writings of Stephanie M. Schwartz at

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Backpack Packing Party

Thanks to all who came and helped fill the backpacks with school suppiles last night!

We'll do it again before we leave next summer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Annual Holday Candy/Cookie Fundraiser

It's that time again. If you would like to let us do your holiday baking, see any of the following team members.

Cathy J.
Buckeyes - $12.00 for 3 dozen
Peanut Butter Fudge - $8.00 per pound
Brian W.
Hugs & Kisses (cookies, not real hugs and kisses) $5.00 per dozen
Amber B.
Homemade Gingersnaps - $5.00 per dozen in gift bag
Chocolate Walnut Fudge - $8.00 per pound
Tyler H.
Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies - $4.00 per dozen
Proceeds help to pay Team Member's trip costs.

Please order from the person selling the item you wish to order.
Please pay at the time of order
If you are a team member and want to participate, get your information Amber asap

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mission Coffeehouse

Here is what came in the mail today.

Good Afternoon Amber,

I am happy to inform you that Backpacks for Pine Ridge was selected as our monthy mission focus for Mission Coffeehouse. Over the course of the month we collected $638.18 for your cause.

Mission Coffeehouse was opened just over one year ago. We are a fully functioning coffeehouse with a foundation in faith. We are located in the First Lutheran Church in Brookings, SD. We not only sell Fair Trade Coffee but all income over expenses goes to support missions such as yours.

We want to thank you for your dedicated efforts and wish you wll on your next trip to Pine Ridge.

(name omitted for online security)


I don't even know what to say. I am continually amazed at the generousity of strangers.

If you are ever in the Brookings, SD area, stop by Mission Coffeehouse and have a cup of coffee and thank them for caring for others by selling Fair Trade coffee and giving to missions.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Our Friends

Check out some of our friends on our MySpace page. Some of them are going out of their way for us.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser

Mark your calendar for Sunday, March 2, 2008 for a Spaghetti Dinner to benefit the Pine Ridge team.

The dinner will be following the morning worship service in the fellowship hall.

We will sell tickets in advance, so team members may sell tickets at work or to family or neighbors.

We will need team members to help with all aspects of this event. Team members who work the event will benefit from it, and those who do not, will not benefit. Proceeds will go toward team member's trip costs.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's Here! The Backpack Packing Party

We will do the Backpack Packing Party on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007 at the Buriff house. We will get started at 7PM and it will probably take a couple of hours. In the past we've knocked it out in an hour but this year we have more backpacks to fill and pack.

We are going to do it different this year to allow people who are not going with us in '08 to be a part of the trip if they want to. I am going to open it up to the church and will take the first 15 people who sign up. Crew members are welcome to sign up too, in fact, we'll need some of them, but this way some who are not able to travel to the Reservation with us can still have a "hands on" experience in helping.

So, if you want to come - let me know so I can add you to the list.

By the way, we are still collecting money, backpacks and school supplies. We currently have enough for 3 villages but if we get more, we will take more - we'll just have another backpack packing party to get them filled and packed.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Poorest Place in America

I've been dreaming and I've also been crunching some numbers (those who know me will cringe at that). It's my goal to provide backpacks and school supplies to as many children on the Reservation as we possibly can. Ideally, I would love to provide backpacks to each child on the Reservation. It would take at least $65,000.00 each year to do that. That's not a lot of money but when you have nothing at all, it's a mind boggling figure. To think of raising that even one time seems out of reach, but we do have a big God and last time I checked, He was not short of cash. So, I believe this is doable.

As I've researched what it would take to pull this off, my heart has been broken all over again. Reading the statistics about Pine Ridge will do that to you. If I didn't know the Lakota people, their sense of humor and their incredible ability to survive, I would be tempted to despair.

I've often said that the Pine Ridge Reservation is the "poorest place in America". Here is what Wikipedia says about it, and particularly about Allen, the village we go to.

Allen, SD is considered to be the Poorest place in America About 95.9% of families and 96.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 97.1% of those under age 18 and 100.0% of those age 65 or over. Only Haiti has a lower life expectancy anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.

Like I said, it's heartbreaking.

Monday, September 24, 2007

November & December Fundraisers

Good news! John J at church has agreed to donate Flag and Military memorabilia display cases to both the Haiti and Pine Ridge teams. John has generously agreed to donate as many as we need!

These display cases look like the one pictured and are made of solid oak with a glass front. They can be used to display the Flag, Military, Police or Firefighter memorabilia.

Here is how it will work...

These cases will be available for anyone making a donation of at least $100.00.

Team members can include this in their sponsor letters to take orders for them from family/friends/coworkers. Money from any cases you sell will go into your account to pay for your trip costs.

Any donations of $100 or more outside of sponsor money will go toward the purchase of product from Matthew 25 Ministries in Blue Ash. We hope to be able to take another truck load of product to the mission next summer but we will need to raise at least $2500.00 to do this.

John also makes wooden toaster tongs that he is making available for $2.00 each to the Mission teams.

John will need to know ASAP if you have any orders for these cases.

We will kick off the fundraiser at church on Veterans Day but you can put this info. in your sponsor letters now.

If you have any questions you can email Amber

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Logo

Gary has been an online friend of mine for several years. He's a very talented graphic artist with a heart for God. Last week he surprised me and sent me a design that we can use as the logo/link to the Backpacks for Pine Ridge page. How cool is that? To have a professional graphic artist volunteer to do a logo for us!
If you're part of our team, stop over at Gary's blog and say thanks!

Another God Thing

It continually amazes me how God leads in these trips. It seems sometimes we have little to go on other than a desire and a hunch but we move ahead only to see that God was behind it all the whole time.

That is really how these trips came to be and each year there are several instances where that kind of thing happens.

I just spoke to Shelly a few minutes ago. I called to check on the electric problems they are having and to see how everyone is doing. I also wanted to talk to her about the possibility of taking backpacks and school supplies to a 3rd village.

Our supporters have been very generous this year. We had originally hoped to expand the backpack project to include the village of Allen and Wounded Knee, but it is only September and we already have enough backpacks and school supplies to expand to include a 3rd village! I needed to find a contact in a 3rd village where we can distribute them. I wasn't sure where we would take them or how it would work but I knew there were plenty of children on the Rez that needed them and that we would figure out a way to get them to them. I had been thinking of taking them to Kyle but I wasn't sure. I don't know anyone in Kyle and was not sure how many kids were there and I wasn't sure if maybe there was another village that would need them more. So I called Shelly and told her we had enough backpacks for Allen and Wounded Knee and that we still have 100 more that could go to another village. She immediately suggested - you guessed it - Kyle.

So many times that's the way things go. It has been my philosophy to just collect all we can and we'll figure out where to put it and how to get it there. I have no idea what will happen but we move on. I rarely have clear "leading" from God on a matter but I don't want to limit what God may be trying to do so we just move on and then figure out the specifics as we need to. And every single time it is crystal clear that He is really in control and has been leading all the time. Some may say that we're getting ahead of God. Maybe so, but I assure you we've not had that happen yet.

Besides, I think I'd rather be out there doing something, even if it's making mistakes, than to sit around wondering what we're supposed to do and end up doing nothing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Prayer Request - Electricity

Please keep the village of Allen (and possibly others) in your prayers. We have word that the electric company has cut off electricity to many of the homes there. Shelly seems to think they will have it back on again before cold weather hits but this creates a time of intense frustration on the Reservation. It is during times of frustration when things can get out of hand. Drinking and gang activity tend to increase with the frustration. Along with the frustration there is boredom because there is no TV. Boredom and frustration are not a good mix. Please pray for all affected and for the missionaries there who are trying to minister.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Now that accounts are being settled we have a grand total for the trip - $19,126.14

That includes all of the following expenses:

  • Truck Rental
  • Van Rental
  • Fuel
  • Lodging
  • Food
  • Pallets of Product
  • Backpacks/school supplies for 150 kids
  • Freezer
  • VBS
  • Teen Nights
  • Work Projects - at the Pass Creek Church as well as in people' s homes

If we had to pay for all of that and had no donations the cost of the trip would have been $736.00 each. (with 26 people going)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Coffee and Hot Chocolate that Help Make a Difference!

We are still selling Equal Exchange Fair Trade Coffee to help us with raising money for Backpacks for Pine Ridge. I have also just placed an order for Equal Exchange Fair Trade Hot Chocolate Mix! Hopefully in October we will also have Fair Trade Chocolate Bars - they are really good. All of these products are quality products and they help to make a difference in the world.

Here's how it works...

You can buy the coffee and 48% of the money from your purchase will go toward purchasing backpacks and school supplies for the children on the Pine Ridge Reservation. It's a situation where everyone wins and we have an opportunity to make a difference in many ways.
  • First, we will be making money to purchase school supplies and making a difference in the lives of children on the reservation.

  • We will also be helping the farmers who in developing countries by purchasing Fair Trade coffee.

  • And, we will be raising awareness about Fair Trade products.

That's 3 different ways we can make a difference!

Will it cost more? Yes, but your money will be doing so much good on so many levels and the products are so much betterAbout Fair TradeFair Trade ensures that the farmers who grow the coffee in Third World countries are paid a fair wage for their crops, that they do not have to work in hazardous conditions, and that no child labor is used.

Some things you may not know ...

  • The farmers who grow the coffee we drink are often paid less than it cost them to grow their crop, keeping them in a cycle of poverty.
  • With chocolate, the story is far worse. "While chocolate is sweet for us, it can be heartbreaking for the hundreds of thousands of child laborers that pick the cocoa that goes into some of our favorite treats. In 2001, the U.S. State Department, the International Labor Organization and others reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, source of 43% of the worlds cocoa. Subsequent research by theInternational Institute of Tropical Agriculture revealed some 284,000 children between the ages of 9 and 12 working in hazardous conditions on West African cocoa farms. Of these children, it was reported that some 12,000 child cocoa workers that had participated in the study were likely to have arrived in theirsituation as a result of child trafficking". - From The Global Exchange

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Informational Meeting for the 2008 Trip

There will be an informational meeting for the 2008 trip to Pine Ridge Reservation on

Sunday, September 9, 2007 @ 4PM

Anyone who has interest in going on this trip needs to be at the meeting. Attending the meeting does not in any way commit you to going on the trip.

If you have never been on a Pine Ridge Trip before it essential that you attend this meeting. You need to know what you're getting into before you make a decision about registration.

If you have gone on two (2) of these trips in the past, you need not attend this meeting but you will need to see me for your folder with your registration materials in it.

All youth 13-16 must have a parent attend the meeting with them.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Backpacks 2008

I've been shopping for backpacks today. So far here is what we have:

  • ALL of the school supplies for the village of Allen!!

  • 64 Backpacks for the village of Allen

  • We still need 86 more backpacks and then we will have all of the backpacks AND schooll supplies for the village of Allen

  • ALL of the Folders for the village of Wounded Knee!

  • ALL of the crayons for the village of Wounded Knee!

  • ALL of the notebooks for the village of Wounded Knee!

Of course, we still need $ to finish purchasing backpacks and school supplies.

This is Cody's old room, now the "Backpack Room". Brian came in today and took a look inside and said, "That's a LOT of school supplies ... oh look, we have labels on the walls".

More Pics

The 2007 Crew

Um... Josh, really, couldn't you wait?

Does he look like he's ready to smoke those scissors?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Date for 2008 Trip

We have a date for the 2008 trip. We will leave early Saturday, July 26, 2008 and will return home on Monday, August 4th.

There will be an informational meeting about the trip announced soon.

The 2007 Video

Friday, August 10, 2007

Video of the crew

This is footage of the crew on the trip to Pine Ridge. It's not fancy, just raw video of portions of the trip.

Some Great Shots

We were fortunate to have some gifted photographers on this trip. I did not take any of these pics and I'm not sure who did - either Connie, Tim or Cody, but they are amazing. Oh, I just realized that I did take the last one. I get one in 500 pics that are decent.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

We're Home

We are back and we survived. All in all, it was a great trip - thanks to a fantastic crew and the good Grace of God.

We are exhausted! We gave up vacation time. We've traveled many hours, worked hard, put in long days and short nights. We averaged 4 hours sleep a night. Some of us were sick. Others got sick. Some of us were bitten, slapped, and snotted on. Some of us had our hearts completely broken.

We've delivered food to people who had none. We delivered water to people who didn't have water. We've put in electricity to someone's home. We took a truckload of product that can be given out to the people as needed. We took life-saving heaters for the winter. We visited in homes. We bandaged a drunk Indian who had been stabbed. We were given the honor of being invited to join in one of the Lakota sacred ceremonies of a sweat lodge. We ate a lot of dirt on rez roads. We painted over gang graffiti in the village - and added some positive graffiti of our own. Physically, we were miserable. Emotionally we were drained. Spiritually we were enriched. Jesus walked with us in unexpected places. None of us will ever be the same again.

Unloading the truck - all 7 tons of it, by hand

We filled their room

Giving out Backpacks with school supplies - the kids get so excited it's like Christmas in July

Some can't wait to get home to open them

Phayth did a rap concert in the village

And did some graffiti art on the trailers

The water fight!

Going to visit Melda Runs Around the Edge Red Bear Trejo

A Holy moment at Wounded Knee

Faith, Hope, and Love and the greatest of these, is love