Sunday, July 31, 2011

We made it safely to the Rez & are getting ready for our first team decks under the South Dakota sky.

Almost There

We're having dinner @ Subway before heading to the Rez.

About to drive through the Badlands National Park.
Just visited the Wounded Knee Museum. Highly recommended.

South Dakota

Just had a picnic lunch overlooking the beautiful Missouri River

On the road again

Day Two

Day one went well.  We made good time and arrived at the hotel about 9pm (Central Time).  Amazingly, we only had one unscheduled stop along the way!  Everyone is fine.  Whitlock could use your prayers because his foot is giving him some discomfort, but he is OK. 

Today we will arive at the Reservatin - but first I have a couple of surprises for the crew.  :)  Once we arrive at the Rez, we will unload the truck and get settled in and try to get some rest before the chaos begins bright and early tomorrow. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Made it to the hotel

Sandbags still up from the flooding.

And we're off!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Locked and Loaded

Well ... it couldn't be a tighter fit....

Ut oh ....

Ah, it'll be fine.

Thanks to all who came out to help load the truck!

Family and Friends of Crew

We LOVE you, and THANK YOU so much for your support.  We couldn't go and do these trips without your support and understanding and there's really no way to tell you how much that means to us. 

We're going to MISS you next week, and you can be assured that we will be thinking of you every day. 

Your crew member should have given you directions as to how to contact us in case of an emergency (which we hope no one has).  Other than that, we ask you not to call us Monday, Aug. 1st - Saturday Aug. 6th.  The reason is that we are very busy and it is complete chaos and we need all of our focus to be on the mission we are trying to carry out.  Its not that we don't want to talk to you - in fact its because we care so much about you that calls from home can be a big distraction.  On our travel days you are free to call our cell phones as often as you like.  No doubt you'll be hearing from us on those days. 

If there is a genuine emergency, you may call, of course.  We hope you know you come first - if you don't know that, maybe we shouldn't be doing these trips.  :) 

Thanks for your understanding - again. 
Just picked up food for the trip. We will feed about 150 kids a day while there. Now off to get dry ice & pack it all.

For Those of You Following ...

I've tested this by trying to post pics from my phone to the blog and its not working.  That doesn't mean that it won't EVER be able to do it - it just means that I can't right now.  So you may or may not see pics here.  I will try my best, but technology will only go so far.  I should have no problem posting text updates though ... unless there is no data coverage out there.  There is supposed to be, but .... we'll see. 

So, if you don't see anything here, don't panic.  Its not that we've all died.  Its that Verizon isn't working for me.  If there is ever a real emergency, you'll hear from us via a phone call. 
Picked up the truck!

A Motley Crew

Well ... I would say its about to get crazy, but it already has done that.  There are always two things that happen every year as we near the time to leave, 1) things fall into place with such uncanny timing that you know it just has to be a "God thing", and 2) the enemy throws everything he's got at you. 

Both of those things have been happening.  Several of our crew are under attack.  Some have physical issues.  Others have family issues.  And there are no doubt some that I don't know about.  At least one is leaving in a cast - and he's the cook. 

Yeah, we're a motley crew this year.  We're battle scared and we've not even left yet.  So ... pray for us ... and pray for their families who are staying behind. 

Angie Coffey
Roy Hauser
Terie Winkler
Andy Murphy
Cathy Jackson
Charles Jackson
Dennis Whitaker
Ericka Buchanan
Bailey Cartwright
Jean  Hitsman (who is already battling health issues)
Tyler Hitsman
Brian Whitlock (who is going with an air cast on this foot due to a torn ligament)
Fred Howell
Earl Baker
Brian Buriff
Amber Buriff

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Thanks Terie W. for helping pick up 25 watermelons today! 
The watermelon eating contest is always a blast!  

Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Burn Bridges

I'd like to credit this article but I'm not sure where it originated.  I believe it may be from Campus Crusade for Christ, but  I'm not sure of the specific source.  In any case, here are some GREAT reminders as we head off to the Rez.  Please take the time to read it carefully.  Your life may depend on it.  OK, maybe not your life, but perhaps someones soul. 

How To Burn Bridges

  • Ask a lot of questions.  Especially about sensitive issues like poverty and alcoholism.
  • Interrupt often when they speak.
  • Be uneasy about silence and speak as often as possible.
  • Feel disrespected when they don't show up at your "event", even when they said they would.
  • Take a lot of pictures of "them" and use them for your ministry newsletter or research.
  • Refuse a gift from them because you know what's best for them and don't want to take away the little that they have
  • Think that if they pray in their language that it can't be Christian because God only speaks English

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Calling Out Your Name

Well the moon moved past Nebraska

And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota Hills

And angels danced on Jacob's stairs

Yeah, they danced on Jacob's stairs

There is this silence in the Badlands

And over Kansas the whole universe was stilled

By the whisper of a prayer

The whisper of a prayer

And the single hawk bursts into flight

And in the east the whole horizon is in flames

I feel thunder in the sky

I see the sky about to rain

And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

I can feel the earth tremble

Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves

And the fury in the pheasant's wings

And there's fury in a pheasant's wings

It tells me the Lord is in His temple

And there is still a faith that can make the mountains move

And a love that can make the heavens ring

And I've seen love make heaven ring

Where the sacred rivers meet

Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the plains

I feel thunder in the sky

I see the sky about to rain

And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

From the place where morning gathers

You can look sometimes forever 'til you see

What time may never know

What time may never know

How the Lord takes by its corners this old world

And shakes us forward and shakes us free

To run wild with the hope

To run wild with the hope

The hope that this thirst will not last long

That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain

And I feel thunder in the sky

I see the sky about to rain

And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

And I know this thirst will not last long

That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain

I feel thunder in the sky

I see the sky about to rain

And with the prairies I am calling out Your name

- Rich Mullins

Friday, July 22, 2011

If you were following my Facebook today you know it was a crazy morning.  I had planned to shovel sand today.  We are taking 2 of those molded plastic kiddie pools to the Rez along with a lot of sand left over from a project here at our house and making sand boxes for the little ones.   So after 3 cups of coffee (it was a short night) I got to work putting the sand into bags and when the strong bags were filled I filled garbage bags inside 5 gal. buckets.  I'm still not sure how to load them onto the truck since the buckets do not have lids.  Someone suggested duct taping them but we can't stack them that way ... so I'm not sure but I am sure we'll figure something out.   

 I got almost all of them finished when I got a call from Walmart ...

I've been buying school supplies from Walmart for Backpacks For Pine Ridge for 8 years now.  I have asked many, many times if they would let me order the supplies since I buy so many but until yesterday, never found anyone there willing to help me out. 

Yesterday I was there and happened upon a lady putting tissue on an endcap near the school supplies ... so I figured, "why not ... doesn't hurt to ask again", and what do ya know ... she not only was willing to help me but she went the 3rd and 4th mile to do so.   She got on her computer and found out that they had 6000 folders in the back (they usually tell me there aren't any back there) and that a truck was coming in later with notebooks on it.  She wrote down what I needed and then stayed after her shift - on her own time - and pulled 2400 folders and put them on a skid with a note for no one to touch them.  Then today was supposed to be her day off ... but she went in and pulled 2400 notebooks for me and then gave me a call to make sure I got them.  Amazing!  Its hot here today.  The heat index is up over 100 degrees and she was supposed to go swimming today but instead went in to take care of our school supplies.  Wow .... Yeah, her boss is going to get a letter from me telling him to do whatever he has to do to keep her. 

Since plans changed so fast I posted a request for help picking up the 4800 notebooks and folders, but then had to run out really fast because some folks at Walmart were giving my friend there a  hard time about holding them till tomorrow.  So off I ran...

And after Brian and I loaded one load into his car and my Jeep, Dewayne Hitsman showed up with his SUV to help load the rest.  THANK YOU Dewayne!! 


1st load

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More ...

Our stash grew again ...  I came home from church to find this ...

This is all the work of Fred, Earl, and Charles and Jerry.  Charles and Jerry are not going on the trip but they've put in a good deal of work to help get us ready. 

I think it bears repeating ... a LOT goes into these trips long before we ever leave. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


With the brutal heat this summer we need to be extra careful to stay hydrated while we're on the Rez.  While we're not really "working out", we will be out in the heat working hard for long periods of time.  Here are some guidelines to pay attention to so that you don't get dehydrated.  Remember - take care of yourself!! 

General Guidelines for Fluid Needs During Exercise

While specific fluid recommendations aren't possible due to individual variability, most athletes can use the following guidelines as a starting point, and modify their fluid needs accordingly.

Hydration Before Exercise

•Drink about 15-20 fl oz, 2-3 hours before exercise

•Drink 8-10 fl oz 10-15 min before exercise

Hydration During Exercise

•Drink 8-10 fl oz every 10-15 min during exercise

•If exercising longer than 90 minutes, drink 8-10 fl oz of a sports drink (with no more than 8 percent carbohydrate) every 15 - 30 minutes.

Hydration After Exercise
•Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace fluid losses.

•Drink 20-24 fl oz water for every 1 lb lost.

•Consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein within the 2 hours after exercise to replenish glycogen stores.

Pic of the Day

In this crazy heat and humidity my lens fogged up as soon as I stepped outside.  But here's a pic ... the garage is starting to fill up.  Fred, Earl, and Charles and Jerry have been busy.  More is on the way....

If You Want to See Us Off ...

If you want to see us off, it'll cost ya!   Well, it'll cost ya a couple hours of sleep.  I know sleep is precious, but it would mean a whole lot to the team. 

We will be meeting at the church on Saturday, July 30th at 5:30 AM and will be driving out no later than 6AM.  If you get there at 6, you'll be too late. 

A lot of you have said you would like to go but can't .... this is a way to be involved.  Just saying ...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Be sure to check out this post at Backpacks For Pine Ridge for some really cool news!! 

How "Cool" Is This!!

Thanks to Fred and Earl for making this very cool misting machine. With temps over 100 degress on the Rez this summer, this will be awesome! It will mist water all the time so that the kids (and us) can run under it and cool off.  Click on the pic to enlarge. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Less Than 2 Weeks ... and Counting

Ever wonder what a typical day looks like a couple of weeks before we leave? There's a lot that goes into these trips ... a whole lot.

I can't speak for everyone but I do know that 3 guys showed up today with a load of lumber for the building project. They had been out buying it and hauling to my garage and if I know them, they were probably busy doing other things too.

Another lady is cutting about 900 strips of fabric that measure 2"x6" for a craft project. I'm quite sure she's having a blast. ;)

Another team member is having surgery tomorrow. Yeah ... its like that.

And I am doing all sorts of things. I started the day out by going shopping for a few things that are still on my list. I bought 500 cookies, 200 band aids to add to the few hundred I already have, and 2 cans of coffee. All completely necessary. :) I ran into the center of the universe there - a lady who moved my cart away while I was in the middle of paying for the items. I was so tempted to say, 'Oh excuse me, I didn't realize the world revolved around you - let me get out of your way" ... but I was nice and smiled and said, 'Oh I'm going to need that to take my stuff to the car."

Then I came home and bagged sand. We have a pile of sand in our backyard that was left over from a project and since the theme this year is "the beach", we're taking a couple of those molded plastic kiddie pools and a bunch of sand out to make sand boxes for the little ones to play in. Maybe they'll even build sand castles.

I'm not sure what I was thinking because we have a heat emergency out today - the heat index is over 100 today. Oh yeah.... its going to be that hot or hotter all week long and we're running out of time - so I'm gettin' r done when I can.

I'm also still looking for a home for 327 backpacks. I have homes for the other 500 but still need a place to distribute these last few hundred. I know, I know ... I can hear the screams of "WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG TO DO THAT?!?!?!?!" Welllll ... let me tell ya .... its a different world on the Rez. If we do things too soon - plans seem to fall apart. I've had that happen enough to learn my lesson and wait ... and trust that God has it all under control and it will work out just like its supposed to.

That's a hard lesson for us middle-class, suburban Americans who like to think we're really, really efficient. So its kinda fun to watch people freak out a little bit when they see how I work. Hey, what's the worst that can happen?? Whatever it is, trust me, the world will not come to an end over it. I have a few possibilities ... and if those don't pan out, there's always plan "B" and "C". But I have a feeling ... that it's going to be just fine.

And when I get all this down to a manageable work load ... there's shopping to be done for school supplies for backpacks in 2012. And REZonate ... and a 5k/10k race to work on.

Well, daylight is burning ... keep watching here ... I plan to post lots of updates on the trip.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Ruin Your Mission Trip

Haha... "this is Fred.  He was a hard worker"   

Seriously though ....

Friday, July 08, 2011

Playground Games

We're taking the beach to the Rez this year.  In keeping with the theme, we'll be playing beach games and water games as often as possible during VBS.  Here is what is planned ...

Tug of War


Beach Ball Race (One beach ball per team.  Players will race 2 by 2 to get the beach ball to the finish line without touching it with their hands- can balance it between their heads, stomachs, or whatever works for them)

Penguin Race (two teams will line up, people on each team must put on a swim mask and fins and race the other team to the finish point and back.  This continues until one of the two teams wins by having all of their teammates finish.)

Shell Races (same as Penguin Race except that teams will balance a sea shell on their forehead while racing to the finish without dropping it. If it is dropped they  must go back to the start and start over)

Sand Castle Races  - Two teams will race to see who can build the biggest sand castle

Tarp Surfing - with a skateboard on a large blue tarp - two team members will hold the edge of the tarp up to catch the wind while someone surfs across it.  It looks just like surfing. 

And of course we'll have sack races, slip-n-slides, a misting machine, and sand piles for the little ones and sidewalk chalk to decorate the basketball court. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Hotel # 2

OK, so I won't really make us drive straight though ... although ... I've seriously considered it. 

On the way home we'll be staying in another hotel that will be new to us.  For some reason its been a bear to book at our usual hotels (I've spent 5 hours today trying) so we're going with some different ones.  Drivers, before you get upset about the out-of-the-way location of this one - keep in mind it was this or pay a lot more per room. 

We'll be at the Hilton Garden Inn in Des Moines, IA.  You can check it out here

One Hotel Down, One to Go?

We've booked the hotel where we will stay on the trip out to South Dakota.  Its a different one that we usually stay at so I hope you're all up for an adventure!  :)

Prices were a bit higher this year ... so I found a cheaper one.  HAHAHAA

Those who went the first year are probably cringing about now. 

Trust me ... I don't think it will be THAT bad.  Actually all of the reviews were great!   It had better reviews than the hotel we normally stay at.  Check it out for yourself here 

Friday, July 01, 2011

About Comments

Just FYI, I've reluctantly had to disable comments from this blog again.  I had hoped that this blog could be more than just an informational format and that the people connected to our mission could comment and lend support, but it seems that blogs such as this tend to attract people who often make rash judgements about what we are doing without taking time to get to know anything about us or our mission.  I'm too old and don't have the time or interest in answering those comments and if published all they do are bring the folks who are trying to do something good down - so, sorry folks, no more comments. 

Walk on .... the One who knows us, knows our hearts and that's all that matters. 

VBS Teams

For those team members who may not remember ...

VBS Teams

Little Kids

Brian B.