One of the biggest lessons I God has been teaching me this summer is that of patience. I have been learning how to love patiently, and let me tell you… it isn’t always easy. When people ask me what I want to do with my life, I like to say, I want to help people, make them happy, and love them well. This summer I am learning new ways to do that. It was so easy last year, being in Whiteclay everyday, to love people well, and to make them smile. This summer I have to actively seek out people to love. I have to be patient during the day when I am stuck doing construction work, instead of going outside to talk with people. I am learning how to love people in different ways, and patiently waiting for more and more to pop up.
In my own journey, patience has come into play in figuring out why I am here. As I said, I am no longer in Whiteclay—and that has been more difficult than I imagined it would be. My purpose here last summer was so clear, and this summer it’s a little foggier. I am here because I love this community, but I am still patiently awaiting a stronger reason… a God given purpose here. Maybe it is just to love wherever I am, maybe it is to grow as a person. But, despite not knowing the exact why, I do know that this place has my heart, the people have my heart, and my heart is being molded every day I spend here.
Patience has also been key this last week in everything we have done as staff. We’ve learned that not everyone who goes on a mission trip desires to be there. As a staff we have learned to be patient and ultimately it has brought us closer together.
I realize it has been a little while since I have updated anyone (sorry!) on what is happening in my life, but I have finally gotten to a point where I can process/take the time to write. So, here is a brief (we’ll see) update on my first 4 weeks in Pine Ridge.
Prep Week: What can I say about prep week other than it was so incredible being back in Pine Ridge. We had tons of work to get done, but ultimately the Lord gave us the strength and energy to do it!
Week One: The first week started off so wonderfully. I took a fabulous group, from North Dakota, to Ruby’s house to work on a stage. Ruby hosts gospel concerts in her yard, and has a gazebo of sorts that needed siding on 2 of the 4 sides. We spent the week working on putting up the tin siding, helping her plant her garden, and listening to her stories. Ruby is an incredible woman and I can’t wait to share more about her another time!
Week Two: I got to play with children! This week I, along with 15 students from a few different churches, served at Wounded Knee Church of God’s Bible School. Typically I am the one who goes straight for the little ones, but this week I worked with the 10+ girls. It started out a little rough, with none of the girls sharing. However, as the week went on, they opened up, wanted to hang out with us, and participated in the activities. This week, despite having a great time on site, was a rough week spiritually. But, on Thursday, I had some people minister to me, got a spiritual boost, learned I need to rest, and I have been going strong since.
Week Three: One of my favorite groups from last summer came back this week, and I was blessed to have worked with some of them on site. We were at Higher Grounds, and incredible coffee shop/ministry on the Rez, working on stripping paint from the deck, painting lattices, and working on dry walling the gym behind the shop. On Thursday we didn’t have enough for everyone to do, so we took a group over to Sioux Nation (where a lot of people who were in Whiteclay hang out), and talked with people. Just sitting for an hour or so with people and talking filled up my soul so much!
Programming: Despite struggling week 2, I feel like programming has been going well. I still love giving talks and sharing how God has worked in my life. Going through this a second time, it is interesting how different parts of my story, some that I wouldn’t even have considered sharing last summer, are now coming out. It is such an honor to be able to share what God has done in my life with so many others.
Community Involvement: I absolutely LOVE being a part of planning the community activities. Being the talker person is super fun, but the community is why I am here. Our activities are the same week to week, but I still love going and seeing the students engaging, and learning more and more each time about the place I call home for three months. Monday we go to the Wounded Knee Massacre site, and hear from one of the community members about what happened. It is so interesting because history is always told from the side of the winner; so hearing it from the Lakota people gives a unique perspective. The last three weeks we have had different speakers at Wounded Knee, and it is cool hearing from different people, and picking up slight differences in the stories. Tuesday night we go to Lakota Hope, which is a ministry in Whiteclay. Lakota Hope is a great opportunity for students to interact on a large scale with members of the community, and learn culture, and just sit and talk with people. Wednesday and Thursday we go to Red Cloud Indian School, which is a Catholic school on the Rez. It is such a light for this community, and shows the importance of education here in Pine Ridge. Friday night is INDIAN TACOS! Fry bread, and the normal taco fixings are shared with homeowners and whoever else wants to join that night. Depending on where we eat (typically at a local church) we either have programming there, or come back to the facility.
Overall, the last few weeks have been incredible, and I am so blessed to be back here, my third home. As the weeks continue I will try to post more often, but no promises. I will also update prayer requests and add pictures (most of which are on Facebook). Let me know if you have any specific questions about my life this summer, and thank you for your continued support, and God bless.