|Mount Olivet UMC Mission Blog|
Well, that was certainly a long day. We had been looking forward to our "off day" at the end of the trip. After all, how many times are we going to get to see Mount Rushmore up close and personal? Well, before we got there, we had a 3 hour van ride that started around 645!!!!
Our first site was the Crazy Horse Memorial. It, like Rushmore, is being carved from the granite hills in the Black Hills of South Dakota. However, it is still in progress. The project accepts only private contributions (no gov't support) and still needs about $10M to complete the project. We watched a 15 minute movie on the history of the memorial. It is almost 10x the size of Mt. Rushmore, and it was truly stirring. Many of the kids (and a few adults) took advantage of the native crafts being sold at the Memorial.
Then we drove another 15 minutes up the road to Mt Rushmore. We stopped at a little scenic "uplook" to see the side of Washington's head, as well as observe some of the local mountain goats. Then around to the front for some pictures of all 4 presidents (Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Lincoln). Absolutely amazing.
Last stop was at Custer National Park for some lunch. The ambitious ones (Pete, Andrew, Nic, Matt J., Matt R., Jack and Becky) took off on a 3 mile hike up to the 2nd highest point in all of South Dakota. Trip up took about 75 minutes and trip back down took a bit more than 30 minutes. It was a tough slog over roots and rocks, but the incredible view at the top made it worth while. The rest stayed down at the base of the mountain by a pretty little lake and hiked the path, and some other ones through the woods to some scenic overlooks, and just generally enjoyed the 70 degree weather (a true blessing).
Then we piled back into the vans, stopped at Pizza Hut for dinner (yeah!!!!) and then back to base camp for a quick change into some warmer clothes to head back over to Pine Ridge for the Lakota Pow Wow.
and off we go.
We look forward to our 13 hour van ride back to MN tomorrow and then our return to Lovettsville on Sunday.
The Pine Ridge Mission Team
Well, today it all hit home. We all saw first hand some of the beauty of the reservation but also some of the hopelessness. The day started at the 555 Mission making breakfast for the natives of White Clay. Many of these men and women came in drunk from the day before and those that were not drunk were very hung over. The Worship Team of Cindy, Mary, Clif and Taylor played some beautiful music that moved some of the natives to tears. Jack, Davis, Matt J, and others worked the serving line, cleared the tables, and spent time with the natives as they ate. It was a very powerful experience. In all, we had almost 25 served today.
And then it was off to Allen, SD (about an hour drive) for a vacation bible school at an Assembly of God Church there. We had 63 kids in all that came out today. It felt to us like we were trying to herd a bunch of cats, but Shelly (who runs the church) and the YWAM team said they were relatively calm today. The day consisted mostly of piggyback rides, crafts, and snacks. There were lots of smiling faces on the kids, but everyone on the team was struck by how many of the kids had open sores, had very dirty faces/noses, and used very bad language. Everyone playing outside with the kids had a blast, but you always had to be aware of the kids trying to take anything that seemed to have any value. It just showed how impoverished they are on the reservation, in material goods and in spirit. The highlight of the VBS had to be Taylor getting painted almost from head to toe by about 3 or 4 of the 10 year olds. He was quite a sight.
Then it was off to Wounded Knee, where we learned of the history of the US Gov't massacre of Chief Sitting Bull and many Sioux Indians on December 29, 1890. We bonded there with a cute little stray dog that followed us around as we explored. When we returned from Wounded Knee, we stopped for one last round of craft shopping at the 555. When there, we say many of the men and women that we'd seen earlier in the AM terribly drunk and, in one case, passed out. This was terribly difficult for many of the kids and adults to handle. The day was very emotional for all to see and feel.
Tomorrow we'll have a free day, but a very busy day. We'll be out the door at 6AM so that we can see Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, have a hike on a trail in the Black Hills and then return to Pine Ridge to go to the Pow Wow which starts at 7PM.
We love all of you and look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
The Pine Ridge Mission Team
Jack here. Today is my turn to blog so here goes:
The day dawned very cold and it never warmed up above 65 the whole day. We started the day with breakfast at 730 and then had quiet time from 8 to 830. Some spend their quiet time in the house; others sit or walk outside in the beautiful prairie. After quiet time, we headed over to White Clay.
Many of the ladies spent the day working in the 555 Mission. Today, the ladies decided that the Lakota homeless needed a special treat so they went to the grocery store and bought some hot dogs and cookies to hand out. Most of them were genuinely grateful for this extra food as the mission usually only serves meals on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
The remainder of the team went down to the Green Tiki Garden to continue our projects down there. Mike W., Jack R. and Davis R. helped to finish the "Temple of the Vine" today. Pete led a team of boys in building a children's garden. Matt J. really led the charge up there. And the rest continued to clean out the gourd garden that the mission has planted to give some of the Lakota artists some raw materials for their crafts.
Two real highlights of the day - A Lokata native named Harrison graced us with his presence today. He was a wonderful artist, entertained us with a paper trick that evolved into a cross, and helped the team design a few eagles that they painted onto a big truck for the mission. While he is has been a resident of the White Clay street for a few years now, he was sober while with us through the late morning and into the early afternoon, and really gave the team some hope that residents can be saved.
Becky W. also made a new friend - a 5th grader named Christian. He came along each day with his extended family who visited us to sell us some crafts. Becky asked him to stay with us, and his mom said ok. He helped us weed and paint, and generally horsed around with all of the kids. He had a really cool sense of humor. He brought home to our youth the impact of the social conditions on the reservation on the youth of the reservation.
We are all looking forward to continuing our service to the Lord and to the residents of the Lokota nation tomorrow through our work serving breakfast at the 555 Mission and in running a Vacation Bible School in Allen SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
We thank everyone who is praying for us and we miss all of you terribly.
In God's Name
The Pine Ridge Mission Team
The team had a busy day today. Several of
the team worked in the Tipi Gardens, it actually looks like a garden from
the road! Becky and Mary H are the co-mayors of the garden, not leaving the
gardens for the last two days! Many of the "boys" worked on the Vine House,
almost ready for the tepee poles! Several of the ladies ran the Thrift Shop
today, with GiGi being the queen of sales! Clif, Taylor and Mary helped
prepare and serve lunch today at the soup kitchen. We served around 75
people, some families with small children. During lunch Cindy sang, and
after we finished up serving Taylor and Clif picked up their instruments and
we played and sang for about an hour! One of the local ladies sang Jesus
Take The Wheel with Cindy!
End of day 5 we are hanging out in
a Christian Coffee shop on the reservation. Some of the guys are out back
playing basketball, and maybe they will have an opportunity to get to know
some of the youth on the reservation.
Greetings from White Clay
NE -- 2 miles south of Pine Ridge SD. We survived the big road trip today.
12 hours over some of the most amazing scenes you can imagine. Lots of
sleeping in the vans, so it was basically uneventful. The kids are doing
good...the adults..well..... :0 We had lunch on the Missouri River, then
off to drive through the Badlands, which looks what we think Mars would look
The boys survived the
night in the no air-conditioned cave. Gives new meaning to "man cave".....
We made it to MN fine. Slight take off
delay, but we made it safe! Stopped at the Mall of America for lunch,
shopping, and roller coaster riding. For those Ashley Tinsdale fans, she
was appearing at the Mall, and I think some of us grabbed a glimpse of her.
Tonight we have dinner, then a orientation, worship service and then lights
out. Back up tomorrow morning for training classes.