Wherever He leads I'll go

Archive for June, 2012

God loves variety…

After the camp at Pine Ridge I spent a few more days there.  I enjoyed the company of two friends…Linda (the Horse Lady) and LaDonna.  Linda is from Tennessee and has the ministry “Gaits to Heaven”.  She and her friend Icy Wilson are currently having a horse camp on the reservation.  It was good to see Linda and LaDonna again.

LaDonna’s husband is Lakota and can trace his ancestry back to Wounded Knee.

We visited…you guessed it…a cemetery!

Then it was time to head out.  I decided to stop at Sheep Mountain in the southern section of the Badlands…this area never ceases to amaze me.

Finally, I headed on to Rapid City where I bought four new tires…ouch!  Another day and a lot of dollars later I found myself in Montana…beyond beautiful drive!

Then I got to go to Glacier National Park.  I drove the “Going to the Sun” road in the park where I saw even more natural beauty…

 From the Badlands to the Rocky Mountains…God obviously loves variety and so do I!  But one morning this week I woke up thinking about all of the Native children I’ve worked with and am going to work with.  I realized that, yes, I love seeing God’s love of variety in nature but even more beautiful is the variety in the people He created.  Our differences are vast but one thing remains the same…we are ALL God’s children and He created us with wondrous variety for a reason…to glorify Him in the way we were were created!

I’m headed to Ft. Belknap reservation in the morning.  Please pray that many Native leaders rise up among these children as a result of our work there.  I’ll keep you posted.

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“Čhankú Wašté Ranch” or “The Good Road in the Badlands”…

My trip here started out a little rough. I was experiencing fever and an infection and my group and I weren’t sure about coming when we got the news that a deadly virus called Hantavirus existed on the reservation.  However, I gradually healed and the group, minus a few, decided to continue on as planned with their week working with the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

And what a week it was!  The missions group from North Monroe Baptist Church and I arrived at Pine Ridge Saturday and never slowed down! Let me start off by saying that they worked MUCH harder than I did.  Yes, I walked up and down the same hills in the same sun and wind taking pictures and loving on the children.  I ran errands as needed and I even did a little “troubleshooting.”  But they did the hard part…actually teaching, setting up, taking down, cooking, cleaning, etc. I could have NEVER done this without all of them.

I was sleeping at the church but the rest of the group were staying in tents on the camp property.  They spent about two hours putting the tents up and it all looked great!

And then we sat down to eat fajitas prepared by the best cook ever (and our hero) Richard…more about Richard later…

When all of a sudden a tornado like wind came through causing us all to run for shelter.  It was all rather exciting until we realized that their tents must have been affected.  We checked and this is what we found…

 Yep, all of the tents were down except for two.  So, some of our guys stayed in the bath house…some of the girls stayed in the camp owner’s home and the “elders” in the group joined me at the church…

True, it wasn’t the best start but God provided in every way!  There just happened to be a trailer on the property that had nothing but bunk beds in it so most of the group stayed in the trailer the rest of the week.  We lost a few more things that week because of the wind but none of us were harmed and that was a blessing.

This group worked HARD! They got up every morning and set up camp…activity areas, canopies for shade (there’s not a tree on the place!), and got everything ready for the kids before they arrived. They drove the bus and vans to certain areas on the rez to pick up the kids…

And then the fun began!  We registered the kids each morning…

And then moved on to a group activity.  We were blessed to have Brittany Bosely with us.  She spent several years working at Centrifuge Camp and she was great at coming up with our group activities!

 After our group activity we would move on to one of several rotations.  We divided the kids up by age and they took turns at 5 stations.  There was music, which was led by the very talented Carey Amos and his sidekick, Taylor Huey. Taylor also provided us with some great music to listen to as we enjoyed a little rest and relaxation while waiting for our meals!

We also had crafts which were provided by Brittany Bosely (a woman of many talents!),,,

 Then they would move on to recreation provided by the very capable Brandy Hancock, aka Angelina Jolie.  I think it is pretty safe to say that the kids favorite two days for recreation were the two days Brandy provided them with a slip and slide…

Then there was Bible Study.  We had Rachel King and Kelly (who also used her skills as a nurse to serve as our camp nurse) teaching the youngest group; David Tidwell and Blake Bosely teaching the middle school boys; Evelyn Tidwell teaching the high school girls; David McCormick, aka D-Mac, teaching the high school boys and Valerie Barley and Tyler Ainsworth teaching middle school girls. Every one of these wonderful people did an excellent job leading their kids and believe me, some of these kids made it difficult!

We had a special teacher with us this week as well.  His name is Mark Tommerdahl, one of the coaches at Louisiana Tech.  This man made all the difference in the world to the boys at camp.  They lit up when they saw him because he was an actual coach who took an interest in them…

We had snack time…

And lunch time provided by Richard Ainsworth (again, more later on Richard)…

At 2:00 we would load them all up and head to the church where we would have chapel time.  We had music, question and answer time with prizes provided for the correct answers about their Bible Study that day, a powerpoint of the events of the day, a devotion or testimony and games. It was wild and deafening.  We even had powwow dancing to the Native Christian music! I loved it all and I believe they did too!

Then came the hard part for this group.  After a long day in the hot sun working with kids, they had to start taking down everything they had set up or the wind would blow it all away. Then it was time to sit and visit while waiting to eat.  Some of us couldn’t make it that long…

This was a group of dedicated, hardworking, loving people. They were willing to go the extra mile and then some.  There were others I haven’t mentioned that deserve some special attention. There was Lee Ainsworth who did a little bit of everything…snack time, helping out with crafts, organizing our “kitchen” in the garage, loading, unloading…you name it, this woman did it!  She was tireless and NEVER complained.

And then there was our fearless leader…David McCormick, aka D-Mac.  He is the man who got this group together and he served as our campus pastor.  He’s got a heart for God and missions and I appreciate his work here so much…

And then there’s Richard Ainsworth…the camp hero.  The man provided gumbo, spaghetti, hamburgers and french fries, beef and chicken fajitas, pork roast, brisket, green beans, deviled eggs, garlic bread, salad, scrambled eggs, pancakes, toast and biscuits…all on a grill!!!  The man is a genius and went above and beyond the title of camp cook.  He provided the kids with lunch every day and showed them love even from the “kitchen.” Our camp experience was definitely better because of his skills!

My favorite day with this group was on Tuesday when we all got together after supper and had a time of worship.  I haven’t been a part of a worship service like that in a long time.  We were all hot, dirty and tired but God was there and we were moved in His presence.

Our love for God led to a love for these children.  Take a look…

I grew to love this group.  We became a family…united in our purpose to serve God by serving the children of this reservation.  The elements worked against us, sheer exhaustion brought on some frustration, but we all fell in love with…the feel of the wind on our faces at the end of a long day, the setting sun over the South Dakota Plains, each other, and the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

I want to say a great big “thank you” to all of you who helped us bring Christ to these children through your contributions and prayers.  When the kids drove away after our final closing ceremony, they were waving and calling out their love to us.  You, the team from North Monroe and I made a difference in the lives of these children and one day, some of them will be Christ to their own people. I look forward to that day and I thank all of you for making it all possible.

I am now in a hotel here on the reservation.  I’ll spend a couple of days here resting, washing clothes, etc. before I head to my next “mission venture” in Montana.  I hope you’ll all join me there.

Heading out tomorrow…

Well, I’ve spent three nights at the lovely Thunderbird Hotel in Mitchell, SD.  It’s clean, comfortable, quiet, inexpensive, safe and….it uses actual keys to the doors!  I’ve slept (alot!) but today I ventured out for a couple of hours.  Here’s what I discovered…

It’s the Mitchell Corn Palace.  Take a look at these…

Yep…that’s all corn art!

My niece and I visited on Skype today.  Gotta tell you, it made my day!  For those of you who don’t know her, here is a picture of her…

That’s my girl!

I’m feeling better than I did and the CDC in South Dakota says it’s okay for us to continue with our mission plans but to take precautions…no shoes in the tents, don’t wear the same clothes twice without washing them, etc.  So that means I’m headed out tomorrow to meet the group from North Monroe.  I’m looking forward to seeing all of them AND the children of Pine Ridge!

I’ll keep you all posted.

I am so NOT in charge…

Bags are packed.  Car is loaded.  Groups are ready. Everything that could be done has been done!  So…why am I in a hotel room in Mitchell, SD and not at Pine Ridge?  Because I am so not in charge!

First I developed an infection while visiting friends in Arkansas.  One doctor’s visit and a trip to the pharmacy later, and I was armed with an antibiotic and on the road again.  My plans were to arrive at Pine Ridge the next day (yesterday) but my body had other plans.  Fighting a fever is not fun….I needed to rest and get completely well and that is why I am now sitting in a room at the Thunderbird Hotel in Mitchell, SD.

Ah, but there is more!  Right before I arrived in Mitchell I received a call from the leader of the group that is supposed to be meeting me at Pine Ridge.  It seems that a deadly virus called “hantavirus” has reared it’s ugly head on the reservation.  One seven year old child has died and another is infected.  This virus is shed through the urine, waste and saliva of rodents and becomes airborne on dust particles.  It killed many of the youth on a Navajo reservation in 1993.  After a phone call to the Shreveport CDC, we are now unsure of whether or not we are even going to Pine Ridge.  I’ve been advised not to go until I am completely well.

Why is all of this happening?  I have no idea.  And that’s okay because I don’t have to know.  When I signed on for this journey God never assured me that everything would go according to all my carefully laid plans.  I said, “Wherever He leads I’ll go” so now I’ll just wait and let Him lead.

In the meantime, I came across a great roadside attraction right outside of Mitchell.  It was called the “Porter Sculpture Park” and was named by “Time” magazine as one of the “Top 50 Roadside Attractions.” Amazingly enough, it was not something I had researched and planned to see.  It was just one of those fun surprises that come up sometimes.  Take a look…

These looked like something out of a Disney movie…

 I thought this one was quite interesting…

And this little sweetheart was there to welcome me…

As always, I was enchanted by the surrounding beauty of the area…

It was all a welcome distraction from everything that is going on.

I’ll find out tomorrow if we are going to Pine Ridge or not.  If not, then I look forward to seeing where God sends me instead.  If all goes as planned (HA!) I’ll have about two weeks before I have to be at Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana.  I’ll keep you posted…

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