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You’ve come a long way baby…

When I was a kid they used to have advertisements for cigarettes and although the Marlboro Man was clearly my favorite (if you don’t understand why just google his picture), I still remember the famous slogan for “Virginia Slims.” Launched in 1968 (I was 5 years old), it was one of the most famous advertising campaigns in US history.

“You’ve come a long way” (sometimes with “baby” added at the end) was the provocative tagline for a new, thinner cigarette marketed specifically to women. The phrase became a national catch-phrase overnight.

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The advertising focused on the emerging feminist and the rise of  “the New Woman,” a woman who was independent, self-sufficient, and eager to demonstrate her confidence.

I’m not here to promote cigarettes.  I never smoked and don’t plan to start. Nor do I see myself as a “New Woman.”  But the phrase does come to mind as I contemplate the ten weeks, 7,800 miles and 140 hours spent in my car this summer.

From Louisiana to the Choctaw Reservation in MS.  From MS to the Cheyenne River Reservation in SD. From SD to the Colville Reservation in WA. From WA to the Hoopa Reservation in CA. From CA to the Navajo Reservation in NM. These, with all of the places in between, made for a summer that changed me. I dare say it changed my teams as well as the people we ministered to and who ministered to us.

The teams….Pisgah BC from Forest Hill, North Monroe BC, Twin Bridges BC from Alexandria, Old Saline BC and New Life International Outreach from Woodworth. Good people.  Hard workers.  Dedicated followers of Christ. My friends. 

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There was beauty at every turn.

The real beauty though was found in the people.  Strong, smart, able, broken, filled with joy and sadness…America’s “First Nations” people.  A people loved and desired by God. A people tied to these beautiful lands and to one another.

Then there are the children. For me its all about them. We had plenty of sports and outdoor fun.

There was Bible Study…

…along with singing and dancing in some cases!

There were always crafts for the little ones…

…along with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, face painting, manicures in the salvation colors…

…and snacks for everyone. Some even got a full meal each day!

Each camp ended with an awards ceremony…

…as well as a Family Night.

There is always a great deal of work on everyone’s part in putting all of this together. The teams, the churches we are working with on the reservations, those who contribute gifts, prizes, and sports equipment, those who contribute through prayer and donations…everyone has a part to play.  Allowing God to work before, during and after each of these camps is crucial to how each individual will be impacted.

We even had a couple of construction projects this year. Some of the guys from North Monroe BC built a Noah’s Ark themed swing set for the kids at Cheyenne River and a team of Pisgah men and youth built the front steps and deck on the front of the new church building that is in progress on the Choctaw Reservation. The team from Twin Bridges BC saw the chance to minister to the owner of the motel where we were staying by offering to repair the roof on one of the motel buildings. The owner is from India and is not a Christian but this simple act of kindness opened doors for our team members to minister in ways that only God could have arranged.

Some of the people who work the hardest get the least recognition. They are the cooks for each of our teams. Their job never ends. They cook for the team, they cook for the camp…they never stop cooking! They do an awesome job…sometimes too awesome. I was trying to lose weight and they were cooking like we all needed fattening up!

Joining our brothers and sisters in Christ in worship and fellowship as well as taking time to enjoy one another as a team is all part of the experience. From worship services, to playing games, having poolside devotions, checking out the local scenery, passing out flyers and eating out…we always have a great time and return home with new friends and a desire to return. Lives are always changed when doing this work…especially mine.

I’ve taken a multitude of roads in this ministry and I’ve loved every one.  Yes, I have “Come a long way baby,”  but the most exciting part is knowing that there are always new roads ahead.

The next road leads to Wisconsin in September and then on to the organization of the Christmas shoeboxes. I hope you plan on joining me!

It’s all about the math…

2 teams. 2 missions. 32 missionaries. 35 teenagers. 101 children. 5,600 miles. All these are numbers that make an eternal difference in the lives of the missionaries and those they ministered to.

First there’s the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State.  Twin Bridges Baptist Church from Alexandria returned with me this year to help  Fred & Vicki James of Morning Star Ministries clean the park where the summer ministry takes place. We also provided another Back Yard Bible Club for the children as well as prayer walking and another Fry Bread Fellowship.

Then there’s the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.  North Monroe Baptist Church from Monroe returned with me this year to assist Sally & Jed Jezek’s ministry at LaPlant Baptist Church with another Basketball Camp. Like last year, we had a Louisiana Night where we served Gumbo to the people of the reservation.  In addition to these ministries, we also added a Ladies’ Bible Study & Crafts as well as church repairs & yard work.

The experiences were multiple and read like an extensive list of the seven dwarves…tired, dirty, hot, cold, grouchy, happy, sleepy, scared, excited, overwhelmed, irritated, sore and exhilarated. But always blessed.

There are other numbers to consider as well….these are the numbers that make all of this possible.

18 monthly contributors to Mission Ventures. 1 church that provided 72 Bibles to hand out at the Colville Reservation. 1 family that provides my cell phone. 1 brother, 1 sister in law & 1 niece that take care of my dog while I am gone.  1 Mother that takes care of my finances while I am away. 1 Daddy that makes sure my A/C is turned on before I get home. 1 Friend who mows my grass out of the goodness of his heart. 1 sweet lady who provides me with literature and wordless books. An abundance of others who provide me with finances and prayers to make all of this possible.

Finally, I am providing all of you with 2 videos….1 of the ministry at the Colville Reservation and 1 of the ministry at the Cheyenne River Reservation.  I hope you are as blessed by knowing you are a part of this ministry as I am by having you be a part of it!

 

Buffalo Gals…

I’ve never been a big fan of women’s meetings/conferences.  There always seems to be tears and hugs, prayer circles and holding hands and lots of  “touchy feely” emotions running high. I quit saying I wasn’t a fan because a good friend at the Baptist Building told me she wished I would quit saying that…of course, she worked in women’s ministry so who can blame her?  Because I didn’t want to offend her (and because I’m a BIG people pleaser-that’s for another post) I did quit saying it but it sure didn’t stop me from feeling it.

So, God being who He is (He likes to mess with me a lot), He sent me to….you guessed it….a women’s conference. But to make it even more interesting He decided to mess with me just a little more and have me work on something else I don’t like…repetition.  See, I not only helped with the women’s conference, I also helped with the women’s prison ministry and the Juvenile Detention Center girls’ ministry and they were all the exact same teachings. Lots of repetition.

It was all as I expected. Lots of tears and hugs…

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Prayer Circles…

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And the same lesson three times. (I only have photos from the first conference because I couldn’t take pictures at the prison or the Juvenile Detention Center)

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God also put me in more uncomfortable territory. I shared a trailer with two very Godly women. Linda Grajewsky, pictured above, has a ministry called Gaits to Heaven and this was her mission.  She does Horse and Bible Camps for kids and Recovery Ministries for women and girls.  I met her four years ago here at Pine Ridge and she has become a good friend.  With her was Pam Hollaway.  I didn’t know Pam before this trip but I’ve made a forever friend there as well.

So, what was the problem? Why was I uncomfortable?  Well, I’m a pretty jovial person and I love Jesus. I love to tell others about Jesus. I enjoy quiet time with Jesus. I want Jesus to be a part of all of my life. But, I don’t hold hands every time I pray with others.  And I don’t break out into song. I don’t wake up all happy, happy, happy either.  And, right or wrong, I don’t have a spiritual attitude all day long. These two do and are all of these things!  I told Pam that if I had to hold hands and pray again that I was going to make a scene! Yes, I know, I wasn’t being very holy. But then again, have you met me? Some of you may remember that when praying over me I won’t allow you to put your hand on my head because it might mess my hair up. And all the hand holding made me want hand sanitizer desperately!

Now that we have confirmed that I am not very “touchy feely” let me go on to say this. I needed this time at Pine Ridge.  I needed to be made to feel uncomfortable. From the run down trailer with the leaks and spiders that frolicked in the tub all night…

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To sharing it with these two horse women who are happy ALL OF THE TIME…

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To lots of hand holding and hugs.

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I needed it all.  I needed to hear those same lessons three times because God spoke to me about different things each time. I needed to spend time with ladies who are able to break out into song (someplace other than the car or the shower) just because they are happy to be alive and children of God.  I needed to knock down a few walls and be willing to hold hands in as many prayer circles as God (or Linda) put together. I needed all of it because God’s not finished with me yet. If He were He would take me on home!

I wasn’t the only one who needed it. For the first time, the ladies of the Pine Ridge Reservation and the ladies of the Cheyenne River Reservation (only 3 hours apart) came together to pray and learn and to begin a healing process that has been a long time coming.

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The young women in the prison needed it to prepare them to depend on Jesus while in prison and when they return home to bad situations.

The girls at the detention center needed it for the same reasons and to help them avoid a future that could consist of more prison time.

There’s a lot of hatred on these reservations…

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and a lot of hopelessness.

Waiting for the bars to open or for the drunk to wear off before they head back...

Waiting for the bars to open or for the drunk to wear off before they head back…

But there’s also a lot of wisdom…

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a great deal of love…

Restoration Church on Sunday...a Native church with a white pastor recognizing that all men are the same!

Restoration Church on Sunday…a Native church with a white pastor recognizing that all men are the same!

people with servant’s hearts…

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LaDonna, a Lakota Native, preparing the meal for our ladies.

and an abundance of natural beauty.

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There are lots of lessons to be learned here…for myself and for you as well.  Do you need to step out of your comfort zone?  Do you recognize that God has things for you if you will step out of that comfort zone?  Do you avoid certain people or circumstances because they are not who or what you are comfortable with and if so, are you willing to let God break you? Are you willing to be “Broken bread and poured out wine” for Jesus?

These are things God is doing in my heart and life. God is in control of my life and I, for one, am happy He put me here at this moment in time to share it with these two.

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Just call us the “Buffalo Gals!”

I Can Only Imagine…

Tomorrow I head out again.  As I was getting ready to go I realized I had not updated everyone on my last trip.

After I finished with my work at the Pine Ridge & Cheyenne River Indian Reservations in South Dakota I headed on to the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Wisconsin.  I had a wonderful visit with my friends there.  You may remember that I was there this past April/May and we worked on getting a children’s church started for the children on the rez.  At that time they did not have a pastor but I am proud to report that they do now…and he’s a Louisiana man!  His name is Bill Earl and he and his wife Bridget and their children are from Elizabeth, LA.  I can’t tell you how good it was to have a few more southern accents on the rez!  Bill and Bridget are a perfect fit for the Bible Baptist Church there at Lac du Flambeau.  The people there love them and we already see God doing wonderful things through them.

I am looking forward to returning to Lac du Flambeau in December to help distribute Christmas shoeboxes to the children there.  By the way, if you would like to help out with that ministry just give me a call.

Now most of you know me by now so you know that I took each chance I got to enjoy the scenery.  And boy was there some scenery to enjoy.  I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to Fall colors and the leaves were at their peak while I was there.  Heaven!!!

Every where I went there was gold…

And orange…

And all colors in between….

I think my favorite may be the trees that were just beginning to turn…they were a combination of lime green and yellow and their reflections were stunning.

Everywhere I drove was beautiful.  There was absolutely no escaping the beauty…

The beauty was there even when you looked up…

I took a walk down a trail one day and prayed.  I told God I couldn’t imagine heaven being any better than this.  But what’s so incredible is that it is better than this.  Mercy Me phrased it most accurately in their song; “I Can Only Imagine.”  I can only imagine how incredible heaven must be.  How beautiful. How breathtaking.  What I see on earth now is just a “foretaste of glory divine.”

I digress. 🙂  Instead of heading straight to Connecticut after leaving Wisconsin I came home instead.  I needed to raise some more funds and get some things in order before heading to Connecticut.  I decided that I was going to have to work a little harder at finding inexpensive places to stay while on these trips.  So…I got online and found three Christian Campgrounds in Tennessee, Virginia and Connecticut.  I contacted them about lodging and as a result my total cost for lodging on this trip is $30.00!  I’ll be staying at Camp Agape in Benton, TN my first night on the road.  They are a Southern Baptist Campground.  I’ll be staying the next two nights at Shenandoah Springs Campground near Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  They are an inter-denominational campground but the pastor and his wife are Southern Baptist.  Then, in Connecticut, I will spend 9 nights at the Willimantic Christian Campground; owned by an inter-denominational Christian group.  God is good!

Now let me share with you a way that God provides when we least expect it.  I needed about $1,000.00 to pay my bills and make this trip.  I started out with $150.00 but I kept making my plans like I already had the money I needed.  I am leaving tomorrow and by yesterday I had received $990.00.  Again, God is good!  I also had a donation strictly intended for me to get AAA Auto Insurance in case I have problems while on the road.

I can’t begin to tell you how exciting it is to see these kind of things happen.  I’ll admit, I get a bit nervous at times but God always provides what I need, when I need it through people like you.  Thanks to you all!

I’ll head out in the morning and I’ll keep you all posted as often as I can while on the road.  In the meantime, please be in prayer for the contacts I make to work with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in Connecticut.

 

One down, three to go!

My visit at Pine Ridge was a great success and blessing! I joined a wonderful group of ladies at the Lakota Baptist Church in the town of Pine Ridge on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and they were all such a blessing to me. I had the privilege of sharing a bunk house with Jan Turner of Truly Free International, Julie Peyton and Debbie Techentin of Fit for the King Ministries and Linda Grajewski and Allison Rolston of Gaits to Heaven Ministries. These ladies all came together to work with the women of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They spent several days visiting and praying with many of the ladies on the reservation and ministering in the women’s prison. They completed their week in leading some of the ladies of the reservation in a Women’s Bible Retreat.

I joined them at the Women’s Retreat and, as far as I’m concerned, I had the best job! I got to work with this crew…

Then it was time to head to LaPlant Baptist Church on the Cheyenne River Reservation.  Mae Rodriguez, a wonderful Lakota Christian woman joined me for the four-hour drive.  Here’s Mae…

We visited with Jed and Sally Jezek, the pastors of the church in LaPlant to see about Mission Ventures providing them with a Bible Camp for the kids and Mae providing them with a ladies’ Bible Study next summer.  The visit went well and it looks like we’ll be returning next summer!  I enjoyed the visit with Jed and Sally and I especially enjoyed Mae’s company.  She is such a dynamic woman with a heart for God that is rare.

Of course, there’s no way I’m going to make a trip like this and not take the opportunity to photograph the scenery!  Fall was just beginning to show off its colors on the reservation and I could not get enough of it!  Take a look…

Stunning!!!

The wildlife is even more abundant than the fall colors.  I encountered horses running free, buffalo, a fox, pheasants and turkeys galore, antelopes and more deer than I could count!  Here is one that posed for the camera…

I also captured a photo of this horse as it was running toward me…

I also came upon several crops of sunflowers.  There were sunflowers as far as the eye could see…

On Sunday I got to worship with the good people of Lakota Baptist Church.  Like all good Baptists we had a meal…

And, as always, I enjoyed the kids!

I always love my time at Pine Ridge. The land is beautiful and the people are even more so.  Behind the beauty though is a spiritual darkness. And, as you can see, the poverty at Pine Ridge is extreme.

While there, we encountered a great deal of late night fights, sirens, etc.  We were safe in our barbed wire enclosed fortress at the church but the we couldn’t deny the sounds we heard.  Please take the time to pray for the beautiful people of Pine Ridge.  Pray that they will embrace Christ and allow Him to change their hearts and their situations.

I’m heading to Wisconsin tomorrow where I get to visit with my good friends at the Bible Baptist Church on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation.  I hope you’ll continue to pray for me as I travel and I’ll update you as I go.

Bless you all!

 

 

 

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