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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!

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!”

Happiness comes from your circumstances but joy comes from God…

It’s been a while since my last blog entry. A lot has happened. I was home for a couple of weeks after I got back from South Dakota. I then headed out again in July to meet Open Door Missions in Farmington, New Mexico. The drive there was incredible…

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Colorado Plateau Mesa on Scenic Hwy. 550 in New Mexico

Part of the beauty of driving everywhere is the chance to enjoy what God has created and Red Rock Country is always my favorite!

When everyone arrived we had to hit the ground running.  We had to prepare for, set up, and begin a VBS all on our first day there! Thanks to Jessica Dubea, David Anderson and my good friends at the Louisiana Baptist Convention, I had the literature for everyone when they arrived or we would have been even more overwhelmed than we were.

We had VBS during the day.  We did this year’s Lifeway VBS, Colossal Coaster World, for an Anglo church in Farmington.

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Then, each evening, we held revival services and handed out backpacks with school supplies in several Native American churches in Bloomfield, Aztec and the surrounding areas.

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Tammy & Morgan Hanson handing out backpacks to some of the children on the Navajo Reservation

My mornings consisted of this…

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The three fifth and sixth grade boys in my class during VBS

And my evenings looked more like this…

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Loving these babies!

Bro. Lavelle Spillers,  a pastor in Homer, LA as well as a board member of Open Door Missions was our leader.  I always enjoy working with Bro. Lavelle and his wife Diane.  This year I got to room with their daughter, Pamela Mathews, and their two grandchildren. Poor Diane broke her arm while we were there and the woman never quit!  Bro. Lavelle was preaching, pouring his heart out each night.  They are both devoted and determined to share the Gospel with everyone they come in contact with.

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Diane & Lavelle Spillers

16 adults, youth and children accepted Christ while we were there!  Here are a few of them from Gospel Victory Baptist Church on the Navajo Reservation.

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Some of those saved at Gospel Victory Baptist Church on the Navajo Reservation

Before heading home I made it a point to visit Monument Valley, part of the Navajo Nation landmarks in southern Utah. It’s a place I’ve wanted to go ever since I saw my first western movie as a child.  I wasn’t disappointed!  Driving in I got my “Forrest Gump” shot.  You know the one where he was running and he just stopped and turned around and went home?  Here it is…

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My “Forrest Gump” shot heading into Monument Valley

Then I proceeded on.  It was hot. The sun was high in the sky.  It was dry and dusty.  The road through the valley is only 17 miles but is a terrible road.  I had red dirt covering everything…inside and outside of my car.  And I loved it all!!!!!

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A picture I had been waiting my whole life to capture!

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Monument Valley did not disappoint!

The summer didn’t end here though.  After a couple of more weeks at home it was time to join my friends at the annual “Gathering” at the Bible Baptist Church on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin.

These north woods are as different as night and day in comparison to red rock country but none the less beautiful.  For as much dirt and rock as you see out west, you see just as much grass and water here.

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North Woods country

Fall was even beginning to show it’s colors in a few of the leaves and the underbrush…

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The underbrush was already beginning to change colors

I’m always at peace on this reservation.  There are cool, dry breezes that make the leaves sing and being here is like slipping back in time.  But the true peace that pervades my soul while at Lac du Flambeau is found in Christ who resides in these good people.

Our days were spent attending discipleship classes in the morning, gathering in the evening for jam sessions outside and services at night.

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Evening jam sessions

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The kids would just do their own thing during these jam sessions…

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Sometimes I would just sit back and marvel at the mixture of races coming together…all of us one because of Christ.

The best part was that the leaders for this gathering were also Native American. Pastor Wesley Castillo of Pine Hill Baptist Church and his wife, Paulette, their daughter and three young brothers from their congregation came all the way from the Navajo reservation in Cuba, New Mexico. We were blessed by what God did through them.

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Pine Hill Baptist Church from Cuba, NM

They ministered through music, testimony and sermons that left me in tears each night.  And just when you thought everything was coming to a close, the Holy Spirit would keep it going.  I won’t soon forget any of it.

The group of believers at Lac du Flambeau are strong.  Pam and Dar, Kevin, Mrs. Virginia and Mr. Ed, Mrs. Judy, Bernadine, Mr. Buddy, Pastor Bill and Bridget and their family…they’ve all become my family. But upon returning home I found out that I lost a member of that family.

Mr. Ed Seneca, probably one of the most original men as well as one of the most devoted Christian men I’ve ever known (Red, Yellow, Black or White), went home August 27, 2013.

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Ed Seneca…an original!

Mr. Ed loved Jesus, Mrs. Virginia and music…in that order.  Last year I sat with him in the hospital and found myself amazed that he rejoiced at being there because it gave him the chance to minister to the doctors and nurses who attended him. I’ve listened to him sing in English as well as in his native tongue and each time it left me in tears.  I recorded some of his stories and his songs because I didn’t want to ever forget his voice. I spent as much time with him as I could but it’s never enough is it?

My heart grieves for Mrs. Virginia but rejoices with Mr. Ed because I know he was dancing a jig at the throne!  It makes me smile every time I think about it.  I look forward to seeing him again and I’m grateful God allowed me one more visit with him before He took him.

Mrs. Virginia & Mr. Ed being silly after his stay in the hospital in the spring of 2012

Mrs. Virginia & Mr. Ed being silly after his stay in the hospital in the spring of 2012

This has been a summer filled with beauty, sadness, tears, sickness, frustration and overwhelming joy but more importantly it has been filled with God’s Holy Spirit.

I’ve traveled 12,560 miles. I’ve had the privilege of ministering and being ministered to on reservations in Washington State, South Dakota, New Mexico and Wisconsin. I never had to worry about finances and there were some obstacles but they pale in comparison to what I  witnessed God doing.  I saw lives changed, people saved and experienced God at work in my own life.  I was allowed to minister with some amazing groups…Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill, Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria, Vicki & Fred James of Morning Star Ministries in Washington State, North Monroe Baptist Church in Monroe, Open Door Missions and Jed & Sally Jezek at LaPlant Baptist Church in South Dakota.

The best part? It never ends!!  I’m so thankful to all of you for being a part of this ministry!  I appreciate and pray for you all.  I’ll keep you posted on what’s next. Until then, I hope you are all happy, happy, happy but remember…happiness comes from your circumstances but joy comes from God! 

Interstates, Toll Roads, Pig Trails and Conestoga Wagons…yeah, it’s long but not too wordy!

Unless you have been in a coma you are aware of a certain angry young woman named Sandy.  She and I almost met personally since I was in Connecticut and Rhode Island when she decided to visit.  However, I’m no fool.  I’m from Louisiana.  I KNOW when it’s time to leave!  So…I packed my bags, loaded my car and headed home three days early.

Sandy, no matter how scary she was, was only a small part of this trip.  There were people I met along the way; places I discovered; kindnesses shown; experiences had and beauty each step of the way. I told you all in my last blog entry that I had found places to stay along the way and while I was in Connecticut.  These places were an important part of this journey.

My first stop was in Benton, TN at Camp Agape.  This place is surrounded by beauty…mountains, a lake, trees.  Erick Swallows is the camp director and I appreciate him so much!  He put two cots in a spare room in the welcome center just for me.  I had everything I needed and was pleased that I had made a new friend and contact as well.

 I was up before daylight the next morning.  I watched the sun come up over the lake and then got back on the road.  This time I was headed to Virginia where I would stay for two nights.

I arrived at Camp Shenandoah Springs in Madison, VA right before sunset.  To get to this facility you take a small dirt/gravel road that seems like no more than an old trail.  Then you get to the gate and realize that you have arrived.

The owners and directors of this Christian campground are a wonderful couple named Doug and Anne Farmer.  I enjoyed their company and their facility.  They offered me an apartment above the office.

It was perfect! A bunch of stairs but perfect none the less. 🙂

The next morning I set out to see some of the sights.  Anne had told me about an Apple Harvest Festival right down the road so off I went.

Virginia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been..especially the Shenandoah Valley.  Of course I took a drive to see as much as I could.

I happened upon a road that caught my attention.  It was a smooth drive on nice black top…at first.  As soon as the black top ended I saw a sign that proclaimed that the county did not maintain this portion of the road.  It didn’t look too bad so I kept going.  As I drove further and further up the mountain the road got rougher and rougher.  I was having so much fun taking pictures and I ran into someone who told me my car could handle what was ahead. He lied. This so-called “road” couldn’t have been much more than a pig trail.  It was beautiful…

…but the ride became…challenging.  The road got rougher and steeper.  Then it started to have mud holes…some that covered the entire road.   The further I went, the worse it got. Conestoga wagons drove faster than I did on that road. I rarely reached 5 mph.  Why did I continue you ask?  Because I’m obviously not the brightest bulb in the box.

I can’t tell you how many deals I made with God on that road.  My one consolation was that I wasn’t going to have to go back the same way I came in.  The guy I ran into told me it kept going until it got back to black top in the Shenandoah National Park.  He lied…again.  I reached the end only to find that the road into the park was barred.  So…I turned around and went back the way I came. Later, that same year, I was back on black top and thanking God that my car still ran.

The next morning I headed out once again on the final leg of my journey…and by the middle of the day I would have gladly driven on that pig trail again.  You see, I’m used to driving in the midwest, the southwest and out west where the roads are traffic free and the spaces are wide open.  I wasn’t in Kansas anymore!  Take a look at the comparison.

Awful…and expensive.  I took the toll roads because they were supposedly quicker.  I found out later that the route I took using these toll roads only saved me 15 minutes and they cost me nearly $50!  To add insult to injury my GPS said to take the next exit to the left and when I did I ended up in the Bronx.  I was not impressed and the deal making with God started anew.

I arrived in Connecticut at dusk.  The house I was staying in is owned by a church in Connecticut and is located on the Willimantic Camp Meeting Association property in Willimantic, CT.  It was a blessing!

It was way more than I needed but so nice to have.  3 bedrooms, a screen porch where I had breakfast in the mornings, a washer and dryer, fully stocked kitchen…it had it all.

I spent the next several days meeting with different people about the possibility of reaching out to the Native Americans there.  To read about that you can go to the page marked “New England” on this blog.  I also had the opportunity to give a presentation to a group at the campground where I was staying.

Besides the meetings and contacts I was making I also went to Rhode Island to visit with old family friends, Ronny and Sug Grant, and that was such a pleasure.   I did a little exploring while in Connecticut as well.  You know how much I love cemeteries and you can’t drive 10 feet without coming across another one while in New England.  And they are ALL old!

I got a chance to drive to Mystic, CT.  Mystic is a town that revolves around its seaport and was featured in the movie, “Mystic Pizza” starring Julia Roberts.  And yes, I had a slice and it was pretty good. 🙂

The colors were fading but the ground was covered with leaves…

The architecture in New England is beautiful and very…well..very New England.

I got the chance to go to Kent Falls State Park, a little piece of land in CT with a beautiful waterfall…

I also got a chance to go into historic Litchfield, CT.  It was a beautiful day.  The wind was blowing and the sun was shining.  Here is an old church  in Litchfield…a Congregational Church….very popular in New England.

Decorations were as plentiful as leaves.  They ranged from beautiful…

…to bizarre!

Everyone I met was especially kind and welcoming, which kind of squashes the theory that New Englander’s are unfriendly!  And…while I was the one with the accent to them, I could have listened to them all day.  One gentleman sounded like every Mark Whalberg movie I had ever seen.

New England is quaint, historic (for America), beautiful, crowded and small. No matter where I was, it didn’t take long to get anywhere else…even other states! But even with that fact, I did alot of driving and I must admit, I’m a bit tired of it and I’m glad to be home.  I’ve put almost 20,000 miles on my car just since April! But there is one thing I know for sure.  God’s Holy Spirit is in New England.  I experienced Him in His people and I am a better person for having gone there.

The next few months are going to be dedicated to speaking in churches, raising funds for next Spring, Summer and Fall and working on schedules, programs and groups for the different areas I am going to be serving in.  I am also headed back to the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin the week after Christmas. We’ll be bringing shoebox ministry gifts to the children there at an “After Christmas Party” at the Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church.

I appreciate all of your prayers and contributions.  God is so faithful through each one of you and I couldn’t do any of this without you!  I hope I’ll get the chance to visit with you while I am home for the winter.  God bless you all!

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!

 

 

 

“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.

New Life…

It’s been an interesting week here at Lac du Flambeau.  Mr. Ed came home from the hopsital and then had to return.  Mrs. Virginia is lost without him.  Here’s a shot of the two of them acting silly after he got home.

He should be able to come home again tomorrow.  I hope so!

Mrs. Judy had eye surgery Wednesday and came home Thursday night.  Her surgery went well but she has now come down with the flu.  The house I am staying in while on the rez belongs to her.  She has been beyond generous and I’ve really come to love her.  Here’s a shot of where I’ve been living these three weeks.

I’ll miss this double wide on the rez…it’s MUCH better than the one I live in at home and it’s defintely better than the tents and tipis I’ll be sleeping in on other reservations this summer!

Friday night Mr. Buddy, Dar and Pam took me to eat supper.  After supper Dar and Pam invited me to come back to their house for a visit. They’ve got a full house.  A son, his girlfriend and her three children along with their daughter’s two children.  It’s a home filled with laughter and fun.  One of the sweetest sights I’ve seen the whole time I’ve been here was Dar singing a hymn to his grandson, Bryson.  Let me introduce you to Bryson…

He is bright eyed and full of life!  And, thanks to his grandparents, he will know the Lord!  I believe we are looking at a future Christian leader in the Native American community!

Then there’s Hazel…a beautiful little girl with lots of black hair and eyes to match.  She looks as if she’s questioning everyone and everything around her.

And this is a picture of Pam’s life!  She loves it but all I can say is, “Better Pam than me!”

Today was great because we had two more children come to Children’s Church!  They are Mrs. Virginia’s great, great nieces, Emily and Sky…

Their dad is Walter, Mrs. Virginia’s great nephew…and the operative word here is “great.”  Walter is there every time Mrs. Virginia needs him.  He is 34 years old and has six children that he is raising on his own…and he’ s doing it well. I have a great deal of admiration for him.

My beautiful niece, Kaylee, turned 12 on Thursday and she had her party yesterday. It was hot there and the kids played on a slip and slide that my brother made.  I have to admit, it made me kind of homesick.  I hate hot weather but playing around in the water on a hot day with my niece is always fun! The last two days here on the rez have been cold and dreary outside. The kind of days that make you want to stay inside and sleep or read a good book.  Getting out of bed this morning was not easy until I got to church and saw this…

It just kind of puts everything into perspective doesn’t it?  God shows us through nature how everything is always changing.  Everything comes to an end and begins again.

The children on this reservation are the future of this reservation.  There’s a church in a nearby town (not on the rez) that picks the reservation children up on Wednesday’s and brings them to a special children’s program at the church.  The kids are learning God’s Word and I’m pleased with that.  The church that is ministering to these kids is great but once again, the children are experiencing Christ in the “white man’s world” rather than in their own. I want these kids to know that Jesus resides on their reservation as well!  Now is the time for that…I believe that this is the season of new life here at Lac du Flambeau….in nature and in the Church.  New groups are coming in behind me; the members here are prepared to reach out to the children in this community and lives are being restored on this reservation.  I’m so grateful that God allowed me to be a small part of it.

So, what’s next?  I’m headed home…to a place where I’m not the only one who “talks funny.”  I’m going to pick up my dog, love on my niece and nephew, have a fish fry at my Daddy’s, enjoy Mother’s Day with my Mama, go to a very special wedding, give Hudson and Denton a big bear hug, spend time with Josh and Nikki,  have a slumber party with my Mama and Kaylee, get ready for a new baby girl, go out with friends and finish preparing to leave again in June.  I’ll keep you posted…

as soon as I’m on the road again…

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