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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!

 

 

 

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.

“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.

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