Wherever He leads I'll go

Posts tagged ‘south dakota’

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!”

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.

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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