Again, we woke up, shared breakfast together and headed to the main building for morning devotions. It really is such a nice way to start the day - outside, listening to all kinds of inspiring things, and laughing together.
(Carol's ready and waiting for what we might learn today!)
And we're off - ready to head to our jobs for the day:
Beth J., Carol, and I headed to the town of St. Francis to help some kindergarten-3rd graders with their reading skills. We were able to listen to their morning lesson, help them pronounce, read, and write their words for the week and learn a little bit about their lives in the process. We played at recess (man, I got tagged a lot!). We sat down with them at the lunch table, accompanied them through the free-book-mobile (where they were able to take 3 books home for free!), and read and played with them til it was time to go home. This was summer school - a class of about 14. Their teacher, Mrs. G, was amazing - so devoted to these kids! Her warmth and dedication was inspiring to all of us. And the kids! They were so fun, so smart, and so deperately wanting attention and love - and that, we were able to give in abundance! (I think many of us wish we could have done this all week!)
(Mrs. G and Clinton)
(Carol and Logan)
(Victoria, Beth J., and Lakota)
(McKenzie, Kalieb, Me, and Lakota)
(Reading their new "Berenstein Bears" Book!)
Amy got to help with gardening and landscaping around the grounds today. She loved the hard, dirty work - and the areas she cleaned up looked beautiful when she was done!
Beth R. returned to her post in the thrift shop - she loved it so much, she didn't want to try anything else!
And Kathy tried her hand at working in the sewing room - making curtains and shopping bags. A nice way to spend part of the day - quiet, air-conditioned, and self-directed.
After our days of work, back to the house for some relaxation, showers, and quiet time. And Amy continues to take good care of us with great meals!
Since we got home early today, I took some pictures of our house. Let me show you around!
(The living room - many evenings spent talking, laughing, and (some of the team) knitting here!)
(Our breakfast nook - another nice place to hang out together.)
(A typical bedroom. Since we were a small group, we had the upstairs 3 bedrooms - so only two of us to each bedroom.)
Tonight our activity choices were 1) Participating in a traditional Sweat Lodge Ceremony or 2) Learning the story behind and how to make Dreamcatchers.
Beth J. and I decided to brave the sweat lodge ceremony. Uffda. That is HOT! But so amazing. Our tribal leader, or medicine man, was Duane Hollow Horn Bear. He is a well-respected leader among the Sioux, has had a fascinating life (including being part of the boarding schools when he was young, has overcome drug and alcohol abuse to be a powerful role model to his people today AND he has traveled all over the world trying to get other countries to recognize the Reservations as sovereign nations - even as far as having an audience with the Pope!). He did a wonderful job of explaining the spirituality of his culture, of explaining the purpose and power of the sweat lodge prayer ceremony, he sang tribal songs, told the creation story, and all-in-all made me greatful to be in his presence. As we began the ceremony, the door closed to the tent-like lodge, the heat rose up to almost unbearable, the darkness was complete, and Duane began to sing in the Lakota language... It became a powerful, prayer time. It was so easy to find myself meditating on all thet I was learning and asking God to open my eyes more and more everyday... And God certainly found a way to open my heart as well. A beautiful experience.
(This is the lodge a couple of days later - no pictures are allowed during the ceremony since it is a sacred space.)
Here is a wonderful description of a Sweat Lodge Ceremony if you are curious to learn more.
The others went to learn about Dreamcatchers - and brought back beautiful new creations! (I'm hoping next year to do that, too!)
Once again, the evening ended with devotionals. We shared highs and lows of the day and read the story of the Good Samaritan. We had an interesting discussion about the ways we see ourselves in that story and how we react to others... It's amazing what being in a place of such poverty brings out in conversation. Once again, we prayed our thanks and our concerns and ended the evening feeling lucky, alive, and blessed to be here!
(This is our picnic space in the backyard of our house - such a nice space to have! And... look at those ladies holding up their Bibles! What a good church group!)
"The best servers are not those who are the most talented, gifted, or trained. All of these qualities are important, but the real productivity comes through connection with God. When we are willing to get beyond ourselves and into his strength and abilities, that's when God's love flows through us and touches the lives of other people."
--John Ed Mathison, "Treasures of a Transformed Life"
"If you can't feed one hundred people, then feed just one."
(All photos courtesy of Carol E. and Megan A.)