Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mission Trip to Rosebud Reservation 2010 - Day 4

A day off?!  Already?  It feels like we just got started!

Oh well...  I guess we'll suck it up and do some exploring!

No devotions with the whole group this morning, so instead we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the house and planned our day.  Kathy, Beth J., Beth R., and Megan would head out to the Badlands and Wall Drug; and Carol and Amy would stay a little closer to Rosebud and explore the Nebraska town of Valentine - waterfall and all!

A few pictures from the Badlands adventure:
(Kathy, Beth, and Beth.  Notice the haze in the air?  It's at least 98 degrees!)
(Me - enjoying a picturesque rest...)
(Our new friend - a bighorn sheep!)
(Lunch and some fun at Wall Drug!)

And a couple from the beautiful waterfall (perfect in 98 degree weather!):
(A perfect way to enjoy a hot day!)

And now, to continue sharing about Tree of Life Ministry, here are interesting facts about the Rosebud Reservation and the ministry being done there:

"*  7 of the poorest 11 counties in the USA are the reservations of the Sioux Tribe.  South Dakota's average household income is $39,000/year, but on the Rosebud reservation it is only $7,200/year.  Unemployment is 80%.  To have an idea of what a yearly income of $7,200 would be - try living on a grocery budget of $21 a week.
*  Because of this poverty, health is very poor on the reservation.  70% of the population suffers from diabetes.  The average life span for a man is 54 years old, 58 for a woman.  Suicide is twice as high as the national average, and 4 times as high among teens.  70% of 12 year olds through adults suffer from alcoholism.  (Alcohol poisoning is not an uncommon cause of death amongst children and teens.)
*  Tree of Life Ministry has been on the reservation since 1986 - since it's humble beginnings, it has grown to the 2nd largest destination for United Methodist Volunteers in Missions.  In 2008, 1,300 volunteers from 10 different denominations came to the Rosebud Tree of Life location.
*  The mission of Tree of Life is to build a "bridge of trust" between the Sioux and the Church.  Because of the negative meaning given to the ideas of "Christian" and "church," we usually just say we "walk the Jesus path."  An enemy is not interested in hearing about your faith, so we must first show that we are worthy of trust, and able to be a friend showing the love of Jesus.  As these bridges are built, dialogue might begin on an individual basis, and the good news may be shared and understood.  The Tree of Life mission statement says, "Nurture the Body, Strengthen the Culture, Enhance the Spirit."

In summary, Tree of Life is building a bridge of trust between the Sioux and those who follow the Jesus Path.  Most of our history with the Sioux has been filled with treachery, betrayal and lies by the Wasicu ("those who take the fat", meaning that we often took the filet of meat and left the natives with the poorest cuts).  We are part of a generation that seeks to overcome our past history and offer respect and understanding.  We are called to reach out in friendship to those who live on the reservation, and show them the essence of real Christian faith.  The Sioux are a joyful and friendly people, who consider us to be "mi-tak-u-ye o-ya-sin" (all my relatives)."
--Facts taken from the Tree of Life information packet handed out at orientation

"When the world looks at the church, they should see something different.  They should see something that's so different from their own way of doing things, in fact, that they're compelled to ask what causes the difference to happen.  The ability to live an unselfish life, to really be able to pour yourself out in service to others, makes people sit up and take notice...
"...Are we using what we do have?  Are we willing to step out there and let God pick up the slack?  Amazing things can happen, you know."
--John Ed Mathison, "Treasures of a Transformed Life"

(All photos courtesy of Carol E. and Megan A.)

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