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.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mission Trip to Rosebud Reservation 2010 - Day 3

Day 3 - Already?!  It seems like time is flying!

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."
--Mother Teresa

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

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mission Trip to Rosebud Reservation 2010 - Day 2

Up and at 'em!

Breakfast at the house, devotions at the main ministry building.

Russell did a great job of leading morning devotions - bringing our Christian faith and the tribal spirituality into focus in a way that helps us see the beautiful similarities.  He taught us about aspects of the culture, Lakota words, and some tribal history that helps us to learn why things are the way they are.  I found myself wanting to sit and listen to Russell all day!  He was interesting.  Enthusiastic.  Funny.  And he LOVES the people on the reservation and wants so badly to help us to love them, too.  He does a wonderful job.

After devotions we were off to our jobs!  Beth J. and I headed to the clothes closet to start unpacking boxes - sorting what could be used and what should be thrown away.  We organized, hung up, folded, and made the clothes look nice for today's customers.  It's amazing how many clothes are donated!  (And how many are not able to be used...  Just a note for future donators - no corduroys or turtlenecks for the reservation.  They just get thrown out.)
(We made it through all of those boxes and MANY more throughout the day!)

Carol worked in the "Warm Welcome" the area of the thrift store that serves breakfast and lunch.  She got to help prepare and serve meals (hard work!) and chat with the people as they came through...  She was even known to entertain some little kids in the meantime!
(Carol made that pretty quilted sign for the Warm Welcome area.  Isn't it fun?)

Beth R. started out in the warehouse unpacking food items and stocking the shelves - but was quickly snatched up to work the front desk!  She loved the responsibility and the joy of talking to people and seeing their smiles as they left with what they needed.

Amy and Kathy made the drive to the town of St Francis to help tutor small kids in reading for half of the day.  A VERY rewarding way to spend the day!  When they returned, Amy went back to the house to rest and prepare our meals...
And Kathy was all over the place!  She got to work in the warehouse unloading and shelving food, making room for new shipments coming in.  Hard work!  Then, in the afternoon, she joined me in the clothes closet.  It's really amazing how many clothes you can go through in one day - and how many are taken home! 

In the afternoon, we were able to go back to the house (where Amy had chocolate chip cookies for us!), shower, eat dinner and relax before our evening activities and devotionals.

Our evening fun tonight was one of two choices:  1) Learning about Native American "Handgames" or 2) Listening to a speaker about Native American artifacts.

I chose Handgames.  I was ready for some fun and excited to hang out with the youth group kids from our house.  Our whole group decided to take part in this activity.  Midas, our teacher, is one of the people on the Rosebud Handgames team that won the national competition this year - so we were being taught by the best!  It's really a guessing game.  You hide things in your hands while the other team guesses which hand has the right object.  The fun is - you're allowed to distract and tease and have fun with the other team...  Amy decided to distract and tempt the men (when we were playing men against women) by offering them our chocolate chip cookies and cold milk.  To much laughter - it worked!  The boys couldn't help themselves, lost focus, and - lost the game!  We had so much fun laughing as we learned about this ancient game - Midas was a great teacher!
(These are the sticks you are trying to earn - all handmade!)
(These are the "bones" you hide in your hands - the "guesser" is looking for the plain one."
(Amy's "hiding the bones" while Midas teaches us the way to play.)
(The first round, Beth R. and I were on a team with some men-folk from the other group.  We won!)

After the program was over and everyone went their own ways, we spent some time talking with some of the adults staying in our house... and then got around to our devotions - again outside on such a nice night!  We shared our highs and lows of the day, read scripture, talked about what "service" really means and discussed what it means to truly "see" the needs of those around us.  To wrap up we prayed - offering thanks and lifting situations that we witnessed throughout the day that needed a little extra prayer...  A great way to end the day.

Life is good on the reservation.  Hard work, lots of smiles and laughs, learning lots, and loving this experience!

"The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."
--Albert Schweitzer

"You and I were created for a purpose, and that purpose is to serve.  His Word says that if we want to be happy and fulfilled, we'll never get there just by receiving.  We also have to give...
"...Love has to be the motivating factor."
--John Ed Mathison, "Treasures of a Transformed Life"

(Photos courtesy of Carol E. and Megan A.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mission Trip to Rosebud Reservation 2010 - Day 1

We're on our way to Rosebud Reservation in Mission, South Dakota for Mission Trip 2010!
(Carol, Beth, Megan, Beth, Amy, and Kathy - cars are packed, it's early and we're smiling, we're ready to hit the road!)

The 9-hour drive to Mission, SD, was full of lively conversation as we continued to get to know one another, and shared expectations (and fears) about what we would see and learn in the coming week. We saw the recent tornado damage around southwestern MN and were shocked at the destruction. And gradually, the landscape began to change - rolling, green hills were beckoning us (as well as Wall Drug signs)! It was beautiful! I couldn't wait to see a sunset over those hills!

We arrived at Tree of Life Ministries around 5pm. We unpacked. Amy made us a delightful, healthy dinner! We had a few moments to meet the other group that would be co-habitating in the house with us (a youth group from Kansas - nice to have such energy and enthusiasm in the house!). And finally, we had our orientation for the week.
(Our dining area in the house - Perfect for our group!)
(Mmmmm... Stir-fry!)

Russell, the Tree of Life Ministries coordinator, led our orientation about what the week would entail. His passion for this ministry and the culture of the Lakota Sioux was very apparent and made all of us excited to share this experience with him!

We signed up for our jobs for the week - everything from working in the Thrift Shop, the Warm Welcome Center (serving meals), the sewing room, tutoring young kids in reading, construction, sorting clothes and food in the warehouse, gardening and landscaping, etc. Lots of choices!

We ended the evening with our own small group devotionals outside on a gorgeous evening! We talked about gratitude in the midst of the unexpected - and handed out gratitude journals for the week. On a mission trip, you just never know what frustrations may pop up - but at least we were ready to look at everything the happened with a lens of gratitude and watching for God in the details.
It's going to be a good week. We can all feel it. And we're ready to see where God leads!

"God has a place for every person. And when he gets them there, he empowers them to do what he needs done...
"...Doing the best we can, with what we have, where we are - is the biblical standard of serving."
--John Ed Mathison, "Treasures of a Transformed Life"

(Pictures courtesy of Carol E. and Megan A.)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Photo Hunt: Purple

Flowers from the St Paul Farmers' Market.  Beautiful!
Things I am thankful for today:

1.  I'm all packed and ready to go!
2.  The car is clean.
3.  Leaving funny notes all over the house for the hubby.
4.  More thunderstorms = the pooch cuddled up with me!
5.  Texting with the hubby while he's at a Jimmy Buffet concert...  Too funny.
6.  A new hat.
7.  The movie, "Southbounders."  It's about two people who meet on the Appalachian Trail while doing a through-hike.  The hubby will love it and it has great music!
8.  Netflix.
9.  Laundry's done.
10.  The sound of rain on the windows.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Fave Five - June 25th

As I'm getting ready for our mission trip to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota...  I have so much to do!  So this will be short and sweet this week:
1.  Discovering the Stone Arch Festival in Minneapolis.  So fun!

2.  Celebrating Father's Day with my family.  Lots of laughs and yummy food!

3.  Date night with the hubby.  Tuesday night we went to our favorite restaurant and enjoyed a movie at home.  A perfect relaxing evening.

4.  Going to Valleyfair with some youth group kids.  I love the rollercoasters and thrill rides!  So fun.

5.  Lots of people sharing good news these days!  Good things happening for people.  Makes me smile!

And today I am thankful for:

1.  Sleeping in.  Thanks, pup!
2.  Having lunch with the hubby before he left town for the weekend.
3.  Almost packed for my trip!
4.  Crazy thunderstorms - and staying safe during them.
5.  Re-discovering lots of music on our itunes!
6.  Loving the book, "Eat Pray Love."
7.  Heifer International Study Tours...  Interesting one to Indonesia.  Looks fun!
8.  My new Cooking Light magazine...
9.  Travel size toiletries.  Cute.
10.  Having the whole bed to myself on a hot, sticky night!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


"You pray in your distress and in your need.  Would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance."
--Kahlil Gibran

What a day!  So much to pray for and so much to be grateful for...

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Lunch with Kylie.  She's moving to Ohio on Tuesday - prayers for her family!
2.  Enjoying an hour in the afternoon sun with the hubby and the dog!
3.  Root beer.
4.  Our last mission trip meeting - we're ready to go!
5.  Hubby made yummy pizzas for dinner.  Mmmm....
6.  Watching the movie "In Bruges."  The scenery in the city of Bruges, Belgium is wonderful!  The movie is quirky - but the more I think about it, the more I liked it.  (Beware - very violent ending!)
7.  Linda made it to Open Sanctuary!  (I didn't get to talk with her since I was in a meeting, but it was good to know she was there.  Please keep her in your prayers!)
8.  Haagen Dazs "Five" ice creams.  Yum.
9.  Sidewalk chalk.
10.  A lively conversation with my sister, Em, on the phone tonight!  Ha ha ha.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yummy Wednesday - Morel Risotto

I know, I know.  Another morel recipe?!  Yep.  It's just that good.  If you have access to fresh morels in the spring, and all you've ever done is saute them with butter and garlic... Try this.  It takes a little time, but it is very easy - and so worth the effort! 

Morel Risotto
from Cooking Light magazine, May 2010

You'll need:

4 cups Homemade Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 pound morel mushrooms, halved lengthwise (you can use dried mushrooms, too!)
1 cup uncooked Carnaroli or Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

To make:
1. Bring Homemade Chicken Stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, onion, and thyme to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms; cook 1 minute. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in vermouth; cook 30 seconds or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup stock; cook 4 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Add cheese, cream, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; top with chives.

Makes 8 side servings or 4 main servings.


Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Strawberry jam on ice cream.
2.  Sunscreen.
3.  Valleyfair amusement park.
4.  Thrill rides!
5.  Funnel cakes.
6.  Cool youth group kids.
7.  Some lovely people offering to do some things for me next week while I'm away from the office.  So nice!
8.  A very nice note in the mail - with prayers for our mission trip.
9.  Crazy weather!  Sun, rain, hot, cold - all just on the drive home - and all day long!  Minnesota weather: it keeps you on your toes!
10.  Coconut M&Ms!  Yum!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


"To be born is to be chosen.  No one is here by accident.  Each one of us was sent here for a special destiny...  For millions of years, before you arrived here, the dream of your individuality was carefully prepared.  You were sent to a shape of destiny in which you would be able to express the special gift you bring to the world...  Sometimes this gift may involve suffering and pain that can neither be accounted for nor explained...  It is in the depths of your life that you will discover the invisible necessity that has brought you here."
--John O'Donohue, from "Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom"


Things I am thankful for today:

1.  The hubby taking my car for an oil change and check up.
2.  Windows that roll down in a car with no air conditioning.  Uffda.
3.  Being told I looked "glamorous" today.  Too funny.
4.  Fun plans for a summer church campout.
5.  Time to read for fun.
6.  New pictures of Elly.  Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!  (If you're in the Twin Cities and need a photographer, check out Katharine Elizabeth Photography.  Here's a link to her blog, with pics of our goddaughter, Elly.  I think she was born to be a model...)
7.  Going out to dinner with the hubby, to our favorite spot.  San Pedro Cafe.
8.  Free key lime pie.  Yum.
9.  Air conditioning on a hot, humid night.
10.  The hubby liking my frizzy wispy curls on a humid day...  I hate these things - but they make him smile.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Quotes

"Any day I wake up is a good day."
--Duke Ellington

"Laughter is an instant vacaton!"
--Milton Berle

"Self-trust is the first secret of success."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Live with your whole being all the days of your life!  Your reward will be true happiness!"
--Rebecca Thomas Shaw

"To make a difference in the world, you must first dare to be different."
--American Proverb

Just a few "happy" quotes to brighten your day...  I especially found Emerson's to be helpful today...

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Waking up slowly.
2.  The book, "Eat Pray Love" - I didn't want to like it, but I do!
3.  I never turned the TV on today.  Beautiful.
4.  Time at the pool.
5.  Leftovers made into a yummy lunch.
6.  Getting ready for next week's mission trip.
7.  Sunshine in the evening.
8.  Watching "Crazy Heart" with the hubby.  Great movie!
9.  The hubby and I swapping stories about our weekends.
10.  Facebook statuses - some people just make me laugh!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin