Here's a quick recap of our week with Tree of Life Ministry:
Sunday: Hope in the car at 8am and head out! The drive was about 8 hours... with a quick detour in Mitchell, SD, for lunch. (Tell me again - how did we get lost in Mitchell, see half the town, and NEVER caught a glimpse of the Corn Palace?!) We got to Mission about 5pm, got settled into our little red house, had a delicious dinner, attended orientation, and enjoyed some time as a small group talking about our day and expectations for the week. Bed time was early as we anticipated what the week would bring!
(Home sweet home, for the week.)
(Devotions as a group every night. We agreed to journal about our experiences as we watched for God throughout the week.)
Monday: Devotions in the yard with the other teams (about 30 of us) - Russell was spot-on as always. Full of wonderful lessons and uplifting stories of the changes that are happening. He's a wonderful bridge between the cultures (bringing joy and friendship, respect and dignity to all he works with)! I ended up working in the warehouse all week with Beth and Lydia. We stocked store shelves, loaded trucks and delivered goods around town, unloaded deliveries, and sorted through boxes upon boxes of products... Sounds like a boring day, but there's always stuff to do! In the evening, we went to hear Dolores Kills In Water do a presentation about the artifacts she has collected over the years (many going back multiple generations in her family). She's in her late 80's and continues to do the presentations in order to teach people about the strength and beauty of her culture (especially the women). It was an honor to sit a listen to her stories...
(Russell delivering his morning lesson and devotion out in the back yard - a beauitful morning!)
(The artifacts we got to learn about - they all travel in a couple of suitcases... She's like "Mary Poppins!")
(Delores Kills In Water - one spunky, fascinating woman.)
Tuesday: Back to the warehouse! Stocking (the never ending supply of) Kool-Aid Jammers, sorting Wal-Mart returns (make-up, hair products, fake nails, skin care, etc), delivering hand sanitizer to businesses around town and books to the local library. Hard work - but fun people to work with, and starting to get to know some of the people who always work in the shop and warehouse. In the evening, we got to peruse local crafts and art at an art fair and then see a presentation by Steve Tamayo and his family about the history of the arts of the Lakota Sioux. (I met him last year and was fascinated by him... It was fun to see him again!) His whole family are experts in the native traditional arts - like textiles, dress-making, buffalo hide tanning, headdress making, etc, etc. He's the person the Smithsonion Museum calls when they need help with Native American artifacts. Pretty cool, huh? (We also got to play some "handgames" while we were waiting for the other group. It's pretty much a game of guessing and trickery... It's perfect for the mischievious. I love it - and Steve loves to tease me during it. Next year, I'll be ready for him!)
(If I ever see another Kool-Aid Jammer... it will be too soon!)
(The arts and crafts fair - fun stuff! I bought a necklace from Floyd - the same person I bought earrings from last year. He seemed shocked that I remembered him and appreciated his stuff - as well as his beautiful paintings!)
(Beth and Lydia - too cute!)
(Hand Games! Lydia and Laura are hiding the "bones.")
(Then, the opponents guess which hand it's in - by her smile, we probably guessed wrong...)
(These are what you're trying to win - once you have all of them, your team wins! It can take forever!)
(My guess is, Steve is giving my team a hard time here... He's very sneaky, that Steve.)
(All items made by Steve and his family - beautiful craftsmanship!)
Wednesday: Our day off! We headed out to Mount Rushmore, Bear Country USA, lunch in Keystone, and dinner at Wall Drug. A very fun and lively day!
(Carly, Corrine, Laura, Lydia, Beth, and I at Mount Rushmore!)
(Keystone, SD - got our tourist-y fresh taffy here!)
(Bear Country USA - Lydia begged to go here... I'm glad we did! Cheesy? Yes. But totally fun!)
(The ride back to Rosebud... A beautiful evening!)
(Some of the shelves we help to keep stocked.)
(The clothes closet - always a job in progress. As soon as a box is emptied, the stuff is taken out to the store - it's never ending!)
(The warehouse... after we emptied it once... Yowzers.)
Friday: Our last day of work - and another sweltering hot one! I busted my butt trying to accomplish as much as I could on this last day... And about 2pm I lost all steam. I was ready to be done. And of course, a 15 passenger van pulls up - with no seats in it - it's just piled floor to ceiling with bedding, donated from a church! We started unloading... A huge job in the heat! But by the time we were done, fruit smoothies were waiting for us inside! I tell ya - that made my day! It's funny, in the midst of the heat - this was probably my favorite day. We had worked with Adrian, John, Teresa, and Ray all week - but today we really started seeing each other's worlds and sharing bits of our lives with one another. Adrian kept asking me if I really worked for a church...? Seriously? He was trying to feel out if I could respect his tradtional beliefs while I was Christian - we came to the conclusion that we were probably both worshipping the same great Creator, just in different ways. And he walked away with a big smile at that! John shared stories about his little daughter. Teresa made us laugh everyday - all while dealing with cancer herself and looking after everyone in her community with such nurture and devotion. And Ray just made us smile - she's revamped this center into a community gathering place full of laughter and commaraderie that wasn't there last year. It was fun to see her living out her gifts and talents in such a wonderful way! It was hard to say good-bye this year... Such a special community.
(John and Adrian - good guys.)
(Lydia, Beth, and Teresa - a special lady in our hearts.)
(Ray - can't wait to see what her energy, passion, and creativity will do with the Welcome Center by next year!)
(I predicted we'd stock the last Jammers by noon on Friday. Lydia was overjoyed to place the last case at 11:59am!)
(And there you have it - a "darn tootin'" good trip! Right, Lydia?)