Every summer since 2008 I have participated with our church on a mission trip to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. This year's team left this morning, and I am not with them. I am so disappointed that I could not go along this year! It is a life-changing experience. This year I could really use some of the soothing and warming experiences that one receives there.
We call it a mission trip, and it is a lot of work for those who go, and they are hoping to accomplish some cultural bridge-building through the friendship and work that is done by our team.... however I have always felt on these trips that I receive more than I give. This year, were I to go along, I would definitely participate in the sweat lodge experience, and I know what I would pray for while in the sweat. A sweat, run by a Lakota Medicine Man, is a very moving and unique experience. I still feel moved by the memories of the one in which I participated in 2008. I hope I can go to Rosebud again next year.
Here is what my church friends are on their way to as I write -- these and a whole host of other new experiences, as each trip is unique and has special events that touch one's life. I am praying for our team and also that this year's trip will be just as meaningful and fun as ever:
the long, long drive to Rosebud in Mission, South Dakota.. can't remember how long, but I'd say 8 to 10 hours from here to there.
Russell, the director of Tree of Life Agency who directs our work.. giving some cultural and historical information, as well as guidance on the goals of our work/interactions with the people of Rosebud. He does a fabulous job!
sometimes we're lucky and get to hold babies
one year we got to tutor in a summer school program... I just loved these kids!
the Warm Welcome kitchen is a fun place in which to volunteer - for some good chances to meet and greet the local folks
... or working in the thrift shop is fun; one gets a good idea of what is needed and useful to donate for the local residents. This year our church sent along tons of diapers.
going out to work on someone's home is another good way to meet local residents and to do hands-on helpful work
a fun extra for the volunteers is opportunities to learn about native culture.. here he was explaining about how mocassins are made