I must apologize for the length of time its taken to get something up here, and I owe that to many things, but I'll try to cover everything you might have missed during our cybenetic silence. Anybody new here might not know we got back a few weeks ago from two consecutive trips, both very special, both very different in culture, but both very similar in spirit.
We finished the trip to South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on that Friday. I have to be careful, because I usually start a countdown about half way though the trip. Up until then, I'm saying to myself "Ok, this is a mission trip, you're supposed to be uncomfortable, so settle into the groove". About the time I hit that groove, someone says something about hamburgers, and I loose it. I start a minute and second countdown that drives me nuts, not to mention causes me to miss some opportunities that God set up for me ahead of time. A few things happened on that last day that bears mentioning. First, there was a really cool what I would call "fire line" to get all the food and candy that we didn't eat into a trailer so it could be given away. As always, by the time I got up there to help, wouldn't you know it, they had finished...they work so fast! Second, we've been to many places, and seen al kinds of weather conditions. I think we even got stuck in the mud on several occasions, and I'm sure we even got stuck on a concrete driveway once (don't even ask). But NOTHING compares to what had to happen to get us back on the road from the reservation. See, when snow melts you got water. When water hits dirt, you got mud. When all there is is snow and dirt, you got a mess. And thats what we were in, but not for long. To get us out, one of the locals helping us out was towing the buses with the largest tractor I had ever seen, but this wasn't working, so he left to go get the "Big One".....What? In my mind that WAS the big one. He comes back a while later with a tractor twice the size and more wheels than Hector can count (sorry, man). It pulled both of our busses out as if they were made of plastic and only 2 inches long. I don't think it slowed down for one minute. If you're into those bulldozer videos, this would have definitely made your day.
As for my closing thoughts on the whole trip, I refer to my journal because I think if I try to rephrase things, it might not actually capture the moments:
"Poverty doesn't seem to shock me...because I know it's not what you live in, or what you eat [that matters] there are some very happy 'poor' people"
(*Side Note*: I think we pitty the poor sometimes not because the Bible tells us to protect the downtrodden and oppressed, but because they don't have a three bedroom house, or cable. We call ourselves "blessed". But we are blessed because we are saved from sin and the power it had over us. We are raised from death to life, and are free...not because there are two cars in our garage)
" The people there are so defeated, and to try to give them Jesus, means they have to hope and trust - words that I think have lost all meaning to them. They just exist. Which is why I can sympathize. To merely exist is not to live at all, and for the ones who decide to give up, they seem like the smartest ones. The next group are the ones who try to drown it out or numb it away. Lastly are the ones who have lost all their humanity and given up to become like animals, running in packs (gangs), and preying on the weak."
"David and his new wife, Rochelle wanted us to be a part of thier wedding ceremony, because he wanted us to witness his commitment to God and his wife. People seldom get married here, let alone commit themselves to one another. I played the music, and Melodee helped me think of what to play at the last minute. I think it was 'Jesus Be the Center'. Great sunset here to close out this trip. I shake my head at what Gary and Laurie have left to do here."
Lastly, if you want to donate money to these guys, go to the Wings As Eagle's Ministries website. And if you don't, pray for Gary and Laurie Mcafee.
Next blog, we'll cover what happened in the days following that. On our trip to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).