The last two days have been awesome and overwhelming.
Yesterday we started all of the manual labor that we’re here to help with. Well, before that Tyler (the youth pastor here and the one who has been guiding us the whole time) led a morning devotional, which was cool. Then, he explained all of the projects that need done this week and we split into teams. It’s really cool getting to help with all of it because it’s obvious they need it. We literally work all day… there’s a lot to be done here. Some of the jobs are painting and mudding, putting in a wood (ish) floor, making the youth room more presentable, and putting insulation in upstairs. Oh yeah, Corey is also doing some sort of metal work to help stabilize the building. Max, Sarah L., Shayne, and myself have been on insulation (and none of us have ever done it before, ha). So, my group started by cutting a hole in the ceiling to get up there. Then, we broke into twos- one pair feeding the machine and another up in the attic spreading it out. Yesterday it was so hot in there that my feet were all wrinkly from all the sweat. I know, gross. But the awesome part about it was getting to talk with each other while doing the work. Sarah and I talked about some sweet things probably more than we have ever in the past, and I also got to hear Shayne’s testimony (he’s from the Columbus group) and that was awesome. So many of these Columbus people are amazing servants (and incredibly fun).
Then, we had “Teen Night.” Tyler took a few of our people with him on their big school bus to pick up the kids. I’ll touch on that later, because I got to ride with him today. But, then Max and Corey taught on 1 John and did really well. They did this tag-team approach and really complimented one another well. Then, the rest of the night we hung out with the teenagers and one another. The unity within our group is already out of this world, which is wild because a lot of us didn’t know everyone before coming. God is so cool like that.
Today we did the same morning and daytime routine. We all got a lot more accomplished than yesterday because we knew more what we were doing. My crew actually finished the whole insulation job (2,000 square feet!) by 5pm. I wish I had some pictures of how messy everyone was.
After that, it was time for Oyate Concern’s main church meeting. For that, the adults and teenagers go into one area for church and the younger kids go into another room for a teaching for them. Some of the girls from Columbus led that. Bryan and I had the opportunity to teach their church, which was so fun and hard. Leading up to it we decided to change up our approach and outline just a few hours before. It was nerve-wracking because we don’t have the best understanding of the people here, especially when compared to teaching people back home who we know and see every week. It really led us to have to just trust God with it and pray something sticks. We taught on Ephesians 5, which in short says to not do things like sleep around and get drunk but instead be filled by the spirit. It was intimidating because there is a huge problem with alcohol on the reservation. Bryan mainly taught on the negative effects of such things and shared his testimony and I taught on the awesome things God wants to show us/do through us if we actively live in the spirit. God doesn’t want to stop our fun or something, he’s actually trying to show us a better way that is, well, better.
Anyway, it was hard knowing what impact it had. There were also a lot of crying babies during my part, but I think it went alright. I counted 33 people (not including ours) who were there. On top of that, there were probably 50 young kids in the other room. Afterward, we all hung out, talked, played basketball, and other things with everyone. Then, Bryan and I went with some others and rode the bus to take the kids home. It was seriously crazy. Kids were running around, fighting, yelling, but also obviously wanting the attention of the adults. I have no idea how Tyler does it, but he does it well (he drives the bus, too). Seeing all of the poverty as we drove through the area was really sad. Probably the coolest part was talking with one of the girls who sat next to me (about ten different kids filtered in and out), Chloe. She’s 8. A lot of the trip she was really silly, pulling my hair and stuff and fighting with other kids. But, at the end, I felt I had to say something about Jesus since I’d probably never see her again. So, I told her that Jesus loves her. She said, “what?” so I got closer and told her. The first thing she said is that my breath smells, which was kind of funny and probably true. But, then she straight up asked me who Jesus is. I was kind of blown away because I’ve never been asked that, I don’t think. I said, “You’ve never heard of him” and she said she has. I was confused and prodded, and she said she has heard of him but doesn’t know who he is. So, I told her all about him and how he died and rose for her because he loves her. I have no idea what got through, but I hope something did. I don’t even know if she was messing with me or not, but it really didn’t seem like it. It was the most serious she was the whole half hour ride. Sorry to go on and on about her, but it was really cool and sad and eye-opening.
Since then, we’ve been hanging out more with the people and each other. Collin and I are upstairs right now talking as I’m writing this, actually. It has been so cool to see him have fun this week and work hard with a great attitude. He’s also really good with kids, though he thinks the opposite. It’s kinda crazy all the change God has done in his life. Thankful to get to witness that, too.
Tomorrow is somehow already our last full day on the reservation. We’re going to finish up our work and do another Blow Out (kids night).
Here’s a picture of the area where we’re staying and working. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some overall convictions and burdens next time. Thanks for all the support/prayers.