Saturday, July 23, 2016

Leech Lake - Friday

We're on our way home! We have stopped for the evening at Lake Street United Methodist Church in Eau Claire, WI (it's the same church we stayed at four years ago on our way home from Minneapolis). A huge thank-you to them for opening their church to us. We're all tired, we've talked about our trip and our stories today help us look back at what we've done. We've had lots of stories of kids, tonight we have a couple of hard working guys. Thanks for all your prayers and support, we hope to be home tomorrow!

This mission trip has been a very great experience. I was placed on the work project group and it was some of the most satisfying work that I have done on a mission trip. We were tasked with the reparation and refurbishment of an old house which involved tearing down old boards and repainting the shutters, window frames, and other wooden paneling and walls on the exterior of the house. On the first day of working, one of the five children that lived in the house with their grandma came out to spend some time with us after some coaxing. She was probably around four or five, and very soft spoken. In fact she never even told us her name. Towards the end of the day she and I played a small little game of hide and seek, which involved me going to the opposite side of the porch and standing in the corner to have her immediately turn around and yell “Found you!” Well, after a couple of rounds she noticed the small purple bead that I had tied to my shoe laces. Earlier in the week we had put these beads on our shoes in order to represent how God always loves us. She asked me what it was for and I told her it was to remind me that God will always love me, and I asked her if she knew that God always loved her. She answered me yes, and even though it was a very small answer and very short exchange, it really had a large impact on me. This short conversation and her recognition that God always loved her really showed me that what we are doing in this community was actually having an impact and a lasting effect. This little girl who wouldn’t even tell us her name was able to recognize that God would always love her, and that was really cool to me. This week has been full of fun, but I am glad to be coming home tomorrow and looking forward to sleeping in a real bed. -Jacob

This week was quite impressive, going in I didn’t really understand what an Indian reservation was like. When I got there I was shocked, the Indian reservation was not anything different than any other small rural community. In fact if I wasn’t told we were going to a reservation I probably wouldn’t ever know. I could tell the community was hurting. Many homes on the outside were falling apart and were in desperate need of work. I knew that we would need to work and work hard. I was assigned to a crew going out to do manual labor. While out there we saw a school that was just sad looking, we saw houses rotting, and kids with no respect for anyone. But one thing I learned was it can be very hard to do the right thing. At one site we didn’t have the right tools for the job and we had to make things work rather than simply give up. I also had to deal with working on someone’s house for two days and then on our way out the occupants came outside as if to thank us or say goodbye but instead presented vulgar gestures at us and went back inside. That upset me but I knew I did the right thing by taking care of those young men’s house and can only pray they will learn to be better people. -Ben

Going into my first sr. high mission trip I was honestly expecting it to be like the junior high mission trips that I did before. It wasn’t. The first thing that was different is that this trip took place in a small reservation instead of a big city. The community on a small reservation of 770 people also had a different culture witch made it even harder to adapt.

The first culture lesson I received was that wearing my Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo hat was probably not a good idea. Luckily I realized this before I hopped off the van and was able to hide my cap in my bag. The second thing I learned is that we were on the hook for harder work projects. During the week we were moving, painting, and tearing apart bleachers at the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school. Fortunately for us the office-staff were nice and gave us doughnuts and candy, the blue tootsie rolls were the best. We worked hard Monday and Tuesday and honestly the people there were surprised that we got so much done. Later in the week we moved on to Mrs. Connie’s house to do some painting and repairs. We were highly underequipped, but we did what we could. The fact that we were able to make do with what little we had, and that we were optimistic about it was refreshing. Our group the “Mystery Moose” had great fun. At Mrs. Connie’s house we played with a hen, Matt gave her granddaughter endless piggyback rides, and while painting Mr. Henke and I talked about old classic movies.

While this trip was different it was great, I guess on my year off I forgot how fun these things are. I also felt like I grew deeper in my faith and I learned a lot that I’m ready to take home with me. I’m definitly glad I went, and I’m kind of sad to leave. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible, Troy, the adults that went with us, and yes and even my mom and dad who woke up at 4:00 on Sunday to take me to the church. -Jacob (not the same one as above)

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