It was great to read all the posts that occurred in our absence. It's been a long time since I've been in a place where there's no Internet access, cell phone coverage (at least for T-Mobile), or even a public phone!
Our trip was organized by YouthWorks, an interdenominational Christian group that has summer work camps in many poor areas of the U.S. We left on Friday and spent the first night in Wall, visiting Wall Drug and hiking in the Badlands a bit. The next day we drove through the Black Hills, saw Mount Rushmore, hiked around Sylvan Lake, and spent the night in two cabins at Legion Lake in Custer State Park. The next morning we had to get up early as the only Catholic church within driving distance (in Custer, SD) had one service at 8:00 a.m. We made it in time and had a memorable experience. They were getting ready for their big fund raiser... serving a spaghetti dinner to some of the half million bikers attending the Sturgis Rally the next weekend.
Sunday afternoon we arrived at our mission site in Wanblee, SD, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. There were about 10 adults, 56 kids, and 4 staff members. Our group slept on the floor of a big classroom with the women and girls from a Lutheran church from a small town near Rochester, MN. The other groups were from Duluth, and three churches from Elkheart, IN who traveled together.
As Liv said, each day we either worked with kids or on houses. The kids have no supervision and wander around day and night. For "Kids Club" one drives a van through the housing project yelling, "Kids Club," and picking up kids off the street! The little kids are starved for attention and hang on anybody, but the teens and adults weren't always too friendly... giving people the finger was an art form! (for them, not us) We weren't allowed to walk anywhere off the school grounds. A tribal lawyer who spoke one evening claimed that there were only six people on the entire reservation (three counties) who weren't addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.
We had some interesting evening activities, including a walk in the Badlands and a softball game/weiner roast in the community. After five days of hard work, uncomfortable sleep, and inspiring worship we drove home in 10 hours.
Click here to see more pictures from our trip