This summer I went on a mission trip to Ashland, Montana with my Youth Group. My first thoughts when we decided to go there were, “Wow! I’m going to be on an Native American Reservation!” My next thoughts were, “Oh, man! Montana is in the middle of nowhere!” The date of our departure was arriving fast, and I was anxious as to what I would find in Ashland, Montana. We weren’t allowed to bring cellphones, but I decided they probably wouldn’t work out there, and it turns out I was right. All of the adult cellphones lost reception so they couldn’t even call home if they wanted.
On the way out to Montana we stopped in Rapid City to hike, explore caves, and see Mount Rushmore. Hiking was probably my favorite part, the landscape was incredibly different than the complete flatness of my hometown in Iowa. We climbed the vast rocks at Sylvan Lake and even came face to face with a buck, which to say the least was unsettling, but it didn’t deter us from exploring further. Afterwards we explored caves and visited Mount Rushmore, which was monumental to me, as I had not had the opportunity to see it before.
The next day we packed up our stuff and left the church we had so kindly been allowed to stay in that night and headed for the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t believe it. It was just so beautiful with nothing to ruin the land, and the sky opening up like an eagle’s soaring wings. True, we were miles away from what anyone would call a city, but it didn’t matter. This was a different kind of beauty in which I had never discovered before. The people of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation were kind and welcoming and even named us honorary members of their tribe at the end of the week.
All 440 of us teens from around the country learned about their culture. We got the opportunity to attend a Pow-Wow, and even to participate in it, and while we were staying in the boarding school located in Ashland, we were able to try Indian Tacos that they made for us. There was pleanty of handmade stuff to be bought also. The jewelry there was loaded with the culture and was hard for the avid buyer to resist.
We worked on houses all over the reservation, and they were quite spread out. The house I was assigned to was almost an hour away from where we were staying, so my crew was able to get to know each other well throughout the week during the long drives. Group Workcamps Foundation puts about 5 or 6 people together to form a crew, usually from different parts of the country so you can meet new people and form an amazing bond with them throughout the week with our love of God.
I learned a lot about the culture and grew to appreciate more than the appeal of big cities, I discovered I loved the “Big-Sky Country” and the people I found in it. I changed as a person and had my eyes opened up to the great need in our own country.
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