This summer I joined my church’s youth group on a mission’s trip to Kadoka, South Dakota to help out on a Native American reservation. On this trip, we reached out to the Native Americans on Pine Ridge reservations, showing them God’s love as well as our own. Months before the trip we prepared rigorously for the conditions and how to behave.
On a beautiful morning we arrived at the airport at 5:00am and boarded a plane. We stopped at Chicago to switch planes and finally arrived at South Dakota. The view was incredible; the great expanse of tall grass and rolling hills was captivating. We drove to the Youthworks site. Youthworks is an organization that creates mission trip opportunities for youths around the country. When we arrived, the boy and girls split up between two churches where we would be staying at for the week that we would be there. We set up sleeping bags on the floor and met many other teenagers from Wisconsin and Illinois. The Youthworks staff organized us into teams that did breakfast duty, cleaning up, dinner crew and so on. Our teams were also assigned to different tasks on the reservation.
Every morning we woke at 7:00 to eat breakfast and prepare for the workday. On the first two days, my crew was assigned to painting houses. We painted the house of a woman who was invalid. It was a small rectangular building; the wood was old and the paint was peeling. She was so grateful and gave us drinks as we worked. We learned how to scrape the wood for a smooth surface and paint over it with brushes. We began at 11:00 and finished around 3:00, taking a half hour for lunch. It was hard manual labor and afterwards we washed our brushes and headed back to the church.
The next two days we arrived at noon to Kid’s Club. We arrived at the Crazy Horse School to eat and play with children. These children were very different from children that we were used to. They were very violent kicking us and throwing dirt into our eyes. They loved to be carried and pushed on swings. But they were more than just misbehaving kids. Many lived in difficult situations with parent who didn’t care about their well-being. Many had siblings who were involved in gangs. As we drove by houses to pick up children, we saw many outside of their houses alone. It was heartbreaking to see what conditions these children lived in, especially at such a young age. Despite their harsh behavior towards us, we knew they truly loved being cared about and we showed them our love for them. We never complained when they hit us, and instead took them into our arms to show them we were different.
During the night times after a long day of work, we had fellowship and visited many beautiful areas. We went to the thirty eight foot cross, a giant structure of metal, and sang songs while looking out at the beautiful sunset. We visited the badlands, a collection of craggy bluff where we climbed some risky cliffs that overlooked some beautiful views. The view at the end of the dangerous climb was breathtaking. When it was time to leave, I felt sad. I knew there was so much more I wanted to do for the Native Americans and for the community at home. This trip wasn’t the most relaxing, nor was it the most luxurious but it definitely started in me a new feeling to get involved.
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