Pine Ridge Mission Trip July 2019

Saturday, July 20

Here We Go!  Twenty-Six excited, nervous, bright, ready to serve young and younger men and women left the FPC parking lot about 8:15pm Saturday evening for our 18 hour bus ride to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. We were surrounded by friends and family who, along with so many members of our congregation, have supported us over the past year as we’ve planned this trip.  We aren’t sure how God will use us to serve, but we have spent the last several months preparing our hearts and minds to be the feet and hands of Jesus in a place none of us have ever been.

We know the statistics are grim:  80% alcoholism, 90% unemployment, the third poorest county in the entire United States.  BUT — there is hope.  People from around the country arrive every summer to work along side Pine Ridge community organizations and serve; to try and provide some hope or at least attempt to make life a little bit better for members of the Lakota Sioux who live on this reservation. And there are people who have invested their lives serving the people of Pine Ridge that will lead us on this journey.

We’ll arrive at Lakota Hope, our home for the next week, on Sunday afternoon.  We’ll be sharing the week with 75 other volunteers from around the country so we’ll be in a new place with a new community of people.  We’ll be sleeping in bunk houses and small cabins, sharing our meals outside and experiencing a totally different level of comfort than we’re used to.

Here’s what you can do for us as we begin this week:  PRAY!  Pray for our safe travels not only today and tomorrow but for our travels each day to and from our worksite.  Pray that we will be receivers as well as givers.  Pray that we are receptive to all of the experiences around us.  Pray that we will stay healthy so that we be physically and mentally in tip top shape to serve.  We are thankful that God has given each one of this opportunity.  Thank you for being on this journey with us!

Sunday, July 21

Good Morning from Oneill, Nebraska!  We stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s and realized we had quite a bit of time to use before we arrive at Lakota Hope.  Sleep varied from a low of about 30 minutes to the record of 12 straight hours!  That wasn’t the norm for most of us though.  We had a driver change at about 4:00am EST.  We will be on MST when we arrive at Lakota.  While we were relaxing at McD’s, we wrote about our reasons for going on the mission trip (and a few comments about our over night travel).  We have a lot of enthusiasm for service on this bus!

Going to a reservation is an experience I have not had before.  I wanted to go on this trip with Lindsay to see how God works in her life through this experience. So far so good! Lol!  We made it through the first night on the bus and everyone is still present and accounted for!- Deb W.

I am going on this mission trip to help the community and leave a lasting impact on them and the way they live. My sleep on the bus was very good I only woke up a couple times! – Lindsay W.

I’ve never been on a mission trip before so I thought it would be a good idea to go help others and to have the experience. The overnight trip wasn’t too bad just a little hard to sleep. – Johnathan B.

I chose to go on this mission trip to help others and learn something along the way. I slept fine but I couldn’t put the armrest down. – Eric B.

I’m going on this mission trip to help spread the gospel and help people in need. I listened to music the whole time and did a devotional. – Chauncey C.

I’m going on the mission trip for the great experience and to make a difference for the people we are going to help. It was really hard to sleep since it was so cold the whole time. – Lily B.

I haven’t been on a mission trip in a couple years and being on a reservation is an experience I haven’t had yet. I wanted to see how God will work through me and everyone else on the trip. The overnight trip was kind of uncomfortable but it honestly wasn’t horrible, plus we watched the movie Sandlot so it wasn’t too bad. -Katie F.

I want to try to help people who deserve cleaner homes and better food. Also, I want to explore cultures I haven’t seen before. Also, I’ve never been on a mission trip. -Ray K.

I want to help people build what they need built. I wish to broaden my mind with new experiences. -William S.

I love to help as much as I can, and that is what I want to do on this trip along with helping spread God’s love. – Chloe S.

I wanted to go on this mission trip because I knew it was not only going to be beneficial to the community we are helping, but it will also be beneficial to me as well. The overnight trip wasn’t as bad for me as everyone else experience! I was very comfortable!  -Nessa C.

I want to go on this mission trip so I can help other people. And experience another culture, by learning new things. The overnight trip wasn’t bad. Just hard to sleep. -Sarah F.

I want to go on this mission trip because I get to learn about the people’s culture and history. I also get to help out build houses for the people that we are helping out. The overnight trip was somewhat bad because I only got 2 hours of sleep. – Jossalyn S.

I want to go on this mission trip because I want learn about the Indian culture more and to teach them about God’s love.  There should be beds on the bus next time. -Tanner S.

Being part of a mission team has been on my heart for some time.   Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has so many needs and our team will be able to help out.  It will be wonderful to see how God will work through us. – Lee Ann S.

I want to go on this mission trip because I want to learn more about Indian culture and help the community around me. I also want to sightsee and help the environment that surrounds me. -Alexa G.

I wanted to go on this trip because I love traveling and helping others while teaching others about the love of Christ. The initial overnight bus ride was not too bad.  Zach S.

This is my first mission trip. When I heard we would be serving the Lakota Sioux my hand went up. I have so much respect for Indian people and culture, and it hurts my heart to see them suffering. I hope to help in some small way. – Steve Y.

The biggest reason I want to go on this trip is because of the love I feel for my FPC family.    The youth and families I serve have a need and the drive to live out their faith through serving Him.  They have the ability to put their needs aside to extend a hand of hope and love to some our most hopeless neighbors.  I am humbled by their selflessness and dedication to the Lord.  I am blessed to facilitate this journey for them.  My cup is full. -Anita S.

I really enjoy working for the Lord on mission trips.  It’s such an experience that most people don’t get to enjoy.  The change in people and the joy in people when you try to help them; it’s hard to say no to coming. Jim S.

I’m excited to learn more about the Indian culture.  And I have a great love for home so helping to make someone’s home more comfortable brings me great joy.  I have no idea what lies in store for us but I know God will bless us.  Anne K.

The last mission trip I went on was over fifteen years ago.  I had a blast and have always felt compelled to go on more but life always got in the way.  When I first heard about this trip I was excited but was bogged down with excuses as to why I shouldn’t go.  Three young kids at home made up the majority of these excuses.  God gave me a push in the form of my husband, whom without previously  talking about the subject, encouraged me to go.  This conversation cemented God’s calling for me to go and I am excited to do his work, help others, and make/strengthen relationships in honor of Christ’s love.  -Kristin R.

Sunday Evening July 21

We arrived safely at Lakota Hope around 2pm MST.  We were the first of 4 teams from Texax and Iowa.  We rested and relaxed until dinner time.  Dinner was made by the staff of Next Steps, our hosts and team leaders for the week.  Next Step team members are college students who commit their summer of 10 weeks to leading different teams each week.

After dinner, we had a worship service with singing and learning more about the Lakota people.  Respect for each other is key regardless of what we see.  The Lakota are proud people and as we were reminded; we all have gifts regardless of our financial status.

After dinner and team meetings, we were able to shower which was so appreciated after being on the bus for 20 hours.

This week FPC is divided into 3 teams.  We are working on 3 homes replacing siding, flooring, windows and roofs.  There are 9 teams this week so 9 homes will get improvements.

Our day starts with prayer and breakfast.  Then each team has chores for the day and then morning devotions.  After morning devotions, we stretch and then load to go to our various work sites.

We begin our first work day tomorrow.  We will need your prayers.  Thank you for being with us when we are so far away.

Monday, June 22

Today was our first work day!  We were assigned to three different homes to repair.  One crew worked on replacing siding and flooring.  A second crew worked on roofing and siding and the third crew worked on replacing siding.  These homes are in serious need of repair and replacement.  The floors have holes so that you can see the ground.  The insulation is exposed and the inside and outside walls are exposed to the weather.  The homeowners we met were so grateful for our help.  Our task is to finish as much as possible on these homes so the homeowners are warm this winter.

Our teams learned some very practical skills that will serve them well in the future.  They learned to use power saws, hang siding and roof, replace floor joist and build scaffolding.   It was such a rewarding day and we have three more days to try and complete as much as possible.

 

On the way back to Lakota Hope, we visited the site of the Wounded Knee massacre and the sacred burial ground.  It is a solemn place.  A tiny dot in the landscape of the rolling plains of South Dakota but a horrific nightmare for the Indians who lost their lives that terrible day.  Descendants of those who lost their lives in the massacre are also buried surrounding the mass grave.

 

 

 

After we returned, we had the pleasure of meeting Ruby Schlueter, a Lakota woman who serves the reservation in many ways.  She serves meals twice a week to 85-110 people from the back her Chevy Blazer named Goldie Mae and runs the optical center from her back seat.  Ruby is 75 years young and has such a heart for serving her people.  Her story is amazing.  She attributes all she does to God.  The council members of the Lakota people do not support her mission so she is dependent on donations and her social security check.  She and Abram Neumann, director of Lakota Hope, lakotahope.org have a vision of creating a Homeless Recovery center to address the homeless problem in Pine Ridge.  Abram said that he did an unofficial count of homeless people in Pine Ridge and stopped when he reached 100 people.  The town of Pine Ridge has a population of 3500.  Even with all of this need, Ruby and Abram exude God’s love and know that God is working through them.

Ruby and Abram asked that we keep them in our prayers when we leave.  Ruby specifically asked that we not forget them.  We brought a portion of our fundraising money for donations and donated $100 to her mission.  Others made personal donations all of which will be used to run her meal serving program, buy school supplies and supplies for young mothers.  We are asking that you spread the stories of the Lakota people and spend time in prayer for them.

Tomorrow we return to our worksites.  Please pray that no one gets hurt and that we have the energy to work hard and to work.  Thank you for continuing to keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, July 23

Good evening from Lakota Hope!  Wow!  We are making real progress on the three houses we are working on!  One crew finished roofing and tomorrow they will finish up siding and then paint.  Another crew has almost sided ½ of a house, replaced a huge section of kitchen flooring down to the studs and tomorrow is going to start on the third side of the house.  The final crew installed windows and worked on siding.  This group is tearing off metal siding, wrapping the house in Tyvek and OSB board and then siding.   We will be siding specialists when we are finished!   We could send our youth out as a great big professional siding crew!  God continues to bless us each day with shade, cold water and hard workers!

This evening Lakota artisans came to Lakota Hope and brought their beautiful artwork and bead work for us to buy.  Supporting the artisans is so important to this community because art is how many families support themselves.  We are encouraged to learn about the Lakota people we meet – hear their stories and share them with you.  We do that at some of the work sites when the families are present and by talking with the community members who visit Lakota Hope.

As part of our worship service, we heard from Pastor Joe Cross.  He left Pine Ridge as a young man to see the world by serving in the US Army in Afganistan.  Like many Lakota, his family were alcoholics which is very common in Pine Ridge.  In the army, he was encouraged by a fellow soldier to come to church; over and over again until he finally relented.  He first went grudgingly but continued to go.  God worked in Joe’s heart to bring him to Jesus and he eventually accepted Christ as his savior and was baptized.  Now Joe leads a church in Pine Ridge.  He told us that we see lots of poverty and pain but we need to know that God is working in Pine Ridge and to remember the Lakota people when we return home.

We’ve heard the same message from Abram, Ruby and now Joe.  We believe that the Lakota people will be in our hearts and on our minds and ask that you pray for them and for us as we serve them two more days.

Our youth have been a blessing to all of us!  They are incredibly hard workers, joyful in their worship and bold in sharing their faith.  They step up as leaders among the 100+ people here and have made friends from other states.

Please pray that we have more two really great days of construction and we complete as much as possible for the last team of the summer to be able to finish up all the projects next week.

As the warriors of Lakota say “Hoka Hey!”  (Let’s Do This!)

Wednesday, July 24

Hey y’all, it’s Brooke L. This has been one of the most amazing weeks of my life and we’re basically only half way through. I feel like my relationships with the people in my church family have grown, relationships with people from other churches, and most of all my relationship with Christ. He has moved me so much through all the people I’ve met. I’ve seen things now that I was completely unfamiliar with and it’s opened my eyes so much. I feel more accepted and connected with God than I ever have before.

Staying here has been so much fun. I met this awesome, sassy little boy that lives on my work site and he has been so much fun to hang around while I’m working, it’s a really good distraction from the hard work in the hot sun. Seeing the progress we’ve made on the house from the beginning of the week has been so encouraging as well, it’s amazing to see how much we can accomplish as a team.

Hanging around the camp grounds is so much fun too. We mostly have fun and play volleyball and cornhole. I’ll never forget some of the relationships I’ve made here.   Thank you, Brooke!

 

Diane Standing Soldier is the homeowner of one of the three houses we are working on.  Diane is 75, has 5 children, 20+ grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.  Her husband was a Vietnam veteran and is deceased. Diane has been such a gracious hostess to the crew on her house all week.  She has made a delicious lunch for us every day.  Today, she, her daughter, Renee and granddaughter Brioana made us Indian fry bread that we made into Indian tacos and elephant ears.  Diane has served lunch EVERY work crew every day for 9 weeks.  We are totally redoing the flooring and cabinets in her kitchen as one of the projects and she still cooks for us!

We see God in so many ways!  Debbie saw God as she was roofing in the hot sun yesterday and was blessed by the shade of a tree that followed her all day long.  Lilly saw God in Diane’s hospitality and making sure we had something delicious to eat every day.  Josselyn saw God in completing the roofing, siding and painting the house they are working on.  Kristin saw God in Ruby and her passion for ministry, her life and living God’s word through her homeless ministry in Pine Ridge.  Sarah saw God in our worship services.  Celebrating His love together.  Chauncey saw God in the teamwork of his work crew and using their talents to complete the tasks they need to accomplish.  Johnathan saw God in meeting one of the Lakota warriors at his work site.  He told them that if we ever come back we were welcome to stay with him since we are working to improve the home of one of his friends.  Ray saw God in the goodness of people around him.  People have included him in games and conversations even though he is one of the younger ones here.  Eric saw God in Pastor Joe Cross’ testimony and how he learned to love again after being in the military.  William saw God in the compassion in our team members, protection from falling siding and the passion and faith that Diane shows us.

Our congregation blessed us with helping us fund this mission trip.  We hope as you read our stories and see us when we return that you will agree it was money well spent.  We know we have been entrusted with a great responsibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Pine Ridge.  Thank you for supporting us financially and through your prayers!

Thursday, July 25

 

Sarah and Katie Fickle F. and Zach S.  are our guest editors today:

Hope you’re having a great day so far. This mission trip has taught me many life skills. I feel like I have gotten closer to God and the people I work with. I like it when we get to learn about the different cultures. I’m thankful to be able to come on this trip and be able to help others.  – Sarah

Hello again! Today was an amazing day, our group got so much work done today and we got to tour a beautiful church/school. Being on this mission trip has helped me a lot, I haven’t been on a mission trip in a long time so I wasn’t sure what to expect, however, this trip has surprised me. Being here has helped strengthen my relationship with God, although that’s how I feel during a lot of mission trips, this one feels different. Every night we come together, watch a video, talk and have church time. Although those are normal things to do during a mission trip, for some reason doing devotionals and having church time have had a different influence on me than they have in the past. I’m so glad I went on this trip, I’ve never felt closer to God and being here has opened my eyes. I couldn’t thank my church enough for giving me this opportunity as well as Next Step Ministries!  Today was a great day but this week has been amazing. See you soon! -Katie

When I first started this journey with this youth group, it did not start on this mission trip. It truly started when we went on our first Next Step mission trip in Guatemala. My name is Zach and this is how my adventure with God turned from a valley to a hill. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with a lot, whether it has to do with my family, addictions, school, relationships etc. All of this would constantly make me drift apart from God, but one way or another I would form a relationship once again no matter what. This sadly changed during college when my depression got unbearable and I became stuck in a valley. That summer I dropped out of college not knowing what to do with my life, still struggling. One day my youth leader came up to me and asked if I was interested on going on a mission trip to Guatemala, I said yes immediately, hoping it would get me out of the Valley that I was stuck in. Fast forward to the very last day in Guatemala, we’re all doing our last devotional and I all of a sudden break down and explain to everyone what I’m struggling with. This is very unlike me, given I’m typically very introverted when it comes to my emotions and my struggles. Now I know what you’re thinking, “He got out of the valley! YAY!.” No not quite, but what I did establish that I needed help and was finally accepting it. My relationship with God had been rekindled but was not a full burning fire.

A year later here I am on the border of Nebraska and South Dakota, again with Next Step helping those in need at Pine Ridge. While I build siding for June, the home owner, I can’t help but think of that night in Guatemala that started my journey back to God. Last night we all gathered as a group for worship, but I knew this was going to be different given I saw two wooden crosses in each corner of the gazebo. This immediately took me back a year as I remember hammering my burdens on those wooden crosses to hand them to God. As I did this again last night a realization came to me and my fire for go was rekindled and I realized my adventure with God was just starting. I know it will have its hills and valleys, but God has a reason for every hill and every valley. If you are reading this and are struggling, let it be known it always gets better, through the struggle there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that light is God.—Zach

Enjoy some images from today:

Good Night from Lakota Hope!

 

 

 

Friday, July 26

Hello, I’m Vanessa C. and this trip was very eye opening to me. The reason why it was so eye opening is because this was my first time experiencing and being on a native American reservation. One thing that shocked me was the poverty this community is having to deal with. Poverty isn’t a new concept to me as I’ve seen plenty of it while living in Malawi, and even caught a glimpse of it on our trip to Guatemala last year. But the shocking thing about it was the fact that people are suffering in our country. United States of America. Before this trip, I had been struggling a little bit in my faith and I had even thought to myself if I was even worthy enough to come. I talked to my mom about it and prayed for so long but I wasn’t really sure about it anymore. That all changed when I got to Pine Ridge. I immediately felt like I belonged. Next Step really has a way of making everyone feel involved and included. My peers and leaders also contributed to making this trip so much better for me of course. Overall it made me really happy to come on this mission trip because seeing the faces of the community members we helped really made me happy to be a part of something so special. It also boosted my faith by a whole lot because now I have a new view on life. I know I’m definitely going on the next mission trip, and there is no other group I would rather go with!  Thank you, Vanessa!

Today was our free day. Our first stop was to meet Ruby who we met earlier this week.  She is the woman who feeds the homeless, ministers to young women and children and is trying to work with Lakota Hope to build a homeless recovery center.  She met us near her home so that we could give her our donations.  These are the items that many of you gave us to donate.  She was so happy to receive and was so concerned that she had nothing to give us.  Ruby – your boundless energy and deep faith are our gift!

Then we drove about 2 hours to Mt. Rushmore, hiked a bit around the monument, ate lunch and then headed to General Custer State Park where we hiked some more.

 

 

 

Then on to a community dinner where we had fry bread made into Indian tacos. Indian tacos are something everyone needs to experience at least once.  There is no describing the deliciousness.

Many in the group are having a hard time leaving our incomplete project homes.  We are really committed to the homeowners and wanted to do as much as possible for them.  Next week is the last week of the summer for Next Steps so all of the homes have to be to a point where all the siding is hung, caulked and painted and all of the interior projects completed to a point that they are livable.  Some of the homes are two-year projects so Next Steps will be back next year to totally complete them.

It’s really hard to summarize a week so tomorrow while we’re on the bus ride home, the computer will be handed around again so everyone that wants to can pen their final thoughts.  I can’t tell you how much we appreciate and admire the Next Steps on-site staff.  They are all young leaders, dedicated to Jesus and have so much patience to work with students and adults with all different skill levels.  They are the true heroes here – working long hours with little time off for little money.  It is truly a labor of love for them.

As we pack our suitcases and say our final goodbyes to head home, know that we have had an experience of a life time, have bonded in ways  that can only happen on a mission trip and hope to share this with you when we return.

Saturday, July 27

In this final post, read the reflections from our mission team — They are personal, powerful and from the heart.  Thank you for being with us on this trip.  We have felt your prayers for us as we worked and played.  You — our friends, family and faith family are truly appreciated in all you have done to allow us to experience this week.  May God bless you in your faith journey as He has us.

Once again, I am amazed with our church’s young people and with the Next Steps’ staff. They are caring, hard-working, faithful people and they are making genuine & significant improvements in the lives of others. It helps to strengthen my faith seeing the generosity.  Charlie S.

What I took away from the trip is how much God and Jesus can make a change in a whole community. This changes my faith by showing my faith by showing me just how powerful God’s word is.  William S.

I learned that the community was thankful for a lot of the work that we did. We learned how to work as a team and got more stuff done. I’m thankful to be able to come on this trip, it helped me grow stronger in my faith. -Sarah F

Like I said before, I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to come on this mission trip. It is refreshing to see how hard working the Next Step staff is and how strong they are in their faith. Before coming on this trip I didn’t realize how much influence God could have on a community, it’s amazing to see everyone come together to do the lords work. I’ve grown so much closer to God and I’ve definitely grown stronger in my faith. -Katie F

This mission trip really helped me understand how to lean on others more, and that it’s okay to share your true emotions, you don’t need to hide behind a wall. I also learned that relationships are very valuable. During this trip, I got close to the staff and what I now consider to be one of my best friends. We  got to really connect with each other on the bus rides, the work, and just everyday hanging out. We became so close that baptism became a subject in mind for us. We both realized that it was something we wanted to do together, and to me that means more than anything. I think God was working through both of us this week making us more vulnerable and willing. All of this helped me grow in my faith and my relationship with God. -Alexa G.

This mission trip made me have a very different prospective on where we live in America. Just because we live in a well-off area doesn’t mean that there isn’t poverty right down the road. This mission trip also brought me a lot closer God and made me realize certain steps I need to take in order to maintain my relationship with him.—Zach S

God has definitely been working within me a lot this week. Through hearing many stories from the natives that I’ve met, listening to all of the worship lessons, and meeting all of the incredibly faithful community members and staff, I feel like God has been especially showing me how He truly loves every one of us unconditionally. I can’t explain why I have struggled so much with this and didn’t completely believe this before, but I know now that he does love me unconditionally and will always be by my side even if it ever seems like no one else is.

I also learned how spiritually rewarding it is to help out people that really need it. All of the thanks and stories we got from the community members we helped were so rewarding. I strive to have the kind of incredible faith they have, it is something that I will never forget. I’m thankful that I had some incredible people from my church here with me to go through this journey alongside me. I’m so blessed to have had this opportunity to come on the mission trip and serve God and the Lakota people, make lasting relationships that I will never forget, and grow stronger in my faith. -Brooke L

What I took away from this trip was that family and friends are so important and that no matter how much money you have or how nice your things are, god still loves you the same. My faith has changed so much over this trip because I got the chance to see how his love can really effect people.  – Lily B.

I learned from the residents of pine ridge that when in tough situations, you can rely on family, friends, and God to improve yourself and make an impact on people around you. I was amazed by the hospitality of the people living there, even making lunch for us even without a kitchen. They can still provide for others and make something positive out of a negative situation. I think that this can apply to my life. In the future, I will know that I can still do good no matter the situation. – Eric B

Personally the mission trip helped me in a lot of ways. It helped expand my knowledge on the bible and my own faith. I now understand more things to help me spread the word to my friends and make it so they can comprehend it too. I also was able to see into the lives of some other people who don’t have it as well as me and I could really humble myself and have a completely new understanding for how easy we have it even when we think our life is tough.  Chauncey C.

I learned that even when you don’t have many things in life you can still live your life to the fullest and still be strong in faith. I also learned many different ways that I can now share my faith with all my friends and family. It was very amazing to see the all the different types of art that the residents of pine ridge can do. But it was just great to see how strong in faith they were even in their situation.  Johnathan B.

What I learned on this mission trip is that I can help other people by spreading the word of god to them and getting to know more about god. Also getting my faith stronger then it was before this mission trip. And now I can help other people if they need there houses fixed or need food.

Jossalyn S.

I learned more about God and I feel like I know Him better now than I did before. I feel like I’ve seen God working through some of the people there, and the wonderful effect that he has on them. – Chloe S.

This trip allowed me to see once again how rich people can be spiritually even when their worldly possessions are so few.  Ruby was an excellent example of this.  She has very little for herself, but what she has she uses to help others.  She has had a very tough life but she does not focus on her challenges.  Instead, she focuses on how she can help others lead a better life.  She truly is a disciple of God in Pine Ridge and now in Noblesville, In because there isn’t one person in our group who wasn’t touched by Ruby.  I know I will think of her often and keep her and the other community members in my prayers.  I will also strive to “be more Ruby-like” back at home.- Deb W.

Nothing gives me hope like seeing the future of our church sacrificing their time, talents, energy, and most of all comfort.  This team knows what it means to come alongside the hopeless and down trodden in rough and uncomfortable environments, to be the hands and feet of God.  They have seen it, done it, owned it, and it is now a part of who they are.  This experience of giving sacrificial love will go with them into their adult lives: college, marriage, work, parenting…. They have seen the power of love and understand its source, Jesus Christ.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a week. -Anita S.

This trip was a wonderful way to see what can be done through Christ’s love.  I am taking with me the memories of how we all came together to help others.  I plan on staying in touch with Ruby and supporting her work as much as possible. I am also going to strengthen my relationship with Christ by making it a point to talk to him more frequently. -Kristin

This trip meant so much to me spiritually, because it allowed me to see just how strong God can be if you just allow him into your life. I’ve gained hope for this community knowing that our group has decided to continuously help the Lakota people through donations and our prayers. Thinking back on what we’ve just experienced, I’m really glad I came. I was truly inspired not only by my peers and leaders, but also by the community members we were lucky enough to speak to. Hearing the stories of their lives was a little tough because of all the poverty, but at the same time it was very inspiring because it showed me that through all of their troubles, they still have a very strong faith in God. It also showed me that I need to do the same in my life. -Nessa C.

This trip was great, we put siding on a trailer and almost got done with it. The housing that we stayed in was ok.   I did see God through the sunset that we had throughout the week and the nature that we were exposed to.~ Tanner S.

The memories that have been made this week will enrich my life forever. From meeting new friends, getting to know the team better to serving in such a way that will help others.  The time I spent with some of the youth is precious to me. I got to see such talented, caring, compassionate young adults work hard, sweat hard, play hard and serve God in the most amazing way. I plan on keeping the families we helped in prayer along with keeping in touch with Ruby and supporting her work. ~Lee Ann S.

What I really liked about our trip was that whenever we prayed for God and people work around their houses, made me think about what God has planned for our futures. ~Aiden S.

I didn’t want to leave. The work wasn’t done. When we were loaded up and ready to leave our worksite on the last day, I got choked up. We worked hard in teams every day to try and give our families a better place to live. We quickly cared about them, and in turn, they took care of us. My family fed their work crew members lunch every work day for nine weeks with their limited resources. Not only did they feed us and themselves, they fed family that that didn’t live with them. We left them with a better home, but there was so much more that needed to be done. We loved and depended on each other, and the family circle grew larger. I think about them, the reservation, Wounded Knee, the Next Step crew, the Red Cloud School, Ruby, and Abram of Lakota Hope often. I enjoyed seeing the Badlands and Black Hills, Custer National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Buffalo Grass National Grasslands, but I miss my family. ~ Steve Y.

I can’t put into words all the feelings I have about this trip.  I’m so very proud of our youth and their noticeable leadership among all the youth.  I love that they learned how to work really hard, learn new practical skills that will serve them now and in the future.  I look at them and my heart is full with the knowledge that this trip served God’s purpose in their lives and I can’t wait to see where it will take them in the future.  I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to come.  I know I have a heart for putting people in homes and this week was that and so much more.  I really want to do more of that on a local level. Home is where my heart is – with my family, friends and God.  Anne K.

Our Next Step Staff