Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Reservation in South Dakota was the destination for a group of Minnesota youth and their sponsors during Spring Break in March, 2013. Over the years the mission had fallen into disrepair and needed care, so we arrived at the Payabya (Pine Ridge) SDA Mission ready to work on the buildings, grounds and to put on a Vacation Bible School for the children on the reservation.
Each day we tackled different jobs under the direction of Bill Glassford, the Pine Ridge Mission coordinator. Our group divided up to accomplish different tasks such as painting the church’s fellowship hall and stairway, fencing the perimeter of the mission, picking up the trash in the fences and grounds, and clearing trees and brush all around the campus.
In preparing for this mission trip, many generous people throughout Minnesota donated coats, gloves, clothes, and diapers which we were able to give away to families as we invited the children to our Vacation Bible School. The purpose of our VBS was to bring the stories of Jesus to children who live amidst a culture of addiction and poverty. Starting on Tuesday and running through Sabbath afternoon, this program ended up becoming the highlight of our experience as you will see in the following words of Rachel Lozano, a senior at Maplewood Academy.
“One smile from the kids was all it took. I knew God brought me on this mission trip for a significant reason. Every day was a new opportunity to help around the property, connect with other students, and show Jesus to the children. The most extensive motivator to the kids was our Vacation Bible School Program. We taught them about Daniel’s bravery against Goliath, about Esther’s courage to save her people, and Jonah’s odyssey through disobedience and repentance. The eagerness they showed towards learning not only about the heroes in the Bible, but the praise songs we would sing with them, was so inspiring. It warmed my heart every time one of the little girls would volunteer to pray.
“Nothing was ever written in stone or repeated twice, each day had new adventures with the kids. We would do arts and crafts with them, and play some tiring but amusing games as well. One of my favorites was when they asked us older students for piggy back rides. They seemed to have Steven Keinath and Jordan Kaldahl as their number one picks. Steven was known for his striking ability to play duck-duck-goose with little six year old girls, while Jordan was preferred to be a mannequin that the kids could pull hair on. Trust me; it was a funny sight to see.
“There is no hesitation in wanting to return, their joy and laughter always made my day. The affection and warmth they demonstrated is irreplaceable, but I find comfort in knowing that God has a special plan for each and every one of those children. They have inspired and motivated me to have a better relationship with Christ and to continue to show Jesus to others. I am forever grateful for the journey God privileged me to experience on this mission trip.”
Rachel Lozano – senior at Maplewood Academy
Linda Vigil – Maplewood Academy teacher
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