- My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Saturday, July 29, 2006
That is most definately true for me. After 3 years of leading mission trips I still marvel at the way God chooses to work and specifically who He chooses to work through. I am the very last person on earth who should be leading mission trips. Here is the list of reasons why I should not be doing this:
- When I started this I had NO experience.
- I had no idea what all I was getting into (else I probably would have never done it).
- I have a ver poor sense of direction. As Brian says, I can't find my way out of a closet. So what on earth made me think I could take a group of people across the United States???
- I really like it when people like me and am very sensitive to criticism. Being in a position of leadership, there are alwasy those who do not like what I do or how I do it so I have to deal with that kind of thing a lot. Ten years ago I really could not have done it. I've grown some since then but it is still not something I am at all comfortable with.
- I do not like being in a position where I am called upon to make difficult decisions. (For the same reason as above).
- I am not someone who likes telling people what to do. And I really don't like it when I have to tell someone to NOT do something they are doing. I very seldom even tell my kids what to do. I did when they were young but now that they are older I believe they should make their own decisions and live with the consequences. I have a real aversion to being in a position where I have to give direction to adults. It's just "not me" and I am extremely uncomfortable with it.
So, WHY would God choose someone like me to carry this out?? I have no idea. I really don't. I"m still amazed that it works at all.
BTW, tomorrow I will have the pictures/video up of our trip. Sorry Barbara, there is no video of us dancing at the Pow Wow. We were all dancing and no one was left to video it. There is one picture but it's dark and far away and you can't tell at all what we are doing.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Pow Wow was just another example of how freely the Lakota people welcomed us this year. There was a Pow Wow in the small village where we were working.
One day as we did a Kool Aide run through the village a man flagged us down to invite us to the Pow Wow. He said it didn't cost a thing to attend, to just come and "bring your smiling faces and your hungry bellies". We did. It was awesome!
We went to a much larger Pow Wow last year but I enjoyed this one so much more. The Lakota people have a great sense of humor and often tease each other. We were not excluded from the joking. In fact, you might say we were the joke. At one point they cleared the dance floor and asked us all to enter the Pow Wow ring. Once there they asked us to dance. That was when it got funny. Really funny. Or should I say sad?? We tried.
One of the young men in our group went over to the announcer to ask how we were supposed to dance. The reply - "anyway you can". Cute.
As we attempted to dance the announcer reminded us that the idea was to dance "to the beat", as opposed to how we were dancing. Finally a couple of the kids from VBS came to our rescue. One of the girls slipped her arm around me and said, "You're supposed to be enjoying yourself". All in all, it was great. The people in the village are probably still talking about how silly we looked.
This was a little guy that was so cute I wanted to bring him home with me. Isn't he a doll!
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
As soon as I heard the crying I began looking for where it was coming from and found a 6 or 7 year old girl hiding behind the church crying her eyes out. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "Tony. He hurt me". Figuring that Tony was another kid who I had not met yet I began asking her where Tony was so that I could deal with the situation. After pointing to several boys and asking if they were "Tony" she said, "no .... in the white car". I looked up and sure enough there was a white car in the church parking lot waiting to take her home. Through her tears she told me that she did not want to go home with Tony because he hurt her. My blood ran cold and I picked her up and took her to the kitchen where I held her for a long while and assured her that she would not be going home with Tony that day. Later her mother came to pick her up and I release her not knowing what she would face when she got back to the village. Once she was gone I made for the bathroom to cry on a friend's shoulder because I just couldn't deal with that.
The next day while doing a Kool Aide run through the village I noticed the same white car parked in her driveway. When she came to VBS that day she was sporting a fist-sized briuse on her cheek.
The hardest thing for me is to see the abuse, the hopelessness, the poverty there and not be able to do a thing about it. I want to fix it all, or at least part of it but I cannot. In other places in the USA we can report suspected child abuse and in fact are required to do so, but on the rez it is different. We are not in our own nation but in a soverign nation on US soil. The rules are different there. All we can do is pray and let the children know that while they are at church they are safe and they are loved. Not being able to do anything else, I made sure that little girl laughed and had a blast on the swings that day. At least for a while she had some joy and hopefully a memory of being cared for.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Stacy - a 30 year-old Lakota man who asked to talk to me because he was feeling suicidal
Cordell - a Lakota man and father of a young boy who was released from prison 2 weeks ago and is batteling alcoholism but really trying to live for Jesus.
Stan - a Native American pastor at Wounded Knee who is a sweet and humble man but who is discouraged.
"J" - a 12 year-old Lakota girl who had ciggarette burn scars all over her arms
"E" - a 20 year-old Lakot girl who had a broken arm and was not able to get it casted
"D" - a 7 year-old Lakota girl who is being abused
"L" - a 15 year-old girl who was raped by her pastor
Three years ago I jumped in over my head and took a group from our church to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation for a mission trip. Our goal was to build relationships with the Oglala Lakota people and to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ in practical ways. Some questioned whether that could be done in a week's time. Truthfully, I questioned it too, but I felt like it was what God would have us do so we walked blindly into a mission effort there.
We were met with indifference which is not surprising given the history between white people and the American Indians. The second year was harder than the first. That year conflicts within the crew made the trip especially difficult and we were not seeing that we were making a difference with the Lakota people at all. I wondered if it was worth all the time and trouble and serioiusly considered not doing another trip.
But God has a funny way of working. I am always amazed at how He can use things that the world would consider foolish and do something wonderful. This year when we arrived on the rez, we were met with surprising acceptance. The children rememberd us from past years and were genuinely happy to see us. Rather than being seen as just another group coming to give them something to fight their boredome or to convert them to a religion they had no interest in, they saw us as freinds returning to spend time with them. The adults too welcomed us and seemed to understand that we were there because we cared about their children.They flagged us down as we drove through the village and invited us to their Pow Wow. They called to tell us that we could come for Indian Tacos at the senior center. They waved as we passed by and on occasion came out to talk to us. The children gave us all nick names that seemed to corispond with some aspect of our personalities. The cool indifference was gone and in it's place an invitation to be part of their community. Every day there was a sad story and a blessing. It was a good week. I have no doubt that the prayers of our friends and families at home were a huge part of that. Thanks!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I would really appreciate your prayers. Not just for the trip and our mission there, and not just for the crew, but I would appreciate your prayers for me personally. Typically the last week is the week where the crew's expectations begin to clash with reality and that always produces at least one very unhappy crew member. Usually that person is the one who has not attended meetings and is in no way prepared but they rarely see their fault in the matter. Much easier to blame the person in charge - which would be me.
Along with that stress is the stress of getting things in order. Most of our stuff is purchased and packed but there are always last minute items that can't be purchased ahead of time. And there are last minutes details to be worked out. For instance, the lady who is trying to secure a donation of bread told me tonight that a local bakery is going to donate all 300 hot dog buns but that their shipment doesn't get in unitl Friday night. Problem - we load the Ryder truck at 7pm Friday night. I'm not sure what time their shipment gets in, but this could be interesting. Hopefully I will not end up at an all night groc. store trying to find 300 hotdog buns at midnight.
Then Brian and I will drive to another location to pick up another donation of frozen meat at 5am Saturday morning and will then meet up with the crew and be ready to leave at 5:30am. That doesn't leave a lot of time for sleep. The last thing I need is to be tired and grouchy and have to deal with unreasonable people. The vast majority of my crew have been amazingly good natured, flexible, and eager to go above and beyond what I ask, but as I said, there is always one or two people who make things diffiult.
I love these trips. I really do. It's my passion to see the church reach out beyond it's four walls and be Jesus with skin on to the world's needy. And I am willing to continue to do whatever it takes to see that happen. But it is exhausting and stressful work and I will be glad when this trip is over.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Well, if you must have proof, here is it. I mustered all my courage, walked into the storage room, located the ghastly air mattress and battery pack, dragged them to the living room and attempted to make heads or tails of the apparatus. When I assumed I had the right nozzel, I plugged it in and turned it on and to my utter amazement, everything worked! The air went in with amazing simplicity. Fears conqured! Filling an air mattress may not be a big deal to you, but it's more than I accomplished in 5 years of mission trips. Sad, I know.
I've always relied on some kind person to fill my air mattress for me. And I am extremely grateful to all such kind souls. But I wonder if I might have learned to do this myself much earlier if my fear had not been enabled?
I just remembered.... I still have to see if they will STAY filled.
I'll let you know.....
I think we're all operating in "panic mode" now. As I've talked to various team members I keep hearing the same thing - "I'm getting really nervous now". Me too. My big fear is "what will I forget" since I feel a huge responsibility for the trip. I awoke in a panic the other night because I was sure I was somewhere in Iowa and had forgotten to bring the map! It took me a few minutes to realize that I was not in Iowa and that we had not even left yet. I did make a note of asking someone to go to AAA and get trip tics for us the next day though ... just to be SURE we had the maps!
As we attempt a trip like this we all have fears that will need to be faced. It's actually one of the cool things about these trips - we face fears and learn that we can do things we didn't think we could.
One of the more intimidating tasks for me personally, I will need to deal with .... later today. I keep putting it off because .... well, because it scares me. You see, for as long as I've been taking these kinds of trips, I have still never learned how to fill up my air mattress. I've tried. Really I have. But everytime I attempt to fill it, I inevitably wake up with a flat air mattress the next morning. Today I need to test them to make sure they don't have any holes. Which raises an issue - how am I supposed to know if it goes flat because of holes or because I don't know how to fill it and fasten it off properly??
I'll let you know how it goes...
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
BUT then he decided to have some fun with it too which is also in keeping with our mission there. (Our mission is to build relationships with the Lakota children and to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them while having a whole lot of fun.)
Following is his description of the video BUT don't let the fun part distract you from the powerful message and purpose of the message.
"Ahoy all ye YouTube-lubbers. Beat to quarters. Slip the anchor. Muster all
"Pirates of the Caribbean" hands. That elusive captain of the Black Pearl is not
far away. Watch this clip ("Let It Rain") and see if ye can find the best (or
worst) pirate you've ever heard of. He's in the mizzen. No sacrilege here mates.
If you feel condemned like Barbossa, under a curse where drink does not sate
you, and food turns to ashes, and no amount of pleasant company eases ye torment
-- I wager ye may discover treasure worth more than the gold of Cortez -- where
the blood has already been repaid. No need to sink down to the black oblivion of
Davy Jones's locker this day, say ye? Now stow the rum and keep a sharp eye.
He's at the helm. If you miss him, you will always remember this as the day you
almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow."
Monday, July 03, 2006
I am a spinner of yarns, a woman, a crucified person, an oppressor by birthright, a would-be pastor. I will reveal to you the task of post-modern clergy. I will share with you my story. This is a saga of liberation and oppression, of unwitting workers of genocide and crucified people, of improbable homecomings and gospel writers. This is a tale about the eyes of Jesus, and the way in which he continues to look out on this world. As you read, perhaps you, too, will glimpse Christ in unlikely circumstance. Perhaps you, too, will be moved to simple acts of service. Perhaps you, too, will be set free.
The sky is cloudless and endlessly blue, as only the sky of a South Dakota summer can be. A mini-van pulls to a stop in front of a yellow, asbestos-shingle, tract house. I know, from hours spent cleaning within, that this home is held together by cigarette smoke and cockroaches. There are fist-sized holes in the back wall stuffed with flannel against the chill of past winters. The air is heavy within, with the smell of poverty and metabolized alcohol. This is Jepthah?s home, the place from which his spirit will depart for its yearlong journey to the next life. This is the place where he was raised with ten brothers and sisters, where he staked out a sleeping space on the floor behind a door. This is the place where two days before I had read the hopeless credo burned with countless patient lighter clicks onto the ceiling, "One day at a time. Fuck it." The body has been resting here for two days, accompanied by family and visitors.
There are Lakota people in the yard. Men-folk perch on the top rail of a fence, making small talk. From the corner of my eye, I see a quart jar filled with a brownish liquid making the rounds among a silent few seated in lawn chairs. I emerge from the van, feeling conspicuous with my white face and blue jeans, ill clad for a wake. I file across the lawn with eyes downcast and pass through the front door to find that the living room has been transformed. Star quilts are nailed to the walls in multicolored cascades. Flowers cover the floor at the foot of the casket. Favorite pictures of Jepthah in happier times are lovingly displayed. I smell the pungent aromas of burned sage and strong black coffee. As I step across the room to pay my respects, I keenly feel that I am an intruder here. I imagine myself, long legs flying, running far across the surrounding grasslands away from this place, from this reality, but I stand my ground. I wonder what is in the quart jar. Time crawls as I wait. I step up. It is my turn next.
And there is Jepthah, a slender, gentle man, dead of an alcohol-related death at age thirty-two. He is younger than I am. He is the father of four children. Just days before, I had cut careful slabs of sheet cake, piled them onto a paper plate, and shrouded them in saran wrap for his later consumption. He told me that he liked chocolate and laughed. Now a thin veil of netting separates us. His eyes are closed and his mustache has been groomed pencil-thin. He is rakishly clothed in dress slacks and a stylish black cowboy shirt with pearl snaps. Clutched tight in his folded hands is a large silver crucifix, its chain draped in a silvery pool. I cannot take my eyes from the crucifix, this ornate Christ held fast in unfeeling hands. I want to pray for Jepthah?s safe journey, for the well being of his children, but I feel guilty and complicit. As I stand face to face with the concreteness of life on the reservation, of graveyards filled with those who have met young, untimely deaths, this silver Jesus cradled in brown hands silences me. The well-intended oppression of my clergy predecessors has served to weave this spell of death and silence. They have brought Jepthah to an early grave and have left me suddenly unable to even pray.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Yesterday a group from our congregation left for Haiti for a 2-week mission trip. I would have loved to have joined them. Having been to Haiti in the past, I know they are in for an adventure and the time of their lives. Pray for them. It is a HARD trip - the hardest I've ever been on. Some left with personal health concerns, others left family behind knowing they will have little communication with them. One left his wife and 6-month old child. Those may seem small sacrifices, but they are difficult none the less. Please keep them in prayer.
In 2 weeks, another group from our congregation leaves for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We also really, really need your prayers. I have posted a list of specific prayer needs over on the Pine Ridge blog.
It really is futile to attempt any mission project without prayer. Thanks for supporting us in this most needed way.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." ~ Walt Disney
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the thigns that you didn't do than by the ones you did do." ~ Mark Twain
"Men do not quit playing because they grow old. They grow old because they quit playing." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
"Blessed is the servant who esteems himself no more highly when he is praised and exalted by people than when he is considered worthless, foolish, and despised." ~ St. Francis of Assisi
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." ~ Helen Keller