Every year when we embark on a new mission trip to Pine Ridge, things are different. Nothing about the trips really ever stays the same. Each year brings a whole new set of people, a whole new set of experiences, and a whole new set of challenges. Perhaps it's just the nature of mission trips. While it is a bit frightening and a bit frustrating, I mostly find it exciting for the simple reason that if I'm comfortable with what is going on, then God is probably not in control.
Our next trip will be no exception. We have quite a few changes for the 2007 trip and I'm excited about it.
For one thing, we are taking the Omega Youth group this year. I LOVE it that the youth are going. They are a great bunch of youth who I happen to have a huge amount of respect for, not to mention that they are just a lot of fun. They are young enough they haven't lost their enthusiam or their passion. Life has not squelched their dreams yet. They still believe they can change the world - and they can.
We also have a local graffiti artist and rap artist going with us. Phayth is going to be using his talents to reach out to the youth at Pine Ridge and while I have no idea how this will work out logistically, I'm thrilled at the possibilities. We are possibly looking at a concert in the village and we are praying/hoping for a chance for him to do some of his art work in the village. This may or may not work out, but it is exciting to consider. Since the rez is much like the inner city without the city, Phayth is uniquely gifted to minister there.
And then I'm excited about the possibility we have for raising money for a well in Africa through Blood/Water Mission. I believe this will open new possibilities for the Lakota youth. It will be good for them to see that everyone has something to give and that even they can make a difference in the world. I'm thinking this will give them a sense of dignity and self-respect and that is something they badly need. We have a man who has recently started attending our church who is from Africa. Today I talked to him about speaking to our mission team about Africa and he is happy to do it. In fact, he seemed to be excited about it. This was especially touching for me because this man is from Cameroon. Some readers here may remember that the tiny country of Cameroon gave almost $860.00 to America for hurricane relief last year after Hurricane Katrina. This is a country where the average person makes about 45 cents a day!
It boggles my mind to think of how one little thing can help in so many ways. Not only will we be helping Africa with some desperate needs, but we will also be helping the Lakota youth gain a sense of self-respect, and we will be helping our congregation become more aware of the needs in Africa and it will give this man an opportunity to become more involved! The possibilities for this endeavor just make me want to squeal but I'll wait in quiet anticipation to see what God is up to.
None of this was planned. Not once did we sit down and say, "this year we will do .such and such". Nope, each of these new ideas simply "happened" somewhere along the way. Sometimes it was just a wild idea. Sometimes one idea led to another. And sometimes it truly just "happened". I have learned to believe that God leads that way much of the time. It seems the less I am in control the more He is. Funny how that works.
Each of these endeavors are new - we've never done any of them before. And I am quite certain that each of them will present new challenges and new frustrations. None of it will be easy. But that's the beauty of it. We get to step out into uncharted waters and exercise our trust muscles and because of that I am convinced that God will be glorified and our faith will grow stronger.