You would think that as many times as I've been to the Pine Ridge Reservation that I would have grown accustomed to the level of poverty there. You would think that it wouldn't faze me as much as it did in the beginning. But that is not the case.
Browsing pics today for a project I'm working on, I felt the familiar sudden weight in the center of my chest followed immediately by my eyes filling up with tears. I had to take a break. I simply couldn't look anymore.
I think it may actually be harder now than it was at first. Now these people are my friends. I know their names. I've watched their children grow up. And I've been in their homes.
Still, as I sit in my warm study in my comfortable chair at my beautiful wood desk working on my fairly new computer, I feel sad. I can't help but think of the elderly lady who has been so gracious to us and how dilapidated her home is. I've not stopped thinking about her since the blizzard hit South Dakota a week ago. It would be easy to sink into depression looking at these pics and thinking of the conditions my friends live in, but as I sipped my coffee on my break, I also thought of some people who are making a difference and then I just felt, well, amazed and completely grateful to be able to see it all take place and maybe to be just one very small part of it. (wow that was a long sentence)
You see, as I type this, a rock band in Winchester, Virginia is planning a benefit concert for Jan. 10th. The show will feature some highly successful musicians and looks to be the makings of a great night - and the proceeds will be donated to purchase electric space heaters for the people on the Rez. Now how cool is that?? Click on the last pic for a better view of the flyer and to see who's playing. (Its pretty cool) I'll be there too as will Brian. Hmmm ... I don't think I've ever gone to a bar to talk about a "mission" project before, but I'm game. It sounds like a pretty cool thing. I can't wait.
And at the same time there is a man in our church who has a dream. He wants to get that ugly unsafe hole in the ground made into an amplitheater. (See my other post about this). He is gathering up resources and making plans and its all very exciting.
And at the same time, another guy from my church is also thinking about that elderly lady on the Rez and is today out talking to business owners about the possibility of getting funds to go out and build her a new kitchen. He called this morning and believes he will have the money shortly. He hopes to go out as early as next week to build the kitchen and fix the broken pipes so she can have indoor plumbing.
I love it when people go out there, get a vision for something and then set about making it happen. And suddenly, its not nearly as depressing in light of all of that.
Click for a larger view
(These are not my pics. If they are yours, let me know and I'll give you credit)