Adult Mission Trip Summer 2016

by Chris Hardman

Something special always happens when you get away from your usual routine! It gives God an opportunity to allow his/her presence to be made known to you. That is what happened on our recent mission trip to Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. It was a blessing for all us-Chris and Libby Hardman, Bill and Ann Pearce, Sandy and Susan Rex, Bill Haljun, Lynn Collins, and Betty Cittadine.

Initially, we thought we were going to build a deck for one of the native residents, but that project was given to another group. So, we participated in the much larger project of building four "little houses" which will be used to house college students starting this fall.

Here is the deal. In the Lakota culture a boy cannot get married until he has gotten a job-and has moved up in that job! Since there are few jobs in the area, higher education is very important. Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates is a good school, but there is little housing associated with it. These "little houses" will provide four or more students the opportunity to attend college, find a job, and hopefully, get married.

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Each house has a sleeping loft, a living room space, a kitchen sink, a little cooking stove, and a bathroom. These houses are mounted on trailers so they can be moved from place to place. Initially, however, they will all be parked on one of the campuses of the three Episcopal Churches in the area and hooked up to that church's utility services.

Most of the funding for this project has come from the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church Women (ECW.) This was their number-one sponsored project for 2015! Holy Comforter's financial contribution allowed us to buy insulation and bathroom plumbing fixtures for each unit as well as provide food for all the workers.

The work crew included eight teenagers and one adult who were a part of Young Life, five young men from the Pathways program including three members of the Reservation, a couple of Native American teenagers who were volunteering their time, a couple of supervisors, and our Holy Comforter Team. Our team ran the kitchen as well as participated in the building and painting.

During our visit we met a number of wise people who helped us understand the Lakota culture and their spirituality. Fr. John Floberg, the local Episcopal priest, has been serving the area for 25 years. He dreamed up the "little houses" project and has lots of other projects in mind for the future. Emma is a native crafts specialist who works at the Five Nations Art Center in Bismarck. Her father had been the local Episcopal priest prior to Fr. John. Miles and Ladonna are a married couple who are members of St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Miles is one who "carries the sacred pipe," which means he is a Holy Man or Shaman. Ladonna is the historian for the tribe. We also met Ron, who helped supervise our building project, and his wife Carol who is a wealth of knowledge about the Lakota Culture as well.

On October 2nd at our adult forum, we will make a formal presentation on all that happened while we were there. We will have plenty of pictures and video of the people, the beautiful scenery, the construction work, and the POW WOW we attended.

Our team wants to thank the whole parish for your support especially those who made a financial contribution and those who prayed for us. We could not have done it without you.