Submitted by Christa Toohill
From recent mission trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, home to the Oglala-Lakota tribe. Our team served at The Dream Center, a local ministry to the Lakota children & teenagers.
The Lakota & English languages on one wall of The Dream Center encourage young people to dream. They had written their life dreams including, “I want to be a firefighter” and “I want to visit Neverland.” This Center serves as a refuge for children & teens, the majority (80%) of whom are raised by their grandparents.
Our team of 8 from Sherwood Oaks Christian Church assisted 3 additional teams (from California, Iowa, & Virginia) in hosting a Kid’s Club Monday through Thursday. Here we are with a few of the native kids during snack time.
Each day, the kids had the option of completing Biblically-based arts and crafts. They were very talented. Several members of their tribe are also artistically inclined and create varieties of beadwork, porcupine quillwork, and leather goods.
Wednesday evening, The Dream Center hosted a community BBQ in Kyle, SD. It was well attended and a good opportunity to connect with and learn from the local tribe members. About 50% of residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation live below the Federal poverty level. The unemployment rate is a staggering 80%.
These Lakota boys may look tough, but they were not too old to laugh hysterically while playing on the swing-set for an hour! They are the future of the Lakota people. I pray for God’s blessing and provision for them & their families.
Lakota girls on the offense (and defensively hiding!) during a water fight. Most days the weather was hot, but not humid. Water balloons and a slip & slide were also big hits with the kids.
Volunteers and Lakota kids playing on the swing-set. The Dream Center is located near the scenic Badlands National Park. The property is home to several prairie dogs.
Team members and I drove 17 hours there and 17 back! We split up the trip and stayed overnight with wonderful host-families in Omaha, NE and then Kalona, IA.
Pilamaya! (Thank you!) I learned a few words and phrases in the Lakota language during the trip and hope to share these with my World Language & Culture students this fall.