Adjusting to life in South Dakota has not been as big of a stretch as we might have thought. Obviously moving from Florida to an upper mid-west state has required a clothing overhaul for us all to keep up with the temperature drops. It started snowing at the beginning of November and hasn't let up too much since. Although the temperatures have dropped below zero often, we have found we're not as cold as when we lived in New Jersey where dampness often accompanies cold weather. It's a different, drier kind of cold.
We came from a larger metropolitan area in Florida. Flandreau has just over 2,000 people so this is a return to small town for us. The pace is a little slower than we've been used to. On campus it's called "Indian time." If we begin chapel at 2:00, then kids might start to show up ten or twenty minutes later. I like to be punctual and start things on time so I need to take a deep breath and remind myself that it will happen in God's timing. A surrendering of control is not necessarily a bad thing.
I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the kids to accept me on campus but it hasn’t been an issue. Kristen, my wife, thinks it’s because they’re not quite sure if I’m Indian or not, with my dark hair and olive complexion. They have been really open and, for the most part, honest with me. I have fallen for this group of students in a big way.
My heart aches for these kids to see their potential and to realize all that God has for them if they’d allow Him to direct them. There are a lot of drug and alcohol issues, teen sex and relationship problems. Suicide is rampant in their culture and among their families. I have counseled at least a dozen students who have lost family members to suicide already during this school year. Statistically, in 2007 suicide was the 11th leading cause of death among all ages and demographics in the United States. Among Native Americans between the ages of 15 and 34 suicide was the second leading cause of death. There is such a sense of hopelessness among the Indian people.
I learn a bit each day as I get to know the students and hear their stories. I’ll continue to share more as I learn more. Thanks for reading!