Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Neighbor's garage
This week we celebrated an anniversary as a family. A year ago Kristen and I first visited our new town of Flandreau, South Dakota to see where exactly it was we were considering taking over the Chaplaincy ministry at the Flandreau Indian School. We immediately fell in love with this place we now call home with its rolling farmland, small town charm and close knit community. Everyone kind of chuckled that were moving from the warm temperatures of Florida to a bit harsher climate in the upper Midwest.
Getting cleaned up

Flandreau’s greatest challenge this year, though, didn’t turn out to be the cold and snowy winter but a storm that hit while we were away this summer. A thunderstorm/tornado came through on July 2 that downed trees and knocked out power for a few days. The tree loss at the Indian School alone was estimated at 50-75 trees. There hasn’t been a storm like this to hit this town in quite a number of years. No loss of life or injury was reported. Generally, trees that came down did not cause widespread homelessness or catastrophic loss as these storms can sometimes bring.

What's left of another garage
Part of the charm of this area though is the community’s willingness to help one another out. While the town looks much different than it did a year ago, the spirit of community that first attracted us to this area is still very evident in how they react to a crisis. Neighbors have helped out neighbors and life has quickly returned to enjoying summer even as the cleanup continues.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Quick Trip North

Canada at sunset
Kristen and I made a quick trip to North Dakota and Canada yesterday. We agreed to return a family who was having a tough time making it in Sioux Falls back to their reservation in north central North Dakota. We hadn’t really been this far north yet since we've lived here and it was a great opportunity for us to be able to visit some students from the Indian School at their home and to see firsthand one of the areas that the students are coming from.

The incredible remoteness and vastness of this area is amazing and a little hard to describe. Growing up in the northeast and then living in a city in Florida, it’s easy to forget that there are still places in the country that have not been developed to the point of overpopulation. North Dakota certainly is one of those places that has wide open spaces and miles and miles of farmland and unspoiled landscape. The countryside at this time of year is beautiful and lush. I can’t say that I would have appreciated its beauty so much had it been January when temperatures can drop to 50 below zero up in this part of the country.

Moose munching on breakfast
I am in awe of how the Chaplaincy position can be so far reaching. God is still showing me the potential of how I can be an instrument in reaching others for Him.  This trip came about because I had come into contact with the mother of several of my students at Flandreau Indian School. Due to a medical crisis with one of her daughters and her newborn grandbaby, we have been able to spend some time with her in the last few months in person and on the phone and she’s gotten comfortable in asking us to help her out when she needs it.

It’s rare for me to become involved with families because our school is a boarding school setting. The students live at our facility during the school year and the school is responsible for transporting them in and out. This was a unique opportunity to get to know more members of this family and to be able to minister to them and meet physical needs.

North Dakota Countryside