Sunday, November 11, 2012


I had the opportunity last week to help some students exercise their right to vote for the very first time.

One of the milestones of reaching adulthood and turning eighteen in the United States is being able to vote at election time. Our students are on campus nine months of the year so Flandreau Indian School is considered their permanent residence thus qualifying them to vote in our County.

We needed to research how to go about getting all registered who qualified. Registrations were made available in the Dorms for those who were over 18. Phone calls went back and forth between my office and the County Registrar’s office as they confirmed and verified information with the kids ahead of the October 22 deadline for signing up.

There was a great feeling of anticipation with these newly qualified voters as Election Day approached. Transportation was arranged and the voters were herded off to the polls. They took their responsibility very seriously, as they should, with many taking quite an extended period of time to complete their ballots.

You can see the expression on the faces in the photos of how excited and thrilled they all were to have been able to take part in this important election process for our country’s next President. 

Monday, November 5, 2012


Trying to get back to blogging; it's been awhile.

This has been a busy fall so far. The Chaplaincy Program has been enjoying all kinds of influence on campus with record numbers of students attending events. The numbers of students going to church in town and attending church on campus has been up dramatically. We have been holding on for dear life as God has been revealing Himself to students in ways we've never seen before.

I think my favorite times though have been the times when fewer students have come out to events. It is a little less harried and frantic than when 175 students show for Root Beer Floats or 125 come out for Nacho Night and we need to hustle to keep up with demand.

I usually run events at night but last week on Halloween we did an after school Pumpkin Painting event so we wouldn't interfere with the Student Council Haunted House later in the evening. It was a much slower paced affair with students tending to stick around longer. I had lots of pumpkins so kids took their time and some even painted a couple of different ones.

The reason these quieter events are my favorite is because inevitably a smaller group of students will stay later and just hang out. I find out a lot during these times; I find out about places kids live or have lived, about relationships they’re in and all the trials that go along with that, about family members, and a lot of cultural information.  I find out who likes what kind of special treat like sunflower seeds or a certain kind of candy or that somebody is out of shampoo. I can usually meet a need pretty easily when I find out about it.

It just can be a time of sharing and discovering new things about students. The larger events serve a purpose of getting kids into contact with the Chaplain, sometimes for the first time, but the smaller group setting opens up a time for dialogue. It doesn't always lead to spiritual discussions but a lot of times it does. I’m grateful for the opportunities that come along during these times.

See the rest of the Pumpkin Painting Pictures: 

Friday, April 27, 2012


Thanks to many of you donating to our program over the last year, we've been able to meet needs and to run some really great programs without spending directly out of our Program account. That makes a huge impact on our Program budget when supplies are already given for us. Additionally there have been many gifts that provide for the physical needs of our students as well. 

I've included a list of things that might be provided to us. Don't limit yourself to this list! If you're wondering "Hey, do you think they could use this for the students at the Flandreau Indian School?" then go ahead and send it to us! We'll find a use and come up with a really creative program for it. 

Send these gifts to: 
Flandreau Indian School Chaplain
Bill Britton
802 W. Pipestone Avenue
Flandreau, SD 57028

Personal Needs:
Body wash
Laundry soap
Dryer sheets
Granola bars
Snacks in individual packs
Sheet sets, twin
Socks, no show

Study Materials:
Bible study material 
NIV Bibles (NIV Study Bibles even better)
Christian music (current artists)
Veggie Tales, DVDs

Art/Program Supplies:
Construction paper, any size, any colors
Cardstock, white or colors, 8.5 x 11
20# paper, white or colors, 8.5 x 11
Scotch tape
Glue sticks
Pipe cleaners
Google eyes
Jewels with flat backs
Clay pots, new, unused
Acrylic paints
Face paints
Paint brushes, small
Recycled margarine tubs/cottage cheese/yogurt containers with lids
Ziploc/Glad containers, small (to see contents)
Pony beads
Colored pencils
Staples, staplers
Board games
Playing cards

Ziploc baggies, sandwich, quart and/or gallon
Paper plates
Cups, cold (9 oz)
Cups, hot (16 oz)
Plastic spoons, forks
Disposable Table Cloths

For Prizes or Handouts:
Subway gift cards ($5.35 each card)
Hot cocoa, individual packets
Ramen noodles
Oatmeal packets
Cheese and Cracker Packets
Sun Flower Seed Snack Packets
Hard candy, individually wrapped
Walmart gift cards (Any amount) 
Hobby Lobby gift cards (Any amount)
Gasoline gift cards (Any amount)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The More I Know the Less I Know

One of the most frustrating but faith building parts of my job is the portion I need to leave to God (which would, of course, be all of it).

I become involved in the lives of students at Flandreau Indian School and want the best for them. I want them to make the best decisions that they can in order to further their education and make the most of the opportunities here. It’s also a time for me to be able to have the most interaction I can in order to influence them to lead a life that’s honoring to God, for them to begin to make wise decisions. But often that time together is short. I have to make the most of every opportunity with a student because in a lot of cases I only get one or two chances.  They get sent home for disciplinary reasons or they decide they don’t like being away from home or they’re having trouble fitting in.

The part I need to turn over to God on a daily basis is that I am not the only voice that God will use to speak into that person’s life. “My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow.” I Corinthians 3:6. I think a lot of times we get into the selfish mindset that we are solely responsible for sharing Christ and seeing fruit immediately. Again, the frustrating part for me is not always seeing immediate life change but what I need to remember is that it’s my job to plant the seed. God has the part of placing other people in students’ lives in the future to see His plan through to completion.

I need to be confident in this promise: “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Every Day Feels Like Christmas!

I am sitting here feeling so blessed again. I receive a note saying that I have a package or pick up a letter at the mailbox and somebody has blessed our ministry and our kids again. It is just so exciting to be a part of a ministry where people understand the vision, the need and want to play a role in helping out.  

Today I received three shipping cartons of hats, gloves, scarves and socks from a little church in Pennsylvania. This is a church that I know has trouble just keeping its own doors open yet has the generosity and love for what we’re doing with Native American teenagers to collect cozy items so that we have warm students during cold South Dakota winters.

This isn’t an isolated incident either. We have received coats and gloves and scarves and hats. Quilts have been delivered in mass quantities and also shipped through the mail to cover dorm beds at night. People have collected clothing for us like pants, shirts, sweaters and sweatshirts. I have gotten countless packs of ramen noodles and hot cocoa and candy and tea and cappuccino mix. There have been Wal-Mart gift cards and Subway cards and checks and cash to help out with feeding kids when I take them to church on the weekends. The family of God has been astounding in their generosity with our students.

The monetary outpouring has been amazing to watch as well. My Chaplain position is not supported financially by the school but through the generosity of partners at the individual, church and denominational levels who believe in what we’re doing at the Flandreau Indian School. As we come to year end and analyze numbers we are thrilled at how God’s people have poured resources into the ministry. We added over 40 first time giving partners last year which is just incredible in today’s economy. We came within $175.00 of making our budget, an exciting result for any non-profit to achieve.

Thank you to all who have given in the past. We are so thrilled to be partnering with all of you in reaching and serving American Indian youth with the love of Christ.  

Friday, February 3, 2012


This fall I decided to put a hot drink area in to be able to attract students down to my office. It’s really taken off with up to 60 students a day coming in after school to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. Believe me when I tell you that in my 8’ x 8’ office there is standing room only. Being a boarding school, I like to think of it as kids coming in for their after school snack.

It’s had some added benefits as well. We started a new semester last week so I’ve had the opportunity to meet loads of new kids as they’ve come in with other students.  I’ve made a valiant effort to connect names with faces although I’m still working through it. It takes the new students a day or two to figure out that I’m the chaplain on campus but hey, they’re all about a cup of free cocoa!

After the crowds clear out I generally have two or three stay behind to check Facebook or find a video on Youtube and it inevitably leads to spiritual discussions. It’s been a challenge for me to keep up on my Bible drill skills to be able to find a passage in answer to a question on a certain topic. We have had conversations on the devil, end times, relationships and we even got running around some pre-destination questions this week.

What my greatest thrill has been though is listening to some of the kids who have been coming out for Chapel services and weekend church services teach other kids what they’ve been learning.  It’s really gratifying to know that God has been planting His word in their hearts and that they see opportunities to share what they’re learning with others.  I’ve heard boldness in proclaiming Christ to others also. My office is becoming a place for students to share their faith with their friends over a cup of cocoa.

WE CAN ALWAYS USE DONATIONS of hot cocoa to help keep the conversation flowing.  Get in touch with me at if you’re interested in sending some hot cocoa our way.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


We were able to get into the little church that was previously used for the Chaplaincy services on Sundays. Several people had told me I should get in and get some of the items that had been left behind when the building was abandoned including some electronics and things. I got a key last week and was able to get in while the weather was still somewhat warm.

The building has fallen into disrepair in recent years and its use discontinued several years ago.  Maintaining the building was costing too much with funds that could go towards ministry being diverted to building upkeep instead. 

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be going in. We had been told there was mold, which there was, but the building itself is largely intact from when the final services were held there. The raccoons have had their way a bit with the place, leaving footprints scattered about in the dust.

I get a bit nostalgic going into a place like that.  It’s almost like stepping into a time capsule; even though it has been unused for only a couple of years it remains largely as it always has been. There is a large stained glass window near the front that records a date of 1885. I’ve heard from different ones that this was the church where they were baptized or married. It housed the Chaplain’s service for many years. I’m sure it took a little more convincing to get students to attend since it is just off of campus and requires a little bit of a walk to get to.

It also makes me feel grateful. I’m grateful for those who served this school and community prior to me arriving here. The Chaplaincy program goes back over 75 years through several different chaplains and has served the Native American community through the Flandreau Indian School for many years.  I am grateful for all of those who had the vision to minister to this group of people and to work tirelessly to bring the message of Christ to this school campus for many years. It is humbling and inspiring to be a part of this legacy and the ongoing story of what God is still accomplishing.