Wednesday, August 5, 2015

ode to south dakota.

South Dakota is so photogenic. God knew what he was doing when he created South Dakota. Big Sky Country and all that. Now, just add horses and a threatening storm.
 Another threatening storm and our first visit to the Badlands. Scrambling, climbing, sliding over dusty, barren hills. Beware of rattlesnakes in the isolated grassy patches.
 The Black Hills were something else. Also, bison are great.
Our second day among the rainbow hued hills. Lots of dust and thirsty, cracked soil. The Badlands were greener than usual because of the exorbitant amount of rain for South Dakota. Sunflowers were thriving.

I already know I'm going back.


south dakota, why are you so far away? (or big sky country.)

Long time no see, but I've been sooooo busy with VBS, a missions trip, and a conference and all. BUT, this means I can spam you with pictures from South Dakota where my missions trip was located. Can I just say: South Dakota is actually drop dead gorgeous. When people call the Great Plains the Big Sky Country, they are being entirely accurate.
We had the chance to help at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by helping with church, sorting clothes, and distributing both clothes and food. It was such a learning experience, especially since this was my first missions trip. The Lakota Indians were so open and friendly, and the children stole my heart. (Side note: I've forever upheld the fact that I don't like children, but I've literally only been working with little kids the whole year. I help at my AWANA club at church and work at my gym to teach young kids gymnastics. I had so much fun working with the Lakota kids. It's not even funny, so I guess God must be telling me that little kids should be my thing?)

During the food/clothing distribution, we had a lot of heartbreaking discoveries. Most of the kids parents were out of the picture due to alcoholism or just abandonment, so grandparents raise their grandchildren for their kids. One grandmother told us she had 23 living in her house (most likely a small trailer house). Some kids would come to the tables without food or clothing. One boy came without a shirt, shivering in the Great Plains wind, but, thank God, he went home with many shirts. Another little girl was covered with mud and blood with an ill-fitting dress. We got a full wardrobe for her to take home, and the last pair of shoes were miraculously exactly her size (Mrs. Sherrie said this was meant to be, God provided). Another girl, named Bella and amazingly cute, came with pull ups on and no shoes. She was around five. She and her sisters (and dogs) all came. She got pants and a pair of sandals and came running over to me yelling, "Look at my pants! Look at my shoes!". It broke my heart.

Wherever we went, we would have a table for face-painting, which I would man with my youth leader/friend, Laura. We would paint hearts, horses, flowers, dreamcatchers, and eagles on the kids cheeks, hand, and arms. The missionary leading us told us later that they probably wouldn't wash the paint off for days, because they loved them so much. Each little kid crushed my heart more and more, a burden on my conscience. These people need to be reached. This was why on our last day of missions work, I completely broke down in tears before we even started saying goodbye. Me, who does NOT show an extreme amount of emotion even to those close to me. Not to say I have none, but I find it hard to show something so inherently personal and inward to those who see me from the outside. (It always feels weird to see myself in the mirror or in a picture because I don't see myself as a body, but a mind since I spend more time thinking and pondering (probably way too much) than looking in a mirror. Honestly, I probably look like a slob to most people 'cause I forget to look presentable since my outside appearance is not a priority.) I was blubbering into my arms trying not to show how crushed I was to leave. Of course, everyone else started blubbering in five minutes, but I was the first to descend into depths of despair. The ride back to the hotel was so depressing, it's not even funny. It was dark, and all you could hear was juicy sniffling and shaky gasps. One of the guys left because he found it too depressing (but everyone knows he just didn't want to cry in front of us). We're already planning on going next summer, even if we don't go as a church.

Anyway, the whole point of this post was pictures. We went everywhere! The Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and the Badlands. Our favorite was the Badlands. And before that, we went to a powwow! I got to cross it off my bucket list. So much fun, and the sky was bursting with rain laden clouds on the horizon. Horses and storms are always an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere. Horses! I was in heaven for those two hours. We went to the Badlands twice because everyone loved it so much. The first day was just a quick thirty minute stop. Our tourist day wasn't until the next day when we went on a huge loop around all the sights. Saw a buffalo, crossed it off my bucket list. Back to the Badlands. Climbed a lot of hills, which apparently we weren't supposed to do, but a bunch of park rangers drove by and didn't say anything, so... Of course the guys wanted to show off, so they went hill surfing, the dusty and more dangerous cousin of snowboarding, skateboarding, and ocean surfing. I'm just glad they didn't die. I had an amazing ninja moment where I fell, rolled, and saved my camera all without hurting myself at all. I am the queen of falling without getting hurt. Anyway, now pictures (stay tuned for them in the next post).