Hello for the second time!
The car ride continued and as it did, it felt like the landscape prepared us for the change it’s going to be living here. America is so much more vast than Kent, Ohio. It’s green and vast out here. I can see miles ahead of us always. Hay bales were scattered in random assortments, almost like they were animals. (Cool thought: it’d be so sweet to have homechurch out here in one of the random fields on hay bales) There’s a lot of corn, the sky is a saturated blue with puffy clouds, and the billboards say a bunch of riotous stuff.
Now the Badlands are a different story completely. Holy shit, the Lord is a magnificent creator; it’s beyond words really. I wouldnt be able to do it justice if I tried. I have some sweet pictures on Instagram that you can see if you’d like (sarah_toga13). I wonder if God creates sites like these that cause us to stop and gawk in awe because it’s similar to His glory and His magnificance. I think that’s what He means in Scripture when the word “fear” is used. Definitely makes me think of this verse:
Romans 1:20 – “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so they are without excuse.”
It was really sweet to climb all of the natural rocks and to see how expansive the Badlands were. It was a sweet time for fellowship.
As we approached the place today, Zak was curious about the laws of the reservation, so he looked them up. He threw out some statistics on this place: 80% are unemployed, 70% drop out of high school, all families are touched by alcohol in some way, the suicide rate for young people is over 4 times the national rate, the life expectancy of a man out here is like 48, there are over 500,000 people here in gangs (there’s a total of about 30,000 people on this reservation – 1 out of every 6 people are in a gang statistically), and these people make $6,000 annually per capita.
I can’t EVEN begin to relate to these people. I think my other carmates felt the same, so we lifted them up to the Lord in prayer right after Zak brought it up. If we make any impact in this place, it’ll be because of Him.
We got here and it was already a “struggle” not to pet the dogs (they’ll stick around to beg for food instead of finding it themselves). A real cutie kept following Lance inside and it pretty nuch broke her heart to shoo it away. We got our stuff set up, had Native American tacos on fry bread for dinner with some of the local kids and had orientation. We hung out with some of locals until late, playing basketball, alien tag, had a campfire and smores, and we arm wrestled a lot. It was fun! Lots of relating and getting to know some new friends.
I really hope that we can serve these people beyond and above what’s expected from us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have a huge burden for these guys. If there’s anyone in this country that needs hope and God’s love, it’s the people here. I’m so grateful that God is a god who loves us so much that He sent his beloved Son down to earth as a human so that we may have a PERSONAL relationship. I’m so grateful that He not only redeems and transforms, but He gives us hope in an eternal life too.
Please be praying for:
*energy (we have a lot ahead of us!)
*protection (this place is spiritually supercharged in a negative way and we’re serving in a radical way)
*for prepared and open hearts that we can share the Gospel with
*that we can encourage the believers here and can provide for whatever needs they have
*Corey & Max are teaching the high school group tomorrow
*Zak and B are teaching the adult group on Wednesday
Thanks again everyone. More coming your way!