I got back from our trip out to South Dakota around 5:30 in the morning, which meant that we traveled yesterday for about 22 1/2 hours lol. So, for those of you interested, I wanted to share the story, and in sharing the stories, hopefully show you that when you do things according to even the slightest inclination, God is there.
About a month ago (or is it a month and a half?), my wife and I contacted a few ministries connected with the Pine Ridge reservation (for those of you who don’t know, it is pretty well the most in need Native American reservation in the United States). When we reached out, we got a variety of responses. The only positive response was from a ministry in Wisconsin (Next Step Ministries), who sends mission groups (they call them partners) to various places around the world. I called off work for the last weekend of February, which gave us from the Monday before through the Thursday after (which is tomorrow!) to get out there and back.
It was about a couple weeks ago that I tried to get some contacts to meet while we were out there. We didn’t get any. A week passed without hearing back. I called a few days before we were planning on leaving, because we were going whether we had anyone to meet or not. Knowing that God has been telling us that there is a cry going out from the land, we had to get out to the res. So, seriously a day before we left, Nick from Next Step got back to us about some of his connections out there, and we therefore headed out with at least a couple people to reach out to.
Wednesday was the day that we ended up with a blizzard going through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. We got out before the storm hit Ohio or Indiana (we’re from Ohio), but we got stuck in it in Illinois. It was the stupidest circumstances possible. The snow plows weren’t out. Traffic stopped. We turned the car off. We see traffic moving again about half an hour later. I turn the key… and the car doesn’t start.
No problem, right? We’ll call AAA, and it’ll be fine. Two hours later, still sitting in the left lane of the highway in the midst of traffic, after calling AAA multiple times, and they call me multiple times, calling the state highway patrol, and calling the tow truck, no one came for two full hours. So, what do we do? We start praying for Illinois. Because what else do you do but laugh at the devil when he tries to stop you? It certainly couldn’t have been God, because I was having trouble getting hold of the saints to pray for us. Therefore, we prayed for Illinois, that God would shed light and love into the state and disrupt the powers of darkness.
This was the storm in Illinois. The pictures don't do justice.
The police came and jumped our car – no more problems after that.
Wednesday night we stayed in Norfolk, Nebraska. We got in around 2 a.m. The guy behind the desk was surprised to see anyone, being obvious because of his confused look when I came through the door. Come to find out, the guy is a metal worker, and he gave me some advice on cleaning my wedding ring (it’s been tarnished from the dish detergent used in commercial kitchens).
Got out the next day to Pine Ridge (the town within the reservation) around 3. We checked into the place we were staying to find out that it is this guy on the reservation who builds solar panels, has a garden, shows people how to build earthen homes, teaches people how to garden and harvest their own food, and teaches people how to build ovens that don’t need electricity. It was pretty much the exact thing that we hope to do lol. We got to talk for a while, and then got a call back from one of the ministries that we wanted to visit.
These two puppies greeted us when we got to Sacred Earth Lodge.
We spent the rest of the night talking to Dan Leitch from Hands of Faith (located in White Clay, just over the border in Nebraska). We got to meet a couple locals who explained to us the spiritual climate of the reservation. They talked about all of the spiritual warfare, and how you can tangibly feel the evil at times. This meant little to us, simply because we didn’t sense anything that they were talking about. Yet, we take their words for what they are.
The next day I made a couple phone calls, and it just so happened that we spent the first half of the day with Bruce Bonfleur (Lakota Hope). He showed us around his property, and a lot of the things that he is doing seemed really interesting (not trying to find something nice to say, but truly we found it interesting and something we could find ourselves involved in). We were mentioning to him at one point that there is this guy we saw in a video that we adore. We didn’t know his name, but we call him “Green Hoodie Guy”. Bruce knew who we were talking about. The man is an artist, which goes right up our alley seeing as I draw and we both look to the arts as a means of helping people find release of the inward struggle. No more than two minutes later, there is a knock on the office door. It is Travis Lone Hill (Green Hoodie Guy). Go figure!
This is Nadine, who we met while at Lakota Hope.
The guy that they’re with invited Kim and I to Rapid City, saying that we have a place to stay if we want to stop by. We thought that maybe we could go up on Sunday or something (or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday…). That evening we spent the whole of about 6 hours or so talking to Mark Mueller about his part with the res and some of the things that he sees. His words registered with us a lot. Once again, the things that he was saying that he wanted to do sounded strangely similar to what Kim and I have talked about doing. All of this is coming from a few years of discussion, and not a few hopes of how we can help on the res.
That night we were trying to figure out if we should go back to Norfolk or Rapid City. It seemed like we weren’t done. We hadn’t seen everything that we wanted to see. We hadn’t heard everything we wanted to hear. What drew us to these people were the videos that we would watch. When you look into their eyes, listening to their words, you can see that there is a deeper story, a deeper issue, and ultimately a fire and light that hasn’t actually been put out. We can hear the words, but it didn’t seem to line up with what their faces and eyes were saying. That cry that we heard, the story behind the story in the Lakota faces, it still drew to us, and we couldn’t leave yet.
In the morning, I called a native woman named Pansi, and it turned out that she was in Rapid City. Well there was the answer. Do we go to Norfolk or Rapid City? We have to go to Rapid City. The woman was at the hospital with her brother, and so we allowed her to call us when she was ready (which, maybe the proper wording isn’t “allowed”). While we were waiting, we grabbed a bite to eat at a place called “The Shoppe”. It just so happened to be a church that had a local sandwich shop during the week. It also just so happened that the place is only open between 11 and 2. How is it that we find these places lol?
We then went ahead and walked around the city a bit. Mind you, when I say city, I don’t mean that it is a metropolis or anything. There are only about 70,000 people. We walked around, and the town was super cute. It had this kind of modern artsy feel, which we usually can ignore, but this was somehow slightly different. We visited the local park, which is next to what they call the Civic Center. This is important to know for later (hint hint).
These are some pictures taken around Rapid City. I should have taken more of the local shops!
We talked to Pansi for about an hour or so. Some of the things that she said aligned with what we were intuiting. I’ll get to it later in my summary. Yet, even within our conversation, I admit that we didn’t find exactly what we were looking for (we still haven’t come to that bigger conclusion just yet).
We called Rod (the guy who invited us), and he invited us into his home for the next couple days. We got to meet Travis again, and we were even honored with witnessing his baptism. There was also a man named James that we met, who also got baptized. Rod introduced us to a man named Bishop Joseph, who is somewhat famous in their neck of the woods for coming to the States as a refugee from Pakistan. Our discussions were quite worth sharing, but I’d rather not at this time…
On the left is Bishop Joseph and Rod. On the Right is Travis Lone Hill, me in the middle, and James on the right. Travis gave me my shirt! 🙂
On Sunday we helped feed some of the Native people who live over by the Civic Center. Most of the people there come from the reservations to find better opportunity, only to find that the city doesn’t make it any easier. So, some are homeless, some live in run down apartments and hotels, and some build what look like shanties to “keep warm” in. They serve these people every Sunday, giving them biscuits and gravy and juice. It was here that we met the man James, who later that day got baptized.
Monday morning we left Rapid City. Rod took us to breakfast. It was there that we discussed our trip, and found out that God had pretty well orchestrated our entire gathering in Rapid City. The sandwich shop just so happens to be where Rod feeds the homeless on Tuesday nights. The Civic Center just so happens to be about 1/4 mile away from where they feed the Native Americans on Sunday. Rod somehow just so happened to be the guy who has many contacts among the Native American populous in Rapid City. Somehow, the very people that we met, the very experiences that we had were all aligned perfectly to explain to us that we are called to South Dakota. We don’t know when, and we don’t know where, but we’re going.
Here are a couple pictures that we took at the park and the view from the back porch of Rod's place in Rapid City.
Some of the conclusions that we have come to now are simple. We met with Nick and Mel from Next Step Ministries on our way back to say the exact same things:
On the res, it is obvious to anyone who has discernment that the various ministries really aren’t working together. They’re not unified, and in fact some of them seem to speak against one another quite flippantly. For this reason, the principalities and powers are mocking and laughing overhead. It isn’t that there is incredible amounts of spiritual warfare, like everyone keeps saying, but that it is less hidden, and that for some reason (I have a hunch why), they desire the obliteration of the Lakota people.
Here is what needs to take place:
There has to be foundational men and women – true apostles and prophets – who will root themselves at the res, knowing that the heritage of the apostles and prophets is martyrdom, having to talk to their spouses beforehand about what to do if they are raped, murdered, or beaten in front of the other. How do you want me to respond, and what do we do afterward? It is necessary for the apostles and prophets to give the prophetic word, an apostolic perception, of what is truly taking place, to bring the Body of Christ together, and to give long term perception and vision. Currently there are ministries that have a lot of short-term thoughts, and even have hopes of growing in these various ways, but there isn’t the long term overview of what the people and the land need, and how they can work toward that ultimate purpose that God has preserved the Lakota people for. It takes the Body of Christ; it takes Curtis and Dan of Hands of Faith working together with Bruce and Marsha of Lakota Hope, each knowing one another’s gifts and hearts, and knowing when someone would work better over there than with your ministry, and to know the others in the community and how you can teach the youth, the men, the women, and even the elderly in a way that is contagious, and causes for them to then go out and teach others as they have been taught.