Monday, July 14, 2008

A Breathtaking Run

Recently, while on the reservation in South Dakota, I would get up early in the morning and go out for a run. Each of these run proved to be not only a good work out, but a memorable experience with an absolute breathtaking view. As far as the eye can see there's nothing but rolling hills and prairies, free from any signs of civilization or the typical scaring thereof.

The particular run (pictured at top), started off with being barked at by the watchmen of a prairie dog colony. This was shortly followed by two huge white-tailed doe leaping across the path right in front of me then slowly, yet majestically dancing down into a ravine and emerging back on the other side of a butte (an isolated hill with steep sides and flat top).
As my eyes followed the white-tail, still hearing the sophisticated underground communications of the praire dogs and taking in the panorama view, I literally found myself running down the path with my arm spread out into the air thinking, "What the heck... I can't believe I just saw all this..." (And that's without mentioning the eagle flying over head of me while I'm running - see picture - middle-top-left.)

Several minutes and a mile later as I circled around where the two doe disappeared, at the top of the butte, I saw another figure standing still on the top, staring right at me. It was a pronghorn buck antelope. I immediately stopped running as I thought to myself, "Do they charge?" Which I figured was a good question to ask beings my early morning traveling companions were all sitting on a hill over a mile away - out of sight and out of hearing. And, in the event this was some protective, aggressive and charging beast, it would be QUITE some time before they would miss me or even longer to find me. Did I mention I was wearing a bright orange shirt? I'm not sure if that's relevant, but I kind like a dancing el Traje de Luces (the elaborate eye catching costume of a matador before the enraged bull.

The pronghorn began to prance and run down the butte. I figured it was an opportune moment for a little impromptu speed work out, so I began sprinting back up the path from which came. After about 50-yards I stopped and looked back to see my friend leaping across the hill-side. I figured he either knew something I didn't, was secretly pinning me in somehow or was simply going on his way. Either way, I decided I wanted to see things from the view from where he had been standing. So I turned around and headed back up the path. A mile later I was there, climbed the butte and what I saw was once again, simply breathtaking... (Below is the view from on top of this view, also known as Pawnee Lookout).

(The view from Pawnee Lookout - Where Mr. Pronghorn was poised.)

(The Watchman)

(These were spotted on the drive back to camp from the run.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where Were You When You Were Ten?

Can you remember where were you when you were ten?

You had probably just finished the fourth-grade. Do you remember what you did with your summers as a child?

I just got back from being with some of the most amazing ten-and-eleven-year-olds that I know. Within about a weeks time, we spent close to 50-hours in a van driving across the country, 4-and-half-days sharing the love of God with the community of children at the Rosebud Native American Reservation, Hiking up the Black Hills of South Dakota as we glared into the huge nostrils of the President's upon Mt. Rushmore, stared in awe of the largest monument in the world of Crazy Horse, and screamed all day at the Kalahari Water Park.

A Mission Trip Like No Other...

Missions trips have a way of intersecting our spiritual journey like few other things on earth. There's something about leaving the confines of the familiarities of home, family, friends, not to mention television, gaming systems and all the luxuries we so often take for granted.

This was our desire in taking a group of young children all the way to South Dakota to be among the Lakota Natives.

This was our first ever missions trip where the the core team was comprised of children with hearts set on ministering to other children.

One of my fondest moments on the trip was Friday night. It had been a LONG-HOT day. After two buttock-cramping days of van travel, we jumped right into ministry and interacting with the children. There had been much running, playing, wrestling, more running, more playing, and more wrestling. Our kids were exhausted. And, it was only DAY-ONE.

We decided that after dinner (which was cooked in the fire - AWESOME) that we would do a little reflection and group processing of the day, then put on a Feature Presentation Movie for a little reprieve, especially since we still had several LONG-HOT days to go...

We entered the Timothy House, started with a little worship... AND one-hour-and-a-half later we found ourselves standing in a circle. So much for the Feature Presentation. ONE-AND-A-HALF-HOUR of worship, prayer, dancing, crying, laughing, singing, and at several points everyone playing their own instrument.

When was the last time you spent 90 minutes with other adults worshiping, praying and reflecting?

How about children?

This was a first for me...

...And, it was awesome! (AND the coolest thing, Julie even capture it on video - PRICELESS!).

We wanted to take a group of children on a missions trip, because we believed it could shape them and serve as a significant element to their spiritual journey. Further, we believe that we often expect way too little from young people, and perhaps their just capable of understanding, receiving, possessing and DOING quite a bit more than we've ever taken time to imagine...

We'll do it again...