We woke up early Thursday and headed toward Pine Ridge Reservation where our church, Southport Congregational does mission work. On our way, we stopped at the Wounded Knee Battlefield.
We continued on to our destination through desolate, but beautiful countryside
Upon arriving, we were greeted by many familiar faces and lots of hugs. What is it about seeing friends outside of the normal setting? Whatever it is, it is very special.
Our minister Laura, along with many adult volunteers and youth group students run a camp for any child at Red Shirt Table (a section of Pine Ridge Reservation) who wants to come. They teach reading, life skills and personal protection skills. I was in love with these children the second we arrived.
The purpose of our visit, of course, was books. We, along with the help of the youth group, arranged the books in age order. The children, most of whom have no books in their homes were going to be able to choose as many books as they wanted. The Wonderland Booksavers gave a brief explanation of how they got started and encouraged the children to read and become inspired.
Then came the best part. Laura told the children to come and choose their books. It was remarkable to watch children who have literally nothing be so considerate and only take a few books at first. When told they could get more, they eagerly obliged.
The older children were next. After everyone had chosen their books, we were blessed to watch everyone read for the next hour. If we did nothing else, it would have been worth the three days of driving for the experience of sharing books with these precious children.
As we were leaving, many of the children came up to thank us. It was incredibly emotional. These children who suffer unimaginable hardships, neglect and abuse gave us a far bigger gift than we gave to them. So, children of Red Shirt Table, thank YOU.
On our way back to the campsite, we stopped in Rapid City for a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Connecticut has always held the title of having the worst Mexcian food in America. Well, South Dakota, you are now the champ.
Back at the campsite, we decided to build a fire and cook steaks for dinner. We started the fire in the fire pit and prepared salad in anticipation of a meal that would make up for the dog food we had for lunch. Harkening back to our Wal-mart experience, we saw a golf cart peeling out toward us. Despite the biblical rains that came a few nights ago, the area was under a fire watch. So, no delicous steaks over a campfire. We moved to a covered area with a grill. Not quite as charming, but as it turned out, very convenient as it began to pour rain. Again.
More wonderful memories were made today, as have been every day. I pray the same for the beautiful children of Red Shirt Table.