2011 Summer Mission Trip Recap

As many of you know a group of us (3 adults and 4 youth) recently packed up the church van and headed to serve the Crow Nation in Montana.

I (James) was impressed with our crew from the start.  Before we could begin any work we had a two day, twenty hour drive ahead of us.  But rather than being a difficult, tedious journey, it was instead a great time of games, laughter, excitement, and encouragement in which we all got to know each other well.

We left Saturday, July 30th and arrived at the Crow Agency on July 31st.  That first night we got to know the other people who would be working alongside us during the week.  There was a family from North Carolina, a mom and daughter from Indiana, a group from Minnesota, and a family from Florida; people from all over the United States gathered in the name of Christ to serve.

Monday was our first day of service.  I set off with Josh and Matthew to help with Vacation Bible School at the park, and that was where we served each day.  The park was a decent size park, but overgrown and in disrepair.  We found out from one of the kids that according to the other kids in the area it was okay to throw your trash on the ground when you were done with it.  So, each day we picked up two large trash bags full of beer cans, soda cups, food wrappers and the occasional diaper.  But beyond the clean-up our main goal was to share the love of Christ with the children of the area.

Our first day we only had one little girl who did crafts with some of our fellow team members, but Josh, Matthew and I ventured over to the basketball court to see if we could join a group of teenagers playing there.  Not much was said, but we had a great time playing with them, and as we saw them throughout the week they were kind and friendly to us.  As the week went on more and more children began to hear about us being at the park, and by the end of the week we had a group of about 14 children who did crafts, played games with us, and heard about the love of Jesus through songs and stories.

Thursday, our last day of work, we held a carnival in the park for the kids.  I’m guessing there were about 50 children, running around with smiles on their faces, enjoying the games, activities and of course the prizes they got for trying the different games.  The best part was that many of them we had gotten to know throughout the week, and they knew we where there because Jesus loves us and them, and called us to go and love and serve them as well.

Meanwhile Back at Camp . . .

During the week, Ty ,Aaron, Blake and Fletcher, along with me, Josh and Matthew when we weren’t doing ministry in the park; tirelessly did construction on the camp we were staying at, preparing it for future groups to come and serve the Crow Nation.  The main project was getting the bathroom and place for the showers completed.  When we arrived there were only four walls with no roof.  When we left there were four walls, a roof, working plumbing and stalls.

You should have seen Aaron up on the roof, working away like he’d been in construction all his life, though really this was the first time he’d ever done roofing, while Ty drove around the mini bulldozer, moving heavy materials and flattening down the broken road.  And Blake, it turns out, is a great electrician.  When the crew heard he was apprenticing with an electrician in Los Angeles they gave him some tools and put him to work and before you knew it light switches and outlets were set up and in working order all over the camp.  And Fletcher, along with Matthew and Josh went anywhere and everywhere there was a need in the camp, doing even the dirtiest of jobs.

Also during our trip we had the opportunity to visit the local Crow nursing home to play games with the residents, and I had the opportunity lead our group in worship each night before our nightly recaps of the day.

Friday we had the day off and headed to the place where the Battle of Little Big Horn took place.  For those of you fuzzy on your history, this is where Custer made his last stand.  This was followed up by a trip to nearby canyon with a beautiful river running through it.  We hoped a big pontoon boat and explored the river.

Again our drive back was safe and better than tolerable and we arrived back at church Sunday night, August 7th.  Thank you again to everyone who supported us financially, through prayer or through other means to make this trip possible.  As I leave I will tell of two encounters that stick out in my mind.  I hope others from the trip will share their experiences in the comments section below.

1) When doing vacation Bible school at the park one of the children came over to where we were about to begin our lesson and was crying.  When I asked what was wrong she said she had fallen off the playground equipment and had hurt her leg.  But what was really upsetting her, is that another girl in her neighborhood had told her that if she came to visit us today she would be cursed and her house would burn down.  Falling down and hurting her leg confirmed for her that she was now cursed and she feared for her family and her home.  I gently told her that that wasn’t true, that God loves her and her family and would never curse her for spending time with us, that we have a good and loving God who is more powerful than any curse.  A mom who was with our group gave her a hug and soon she was back playing with the other children.  But I was grateful to have the opportunity to speak the truth of God’s love to this little girl.

2) As we were filling our gas tank to leave for home, a gentleman and his girlfriend (neither of them Native American) approached us wanting to know if one of us was a pastor.  I was summoned from inside the station and got to hear the heartbreaking story of how this man’s son had just overdosed on heroin and was expected to die soon.  This gentleman and his girlfriend were traveling to see his son when they saw our church van and felt the need to be prayed with.  And so, we all gathered together and prayed. They both were believers, but how awesome it is that a group of refugees from South Pasadena happened to be at a gas station in Montana where this man struggling to hold on to hope, could be reminded of God’s love and the love of God’s community for him and his son.


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3 Comments to “2011 Summer Mission Trip Recap”

  1. Stephen Callender Says:

    Love it! Thanks for taking the time to write it. You almost brought tears to my eyes. :) I’d love hear from everyone else what their experiences were like.

  2. DebC Says:

    Thanks, James, for the recap and update.
    Great memories, which will last a lifetime.

  3. Debbie O Says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts & memories of the trip. So many different things happened that week that I had forgotten about the little girl who thought she was cursed for coming to VBS – so glad to be reminded of that! Your being able to minister to her & dispel her fear of being cursed with the assurance that we having a good, loving God was a true highlight of the trip.
    Telfair, Danny, & I were so impressed with Blake, Fletcher, Matthew, & Josh & their attitude of servanthood. It was a true blessing to have worked with all of you!

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