One of the highlights for everyone working with the SWAMP-IN Team each summer is organizing and sending groups of families and friends to Eagle Butte, South Dakota to work with our neighbors at the Cheyenne River Youth Project. In 2016, the SWAMP-IN Team is organizing and sending 6 such groups consisting of folks from a number of different churches and organizations including Zion Lutheran Church (Harvester, Missouri), Trinity Lutheran Church (Troy, Missouri), Holy Cross Lutheran (College Station, Texas), Messiah Lutheran Church (Weldon Spring, Missouri) and Lindenwood University (St. Charles, Missouri).
During the next several days, AIM Stories will feature stories from one of these groups consisting of folks from Messiah Lutheran Church. This group consists of 28 people ranging in age from 9 to almost 60 and includes all or part of 11 different families. This is the ninth consecutive summer that folks from Messiah Lutheran have come to Eagle Butte to work with our neighbors at the Cheyenne River Youth Project.
Our group met at Messiah bright and early on Saturday morning, June 18, for the long awaited departure for Eagle Butte. After warm greetings, playful banter and a prayer, we departed on the first leg of our trip from St. Louis to Memorial Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After about 10 hours on the road, we arrived at Memorial Lutheran, set-up our air mattresses for the night and enjoyed our traditional meal of pizza and salad at Marco's Pizza.
The next morning we had the privilege of worshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ at Memorial Lutheran. We also had the opportunity to hear about the work a group from their church had just completed on the Rosebud Indian Reservation as they celebrated Missions Sunday.
Following services, we departed on the last leg of the trip to Eagle Butte. As our drive began, the day heated-up (as often happens during the summer in South Dakota) with temperatures topping out at 100 degrees when we stopped at the Lewis & Clark Historical Site overlooking the Missouri River in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Fortunately, as we continued north across South Dakota, the temperatures began to drop reaching a very comfortable 85 degrees when we reached Eagle Butte.
Upon arrival at the Cheyenne River Youth Project, we had the distinct privilege of being greeted by Emma Schulte. After being a part of every team sent by Messiah to Eagle Butte since 2008, Emma is spending the entire summer of 2016 working as a long-term volunteer here at the Cheyenne River Youth Project.
We began our activities at the Cheyenne River Youth Project yesterday morning. For some, that means cutting grass, painting walls and preparing the Art Park for the second annual Red Can Graffiti Jam. For others, that means preparing meals for us, the long-term volunteers, the staff and the kids here at CRYP. For still others, that means planning crafts, games and activities for the kids (all based on the kids' favorite Disney movies, with the activities yesterday based on the movie, Cars).
We also had the joy of reconnecting with our friends here at Cheyenne River Youth Project including Julie, Tammy and Romey.
Yesterday also commenced our second annual South Dakota Haiku Festival. Each day we will have someone from our group or one of the long-term volunteers or staff members present a haiku they have written based on our time and experiences here in South Dakota. Our first haiku was presented by Eve, one of the long term volunteers working here at CRYP this summer. Eve wrote:
I'm learning how fun
you all are to be with and
I'm learning your names
That is about it from South Dakota so far. The sun is up and the sounds and smells (coffee) from the kitchen are calling. More to come tomorrow.