“After this trip, I am finally beginning to understand what it means for our hearts to break for what breaks His.”
Pack Your Bags Team C has officially concluded their very first missions trip of the year! After many weeks of preparing, we finally hit the road for the 5 hour drive to the Wanblee, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Our team was wonderfully hosted at the Eagle Nest Life Center by Pastor Gus and Terri Craven. It was an honor to partner with these wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to ministering in this community. We had the opportunity to direct and perform two nights of VBS for many of the local children and teens. Both VBS events were filled with many energetic children who were ready to have a night of care free fun and bible lessons. We shared the story of David & Goliath with an emphasis on how God wants to use each and every one of us for big things, even if we feel like we are "too little" or "not strong enough."
They also brought a lesson from the story of Joseph and how we should forgive Those who may hurt us. Joseph showed this when he forgave his brothers who betrayed him. These two stories definitely resonated with the kids and what they face on a day-to-day basis. We were surprised and excited at how much they remembered from the stories! We are praying that God's Word continues to work in their hearts with what was shared on those nights.
We also helped the church with many different work projects throughout the week in order to prepare for the Harvest Festival. We built fences, got mowers up and running, cleaned out buildings and yards, and even got to pick strawberries and tomatoes fresh from the garden! To say that we worked hard would be an understatement, but the team had a blast with each job they were given.
“Pine Ridge Reservation has significantly changed my outlook on life. I learned life skills along with how to perform basic tasks on a ranch. Along with building relationships with children, my heart has grown for them more. Our team bonded and grew together as a family.”
Then finally, it was time for the much anticipated Harvest Festival where more than 100+ gathered from Pine Ridge together as a community. We helped run various outdoor games, hay rides, and even zip lining! Towards the end of the Festival, while the community was being served a meal, we had the opportunity to put on a tent service for those who gathered. During this service, our students acted out a dramatized testimony. The message portrayed was about walking out from the darkness of despair and stepping into the hope of Christ. It is truly amazing that we were given the opportunity to openly share how God has transformed us and explain that they could know the same hope we have experienced.
I still remember the speech Gus had before we started cleaning up and everyone left, “It doesn’t matter if you act different or look different, our blood runs the same red.”
To conclude our trip to Wanblee, we conducted the entire Sunday morning service at the Eagle Nest Life Center church. It was amazing to see the team minister with what the Lord had placed on their hearts for this community. A beautiful time of prayer took place at the end of the service and we all shared a special time of worship together. It is awesome to see God move through us when we are willing to seek Him!
Sadly... it was time to say goodbye. There were many tears shed as we hugged our new friends goodbye. Though, we are so grateful for the connections that were made and the new friendships that were formed, it made it all the more difficult to leave. The stories of the people we encountered will stay with us and has helped each of our hearts to "understand what it means for our hearts to break for what breaks His." Hard to believe that this is just the beginning of an amazing year of new experiences, new places, and new friendships. Most importantly, this is just the beginning of God's work in each of our lives for this year's PYB team as we continue to follow Him. We cannot wait to see what He has in store next!
Check out the video below & some more pictures to get a better glimpse into the team's experience!