Friday Free Day

Today we had a free day.  It was a wonderful end to week of hard work.  We piled into our mini-vans - Fr. Chad keeps talking about how he's the ultimate "soccer dad" and headed to the Angastora reservoire.  It was a day filled with frisbee, volleyball, swimming, and fellowship.  We've got a few red faces, but did our best to stay on top of the sunscreen usage!

We packed up and headed back to Pine Ridge to go the Restoration Church and hear Pastor John Two Bulls speak.  Last year, some of our group worked on that site, installing drywall. The Church has been in use for the last three months.  It looks amazing!  Pastor John spoke to use for about an hour and a half without taking a breath and moving seamlessly through his story.  He talked about how God has worked in his life, the struggles he's had and the absolute joy he has brining the love of Jesus Christ to people.

One thing that stuck out in his talk was how incredibly thankful he was for the work we had completed this week.  He said that because of our hard work (and especially the work of those who helped with the church) we are helping people to know Jesus; he couldn't say "thank you" enough. He told us that when we get the Heaven, some Lakota person is going to greet you there and thank you for changing their life and bringing them to Jesus. 

Pastor John talked about so many things (I wish I would have recorded it - it was seriously amazing.)  The teens keep talking about how amazing and passionate and dedicated he is.  He told us that he sleeps about 13 hours a week, that he has 3 different cell phones so he can always be reached by people who need him and that his Suburban is his "altar on wheels" because he drives an average of 1700 miles a week to bring Jesus to any he can, where ever he can.  

God put the something very special on Pastor John's heart and he won't stop until everyone he meets knows the love of Jesus Christ.  Ask the teens about their experience at the church with Pastor John - I am not doing him justice!

Our last night of Praise and Worship ended rather quickly due to severe weather.  We all survived - we did get a lot of hail, though!

Tomorrow we start the trek home!  We'll keep in touch on Sunday as we get close to Madison!




Work Day 3 & 4

Here is the wrap up for the work on all the crews!  Wednesday and Thursday were filled with lots of awesome things.  The kids can't stop talking about how amazing their experiences have been.  


Work Day 3 (Wednesday)


Crew 1 - According to Nick

Today was probably the most productive day we have had this whole week. The garden group was able to to finish all the gardening today. They said that the garden was a 50 by 70 foot garden, they were so happy to finish it. The rest of us were working on the rafters, we were either cutting, hammering, measuring, or sweeping off all the water that  was on the roof. We were frantically trying to get the water off because the water was seeping through the ceiling into the kitchen and the bathroom mainly. For the most part the rafters were done except for the end piece and a couple of braces for the rafters. At one point when Fr. Chad was using the “Jesus Hammer” (the second best hammer we have) he smashed his thumb. Thank goodness that Bri and Joe Christian were there to help him. Well tomorrow, we will finish everything and start, maybe finish the roofing. I am looking forward for the days to come on this mission trip.


Crew 3 - According to Bryce

Today we just put the finishing touches on the dry wall insertion project.  AFter we completed that first task we added dry wall compound or “mud” to fill gaps and connect the dry wall with the existing wall. While Jennie, Maggie, Joey, and Randy started to paint.  Our leader Joe and another group member Rhett helped out another neighbor in need.  While we worked today, as the passed few days, we have been seeing our dog friends that Jennie has all named.  Since tomorrow is our last day we really hope to finish off painting the house so he can see the finished project. 


Crew 4 - According to Ethan

Today we continued working on Harold’s house. We finished painting all the siding with the primer. As Ben, Grace, Emily, and Marilyn painted, Deirdre and I finished the trim on the house. Just before lunch it started to rain, so we had to stop painting because of the rain. After lunch we finished painting and putting the trim up. Over all today was a very good day. We will finish the house tomorrow.


Crew 5 - Courtesy of Matthew Molina and Joey McCormick. Guest starring Kaitlin Worman, Musical Guest Dierdre Turner

Today we finished. ‘nuff said.


Crew 6 - According to Emma

Today we got back out to Dorothy’s house to continue to work on the siding of her house. Joe, Grace, Josh, Sam, Dennis and I worked on putting up siding in the backyard of her house. Joe and I put up siding with the help of Grace, who drove in most of the nails on that side of the house.  Dorothy came out of her house today, and was very sweet. Ann, Brian, Georgia and Chris worked on the front sides of the house.  First, they tore out the unused heater on the side wall, then cleared the siding from that side and the front of the house. They ended up having to reuse some of the siding because we ran out of supplies, and it was still in fairly good shape.  


Crew 7 - According to Matt Grelle (with additions by Gina)

Today we primed (not painted) a house and blew stuff up with fireworks. Fun. TEAM AWESOME!

In the evening, Avis, the mother of the family we worked for invited our whole crew over for dinner the thank us and celebrate the birthday of her son Leroy.   We bought him a THOR PEZ dispenser and a transformer for his birthday; he turned 23.  When we first got there, they were still preparing dinner, so we talked with her son Isaac.  Isaac is an Iraqi war veteran.  He told us about how difficult it was for him to leave his family behind.  We then enjoyed the indian tacos which were prepared by Avis and Edna.  They were very delicious.   The best part of the night was having the conversations with the family.  It allowed us to feel really connected with the family.  The night wrapped up with the boys lighting fireworks off with Tyrel. What an amazing night. 





The day was great!  It ended in the typical Next Step fashion - we went to Praise and Worship, listened to Candace talk (she is great and had lots of awesome things to say - ask your teens!) and then finished off with parish time (further discussion and snackage).

Throughout the week, people have been getting up to see the sunrise.  That means getting up around 4:45 am and hiking up a big hill to see the show.  Not only is it beautiful, it is a great opportunity to pray, which many of the students are taking advantage of.


Work Day 4 (Thursday) FINAL DAY OF WORK


Crew 1- According to Bridget

Yesterday we finished all of the rafters and started putting up osb. Ruby, the woman who’s roof we have been rebuilding, is such a beautiful person inside and out. She is so amazing and shared dinner with us. Her gratitude was so heart warming and truly genuine. If on;y everyone had as much faith as this strong woman. She has little to nothing and still loves God so much. We are truly blessed to have met her. Later we enjoyed a photo op, and did lunch devos. Today we learned it wasn’t illegal to light off fireworks:) 


Crew 3: According to Maggie:

Today was our last day on the work site. We painted up a storm and got at least one coat up on all the walls. It was a bittersweet day as we had to say goodbye to the family we served and our many dog friends--including our favorite puppies Rocky and Rollie. While painting, we jammed out to country music. “I’m Already There” by LoneStar came on and we had an intense crew-bonding moment while singing together. The words of the song gave us comfort as we were getting ready to leave the friendships we had formed over drywall, mud, and paint throughout the week. The chorus, which says, “I’m already there, take a look around. I’m the sunshine in your hair, I’m the shadow on the ground. I’m the whisper in the wind and I’ll be there ‘till the end” also reminded us of God’s presence all around us. When we weren’t working extremely hard, Crew 3 enjoyed covering ourselves from head to toe in white paint. By the time we had to leave,  we did not have all of the walls coated like we had wanted, but considering the amount of work we had to do when we started, we accomplished our mission. Overall, we had a blast serving the Oglala Lakota and sharing in God’s grace together.


Crew 4 - According to Ben

Today was our last work day of the week.  The whole week our crew has been trying as hard as possible to completely finish our project (siding Harold’s house) and we managed to do that today.  With the help of our fearless leader Rob (a construction savvy crew member) we finished all the siding on Harold’s house, as well as painting all of it and trimming the windows.  We finished all this early in the day and were able to have a very thought provoking devotional time that I feel brought our group closer together.  Our entire crew is so thankful for the opportunity to serve Harold and find the entire experience incredibly rewarding.  This entire week has brought us all closer to each other and to God.        


Crew 5: Brought to you by Matthew Molina

I have had the opportunity to embark on mission trips twice before and never before have I finished a work site. Yesterday was thus a milestone for myself and for the rest of Crew 5 when we completed painting Miss Ida’s house. Today, then we made our way to Ernie’s home where we would begin to lay down the groundwork for future crews via various projects around the house. After three days of of painting, the transition to construction was a welcome change of pace for many who had not picked up their hammers all week. Ernie’s house also brought other transitions including the presence of rattlesnakes. Yes, rattlesnakes, slithery little creatures that’ll kill you in a minute. Thankfully however we had the beastly muscles and quick thinking of Jack McMahon on our crew who in one fell swoop quickly saved our crew with an axe. 

In the back of the house was a section that had once been windows that was in need of a patch of siding and insulation and in the front of the house was a door that required a replacement. The back was expertly handled by select members of our crew who finished this with expert precision by the end of the day. The door at the front of the house became a difficult battle between the mental and physical tenacity of J.D. Davis and myself, and in the end we could proudly close the door to the house, and bring a close to our week. We thank the Next Step staff, the members of the Lakota people who we served, and our family and friends for supporting us throughout the week. This is Matthew Molina signing off for Crew 5, good night, and good luck to you all.


Crew 6- according to Josh

Yesterday we came to the work site and we still had to put up a lot of siding and the challenge felt impossible.  We split into three different groups.  Group 1 consisted of Joe, Emma, and Grace M.  Group 2 was Dennis, Sam, and I.  Group 3 was Ann, Georgia, Brian(Fish), and Chris.  This strategy worked out well for us, we managed to go even faster then any of the other work days.  We then broke for lunch and as always we had a great lunch devotions.  We got back to work but, our progress slowed.  We worked about 15-30 minutes past curfew.  Once the work was all done, each person in our group had a smile on our face due to all that we have accomplished as a team.  The finishing of the siding was a sign of relief throughout our crew that had bonded so well over this past week.


Crew 7: Brought to you by Alex Stalowski

Today our crew went to Isaac’s house to finish all of the projects. We finally finished priming the house, and yes there is a difference between priming and painting. While most of us did the priming, some of us were working on measuring and cutting wood to make shutters for the windows and sides of the house. Within the first half of the day at work, we managed to finish both priming and measuring. So when we finished, we packed al the equipment up and headed back to camp for lunch. After a meaningful lunch devotion in which we all participated in, we headed back to Isaac’s house. We didn’t want to start a new project because of the amount of time we had left. So instead, we cleaned up the trash around the house. After finishing the work, tyrel ( I think that’s how you spell it) brought out his bottle rockets and fire crackers. We all decided hang with him and so we did. The guys would go around the house looking for grasshoppers or beetles. Once we found the grasshoppers we would bring them back to Gina to help tape them to the fire crackers. After that we would light the fire cracker and throw it to the open space. We would do it for the next hour or so. Finally, our day came to an end. When we were packing up to leave, Tyrel gave some of us some fire crackers as a way to thank us for our week of work to his house. I would love to come back and serve for their family again whenever I can.



After finishing up our work, we went to the Buffalo Ranch and learned the story of the White Buffalo (I'd tell you here, but I won't do it justice!).  Then, we hopped in the back of some pick-up trucks and went to feed the buffalo.  Some of us got kissed by buffalo and some didn't.  If you don't know, to feed the them, you put a pellet in your mouth and they come up to you with their gingatic tongues (that feel like sandpaper) and take it from you.  Literally, kissing buffalo!  It was so AWESOME!

Today's large group was all about baggage - the baggage that weighs us down, that eats us up, that separates us from Jesus.  We were challenged to look at our own baggage, to pray about it, write it down and to give it to Jesus.  In our parish time, we took it even further and we had the opportunity for confession (thank God for Fr. Chad!).  Many of the teens took advantage of the opprotunity - it was incredibly cool to see.  I love watching people take ownership of their faith - to trust Jesus and his healing power,  to continue to work on developing a personal relationship with Jesus and just opem their hearts completely to the Lord and His will for their lives.  I am so incredibly proud of all the students (as are Joe, Joe, Fr. Chad, Gina and Angie) for trying new things, for testing their faith, coming out of their comfort zones and for trusting the Lord.  Words cannot do justice to the amazing work of the Holy Spirit on this trip!






Work Day 1 and 2

So, the interenet has been down on site, so my apologies for not getting these blogs up sooner!  But, we're back thanks to Elaine (a leader from the Ohio group) and her hot-spot!

I've been having the teens give a little reflection of what they did during the day on their "crew."  We are split up into 6 crews all working on different projects. The weather has been awesome, the kids have been working their butts off and we still are injury free (though, Fr. Chad did hammer his thumb pretty hard).  They are covered in paint, tar, caulk, saw dust, sunscreen, dirt and just about anything else you can imagine!  

Now, the update.  

WORK DAY 1 (Monday)

CREW 1 -  Day 1 according to Joe Christian  (Crew Members: Fr. Chad, Nick, Jacob, Brittany, Bridget and Joe Christian).  

Today our group picked up where the last group left off on a job that consisted of building a roof over a trailer.  All of the posts were already placed by the last group so it was our job to attach and stabilize the perimeter.  Once we were finished with that we had just enough time to get started on the first segment of the rafters.  We were very productive for our first days work despite the hot temperatures on the roof and the small amount of people.  We are hoping to finish the rafters and the roofing by the end of the week if all goes well

CREW 3 - Day 1 according to Joey (Crew Members:  Joe Jurasko, Maggie, Jennie, Randy, Bryce and Joey)


Today we went to a house that needed some drywall to be redone. We were down two group members because they were doing a different job but we were ready to do the job. Our leaders Joe and Jeff helped out a lot. Jennie and Maggie kept the little kids at the house busy while us the boys could get the work done. Overall it was a fun day and a great way to start helping the community.

CREW 4 - Day 1 according to Deirdre (Crew Members: Meg, Deirdre, Grace Seibert, Ethan and Ben)


Today our group worked for Harold and Priscilla. We were tearing down old siding and applying new. In the morning the siding was coming down well and we didn’t run into many problems. Around the time we finished getting the siding down Harold came home. He immediately recognized Meg, she had worked on his house last year, and we all introduced ourselves. He showed us all the projects he has been working on for the last year, (huge garden, horses, art work, and a new building) it was really cool. He also told us some of his life story and was extremely generous. He and Priscilla gave us snacks and some M&Ms. After lunch and lunch devos we got back to work, putting UP siding. It was time to use the hammers, the drill, and the circ saw. We got about a third of the siding up before it was time to pack up and head back to the school. We had a great day and saw God through many little things thoughout our day so.... YAY GOD!

CREW 5 - Day 1 according to Lily and Julia (Angie, Jack, Matthew Molina, Lily and Julia)


Today our group worked for Mrs. Ida painting the exterior of her house. We had a great day getting the first layer of paint on, and are excited to hopefully finish tomorrow. We learned a lot about the woman we worked for, she has 82 grandchildren and just is a very sweet, humble lady. The house is looking great! The flooring was put in last week so finishing the painting will make the whole project even better!

CREW 6 -Day 1 according to Grace Mortenson (Joe Rausch, Chris, Josh, Emma and Grace)


Today we started by taking off one layer of siding but it turned out that there were two layers and the second layer was rotten so that came off as well. We all worked very hard to remove both layers of siding from one side and one layer from the another side. There job turned out to be much harder that they originally thought, now they have to add new studs to at least one side of the trailer.

CREW 7 - Day 1 according to Kayla (Gina, Kayla, Alex, Matt Grelle, and Kaitlin)


Hey y’all! Hope everything is going well back at home, it is so beautiful here and we are so excited and pumped to be here. We were  Crew 7 a.k.a. Team awesome, we worked on some different stuff today; some of us (Kaitlin, Clara, and Keith) put some tar on the roof to seal it up, some ripped off the gutter and the board beneath that. Ripping off the gutter was a bit of a challenge because of the fact that it was tarred, stapled, and screwed. But we got it done. The rest of us worked on getting ready to paint the house, so scraped off the old paint. It was really hot but we drank lots of water and got through the day. We are so excited for tomorrow and to see what is in store for us. 




The kids are awesome!  They are working so well with each other and showing aawesome leadership on all of the sites!


Work Day 2 (Tuesday)



Crew 1 -  According to Brittany

Today we had to bring a whole bunch of wood to the worksite to finish the roof. We got to the site and go right to work on the roof, mowing, and gardening. We all were so very happy that it was a cool morning and the sun did not come out until lunch. We worked our butts of and have finished a lot of mowing. Our roofing framing is half way done. Gardening is going very well also. Some of the people from out group met and talked with Ruby who is the persons house we are working on. She is the sweetest person ever and she instantly finds a place in your heart. While talking with her, Ruby said, “I don’t have much but I have God’s love and that makes me a millionaire in love.”  What an awesome day!

Crew 3 - According to Jennie

Today in crew 3 the “sheet rock n’ rollers” got a lot of work done on our dry-walling! We were greeted by the six stray dogs that hang around our site that we have named Sheet, lip-tick, winn dixie, little D, and two puppies named rocky and rolly.  Sheet attacked us and little D peed on our van and stood on our drywall, but despite that we got through the day!  The kids that live there were eager to watch and wanted to jump right in and help! We have been so blessed to have gotten the opportunity to know them and play with them and we are all looking forward to another great day tomorrow! 

Crew 4 - According to Grace 

Another fantastic day in Crew 4.  We started the day by arriving at our site and unloading the seemingly endless amount of tools.  We continued through the chilly morning by measuring, cutting, putting up, and nailing in the siding for Harold’s house.  After making much progress, we took a bathroom break and stopped for lunch.  During lunch our group seemed to bond a lot and continued to grow stronger friendships together.  After a delicious lunch of sandwiches and chips, we started up work again on the siding.  The day continued to get sunnier and HOT!  Throughout the day everyone seemed to find their own jobs and what they were good at and could help out with.  The sun got hotter but we continued on until 3:30.  Another great day for crew 4 is sure to come tomorrow!

P.S.  Hi Mom! Hi Dad!  

Crew 5 - According to Jack

Crew five started the day with helping transport a crew member from a different drew to their site. immediately after we booked it to our site and got to work. Crew five today had the same task as yesterday, painting a house, but not just anybody’s house. Miss Ida’s house. Miss Ida is a very sweet ninety year old lady who is the mother to almost most of the Lakota kids i have encountered. She has over 88 grandchildren! today miss Ida decided to come out of her house and watch us paint her house red and white. Although it was hot and moral was low (everyone was sick of painting it being very tedious work) we found a way through the leadership of awesome fellow crew members that helped each other pull through. at the beginning of the day we were only about thirty percent complete through our severe percent we were able to almost complete her house, and we are more than happy to finish it for Miss Ida tomorrow.

Crew 6 - According to Chris

Crew six was nothing but a burning ball of energy, never have I seen ten people so excited to get inside of a trailer where the insulation is damp, the wood was rotting, and the roof was in massive need to re-tarring. With ten people and a mission so pure that only God could have placed a servants heart within us, we were all wanting to do nothing but serve those who needed it most. With our resident Dorothy being mostly deaf but eternally grateful for our service we split up into three groups, one group was meant to cut and measure new siding for the trailer and new two-by-fours for support beams, another was meant to place the siding and nail it so that it would make the trailer look like the palace that Dorothy deserved (even though it still looks like a trailer), and the last group, my group, went on the roof to re-tar the holes that were in her tin roof. It was grueling work but with the scenery and the love of God in our hearts it was the most meaningful project I have been apart of.

Crew 7 - According to Kaitlin 

Crew 7 definitely had a successful day. We were blessed with perfect weather for the morning and were able to get a strong start on Isaac’s mom’s roof. Yesterday we finished covering the roof with tar, and by the time the temperatures rose,we realized we probably should have saved that part for last as we were covered after only a few minutes. However, we continued to work hard and finished applying new boards to the roof and side of the house. Throughout the course of the day, we made many new friends including 5 dogs, 4 horses, a cat, a toad, and 2 grasshoppers whose days were not as great as ours seeing as they were strapped to bottle rockets and blown into the sky by the 2 kids who live at the site. Overall the day could not have gone better and we look forward to helping this family as much as we can and letting God work through us even more!


Thanks for your patience with the interent issues.  We are loving every moment with your kids!!!  I promise, more pictures will be up soon!!!!!



Day 1 and 2

WE MADE IT! (Please forgive the "list" style - its late and I'm tired). After leaving bright and early on Saturday we finally arrived on the reservation (aka - The Rez). As you can imagine, lots of things are bound to happen when 32 people caravan in 5 mini-vans from Madison to Pine Ridge (32 people because I took a bus out here on Saturday night). I was brought up to speed with some of the highlights of the trip so far: 1. Fr. Chad is awesome! The kids absolutely LOVE him. And, Joe is so psyched to have a priest on a Mission trip! I promise, we are taking great care of him! 2. There isn't a lot to do in Murdo, South Dakota. However, the parish time was extremely productive and reflective! Everyone was asked to respond to two questions : What are you bringing on the trip (not material items) and what will you leave? Those questions are much tougher to answer than you might think! 3. Mass in the Badlands was awesome (again, Fr. Chad ROCKS!). The highlight of his homily (according to several of the teens) was this: He told us to look around and notice how beautiful the landscapes were - how amazing God's creation is. Then he said, every single person that you meet is 100 times more beautiful than that! 4. They made it out of the Badlands without any major injuries, only minor cuts and scrapes (guess who?!?!?!?). 5. They were really excited to have me back! I got a lovely welcome. Your kids are so great! 6. Getting settled in at Wings of Eagles school was chaotic, but because everyone pitched in, it was incredibly smooth! We got some general rules, learned who are crews are and what are work will be, had some praise and worship time and finished again with parish time. During the parish time tonight we talk about our fears, anxieties, excitements and expectations are for our week of service. As a leader, it is so amazing to watch different kids step up and come our of their comfort zones - and to be very open and honest about what barriers they have. 7. The kids rock! They are like a family - they help each other out, build each other up, laugh together, problem solve together and do whatever they are asked to do without asking why (we'll try to send them home with this same work ethic)! We (the leaders) are SO excited for this week with them!! They are seriously fierce! 8. Axe body spray is awful! Note for packing next year: DON'T BRING IT! 9. God is awesome! He is already at work in huge ways and I can't wait to share with you how he continues to move the hearts of all of us this week! 10. A huge thank you for all of your prayers! We can feel them and we love them! I think that's all I have for tonight! I'll update this every night and will do my best to keep you in the loop! Peace, Meg