Last summer, Woodridge UMC youth and leaders (including me) traveled to McLaughlin, South Dakota, in the middle of the Standing Rock Reservation. That was usual, commonplace, expected. We take a trip like that every year.
What none of us predicted was how significantly we would be impacted by that trip. The second night we began to sense something was different about this trip. The questions our teenagers asked and the conversations we had were deeper, more informed than ever before. Even as a professional person of faith it makes me uneasy to speak like this, but as we reflected on our experiences in Standing Rock, we could only conclude that God was speaking to us.
Our youth returned to share a new vision: Instead of picking a new location for the 2013 trip, we want to return to Standing Rock. And we want to bring the whole church with us.
So a multi-generational trip was born. In June, people of all ages from WUMC are heading to McLaughlin, SD for a week of work with the Lakota people of Standing Rock. But first, Standing Rock came here.
While in Standing Rock we met Robert White Mountain. Some from our group built a modest shelter so those working at the enormous community garden that Robert started could have some shade. Others of us pulled weeds in the garden. All of us were exceedingly moved talking with Robert, listening to him share his vision for his family, his people, his home.
That’s why we were thrilled when Robert agreed to speak at all three of our worship gatherings on January 20. For me, the best was at our Evening Worship when Robert was able to just talk and respond to questions. Don’t be scared by the one hour running time or by the moment of nothingness as the video begins. Robert starts talking about four minutes in. If you make it through the whole thing, you’re rewarded with Robert signing a prayer song in Lakota.
What did you think of the conversation with Robert? What surprised you? What moved you? What questions didn’t get answered?