The Orange Flowers

The white moon glows bright tonight; its pale face glaring down through a cloudless sky. My feet make a shush sound as I tiptoe my way across the dew layered lawn, and I spread my quilted blanket out. The air is drenched in chilly fingers, but I refuse to let myself feel anything but numb, and clench my teeth tight as I stare up at the black space above. The stars wink back at me.

The first time we planted flowers I was five years old. I had begged you for weeks to buy me the orange flowers because orange was my favorite color. Every time we went to the store I pointed at the orange flowers that were purposely placed near the store-entrance to entice kids like me who loved flowers, and you’d shake your head and say, “No, Little Chicken. Not today.” And I’d pout my lips and cross my arms for the next five minutes and stomp my feet as we continued on, until we would go down a random aisle and I’d see some other orange thing that peaked me interest. The final day I asked, we went through our usual routine, but then at the end we went back to the front of the store and you told me to pick my favorite one. So I picked the biggest ones I could find. They costed $4.72. 

We went home, and you took me to where you kept the gardening tools and shovels. “Little Chicken, there’s more to flowers than what you see,” and you handed me a garden claw and trowel, and you grabbed a shovel. We carried these tools to an area in front of the house that was secluded off with a brick line, and was overrun with grass and weeds. You began digging in the mess, and that’s when you taught me two important lessons: the first was about God, the second was that nothing get’s done without hard work.

“We have to first get rid of these weeds because if we don’t, then we can’t plant these beautiful flowers. We can’t just pull out enough where the flowers will go, because then the weeds would choke out the flowers and the flowers will die.” You continued to dig up massive globs of dirt held together by the roots of the weeds. 

“You have to shake the dirt out. To do this you need to grab a hold of the base of the weeds and start shaking slowly, as more dirt falls out then you can start shaking harder to get more out.” You say this as you show me how to do it. 

“Why can’t you just shake really hard at first?” I question. You smirk, as if you’d knew I’d ask that. “Well Little Chicken, because if you shake too hard at first, then the weeds break off and you’re just left with a massive ball of dirt and roots and then it’s really hard to get the roots out. Now you try.” And I grab one of the globs you dug up and shake it like you showed me. 

“We shake the dirt out because that’s the good stuff we want to use for our flowers. We get rid of the weeds because that’s obviously the bad stuff. Sometimes God does this to us. We all have weeds in our lives, nobody is weed-free. And those weeds take root in our lives. When we’re ready to allow flowers to take root in our lives instead of weeds we allow God to start digging at us, and to start pulling those globs of weeds out of our lives. At first, He is gently shaking them out a little at a time and then He will shake us more vigorously, until at last the weeds come out and all that remains is the foundation that we need for a beautiful flower to blossom out of.”

We continued on, you digging and stopping every once in awhile to help me shake the dirt out of the weeds. After three hours, we finally finished weeding and planting and watering the flowers. It’s one of the few memories I’ve cherished as I grew up, because although you could have done something in an hour, you chose to spend three hours on it to teach me a valuable lesson, one of the many you taught me throughout the years. 

I can’t help but think of those flowers now as I look up at what He created, and wonder what lesson I was supposed to learn after you took your own life. Too many questions and not enough answers ring inside my head, but the stars don’t provide any answers.

“You got my attention, if that’s what You want,” I say between chattering teeth. A breeze brushes my face that has a sweet aroma of flowers. Tears of shame and anger glide down the side of my face, I’m full of frustration because I know you’ll never come back.

“You never taught me how to be strong from a death, and that’s not fair,” I say in hushed voice.

The orange flowers grew back the following year, but years later they eventually died because I stopped tending them as I grew older. You never yelled at me, nor told me it was my fault, but I knew that deep down inside it pained you to see the mass of weeds overtake the arrangement that we worked so hard on. Eventually, you went through and planted Daisies and orange Tulips; they still grow there. 

It suddenly hits me, the day you took your life was your final lesson for me: life is too short to waste. Life is too short to live in the shadows. And even though you never fully allowed God to remove some of the weeds in your life, it’s important for me to live life to the fullest. Sometimes God speaks to us in mysterious ways, and even though I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again, I know what I have to do while I’m here on Earth     plant flowers.

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Waiting for the Sweet Tea

Tonight I was really thirsty. Thirsty enough that I had a headache, thirsty enough my mouth was dry. And sweet tea sounded really good. So I put my kettle on the stove to heat the water, and I pulled out my black tea. “Oh how thirsty I am…maybe I should just get a glass of water.” But my thought was, if I get a glass of water, then I won’t be thirsty for my sweet tea that I’m making. So I waited. Longest 20 minutes of my life. I waited for that water to heat up. I waited for my tea to brew. Then I had to prepare my tea with sugar, add some ice to a glass. Pour. Sip. Two glasses later, I was satisfied with my drink. And had I just grabbed a glass of water, that sweet tea probably would not have tasted as good, because I already had a different taste in my mouth, and my thirst would have already been partially quenched.

Now I went on about that story to bring it back to the other night…

I had went out with a few of my girlfriends for a late night dinner date after work. Maxine* and I have been best friends since we both were wee toddlers, and I befriended Bailey* in high school. Bailey had just broken up with her boyfriend, so she needed to be out. I was full of several emotions upon hearing about this breakup, one of which was saddness because I knew she was dating this lad for a few years, but I was also full of excitement because I know she has a bright future ahead of her.

The night my ex and I had a talk before we decided to go our separate ways, I was torn. I hate hurting people. But I knew deep in my heart that our relationship wasn’t right, that something about it just wasn’t settling my stomach. And it seemed that we both were so unhappy. When I opened my mouth, all I could muster out was “I think we need a break,” and the look in his eyes was gut wrenching. We stayed friends for several months (and we still talk to each other once in a blue moon), but the hardest time came when my car broke down, and I had to rely heavily on him to take me to work, and ultimately a ride back home for the summer once the school semester was over. Watching him leave after we unloaded my car, felt like a jabbing metal wire twisting inside of my stomach. There was a brief hug, but that really pulled the trigger inside my brain that we were truly over. And I missed him. It took me all summer to work on getting out of the habit of wanting to text him. One long summer. But eventually God healed my broken heart, and I realized that I need Him more than a man.

Now, I can’t say that my relationship was a mistake, because had we not dated, I wouldn’t have gone to school at UWGB, where I met many dear friends that I have now. And I wouldn’t have befriended several great families from the church up there. But, as I was waiting for that sweet tea, it got me to thinking about relationships, and how so many young women and men are so thirsty that they grab the first glass of water they can get to without really realizing that it wasn’t water that they wanted, but maybe it was a glass of sweet tea that they wanted in the long run. Why do so many young people settle for something that won’t satisfy them? It could be perhaps that they are impatient to wait for the water to boil and the tea to brew, or possibly, young ones feel that drinking that glass of water first won’t affect how they handle the sweet tea after.

Unfortunately, it does make a difference. A young person waiting for the water to boil and the tea to brew, means that they will be way more satisfied once it turns out to be delicious, ice cold sweetness in the mouth. They aren’t hesitant in wanting more, until that tea is completely finished. Think about it this way. When anyone has leftovers of anything, they typically put it in the fridge. Sometimes, though things get moved and shoved allllllll the way to the back of the fridge, on the bottom shelf. Then it begins to stink. If one doesn’t fully wait for the sweet tea, and just fills up on water until the sweet tea is done brewing, then that person will  just bottle up what’s leftover and put it in the fridge, and possibly that sweet tea will get shoved in the back on the bottom. Sometimes, if one isn’t careful and patient enough to wait for their sweet tea, they don’t always treat it like it’s the most satisfying drink around. And really, is sweet tea completely satisfying, when the taste of water was there first?

Bailey* although she is probably not the happiest in the present time (or maybe she is, I don’t know how her relationship was), I know that if she continues to wait, that her drink will come around. Maybe he’ll be sweet tea, maybe he’ll be a hot coffee Boston style, but ultimately I know that she’ll find hers. I know that I look forward to seeing who/what God is brewing for me. And for every young person out there, stop grabbing the first drink you see, wait for the sweet tea, because it’ll be worth that quenching wait.

 

*indicates name change

Job-ortunity Awaits

Gray Days

The first time I took my driver’s test I failed automatically five minutes in. Of course, I didn’t know I had failed until the very end. My heart sank when I heard the words, “You’ve not passed…” but then it was like my heart was jabbed when she said, “…because you were impeding traffic.” Yes. You heard right. I was going too slow. “You were going 17 miles-an-hour in a twenty-five mile-an-hour zone!”

The second time I took my test, guess what! I failed again, but this time because I was speeding. I’ll skip the long story on that, because honestly it’s not interesting. The guy was very old, didn’t smile, and was very intimidating. Then the third time came around. I was defeated. I didn’t care at this point if I passed or not. And what do you know? I passed. with only 3 points off! “Third times the charm,” I said to my mom all proud of my newest accomplishment.

I say this small tidbit of information to talk about my newest big accomplishment: I finally got a post-graduation job! After three interviews, yes three, of “Oh nice to meet you, Angel. Please tell me about yourself. Why did you want this position?” etcetera etcetera,  I am an employed post-graduate student. It was scary not knowing how long it would be until I found a job that fit exactly what I was looking for: decent paying and allowing me to be off on Sunday. The Sunday thing was the biggest thing for me. Granted, the job is not in my field, and honestly, I could do this job without a college degree, but hopefully *prayers* I’ll find a job within my field in a year or so. But it’s a God-given, prayer-answered, blessing.

The Sky Turned Color

I walked into the big scary building and was greeted with, “Hi. You must be Angelica, or Angel as Margaret tells me you like to be called.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied with a smile.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Tara.” She walked me down a long windy hallway into the work area, asking me some small-talk questions. “She is really nice,” I think to myself.
“Now. We’ll have you watch a little bit as to what this job is all about. Then we’ll conduct your interview.”

So I watched with a lady as to what I would potentially be doing. Interesting. I gaze around the bright, large room. So much noise and chattering going on. I’ve never been in an office type setting before. During my interview, it was just the basic questions I’ve answered before. Then all of a sudden I’m being offered the job. “What? No waiting around to see if I got it? Thank you, Jesus!” I say inside my head (all this internal talking I do probably makes me sound crazy, I can attest I’m not).

I wanted to weep with joy. This reaction might sound ludicrous, but you don’t know how big of a blessing a job is until you’re down to your last dollars. That morning I had just checked my bank account: $21. My gas tank: 1/4 of a tank. Granted I won’t have my first paycheck probably for awhile, but that $21 will be enough until then, God willing. I serve a God who is always faithful. It’s not about “free handouts,” it’s about trusting in Him to provide for me. That same day I went out with a very good, long-term friend of mine, and he refused to let me deny him in putting some gas in my car. He didn’t have to, but I’m very thankful he did. He blesses me more than he realizes, and more than I’ll ever be able to explain to him.

Waiting Out the Storm

Sometimes, it takes more than once to accomplish something big. Look at my driving test and my job situation. I’ve always had a summer job lined up in the past, this was the first summer I chose to not work in food service, and the first summer I had to wait a whole month of being home before I could start working (for those who don’t know, I find it hard to just sit around the house and do nothing). I was fortunate that it took me only three times to get my license, and only 4 times to find the perfect job.

For many folks it can take a lot longer than what it did for me. And not just in finding a job, for other things too: having a baby, buying a car, writing a book, finding a spouse, making the perfect cup of coffee…sometimes it might take 3 times, sometimes 7, and sometimes it might never happen in the way that it “should.” Just because it does take longer for somethings, doesn’t mean that you should give up though. Never give up. On anything. And if it doesn’t work one way, figure out another way to do it. Maybe you’re meant to adopt a child instead of having your own. Maybe you’re not meant to have a new car just yet. Maybe you have to fail a few more times at writing before you can get the knack for it. Maybe you’re called to be single because you’re too independent or you aren’t ready for a spouse at that time in your life. And maybe, just maybe you should try a different brand of coffee (go Dunkin Donuts brand coffee!). Just because something doesn’t happen the first time, doesn’t give you the right to give up! Let me repeat that…for the third time! You cannot give up just because life isn’t going your way the first time. You. Have. To. Keep. Going.

As I go on my third run tomorrow, I pray that it doesn’t kill me. I’m not giving up yet on attempting to get into better shape. And you shouldn’t give up on your trials either, wait out that storm, and when it eases up, get back out on the waters and sail! God Bless you.

#bless

A Lion, The King, and The Past

I was recently scrolling through Facebook when I came across a post from a person whom I used to be close with. Once upon a time this person and I conversed on a daily basis, but now I can’t recall the last time we texted. Then I got to thinking, since I’ve really stopped including this person in my everyday world, I’ve been more blessed and happier than I’ve ever been. And I think I’m okay with that.

This person probably won’t read this, but seeing that status made me recall a lot of our past history, our past friendship, and how much they have hurt me. How much running I had to do, and how that not only exhausted me, it made me afraid. Afraid of who I was, and who I was becoming. It’s like we both decided to go out onto the Safari and poke at a sleeping lion. Then the lion wakes up…fight or flight, and I was running…in the wrong direction.

lion kingThis brings me to one of my favorite movies growing up: The Lion King. Simba tried to outrun his past and forget about what he did (which, spoiler alert, we all know that he didn’t kill Mufasa) in hopes of continuing to be who he thought he was. Granted, he was tricked by an evil fiend who was supposed to be someone he could trust.

In 1 Peter 5:8 it is written, “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (KJV). See, the devil walks around, he’s a lion in a zebra costume, to see how many he can devour before people catch on that he’s lying (he’s a-lyin’ [bad pun, I know]).

Simba’s life story in a way resembles my own. I had a carefree life, then I had to face a lion, my lion. I had to decide whether it was best to try and outrun or try to stand motionless in hopes that the enemy wouldn’t see me. I decided to run…and I kept running until I was thirsty…and still I ran. But God still kept His hand on me…for some odd reason. Eventually I took on the courage to face my lion, I took my sword, and I defeated my lion.

Since I was able to overcome the power of that lion, I shouldn’t dwell on what used to be, because I am more than my past. I have a God who lives within me, and  I’ve gained the strength to take on the any lion who dares to trespass on my turf. lion king3The term Hakuna Matata means no worries, or at least that’s what they sung in the movie. “It’s a problem-free philosophy: Hakuna Matata.” When I have the power of God inside of me, I’m not necessarily living a problem-free life, because let me tell you, they do come. However, I am able to take on my problems ‘like a boss’ (as many kids will say these days). I’m able to face my fears, when the past decides to catch up to me.

Eventually, Simba’s past did catch up to him. Sure, he enjoyed spending time with Nala at first, but when she gave him the proposition to face it or to turn his back (again) he chose to stay where he was. He willingly chose to avoid his fear.It took a wise friend, Rafiki, to allow Simba to see who he was: someone who had to go back and face his fears in order to overcome his past. By running away, Simba’s problems didn’t go away, they [it] literally festered into a bigger problem that would be harder to defeat. Scar is obviously representative of the past problem, and each hyena symbolizes every outcome that has happened since he [Simba] tried outrunning the past. Like me, when I was running away every thing I did or didn’t do was an outcome of me choosing not to take on my lion. More and more hyenas were laughing at me because of my fear…

lion king5I stopped running, turned around, gulped more than once, and took the first step towards my fear, let out some battle cry as I began chasing after the lion that was trying to prey on me. I stopped talking to that person. I don’t think they really noticed, and if they did, well they never tried asking me why I stopped talking to them. They didn’t try reaching out for my hand and a stick to poke the lion. I thought that perhaps they got devoured themselves. Not quite. They were running yet too. But they had learned to ‘tame’ the lion by giving it some food. A temporary fix in a very dangerous, almost permanent situation. I hope they learn to pick up the sword and slay that lion, because feeding it will only make it hungrier. A hungrier lion is much harder to tame.

I learned that my past does not define me, but He does because He lives inside of me. Because of this, I’m not necessarily braver, I just have the strength to carry on. He is my Mufasa, and I am a warrior. The question remains, who are you    a warrior or a runner. lion king 2

Post-Graduation: Not getting that Job

I click the “attach file” button in my email, and scroll through my Word Documents until I get to my “Resume” file. Click. Upload. Then I add my cover letter. As I type up a short email, jitters shiver through my hands and into my heart. I hesitate before pressing the send button, quickly re-checking for spelling and grammar errors for the millionth time. Then with a click of the mouse, I send in what would be my first resume for a post-graduation job.

I’ve mentally prepared for this exact moment for months, perhaps even a few years. I was procrastinating the actual  work up until a few weeks prior. It all started when I attended a Graduation Resource Fair, and it hit me, “Hey, I graduate in a month. I needed to start applying for jobs months ago.” See, I’ve been so caught up in this semester, that it went by much faster than I anticipated. One day it was January 25, the next it’s all of a sudden May 1. Where did the time go?  It practically slipped out of my hands.

That email with my resume and cover letter was for a Social Media Internship at Equity Cooperative. It sounded like a great opportunity, even if it was simply a summer job, because it was a stepping stone towards what I want to do as a career. So for the past week as I gnawed my fingernails down to bits, and picked my cuticles down to bare tissue, I was a little disappointed to receive an email from the director of human resources:

“Thank you again for your interest…we are proceeding with another applicant at this time…”

Then tonight, as I told Bethany, my dear youth leader and basically my mentor, I was reminded that I’m not in control. Bethany told me, “I prayed that if it wasn’t meant to be that God would close that door.” Sometimes, I wonder if she realizes how inspirational she is. Sometimes I wonder why I was so blessed to have her in my life. But I know that people are put in my path for a certain reason, whether it be for my sake or for their sake, or for even both of our sake.

As Mark Batterson wrote, “If you keep in step with the Spirit, God is going to make sure you get to where He wants you to go” (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, pg 30). I realized that despite my disappointment in not receiving this opportunity, I know that it means there is one open door that I’m supposed to walk through. It’s not always about me, and what I want, it’s about what He wants and where He plans to put me. I may not know what lies ahead, but I do know that I have a God that will provide, and that’s enough for me.

I graduated….now what do I do?

On Saturday, May 14, I did something. I had to wear a special ‘dress’ and a very uncomfortable hat. For 3 hours. Standing and sitting. Sitting and standing. Up and down. Squished between people. Walking forward. Across. Then down and around. People watched. People clapped. Many smiled, A few cried. And as I was given my official green book and told “Congratulations” several times, I couldn’t help but reflect on the journey I’ve taken to get here.

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My cousin, her two children and me

Starting Route to Green Bay

It was a hot and humid August day when I turned onto the half circle called Walter Way. My would-be roommate had already moved in a week before, but she was out of town until the first day of classes (which was 5 days away). Before I set out to unload my car that I had strategically packed like a game of Tetris, I went to the Community Center on campus to check in.

It was officially official since I checked in that I was attending UW-Green Bay, a mere 3 hours away from the place I called home. After I finished unloading my old, red Corsica, and sprawled everything of mine across the floor, I stretched my body across my mattress that lay bare of anything, even a simple pillow.

Thoughts flooded my mind.
This is it. College. My room. No dog. No cats. No turtles. No horse outside. The closest people I knew were a good 45 minute drive away. Needless to say, I was scared out of my mind. “What have I done?” I thought to myself.

After some time of unpacking, my RA (Resident Assistant) Andrew knocked on my door to tell me that I am to be in the lounge downstairs for a meeting within the next few minutes. So I headed down, walked in, and stood fairly close to the door. The room was full, and I was so shy around new people. Then a few minutes after me walked in a girl with red hair with blonde bangs. She avoided eye contact and stood next to the door. The beginning of the meeting we were told to turn to the person next to us and chat with them.
“Hi, I’m Angel.”
“I’m Cynthia.”

May 2015 (1)
Forever my favorite picture of Cynthia and me

I didn’t think we’d be friends for long, because I kind of suck at making and keeping friends. It turns out, she was just as awkward as me. Cynthia was my first friend, and as time went on, our friendship blossomed into a stronger bond. After our first year, we roomed together for the next three years. Our friendship soon turned into weird and sarcasm 99% of the time; she truly was, and I’d still consider her today, my best friend. In the end, I think I needed her as much as she needed me.

The first friend in college is always important. It might be a roommate, but not always. I’ve met a girl who pretty much hated her roommate. However chances are, a first friend will be a lifelong friend. Cynthia taught me that.


The Struggle was Real

Let me just come right out and say it: my faith was consistently put on trial. College was the craziest experience of my life because I was afraid of being judged, and I hated having to answer questions like why didn’t I cut hair or why did I always wear skirts. Some days I felt confident in who I was, while other days I debated about changing myself to look more “normal.”

Then, my relationship with my ex was starting to become more rocky. We fought more. I felt insecure with myself which often caused me to react to certain situations in a very negative way. My insecurities lead him to be more insecure which caused a rift in our communication. After dating and fighting for three years, we decided to go our separate ways. Honestly, I think we’re both happier now.

These challenges taught me that I wasn’t being honest with myself and those who truly cared about me. I didn’t tell people I was struggling. I barely asked for prayer. I pretended I was a faithful servant. It’s easy faking. It’s hard to be real.

Fish are Friends (and we like Food)

I was privileged to befriend several people throughout my time. Carrie was my first friend I made in a class. We met in Spanish. I also met Andrea in Spanish. Both turned out to know each other and I can say they are very close friends.

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(L-R) Carrie, me and Andrea

I met Skyler in an English class. They are definitely one of my best friends. We’ve had so many adventures that it’s hard to pick which is my favorite…ah the memories!

doorcounty4
Skyler loves their chickens!

Faith and I were just meant to be. From small town Albany, one of her best friends, Natasha, moved to the Dells while we were in high school, and of course I knew Natasha. So when Faith became my RA, and we discovered this link between us, we became fast friends.

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Faith and I

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve met so many wonderful people like Abby, Marie, Andrew, Amber, many Emily’s, Shane, Danielle, Rosie, Scott, Haley, Kim, Brad, Ashley, Brigitta, Rachel, Olly, Kyle, Aaron, many Amanda’s, Trevor, Katie’s, and several other people whom I can’t name at the top of my head. From coffee dates, to casual chats, to classroom friends, to hanging out, to school trips, to eating pizza because we like food, friends are vital for emotional support and just overall keeping the stress levels to a minimum.

Ending Route in the Future

Two most popular questions for me as a college student: “What are you studying?” and “Oh English, aye, so do you wanna be a teacher?” Why no, because I am not a teacher. Patience? Yes. Capabilities? No.

13224347_1163884066989632_1716097687_oJ.K. Rowling once said, “I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil now.” I know that I enjoy writing, reading, and editing. If Rowling can overcome her childhood, I think I can too.
Though I do hope to someday, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to write a book. I don’t know where I’m supposed to go, or what I’m supposed to do, but I do know that I have a God who will show me and provide a way for me to head towards the future.

Westward: Like the Setting Sun (part 4)

Wednesday

Sunlight plays peek-a-boo through the yellowed blinds, and shutters my body awake. I let out a silent groan thinking “I want to sleep,” but my mind keeps wandering to the day plans. I clamber out of bed to go fill my grumbling stomach with a bagel. Then Skyler, Ashley, and I go out to explore the grounds a little more. Behind the school we see a dome shaped green house and an old looking building with chipped white paint which is probably used as a storage shed. A couple yellow-orange buses are parked, with the words “Red Cloud Indian School Pine Ridge, South Dakota” gleaming in shiny black paint on the side, dried mud is splattered across the the bottom part.

DSC04253Being considerate of our time we play on the playground a bit before heading back towards our rooms so we could get started with the plans for the day. First on our agenda is to stain a deck and the skirting of a trailer for a local woman named Robin. In the previous year, the group had helped with fixing up the home, but it was a surprise to hear that she still had yet to actually move in.

After some time into our work, Robin comes by to introduce herself to us; her daughter and son-in-law, Daisy and Nolan, also come to visit along with their five children. We decide to take a break and have lunch together. Lola, one of the girls, is coloring with Ashely. Although she is super shy at first, soon her chipper personality bubbles out. After some time, we say our goodbyes and go back to finishing the little bit of work we had left. Then we head back to Red Cloud before our departure to the other school.DSCF4427

Painting horses, a Game of Ninja, and a Skateboard

I start out in the painting room again, and sit next to Twila. She doesn’t say much in the time she sits next to me, but I can tell that she is intrigued by my painting. I glide the paintbrush with brown paint over the paper, making curves and lines until at last I have a horse. I see her hand copying the same motions. Then I goop some black paint to make a mane and tail. She makes her paintbrush do the same. At last we both finish our bay horses, “Wow, that looks really good, Twila! You’re an artist!” A smile slithers across her face. I smile back.

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Ninja

We head to dinner, and then play a game of Ninja afterwards, a game that I have yet to master to this day. Then we shuffle off to play Bingo with the kids and some of their family members. I don’t win anything, which I am definitely ok with, because I would find it hard to decide on which kid I’d give the prize to. There is a young man sitting diagonally from me who gets a Bingo and wins a skateboard. He is super excited to be able to share it with his best friend.

A Hospital Far From Reach

 We travel to the one and only hospital on the reservation in Pine Ridge, and a lady who has been here for 11 years now gives us a tour and talks to us about the hospital. One hospital and two health care centers on 3,469 square miles of land. To put that in perspective, that’s one hospital and two health care centers for 3.32 Rhode Island’s, or 1.78 Delaware’s.

pine ridge
To put in perspective how far away each city is, here is a map with the three cities on the reservation marked in green as well as the proximity of where Rapid City would be.

As the lady is talking to us she mentions how there are two health care centers located in Kyle and Wanblee, and there is one ambulance being utilized because they are extremely short staffed. For some people, it can be a 2 hour trip to the hospital. The next nearest hospital is located in Rapid City another 2 hours away. It made me think of how we as Americans can easily take for granted what’s given to us, and quickly become oblivious to problems right in front of us. We’re too blessed and that has made us spoiled.

The more I hear the woman speak about her family and how much she actually enjoys her job and just wishes there were more people willing to help, the more my brain rattles on about how I have to come back. Someday.

To learn more about the Native American Health Services here.