first few weeks in minnesota

So. First week of youthworks down. 8 more weeks to go.

It went….interestingly. No other word to really describe it. It all worked out in the end and God showed up and took care of the details when we had no idea what we were doing and were beyond unprepared. It rained…which wasn’t very conducive to my work project of painting picnic tables at Chippewa National Forrest. We cleaned lockers for 3 days instead. The school we’re staying at has had some issues with groups in the past and didn’t really want us here this year. Previous groups have pissed them off, stolen from them, and had an overall disrespectful air about them. Not all staff or students, but just previous experiences with youthworks have led the school to not want to be our friends.  God has helped us overcome this TREMENDOUSLY. By simply telling them things are different, we’ll respect stuff, and make sure kids respect stuff. Relationships have transformed and doors have opened here at this school. Hearts are being softened and lives are being changed. We cleaned lockers mostly because it was raining, and because we owe it to the school. Good or bad relationship in the past, they’re giving us a free place to stay and if we can help them out, we will.

Anyways. The 2 times it didn’t rain briefly, I took kids out to work with the picnic tables and everyone became infested with red ticks. Why ticks are red here is beyond me, but they were everywhere. 98.5% deet skin eater wasn’t even enough to stop them. Luckily I escaped unscathed, but one kid had 10. The grass wasn’t even that tall. Thursday was nice before lunch so we worked on the tables and I declared it country music Thursday as I blared “paul bunyan radio” out of my ghetto work minivan I splattered paint on in the middle of this national forrest. It was beautiful. The girls learned Taylor Swift went to my high school and immediately I was questioned beyond questioning. Then it started to rain, so our paint washed off, and we went back to the school. No big deal. They needed a break anyway.

That’s my work project week in the most nutshell version possible. It’s been a long week, and we’ve definitely had some frustrations, but looking at it from a big picture sense, God showed up, God took care of things, and God worked it out. He always does. In zero way did it feel like it was going to be worked out, but something I’m learning a lot this summer already is that it won’t feel like it’s going to be worked out, because there will likely be a ton of times when unless I step aside and allow God to do what only He can do, it won’t work out. Only He can do the things that need to happen and while the control freak side of me is terrified by that, the rest of be is becoming more and more comforted by that.  This summer is exactly what I needed spiritually and I will forever be greatful for emotional, prayerful nights in Nicaragua with Heather, Katherine, Karissa, Lauren, and John.  I’ll never forget the conversation with Tom where he says “You’re gonna go to Nicaragua and come back and wanna do YouthWorks.”  5 minutes on their website and I was applying. God works in beautiful ways. I wouldn’t change a thing.

This year has been better than I could have ever dreamed of it being and it’s all thanks to God.  It began emotionally and weeks of torment before finally giving into God and completely surrendering things I was holding back, my future after graduation, and my control freak nature to Him. Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster of amazing. This summer is teaching me more and more each day about dying to myself in order to let God step in.  Ironically, the theme this summer is “More or Less” based off John 3:30.  Just what I needed.  Another God moment, the theme of Passion this year (January) was “Awakening.”  God makes himself so obvious if we just listen.  I’m learning alot about listening, communication, and discerning my role in this great puzzle of life.  It’s a lot more fun, relaxing, and peaceful if I simply turn over my control….who’d have thought?  I wrote a blog back last fall about the Sims game and how with the complete free will option with no set path, the Sims fail.  Well I’m not a Sims character or a WeeMe, but giving control up to God has made things a lot better and I’ve been so much more at peace about my life.  I feel directed. I feel full. I’m getting married :). I see the Spirit moving in my life.  My prayer life has been revolutionized.  It’s awesome.

Back to this summer.

Living on an open Indian reservation is an experience.  It’s not what I thought it’d be like, but I didn’t have too many expectations, on purpose.  There is so much pain in the area and you see it in the eyes of nearly everyone that you meet. Minnesota is beautiful. The lakes are actually blue, the trees are greener, and I’m not allergic to as many of them. It’s not humid. It’s been COLD (50 degrees) this week and rainy but not humid. The people talk just as minnesota-y as I expected and sweet tea and southern hospitality is far removed. It’s kinda nice actually…

Back to the people of cass lake. They’re beautiful. The culture is rich with community, family, history, pain, struggles, sorrow, and working toward reconciliation and redemption. I’ve learned things about the native american culture that all of my history books have strategically left out.  I won’t go into that here, but an overview: boarding schools, mutilation for speaking native american languages, being forced to basically ‘act white,’ and essentially being treated as if they were in a holocaust. It’s terrible and it makes me partially ashamed to be associated with any of that. But that’s another blog for another time.

I’ve met some amazing people in this community already. We go to a TINY lutheran church on Sunday morning with a large concentration of older people. I was worried at first, but these people are awesome! They want to take us kayaking, fishing, to baseball games, and have us over for game nights. They cook good food too 🙂  food we don’t have to cook, clean up for, or coordinate for 75 people.  The town is TINY. There are only 860 people. 1 grocery store. 3 gas stations. 2 restaurants. And 1 school.  Everyone gets their mail at the post office, well most people. I’ve met a ton of people for work projects including the local pizza guy who has a cool story for another blog, a gas station, houses, schools, and the tribal council wants to work with us.  The last one is a HUGE deal. We were told to stay away from them and that they’d want nothing to do with us. Not only do they want me to help with a work project, but they want to partner with us for a community cookout on wednesdays that we do.  It’s amazing the doors that God has opened for us.

God has opened so much for us, carried us through so much already, and been there despite our petty frustrations. I can tell this summer will be amazing already if we simply step aside and let Him do his thing. This post has been random, I realize, but we still don’t have internet here at the school, so it’s my first post in 2 weeks. Pictures to come. Details to come. Feel free to email me! Write me letters! The address is on my facebook page on the left hand side.  Mail takes far too long to get here which is frustrating at times, but send some nonetheless.  My phone works perfectly so that’s a positive. My staff is amazing

I love it here, I miss family and friends back at home and Tom’s off in North Carolina so I  miss him constantly, but God’s placed me here for a reason this summer and I haven’t doubted that for more than a second this summer, so pray for our team. Pray for this community. Pray for me. Pray that hearts will be opened, lives will be changed, homes will be painted, and the youth that come each week will experience God in a radically new way through the actions God carries out through us.


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