Our Week on the “Rez”

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thought for the day: Blessed are the cracked; for they shall let in the light.

The day started as usual…but warmer inside and outside. With the boiler was turned on due to the unseasonably cold weather, we all woke up toasty in our bedrooms. Rested and optimistic, we read Wednesday’s journal over breakfast and discussed the day’s work plans. Our first stop was at the Tribal Offices to talk with Sweets Kaline, who had made contact with Alvin Racine, a local elder who is deeply grieving the loss of his wife to cancer. Through the new tribal Elder Assistance Program, we’ve been asked to work with his adult children at his house to help fill in the low areas of his front and back yards, and maybe help him clean up his shed.

While at the Tribal offices, we made a brief, unplanned presentation to a gathering of tribal council and committee members, thanking them for their invitation to work with the Blackfeet people, and explaining a bit about Global Volunteers’ work worldwide. Sweets filled us in on a few aspects of the upcoming tribal general election, and described the many initiatives she’s undertaken to help motivate local residents to become more involved in community projects.

After leaving the tribal offices, Steve walked across the street to the Care Center while Michele and Don dropped off Rosa and Kevin at Cleo’s apartment. Don and Michele followed Sweets to meet Alvin at his house to see what volunteer help he needs next week. Afterwards, Don returned to the Care Center to assist Steve with the lawn trimming and raking. What an amazing difference two days has made! They’ve uncovered the overgrown garden areas and cleared the way for mowing. The rains returned around 4:00 – just as the dynamic duo was winding down, so they joined the elders gathered around the TV in the activity room to watch “Dream Keeper,” the movie we watched in our meeting room last night, and shared with the Care Center today. Meanwhile, Kevin and Rosa made immense progress at Cleo’s apartment. They primed all the rooms they taped off yesterday…the kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Perhaps they’ll be able to finish the final coat on Friday. They’ve enjoyed learning a bit about Cleo’s family and background, and recalled the interesting stories she’s shared as she’s carved up the elk roast to dry in strips while they work in her small apartment.

During the afternoon, Michele met with Connie at Eagle Shield, Denise at Head Start, Angela at the Community College and Joyce at the Tribal office to schedule work projects for the upcoming teams. All reiterated their gratitude for Global Volunteers’ efforts and look forward to the next team of 10 volunteers arriving on Saturday.

The team enjoyed a tasty meal of salad, French dip sandwiches and fries at the Care Center before returning to the Boarding Dorm. After dropping off our backpacks, we all piled in Kevin’s rental car and headed out to locate the elk preserve south of town on the cut across road. Halfway to Heart Butte, we turned west on a narrow road Michele remembered from previous years. Expectantly, and armed with Kevin’s GPS, we peered out all windows hoping to see the elk Marvin Weatherwax described to us earlier in the day. While visually scanning the trees and hills, we reveled in the gorgeous landscape – creeks, cliffs, peaks and wildflowers which we stopped frequently to photograph. Over the rocks and muddy potholes, we emerged in East Glacier an hour later, telling jokes and laughing as if we had known each other much longer than the five days when we became a team. Somehow, the hard work has created a lightness in our effort, which we enjoy together while working toward the common goal of service to the community we’ve grown to truly respect.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Thought for the day: The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augestine

Final impressions of one week in Browning, Montana on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation:

The opportunity to be introduced and immersed in the Blackeet culture could not have been more complete without our team leader. She arranged meetings with individual tribal leaders and other Blackfeet who told not only the stories of the reservation, but also their personal stories.

Individual contact with the local people as the team went about their daily service projects and free time also gave us the chance to become a very close-knit team and to enjoy work projects and free time together.

From the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains to the West and the rolling wind-swept plains to the East, a week in Browning, Montana was well-spent.


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