I recently had my debrief for my time at the reservation. Sometimes things like a debrief can seem silly but after 25 minutes of conversation I felt like I finally took the first deep breath of air that I have had since I came home. As we recapped I was teary-eyed, thinking of my teenagers and their potential and struggles. This experience was so heavy and it still weighs on me, but not in a bad way. It is simply that I will never be who I was before my summer on the reservation. I will never see the world in the same way and I will never process the happenings of my life the same.
When asked, I realized that my biggest encouragement on the reservation was that I was able to build relationships with some of the teenage girls. These girls are so closed off and quite a few of them started off hating my guts. Yet the fact that by the end they would pull me aside and talk to me about the things they did not know how to deal with was the power of Christ. I could never have built those relationships in and of myself.
So as I debrief in my nice apartment with a heart that is still aching for the reservation, I feel so blessed. I am blessed to have had such a deep and difficult summer. I blessed to have been given the chance to be angry at God, to argue and be mad at Him, and then to see the ways that He is moving. I have been blessed to be a part of the lives of these kids, in hopes that these 12 will be the difference.
So I will finish with this. We took twelve kids to the Native conference in Missouri this summer and those are the 12 that I was able to have relationships with for the next six weeks on the rez. As my advisor pointed out, in Jesus’ ministry it only took 12 disciples to turn the world upside down. I think my 12 have the potential to do the same. Just like Jesus’ disciples they have their faults, their misunderstandings, and their flaws. But with prayer, community, and love I believe that they can break the cycle of generational poverty and start a process of change in the name of the One who saved them.
In the end, I think I have discovered that my heart is full and heavy, and I will never be the same.