Several local youths spent a week of their summer vacation helping a Native American reservation in need.
A group of 18 youth and 4 adults with the Oregon United Methodist Church, traveled to Lake Traverse, South Dakota, and spent June 23 to June 30 helping that community.
The group teamed up with members from a Colorado Presbyterian church, a Catholic church from the Racine-Kenosha Wisconsin area, and a Methodist church from Eau Claire, Wisconsin in order to help Native Americans who live in the area.
“It was a great way for us to grow as a church group,” said Oregon United Methodist Church member Nancy Crandall, who attended the trip.
Derek Stienmetz, a sophomore at Oregon High School, was one of 18 youths that took part in the trip.
"It was life-changing because I helped people and I got to see how it impacted their life," said Stienmetz.
One site in need of work was St. John’s Lutheran Church. Volunteers hauled garbage to a dump in order to clear out the inside of the church.
The drywall was torn down and then the walls were repainted, along with a picnic table outside.
Others helped with children at the West Side Elementary summer school program, where workers helped with activities such as roller-skating and art projects.
A group also helped with a kid’s club that was open to all local children. They organized games, arts and crafts, skits, songs, and stories that were themed around a Bible story while also taking the kids to a local park.
Groups of people also took time to volunteer at a local nursing home, daycare center, and with assisted living, and worked on a local one-room schoolhouse from 1908 that needed to be scraped on the outside and repainted.
During the evenings, all 70 members of the different churches gathered to worship at their camp in Sisseton, South Dakota. This was followed by church group time, where each church group met and were able to spend time together.
There was also time for sightseeing and learning during the mission trip.
Oregon church members made a stop to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where they learned about the history of the falls and were able to eat breakfast at a restaurant overlooking the falls.
They were hosted by Southern Hills UMC and were able to stay the night there.
While at Lake Traverse, Native Americans spoke about their culture, including rituals and ceremonies.
“That was very interesting to learn about their lifestyle,” said Crandall.
Crandall said the trip was very rewarding to all who went.
“We probably encountered a lot of things we weren’t necessarily prepared for, so some people will say they maybe they didn’t have as quite of a positive experience, but I called it transforming,” said Crandall. “I think there was a lot of transformation that happened throughout the week, of moving to a different place then you were before you went on the trip, whether that be spiritually, or mentally.”
Crandall also stressed the importance of the support from local businesses and community members.
“It’s not only been our church, but there have been people in the community too who have supported us so were really appreciative of that," she said.