A Week of Laughter, Prayer, and Vibrant Discussion
The splendor of God’s grace is hard to describe. Twenty five people from various parts of the world united in a common goal to serve the orphan and widow in their distress is a good place to start though. From India to Grand Rapids, Michigan these servants to Jesus Christ brought the torch of God’s love and peace to the children and adults at Oaks Indian Mission. This is their story.
While most of the team arrived safely to Oklahoma, three were stranded in Houston, Texas. That did not stop them from laughter, prayer, and vibrant discussion life, God, and delayed flights. God’s grace was given to the hurried workers as they took excellent care of the three stranded missionaries. Meanwhile the rest of the team had the opportunity to listen to Indian stories, eat out, and enjoy Joni’s guided tour of Oklahoma. For a first day it was a great time of travel and fellowship.
Tuesday began the work week for the team. Broken up into three teams, we quickly got to work. One team was to build new bunk beds. The second team began to build a greenhouse by constructing the foundation. There was the laundry team that had a mountain of clothes to wash, dry, and fold. The last team ‘merchandised’ the rummage room that housed all the clothing donations. While the bunk, laundry, and merchandise team were nestled inside for the most part, the greenhouse team stayed outside. It started to rain, and became very cold. Regardless of the leaders suggestions to work on other projects, they drove right on through and kept working. It was a great time of sweat and laughter. Our reward was the smiling faces that arrived home from school. We met in the dining room. It was a time to learn about each other and share common interests. Each of the team members got to begin a relationship with each child. We got to serve, talk, play, and eat with Jesus. After dinner came the girls’ basketball team from the local high school. I’m proud to announce that they won. We were elated.
Wednesday was play day! Can I say that Will Rogers is a hoot? What an amazing guy to bring such humor and truth to the world in a very dark time. He reminds me of Andy Andrews in the energy that he had. We toured the museum and learned all about this cowboy and how he grew to be a great influencer. After Will Rogers, we headed off to the Native American Museum. There we learned about the building in which they lived in during the early 18th century, types of food that they ate, and the games that they played. The most renowned and still played game was stick ball. The most impactful part of the museum was the Trail of Tears. It was tough to hear about the forced expulsions from their homelands in Georgia and Florida to Oklahoma. If America could take back a piece of her past we were sure this would be one of them. After the museum we headed back to Oaks. Laughter and joy of all the kids back at the mission was a great treat. It was decided that a party needed to be thrown. We needed something that would tell a princess that she is a princess. That something was Spa night. All the women on the team prepped the recreation room and began to beautify all the girls. It was such a sight to see all the little girls being treated as God’s wonderful creation. The love in the room was powerful. One girl made the comment that she never felt as pretty as she did that night. God’s grace reached these little hearts.
Thursday… back to work! The rummage team finished Tuesday and began to paint the dining room trim and walls. It was way too cold and snowy so the greenhouse team moved indoors to begin cleaning other buildings on the mission. Bunk team kept on building bunks. The laundry team finished up the laundry and was able to move on to cleaning and repairing other pieces of the property. While in the dining room, the cook, Arlene, was shown some Christian charity. Instead of her serving us, some of the team members decided to serve her. Washing dishes, prepping food, and serving the hungry team members and kids were in this package of love that we gave her. Sharing Jesus’ love extended beyond the kids and to every person at the mission. After a long day of work we began the joy of a long night of love for the children. It was game night. We played basketball, board games, foosball, pool, air hockey, and many others. During the games we shared our stories and God’s story to the kids. After the game we had time to discuss our thoughts about the day, just as we had been doing all week. But this night was special. There was a fire in our bellies. Each of us had a verse that originated from another team member. We were to meditate on that verse and bring ideas to the team later that night. Discussions about where we saw God erupted. Some of them were convicting and challenging. Our greatest challenge came from one of our trip leaders– In a world filled with pure evil what are we doing to combat it? How are we stopping human trafficking, gangs from murdering each other, poverty, and kids going hungry at night? We were challenged and knew the problems of the world, but we also knew the God that we served. Because at that moment thousands of Christians around the world were also on mission trips, organizations like IJM and Project AK-47 were stopping the trafficking of kids, and World Vision was building communities and sharing the gospel. God is alive through the people and organizations that stand up against injustice!
Friday was the last day of work. All the teams finished their assignments. A basement was waterproofed, the bunk beds were built, the greenhouse base completed, and multiple other cleaning and repair projects were finished. We walked around the surrounding area on a small hike to learn more about Oaks Indian Mission. Along the way kids played, pictures were taken, and arrow heads were discovered. We celebrated our time at the mission with an ice cream party. We played until it was time for the kids to go to bed. Then in our debrief time we worshiped. Our group filled the room with prayers, songs, and liturgy as we celebrated the last supper on the last day. As we reminisced about our Lord’s death and resurrection, we were comforted by God’s presence. We knew that our time was done at Oaks, but that God would continue to take care of His children. After worship we discussed how God has changed us and how we would change some of the things that we do back at home and in our respective workplaces.
Saturday was a mixture of joy and sadness. It was time for us to say goodbye to our new friends. All of them had touched our lives, and we hoped that we touched theirs as well. We were met at the vans by our friends, took some last minute photos, and said goodbye. We saw Jesus in the faces of the kids that we served. I find no coincidence in the scripture that the devotional that was given to each of us: “May his glory fill the whole earth.” (Psalm 72:19) and “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:5) It is as if we were going there to learn and grow in Christ, and then to be sent back to share the Good News. For if you ask us, we would say that God’s Kingdom was alive and strong at Oaks Indian Mission.
And all God’s people said, AMEN!