I am often asked what a typical day is like for me. The truth is there is no such thing.
Today started a little after 6 when I woke up and started my day. Coffee started and dogs let out. Start a load of laundry. Meds, blood sugar test, letting the dogs back in from the uber cold, and a few minutes of quiet before J-term coffee hour starts.
Met with the J-term students for coffee with Pastor Dan. Since the class is online only, we do not have the general time to just sit and talk so this optional time is to allow the students to have a casual conversation. We had a wonderful time talking and the time flew by. We discussed the previous day’s speakers and life in general on the reservation. It is an open time for any questions. And it is one of my favorite parts of immersion`.
After making eggs for breakfast, I helped Jackie get out the door warming up her car and scrapping the ice off the windshield.
Time for our first speaker of the day. We met with a Lakota Elder named Basil Brave Heart. Basil spent two hours talking with the students about a wide range of subjects including his time in the boarding schools, Lakota Language, Quantum Physics, his military time, and a host of other issues. Basil is an incredible man who has a wide range of experiences and is a caring soul who has heart for others.
While Basil was talking with the students, I answered several phone calls. Some about the Homelessness grant we are working to help people find housing and safety. Other calls were to ask about the energy matching fund. Still others were from the staff about our feeding the homeless people at the center and taking meals to the kids of our program. And one call about using the community building at Holy Cross for a funeral.
After a quick lunch and a stop at the post office I arrived at the center. Currently, we are using the center for our normal ministries: Threshold ministry where we hand out diapers, hygiene kits, quilts, and food. The Energy Matching Assistance program where we match up to $200 to help people pay for energy. The Lakota Job Corp. (More on this later). Our Kid’s Time Program, today Jamie delivered 130 meals of pancakes and Chicken strips.
But we had added the ESG-CV grant and as part of that we took over the operation of the homeless shelter in Pine Ridge. As part of that program, we are using the center as a day shelter. When I arrived, there were 14 people in the building to stay warm and safe. We allow them to shower and do laundry. We provided a real meal, today it was beef stew. They stay on the lower level of the building. Upon going downstairs, I noticed it was almost cold in the lower level, so I dug up some of our space heaters to warm the pace up.
I then went into my office to do some paperwork, check email etc. all the things that are part of the administrative part of my day. I had a brief meeting with Abram who is running the shelter. We talked about the needed paperwork for the grant, and we celebrated the first success, we have a gentleman who is going into rehab to help fight his demons!! I then met with Tony from my grant team where we discussed some of the calls I received and the status of some of our clients.
New to the job Corp is a young lady who works for another program but at our location. She is a young mother raising kids and wants to do her part to support them. She jumps in wherever we need her to help.
Jamie was hard at work preparing and delivering the meal for the kids. I went to move the van that we normally use for Kid’s Time deliveries and found a low tire. I drove it to the gas station and put air in the tire and then got gas. On a day that never got above -4 the metal of the air gauge and the gas pump were COLD. While in my truck I have all the gear, in the van I was unprepared for the temperatures I faced. But it served as a good reminder of what the locals face and why we request blankets, jackets, and gloves.
Nicholas, my youth, and family director went to our partner in ministry Woyatan lutheran church in Rapid City where they have turned their church into a homeless shelter. We are happy to help where we can but that is their story.
When I returned from the van run, I spoke with Jamie who informed me that when she was delivering the food, she found one of our families who are heating their home with a wood burning stove, but the stove is not keeping up. She asked if we could supply a space heater. We took one from the church and she delivered it. I then went to the local store to see if I could get more space heaters, they were out.
At 3:30 it was immersion time again. We planned to meet with Darrien who has a buffalo ranch. He was running late, he is a schoolteacher also, so we did introductions within the group until he could join us. He did a wonderful presentation and we wrapped up the class for the day.
Afterwards, Abram and I met to go over several items without others present, Jamie took our day worker home so that she did not have to wait up to an hour for the transport. I replied to several emails including requests for immersions. I did some paperwork for the grant. I ordered some needed supplies. I tried to get an update on the tribe’s response to the uptick in COVID cases. I moved the towels used for the homeless showers to the dryer. I took a call from a partner asking if I could put a family up at the casino hotel since their furnace died.
Finally, around 6 I was ready to head home. Yes, I had a lot of work that needed to be done. I had paperwork for the synod, the grant, and some more emails to respond to left undone. But if my choice is paperwork or helping people, I choose people. And yet the day was not over. I went through the building, turning off lights, shutting doors, and making sure the building was secure. Upon heading outside I ran into a couple of homeless people asking for help. Fortunately, I was able to direct them to the shelter.
Too tired to consider heading home to cook dinner I called a friend’s restaurant and ordered burgers for Jackie and me. Add a 10-minute wait and I was able to head home.
Upon arriving home, I received a call asking if I had a furnace guy since their furnace died. It is expected to DROP TO -16 tonight without windchill. I provided some options.
After eating and trying to spend some time with Jackie, I was once again pulled into work. Preparation for the next days’ classes, grading some of the required papers, more emails and suddenly I am tired. As I write this, I have a dog snoring on my lap, she is a nice warm blanket.
Tomorrow, it starts again, only it will be different.