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Around Our Town....Casper's Cool Kids

Twenty-three Casper Youth Travel to Wounded Knee

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07/01/2006 - Windows broken on almost every house...houses with the doors completely missing...junky cars with parts missing on every yard...impoverished conditions that you wouldn't believe anyone could live in...population approximately 200...a little girl surprised that you eat three meals a day because she and her siblings aren't allowed to have more than one...can any of our readers guess what location is being described? Ethiopia? Africa? One of those places on TV halfway around the world where they film the heartwrenching commercials about sponsoring a child? WRONG!

The picture just described to you was only five hours away from our comfortable Casper homes in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation just one state over in South Dakota. The town is called Wounded Knee and wounded would be the perfect way to describe the morale. The whole town has a very depressed, defeated spirit, according to Harold Bradshaw, one of the youth pastors at Highland Park Community Church. Thanks to some of Casper's youth, some of the hope in Wounded Knee is restored!

From June fifth through June tenth of this year, a group of twenty-three Cool Kids ranging in ages from eleven to fourteen decided to go help. They spent countless hours mowing five acres around a church facility there (Wounded Knee Church of God) with pushmowers, painting the rooms, some of which had been vandalized, and just helping get the area ready for some outreaches this summer. They also played games and had chapel time with some of the local children.

Why would a bunch of children be motivated to spend a week doing a whole bunch of work? Especially in light of the fact that they had to raise their own money to go along, which they raised by doing even more work (from 8AM to 5PM helping sort donations at Rescued Treasures, running the rejected items to the dump, painting, serving meals at the mission, etc.)? "The work was hard, but the children that came after it were worth every drop of sweat," says Megan Chambers, one of the youth that took the trip. "Boarded up houses with graffiti over the paint, plastic over the windows and holes in the roofs are standard there, and here I was complaining about not having enough room in our three bedroom, two bathroom house. I definitely realized how blessed I am and learned not to complain and be selfish...I wouldn't trade my time [at Wounded Knee] for the world."

For many of the kids who went on the trip it was a first-time experience. They did not know what to expect and, as we can see by Megan's testimony, were "radically impacted" themselves. "I had no idea what to expect considering that this is the first mission trip I'd been on...ever," says Julia Popish, "so I just packed up my bags, jumped on that bus, and hoped that I was ready as we headed off for South Dakota. When we got there, I was uncomfortable to say the least...When we got back, I felt like my internal senses had been miraculously sharpened. I noticed things that I would normally take for granted. For example, when we got into town we all acknowledged how many cars there were."

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The Cool Kids have come back home with names and faces of needy people, particularly children, etched in their minds. They are collecting monthly support money and also clothing donations for their newfound friends and are already talking about Christmas surprises. Harold Bradshaw describes it this way, "It's not so much that they're adopting Wounded Knee as it is that they are adopting a servant's heart. They are seeing how special it is to help other people."

The wife of the missions director at Wounded Knee Church of God, addressing the kids, stated it this way, "When people ask you what you did here, you might say we mowed and we mowed and we mowed some more...but you did so much more than that. You brought the people hope, loved them and reminded them of their significance."

The children who went along on the Wounded Knee missions trip include: Kayston Harmon, Jordin Weinrich, Buddy and Katie Claney, Julie and Megan Chambers, Taylor Padilla, Heather Brummet, Bryce and Cassidy Middlestadt, Katelyn Birkett, Carly Hooker, Brianna Crumbliss, Steven Kellick, Thomas Shriver, Julia Popish, Logan Hendrickson, Danielle and Mary Ann Hardt, Anthony Riedl, Bryce Fuchs, Derek Munday, Destinee Dockweiler, Mariah Malin and Kyree Corbett.

Highland Park Community Church is planning on sending a group up to Wounded Knee twice yearly. Thanks, everyone, for making a difference in the world!

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