Kenny’s dad is the pastor at the Four Square church in Crow Agency. Kenny used to play guitar for XA, but he moved back to Crow. That’s how we got the connection.
Sometimes when you are on a mission, you get the feeling that you are going there to do great things for the church that they couldn’t do on their own. Like you are going to be this big blessing to them, and boy are they lucky to have people like you coming to help them. I think this a trick to make you start feeling prideful. Also, when you start to think like this I think it can become easier to do damage that the local church is going to have to clean up. You don’t have to stick around and work things out with the people whom you have hurt or offended, but the church will. On this trip, I think we really had to guard against this. Scott even prayed for it the first night. We were there to help with a thing that was already started; just servants.
We got to the church around midnight Friday, set up on the floors, chairs, and tables and went to sleep. Zach and Riley cooked the next morning. Even though they woke up late, everything turned out great. Saturday we spent the day assembling bunk beds, painting, and picking up trash off the church property. We took about four truckloads to the dump.
Later that afternoon Tyler, Kenny, Dan, and I went to Kenny’s uncle Bruster’s house to cut some wood for the sweat lodge. A sweat lodge is a traditional Crow sauna. They do it in other tribes too. You make a fire, throw a bunch of big rocks on it, and once they are superheated, you put them in a pit inside a tent-like structure covered with blankets (they used to use buffalo hides). Then once everyone has stripped and got in, the door is shut and it pitch-black, the pourer (Kenny’s uncle), pours water over the glowing rocks. The steam fills the sweat lodge, and really heats it up. Of course there were separate sweat lodges for guys and girls.
Once we collected a truckload of me-sized logs, we brought them back and made a log-cabin style fire. Bruster started it with a blow-torch. He said, “see what assimilation does to an Indian.” We all had to chuckle. It was great talking to Bruster. They get a lot of mission teams from back East and out of state, and he takes a lot of people to the sweat lodge. Some of them try to be all Indian and stuff. They bring their own sage, and try to make the sweat lodge into the ritual that it may have once been. Bruster says that if he’s not doing all that, why do they feel like you need to?
Sunday, after church, Kenny took some of us up to the mountains. I did not expect it to be as beautiful as it was. It was breathtaking. At the top of the mountain, there was a monument built where a Crow chief from the late 1800s was buried. He was the chief who had gone to Washington to meet with President Grant to find out what was going on with his people. They were dying from the small pox in the blankets given to them by the government.
From there we hiked down to the cliffs overlooking the Little Bighorn River. People still come up to this mountain to pray. It is surprisingly similar to Central Mexico. It was so beautiful; I could have stayed up there all night.
We drove back to Missoula Monday after hanging out in the park for a little while. We were going to do an outreach there, but no one showed up. I think it was because it snowed over night, and who wants to play basketball in the snow?
Overall, it was a beautiful trip. As with every mission I have been on, I was more blessed than those I went there to help. Everyone says that, but that's because it's true.