Two more words for the day. Relationships and Zeal. These words had a serious impact on the guys.
Day 4 – Travis Johnson – Zeal
During our evening prayer, Mr. Clark said “today was a day of newness”, a statement that proved to be true despite it being our third day in Montana. Unlike the previous mornings, today started with us waking up at 6 in the morning. I woke up with a headache that would linger with me throughout the entire day. The morning went by at a faster pace than the last two. Everyone was responsible for preparing their own breakfast, and getting dressed for a long first day of helping the students at the De LaSalle Blackfeet School. The drive into town was silent compared to the other mornings, as everyone was tired from a late night the day before. When we arrived at the school, the sun had still not risen. After picking up our name tags, we went to the gym and played basketball before the students started arriving. While I was shooting baskets, a student named Anthony somehow thought I was good at basketball, sparking an entire conversation between the two of us. I learned his favorite NBA team is the Lakers, just as they were my favorite team when Kobe Bryant played. I also learned he loves Fortnite just like my brother who is also in middle school. The list of our similarities goes on and on, which made it more disappointing to him when he found out I was working with a different grade level for the week. After the school wide morning assembly, consisting of traditional Blackfeet prayer, and the reading of the daily bulletin, we were off to homeroom. Emerson, Will, and I were responsible for assisting with the 7thgrade class. The persistent energy of the students shocked the three of us. During homeroom I worked on a writing exercise with a girl named Tashi, arguably the most energetic person in the class. After homeroom, the students had a standardized test called the Map Test. Our roles in their testing were to read the questions for students who needed help doing so. The test was long, and had questions that I didn’t even know how to answer. After testing, the students had break time, in which the kids decided to spend on a snow and ice covered outdoor basketball court. During this time, a student named Jude challenged me to a 1 on 1 basketball game. Let’s just say he had the obvious home court advantage. After break, we went back inside to work on an essay on what it means to be Lasallian and Blackfeet. After a long morning it was finally recess and lunch time. The kids chose to play basketball once again, before heading to the church basement to have lunch. After having lunch, we returned to the essays, before going to a gym class, that consisted of a few heated matches of volleyball. As the school day started to wind down, we went to science lab, my personal favorite class of the day. The level of problems the kids were solving surprised me, and challenged my ability to recall my knowledge of chemistry. I spent the period working with Jude on chemical equations. During this period, I learned a lot about him. He loved to travel to places such as Seattle, and also enjoyed playing Fortnite. I feel during the day I was able to relate to the students because I also have a brother in the 7thgrade at home that shares the same interests. It was eye opening to see the similarities between the students and my brother despite their totally different way of life. To finish the school day, the students had silent reading time, followed by an assignment completion time to catch up on missing assignments. Once they finished their assignments, they had enrichment which are simply after school clubs. I decided to go to the architecture and building club due to my interest in engineering. I helped a few students build cities with Legos, before leaving De LaSalle Blackfeet for the day. On the way out, Anthony told me how thankful he was for our time together today, and suggested we play basketball tomorrow morning. Times like these are what make me love service so much, being able to see how not only you can make an impact on others, but how those who you are serving can have an impact on you. Before heading to the bunkhouse, Mr. Ficaro gave us a tour of the entire town of Browning. Once we got back, I immediately went to sleep, as I was exhausted, and my headache had not resolved. Although having a headache wasn’t the most fun thing, the evening prayer made me somewhat appreciative of it. My word for the trip is Zeal, a topic of tonight’s prayer. Although I was uncomfortable for the whole day, something kept driving me to not give up. I believe that something were the students themselves. The relationships I have built with the kids from day one alone, motivates me to keep pushing to meet more kids, and not give up this valuable time that I have in Montana. I also feel everyone has everyone’s back on this trip, something that I value a lot. When people noticed I wasn’t feeling well, they asked how I was doing, or offered to give me medicine. Everyone genuinely cares about each other on this immersion trip, making our ability to have success as a group that much more powerful.
Day 4 – Andrew Levis – Relationships
Today was both exhausting and an amazing experience. After a three-day weekend, the students (especially in the 4thgrade) were quite rambunctious. Along with Travis’ word of “zeal”, my word “relationships” was also used in our night reflection and prayer. Droney and I were helping in the fourth grade classroom today and we were tasked with assisting the kids with their reading. I was in the hallway reading a book with a kid named Kane when we somehow got distracted and found ourselves talking about the stray dogs that roam the streets. When I asked Kane about the dogs he immediately corrected me and said that the dogs are not stray and that they are called “res dogs,” short for reservation dogs. I asked Kane why he was so concerned with calling them res dogs instead of stray dogs and he said because stray makes them sound bad and scary. Kane then continued to say that “the dogs are lost and just looking to be loved.” The relationship that Kane had with these dogs blew me away knowing that he was only in fourth grade. Kane was able to see that these dogs were more than just stray dogs and that he had enough concern to seek a relationship with them. This love that Kane showed towards the dogs showed me the love that each of us need in times of fear and hardship.
I relate this love from Kane to the love that is currently and will need to continue to be present in my life from others. Being a senior in high school is a very daunting and frightening place to be. The uncertainty of what lies ahead is something that can easily overwhelm people. These fears have become very present to me recently; whether it be the fear of surgery that I will undergo next week, deciding where I will attend college, or the fear of losing relationships that mean so much to me. I learned tonight that I will not be able to face these fears alone. I will need to rely on loved ones and other friends to stand by me and walk alongside me in these tough times. I compare these relationships to the simple relationship between Kane and the dogs that he is able to shamelessly love and defend.