January 21st, 2018 Simplicity

Click here to see some reflections on their first weekend on the Res...
Welcome to Montana
     Today everyone woke up gradually before we were scheduled to wake up; we will NOT get this pleasure of sleeping in tomorrow. We have to wake up before light to get to school on time. Mr. Bobak toasted bagels in the oven for breakfast, we made our lunches then we were on our way to church.  I forgot a collared shirt (hopefully that was the only thing I forgot) so I borrowed one of Michael’s.  We arrived at church when there were only a few people there and we sat in the front rows. In the middle of mass, the priest asked us to turn around and receive a blessing. I turn around to see at least 100 people that I have never met raising their hands over us, joining in song to bless us.  I immediately felt welcome and an assurance that I was doing good for the community by coming on this trip. During every song, I believe, all 12 of us sang and the vocalist at the mass was very happy that we did. When it came time for the homily, the priest spoke for what was the longest homily I have ever sat through. He talked about eternal life and how we never will die because we will live in heaven. At the sign of peace part of the mass, I was able to move around the whole church and shake hands with many members of the community that were happy to see us in their church. They all wanted to shake our hands to let us know that we are appreciated and welcomed. 
     After mass, we were given a presentation about the history of the Blackfeet tribe and their culture. It was eye-opening to hear that the motto of many settlers of the land was “Kill the Indian, save the man.” They tried to strip the Indians of their culture and make them believe in new ideas.  Next, we went on a tour of the school building and talked to two teachers at the school. They were happy that we had many questions to ask and that we are excited to start helping tomorrow.  They explained that sometimes it is hard with the students because all of them have big problems in their lives such as family drug addiction and poverty.  This affects the school day because sometimes students channel dealing with their issues in the form of outbursts in the classroom or disrespect. Some aren’t even able to make it to school some days because of family issues. 
     After the orientation at the school, we headed to Darryl’s house to paint the drums that we made yesterday. He showed us the main rhythms that are used in traditional Blackfeet songs and he even performed some of them for us.  While we were painting our drums, the sun slowly set over the mountains that were in perfect alignment with Darryl’s. I don’t know how long Mr. Ortiz and Mr. Bobak will let us have our drums without going crazy from all the banging. I also don’t know how my drum will fit in my bag on the journey home…. my bag was 48 pounds. I am now waiting for our lasagna to cook in an oven that apparently keeps shutting off every few minutes. I can’t wait to begin teaching tomorrow but I am also kind of nervous because it is something I have little experience with. ~Nathan ’18

     In just three days, I have been awestruck by beauty more times than I can count.  Seeing sparkling cities from the plane window, pulling over to look up at the stars, riding through snowy fields and great mountains, watching the sun rise and set, and of course enjoying the company of Jill the dog. Today I found beauty in the Church of the Little Flower, where we attended mass together.  It was interesting to see the combination of the Native American culture with the Catholic mass that I have come to know.  There was a strong sense of community in Little Flower like I’ve never seen before; when it came time for us to offer one another a sign of peace, mass totally stopped.  For three or four minutes, the congregation milled around the sanctuary shaking every hand they could reach.  Although we were strangers, they greeted each one of us with a smile, as if we were old friends.  At another point in the mass, they said a blessing over us together, but it wasn’t one of those standard blessings where the priest is like “God, please bless these people…”  Father introduced the blessing, and altogether the people raised their hands in the air towards us and began to sing.  And when I say sing, I don’t mean the mumbling you normally hear at church.  This group sounded like a choir!  I don’t remember the words, but I do remember tearing up a bit as I looked around at them, smiling at us.
              After mass, we headed next door to the De La Salle Blackfeet School, where we got a chance to talk to some of the teachers.  Immediately, I could tell that they really love what they do, and that excited me; I want to be a teacher one day, and seeing how much these relatively new (3-4 years) teachers love coming to work makes me look forward to feeling the same way, not only years in the future but also in the next few days.
              While we were painting our drums, I took the opportunity to enjoy the view a few times.  No picture or description could do it justice, but I will attempt to provide you with both anyway.  Hopefully, Mr. Ortiz is able to attach the picture I took on his phone, otherwise, he can just delete this sentence and edit the previous one.  Standing alone on that hill, looking at the snowy fields and mountains, I was able to lose myself in the majesty of God’s creation.  I closed my eyes and felt the wind blow through my hair and clothes as the setting sun beat down on me.  I have no other words to describe the experience aside from this prayer I learned from Mr. Goedeke: “How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord, God of hosts.” ~Ryan’18