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In this Spring newsletter, I am including a letter I wrote about Christmas day. The purpose is to try to give an understanding of the great needs as a mission field we have here. Through the years I've tried hard not to emphasize or even mention a lot of the heavier aspects of life here. But I've included this for many reasons that I hope may touch the hearts of those available to come and help. I wish you could know how deeply even a week or two here can influence the people and the great influence those who have come have had on these lives.
But first, dates are being set for our summer camps, and the Korean churches in Calgary are organizing and staffing them again. The reason this is so important is because of their emphasis on prayer, and the large numbers they send have had a tremendous impact in seeing answers to prayer and dealing with the spiritual oppression that teams have to face. I'm trusting that many of those reading this will be praying also for this summer outreach so it can have the greatest effectiveness.
Special doors of opportunity have been opened for the future of the mission, involving the possibility of Foundation funding for mission staff and projects that we have wanted to see implemented for many years. Steps are being taken toward this goal in the hope that we can see it achieved. The reason for this is that our 50 year record of grassroots work and living with these people, 'where they're at', and without a salary, has given the mission a credibility that many of these foundations are looking for and can't find. They are disillusioned with government grant programs and the lack of results they produce. There are many unique circumstances and dynamics involved that give us a high visibility and credibility achieving successful results in the type of programs that are needed most, and the fact that 100% of all funds go directly into the operation for which it is donated.
In line with the above paragraph, just a little more explanation. Over 50 years ago, I lived at the end of the most dangerous two mile stretch of road in North America. It was where the highway from White Clay, Nebraska came into the town of Pine Ridge, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux Reservation. Pine Ridge was dry, so people had to cross the state line into Nebraska to buy liquor. It was like a war zone, with ambulances screaming their way to the constant wrecks on that road, plus dealing with the trauma of the effects of all that liquor coming into town. Nothing has changed to this day. The 4 liquor stores in White Clay sell 4 million cans of beer each year and it's population is only 12 residents. Besides that, a huge volume of bottled liquor is also sold, so all of this is going onto the Reservation. I just read an article about a pastor that is working to see these stores closed. Back in the 1960's, when I was there, Bobby Kennedy made a publicity trip onto the Reservation. I witnessed them cleaning up 2 huge dump truck loads of beer cans from that 2 mile stretch of road. The state didn't want him to see the evidence of their horrible exploitation of the Native people, where they had been turning their backs to the destruction of these people. It was a windfall profit for them, and the suffering meant nothing. In this article, the pastor mentions how there are foundations that are waking up to the fact of seeking out people like us that have invested our lives in this, because of the rampant failure of all political governments. The article can be found here: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/08/15/212272144/south-dakota-reservation-lifts-century-old-alcohol-ban When I read this it really broke me up, as it brought back the tramau of so long ago. Memories of setting with parents that buried their children who were killed by predators from outside, who were bringing alcohol into Pine Ridge. My first 12 years there I was completely alone, and there's no way to communicate what I saw and experienced. Everyone's suffering was so debilitating, that much of the time was spent in just trying to survive it all.
So here is an account of Christmas Day. Again I'll say I apologize for the heavy nature of this. I've avoided doing this in the past, and I trust you can forgive me for doing it this time....I just thought it really needs to be known.
Today was Christmas. I am aware of what Christmas day is like for much of the world, and since it's different here, I thought I would tell what today has been for us here on the Sunchild Reserve.
We have had about a foot of snow here in the last couple days and it was just beginning to let up and the temperature was below zero, when I was awakened well before daylight by three women who were drinking and wanted a ride somewhere. I couldn't help with what they wanted because they were probably looking for more alcohol, but it took a long time to convince them I wasn't going to drive them. Eventually they left, and I went back to bed.
There has already been a suicide, and a mother that has been a friend of ours since she was young, lost her third child to suicide, and counting the loss of two of her grandchildren, makes 5 deaths in about 3 years for her. So the community has been subdued somewhat with this tragedy. The holidays are usually like this here.
I got up when I felt like it. Two neighbor girls, one a teen and her small sister eventually showed up for a visit. The teen used our phone to call her Dad, who lives far away, but she couldn't get a hold of him. She sat and cried. She talked about how they didn't eat today because everyone was drinking and couldn't fix anything to eat. We agreed that it wasn't a good day to eat, but we would fix something another day and have a good dinner sometime.
She agonized how she loves her Mom, but is ashamed of her drinking. I tried to help her with that, but it was hard to say anything without making it worse. We talked about a lot of things...all of it trying to make any sense out of all the pain. The smaller girl has never really known anything different, and somehow didn't seem to be as aware of the pain others were going through, or what Christmas was really supposed to be like.
I had a nice, special present for the girls. Then I went to a drawer and pulled out a present the older girl had given me a couple years ago. She was thinking the same thing as I got it out and started to ask me if I still had it. It was still like new and I know it meant a lot to her that I had kept it in a special place. I got out some things that were special things from her childhood and we reminisced over them. Both of us thinking about the same things before we spoke of them. It was a strange unity of people experiencing the same emotions.
Then, with their comments of living in such a strange, painful world, I walked them home, carrying the smaller one because of the deep snow.
I had hoped, and asked, that someone could come to help these innocent ones through these terrible days, which for much of the world is called holidays. But no one came. Today the girls talked about those who had come before, to be with them through the holidays, and spoke of how much they love and miss them. So, we know God can do that, but this year it didn't happen.
I believe that one good thing we have here is a much greater longing for the day when righteousness shall cover the earth as the waters cover the seas. It seems like people in other places have little feeling or thought for the redemption of this world and the end of evil. But here, this hope is the only way we can keep going.
These are Koreans from Calgary that have been coming to help with youth groups. It is very expensive for them to bring their teams here, as it is about a 7 hour round trip, and they have to rent vehicles that will handle our bad roads. When they came the last time they couldn't get through the snow into the mission, and had to let their van set, buried in the snow.
This is a better picture, so I'm adding it here.
This is story time in our last group. The next event with the Korean's is scheduled for April 14 & 15.
This shows a little of what roads are like here. Some stretchs have been much worse than this. For a while we couldn't get through here and had to go off through the field and detour here, but now this is 'fixed'.
We just had another Korean team doing a youth event for this month. I got a picture before they left on April 15. The snow just keeps coming. Today is April 25 and it's still snowing today here.
As always, please keep the mission here in your prayers. In His Service: Rodger Rinker
One of the problems people face is the overload of material to deal with in everday life. It has come to my attention that many have not seen the pictures in our last newsletter. I feel a lot of this content is so important to understanding the mission here, and for those who have an interest in this mission they really need to see this...So I'm leaving the pictures from our last letter on again so if you missed it you will have a chance to see these. The pictures below are from our last letter. This is just the pictures. The full newsletter can be found at http://www.arcticoutreach.org/news2016nov-p1.html
At the top of each picture will be comments and a discription of what the picture is about. This is the new team from the Korean churches in Calgary and Red Deer, that held our VBS this summer here at Sunchild. This page has 10 pictures of that VBS, and the following pages will feature other teams. As I mentioned in the letter above, the key to the success of this team was their special, unified prayer. This is a picture of just after the team arrived, and special time they spent circling the property and praying for their ministry that week. As a result we had special victories that we had never experienced here before.
Every evening the team would spend several hours holding a devotional with sharing and prayer. They ministered to me in a special way during these devotionals, and it was wonderful times. Most of it was in the Korean language, but someone would always quietly interpret for me while it was going on.
We set up this tent pavillion beside the gazebo, and eventually had to set up a second one before it was over. They had these special tee shirts made for all the workers.
This is one of the first days of VBS, preparing for snack time. We had to build more picknic tables also.
In the evenings, local people would often show up to share in the supper and special time of fellowship.
This is after we set up the second tent pavillion.
On Saturday, the last day of VBS, the team had something we never did before, in all the years we've been here. The team had a footwashing service with all the kids. They spent quality time with each youth, and spent personal time praying with them, and each one got a big hug. It must have taken a couple hours because they only worked with a few at a time.
Our kids have 'never' experienced being loved and cared for like this, and it certainly had a huge impression on them.
Beyond doubt, they will never forget this. I hope to get some video up on the website of this service, before too long. I got a lot of it on video.