Friday, August 17, 2007

I think I'm a student again/back from Rosebud

Today I got an email from my professor, Dr. Bernie Evans, who is teaching "Rural Social Issues" this fall. The email contained my first assignment! Exciting and scary! I'm not too worried about the writing part of class; I write all the time and regularly get called upon to edit things. I am a little concerned about putting things into more of a theological context though. I am fortunate that the first class is on sustainable farming and landuse. I do know a little bit about that and Farm Bill policy. I'm looking forward to that class very much.

I do have to get my books, my ID, parking pass and all those good things. I've been trying to purchase my books online. Its been fairly frustrating, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. I was kind of surprised at the cost of the text books. Most are in the $50 range, a far cry from Organic Chemistry or Fish Physiology texts that cost $125 a crack. The only difference is that I need like 3 for each class. So, I'm still going to have to dish out a pretty good chunk of money to get all the required books.

Last week I was out on the Rosebud Indian Reservation - Land of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. Rosebud is one of my favorite places. It is full of wide open spaces that I love, big sky, ridges of pine and aspen, and some of the most wonderful people I've ever had the honor to meet and associate with. I spent the week as a VIM through Tree of Life, a mission of the United Methodist Church. Our group did lots of work during the week, repairing things, building things, handing out school supplies, and meeting people. We not only work, but we learn about the Lakota people and their beautiful culture. (One VIM tripper after hearing a couple of presentations from various people remarked that she couldn't believe that Europeans thought they could improve on native culture!) Each time I return from Rosebud my longing to get back gets worse. This week has been difficult. I find my mind drifting back there often. I don't know if I made much of a difference and feel like I should be finishing the job we were working on. I also feel guilty each time I return - not so much about the horrible conditions that exist, although there's a lot of that swirling around in my head too - but guilt for coming back with more than I went with. I learn so much from the Lakota people, they give so much, that it just doesn't seem like I'm living up to my end of the bargain. Last year, after we got back from Rosebud, I gave a sermon at Alexandria UMC on our trip. I closed by saying that we went to Rosebud with great intentions of helping people, and I think we did that. However, I had no idea what I was going to get in return for just being there; I returned with so much more inside than I ever thought possible. I don't know if that is fair or not.

This year was no different, I still don't know.


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