June 3rd, 2010
I have never experienced anything like it. When we got out of Fr. Banga's car (which, btw, isn't as old as I had thought... it's an '85 Cadillac), every eye was on us. When we entered the building, it was the same story. There was not one person there who was not Native. It was a strange feeling because I've never been that much of a minority! ;-) It was a good feeling, really. I mean, I know I never thought of myself as that. Not only have I never had many Native friends (or others of a different race) but as a Holter, I have always been apart of a large group. There are always enough of us to create a crowd feel.
Fr. Banga was well known to them because he had been generous with his time in regards to the deceased... and I think that we accompanied him earned us some grace. But I believe the people would have been friendly even if we hadn't been with him. They are unlike 'white' people in many ways... and their custom of being friendly to visitors has remained even as they grow more civilized (note that I speak with some sarcasm).
Some mental images from yesterday evening will always be imprinted in my mind: The son of the deceased lifting his crippled mother from her couch to her wheelchair. He was a big man and she almost disappeared in his arms. But he was so very gentle and careful, arms supporting the tiny figure, graying head bent protectively over hers.
The fire-tender bringing in a pan of coals from the fire outside and setting it by the coffin so the smoke rose and hung over the body.
The Elder singing his song. I have never heard the like. Sung first in the Dakota language, then in English; wailing tones that grew sharp and high then slipped into a gentle murmur of grief. I was completely amazed at the quality and range of his voice.
The children. I had not realized what customs and practices the parents have passed onto their children. When the Elder began speaking; when the songs began; when the drums and chant were played, the children came. I have found that most children of the world I am part of are not interested in customs and traditions for the sake of heritage. But even the smallest child looked on and listened until what was important had passed.
Did I condone all that was spoken and done? Did I pray for the man lying there in the casket? Did I sit in my seat feeling I had wasted my time coming? No. But yes, I did enjoy the experience. God brings opportunities into our lives for a purpose. He had something for me there. How much time we waste on judgment when we should be praying and looking for what He wants to show us.
In that room were people of different skin and hair color, with customs different than mine. But we had one thing at least in common: we all have souls that desire God. Some of us, however, haven't realized that we can do more than simply desire Him.
So it was an interesting evening. No, I didn't take the camera. I thought at first I might, then I wondered how I would feel if someone did something similar to me and mine. So you'll have to forgive me (or not!) for refraining out of politeness. :-) There were so many images I wish I could have captured, though. I am hoping there will be other opportunities and I'm also hoping that it will be appropriate to bring a camera.
Someday, I like to visit a Cherokee reservation. I want to experience my heritage. It seems strange sometimes to realize how little I look like my great-grandfather... or even my mom. She has those high cheek bones. But the blood still flows through the veins and, as much of a history/genealogy geek that I am, I am always aware of the vast range of cultures I possess: Irish; Norwegian; German; Scottish; English; Dutch; Finnish; Cherokee Indian.
Today, we spent the morning in the Mother Teresa Centre cleaning. We did much vacuuming... Lydia also cleaned windows. We got finished shortly after dinner. Fr. Banga had to go preach the funeral of the man whose wake we attended yesterday evening but he didn't have to leave until after dinner, which consisted of fried eggs, cheese, bacon and toast. It was soooo good. :-D He then gave us the rest of the day off, telling me to take a good long nap so I wasn't so crabby. Lol! I read instead. Ever heard of “Inkheart”? Well, we found it's sequel, “Inkspell” in the MTC, much to my delight. The author is a genius... a real joy to read. Such wit! Such wisdom.
Fr. Banga arrived home at 5:30 and he was so tired. I guess they spent hours, standing listening to the Elder talk. Part of that was in the rain since it was indeed raining today (in fact, it simply poured! Lydia got the clothes off the line just in time...). Anyways, he came over around 7 and expressed his dissatisfaction over the proceedings. We sympathized and made small talk about Polygamist Mormons and genocides. :-P
I ate far too much chocolate today. Someone please tell me that they've done that once or twice.
My adventure today happened at the Mother Teresa Centre. Lydia and I had just moved all of the beds and were just deciding what jobs we wanted to begin next. Fr. Banga was trying to get the CD player to work and I went over to see what Hannah was doing. She happened to be organizing the videos and books that were on the shelves by the CD player. I picked up one of them and was looking at it when Lydia asked what I was looking at. I held it up and somehow, it slipped out of my hands and flew into Fr. Banga's nearest leg. My sisters dissolved into laughter and I apologized as best as I could. He looked at me. Then he asked, “Is your name Grace?” ::snort:: I told him that they gave my sister that one.
June 4th, 2010
“The cross of Christ is the measure of man's hatred towards God... When man did his worst, God did His best.” [unknown]
Today, we cleaned the Nurses' Centre and MSGR [insert #s]... hours of vacuuming. I find I really enjoy vacuuming when I have a good machine to do it with. :-) This one sucks up everything. The floors I did were all carpet, which can be awful to clean if you don't have the proper equipment. We finished it all around dinnertime, which was roast beef, bread and a lot of other yummy stuff. :-) Fr. Banga said we could have the rest of the day off (he had to go to Regina) but we did a little weeding. It seems awful to have so much time off. Lol! But at the same time, yesterday was a little harder with moving the beds around. Lydia and I both have sore shoulders/arms/backs. Lol.
Tonight, we had pizza. Hmmm. There's nothing better than a good slice of pizza. ;-)
I'm listening to Ray sing his song “Martin Box”. So beautiful. It's about his guitar, which has seen him through years of music and, 'if this old Martin Box could talk...” imagine what stories it could tell? I miss Ray. I am so looking forward to August. :-)
It was pretty cloudy most of the day but towards evening the sun came out. I went down and sat on the dock and took some pictures of the lake. There were very few mosquitoes out and the wind was blowing just a bit... very pleasant. A good place to reflect.