Changed for the Better: Standing Rock

by McLean Casey

The Evangeletes is my new community, that I gained this summer after I was blessed to go with them on a mission trip to McLaughlin South Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation. Evangeletes is a ministry that has existed for the last five years that take several weeklong trips to the Standing Rock Reservation to do work for the community and connect with the kids and young people that live in the towns.

When I signed up last January to go, I had no idea what I was going to experience, but my friend since middle school, Mackenzie, encouraged me to go on the trip. Blake Matson, my friend and the founder of this ministry told all forty of us that this trip has the potential to change not only our lives but the lives of the people we interact with on the reservation. When he said this I was skeptical but hoped in the back of my mind this was true. The final words that Blake said to us before we loaded up the car, vans, and bus were in prayer. He asked God to use us as vessels of his love. He ended the prayer by asking St. Augustine for intersession who became the patron saint of our trip. I hugged my mom goodbye for the week and got into the car.

The next morning after mass and morning praise time, We were asked to be intentional in what we were doing that week and maybe God will do great things through us. This really stuck with me, I realized through prayer that I did not want to be a selfish evangelist, who served only to make themselves feel good. I wanted to be the instrument of change for even one kid that I was able to hang out with. 

Throughout the week both groups would host a bible school that we called kids camp during the day were the kids in both of the towns would come to the church, play games with us outside, do crafts with us inside, and learn a bible story in the church. We would also have teen outreach in the park in the evenings, and a work project in the morning before camp, as well as intentional time throughout the day. The project I was able to work on was scraping the old paint off and repainting a youth boxing gym. A girl named Sienna who is a member at the gym and a ranked boxer of the Sioux nation was with us when we painted, she helped paint and showed us the inside of the gym that she spends so much time in.

By the end of the week, I was lucky enough to become a world-changer for the kids that we interacted with, and my prayer life grew exponentially. The community we were with changed my view on kids and how I think about people who have less than I do. These kids we were able to hang out with just wanted someone to love them

This community has not only reignited my fire for God but has gotten me excited to come home for any breaks and know that that feeling will be ever-present no matter how long I am away. I am so grateful for all of the communities that I have created in my life.