Last day in Heart Butte and A Sheep Dies
Friday, July 29 2016
After too few hours of sleep, Andrea and I headed out for a morning walk so I could show her the sights of Heart Butte. The dogs joined us for our tour. Andrea and I were in the grocery store for her big shop when my phone rang: it was Jonathan, from Pastor Hill’s ranch where we had a team of 10. “We need to speak with Pastor Hill”. He’s at the hospital for his followup, what do you need?, I respond. Dogs from across the highway attacked one of his sheep and it is dying. What now? For this Jewish girl from New York, definitely out of my expertise to know what to do with a dying sheep. I start calling: no answer by anyone. I finally find my friend Brian from the Trading Post, he says he will send “some men over who know what to do”. I leave Andrea stranded with her huge cart of groceries, and head for the ranch. Just after I arrive, Pastor and Sheri arrive. I break the bad news. They respond with grim determination: we have to get to work they say, we need to butcher the animal and save the meat. Sheri is furious about the dogs. She says: “ I am going to shoot them”.
I am sent out on an errand to get supplies. On my return, I find 4 of our girls, wearing long white T shirts, participating in the butchering. “Do you want to see the head?”. No thanks. The Pastor gently had explained everything to them: how the process is done, how the native way is to use all the parts of the animal, how it is sad but part of the cycle of life. The vegetarian among them reports that she would like to taste the meat when it is cooked. Meantime, the boys had fled to the creek to work on moving logs. Once the immediate stress of having to decide what to do with someone else’s dying sheep was over, I was able to take a deep breath, and realize that a situation that could have gone very badly, actually resulted in an additional unexpected, but enlightening experience for all involved. When I finally called my boss at Global Volunteers, I simply said:” Everyone is ok”.
You would think that not much else could happen with this team….but you would be wrong. We had a lovely and spirited last night celebration complete with Indian Tacos prepared by Elaine and her mother Linda with many of our community hosts joining us. We were blessed by 3 songs by Francis, treated to a story by Pastor Hill, and then flute playing by the Pastor. Think we were done? Not quite….the kids were outside at the campfire, when they came inside requesting assistance. Some local kids from Heart Butte had arrived and were being aggressive, profane and sexually provocative. One last team leader duty: you have to leave, you have to leave now, or I will go get the sheriff.
We have achieved our goals of discovering new environments, connecting with people and creating relationships, gaining an understanding of local cultures and life, and learning from and sharing the joys of service. We have also learned that service is not always glamorous, or easy, that there are bumps in the road on the journey. Stamina and persistence help get over the bumps. Unlikely that this team of adults and kids from Sandy Hook will ever forget their week in Heart Butte on the Blackfeet Reservation. Nor will I.
With love and gratitude to everyone at home who “held down the fort” while I have been away,