I arrived back in Chamberlain, South Dakota Friday evening. The first thing I noticed is how high the Missouri River is from the flooding – higher than anyone here has ever seen it. The road leading to the campground south of St. Joseph’s Indian School is now being used as a boat ramp, since the campground itself is completely submerged. One of our pumping stations near the campus is under water, but we are high enough up to have escaped any further damage so far.
Today, I went downtown to the parish to welcome Fr. Guy, who is the new pastor at St. James. We lived in community together years ago when I was in college and he was finishing his theological studies. I tried to treat him to brunch after mass, but when I went to pay the bill we learned that one of his parishioners already picked up the tab for both of us! Apparently they wanted to welcome him as well. While taking care of parish duties, Fr. Guy will also be part of our local religious community, so we’ll regularly see him on St. Joseph’s campus for prayers, meals and other events.
I stopped by the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, where travelers are steadily visiting our campus. I met a retired couple on a large circular tour of the national parks, a young navy family moving from Illinois to Washington State and a Wisconsin youth group headed to the Lower Brule Indian reservation to begin a week’s service project. I enjoy hearing of people’s connection with St. Josephs’ Indian School and what brought them out our way. Besides giving information about the campus, I sometimes also serve as a travel guide, with recommendations of what to see and do further down the road.
An intimidating part of returning from an extended time away is going through all the mail and messages waiting in the office. The past couple of days I made a solid start, yet it’s easy to get discouraged at what remains to be done. And the more I do, the more connective threads I see of things that can be done. I’m reminded of the slogan that slow and steady wins the race, but I have many laps to go.