The William Home girls (4th-5th grade) held their annual holiday open house. The houseparents must have practiced some of questions with the girls so they could be good hostesses and work on social skills. Throughout my visit several of the girls asked me:
May I take your coat?
Are you comfortable?
Can I get you anything else?
How was your day?
From the moment they took my coat until the time I left, they were most gracious. Frederika sliced the cheese and sausage and wanted to know if it looked crooked. Trinity wondered how the cookies tasted since she baked them. One of the girls was featured on this year’s Christmas cards, and her face beamed with delight when I brought her a pile to share with her family and friends.
Placing the finished box of staff Christmas cards on Carma’s desk in payroll gave me a feeling of freedom. I could just sign my name and be done quickly, but I try to write a personal note to each because everyone here has an important role to play in making a difference in the lives of our Lakota students. I feel blessed and grateful to be surrounded by so many passionate, creative, hard working folks with lots of ideas and the knack for following through to make things happen. My next task will have to be attending to the incoming pile of Christmas cards growing on my desk . We hear from lots of donors this time of year, and I’m humbled by their generosity.
Last night the five high school homes had their community meeting and announced who gets possession of the traveling academic trophies. The boys of Carola Home not only retained the trophy for the least missing assignment, but passed the Hogebach girls for the highest GPA. Hogebach had the trophy on a shelf near their dining room table. When I walked by the boys home this morning, I saw both trophies sitting in the window, out there for everyone to notice. That kind of pride and competition is OK in my book, and hope that our Native American students continue to push each other to learn and grow to their potential.
Only one other staff member was in the office all day, and I took advantage to work on several project uninterrupted. I gave several hours to answering Christmas cards. I answer cards as they come in, so some friends and relatives won’t hear from me until after Christmas, but I figure you’ve got twelve days to celebrate anyway, right? With each note, I say a little prayer and remember people with nostalgia. I wish time and distance didn’t separate us so much from all the people who have made such a difference in our lives. I wish we were more connected, but I believe we will be in God’s greater plan. As the Lakota (Sioux) say – Mitakuye Oyasin – We are all relatives and I’m grateful for all those I share this path of life with.
On my way to the office to work on the weekend homily, I spied the Fisher Home (6th-8thgrade) boys hiking towards the Chalk Hills, and I decided to tag along. Their houseparent Nate, decided to take advantage of a gorgeous fall day, 57 degrees and sunny, for some outdoor activity. Their game was called “camouflage” a variation of hide and seek. While Nate turned his back, the students hid themselves in gullies, behind trees and in draws, then tried to work their way back to base. If he could see them, they were out of the game until the next round. While he spotted, I was given the job of “finder.” I couldn’t say anything to Nate about those I saw, but had to walk in the area he directed me to go to. I got my exercise hopping over fallen trees and climbing over hill and dale, but all in good fun. We don’t know when the cold wintry weather will begin, so homes take advantage of these days when we are gifted with them.
Speaking of winter, in the evening our local hospital held their annual fundraiser. Their Christmas extravaganza featured Christmas gift packages and beautifully decorated trees and other items for people to bid on for the holidays. A pianist played lovely Christmas music while we ate. It really won’t be that long before Christmas is here, and we are making our lists and preparing for the holy season ourselves. Christmas cards are available through our website, and we have started a list of needed gift items as well.