Joyful noises unto the Lord

Yesterday I was making my rounds on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus and ran into the Summerlee Home girls (4th -5th grade) heading out for a walk. They are in temporary quarters while their home is being remodeled. On a Saturday, the maintenance crew was off and no work was being done inside, so I invited the girls and houseparents in to check on the progress.  Much of the construction is done and walls are being painted. Damara is a fifth grader and remembers how the home looked last year. She showed the other girls where her bedroom was and could see big changes in the floor plan and space usage. We hope to have them in the home before the school year is out, and get started on the next home.

The girls filled me in on plans for one room that even I didn’t know about. In one of the family rooms they hope to have a mini “beauty parlor.” The last few years the Summerlee girls have been cutting and counting donated soup labels and box tops so they can redeem them for a vanity with nice mirrors. If they get enough they even want to get a beauty shop chair and sink that they can lean back in and get their hair washed. Probably very different from what 10-year-old boys want in their house, but a fun and exciting possibility.

The girls had so much fun jumping and climbing around!

After the home tour they invited me to walk downtown with them. They were headed for the McDonald’s a mile south of campus. Each of the girls got to choose three items off the dollar menu and enjoyed lunch on the town. Afterwards they made a beeline for the play area. Fourth and fifth graders are still at an age where they have the freedom to enjoy slides and climbing ropes. It did my heart good to hear them laughing and giggling.

Our final stop on the way home was the Dollar Store. The girls used some of their allowance money to get such luxuries as nail polish, ribbons and barrettes. After the brisk walk they planned to spend the rest of a lazy Saturday afternoon painting their nails and watching a movie.

Today at mass, it was Fr. Anthony’s turn to preside and preach. He normally does a fine job, and today he was especially animated. He preached about the gospel quality of being childlike and contrasted that with the selfishness of being childish. To demonstrate his point he acted out a temper tantrum, feet a stomping, and had everyone’s attention.

As our children’s choir continues to practice and learn new service music for liturgy, it has added more life and spirit to our prayer times. I appreciate good music so much in creating an atmosphere of celebration and hospitality. I am noticing better sound and participation coming from the rest of the pews.

Keep up the good work, and make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Power outage makes an interesting Sunday

Six hours of no electricity made for unusual dynamics on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus today. Power went off just before 9 a.m. and didn’t get restored until after 3 p.m.

We have church at 10, so getting ready with darkened bathrooms and no blow driers made for some interesting looks on students walking into church. We do have an emergency generator, to keep emergency lights, heat and crucial systems on campus going in case of problems, but 90% of campus was without power.

After church, darkened homes, and no televisions or computers made for a perfectly easy way to get everyone outside on a lovely day. Bikes were popular, and the playgrounds were full of activity. A couple of the homes hiked to the park. The Carola boys asked me to let them into the Rec Center so they could get some fishing poles for the home and go down to the river and try their luck at landing some walleye.

Cooking was an inconvenience, but we have lots of grills around campus, and most houseparents fired those up and threw on hamburgers or chicken that were thawing out and had to be used anyway.

Around three was the best part of the day, from a kid’s perspective. By that point the freezers were starting to lose their chill, and the ice cream was reaching the critical point of no return. Since no one knew how long we would be out, the freezers were opened and the homes had an ice cream feast. Just as the students were digging in, the power came back on, so the evening ritual of getting ready for the start of another school week could continue.

While I was walking around campus checking in on everybody, I saw the Stevens Home (6th-8th grade girls) taking a walk together. Their home is getting remodeled this year, and almost complete. I asked them if they wanted a preview, and the students and houseparents couldn’t believe the changes that had taken place in a few months. There is still a sizable punch list, but the kitchen is complete, and even the plaque with the names of donors who contributed to the project is neatly hung by the doorway. Hopefully before the end of the school year they can start transferring their home supplies over.