A crazy and amazing week with a crazy and amazing God

by Emily McFarlan Miller

“What a crazy and amazing week. We loved and remained flexible and let Creator do what He needed to do. Hands and feet; loaves and fishes; turtles, bacon and ‘Hey, girl.’ Miigwech, Gichi-manidoo. Giga-waabamin miinawaa, Gaa-waabaabiganikaag.” — Robyn Gerrells

We had prayed for flexibility before leaving for our Hope for the First Nations summer mission trip to the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

Which is how we ended up leaving for the reservation two hours later than planned, after one team member’s alarm clock failed to ring in southern Illinois. And how we locked the keys to the trailer in the trailer; also, the keys to the 15-passenger van.

It also is how, on the first day of Hope Day Camp, I ended up making small talk with a 4-year-old while we were waiting for fresh bandages to arrive. The bandages were for the tips of two of his fingers, which he recently had lost. How this happened, I am not exactly sure, as I got the story from the 4-year-old. It involved one of the new playgrounds installed by the Boys and Girls Clubs around the reservation, wrapped in yellow tape to keep the kids off (which is to say it didn’t) until they can be cemented in and circled with woodchips, and his brother jumping on something and his fingers and slice. This left two fingertips black, spotted with dirt and fuzz from the old bandages he kept playing with during day camp until one team member begged somebody to pull him aside and re-wrap them.

But he wasn’t mad at his brother, he told me. His brother said he was sorry, so he forgave him.

This is a miraculous thing to hear from a 4-year-old who just has lost his fingers — really, from anyone who just has lost his or her fingers. It also is nearly word-for-word a line I had written for a skit about how God is our friend and friends forgive and don’t hold grudges for big group time earlier that afternoon at day camp. This makes it all the more miraculous to me: This wasn’t something I had labored over, like this blog post, making sure ever word was meaningful and memorable. I had scribbled that skit on the back of the lesson plan I just had seen for the first time the night before. (Also, in that skit, Robyn just had tried to take my husband’s iPod. His fingers were fine.)

Flexibility.

Flexibility is how an 11-person team served hundreds of people dinner at the wake for our dear friend and former White Earth Tribal Chairman John B. Buckanaga, then served lunch to even more people with even less food at the funeral the next day. Loaves and fishes and flexibility.

Flexibility evidently is something God blesses. At the very least, it is something He expects.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” — Proverbs 19:21

I like the way Bob Goff put it in his book Love Does, which I read on the 11-hour drive to White Earth: “Like the disciples, we had no plan, no program and no preparation.”

Sure, we have “plans.” We planned four days of Hope Day Camp at The Old School-turned-Pine Point Community Center during our summer mission trip. That turned into two days at The Old School and two days at The New School because of funerals, and somehow 40 kids showed up at day camp anyway. We planned to go to powwow Friday. But this year, the date the treaty that established the White Earth Reservation was signed fell closer to the next weekend, so we had a day off. That turned into drinking coffee with the elders and organizing and taking inventory (long overdue) of all the supplies we have stored on the reservation. The things we did turned out way better than the things we had planned.

We plan to start a children’s home someday on the reservation. Who knows what the Lord’s purpose is? I don’t. But I know it will prevail.

And until then, we’ll stay flexible.

Linking up with:

     Beholding Glory

Photo credit: Robyn Gerrells.

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