By Audrey Otwell
A leisurely hour-and-a-half drive on Highway 70 presents an opportunity to experience a community passionate with rich tradition, insightful stories and delicious tacos. July 22 to 28 was a smile-filled week for Emori Hamilton ‘20, Abigail Lager ‘20, Colleen Sully ‘20, Anna Hoffman ‘20, Sophia Moes ‘19 and Audrey Otwell ‘19 as they traveled to the Winnebago Native Reservation as part of a Young Neighbors in Action mission trip.
The days consisted of early-morning service, exposure to the community, a recreational hour and evenings full of games and prayerful reflection. Church organizations from Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts and New York attended during the same week, sharing wisdom and inquiring if Midwesterners truly take tractors and horses to school. “Winnebago was an amazing experience especially because there were other students that wanted to help in the same ways that we did. It was even more special that we had the chance to become friends with people from all over the country and even stay in touch afterwards,” Moes said.
Friendly banter and new friends encompasses the aura of the evening, but an even more enriching experience presented itself under the beaming sun and thousands of garden weeds. Three different service sites consumed the bulk of the day: a childcare facility, an overgrown baseball field and a flowery abode of a local townswoman. Whether pulling weeds, pushing children on the swings or watching the cultural dances at the Powwow, the confident, independent leaders gained from the stories told by locals.
A local, who was painting at the Educare Childcare Facility, imparted his joys and hardships, which led to sharing his experience in prison and his overwhelming appreciation for the Creator and His blessings. He impacted the mission trip goers profoundly because he wanted share a piece of his soul for the betterment of the lives of several strangers. The days were spent absorbing people along with their stories and understanding how the oppressive history of a community continues to minimize special and economic opportunity.
The squad of six wishes to spread this recently acquired knowledge throughout the Marian community to give the students a piece of their experience and to implore activism on behalf of the Winnebago community.