Sager Brown Stories: Charlotte Johnson

y-ya sager brownMy experience at the 2014 Sager Brown Mission trip was amazing. Not only did I get the opportunity to bond with my fellow OIMC members but I was also given the chance to revisit an old homestead that I was raised on for a few years. The car ride up there and back was something of its own and although it was not as enjoyable, it was a time that we used to kind of get to know each other and sleep. When we finally reached our destination that evening, we were welcomed very warmly and openly.

The full time volunteers expressed the concern they had for us when we showed up late but they went on and gave us a small tour of the areas that we would mostly use.

We were fed cookies upon entering the door and shown our rooms. The first evening as Kathryn, Brittany, and I were unpacking and getting settled in we had our first encounter with the other group of youth that we would be working with. Nancy, one of the younger children’s grandmother burst into the room and roped me into a huge hug. Once the other 3 girls introduced themselves they left us back to our work and soon it was bed time.

Our job of working in the warehouse was fun but exhausting. We were to sort and check the health kits that were being sent in from around the U.S. I know that I probably speak for most of the OIMC group; we realized just how much we all take for granted. We never really have noticed the value of a wash cloth or the value of nail clippers until we were actually packing them so that they can be given to people that had absolutely nothing. In the middle of the week we were given the opportunity to hand out commodities to the needy. Although a couple of us were almost ran over and a few were forced to chase a car to finish packing the groceries in the car, it was a rewarding experience.

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The next morning was the beginning of our adventure. After the first group said a prayer everyone seemed to mingle together to get to know each other. No matter how hard both Kathryn and I tried to avoid the attention and questioning people, two of the full time volunteers found our table and sat next us and Rev. Sam. After asking where we were from and if we played any instruments, the information that they gathered from us was soon spread amongst the camp and we were a sensation. The other group, who turned out to be from Illinois, were soon questioning us about our tribes and our heritage and if our traditional ways had any ties to Christianity or the Bible. The Illinois group was genuinely curious about us and the way of our people. After a few days everyone became attached to each other and no one really wanted to leave. When the planning of the devotion, which would take place the last night, came around a couple people from each group were asked to volunteer to help set up the program and pick the songs. Britteny was the first to volunteer the whole OIMC group to pretty much run the service and that is exactly what happened.

The OIMC lead the worship service that night and enjoyed it. We sang a Creek hymn for our new friends and Larimie and I participated in the instrumental music along with one of the Illinois pastors. It was an amazing experience.

The last day, as we were packing, we said our goodbyes to the staff and all the new family we had met. It was hard but we all did it. We were told to invite more people and come back next year so I am hoping that this can be something that becomes a tradition of some sort. I hope that our group can once again go back next summer at least.

Charlotte Johnson