Fifty-eight teens and eight adults from Manhattan, Mont., experienced a week amid another culture only a five-hour drive away.
The group from two local Christian Reformed churches caravanned in eight Suburbans to Heart Butte, Mont., in the heart of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, which lies along the eastern boundary of Glacier National Park.
Poverty marks this town of 680 people, many of them children. “Many of these kids do not have a good foundation at home, so for us to show up and want to spend time with them meant a ton,” said Jonathan Kimm.
Many of the group members said their time with the children was the highlight of their trip. “I wanted to take some of the kids home with me because I grew to love them,” said Danielle Swets.
The group also worked at fixing and painting houses, removing trash, cutting weeds, and general cleanup for two days. In scorching 100-degree (F) heat, most of the team found it a stretch of endurance.
One of the tribe members, Jolene, talked with the team about the Blackfeet culture and beliefs. Her family played the drums and invited the Manhattan group to dance with them.
According to Kayla Dyksterhouse, the experience was unforgettable. “It also helped us change our assumptions about the Blackfeet tribe,” she said.