A group from our church has gone to Tree of Life on the American Indian Reservation several times. We take a mixed group of adults and youth . We help the residences with home repairs and work in the soup kitchen and resale shops. The experience our group has had makes a profound impression on them. Especially the youth. It's hard work but extremely rewarding.
Tree of Life is a wonderful relief ministry to the Lakota Sioux people on the Rosebud Reservation. They offer a soup kitchen, food pantry and thrift store each weekday, as well as a summer home repair program and a holiday gift donation program. I have taken groups of youth to Tree of Life twice and find that it is one of the best-run and most impactful experiences that my youth have. From the sensitivity and respect with which the ministry is run to the nightly cultural experiences that help us connect with the Lakota people, Tree of Life is a great place to serve!
Tree of Life Mission serves those living on the Rosebud Indian Reservation and others in the town/area of Mission, S.D. Volunteers provide assistance by repairing houses, serving food in a soup kitchen, and operating a thrift store, among other services. There many opportunities to serve in the community and you do not need special skills to do so. Also during your visit there is an opportunity to learn about the Lakota culture and its problems. Local speakers are provided every day during the week and they are very interesting and fun. This mission is located near the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore and several National Parks. This mission does an excellent job.
I work at a high school and have helped lead a group of student volunteers to Tree of Life Ministry on four different occasions. We have student volunteer groups travel outside of the country, but I tell the students that the Rosebud Reservation is the most impoverished place that we send volunteers. The need is great on the reservation. But aside from the work that is done to help alleviate the poverty on the reservation, I think the best part of this experience is the cultural activities that Tree of Life organizes for volunteer groups. My life has been enriched by learning more about Lakota culture and participating in ceremonies like the sweat lodge. The students are also enriched by learning about Lakota spirituality and culture. This is a great cross cultural experience for participants and a chance to work "with" instead of "for" the people living on the reservation.
Volunteers have the opportunity to participate in home repair projects. If volunteers have experience with home repair, that is very helpful. If not, there are opportunities to work in their food pantry or thrift store. These are good experiences for people who may not have a lot of construction skills. The group receives a day off on Wednesday, which provides a good break in the week. And each evening, there is a cultural activity which is a huge part of the program.
Tree of Life Ministry in Mission, South Dakota is a MOST valuable relief agency for the Lakota people. For the past 9 years I have coordinated our Volunteers in Missions team from Catonsville, Maryland as we worked closely with Russell and Donna Masartis to address the various needs of the Lakota people. They have worked TIRELESSLY year-round to help with repairing sub-standard housing, supplying food and clothing, helping with child care and abused women, and a variety of emergency services in the winter months. They bring the Christian message to the people through their caring actions to build a bridge of trust and genuine friendship and collaboration among the two cultures. They provide jobs for Lakota people and do so much to enhance the families of their employees as they continue to expand the influence of Tree of Life. HOPE is projected to people who have little of it. They have been HONORED by the Lakota people at the annual Indian Victory Day powwow (June 25th) by being recognized as such a valuable entity in the reservation community. T.O.L. was honored to lead the first dance! T.O.L. has helped ALL of us on our missions teams to be closer to Christ in our personal relationship with our Savior. We need a 100 more T. O.L.'s!!!
When i visited Tree of Life Ministry I had the pleasure of experiencing many form of helping the Native Americans. I got to help repair a house, work in their food pantry and the hot meal program, as well as being able to help clothe the public. I am very pleased with my experience and will definitely be coming back again.