In September 2015, three members of Sanctuary, United Church of Christ (Elizabeth Bennett, Branwen Cook and Kathy Williams) and one member of North Prospect Union Congregational Church, UCC (Larry Bergstresser), traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation to participate in Senior Week at Re-Member. Senior Week is for those who are 50+ and their friends. The activities are similar to other weeks, but at a slower pace and with more accommodation to disabilities. We built trailer steps, assembled and delivered bunk beds, made bricks for an eco-friendly new home, picked tomatoes, and sorted and gave away clothing to local people. Due to the kindness of the Re-Member staff in teaching and caring for us, we helped, we learned, we prayed. We were proud of our ability to accomplish so much more than we thought we were capable of.
The Lakota people are welcoming to Re-Member volunteers, as it is an opportunity to educate and spread word of the amazing Lakota culture that, despite adversity, they maintain. Each evening, we attended lectures and discussions and developed relationships with each other, with other volunteers from all over America and the world, and most importantly with the Lakota people who came to share their stories with us. We toured the incredible Badlands, visited local schools, shopped in craft fairs. We studied Lakota history and language, and visited the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre where we experienced the sacred and spiritual presence that can be felt in that place of great injustice. We left Pine Ridge with a renewed love of the strength, resilience and connection present .