Three teenage visitors from Leech Lake Reservation American Indian reservation in South Dakota and a 23-year-old visitor from Sacramento joined the service at St. George's Episcopal Church in La Cañada Sunday as their Los Angeles trip came to an end. The teens were part of a mission that was brought to the Los Angeles area by Reverend Robert Two Bulls.
Two Bulls, a minister that now serves in Minnesota, is originally from the Pine Ridge Reservation in Red Shirt, South Dakota. He was first introduced to the St. George congregation when he served as associate pastor at the church several years ago. During his time as pastor he spoke of his tribe, Oglala Lakota, and how they lived in Red Shirt. The reservation is listed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as the poorest in the United States. Several members of the church decided they needed to do something to help those on the reservation. They traveled to Red Shirt, were introduced to tribal members by Two Bulls and asked how they could help. For over six years now the congregation, along with nine other churches, have visited the reservation and helped where it is most needed. From construction projects to just spending time reading to children and helping them with Head Start programs.
The teens are part of the continuing outreach program that Two Bulls sponsors. The goal of the program is a foundation of understanding between cultures. The group visited several areas of LA like the Museum of Tolerance and took a tour of a juvenile center. They traveled around the LA County and met with others their own age. They discovered that the challenges of life are universal.
"We were here to see how relevant it[life in LA] is to our life," said Kyle Jacobs, from South Dakota. "There are similarities."
"Like homelessness," said Nathan Eason, from Sacramento. "It is not as noticeable [at home] as it is here, but it is still a problem."
All said that another area that is similar are the problems teens face with drugs, gangs and drinking.
"It is a big problem [where we come from and here]," Jacobs said.
They said that they discovered that young people from LA to La Cañada to the reservation in South Dakota all face the same issues. With these issues they were all able to relate to those their own age in LA. The group also worked with people on projects that would improve their way of life.
"We wanted to help people that are less fortunate," Jacobs said.
The three from South Dakota said that they appreciated the friendship with St. George and look forward to their visit to the reservation.
"It is good for the community," Jacobs said. "We see healthy children and adults. It is nice exposure."
"My grandparents hate to see them leave," said Ariel Anderson. "They say the church is so lonely when they leave."
The group had been to many places and met many people but all were impressed with the same thing.
"The ocean," said Wilma Anderson.
The group left LA Monday to travel to Pine Ridge Missionary Reservation where they will volunteer for two weeks before heading back to their homes. They all look forward to taking the trip again next year.