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Simply Smiles provides bright futures for children, families, and communities. The organization partners with populations in need to create physical and emotional environments where suffering is alleviated and from which local leaders can emerge.

Simply Smiles blog

Follow our blog and read insights from Simply Smiles staff, volunteers and other individuals whose lives are affected by our work!

First Church of Fairfield on the Reservation 2013 - Blog #1

Timothy Nurnberger

Hello, all! Here in La Plant, South Dakota, it's Olivia and Diana Stone with your hump day update! It's been a long, busy, and wondrous few days here, and we've been slacking on the updates, so we'll give you guys a quick summary. After our tour of La Plant on Sunday, we got straight to work on digging a trench over at the new house to connect the toilet to the septic tank, digging post holes for the new Spider Web playground, and setting up the new Simply Smiles sign. Those projects have carried us through the mornings this week, and the afternoons have been filled by the bright faces of all of the kids at camp. In between have been Gaby's AMAZING food, dishes, sweeping, and killing all of the flies in the Community Center (thanks to Darren, Tom, George, David a.k.a. DRE, David, and Grant). We've also had the opportunity of seeing a traditional Lakota drum circle, where Steve, Elliot, and Colin drummed, sang, and taught us a dance. We even got to bathe a little bit in the Missouri River, but the dirt won't really be coming off until we get home on Saturday.

This is just a rough outline of the powerful experiences we've all been having here. We've really been touched by seeing our fellow group members make connections with all the kids, like George and Tom with Anthony and Julian, or Bryan French with the little girls. I (Olivia) really connected yesterday with Anna and Madison, two sisters who won me over by asking for a piggy back ride and then sneaking up behind me when I told them I'd give them one after I put something away inside. Piggy back rides can be tiring after a while, but the amount of joy it brought them somehow gave me the strength to have Anna on top of my shoulders and Madison on my back. They stuck by me for most of the afternoon yesterday, even through the bus ride home, when I had a girl on each side of my lap. Those girls are a model of strength for me-- just before giving me a tight squeeze goodbye on the bus, Madison told me, "I'm TOUGH!" At age 5, she just might be tougher than I am, and that is awesome.

So this is Diana, and I've also had some pretty amazing experiences with the kids here. One of the most prominent connections I've felt with any of the kids is with a nine year old girl who I met on her birthday (June 30). Her first impression of me was rather unfortunate, her first words directed toward me being a very firm and unexplained "I hate you". This caught me off guard, most definitely, but it didn't stop either of us from turning around this underwhelming (to say the least) first impression. About an hour after us first meeting, I decided to offer her an extra long piggy back ride, being that she was the extra special birthday girl. Thankfully, she accepted and we were off, her stacked onto my shoulders and spinning around. Then we were just left talking and playing little games (mostly just me throwing her up in the air and catching her, over and over again), and she only grew kinder towards me as we talked. The next day, we even made matching friendship bracelets (as cheesy as that is) and we pinky promised not to loose them. Overall, it was astounding how we grew so close in such a short time.

Stay tuned for our next blog! See you all soon.

It's been a pretty intense week. We've all been personally invested in everything, whether we're banging nails out of reusable wood or digging post holes (which takes forever) or giving endless amounts of piggy back rides. We discovered, collectively and individually, that every little thing counts and that this week can only get better as we compile these little things into one big, wonderful experience.