Dear friends and family,

This past January, my wife Joan had the opportunity to visit the Lakota Indians on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  The experience in itself was life changing for her, but there was something greater that was life changing:

3rd world poverty in what is supposed to be the most developed country in the world.

And not just poverty, but like in all such situations, the children.  The children of Pine Ridge reservation were so full of life and hope in the midst of their crushing circumstances that it’s almost heartbreaking.  How does so much hope and goodness survive in circumstances like that?

All glory to God for the hope and light of those children.  They’ve done a great thing for me and Joan, and we want to give something back to them.  So we’re going back there this summer, in the first week of August to serve them.

We’re going to put together a free theater camp for the kids, and we’re also going to develop an already existing puppet ministry designed to share the Lakota culture and traditions.  All of this will be happening at Pine Ridge Retreat center which is dedicated to serving the Lakota, and welcoming visitors to their culture.

Our primary request in this endeavor is that you would partner with us and pray for us and the Lakota children as we go to visit them.  Specific prayer needs:

  • Healing – while many of these children haven’t experienced personal trauma the community suffers deep wounds and scars that are long overdue to be healed.
  • Faith – While many of those we’ll meet are Christians, I ask that you pray for continuing faith in their lives, the kind of faith that moves mountains and sustains weary hearts.  The faith so strong that they don’t believe God loves them, they know it.
  • Revelation and obedience – There are a lot of uncertainties going into this.  Please pray that God would reveal His desires and plans to the team, as well as to those we’ll encounter.  Also pray that those who receive this revelation are obedient to it.

If you would like to partner with us financially, that’s great, but first pray with us.  As I mentioned before, this is a culture with deep communal scars that have been largely ignored by the greater world.  Think of it as if the world had ignored the Holocaust.

We will be hosting fundraisers including a yard sale, a cookout, and an exhibition/auction of Joan’s artwork that was inspired by her initial trip out to Pine Ridge.  Money from the fundraisers will go towards

  • $5.00 per child for Love Feast – We are planning to host a Love Feast (Hopegivers style) while we’re there where all the children taking part in the camp can come and fellowship with us in a safe place.
  • $5.00 per child for Camp – We can run the camp on $0.00, but an extra $5.00 per child can help provide materials for the kids to make their own puppets and masks to use and keep and the paint to decorate them.
  • $200 to renovate the old and construct a new puppet theatre.  The kids at the center have already begun to develop a puppet ministry, to share and help heal their cultural wounds.  However they are currently limited by practical concerns such as an unwieldy puppet stage that takes two or three adults to move and set up.
  • $10.00 per person per day running the camp and staying at Pine Ridge Retreat center (which is the entire mission team).
  • $400 per person to travel to and return from Pine Ridge.

We’re also collecting any donations of puzzles, gently used toys, and board games.  Additionally we’ll be collecting any donations of winter gear, from coats and boots, to hats and gloves; winters are brutal in South Dakota, and there are many children and adults on Pine Ridge without a decent pair of winter shoes, let alone a coat.

If you do decide to support us financially you can do so at my firstgiving page or at Tapestry Church.  Just make sure to note “South Dakota” trip in the “This giving is for” field.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Seiji Yamashita (aka Justapen)

The Tapestry Church, which receives and process all donations for the South Dakota Mission trip is a 501(c)3 non-profit.  All donations to the Tapestry Church are tax exempt.