Hello everyone. I hope and pray that this finds you all well. It has been a while since I updated you all and there is much that has gone on since.
It is incredibly hard to believe that we are entering into our last week of summer camp. It has been a very fast and steady summer. God always shows up in ways I could never dream. For anyone that is not living in faith at this moment in your life, I am telling you, you are missing out.
Amanda and I have been so blessed to be surrounded by people that love God and love us as they point us toward Him. I have found that pastoring drains a lot out of you; emotionally, spiritually, physically you name it. It seemed like at the end of spring into summer I was involved in or officiating a funeral every week. God has been teaching me so much through these times though. Some of the things I am learning are things I have had the head knowledge of for years but actually learning how to live those principles is a whole other story. Like just learning how to sit and be silent alongside someone who just lost their child, just being present with them while they hurt. Preparing a pot of coffee for my elders as they sit at a wake, not having a personal agenda just loving and serving without trying to say anything. If you know me well enough to know that my last name is Hadden, you know that this is no easy task.
This summer has been a blessing at watching others take a lot of the load. I actually almost felt left out because they did not give me any weekly responsibilities at the camp. (I said almost) I somehow managed to find plenty to do but what a blessing it has been to be more present at the church and in the community this summer.
Toward the beginning of summer, God blessed us with some finances to accomplish and purchase some things that have helped and will help us do ministry in different directions hopefully more efficiently. Yes, I believe we need to be more efficient in ministry. I was cutting grass yesterday when it began to rain lightly so I went and sat on the porch thinking it would pass over quickly. If you have ever sat on our porch you will know what I am saying when I say, I sat there and was moved with the beauty of the Bad Lands covered with an eerie fog. People ask me all the time if I ever get used to the scenery around us and the answer is, not really. Sometimes you are used to seeing something but it is in moments that you stop and sit for a minute that you are taken back and reminded of how creative our creator is. As I sat there, I was thinking of how blessed I am in so many ways and my attention moved from the sight of the badlands to the scene of the camp; the pavilion, water slide, basketball courts, shops, garages the tractor, backhoe and all the equipment. I moved from thinking of how blessed I am because of the place God has put me but then began to think of all the things God has in front of me and wondered why God would choose to bless me so much. At that moment my heart moved to just thinking about Oyate’. Oyate’ is a word in Lakota used for people, it really is the best translation for “people group” When the bible says to go to every people group it translates go to every Oyate’. All that was before me at that moment sitting on the porch, there was not a person in front of me, no one was out there it was just all the “Things” and the scenery, my heart was beyond blessed but then moved to conviction. All of these things are to point the Oglala Lakota Oyate to the one who made it all, the one who sustains it all. All of the things God has blessed us with are tools to go out and reach people. To tell people about the one who made the Badlands with His spoken word. It presses me to be more urgent in our evangelism efforts. Jesus is coming again, I pray that many of this Oyate will be caught up with Him in the air. I pray that he finds me faithful to whatever He calls me to, using whatever He chooses to bless us with to be the most efficient in ministry that we are able because He is worthy and I am humbled and glad that he can still use me. All of these great things mean nothing if we are not using them to lift the Name of Jesus.
In the last couple of months, God has blessed us with the opportunity to get licensed as foster parents. We started working toward that because of one particular Girl that God had put on our heart who needed somewhere consistent in her life without the chance that she would be moved around in different foster homes. So our heart was to move forward with trying to get full permanent custody of her. We have not fully received that yet but it is in the works and she is already living with us. Pray with us that the courts will grant us permanency. Her name is Angelica. Angelica is a joy to be around, she has a great sense of humor and has the prettiest smile. We have known Angelica since we first moved here. I have seen her grow over the years into a beautiful young lady. I had the privilege of baptizing her a couple of years ago. She asks me the hardest questions of anyone I know as she thinks about God and allows her mind to wonder things about Him I am not creative enough to think about on my own. I am sure the change for her being in our house is a challenge, I ask you to pray that she allows Herself to always be in wonder and awe of who God is, pray that God gives her and us peace as we continue to learn each other and grow in grace and patience toward one another. Angelica is going into the 10th grade this year.
Jacob – Jacob decided at the beginning of summer that he wanted to start working with a local rancher that began coming to our church at the beginning of the year. I think he has decided he wants to be a cowboy. Early in the summer he went to the same Bible camp that Leah did and not only winning both timed events on horseback in the little rodeo he also won “all-around cowboy” which was measured not only by his horsemanship but how he carried himself through the week as well as the scripture he was able to quote. We are super proud of him, he has learned so much lately and is a very hard worker and serves wherever he can alongside us around the camp and other areas of ministry. Jacob will be going into the 6th grade in Sept.
Leah – Leah has been glad to add a big sister to the family and I believe has enjoyed sharing a lot of time with Angelica. She spent one week this summer going to a horse riding bible camp in the black hills where she learned many new scripture verses as well as the basics of horsemanship. We have had to do several things with her teeth/mouth over the last year prepping her for braces of which she just got put on last week which has been an adjustment to get used to them. She will be starting the 3rd grade in Sept.
Noah – Noah has done well with camp this year, it is still hard to hang and be as active as he is all day long without crashing and needing a nap, but he has done very well and is living every 4-year-old boy’s dream. He is a neighborly one, and what I mean by that is he just makes himself at home anywhere he goes, as God has added to our ministry partners Noah feels it has added to his morning routines as well by having another house to go by and check on folks. He is still very much the life of the party and brings Joy wherever he goes.
Be on the lookout for a separate update more specific to camp. I will be sending it out in the next couple of weeks with pictures and numbers from the last two months of camp.
Thank you for all you do to encourage us and minister alongside us. We are so very grateful and moved by your faithfulness. I pray God blesses each of you richly as you work at pointing those around you toward Jesus.
Learning to serve the Lord,