Monthly Archives: March 2017
I have tried to figure out how to best write this Serve and I must say that I have been totally stumped. The reason, I think, is I did not want to point out the difficulties that are found on the Nett Lake Ojibwe Reservation, near Nett Lake, MN. As I thought about it more, I realized that nowhere in the world is there a people group without difficulties. So without dwelling on the difficulties, I choose to dwell on the hope and light Kevin and Natasha Land along with three children bring to the people of Nett Lake. I met the Lands in 2016 while on a mission trip with my church NorthRidge Fellowship. I was blown away by how they live out being a light and hope for the men, women, and children of Nett Lake on a day to day basis as they live and make their home on the reservation and serve in the local church. The story does not stop there; Kevin and Natasha are bus drivers if needed, life counselors, Vacation Bible School teachers, worship leaders, but more than that they are friends to the Nett Lake Ojibwe. As I spent time with Kevin and Natasha I knew they were woven into the lives of the people by how they spoke of the community. The love for the people of Nett Lake is in the DNA of this wonderful couple and their children; it is seen in their actions, and heard their words. Kevin and Natasha are people to admire for their dedication and ministry approach to the Ojibwe/native culture.
When I meet people like the Lands I am humbled. Not humbled by their greatness, but humbled by their humbleness and their willingness to serve out of a free flowing heart.
May we all add a more hope and a more light to this world which needs it! Thank you Kevin and Natasha.
“Tell Your Story”
~ Serve #24 ~
Guest post by Aimee Libby
“Kids these days…”
That’s a familiar phrase we often hear with not-so-great connotations. Well, I’d like to tell you about a particular “kid” who’s breaking the stereotype of this younger generation.
Rayanne always has a smile on her face. She’s a high school student. She loves music. She loves people. She has a quiet, servant’s heart. How do I know Rayanne, you ask? It’s an interesting story, actually.
A little over a year ago, I was helping put on our annual Ogni Voce special needs choir performance in conjunction with the STMA Stallions Special Olympics team. Rayanne showed up that chilly winter night with several other students who were told they’d receive extra credit for choir class if they stopped in to hang out and sing with our Special Olympics group. Seemed like an easy way to get extra credit, right? Later that night, as Head of Delegation for our STMA Stallions Special Olympics team, I received an email from Rayanne saying how much fun she had with our group. She wanted to know what else our group did and how she could get involved. There was a lot going on and I hadn’t really even met Rayanne that evening, so I couldn’t put a face with a name. Honestly, my first thought upon reading her email was, “Sure, we’ll see how this plays out – probably another teen who’s ‘interested’ but never follows through”. By noon the next day, Rayanne had submitted all of the necessary paperwork and completed the required online certification to become a volunteer coach with our STMA Stallions Special Olympics team. She was at the next team practice with a big smile on her face, ready to assist wherever needed.
Now, some of you are probably reading this and are thinking, “Hmmm, so…big deal. A kid came to something for extra credit – what makes them ‘so great’ for doing that?” What makes Rayanne so great and such an asset to our group is this: She’s always there. She shows up week in and week out. She shows up at all of our team’s competitions and tournaments. She shows up at all of our social/community events. She even checks in regularly with me so she can make sure to align her work schedule with our team’s calendar. She connects with me ahead of events/outings to see where I need her to help out. She eagerly shows up bright and early on a Saturday morning, hours before any other teenager would rollout of bed, so she can support and cheer on an athlete one-on-one for a competition. She’s something that so many people in our day and age, both kids and adults, lack – she’s consistent.
Not only is Rayanne consistent with our group, she continually demonstrates her dedication and heart for our Stallions athletes outside of what is truly expected. Shortly after getting involved with our team, Rayanne started volunteering regularly in the special education classroom at STMA High School where many of our Stallions athletes attend. The high school special education staff adores her and are so impressed by her genuine desire to meet each kid where they’re at. Rayanne is constantly seeking out ways to include and embrace the athletes within the school setting. Anytime I stop in at STMA High School and see Rayanne in the halls or at a school pepfest, she’s hanging out with a Stallions athlete…as friends, not because she has to. There’s no obligation beyond weekly practices for our Stallions coaches, but that doesn’t matter to Rayanne. Her heart shines through the most in settings outside of our regularly scheduled team practices.
By now, it’s probably pretty obvious that I’m a “fan” of Rayanne, but, I have kind of a unique perspective on all of this above and beyond what I’ve shared already. Yes, I’m the Head of Delegation for the Stallions Special Olympics group, and volunteers like Rayanne are invaluable to our team – we wouldn’t exist without them. But, I’m also a parent of an almost-13-year-old Stallions athlete. This perspective is the one that’s the most important in my opinion. I can honestly say, seeing Rayanne with our Stallions athletes puts a lump in my throat and makes my eyes “sweat”. In a world that typically views people’s value and worth by how great their abilities are, Rayanne sees each one of our kids as the unique, joy-filled, perfect individual God designed them to be. She doesn’t get caught up in the often-unpronounceable name of a certain syndrome or disability an athlete may be afflicted with. Nope. All she sees is a person…with personality, incredible abilities, and with so much love and joy to give. That’s all any parent wants. For their child to be seen, valued and loved. Rayanne does that effortlessly, and in the process, blesses so many families within the community.
Athletes and Coaches
In a world of constant change and uncertainty, our athletes who thrive on routine find comfort and security in knowing they’ll see Rayanne’s smiling face any time they show up to a STMA Stallions event. And that makes all the difference in the world. Her consistency across the board shows athletes and parents alike that she’s the real deal. As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words”. This couldn’t be truer of Rayanne. Her quiet demeanor may not be flashy and scream out to others, but her actions are seen and heard loud and clear.
Rayanne, you’re a one-of-a-kind world changer. Thank you for serving our group in this way. We’re forever grateful for your heart to serve, and that you came out in search of some “extra credit” that brisk winter night.
Thanks for being consistent. No matter what.
“Tell Your Story”