Editor’s Note: This post was written by Maxine Rhoads, Board Member and Team Leader of the Pine Ridge Mission trips. She has led these teams for four years and will head up the next trip coming this September, 2012. Her heart truly lies with the plight of the native people.

Wow, another year has gone by. I am gearing up to take our team of  13 volunteers out to the  Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, to hold a Vision Clinic to examine the eyes of anyone and everyone, and extend to them a pair of refurbished glasses from the International Lions Club. I am so excited! I have been leading a team out to this reservation for the last 4 years, and each year is as different and as rewarding as the first.

But first, I have a question for you. Do you wear glasses? If so, please take them off and read the rest of my story. What? Can’t see? Oh I am so sorry. You may put your glasses back on now. I certainly don’t want you to miss anything.

Now imagine that you are a child or for that matter an adult on the Pine Ridge Reservation. You can’t afford to go 120 miles to have your eyes examined, no gas, no car. Nor do you have the means to purchase a pair of glasses once examined. Too bad, I mean life goes on right?

All life certainly goes on, but the plight of the native people on Pine Ridge Reservation is as if they live in the wilds of a third world country. My heart breaks every time I realize how fortunate I am to have the means to buy just a pair of readers. Without readers I can’t see to read my bible, my mail, well okay anything! What would I do???

Let me share just one story of a trip to this reservation. We were holding a Vision Clinic at the Porcupine Medical Center on our last day on the reservation two years ago. The children from American Horse School had been bused over to the medical clinic. What a sight, the entire waiting room area was covered with precious children.

Children Vision Clinic Pine Ridge

Children waiting in line at the Pine Ridge Reservation Vision Clinic

They were being watched diligently by their teacher, Lisa, who has the brightest smile I have ever seen. There was only one thing. Whenever she glanced around, I noticed that she was squinting. I finally walked over to her and asked if she thought she needed to have her eyes examined. She laughed and said, “No.”

So I asked if she would be an example for the children, as they were showing signs of stress, “Please let me have your eyes examined.” So she laughed and said okay. I led her to the eye chart and left her in the good hands of Mary Ann. A couple of minutes later, she came back laughing, holding a piece of paper that indicated she needed glasses.

I escorted her to the refractor room into the capable hands of Don. Well don’t you know, there was so much laughter coming out of that room that when she appeared and said to me, “Don says I need glasses”, I wasn’t surprised. Lisa handed me the prescription for her glasses. I told Lisa that I personally would match a pair of prescription glasses to her eyesight.

Lisa stood in front of her school children and was laughing at me as I came back with several pairs of glasses to have her try on. The first pair, she giggled and said “Blurry”, the second, she said “Uh” and took those off. I gave her the next pair to try on…..

She would put them on, look down at the children, and then look up and take them off. She would then put them back on and look down at her children again. Finally she pointed at one of her students and said, “I didn’t know you had a Mohawk haircut.” Everyone was laughing now, and she was crying.

Even now the joy of giving someone a chance at better vision gives me goose bumps. Just knowing that not only the children were impacted that day, but one of the teachers, was the best feeling in the world. The Lord has given me a clearer vision on how to help the Lakota people, and I hope you may have a clearer vision, too!

Would you like more info on the upcoming Pine Ridge trip in September? Want to know how you can help? Can’t donate monetarily at this time but want to make a difference? Read all about the trip and what you can do to support the team by visiting our Events page.

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2 Responses to “Glasses for Lisa: A Pine Ridge Reservation Success Story”

  1. Jan Little Hawk
    August 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    We love the work you guys do at Pine Ridge. We hope itcontinues year after year. And this year, I think we have collected more than ever. Customers even brought in eye glass holders and just lenses w/o the frames. I hope they can be used as well. Good luck on your trip !!

    Jan & Denny

  2. Lynda Love Clark
    August 15, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    Many blessings to you for all that you have done and continue to do.

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