FORTY-FIVE YOUTHS AND NINE ADULTS traveled to Ashland, MT to participate in a mission trip at an Indian Reservation last week. The group was led by Youth Pastor Doug Watercott of Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church in Becker/Big Lake. (Submitted Photo)

Students on mission to reservations

Contributing Writer
Bill Morgan
Doug Watercott recently led a team of 54 people to Ashland, MT for a mission trip to help the people of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation “right” a few things and re-focus their lives.
Forty-five youths and nine adults from the Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church in Becker and Big Lake left July 5 for seven days serving the community of the Northern Cheyenne people. As expected, the ones going to serve seemed to come home with appreciation for what they experienced and what they have back home.
“It really opened my eyes to how stereotypical we can be,” said junior Jessica Haecherl, who was on her first mission trip. “It was really cool to see how friendly they all were towards us and how nice and appreciative they were that we were there for them.”
Watercott’s group helped the people of the reservation build decks, wheelchair ramps, decks and skirted a few mobile homes. They painted interior and exterior rooms of houses and did wall repair, yard clean up and visited the elderly and played with the children. Watercott said over 250 other youth and adult groups were there from eight states.
“I’ve been on numerous mission trips but this one was especially special,” said Watercott. “It was powerful to see how our team worked alongside the people of this reservation and with each other. They were so appreciative of us being there and helping them out.”
Watercott said the highlight of the week for him was when his kids got to see the rich Indian culture and traditions and learn more about their heritage through their stories and practices.
“We were able to witness a sacred Pow-Wow and were even invited to join them in one of their dances,” said Watercott.
Watercott was also very proud of the fact he got to see the youths he guides as youth pastor share their stories of their faith walks.
“Each of the students enjoyed their own unique experience but each was blessed in return for their willingness to reach out in service of other people,” said Watercott.
Heacherl said she got to work alongside three young girls who brightened her and the other’s days.
“Those three girls were amazing,” said Jessica. “I definitely have a whole new way of looking at Native American people and their families.”
Senior Michaela Manifold had a similar experience.
“This was my second mission trip out of state and I was really surprised by how friendly and approachable the Indian people were,” she said. “Their culture is different and I’ve grown to appreciate them in a bigger way.”
Richard Eisenreich of Big Lake was experiencing his third mission trip and feels this one was extra special.
“The experience was really good and I would definitely go back there if the opportunity came up in the future,” he said. “It felt good to be able to build ramps, stairs and paint things to help them out.”
In appreciation for their efforts, Watercott held a “fun night” at his family home in Becker Wednesday afternoon through evening in which food was served, games were played and stories were shared.
Those who partook in the mission trip are: 
Adults (Over 21) 
Paige Anderson, Nick Crowley, Sandi Ferris, Rick Johnson, Mary Ellen Kerber, Susan Perovich, Dick Pursley, Jim Richter and Doug Watercott.
Young Adult (Age 18-21)
Jon Crowley, Richard Eisenreich, Kreston Gammon, Josh Hoppe, Alexander Krueger, Nicholas Langlais, Katie Lenneman, Tyler Madsen, Ashley Neuwirth, Josh Nohner, Anna Perry, Christian Sipe, Brandy Watercott and Brett Watercott.
      Youth (Under 18)
Samantha Angell, Noah Arrigoni, Paige Artmann, Jacob Charbonneau, Jack Conzemiu, Catherine Eisenreich, Rachel Eisenreich, Mary Goenner, Jamie Gruber, Jessica Haecherl, Jaylin Hildebrandt, Megan Hoppe, Arrica Imm, Jasmine Johnson, Salene Krueger, Moriah Krueger, Cassandra Lenneman, Caitlin Loeffler, Kelli Lumley, Chloe Madsen, Michaela Manifold, Sydney Mastey, Morgan Meyer, Celia Mix, Ryan Nohner, Randi Olson, Samantha Perovich, Joey Perry, Carolyn Schneider, Hannah Sipe and Nathan Voigt.


THE BIG LAKE LIONESS ANNUAL GARAGE SALE drew plenty of shoppers to Lions Park Saturday morning. The Lioness Club has been serving the Big Lake Community for 31 years. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

TREE EXPERT Gina Hugo works for the Sherburne County Soil and Water Conservation District.