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Oaks Students Highlight - Meet John and Darnell

Updated: Jun 3


Two boys, two cottages, two tribes, two grades, though one and the same story when it comes to what is happening in their young lives here at the Oaks Indian Mission. Excited about that story as we are, it is our feature this issue of the Oaks Arrow. We believe, of course, that God’s hand is clearly at work here and this is our way of proclaiming that news this Epiphany, soon to be Lenten, Season.

John, member of the Ponca nation, is a freshman this school year and has already caught the attention of many with his thirst for knowledge about things, particularly matters related to science and technology. He has taken to the game of chess since being at the Mission. And his acuity when it comes to various games and such is rather impressive, as well.

But, intelligent as John is, he has struggled to finish his school work, because of sheer boredom, we suspect. So the Mission has provided over the course of these past few years special tutors for John and a couple of other kids to try to stimulate their interests and focus their attention to academic pursuits. Drs. Ed & Cynthia Gustavson, for instance, good friends of the Oaks from Tulsa, were coming to campus on a weekly basis until the pandemic hit, spending afternoons with a handful of kids, challenging them with current events and historical vignettes.

This past month of December and continuing now in the new year, as the school has gone increasingly virtual, we have been using a couple of younger tutors who are just finishing up their college degrees. John has begun now to respond very positively to his regular class studies, finishing last semester with very good grades, grades, finally, that complement his academic gifts. Needless to say, the staff here is elated, seeing it as a huge breakthrough in what is perceived to be John’s unlimited future.


The story continues then with Darnell, member of the Cherokee Nation, a Junior this year who is, like John, now embracing what the Mission is attempting to affect in his young life. Again, one could point to any number of different reasons behind this. But, whatever the cause, we celebrate the Lord’s Spirit working behind the scenes, as it were, and give thanks.

Both John and Darnell were blessed this Christmas Season by special gifts from the Warren family of Colorado. They gifted John with items related to his tribe — books on history & culture — and his scientific proclivities, including a telescope. Darnell, who has a penchant for art, received a deluxe art kit that he fast put to use. He also appreciates the written word, so he was the recipient of a collection of his favorite poet’s collected works.

One can’t help but think the attention given to these two young and promising lives was a big part of their celebrated move down the good red road. That’s why we here at the Mission will continue to provide the one-on-one focus that we do, concerned with the quality of care provided each and every child who steps onto campus, rather than simply increasing the number of kids we serve, kids who then may not receive the attention they deserve, attention that can make all the difference in the world.

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