The Herald Bulletin

April 1, 2013

Woman, 74, lives to help Native Americans

Phyllis Carnes makes regular mission trips to South Dakota

By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — With a desire for mission work and a love for Native American people in her heart, Phyllis Carnes began making regular journeys to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota about 15 years ago. Her garage has become a makeshift warehouse as she collects food, clothing, coats and housewares until she has enough supplies to fill a truck.

“The Native Americans are just something I’ve been concerned with,” said Carnes, who attends New Life Christian Fellowship in Fortville. “I’ve read and researched what has happened with the people. The need is so great — some don’t even have running water or heat. It can get 60 below in the winter and up to 107 degrees in the summer.”

Carnes tries to make three trips per year — sometimes alone and sometimes with a group. In an effort to help more people, she has reached out to friends, family and church members to get them involved. Some donate items, some help organize drives and some even jump in the truck with her.

“Many people are in shock to see the need in our country,” she said. “It is really, really bad. Now there are 18 people living in the pastor’s house. Five men are sleeping on the concrete floor in the basement, and they are just happy to have a roof over their heads.”

Last year the youth group from her church journeyed with her instead of traveling to Honduras.

“It’s important for the kids to see the reality of life outside their community,” said Joe Watkins, youth pastor. “To see people live in very difficult situations and the possibility of having hope and joy in the midst of that. We met some amazing people with hope and joy even though they have nothing — which shows that these qualities are not determined by wealth or prosperity.”

“What keeps me going is the love of these beautiful people that do without daily,” said Carnes, 74. “When I get home I feel so guilty because I have a microwave, hair dryer and a nice warm bed. A big concern of mine is that I’m not going to be able to do this much longer. My biggest goal is to find someone who will continue on for me.”