Monday, June 20, 2016

Mission Trip to the Navajo Reservation (the missionaries edition)

On Friday morning, June the tenth, we pulled out of the church parking lot at five thirty a.m.  We met up with the other missionaries in Wynne, Arkansas for breakfast at McDonald's and began the long drive to Amarillo, Texas.  Along our way, we had air conditioning problems and had to have the bus serviced somewhere near Sallisaw, Oklahoma.

The picture above is everyone (mostly) waiting in the customer area.  The people at this Ford Fleet place were so nice and accommodated us with tons of bottled water and nice restroom facilities.  Soon after this, we were on our way once again.  Because of that long stop and one other, we didn't make it to Amarillo until close to eight or nine, then had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, then finally got to our hotel at eleven.

It was a long day.

The next morning we left at seven and once again, began the long drive to Ganado, Arizona.  Along the way, right outside of Amarillo, we stopped at a place I've been wanting to visit.

Cadillac Ranch.

I am positive that everyone enjoyed the cool photo opportunities this cool place gave us.

My sweet Abbey is right above~I loved every second of being on this trip with her, plus all the other amazing people.

We had some stops, one of which was to pull over on the side of I40 to sit with a trailer that one of the vans had to leave behind because of a flat tire.  We were given more photo opportunities and a chance to stretch our tired legs.

This was right before we arrived in Grants, New Mexico.

(The order of the states traveled across were Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and finally, Arizona.)

We had one last bite to eat in Grants, NM, then stopped at Walmart for more water and supplies, then began the last two hours of our journey to Ganado.

Finally!  Our home away from home for the next seven days.

The weather was amazing the whole trip.  The high would be in the eighties, but thanks to the severe winds that were constantly blowing through (a record for this trip we were told), it was much cooler.  It was crazy how hot you would get in the sunshine, but stand in the shade, and you needed to add a layer for warmth.  I was constantly taking my sweatshirt off and putting it back on again.

Because of the tent situation with five air mattresses and a bunch of containers we had to live out of, I actually ended up staying in the camper of my sweet friend and her husband (Cathy and Carl).  We are the new kind of close friends, thanks to sleeping within five feet of one another for seven nights in a row.

On Sunday we had breakfast, then a church service, then we went out to canvas the area to invite people to bible school.  Bible school was for preschool on up through adults, and it was every night from four to eight.

The sweet older lady in the middle picture above was chasing after us, yelling, "Don't forget me tomorrow, don't forget me!"

Alex and I had to hang in the bus for a bit~he had a headache, and I couldn't breathe and walk, thanks to the six thousand and something feet above sea level altitude.

Once we were finished canvassing, it was almost dinner time.  These two cuties were my view for dinner.

Every morning, we had a worship service at eight thirty.  Check out our view!

The assembly leaders (Cathy, Shelley, Abbey and myself) helped lead worship along with Keith and the band each morning.  We had three guitars, and some drums, one of which, Graham played.

Very quickly, we were getting to know the other people on the trip with us.  Some of us were from my church, some of us were from Central, and some of us were from a church near the Gulf in Mississippi.  Never in a million years would I think that we would come to know and love a group of complete strangers so quickly, but this kind of trip does that to you.  It quickly bonds you to those around you.

Sleeping in tents nearby and using six portable toilets for a week will do that to you as well.

I'm laughing as I re-read that.

After morning worship, we would have site team meetings.  There were three sites of bible school each day~Klagetoh, Steamboat and Cornfields (where we were and where we all slept).  There was originally a fourth site, Nazlini, but they had to cancel having bible school there so they spread that team of people among the other three.  I'm so thankful that all of my family was together at Cornfields.

After those meetings each day, we had free time, then lunch, then we would all prepare for bible school that night, the other two site teams would leave, then our team would meet up to pray before leaving to pick up people on the bus and vans.  They had to leave around two thirty or three each day to  begin picking people up.

Once they were all back at Cornfields, bible school would begin.  We would welcome them and play outside games, then we would have our opening assembly, then dismiss to groups.  My little preschool group would go straight to dinner from the assembly, then to our class for the teaching time, then recreation, a craft time, more teaching time, then one last craft or activity time.  I had kids ranging in age from three to six.  It was interesting wrangling that age group and keeping them occupied while I taught each day, but thanks to Amy and Shari who were my co-teachers, we managed really well.  Some days we would change up our scenery and get out of the little room we were assigned, and when we realized how much they loved to swing, we would allow additional time for that.

It sounds like we had them for a long time each day, and you would think that I would have had tons of time to teach them (maybe TOO much time), but believe it or not, I didn't.  I tried my best each day to get through the teaching material (which was a TON), and almost every single day, I ran out of time before I'd made my way through.  I learned quickly to hit the highlights and to go back and review each day, to really hammer home the points I needed to make and to help them remember.

They surprised me and did so well, and listened intently and seemed to learn a lot.  I am thankful to God for that, because I do not profess to be a teacher.  It's quite low on my spiritual gift test, actually, but I know that God strengthened me and allowed me to speak the words He wanted.  All praise and glory to Him.

After bible school each day, we would clean up and shower and hang out and talk until the rest of the teams came back, then we would go to bed.

Some other fun memories:

I. LOVE. HER.  My sweet Abbey, and one of my very best friends.

The sanctuary where we had opening and closing assemblies each day, and where all the adults were taught.

On this morning, Graham got up to give a word of encouragement from Joshua one to the group during morning worship.  The night before this (Tuesday), we had a group of Navajo men beating drums and chanting outside our gate during the early morning hours while most of us slept.  One man said he felt such an evil presence during that time, such that he had never felt before while on that trip.  People were scared to go to bed that night, so starting that night, all the men took shifts to stay up all night to keep watch over all of us.  We were in a vulnerable position, being in tents, with only an easily climbable gate separating us from the road.

During this moment, Todd and I might have cried.

Left to right: me, Abbey and Marissa.  Marissa is our newest adopted Goodwin.  We fell in love with her, all the boys included.  She and I sat and bawled Friday morning over the fact that we had to say goodbye to not only the beautiful Navajo people, but to each other.  It makes me tear up just to write that.  She is coming here in July, though, so I look forward to seeing her soon.  (She's one that lives near the Gulf in Mississippi.)

On our day off, we went to Canyon De Chelly.  (Pronounced Canyon De Shay.)  It was a mini Grand Canyon.

The height almost made me throw up.  Seriously.  Every single time someone went near the edge, AHEM TODD, I almost died.

Part of our group hiked down the mile and a half to the bottom, but I took some pictures then went back to the bus and took a nap.  I'm not kidding.  I was beat.

Our last morning meeting and picture time.  I was still crying at this point.

Every single day, God stretched all of us to new strengths that only He could accomplish.  We had warfare moments along this entire trip (vehicle problems, people accusing and threatening us if we stayed, major sicknesses, people chanting outside our gates, drunk people trying to get onto our vehicles), but that only fueled our prayers.  We knew the enemy was NOT happy with what we were there for, and we knew that God was up to something huge.

I am so thankful for the opportunity that we had to go on this trip and to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Through us, He showed His love to the Navajo people and His word was taught.  I will continually be praying for these people and for the full time missionaries who are there, Mark and Penny and their family, and for God's glory to be shown to this Navajo nation.

After many more tears Saturday morning, we were off, heading back east toward home.

Poor Bonnie Kate.  Sicker than a dog most of the way home, and never once complained.  I stayed on the bus with her while others shopped.

We stopped at Window Rock for more pictures.

We had lunch in Old Albuquerque and some of us nearly died from being too hot during lunch and suffered the next couple of hours.

After another really long day of travel, we stopped to sleep again in Amarillo, then left at seven the next morning (Sunday).  We made another photo opportunity stop in Shamrock, Texas, one of the towns that inspired the movie Cars.  We saw Mater the tow truck and the body shop that inspired Ramone's body shop in the movie.

I LOVED this stop and checked (yet) another item off my list of things I want to see.

We made quick stops for lunch, bathroom breaks, gas and dinner, then FINALLY made it back to our church at seven forty-five last night.  We were greeted by friends and family and our DOGS!  Thanks to my in-love's for taking care of our dogs while we were away, and thanks to my sister Trish for taking care of our home and for allowing me the blessing of coming home to a spotless home last night.  I'm still enjoying it.

And in the meantime, I love this guy and am thankful that every day we get to honor him for being such a godly husband and father.

I love him so much.  He drove almost the entire way there and back, except for two hours that I drove us through Oklahoma yesterday.  I thank God for him.

And in the meantime, I have to go wash every stitch of clothing we own.

Tomorrow, you will be shown the Navajo kids edition of this same type of post.

Love to all.

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