Mission Trip 2018
Mission Trip 2018 Day 8
Saturday morning we woke to the sound of the Red River and birds singing. It was a cool 55 degrees at 7,650 feet elevation. Rain was coming in and we broke camp in a hurry without getting too wet. While we were packing a huge dead tree fell with a loud crash about 50 yards away from us. Fortunately, nobody was hurt as it didn't fall on any camp sites. We drove to a small restaurant that was on our way and supposed to be open at 8:00 AM, however they must have decided not to open up this morning. The group decided to go twelve miles east in the opposite direction to the town of Red Rock, NM. It was a really quaint touristy sort of a town and reminded me of Door County in Wisconsin. We had a fantastic breakfast at T-Bucks, a small family owned restaurant that is only open from 7:00-11:00 AM. We said goodbye to Denice and Sonja. We then headed north reaching Colorado and passed through the oldest town in the state, San Luis. We headed east over the Le Veta Mountain pass and reached the highest elevation on our trip, 9,426 feet. The scenery was absolutely beautiful as we ascended and especially as we descended. The remainder of our trip to Hays, Kansas and Messiah Lutheran Church was flat, flat and more flat; about four hours worth of flat. Pastor Rocco and his family welcomed us again with a taco dinner prepared and waiting for us. We were tired from the travel and we have one more long day ahead of us.
Mission Trip 2018 Day 7
Today we leave St. Michaels to begin heading for home. The plans today are to drive to Albuquerque Airport so Denice can rent a car for the day. She flies home tomorrow and we are traveling north of Taos, New Mexico to camp. She will drive back to Albuquerque with her friend Sonja on Saturday AM. We arranged in advance to take a 7 1/2 mile river rafting trip on the Rio Grande. It was a lot of fun. Due to the extreme drought the river is much lower than normal. We only occasionally encountered class III rapids. Much of the time the water was calm. The plan was to eat dinner in Taos and two different guides recommended The Guadalajara Grill. We ate there and the food was delicious. They offered limes, lemons and roasted Jalapeños if we cared to have them with dinner. We were warned that the jalapeños were really hot and we were not misled. They were REALLY hot. After the raft trip we drove thirty miles north to Columbine Campground. The sites we chose in advance were near each other and one was right next to a stream. Three tents and one hammock were set up near a small river. The rippling water made a peaceful sound. Unfortunately the campground is under fire restriction so we couldn't have a campfire. No S'mores on this trip. We leave early tomorrow for Hays, Kansas to stay at Messiah Lutheran, the same place we stayed last Saturday. Pastor Rocco and his family plan on serving us dinner again.
Until tomorrow, Dave
Mission Trip 2018 Day 6
It's hard to believe we only have one work day left. Time has flown by. We have a lot of work to finish Miss Marie's wheelchair ramp. Pastor Jerry said her ramp is the second longest ramp ever built in his twenty four years of serving in the Navajo Nation. We replaced her bathroom faucet yesterday so she no longer needs to use both hands to turn it on and off. When she tried it she said "Nizhonie", which means beautiful in Navajo. The Navajo people trace their lineage as part of a clan and Miss Marie is from the Bear clan. She mentioned that she did arts and crafts and many of her creations were on display. As we were leaving for the day she gathered us together and presented us with gifts she had made. She gave us rings, necklaces and bracelets made of turquoise, silver, rock and beads. They are absolutely beautiful. I happened to be the last recipient and she said "Brother, this is for you" as she hung a necklace with a medicine bag decorated with a hand-carved turquoise bear around my neck. I asked her if we were now members of her clan and she said "Yes, you are now bear clan". She began to cry as she thanked us for making it easy for her only son to be able to enter the house.
Today, our final workday was a long day and we finished her project at 5:15 PM, just in time to get back to the Mission and get ready for the evenings activity. We had dinner at the St. Michael chapter house this evening. We ate Indian Fry Bread Tacos. Fry bread is made from a certain type of flour. Some thought it reminded them of a funnel cake and others thought it was more like a tortilla. A chapter is similar to a community center and Navajo are automatically part of the chapter where they live. Sonny, a Navajo storyteller spoke to us after dinner about Navajo culture. She spoke about relationships, respect, clans and how they relate. She is from the Salt Water clan. Navajo teach two qualities to children....don't be selfish or jealous. They don't baby talk to their children. Property passes on the women's side as it's a Matriarchal society. From birth to age 24 is considered the springtime of life, age 24-48 is summer, age 48-72 is fall and age 72-100 is winter, when you decide how you want to age and you get affairs in order. A Navajo is buried within four days and they don't embalm. They don't announce a person's death. If people know and visit you they will know you are no longer alive. She mentioned there are still people who think her mother is alive even though she died several years ago. She spoke about Navajo baskets and the symbolism. She said Navajo believe there are two ways of looking at life..whole and beautiful or splintered and ruined. You choose which way you will see things. She spoke for about an hour and probably could have gone on for much longer. We headed back to the Mission for devotions and final goodbyes to our new friends. We begin our trip home tomorrow.
Mission Trip 2018 Day 5 Greetings to all from St Michael AZ.
We are having an amazing time. Today was a little different from most.
We started out working hard and fast for a 1/2 day at our our sites and then met back at the Mission house to head off to Canyon de Chelly which is pronounced as Canyon de-shay. Some went horse back riding, some hiking and some on a jeep tour. Pastor Jerry had added marveling glasses to our packing list and now we know why. The views were absolutely stunning and breathtaking. Weather warm and windy for the most parts. Many stories to share from our outings when we return home. Eleeva and Virginia have primarily been planning the meals and have not left us disappointed. They had packed up a meal for us of precooked hot dogs, potato salad and cole slaw that was delicious. We originally intended on a picnic on our outing however it has been very dry and the fire risk is too high. Plan B was to have the hot dogs but there was sort of a mini sandstorm so we returned back to our main house and enjoyed a much needed meal after the busy day we had.
We enjoyed a story called "Coyote" read by Betsy, a gal from Louisiana who was the perfect story teller. The Navajo believe the coyote to be a bit mischievous and refer to young people from the mission trips that way sometimes. Not our kids though, young and old, have been doing an amazing job.
For devotions tonight we talked a bit about sacrifice. The parable of the Good Samaritan was referenced and how the lawyer and the Levi had no time to help however the Samaritan took a little of his time and treasure to help the man in need and pastor tied it in to the mission trip experience, the sacrifice of us taking or time away from our day to day routine and given treasure to others in need. After some reflection this feeling came to mind that the correlation was real, I see more blessings from this trip that far out weigh the sacrifices. We were blessed with a meal from one of the sites, handmade gifts and appreciation beyond measure from the recipients of our efforts at the others. Again many stories to share.
Lastly, pastor shared a story behind Navajo beliefs about mother turtle. How even though she is not the mightiest or youngest she had a role in the world and how it is true in relation to our lives that we each have an important role that God has created us for where we can make a difference for the better of all. They gave each of us a turtle necklace that we could choose as a remembrance of our time here and we are specially made with a purpose. Nothing could ever shadow the gift of grace and forgiveness of Jesus himself being the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.
Thank you so much for for also being the hands and feet of Jesus with your prayers and financial support to the Mission trips. You are right here with us as we help others in need. We couldn't do it without you!
Ha-goo-nah until tomorrow, Megan
Mission Trip 2018 Day 4
We are getting an earlier start today and leaving for the site at 7:30. We have some catching up to do due to the late start and cutting the phone line on Monday. It's a chilly 44 degrees this morning and will reach 92 by the mid afternoon. Supplies loaded, we head back over the border to New Mexico and Miss Marie's house. She is waiting as we arrive and greets us with "Yah-teh a bini", which is good morning in Navajo. She has been teaching us a few Navajo words each day. Pastor Jerry provided us with a list of words such as hello, goodbye and others when we arrived. We asked for a power auger to help dig through the hard earth. We arranged for one to be rented from "Big Mike's Rental" in Gallup, NM. Pastor Jerry picked it up and we dug fourteen holes in about an hour. Platforms were built, treads cut, posts cemented and the stairs to the deck were removed. Soon the ramp was taking shape and we were making progress. We took our hourly water breaks and reapplied sunscreen. The heat was rising quickly and soon it was close to 90 degrees. The phone company arrived at 3:30 to repair the line we cut on Monday. Pastor Jerry said to pay the bill and he would reimburse us. To our delight, they said if we dug up the old line , they would splice it and leave extra slack for us to retrench the line and there would be NO COST! Miss Marie was happy when she heard a dial tone. As we were leaving for the day she told Chris that our deck was "better than anything the Indians would build". Some of us hiked up to the Window Rock after work. It was a more difficult hike than expected and worth the effort. The view from up there is amazing. We hiked back down and drove back to the Mission for a baked chicken dinner with potatoes and cole slaw. Team sharing and devotions led by Cheryl ended the day at 10:00 PM. Bedtime came soon after.
Ha-goo-na' (goodbye in Navajo) until tomorrow, Dave
Mission Trip 2018 Day 3
Day three began with a temperature of 47 degrees at breakfast. It warmed up quickly as the sun rose and eventually it was 86 at three PM. We unloaded tools and supplies from the UHaul for our three groups and packed our lunches. We got started a little later due to Pastor Jerry needing to lead us to our worksites one by one. Group one is building a wheelchair ramp and group two is building a deck. Group three is also building a wheelchair ramp back across the state line in New Mexico however still within the Navajo Nation. We met Miss Marie at that site. She is a widow with a son who is on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. The ramp will be for his use. We discovered that the ground is hard like concrete and it's very challenging to dig post holes. We needed to reconfigure the plans several times as the deck was considerably higher than we expected which resulted in a much longer run to meet building code for the slope. We also ran into a snag as we accidentally cut her phone line and the phone company won't be out to repair it until tomorrow. Marie was very understanding and said several times she appreciated how hard we we're working. She "happened to point out" how her sink and ceiling fans needed repair and that her son was unable to do the work. It was such a sweet way to ask for additional help. We are stopping at Ace Hardware tomorrow to pick up a new faucet to replace it. We also noticed her smoke detectors are beeping so we'll get some new batteries as well. She mentioned she found a ceiling fan at a garage sale for $5 but didn't know how to install it. She heats her home with a wood burning fireplace in the living room and the ceiling fan moves the heat to the outer rooms. We'll try to look at that if time permits. We quit work at 3:00 to head back to the Mission to clean up. The group went to the Navajo Museum before dinner. It was moving and educational with much historical information about "The Long Walk" that the Navajo people were forced to make in 1864. The original hand written treaty from 1868 is on display. We headed back to the Mission for a spaghetti dinner followed by group sharing and devotions led by George. The rest of the evening was free.
Until tomorrow, Dave
Mission Trip 2018 Day 2
Day two started early with all our air mattresses, sleeping bags and clothes reloaded into the U-Haul trailer and we left Messiah Lutheran in Hays at 6:00 AM. We picked up some breakfast at McDonalds and ate on the road. It cooled down to 73 degrees and it was quite a pleasant morning for a drive. By about 8:30 it was necessary to turn the air conditioning back on. We reached the Oklahoma border (we were ready to be through Kansas) and traveled south across the panhandle. Soon we were in New Mexico. Unable to find a fast food restaurant, we decided to pick up lunch supplies at a small grocery store and ate lunch in a park. We switched drivers and headed for Albuquerque Airport to pick up Denise and Sonja from New Jersey. We had 2 1/2 more hours to go to reach St. Michaels, Arizona and arrived about 7:00 PM. Pastor Jerry Hilbun was there to greet us. We met Pastor and his wife Eleeva in Nassau on our mission trip to Eleuthera last summer. He brought a group of seven from Louisiana and Florida. They had prepared dinner for us; a baked potato salad bar with all the fixings. It was delicious and really hit the spot. After dinner we unloaded our clothes and moved into our rooms. We are staying at a former convent at the St. Michaels Catholic Franciscan Mission. It is very likely the finest mission trip accommodations we have experienced. We then gathered in the chapel and Pastor spoke about what to expect this week. He shared some do's and don'ts regarding customs and our behavior. He handed out a paper with some Navajo words for us to learn. The three worksite group leaders met to discuss the three jobs and then we gathered in our respective groups and each was assigned a specific role. We ended the day with Pastor leading a devotion and we headed for showers and to bed.
Until tomorrow, Dave
Mission Trip 2018 Day 1
Day one actually began on Friday evening at church as we all met to load the U-Haul trailer with camping supplies, tools, suitcases or duffel bags, air mattresses and other items. We left church at 8:15 with instructions to be prepared for a 6:00 AM departure on Saturday.
Saturday morning we loaded last minute items and took a group photo. George led us in prayer for safe travel and that we would be God's servants to be used by him in the Navajo Nation. We pulled out of the church parking lot at 6:02 AM. Along the way we stopped in Des Moines, Iowa to pick up Jared, our mission trip companion on several previous trips. We drove for about an hour before stopping for lunch and then resumed our journey. We were soon in Missouri and then eventually in Kansas headed west on I-70. We arrived in Hays, KS about 7:15 PM. All together we spent just over thirteen hours on the road, having traveled through parts of four states. It was 61 degrees when we left Elk River and 97 when we arrived in Kansas. It reached as much as 100 degrees in western Kansas in the late afternoon. Hooray for air conditioning! Pastor Rocco Mallardi, whom our group met three years ago on our Mission trip to Kansas and is now the Pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Hays, Kansas agreed to house us at the church. Pastor, Janine, his wife and their four children served us pizza, carrots, watermelon and cake for dinner. We're back on the road by 6:00 AM tomorrow headed for Albuquerque to pick up Chris' sister Dee and a friend. The final leg of our trip will take us to St. Michaels, Arizona where we'll be until Friday.
More to come tomorrow, Dave