I have hit the ground running this semester, and have not had very much time to post on here, but here is a way overdue update of my trip to Arizona! I am hoping that I can remember most of the details, as I especially want to share with those who gave financially to help make this trip work!
I went to Arizona with my Bible study team, called Discipleship Council (DC for short…don’t get confused….we didn’t go to Washington DC, nor are we going to. We are THE DC). There are 12 of us in the group, led by Mark and his wife Meredith. Two of their daughters also got to go along with us! Unfortunately, one of the members of the group was not able to go due to the fact that his mother’s health is declining quickly and he wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. Please be in prayer for Brandon in his family as this is a difficult time!
We flew from Dayton to Denver, then Denver into Durango. The flight were completely uneventful, although they seemed really long! Once we arrived in the tiny airport of Durango, we were met by John Bloom, the principle of Immanual mission. The Blooms have lived at Emmanuel Mission for 30ish years (not sure of the exact number). Similar to Sahel Academy, all of the teachers are missionaries and live on the mission compound. It was strange for me to step onto a real live missionary compound, but in America. It was strange to see the desert yet feel cold, and to see the children but hear Navajo. I realized when I first arrived that I had never been in a context where I couldn’t understand at least a few sentences in the conversation. I had never been in a context where I was the one opening my mouth and asking dumb questions about the culture and the people. I understood what I was going through having seen it so much from the other end, but I am very glad that I got that experience while I was there.
Our first day in Arizona we mostly relaxed, recuperated and got settled in. In the afternoon we went for a walk through the bush around the mission. It was beautiful, and so many things reminded me of Africa. We went to a beautiful canyon and hiked all through it and around it.
Tuesday morning school started and we were in headfirst! The kids arrived around 8 from the surrounding area, and we started the day by eating breakfast with them. After breakfast (which was eaten VERY quickly…!) we headed to the youth room to present a teen chapel for the high schoolers. I was able to be a part of the worship team, which was such a blessing to me. After the worship we had a devotional, which was themed Religious Mythbusters. Each day a different religious myth was presented (God bring good luck, everyone goes to a better place when they die, dating is a good form of evangelism, etc) and explained. After teen chapel, we would start practicing for our afternoon kids program. Each recess we spent playing with the children, and throughout the morning we would also spend time helping in whatever classrooms we could help in. In the afternoon we had a kids program, which consisted of puppets, singing, memory verse, bible story, wacky games and of course a western theme! It was a blast, but I always felt tired after the last child filed out. After school, it was onto the buses with the kids. I have driven on some very bumpy dirt roads before, but never have I done it on a schoolbus! It was so bumpy and squeky and loud that after the first day we learned to take some headache medicine before we left! The children live in VERY rural regions, and only live with their clan. This means that there is no ‘villages’, just a cluster of three or four houses ruled of course by the grandmother of the family. It was very interesting learning about the matriarchal culture of the Navajo Indians. On the first day on the bus, it was hard to talk to the kids and figure out where we were driving and how to hold on and when in the world we would ever get back to the mission. After the first day, however, it got a lot easier and by the last day, the bus was an absolute blast!
After getting off the buses, we had general free time (the buses took from 3-5 pm…), and often took hikes as a group across the beautiful mesa’s around the missions. One day we even when off-roading. I have been off-roading before, but never over terrain like that! We were all holding on for dear life! It was an absolute BLAST!!!!
Each day that followed was very similar to the first day, so I won’t try and explain what we did each day.
The spiritual darkness on the mission was so similar to what it was like in Africa. The people are in need of the gospel, and the lack of the gospel can be felt. We had some excellent conversations about how spiritual darkness truly is everywhere, we just aren’t aware or don’t try to think about it when are in our safe comfort zones.
As a team, we had some amazing conversations and some extremely hilarious times. It was cold in the house so we all hung out in the room that had the fire!
I am so thankful that was able to become a member of DC, and that I was able to go on this trip. It was eye-opening to see the mission field in rural America, not just urban America or 3rd world Africa. I will never forget the time that I spent with the team and with the Navajo kids at Immanuel Mission. Thank you so much for supporting me!!!
If you want to see pictures..head over to my facebook page and check out the pictures there! Or the pictures that I was tagged in.