I missed a week of sharing with you– I’m so sorry! It was a flurry of people and food and shopping and driving. A good flurry, but my carefully ordered thoughts of the past weeks were given a good shake and, like a snow globe, it’s taken them awhile to drift back into place.
Through this week’s experience I’ve learned something. One of the reasons I am here is to learn to hear God’s voice more clearly. My life in Indiana was so incredibly full- so many activities and so many voices- that I think sometimes God’s voice was drown out by all of the various opinions and teaching and ideas of others, not to mention my own too-full schedule.
Here, it is quiet. No TV, no radio, teachings and worship in a language I don’t understand… I find myself talking with God almost constantly, about everything, and I catch myself just sitting and watching the clouds roll by and listening. I wake up and listen….I go to bed at night and listen. I realize this is a season (and a perfectly timed one, since I am not certain what comes next for me!), and that I won’t always have the time to reflect like this. For now, though, I am incredibly thankful for it!
Battle Creek Friends Church sent a team last week that interrupted my quiet but brought great joy to my heart. They arrived and totally filled all of the quiet spaces here and I loved the chatter and activity. This team had such a servant attitude- they accomplished so much in such a short time! They were given two tasks to complete:
1. Put a new roof on Amos Redhair’s house. Amos is an incredible man of God who leads a small congregation up on Black Mesa. I’ve heard so many amazing stories about Amos and his wife, Marie, that it is hard to pick just one to tell you… I think this is my favorite: MANY years ago when missionaries Vern and Lois were here, Amos became a Christian. Amos didn’t (and doesn’t) speak English. The missionaries gave him a record player that was operated by putting a pencil in a slot and rotating the record by hand (since there was no electricity). They gave him records of the Bible being read in Navajo. Amos listened to the words while he read them in his Navajo Bible and taught himself to read Navajo. Then he devoured his Bible. He read and read while he watched his sheep each day. Then he started a small church up on Black Mesa. He called it “Restoration Church”. Historically, the area the church is in was the site of a big battle between two Indian tribes and at the end, one tribe had to pay restoration to the other for all the loss of life. The area became known as “Restoration”. Amos loved the idea that Jesus brings a restoration to lives and used the name for his church. Amos is in maybe his 80’s now, and his wife has gone on to heaven. His roof was falling apart, and without the resources to repair it he was just living with it.
The team from Michigan came and worked alongside Amos’ sons and some of the men from the Rough Rock church to put a beautiful new (RED! in honor of his wife Marie’s favorite color) roof. I spent part of an afternoon up on the mesa watching the work progress and hanging out with the children and baby goats. Watching the Anglo and Navajo men work together and laugh together made my day. Watching the girls learn to weave with Amos’ daughter Brenda made me smile. Seeing a huge smile on Amos’ face as he watched the men finish his beautiful new roof made me tear up. God is good. He provides, and helps His children come together to accomplish the work of blessing others in His name.
2. The second task the team was asked to accomplish was to fix the fence around the Navajo cemetery. The Navajo fear death. They believe that when someone dies that all of the bad things they did in life stay behind in an evil presence called a chindi. They believe that a chindi can attach to you and cause something called ghost sickness. The Navajo try to die outside. If a Navajo dies inside of a house or hogan it is abandoned. They refuse to even speak the name of someone who has died, for fear that the chindi of that person will find them.
This puts Christians (both Navajo and Anglo) at an advantage. We have no fear of death and we believe that our spirits do not linger to cause harm. It made a powerful statement to this community to have the Christians working in the cemetery. The cemetery is a mess. The fence around it is down in several places, allowing all sorts of animals to get in and sometimes die. The team from Michigan was able to repair the largest break in the fence and do some clean up. Several of the girls took it upon themselves to nail crosses back together. Since the cemetery is rarely visited and the winds and floods here are strong, many crosses had been torn into two pieces. There was something so sweet about the desire to fix them. Like saying with each nail- “Jesus conquered death…there is nothing to fear anymore.”
I’ve been here long enough now to know how this little town talks. I’m positive there are very few people who did not hear about the Christians who came to town and repaired the cemetery fence. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them knew about the crosses too.
And sometimes what we do speaks so much louder than what we say.
The third thing this team accomplished was the building of relationships. Everywhere I looked there were new friendships forming. From the nurse who showed a group of kids how to take blood pressures to the Navajo women who demonstrated the technique of fry bread making. Laughter, questions, food, hiking, and hard work. It was a good week.
I haven’t had time yet to settle into my usual routines here. I have visitors from the Rocky Mountain Yearly Meeting all week, and next Saturday I pick my mom and dad up in Phoenix! I’m so excited to see them and be able to travel a little bit with them!!
For those of you praying, story-telling is going so well. Last week was Joseph and this week is Moses and the plagues of Egypt. The kids are drawing and writing and coloring- and whenever I’m with groups of kids they say, “Let’s tell the Story!” and off they go with “In the beginning…” Please continue to pray that these little ones will be the future tellers of God’s Great Story in this community.
Please pray tonight and in the next few days for the families and individuals affected by alcoholism. The beginning of the month is when they get paychecks and welfare checks. For those who are trying SO hard to stay sober, it is the hardest part of each month. Pray for strength to say no to drinking. Pray for positive distractions.
Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement. I know SO many of you prayed for this team visit from Michigan, and your prayers were answered. God really used each one of them for good here- and used the Navajo believers as well. It was fun to be here before, during and after the trip, just to see God’s hand at work.
Have a wonderful week!!!!!
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17