I’ve been home for a week. It has been a flurry of driving and visiting and packing and unpacking. I’m finally settled in at my home in Fort Wayne, but I still feel like I’m visiting and I will return to my little mission house in Rough Rock soon.
I’ve had a few double takes that make me laugh, like filling my cart up with gallons of water at Walmart before remembering I can drink my tap water now, and warning friends to be careful of rattlesnakes when we were walking through tall grass…
Overall, I’ve adjusted pretty well to being back though. I miss the things I knew I would miss and I’m thankful for the things I knew I would be thankful for. No surprises so far!
I had a wonderful trip home. I took my time and enjoyed visits with lots of friends.
I left Rough Rock with a car packed high with all my belongings from the last 8 months, and I was stopped twice by border patrol wondering if I had any illegals stowed in the back…haha!!!
I spent an entire week with the Armstrong family in San Diego and it was a week full of carpools, football games, homework and hanging out. We had a chance to travel to Twenty Nine Palms to see Paul promoted to a new position in the military. It was a fun day filled with jokes about ordering fries and asking for JUST 29 of them…etc. We also had the adventure of losing air conditioning in the van and making the trip without it. It was 108 degrees that day and we watched the movie Rudy and sweat the entire way there. Memorable experience- lol!
The last day I was there, we went to watch Caleb play football in the most southwestern town in the continental US. We walked Imperial beach just north of the Mexican border, watched the HUGE pre-hurricane Norbert waves and ate amazing Mexican food for lunch.
I had a chance to meet with people at the Armstrong’s church, LifeBridge, about Josiah Venture. It was really fun to hear about what this church is already doing in missions- it’s really incredible how many ways they are reaching out in their community and around the globe. I was thrilled to introduce them to JV and found out that their youth pastor has actually been to a JV English Camp before.
After church we had lunch (bubble tea- have you tried bubble tea? It’s unbelievably good….) and I left for Las Vegas. I chose Las Vegas for my 1st night on the road because the hotels are SOOOO cheap! After my meal voucher, the room only cost $12- which is crazy! As I drove north in California, my phone kept alerting me that there were flash flood warnings, and I kept thinking- ok…flash flood…what do I do with that? So I kept driving and praying. Other than a big traffic slowdown between LA and Vegas, my trip was uneventful and as I drove through the Mojave Desert, it poured rain and huge lakes and puddles formed on both sides of the road. I kept thinking about how God can make streams- even in the desert- and then there was a double rainbow over all that desert water.
See that strip of gray at the bottom? Water. Lots and lots of water in the Mojave Desert! Turns out, this wasn’t such a good thing for Vegas the next day, but at the time, it made me smile :o)
I got to Vegas just after dark and drove the strip in awe of all the incredible buildings around me. I stayed at Excalibur and it was so extravagant it just made me laugh.
I checked in and went exploring. Most of my hotel was casino. Hundreds of people sliding cards, pulling levers, spinning wheels; oblivious to the world around them. I used my hotel food voucher to get dinner and I people watched as I ate. It made me sad. I walked the strip for awhile and watched the mobile billboards with photos of nearly naked women drive by. I kicked aside literally hundreds of cards and flyers on the ground advertising escort services and strip clubs. I got ice cream and watched the hordes of people walk by. Then I walked back to my hotel and thought a long time about all I had seen.
Vegas is such an awe inspiring place at 1st glance. It looks like a fantasy world full of castles and replicas of the Eiffel Tower and every possible store imaginable. But once you look closer, there’s a sense of desperation. People looking for something to fill a void. Money, sex, entertainment…you name it. It’s not very pretty at all once you get past the window dressings.
One of my favorite songwriters, Kathleen Carnali begins a song with these words:
Shattered pieces are all this world gives.
But really, that’s all that it is.
That was how I felt about Vegas. Kind of a sad place to visit. A reminder that we live in a terribly broken and despairing world.
I woke up early the next morning with Colorado on my mind. I had about 10 hours to drive and I wanted to get an early start. I had quite a view from my room that morning!
I didn’t realize it, but by leaving early I missed a flash flood north of Vegas by just hours. It took out the entire road I had driven and closed it for days. It rained all day long. I finally got to Paonia, CO just in time to have dinner with friends I made in Rough Rock- Gaylen and Esther Kinser. Gaylen is the pastor at Paonia Friends Church and they had come to visit and help out in Rough Rock while I was there. Paonia is such a beautiful place- even in the pouring rain. It is full of rolling hills, orchards and vineyards. Esther served fresh off the tree peaches for dessert and oh my….!!!! I had a chance to see the church- which is over 100 years old! I loved it, and it was so fun to hear about all that God is doing in this little Colorado town.
I stayed all morning in Paonia and then drove several hours up into the Rockies and stayed in Breckenridge. It was so cold and wet that I gave up all sightseeing plans and settled in with hot coffee and a book.
The next morning I drove into Denver. I met up with my friend Nathan for lunch. He and his wife Lorna used to live in Fort Wayne, but have lived in Denver for years. It was fun to learn about all the things there are to do and see in and around Denver- it makes me want to go back!
After lunch, I met up with a high school friend, Karin. We literally had not seen each other since graduation. It was so fun to catch up on all those years! We got Starbucks and went on a long walk with her 2 little girls to a beautiful park and huge playground. The rain had finally stopped and we had a great time visiting while the girls played.
For dinner I went to see my friend Sarah. We were really close friends when she lived in Fort Wayne, and we have so many memories together. She has since married and moved and had two adorable kids. It was so fun to finally meet her husband and family!
After all of my visits I set my sights on home. I drove 11 hours the next day and made it to Des Moines, and then arrived in Fort Wayne late last Friday.
This week has been full of unpacking, cleaning, visiting and working!
Yes….working :o) While I am raising support to go full time with Josiah Venture, God has opened an opportunity to help with a huge project at Parkview. Its a temporary return to my old stomping grounds, but I can stay and work (if needed) until the end of December. I’m SO thankful for this provision by God. I was trying to decide what I would do for income until I’m full-time with JV, and God made it very simple for me. Plus I get to work with some of my very best friends for awhile again.
This weekend I’m in Battle Creek visiting my family. It’s been a good time of rest. Both Casper and I were excited to see my parents, and I’m leaving in about 20 minutes to have coffee with my sister-in-law and best friend Steph :o) It’s so nice to be able to catch up with everyone here and in Indiana. I’m excited to visit Battle Creek Friends Church tomorrow morning and see my friends there too.
How are the people in Rough Rock? So many of you have asked me this. They are doing well. I’ve been emailing, texting and talking with all of them since I left. Church is going well, Bible study is going well, and they haven’t gotten all the crazy rain that the rest of the state has been flooded with. The Navajo Nation Fair was really fun (the kids said the parade had WAY more candy than any other parade they had been to!) and the rain held off for most of the big events. Please continue to pray for these dear friends! Pray for unity and growth. Ask God to make them strong and confident in sharing the story of God’s love with others in their community.
Thank you so much for joining me on this crazy journey of following after God. I think I will keep writing here, even though I am home. I’m really excited about what comes next on this new path with JV, and who knows what fun adventures we might have together still? I love that the address of this blog is “the Navajo journey”, and I’m not going to change it, because this journey to the Navajo Nation is the beginning of a new path for me and I want to always remember these months of learning and growing.
Please continue to pray that God will provide the monthly support that I need to begin working with JV. We are officially at 5% of monthly support raised. I think we might be higher than that, but it takes JV a couple of weeks to process things. If you haven’t had a chance to join up with us for this next adventure, you can easily do so online here.
I really appreciate your prayers and encouragement!!!!