Never Alone

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Never Alone

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

I’ve had a change of scenery!  Gone for a time are the sandy, hot winds of Rough Rock, and instead I’m enjoying the steamy humidity of Michigan, Indiana and (for a short time) Atlanta.

As many of you know, I have a baking blog at easybaked.net, and last year I was contacted by Warner Press because they were interested in purchasing some photography to use on greeting cards.  As we worked together on that project, two of the women at the publisher came to me with another idea: could I write a children’s cookbook with a devotion tied to each recipe?  I was THRILLED to be asked.  I love writing curriculum that helps others grow in their walk with God.  I had just finished a “Boot Camp” curriculum for our college-age group, Collision, and I was really excited to tie my love of writing with my love of baking.  Isn’t following God such an adventure?  He gives us things we love and then allows us to use those things to glorify Him!

I spent most of last fall writing, baking and photographing.  It was a lot of work, but SO much fun!

One of the requests that Warner Press made was that I attend ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) this July. They graciously paid for me to travel and attend the show this week, and made it possible for me to be in the midwest for my cousin’s wedding and for some time to catch up with family and friends.  The conference was SO much fun.  I feel so blessed to be working with such a well- respected publisher.  They have done so much to help me learn the ropes of publishing (like, what exactly are you supposed to write when you sign someone’s book?!?).

Life is Sweet, Baking Devotions

As I traveled MANY miles over this past week, I recognized one of the ways in which I’m being changed during this time with the Navajo.

I enjoy doing things without other people.

I still LOVE having people along to enjoy the journey with, but there is something incredibly fun about having just “me-and-God” moments.

I’m learning to really live in the moment with Him.  We talk a lot while we drive long miles, I tell him how much I love the incredible scenery and sunsets, I ask him to show me how to interact with the dog groomer, the waiter at PF Changs, the girl doing my nails with a little Buddha necklace on.

You know how it is when you sit down with friends and you reminisce about adventures you’ve had together?  I’ve been making memories with God this week, and it’s been SO much fun.

There’s also something incredibly reassuring to know that the creator of the universe is riding shotgun in a huge windstorm, sitting next to you during a turbulent flight and up on stage with you during scary convention interviews. There is a fullness to living each moment with an awareness of God’s presence.

We are never alone!

I’ve really enjoyed this busy week- the humidity, rain, and green grass are wonderful, and having time with family and friends has been so refreshing.

I return to Rough Rock in less than a week, and when I return we will have a whirlwind of activity.  The day I get back, a team from Ohio arrives to do some work on the water lines at the church.  I think we will all be doing a lot of digging!  One day after they leave, a team from Indiana arrives to work alongside the church in hosting a big camp meeting.  This was the church’s idea, and I’m excited to see how God uses it to reach the community! They have borrowed a big tent and invited speakers to come and share… so fun! The day that the Indiana team leaves, the church is doing a Vacation Bible School!  One of the ladies at the church ordered some free VBS material from an organization that distributes it free to poor communities.  She also took charge of planning and leading it (!!!!)

I can’t even express how excited I am to see people in the church get ideas and move forward in leadership to plan them and make them happen.  Please be praying for them as they jump in to all of these new adventures!

One of my prayers was that Bible study would continue while I was gone these two Wednesdays, and it did!  They even had some new people visit. Praising God for this!!!!

Before I left, we finished the Old Testament in Story Night.  The kids wanted to make a video of all the stories, and I loved that idea.  One more activity to remind them of the stories and also the timeline of the Old Testament.  It could have been 2 hours long….they each took a couple of stories and they told every detail of the story…I edited it down to a 30 minute recap that you can watch on youtube if you’d like.  Just click here to find it.  The hope is to share this with the Rough Rock church so that we get more people involved with Story Night: New Testament in July.

Story Night!

Thank you so much for making all of these exciting things possible with your prayers and support of this little church.  I’m so excited to see the ways in which God will continue to move this summer!

Please pray specifically for a few things:

  • For the 2 mission teams visiting in the next couple of weeks.  For them to be an encouragement to the church here and to experience the rich culture of the Navajo and build relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • For the Navajo leaders of the camp meeting (Sonny and Tyrone), and the VBS (Delyssa). Pray for them to plan and lead these events in a way that brings honor to God and really reaches the hearts of people in this community.
  • For pastor Amos (from up on Black Mesa) who lost his son last week to a brain aneurism.  I didn’t hear about this tragedy until I had left Rough Rock for my trip, but I’m so sad for Amos.  Please ask God to comfort his heart.
  • For direction this fall.  I’ve heard back from TEAM and they are looking for people who are already well-connected with the community they would be working with, so that is a seemingly closed door.  I have other applications out, and beginning in July I will start looking at jobs in Fort Wayne at Parkview again.  I’m confident that God will open up a path (maybe one I’ve never even considered!), but I appreciate your prayers in this.

Thanks again for all you are doing behind the scenes!  Many blessings over your week!

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The Difficult Parts

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Walking with the kids!crop

“My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon.” Japanese poet

There is so much beauty here, in the incredible scenery, in the cultures and traditions, and in the people.  There are so many moments when I think to myself, “I wish I could capture this moment, in all of it’s beauty!”  The sun is shining, the kids are laughing, the adults are chattering away in Navajo, the fry bread is sizzling, the mesa is green from the rain last weekend… There’s no way to capture all the sounds and smells and feels of this place, and I’m positive I will miss this terribly when I’m gone.

For all of the beauty here, there is great tragedy.  More tragedy than I even realized when I first came here.  I think that most of the world outside of the reservation is unaware of all that happens on the reservation, so I thought I would share a little bit here.

Suicide rates are between 25-35% higher on the reservation than off.  Many Navajo consider it a bad thing to talk about it. In fact, there isn’t a word in Navajo that means “suicide”.  The statistics might be even higher than this because death by suicide often goes unreported and the Navajo police will just attribute the death to “accidental causes”.

It happens here all of the time.  Previous missionaries all told me about people they knew here who killed themselves. Just last week one of my friend’s brothers-in-law killed himself.

There is much speculation about why the rates are so high.  There is 50% unemployment here (and literally everyone I know really wants to work…they are applying for jobs all the time).  There is also tremendous alcoholism and following a drinking binge there is SO much regret and self-loathing.  I have seen men cry over the fact that they cannot control the urge to drink.  They promise themselves (and their wives, kids and God) that they will stop, but then they get drunk again and the next day they hate themselves for it.  This was the case with my friend’s relative.

Another terrible tragedy here are the traffic accidents.  I try very hard to not drive at night for many reasons.  There are cows, horses and sheep that stand in the road and at night you can’t see them.  A few weeks ago, someone from church hit a cow and destroyed their van.  Fortunately, the injuries were minimal.  There are also SO many drunk drivers at night. I cannot think of ANYONE that I have met here that has not lost someone in a car accident.  Most of the time they were either driving drunk or riding with someone who was driving drunk and they went off the road and rolled the vehicle.

I know that these things happen in the Anglo world as well, but EVERY person here has lost someone.  My good friend Lavina lost two brothers, my friend Rod lost his brother…every time I sit down with someone they tell me of the people they have lost in their family.

photo (14)The strange thing?  They have no news here, so these terrible tragedies happen and nobody knows.  Occasionally things filter down by word of mouth, but mostly it is just the family that knows about it.  My friend Delbert has a police scanner and he says there are SO many tragedies that nobody knows about.  It’s like we are living in a land that everyone in America has forgotten.

But God has not forgotten the Navajo.  In the midst of this tragedy I have seen the strongest faith in God.  I come from a world where if everything doesn’t go exactly as we want, we point blaming fingers at God.  We complain to Him that life is hard and unfair and wonder why he doesn’t fix things for us quickly.

I’ve never heard a Navajo blame God for tragedy.  I asked one of the men at the church if he was ever angry with God for how hard life is.  He looked at me like I’d lost my mind.  He said, “Why would I be mad at God?  The sin that caused this isn’t His fault.”  Then he said the most incredible thing.  He said, “Jesus suffered when he lived here.  Why would I ask God to make things easier for me than it was for Jesus?  Do I want to live better than God did when he was here?”

Reminds me of Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

Do we want to live better than God did when he was here?

Or are we willing to share in his sufferings, take up our cross and follow him?

I love the perspective this place and these people are giving me.  I am rich in so many things and I take so many of those things for granted.

I hope this gave you a little more perspective on some of the harder sides of life here, but that you are encouraged by the faith of the Christians in spite of circumstances.

This week was SO full.  Oh my goodness- the longer I am here, the more things fill my days!  Thank you for praying for our little Wednesday night Bible study!  It has moved to Delbert and Lula’s home and that has been a huge blessing.  Lula loves to host, and she makes stew and tortillas for us each week and loves it.  It has also opened doors in reaching out to Lula’s family since they live all around her house.  Remember the 2 ladies from the trading post that I met the 1st week I was here?  Sarah and Candice are both sisters of Lula and last week Sarah came to her 1st Bible study!  The way God works things out just makes me smile… thank you for your prayers.  God is answering them and doing some incredible things here.  Keep praying!  Who knows what will happen!!

Have a great week!!

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Living water

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Desert “Behold, I am doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

I’ve been thinking about deserts a lot.  For those of you who are fans of easybaked.net, you know I also have been thinking about desserts a lot too… lol!

I had an opportunity to visit dear friends in San Diego over a long weekend~ and it was a wonderful, encouraging, fun time.  On the way, I stopped in Death Valley and drove through literally HOURS of endless hills of sand and scrub.  I remember in school, learning about how the mountains stop the rain from reaching the desert, but as I drove over the peaks and looked out over the vast green hills of coastal California, I was amazed at the difference.

Some things I noticed about deserts:

  • They are VAST.  There really seems to be no end to the hot sand and scrub brush.
  • They are beautiful- in a deadly sort of way.
  • NOBODY lives there.

As I drove for hours (praying I wouldn’t run out of gas), I thought about the importance of water.  I didn’t see any rivers, lakes or streams for hundreds of miles, and yet God says that HE can make streams in the desert.

Jesus tells the woman at the well that he is LIVING WATER.  He tells her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

Later in John, Jesus announces to a crowd, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37-38)

Living water, welling up, flowing out of believers and followers of Christ.  No wonder He sends us to desert lands…he needs us to spill his living water out in the desert- to refresh the weary and bring life and growth.  I can’t help but think that if we allow him to pour living water out of us and all over the people around us that eventually there might be a river in that desert- a permanent source of life and hope.

Maybe I’m stretching the theology of these verses, but those are the thoughts I had driving for hours through the desert.

Rough Rock?  It’s a desert (literally and spiritually).  There are believers here, but they aren’t yet splashing around in fountains of living water- they are keeping it inside, afraid of what others will think and say, forgetting that they can offer life and hope and refreshing joy to the people around them.  Since my journey west to California, I have been keeping that picture of living water in my mind as I interact with the people here.  I’ve been praying that God will show me how to let His springs of living water well up and spill out into this community.  I’ve been asking Him to show me how to help other believers do the same.

Offering the grace of God to people is SO much like offering a cup of cold water to a traveller in a desert.  Some might knock the cup away, but will that stop us from offering it to every other weary traveller we meet?


These past few weeks have been busy ones- it’s graduation time in Rough Rock, and there are parties and open houses all over!  I’ve been able to meet a lot of my friend’s extended families at these events- which has been so nice!  I am really starting to feel like an accepted part of this community.  The church is making small steps in being more unified and working together as a team (rivers in deserts!!).  Hurt feelings are mending and some forgiveness has taken place.

I’m learning some Navajo- it’s taken me this long to learn some of the sounds that I thought my mouth could never make! It seems to be getting easier though, and the Navajo LOVE that I am trying.  My favorite phrase is Ayo shekis, which means: you are a dear friend.  I love to be able to tell people how much they mean to me in their native language.  I also learned how to say Nesh Ka’, which means: this is making me fat, so they will stop piling fry bread on my plate!!!

We have three teams lined up to visit this summer, so please be praying for those teams as they prepare to come.  The 1st team is coming from Ohio in early July with Quint, the second team is from Indiana, and led by a dear friend of mine, Gabe Schneider, and the third team will be here in late August from Battle Creek Friends, in Michigan.

I am also looking at September racing toward us and praying fervently that God will show me what comes next.  When I think about leaving here, it makes me SO sad.  I really feel at home.  For the 1st time in my life I am open to doing literally anything God wants- I’m totally open to even relocating.  I am interested in a position with TEAM ministries called a Mission Coach.  The job description is like a description of me, so I am sending an application/resume’ this week and praying.  Right now, they don’t have a position in a city I could relocate to, but who knows what might happen by September?  So, please pray for direction in that area.

Your prayers for this church are moving mountains.  I am seeing changes in big things.  One lady that I meet with for discipleship even said she was thinking about starting the children’s ministry back up…!!!  So keep praying friends- God is moving!!!

Thank you so much for all you are doing “behind the scenes” for the ministry here– I am so, SO thankful for you!

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“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

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School days….

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Taking a walk...This week was full of school activities for me.  I thought I would go all-information on you this week- I hope you don’t mind just learning a little about the structure of things here!

I was invited to spend a day at preschool with my friend Lavina.  They were having a traditional day- dressing in traditional outfits- and a powwow.

Traditional dayTraditional day

Aren’t they adorable?!?

The school system here is a collection of systems run by different entities, and parents can choose whatever system they want (as long as they are willing to provide the transportation if it is out of town!)

Here’s my understanding of the schools (as best as I can tell!)

There are charter schools that are owned by groups of people in a town or village.  These schools are funded by grants that those owners apply for each year.  The school system in Rough Rock is a charter system.  The buildings are really nice and well-kept up, and they offer some really unique programs that are funded by grants.  One of these programs is called the FACE (Family and Child Education) program.  This is such a cool program- it has home-based resources, such as sending teachers out to work with parents, helping them get their kids ready for starting school, or offering classes for parents and kids.  It also has school-based programs where the parents attend school with the kids to learn new skills that can help them in the job market (like computers) and the parents spend part of each day with the kids, learning along with them, so they are better equipped to help with homework.  They take field trips together and I’ve noticed that it has become like a club.  This group of parents goes on picnics together and hikes together.  Delbert and Lula are involved in this and I keep telling them that this group of people is a perfect place for them to start sharing about God’s love for the Navajo! I’ve been invited to a couple of activities, but they were cancelled because of weather- I’m really excited to meet this group!

There are also state-run schools.  These are under the state of Arizona and fall under all of the guidelines required by the state.

Finally, there are BIA schools that are nationally governed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. These are also funded by grants, but those grants are applied for by the Navajo Nation government in Window Rock.

Many parents feel very strongly about where they send their kids to school and often send them far away.  Because of this, most schools (even elementary!) offer boarding options during the week.  I met parents at the trading post a few weeks ago who live WAY up on the mesa- at least a 2 hour drive on treacherous roads.  They were eating lunch at the trading post and waiting for their kids to get out of school for the weekend so they could pick them up and take them home.

Something else I have noticed about schools here- they almost ALL have Indian-themed mascots.  The Warriors, the Chiefs, the Braves…. I was a little surprised at this because of all the controversy surrounding these names in the anglo world.  I asked if they are offended by this use of Indian names for our schools and they laughed and said that white people worry about funny things.

School starts with Preschool.  There are Head Starts run by the BIA, not in every town, but usually close enough to drive to.  I visited a Head Start where Lavina teaches.  They had maybe 40 kids in 2 classes.  They serve breakfast, have a health check to make sure the kids have not been abused and to remind them of things like washing and brushing.  The kids go through things like shapes and numbers and colors and weather in English and in Navajo!  They have lessons and games and crafts and PE.  Then they have lunch and go home.

Moccasins!Carfts!

 

Colors and shapes!Elementary and high schools fall into the above mentioned programs.  One exception is the Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington, NM.  This is a privately run school for top-of-the-class students to attend high school. The parents have to pay tuition and the students board there. Kids want to go here.  They work hard in school so that they will be accepted by this school.  It is the best step for going away to college.

College on the Navajo Nation is fairly limited, most students go off the reservation to get a degree.  The Nation does have a college called Dine’ University.  It is a two year university offering a variety of associates degrees and a certificate in Navajo studies.  The commute to this college is incredibly long for many students.  My friend Rod rides for 2 hours each way to get to class. There are dorms, but it is often less expensive to buy a bus ticket than to pay room and board.

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Here are some pictures inside one of the dorms.  The buildings are octagonal in shape and built like hogans, the traditional Navajo building.  I just LOVE the lounge area in the center with that big fireplace!!!

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I was invited to attend an awards banquet with my friend Rod this week and he received an award in Psychology, the degree he is pursuing.  It was an interesting day.  It was very similar to award banquets at other colleges, but there were last names like Smallmountain, Winterblossom and Blacksheep- and there were awards for best weaving and best moccasin making (and let me tell you- her moccasins were SUPER cute!).

RodAward

I asked Rod if there were any Christian organizations at Dine University and he just looked at me funny.  Like churches?  I tried to explain the idea of campus ministry and outreach.  It wasn’t anything he had ever heard of at Dine’ University.  I looked around the room and thought, if I ever were called to work with the Navajo longer than these few months, this is where I’d want to be. Making moccasins and teaching about Jesus- lol!

I am still praying about what this fall holds.  I’m open to whatever God directs me in- but so far I don’t have anything I feel He is really calling me specifically to.  So I will be obedient for today and enjoy this journey!

I have the blessing of being able to go and visit some of my favorite people in the world this weekend in San Diego.  Paul and Andreya Armstrong are one of the reasons I’m even here. They have done so much in discipleship and encouragement in my life- I’m so excited to see them and soak up some of their wisdom and insight!  So pray for Casper and I as we travel this weekend.  We are stopping off in Vegas (yikes!) and Death Valley (I hope to get a photo of Casper playing dead….) on the way there.  Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement!  I hope you enjoyed learning a little about the educational structure here.  I certainly enjoyed learning so many new things this week!

Blessings!!

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“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

Spring is Here!!!

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Canyon de ChellySpring has arrived in Rough Rock!  I know this for sure, because I googled the phrase “how to keep snakes out of your house” for the 1st time ever today.

I spent part of my afternoon on my computer working on Story Night (we are already in Judges!) and Casper, my dog, was going CRAZY watching all of the lizards outside.  That was when I started to wonder about snakes.  Tonight, Lavina confirmed my fears by informing me that rattlesnake season has begun!  She also told me that the little lizards will get in your house and they are harmless and will just live with you for the summer…

The good news?  There are pellets you can put around your house to deter snakes… (thanks google!)

I hope all of you had a good Easter!  This was a busy week here!  My week began with a surprise visit from my friend Sherry.  She is from Ft. Wayne, but lives in Phoenix.  She runs a ministry here to encourage people in ministry on the Navajo Nation.  She periodically travels hundreds of miles to visit people and just bring them encouragement from God’s word, resources for ministry and to just cheer them on.  We joked that I’m doing the same thing here with this church, but without the traveling!

Sherry was visiting churches in Farmington and Gallup, so she swung by here and spent the night on Monday.  We stayed up and watched the eclipse and talked for hours.  It was really so nice to just visit with someone else who has worked on the reservation for years.  She has so much insight into how God is moving here, and it was so fun to hear stories of all the lives that God is changing across this land!

Sherry’s treat to me was a horseback ride in Canyon de Chelly.  If you have never been to Canyon de Chelly, it is one of those “must see” stops in Arizona.  It is stunning.  Like a mini Grand Canyon.  I was a little apprehensive about riding a horse.  I think the last time I rode one was in high school.  They put me on a short lazy horse named Peaches.  Our guide referred to him as “pokey Peaches”.  Haha!  He was pokey!  It was a gorgeous day for a ride and I loved every minute of it!  Sherry treated me to lunch at a REAL restaurant (!!) and it was just so nice!!!

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Wednesday we had Bible study and I have to say- the Navajo are getting really good at leading it!  This week, we finished James and at the end, one of the men said that he decided that if you come to know Jesus and don’t read his book that you will never change.  Then he said that the Holy Spirit is like a perfect pastor inside your heart that teaches you what the Bible means.

***smile***

Thursday was the Easter Party at the Senior Center- it went all day and they had SO much fun! There was a huge meal, dancing, singing, games, prizes and a HUGE (I honestly think we hid several thousand eggs) Easter egg hunt.  I’ve never seen senior citizens move so fast!  Most of the eggs were tucked into cactus or prickly tumbleweed and they just went for it!  That night I had everyone from story night over to watch “Prince of Egypt” since we just finished lessons on Moses.

 

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Friday we had story night~ Joshua and the battle of Jericho (and the Veggie Tale remake, of course!  Gotta love those french peas!)

Saturday the ladies of the church made breakfast casseroles for Easter service and then we had a movie night at the church.  I am SO technologically challenged… trying to connect a projector, sound system and a borrowed DVD player… sigh.  Not my gifting.  We ended up taping a microphone to the top of the projector.  One of the families offered to bring “Jesus Son of God” to watch.  What they brought was a bootlegged copy of “The Bible”- the entire New Testament.  After 4 and 1/2 hours (well past Pentecost and into the life of Paul) I finally cut us off around midnight.  I think we should all watch the rest sometime- it was really well done and everyone was loving it!

Sunday, the church had decided on a Sunrise service at 6 am.  I got up early and made coffee and watched the sunrise alone- it was incredible!  Everyone came at about 7 and we had service and yummy breakfast casseroles together.  And then I took a HUGE nap! 🙂

One of my favorite parts of this adventure has been just having time to spend with people.  I was down to one free night a week in Indiana and there’s no way I would have been able to do the things I’m able to do here.  There’s so much time for conversation and relationships.  This week there have been so many interesting conversations with people.  While we hid Easter eggs, while we walked, while we made casseroles, while we tried to figure out a sound system.  Nothing is rushed.  There is time to talk and sit with people.  There is time to drink coffee and watch the sun come up with God.  I think this is how things are supposed to be all the time.

Anyway, just rambling about my week here.  Hope you don’t mind!  I wish you all could be here to experience it with me!

An answer to prayer: Delbert (the man who was going to Flagstaff about a possible cancer relapse) had his appointment on Friday and his oncologist reviewed his CAT scan and said he is still cancer free!  Praising God for that news!  Thank you for praying!

I hope each of you had a good Easter and had time to reflect on all that happened to secure our freedom in God.  I am continually thanking God for you all- I know that you are praying, because I can see God answering here!!!  Thank you!!!!!!

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Leading the Parade

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SedonaIf you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a “friend of the bridegroom”  Oswald Chambers

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29-30

I just returned from a whirlwind tour of the Southwest with my parents!  It was a perfect week and we had so much fun!  It was a really good time to step away from everything here and really think about what I’ve observed and learned since I’ve been here.  We spent literally hours driving through empty, wind-tossed land and as I watched the world go by, I processed.

Cactus along the roadSince I’ve arrived, I’ve spent a lot of time just watching.  The Navajo in the church, the Navajo in the community, the Navajo leaders, the Anglo leaders…there are so many complex interactions with so many cultural differences.

I’ve instinctually learned some things, and I believe that God has opened my eyes to learn some things, but until I stepped back and looked from a distance I had a hard time putting those things into words.

The Navajo live simply.  Most live for the moment and not the future.  They are very used to being told what to do by white people, but there is some resentment toward being bossed around.  They don’t argue though, they just do what white people tell them to do.  This breeds a sense that they can’t do things as well as anglos, and also a dependency on the anglos to just take over and run the show (which, as far as I can see, we happily do).

How does this play out in the church setting?  Here are a few examples:

When white people come, they are expected to teach.  I didn’t understand why until one night when I had convinced one of the Navajo men to lead Bible study.  He had a list of questions to ask us all and during one of the questions I saw an opportunity to share something at a fairly deep level- an answer that tied in some other parts of the Bible.  I shared and all conversation died.  Literally nobody answered another question.  At the end, the Navajo who had led told me that I was so much smarter than them that I should just lead.  Ouch.

This happened again when we had some missionary visitors to Bible study.  I had to convince this same man to lead because he was so afraid that these white people would blow him out of the water with Biblical knowledge. 


Navajo sometimes don’t attempt something on their own because white people have already done it for them and done it to such an extreme level that the Navajo feel like that is the standard and they can never meet it because of education, resources or budget.

We don’t have a children’s ministry here.  I have spoken with several women in the church who claim it is SO much work and time and money that they can’t possibly help with it.  At first I was just dumbfounded by these answers.  I’ve come to see that their views on things like Sunday School and VBS and even Easter Services have been shaped by the white people who have served here before me and also the white missionaries at surrounding churches.

We anglos do things big.  We can’t just teach a story about Jesus, we need to have crafts and snacks and songs and puppet shows that all tie into a theme.  I keep telling people here that it is enough to tell kids about Jesus and color and eat graham crackers with water…but they are convinced that is not good enough and to be good enough would take too much time and money that they don’t have.  So the kids play outside during church, and nobody teaches them. This same scenario played out this Sunday when the topic of Easter came up.  Apparently the missionaries that previously served here made Easter and Christmas a big event for the whole town.  They went all out with decorations and food to serve hundreds.  Presents at Christmas and an Easter egg hunt at Easter.  Everyone looked at me.  “What are we going to do this year?”  I smiled and said, “Whatever you want to do.  I can bring a breakfast casserole if you want.”  Much discussion was followed by a simplified plan for breakfast just for the church family and no egg hunt.  I sensed disappointment though, and it made me sad.  Breakfast should be more than enough.  I also overheard that “So-and-so’s church is having a big meal and an egg hunt.”  So-and-so is a white missionary couple….that will do things big.


A lot of white people want to be popular. We want to make a name for ourselves.  I have talked to several present and past missionaries in the areas surrounding Rough Rock and I hear a lot about “What WE are doing here” or “How WE have pulled this church together and gotten these people back in line.”  There’s a lot of name dropping.  “Oh, we are with this organization and we know this or that person.”  

They almost always ask me what our attendance is and talk about the people they have in their own congregation from Rough Rock.  I even had a pastor come to one of our church meals and start inviting people from our congregation to his church.

Since I’ve worked in medicine my entire life, I understand the whole ladder of success.  I had just never thought about how that played out in ministry jobs.  I’m POSITIVE it does not always play out this way, and I’ve met some wonderful people during these months here who are simply serving God and trusting Him to work in people’s lives, but the damage done by the people who want to be “successful” in the world’s eyes is tremendous.


 

What I have learned is this:

1. Don’t lead the parade.  Let God do that.  File in at the back and cheer people on as they follow Him.

2. Be forgettable.  Let God get the credit.  Instead of expecting people to remember for years to come what you accomplished and praise you for it, assume that your role in this will be forgotten and that people will credit their changed lives to God, not you.

3. Be sensitive.  Pay attention to where people are at with God before sharing everything you’ve ever learned about Him.  Realize that the Holy Spirit does a much better job of teaching truth than you do.

I’ve written these as directions to myself, not necessarily to you.  These are things God is pointing out to me, and I can tell you that I’ve failed miserably in all of these areas.  I’m so thankful He has pointed them out to me so I can grow!

I have had some frustrations with some of the anglos working here, but I can’t possibly judge what God has done and is doing through these people.  I only know that He turned those frustrations around to teach me some new things.  Please pray for me as God continues to change me in these months with the Navajo.

Also, please pray for one of the families here.  The Marianito family is my Navajo family- I just love each of them so much.  Delbert and Lula are mom and dad and they have two little boys, Owen and Odell.  Delbert had cancer last fall, he had to have a kidney removed.  This crisis was instrumental in bringing him to Christ.  Now, he has a “suspicious” shadow in his chest X-ray and he is going for a CT scan and a consultation with an oncologist this Friday in Flagstaff. Please pray that this isn’t cancer cropping up again.  I know the whole family is nervous.  Pray for peace.

Thank you SO much for making it possible for me to be here.  God is at work in the Navajo Nation and it is such a privilege to be here experiencing it.  Thank you for your prayers and for being such great cheerleaders.  I hope you have a wonderful week!!!

I will leave you with a few photos of my time with my family this week.

Grand Canyon at sunsetCarlsbad CavernsRough Rock!Aliens

Monument valley!

 

(Thanks for coming to visit me mom and dad!!!  It was so fun~ Love you!!)

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Breaking the silence!

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Canyon De Chelly
Hiking in Canyon de Chelly

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.

Amos' RoofAmos' Roof!Amos' Roof!

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.

Amos Redhair
Amos Redhair

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.”

CemeteryCemeteryCemetery

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.

Battle Creek Group

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

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The Beginning of the Story

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The Story

I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.  I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.


  I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat. What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story, for some have never heard the
message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.


I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story 
of Jesus and his love.

These days, we are telling the story here in Rough Rock, and it has been so much fun!  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that studying the Bible is so difficult here.  The reading levels and comprehension make it terribly difficult for people to read, understand and apply God’s word.  Added to that, there isn’t an understanding of the big picture. Sermons are pulled here and there out of scripture and most of the congregation isn’t even sure about what part of the Bible the lesson comes from, or even the difference between the Old and New Testaments.

My friend and mentor, Paul Armstrong made a wonderful suggestion- why not borrow from the Navajo tradition of story-telling to teach the whole Bible story?  Genesis to Revelation?  I asked the church if they would be interested and got a resounding YES!

So I started in Genesis and typed out a story and practiced telling it so that I wouldn’t be “teaching”, but rather “story-telling”.  I made up a fill-in-the-blank sheet to go through after the story (as a review) and I used a really neat re-telling of the creation story in Native American terms that was given to me by one of my pastors in Fort Wayne, Chris Starn.  The recording is done by RainSong.  Click here to visit their website.

The first story night came, and I had 4 adults and 12 kids.  We told the story of creation, the great flood and the tower of Babel.  It was so much fun!  The kids loved the fill-in-the-blank review, and everyone liked the RainSong retelling.  Afterward, I gave them a blank sheet of paper to use for drawing pictures to illustrate the story, or to re-write the story in their own words. (You can see an adorable drawing of the tower of Babel in my photo- I love the “displeased” God behind the cloud!)

It went great, but afterward I had a little chat with God about how many people needed to be there, had said they would be there, that weren’t.  I was disappointed.

Later that week I was walking with my friends Rod and Lavina, and Rod was talking about how he went to visit a church here on the reservation one Sunday and when he walked in there was nobody there, but there was a man in the middle of preaching a sermon.  Rod listened to the sermon and then afterward asked the pastor why he was preaching to an empty room.

The pastor replied, “I decided a long time ago that I prepare and teach a lesson for the glory of God, and out of obedience to Him.  It doesn’t matter who He brings to listen. It’s an act of worship for me.”

Oh, to have a heart like that pastor.  I apologized to God for criticizing His choice of listeners to the Story.  As I prepared for this week I prayed that just the right people would come.

Friday night, one family came.  Delbert, Lula and their 2 sons.  We continued the story. We reviewed the week before (and they remembered!), and then continued the story with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  I have the whole Old Testament in animated videos sent to me by a friend in Fort Wayne, Judy Schneider and they are really good for kids, so after the story and the worksheet, the 5 of us went back to my house to watch the video about Abraham and Isaac.  They really knew the story by the time we finished.  In fact, one of them connected the story of Isaac to a scripture we studied at Bible study earlier in the week.  We had read James 2, which talks about faith without works being dead.  It referenced Abraham and Isaac.  They said, “Wow, it makes a lot more sense when you know the whole story.”

Just as they were saying their goodbyes, another family showed up.  They had forgotten about story telling night and had just remembered.  One mom with 8 kids.  We told the story again.  One of the little girls showed me all of the pictures she had drawn from last week and how she had written the entire story out, so she wouldn’t forget it.

I got to the part of the story when Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac and two of the little girls started to cry.  I had to reassure them that the story had a happy ending!

After the video and review sheets and lots of questions, they were on the way out of the door when 2 more people from the church came.  “Is it too late to hear the story?” they asked.

I am not sure why God does the things He does, but sometimes I see a glimpse and it makes me smile.

The third time around, I told the story and we filled in the worksheets and watched the movie.  At the end of the movie (that I’d already watched 3 times), Abraham is so incredibly heartbroken to sacrifice his son and in the movie, Isaac is so accepting that he must be obedient.  I was struck by what a perfect picture that sacrifice was of the future perfect sacrifice, when God gave his own son in place of a lamb.  It was such a good reminder of the cost of salvation, and I’ve thought about it all weekend.

Maybe God needed me to hear and see the Story three times.

This approach to teaching seems to be a good one.  Everyone who is coming is really listening and remembering the story as we move along.  Please pray for us!  Pray that God continues to bring just the right people here to listen and learn.  Pray that I would tell the story correctly and in a way that is meaningful to them.

This week our first work team is coming!  Quint Bryan is a pastor from Ohio who has worked with the Navajo for years, and he will arrive on Tuesday.  I’m picking him up in Albuquerque (after I get a much-longed-for Starbucks coffee!).  The work team from Michigan arrives Thursday.  They will be roofing, fencing and cleaning up the cemetery here. Please pray for safe travels and a good time of learning, growing and serving for each of the people involved.  Very exciting!!

Thank you so much for doing such a great job of supporting me and this little community in prayer!  Have a wonderful week!

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A little note at the end:  I wrote this blog last night and this morning two little boys ran up to me at church, SO excited to show me the pictures they drew of Abraham’s sacrifice.  I snapped a picture of them with my cell phone and just had to share it with you guys– they are just adorable….Delbert and Lula's sons

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” Deuteronomy 11:18-21

The Good Shepherd

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Sheep!!“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4

I am writing this blog in church.  I think I’m the only person here who “sprung forward” for daylight savings time.  So I have an hour to write, in this empty, yet cheery, sun-filled sanctuary.

This has been a pretty good week.  I think that God has such a perfect way of balancing our views of things out. Last week I was struck by how little the people here know about God and the basics of scripture.  This week, God showed me places in His word that I cannot possibly understand as well as the Navajo.

The sermon and Sunday school lessons have been about sheep.

If you say the word “trinity”here, you’ll have some explaining to do.  But Jesus’ lessons about the good shepherd?  Everyone nods knowingly and tells tales of the shepherding they have done.

They all agree that you come to love your little flock.  You spend hours and hours- all day, every day- getting to know them.  You name them.  You know if one is sick.  They know your voice and follow you when you call.

John10:2-5 “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

I asked some questions this week about sheep, so I could better understand the process of herding them.

What happens when one of your sheep wanders off?

Well you settle the others in a safe place and you go to find it. “It’s really scary when you’ve lost one of your flock”, explained one woman to me.  “You really come to love them and you don’t want any harm to come to them.”

Matthew18:11-14 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

 Do sheep often wander off?

“Not too often.  But those goats!  Those goats are so bad. There are usually a few goats in a herd and they wander off and climb up cliffs all the time.  I’m always looking to make sure all the goats are still there.”

Matthew 25:31-33,41 “When the son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world….Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

What’s the hardest part of herding sheep?

“Lambing.  You have to make sure the mama sheep look after their young.  Sometimes you have to carry the little ones to make sure they aren’t lost or injured.  It’s a lot of extra work when you have lambs”

Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Baby Sheep! What do you do all day while you herd?

“I think and pray”

“I bring my Bible and read”

“I enjoy the nature around me.”

“I sing all of the hymns I can remember.  It makes me happy and I think the sheep like it too.”

Psalm 8:1, 3-5 (a psalm of David, the shepherd) “Oh Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”

It is so interesting to live among people who are probably a lot like the people Jesus actually taught.  They have lived off the land for generations and many are not highly educated.  It is helping me see the teachings of Jesus with new eyes. Deep spiritual truth taught using simple illustrations from everyday life.  Their everyday life…not necessarily mine.

This has been my most challenging week here.  I’ve been sick all week with a yucky cold, and a little discouraged about how badly this church is struggling with leadership and organization.  In Matthew 10, Jesus is out preaching and healing, and he is overwhelmed with compassion for the crowds and crowds of people because they were “like sheep without a shepherd”.  Then he turns to his disciples and says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

This little church is the only church in town.  It doesn’t have a pastor.  The people in leadership are afraid to lead.  In some regards, they are like sheep without a shepherd.  An earthly shepherd.  They are still shepherded by our heavenly Father.

There are ripe fields here.  There is a desperate need for freedom from the grip of sin and addiction.  They need to hear the good news from fellow Navajo believers.  So pray with me this week and ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest field.  Ask God to give the believers in this church the courage and confidence to lead and plan and become one in reaching this little town with the good news of God’s love.

Thank you SO much for your prayers and support~ I know I say that every time I post, but I genuinely mean it.  I am especially thankful for all of you when I get discouraged.  It is so nice to know that we are all in this together!  Blessings this week!!!!!

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Bigfoot and Bible Study

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Bible Study and Bigfoot

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.      Isaiah 55:10-11

Bible study is one of my favorite parts of my week here.  Maybe because so many unexpected things happen each week, but mostly because it is so refreshing to meet with people who are so excited to learn about God’s word.

Bible study was reinstated here during the week I arrived.  I think everyone was hoping I would lead it and they could just come.  The 1st week, we all sat and looked at each other. Me, expecting someone to get up and start a Bible study and them, expecting me to get up and lead the Bible study.  After I finally realized that all eyes were on me, waiting, I spoke up and asked who was in charge of leading the study and learned that they all expected me to lead.  So the 1st week, I led.  I used a set of 6 questions that can help any group study and discuss a passage of scripture.  I had used these questions with the college ministry I led in Indiana, to help them become comfortable in leading a group in discussing the Bible together.  I explained that I would lead the questions this week and that I’d like one of them to lead them next week.  A woman from the church volunteered, and I was excited to have things off to such a good start!

The second week, nobody from the 1st week came.  It was all new people.  They didn’t want to lead.  I used the same method with them and we had a great discussion about Jesus being the vine and us being the branches.  At the end, I asked if there were any questions about the scripture we just read.  One of the men said, “I have a question about another part of the Bible.  I’ve been reading in Genesis about Cain and Abel.  It says that after Cain killed Abel, he was cast away from God. So I’ve been wondering if he maybe became Bigfoot?”

Awkward pause, while I wondered what in the world to do with that.  I decided to let the group answer his question.  I asked the group, “Well, what do you think about so-and-so’s question?  Do any of you have ideas about how to answer it?”  A group discussion followed and the end conclusion was that he was a genius for putting two and two together and figuring out this age old question.  I had to intervene.  I suggested (as gently as I could) that the best way to answer questions about the bible is to pray, and then to try to answer the question with the Bible itself.  So we prayed, and then we read the rest of the story- about how Cain got a wife and had kids and built cities.  I think everyone was glad we finally knew the truth…but maybe a little disappointed that Bigfoot remains a mystery.

The third week only one couple showed up, and this was the 1st time I’d seen them.  Their  names are Delbert and Lula. I asked if one of them would like to lead, and Delbert just laughed.  He said, “There’s no way we could lead a Bible study, we are so confused by the Bible!”  So we prayed, and I told them we could spend the night just talking about their questions.  Lula explained that they are new Christians.  Delbert had serious health issues last fall and had surgery to remove cancer.  He decided to seek God about it, and accepted Christ.  Miraculously, his cancer is completely gone. Since then, they have been trying to read the Bible and they go to any church service they can, to learn more about God. Delbert explained that they were having a hard time figuring out the whole story of the Bible. “What is this Old Testament and New Testament stuff?” he asked.  “Can you tell us the whole story of the Bible, in the right order?”

Wow.  God (in His perfect plan) had just led me through this process with my college group last spring.  I had just taught them how important it is to be able to explain the whole big picture of the Bible.  I don’t think my memory is anything to brag about, and I had a moment of panic when Delbert asked this.  Once I got started….In the Beginning…it all flowed.  All the way to Christ’s return.  Afterwards, we talked about how the Old Testament is the story of God’s dealings with men before Christ and the New Testament is the story of God’s dealing with men after Christ.  I can’t even describe how excited they were.  It’s been so long since I’ve met anyone that excited about understanding something about God.  It’s been so long since I’ve been that excited.

Delbert and Lula
Delbert and Lula

The weeks that have followed have really spoken to my heart about simple faith.  We’ve had more people coming, and I’m slowly getting people to take on the role of “question-asker” during the study. Last week, someone asked “What’s the deal with this Holy Spirit guy?”  I responded by explaining that He is God.  “What?!?  So we have THREE Gods?”  Nobody in the room had heard of the concept of the trinity, so I wracked my brain trying to remember analogies to explain the trinity….eggs? water? wind?  

I’ve been involved with teaching and leading in ministry for 15-plus years now, and I’m very used to incredibly well- educated, intelligent people citing reasons for why God can’t possibly exist.  They use all kinds of logic and math and philosophy to try to convince me and others that God isn’t real.  I have good friends who claim to be “too intelligent” to believe in this “fairy-tale” God.

Last Wednesday, Delbert looked at me and said, “You know, I’m not a smart man.  I only finished high school.  I have a really hard time reading this Bible, and there’s a lot I don’t understand about God.  But He healed me and changed my whole life, so I trust Him and I will follow Him.”

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”  
1 Corinthians 1:18-31

I believe that God will honor the humble faith of these people.  I think they have the most incredible insights into who God is and how He works.  They have such a fresh and clear view of things. They are teaching me so much about having awe and wonder of God.

Sometimes I’m frustrated by seeing the struggle they have to read and understand the scripture.  They are really trying, but it is so hard. I googled “easy to read Bibles” and found nothing at an adult level.  I did find an interesting article about how the early church used stained glass windows to depict all the Bible stories in order, so that people who couldn’t read would understand what part of the big story the sermon was drawn from. I was thinking about what a great idea that is, when I was able to connect with my friend and mentor Paul. God uses Paul and his wife Andreya in my life all the time.  They inspire and encourage me in so many ways.  (Paul has an incredibly encouraging blog here)

Paul suggested we add a weekly activity of story telling.  The Navajo have a rich history of oral tradition. All of their history and stories have been passed from one generation to another by story-telling.  They are really good at it. And they love a good story. He suggested that one night a week we gather together, and tell the story of the Bible from beginning to end.  I asked the church what they thought of the idea and they are EXCITED! They wonder if we can use videos sometimes.  Maybe the kids can help act out the stories sometimes….?

We are starting this Friday in Genesis.  Please be praying that this will help them understand God’s word.  Please be praying that people who don’t know God will come and hear “The Story”.  My hope and prayer is that God would put it on people’s hearts to become “story-tellers” themselves.

The next few weeks are busy ones as we prepare for our first work team of the year to arrive.  Battle Creek Friends Church will be sending a team out on the 20th of this month. They will be repairing a roof and a cemetery fence, and meeting the people from this church and community.  It’s fun to hear the chatter here about “people from out east coming”.  The kids want to prepare songs for them, the women want to teach them how to make fry bread, there are rooms to be cleaned and groceries to be purchased.  It makes me smile to watch how the church is anticipating this visit.  Please begin to pray for the preparations here and in Michigan, and for safe travel.  Part of the team is driving, and I’m picking up some people who are flying into Albuquerque.

This was a long blog…and there are so many Bible study stories I didn’t tell you!  Like Cinnamon and Anna…

I’ll save them for another day.

Thank you so much for your incredible support of what God is doing here in Rough Rock.  I’m very thankful for each of you and your prayers.  I hope you have a wonderful week!

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