I’ve been thinking long and hard about how to best share this. Because there was a lot to process and a lot happened in a week. And some of the things would probably sound horrible if you weren’t there. But it was an amazing week. One of the highlights for me was having so many from my Sunday School class there (5 or so as I remember) and the family discipleship I got to see go on in both my family and in others.
First we practiced and trained for our trip. All told it was probably about 6-8 hours of training and practice, 4 hours was the kids practicing their skits for the VBS. It was quite impressive.
Then we traveled for what is supposed to be 14 hours to get to the reservation. But 46 people traveling in 15 passenger vans adds a lot of extra time, especially when 26 of them are kids 10 and under. Just to make that clear, let me repeat it: Over half of our group was under 10, and most of those were in the 5-7 range. My boys were among the older kids.
That meant a lot of unscheduled bathroom breaks.
What did we do on our family mission trip?
Construction work. The men put siding up on the missionary’s house, and rebuilt parts of several other homes. I think all told they: put up siding, rebuilt a door, put up more siding, and carried a lot of heavy equipment.
There was also a team of kid construction workers. The first day they built a giant hill of dirt so the men could put siding up. They painted houses because the houses always need repainting because of the climate and how they heat their homes. They cleaned, it’s a land of dirt, so it always needs cleaning.
One thing when you have kids doing the work, there’s only so much they can do. So the house is only painted to about 6 feet high, because that’s as tall as we could reach without a ladder.
We made blankets for the kids. The Navajo kids go to a dormitory for school. Many arrive there with no blankets and very few clothes, so they rely on donations for the kids to have blankets. We made 26 blankets over 3 days. It’s just the simple fleece knotted blankets, but when you have 5-7 year olds making the blankets, that’s a pretty impressive amount of work.
After working on those blankets for a few hours your fingers feel old and gnarled, and you don’t think you can straighten them out.
We loaded and unloaded massive amounts of food. The church receives donations from various different stores, at least part of it is food the stores couldn’t sell. The week we were there we saw over 20,000 pounds of food come in. 20,000 pounds of food was then given away to whoever needed it.
We hosted a VBS, about 20 or so kids came and had a meal, made crafts, played games, and heard the gospel.
The kids did all of the skits, it was quite fun to see these young kids memorize a lot of lines, and act it out. We had quite a few hams in that group.
Three days of skits, sadly I only have a good video of day 1. Day 2 one of the kids had stage fright and ran off the stage, so I had to take her part. Day 3, I was holding the mike for kids, and so I couldn’t record it. Instead one of the kids tried to record it, which was…… interesting.
On Tuesday night our ladies treated their ladies to a manicure and pedicure. Actually I hid in the back and helped boil water for cleaning their feet and hands, because I can’t paint nails for anything. It was amazing to see the happiness this simple act gave them. It also brought home for the kids the part of the Last Supper where Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. Their feet looked a little like the disciples might have looked because it’s so dusty.
It just tickled the missionaries so much to see all these older woman who hadn’t had this very often get manicures and pedicures. The older men even got in on the deal with some foot soaks in hot water.
What we learned from our family mission trip
We learned not everyone in the United States has it easy like we do. We have a nice air conditioned house. We have hot and cold running water. We have indoor plumbing. We have electricty.
Many in the reservation do not have electricity yet.
They go to the pump for water, and it’s not even potable. They use it for bathing. That means, they don’t have control of the temperature.
Many use generators to get electricity. That means constant runs to the city to get the gas needed.
Most do not have heating. They come to the coal seam and dig out coal. By the end of winter their walls are covered in soot and need to be painted again. A few years ago the church had several hundred Franklin Stoves donated to them, they were able to distribute them to families who needed them.
Many of them struggle to read and do basic math, despite going to school for years. But they know how to operate most new electronic devices.
Many of the men there suffer from alcoholism. We could not leave hand sanitizer out because the men might steal it and drink it.
It’s a sad thing to see.
But, it’s also a land of great beauty.
You see the rock formations and the storm over the desert and you can’t help but think of how amazing God is.
You see your daughter making friends with two Navajo girls as if they’ve known each other all their life.
You make memories as you do silly things with new found friends.
And you see how God can change you in just 1 week.
That is why you go on a family mission trip.