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Stories from my life: Missions in New Mexico

August 11, 2009|By DEVON JACOBS / Pulse correspondent

TSE BONITO, N.M. -- When Hilltop Christian Fellowship and Churches in Missions (CIM) arrived in July in Tse Bonito, N.M., we instantly connected with the Navajo people of the reservation.

CIM helps youth groups set up their mission trips. The focus of our trip, which was from July 10 to 17, was to help the Navajo people repaint their homes and to help anyone understand the Christian faith.

Looking around the town, you could see peeling paint on houses, dirt paths -- and poverty. The children especially seemed to have a strong love for people.

During my travels with my youth group, I had no idea what to expect. But after arriving, I knew our group was ready to get right to work to help the Navajo people

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I met many people who I'll always remember. During vacation Bible school, two Navajo sisters stood out from all the others. Their names were Israel and Cyrah.

The love the sisters had for God was incredible. During snack time, Israel started praying for her snack when all the other kids did not. All the kids took an automatic liking to us, too. They hung on to our legs and played with us. They made us want to stay and never leave.

When our work was done for the day, we played kickball with the neighbors and local teens. Several times we accidentally kicked the ball over a cliff, but that did not stop us. We brought extra balls and resumed our games, even when dark fell. We had so much fun that we never really even counted the scores.

Pastor Nelson of the Hilltop Church, a Navajo church, and one of the church elders taught us about some of the Navajo culture. They taught us that the four mountains on the Navajo flag stood for the boundaries of the reservation. They taught us that hundreds of thousands of Navajo people are not Christians. And many of the people were moving off the reservation. They want new opportunities that the reservation cannot provide such as work or a new place to live.

It was heart-breaking. We felt that we needed to try and come as often as we could because if we did not, we might not be able to help the souls who were lost.

When we went to the houses we were to paint, we befriended the people who lived there. Sometimes teens lived in the houses and we could easily talk to them.

While we were painting, a Navajo woman provided us fried bread (fried bread is a Navajo meal) when we were painting. She let us enter her home to use her bathrooms to wash up for lunch. Even though some of the Navajo people did not have much to call their own, they still gave when we needed.

When we were painting one house, a domestic violence situation broke out at a neighboring home. A wife was threatened by her husband and the children were frightened.

Sirens were pretty common in the area. Every time we heard a siren, we felt the urge to pray for the safety of the family or person in need. Pastor Nelson's son and nephew told us that this was pretty common. It was actually uncommon to have an undisturbed day.

The Navajo people must make things to sell to help earn an income even when they have full-time jobs already. There are many single mothers who must work in order to provide food, a place to live and clothing for their kids, but they still require help.

We brought with us many boxes of clothes for teens and adults. We put them in Hilltop Church. After a day and a half, all the teen clothes were gone and many of the adult clothes were taken.

It made us feel good that we could help provide for these families in need.

Even though we had to leave, the friendships still remain strong. Some of the Washington County teens are still in contact with Navajo friends on the reservation. We want to go back as soon as possible to strengthen what we have there and to help families in need.

There is so much more work to be done there and more friendships we can still make. The Navajo people touched our hearts with everything they said and did.

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