It’s just before 11:00 pm Monday night and I have half an ounce of energy left so I’ve decided to write about the last few days. It’s 75 degrees tonight and the air is still. Tonight is the warmest night yet. The pastor’s sister Joyce and her husband Harley live about 100 yards from where we are camped and we can hear their sheep dogs barking every once in a while. Cindy, Jessi, Grace, Rebekah and I sleep in the trailer; Steve, Brien, Luke and Ben sleep in tents outside and Tom sleeps in the church. We’ve been sleeping with all of the windows and doors open with the screens keeping the bugs out. Sometime last night we woke up to high winds shaking the trailer and it sounded like the tents were going to be blown away. It was pretty exciting to wake up to such extreme weather and we were thankful that everything was fine after the storm passed. It’s great to be somewhere new and experience another lifestyle if only for a week.
Our road trip here was lots of fun. We left Friday afternoon and drove about four hours to Lee Vining. We rented a place with three bedrooms Friday night and we were able to prepare and eat dinner together. We went for a walk in town after dinner, stopped at the local grocery store and got some ice cream. We made plans for the week, spent some quality time together and prayed together. It was great.
We left Lee Vining early Saturday morning and drove through Nevada. It was a long day, but it was uneventful and we all had a good time. The truck is only getting 7-8 mpg towing the trailer and the towns are really far apart. I almost ran out of gas between Tonopah and Caliente, NV and it was a matter of prayer to get over the last pass and coast into town. Thank you Lord. We made it into Page, AZ about 6:00 for dinner and met up with Cindy’s sister Cathy with her daughters, Elizabeth and Jennifer who had flown in from Atlanta. We all drove to the church where Billy and Rose were waiting for us. They had purchased a new refrigerator earlier in the day and had it set up for our food. I was amazed. They helped us set up camp and were so very hospitable. It was REALLY nice and they were so welcoming. Billy and Rose went home while we finished setting up camp and we prayed together and were in bed by 11:00 pm.
Sunday we ate breakfast together and then walked about 40 feet to church. Again, everyone was welcoming and it was a nice service. It was different than at home and we didn’t understand a lot of it since the Pastor speaks Navajo. I was so thrilled to see people from home meet people from Arizona. Cindy put the quilts and blankets that were made by the ladies at our church on a table in the back. They were well received and went to good homes.
We were all thankful for this great experience. We made lunch after church and several of the locals stayed around and ate with us. At about 5:00 we met up with some people from church and they took us on two hikes; one where there were historic petroglyphs on the rocks and another hike on top of a mesa where a meteor had made a small crater. The weather and driving conditions were extreme and it was really fun. We made it back to church in time for dinner and to make some final plans for VBS.
It’s really nice to be a like minded group. We have been praying that God would allow us to make the trip to Arizona and bring just the right people. It’s so great to see God answer prayer. We pray as a group that we won’t act like we are here to ‘fix’ or ‘help’. We are here because God asked us to be here – both the locals and we see it that way. We are so blessed by the people here and strive to be a blessing to those around us. We are here to advance God’s kingdom and we pray that we will see that happen.
Today we woke up early and ate breakfast together. Cindy and I left around 8:00 am to start picking up kids. The pastor’s sister, Joyce, rode with Cindy, and they went door to door in Gap picking up kids. I met Cindy’s sister Cathy in Cameron and we picked up five kids there. We all made it back near enough to 10:00 when VBS started. There were over 30 kids in attendance today and they were pretty evenly split in age between preschool and 8th grade. We have been praying for God to bring us children who will be blessed. I kept telling myself that throughout the day. I like to paint rosy pictures whenever possible, but I also need to confess that I had some real struggles today. Around the middle of the day I wanted to pack up and leave. I was really frustrated. ‘Why are we here?’ The kids aren’t paying attention; they’re running around and not getting anything out of this. We were all working so hard and it seemed like nothing was being accomplished except chaos. It’s hard to understand what’s going on at home when one wonderful little girl mentally shut down and gazed into the distance when barely reprimanded. Lord, show me how to love.
It was over at 2:00 and many parents who had stayed all day were packing up their kids to go home. Cindy and I looked for the kids that we were to take home and they were already in our cars waiting for us, which was a surprise and made us laugh. I love the kids in my car. They are so precious. They also had a lot of sugar and I had to pull over twice to get them to re-buckle their seatbelts and stop fighting. My truck was packed with seven people and it was a 45 minute drive to their home. I kept praying for patience. I envisioned them later in life having a testimony of hearing about Jesus one time by a creepy guy who yelled at them all day. I really don’t want that to happen. We met in Tuba City tonight and took showers at Cathy’s hotel room. We discussed the day and how we can make tomorrow better. We ate dinner in town and had fry bread with ice cream at a local gas station / café for dessert. Then we drove back to camp listening to a CD of piano hymns while observing the Painted Desert in the evening twilight. I was so encouraged. PRAISE YOU MY LORD.
“Thank you Lord for bringing just the right servants. Thank you for Tom who is so upbeat and gives me a new perspective. Thank you for Steve who is so patient and loving with the kids. Thank you for Brien who is incredibly reliable and organized and generous to the children. Thank you for Cathy and her wisdom as a teacher and encouragement. Thank you for Jessi, Elizabeth, Jennifer and Grace who love the kids and are so very helpful. Thank you for Ben and Luke and letting them have patience and a guiding hand with the younger boys. Thank you Lord for Cindy and her genuine desire and ability to serve You. Thank you for all of the kids to pick up and for working out the logistics tomorrow – I can’t wait to see how you’re going to do that. You are great and greatly to be praised.” We have sharing and prayer time together every night. I cherish it. It’s after these times of prayer that I realize that children are precious and I love them.
I can’t wait to see them tomorrow. I really want to build relationships with them and for our lives to be changed by a perfect and generous God. Now it’s after midnight. It’s starting to cool off and I’m getting tired.