Our last day at the school was Friday, July 11. One small project we had to complete was assembling a couple bookcases which were donated to the Nageezi chapter house. We assembled those in a quick evening and morning, and I helped drop them off. I had planned to help complete the assembly, put them in place, check out the community center, and catch a ride back to the school. Our ride left early, and I ended up sticking around to help out with the children’s activities. I didn’t mind, though it is not one of my strong skills. I am an only child with a small extended family, so I didn’t have siblings or cousins to care for, and I have not logged many hours interacting with children.

Laura, our senior pastor, group leader, ex-teacher, and leader of the childrens activities asked one of the young women in our group, “So, do you by chance know origami?” The woman laughed and said no. I smiled, and slowly raised my hand. Laura gasped, “Brian!? You know origami!? Well we’re learning a lot about you this trip.” Until she mentioned it, I had totally forgotten that I even knew it. As a kid, I’d spent hours with numerous origami books folding all sorts of stuff. I never thought of it as a unique skill, but people seem impressed when I mention it. Weird. 🙂 So I sat down with a book, went back about 20 years into my memory banks, and started folding away. Eventually some kids visited and we sat down and folded different simple shapes. It was a lot more fun than I’d expected to have. By request, since my secret was out, I ended up leading origami lessons through the entire two flights home. Our row of people all had square colored paper, making books, goldfish, hats, boxes, and cranes. It was quite funny, but it made the time fly by and kept us busy.

That evening, we were hosting the community dinner. Early in the week I posted about handing out fliers advertising the dinner of mutton stew, Indian fry bread and other sides, and dessert. This was an outreach to the community that provided them a free dinner served by Jesus-loving people who wanted to show there were some good people, and good Christians, left in the world. We didn’t do the cooking, other than frying, but we did all the set up, serving, tear down, and caring. It happened to pour down rain before and during the meal, which probably hindered the turn out, but we still had about 40 people come by. I have to say that it was really heart warming watching our group work together so naturally, care for the community, and care for each other. Even after a hard week of being in a strange place, stressful situations, and close proximity, we all got along like close friends. Recalling this now, that is very unique. Most families can’t do that. 😮

It seemed those that attended the dinner genuinely appreciated us, regardless of how shy they were. (Image to right) 😉 I was able to sit down with an older gentleman who was likely in his 70s, and listened as he told his story of working here at the school, in this cafeteria, more than 20 years prior. This was the first night he had visited again since that time. He spoke about his vocation as a bus driver over the recent years, moving people in and out of the local area. It didn’t pay very well and was tiring work with long hours. His son, who I was sitting next to, now does that work. This was the sort of work many people on the reservation did in the surrounding area, aside from beading and silver work.

Although we’d planned for many more people, the evening was a success. Our host, John, seemed happy with the event, and that was important. John is respectfully critical, and not overly so, with the Navajo / Non-Navajo interactions because he greatly desires that every event be positive and reinforcing. Every success was a victory, and if it fell short he would make a note to adjust it for next time. John reminds me of the scripture quote I have on this site: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

Our time had come to an end. It was a great experience, and one I was happy to have been a part of.

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