Published by Brian Slezak on 23 Jul 2008

DZ Mission Trip 6 of 6

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. Continue Reading »

Published by Brian Slezak on 22 Jul 2008

DZ Mission Trip 5 of 6

On Thursday, July 10, we went on a field trip. It is funny how many parallels there are between missions and grade school. 🙂 This was very special time though. John was taking us into the mountains to view Navajo petroglyphs created between the 16th and 18th centuries. It was fascinating to see this ancient cultures history carved in stone.

Some of the stories they told were pretty detailed, as John explained them. The image to the left tells of a time of plenty, followed by a time of scarcity. People arrived on horses, wielding weapons, and forced the people to travel. The travel was long and difficult, spanning at least five days or more. It was surreal listening to John interpret some of the symbols and bring to life the story they contained. Another story told of 5 people who tried to cross the great river, the Rio Grand, and none of them survived. Another told of a group of people, 7 women and 7 men, in which one of the women was lost after moving from one place to another. Not all of the petroglyphs in the valley are understood, and it is assumed there are many more than are yet to be found.

Continue Reading »

Published by Brian Slezak on 21 Jul 2008

DZ Mission Trip 2 of 6

July 6 we reached the school, ate dinner and settled in to relax for the evening. In the morning we ate a simple breakfast and hit the road. We visited the surrounding reservation communities and handed out fliers about the weeks activities. The neighborhoods were separated from each other by a good distance, so we had pockets of neighborhoods to visit and walk around handing out fliers and posting them on doors.

The reservation housing was very simple. Nearly everything was a duplex, with a very plain curb-side view. Everything was visibly low income. The people we met were all very polite, and we only ran into a couple of ornery dogs. This experience was humbling. Here is a proud people, forcibly moved to this part of the country, and left to fend for themselves. What little work exists is menial and pays poorly. I honestly could not believe it. My only knowledge of this great people was what I learned through my high school education, or what I’ve researched and learned on my own. The former being horribly biased, and dare I claim, racist. I knew of all the injustices of the past, but to learn that this still goes on today was sickening. It was hard to process it at the time.

The fliers that we posted advertised a daily event at the community center for young kids Continue Reading »

Published by Brian Slezak on 17 Jul 2008

DZ Mission Trip 1 of 6

The first couple of days were low key, spending time in travel and playing tourist in downtown Albequerque. We checked out downtown and went on a tour to gain knowledge of the local history and culture. I loved it. I enjoy learning about local history, stories and myth.

On Sunday we attended church at City On a Hill, an upbeat church that meets in a closed theater off Central Avenue. We arrived early and grabbed seats in the back. Most of the people that came in were probably 20-37 years of age. They played great music (see this video from my phone of horrible quality), and the message was … Sex and Glory. In short, it referenced the song of Soloman, and was about passionate sex. …. Everything that God provides is good, God gave us sex, and consensual sex between couples is good and pleases God. … Now to convince my wife. :-/ It was an interesting service to start our mission trip. 🙂 Humor aside, it was a great service.

After the service, we headed a couple hours South to the Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle community school outside of Bloomfield, NM, which would be our home for a few days. We arrived in the afternoon, got settled, and cooked dinner. Much more was to come in later days.

In the next post, hard work on playground equipment, and learning about the Navajo and Pueblo cultures.