July 4, 2014

May Newsletter

May 2014
May went by incredibly fast, which I am sure is just an indication of how fast this summer is going to come and go.
We had the pleasure of hosting a group from Lipscomb University for the second year in a row. They provided much physical and spiritual support in the time they were here. The most obvious benefit is the actual physical work that was accomplished. We are able to have a very large community garden because of the work this group put in. (Do things actually have to grow before you can call it a garden? If so, we might be building the communities largest sandbox) They worked for an entire week preparing the garden in the sandy, windy weather. To describe it as simply “windy weather” is certainly an understatement. We would not be able to do this on our own because of limited time and resources. Every year the garden project has gotten a little bit better and this year we have high hopes, especially because we have two interns helping with it. The Lipscomb group also put together a clothing drive and “Kid’s carnival.” It really puts a positive face on our church and draws in a lot of people. The children absolutely loved all the games and activities. The group also brought a basketball hoop for us and they installed it permanently on the property. It’s very popular. Also, my interns are terrible at basketball. ☺
Mission trips benefit the members of the congregation greatly because of the encouragement they receive. When members of the mission team talk to our members and show the warmth and love of Christ, the church can feel it. Groups bring a source of energy and rejuvenation to the congregation. The Lipscomb group was no different and many of our members enjoyed talking with them.

Heidi and I also personally benefit from short-term mission trips. For the second year now we have really enjoyed fellowship with the Lipscomb group in particular. It is a time of encouragement to be with Christians that have a heart to serve. Also, our social life is limited so it is a source of rejuvenation for us to have groups come and spend time with us, personally. We played games almost every night and had a fun day of sight-seeing as well. In addition to all that, this group had the great idea of babysitting Julia while we went on a date. This date was long overdue, as many of you with small children I am sure are familiar with.
We had another really great time of fellowship over Memorial Day with a cookout and some outdoor games. The new basketball hoop was a hit. Thankfully the wind held out enough for us to eat outside and really enjoy the sunshine. We even had a few of our visitors from the day before come by and eat with us. This is the type of fellowship that brings the church together and it’s the sort of stuff I love the most.
While in the midst of getting ready to leave this fall, we have done a lot of work over the past month to prepare the men of the congregation to take on more responsibilities. We are now having men’s meetings every other Sunday to talk about these responsibilities. Every Monday night, we are going to meet to train the men how to prepare for teaching and preaching, kind of an informal training workshop. I am also working on getting materials together for the men to use for Bible Classes. One thing I am trying to gather is live video recordings of great Bible teachers and their lessons. The church here can watch the video and then have a facilitator answer questions and have discussions. If there is any way you think you can help with this, please contact me.

February 15, 2014

January 2014 Newsletter

Our work here got off to a late start in January due to a much delayed flight coming back from Christmas break. The weather was so bad back east at the beginning of January, not one but two consecutive flights we had were cancelled and we ended up back in Kayenta 5 days later than anticipated. I almost started to look for a job in Pittsburgh. Nonetheless, we had a very blessed Holiday season with our family and friends in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I also got to officiate my first wedding for a good friend in Ohio. Although it was a vacation, I did my fair share of work. I did a wedding, then preached and taught a class at one of our supporting congregations and also our home congregation.
Speaking of weddings, I will be officiating my second wedding in a couple of weeks and I started pre-marital counseling with this young couple in January. They are related to one of our members and they live in Flagstaff. They are not members of the church and this is a great opportunity to reach out to them and teach them some of what the Bible says about marriage.
While we didn’t have any huge events occur this month, it’s that time of year that we start planning for all of our groups to come in the spring and summer. We have at least seven different groups coming to do a number of things including work projects, VBS, gospel meetings, workshops, and outreach activities. The sojourners are coming again on two separate trips. One is for manual labor and the other is a workshop called “The Listening Lab” which is designed to teach church members skills in visiting and winning back those that have fallen away.
It takes a lot of time to get all these groups in order. I spend a lot of time communicating with the group leaders, figuring out what they will do, and helping them get their arrangements in order like lodging, food and travel. This is especially true for those groups that have never been to Kayenta. Other than the sojourners, we have three church groups that have come in the past and liked it so much they are coming again. There are two church groups coming that have never been here before and very interested in the reservation work. We think it’s very important to allow many groups the chance to come here and work. These work groups always build up our congregation by encouraging our members and reaching out to potential new members. There is always more excitement and energy when groups are here. Not only that but the more people that visit the reservation, the more exposure we have in the church and opportunities for new workers and resources. We are also trying to make plans to have interns come out this summer to work with us. This is another large task because there are almost no options for housing and so if we can convince people to come work with us, there is a huge hurdle to jump in finding them a place to stay. Right now, we are looking at the possibility of buying a single-wide trailer to put on the church property for more workers. If you are interested in donating to this cause, please talk to me as soon as possible.
Our first reservation-wide monthly Bible study of 2014 was in Fort Defiance. I had the opportunity to travel down on a Friday night and spend the night. We are continuing our study on resurrection and end times. As much as anything, this study is a great chance for me to fellowship with the other preachers on the reservation. It is always encouraging to spend time with other preachers and share in our struggles and our victories.
As always, many of our members have been struggling in their faith, so we have spent some time visiting with them and trying to build them up so they come to services consistently and lean on the Bible and the church for support. A young couple in the church just had a baby. Outside of us, this is the first baby we have seen here born i1nside of marriage and there have been at least 8 babies that I can remember born into families in the church. Regardless, this young man has struggled with many issues over the years and he is finally at a point where he is ready to make a change. He is strongly considering going to preaching school and I have spent some time trying to guide him in the right direction. Please pray for Ryan as he is looking for his next phase in life.

February 6, 2013

How our personalities serve the church

In our Tuesday night Bible study we have been talking about our different personalities. We took a personality test, some of you probably recognize very similar to the Myers-Briggs personality test. The point was then to use this knowledge to understand how we can better serve the church according to our different personalities. So, I have been thinking about this a lot lately, because in the position we are in as missionaries, we basically end up doing a little bit of everything you could think of that goes along with maintaining a church, spiritually and physically.

Last night, we made a long list of ways to serve, specific to the Kayenta church of Christ. Then we looked at what one personality type might lean towards and what they might stay away from. For example, the extrovert would be more likely to greet visitors and evangelize in the public where the introvert would rather do something behind the scenes. While looking at this list, I noticed several things I enjoy doing while others I have to force myself to do. I put a star next to the things I actually enjoy doing. I asked Nick to do the same. I was curious of the things we actually like to do in our daily job as missionaries. Unfortunately, with a small church that has no elders or deacons and very few mature Christians, we end up doing everything on the list. Here is a summary of the things we each like to do.

Teaching & Preaching
Praying & Studying with others
Writing cards
Organizing events & social activities
Working in the garden
Setting up for potluck
Helping with a funeral
Organizing church camp
Yard work
Greeting visitors

Cleaning the building
Teaching Ladies class
Writing cards
Making bulletin boards
Paying the bills & dealing with finances
Prepare the Lord’s supper
Organizing events & social activities
Preparing, serving and cleaning up for Potlucks
Organizing church camp
Teaching children’s classes
Organizing the food pantry
Producing a bulletin
Organizing & maintaining the library

When looking at these lists and our personalities, Nick likes to teach and explain the Bible. He has no problem getting in front of people. Nick is creative and patient and likes to do physical labor from time to time, which I think is why he loves working in the garden. His creativity also lends him towards organizing events and church camp. The things that we both have on our list are interesting, because I think we enjoy those same things for very different reasons. I like to organize events, not because I am creative, but because I am organized. I basically like to do anything administrative such as the finances and the bulletin. I like to write cards, because I can say heartfelt things I might not be able to say to some one’s face. I think Nick is good at writing cards because he can come up with original things to say that still mean a lot.

My point in all this is to say that we each have characteristics and talents that make us equipped for specific ways we can serve the church and ultimately, God. I would like to focus more energy into the things I have been blessed with. Also, one of our jobs in this church is to help the members understand what they have been blessed with and how they can better serve as Christians. I pray we make positive steps in this direction.

January 31, 2013

2012 Year in Review

It’s time for the 2012 Year in Review Issue of our monthly newsletter.
If you ignored our newsletter for the past 12 months or if you need to
hear one more update about the trailer this is your chance. (I promise the
trailer updates are finally coming to an end) It’s hard to sum up a whole
year in one newsletter, it’s hard to sum up one month in a newsletter.
There are so many events, personal stories, hard work, Bible studies, and
everyday activities that fill a year. Here’s a recap of the year’s biggest
At the beginning of 2011, we gained a team member, Dan Keele. It was
nice to have another person working toward the same goal in building up
the church. He has a different style, different background and different
delivery than me. All of our differences made for a nice team,
complimenting each other and meeting a greater scope of the needs here.
Dan also has a knack for outreach, obviously important for the growth of
the church. At the end of the year, we lost that team member. He decided
to fill in for another church in Shiprock, NM who lost their preacher
earlier in 2012. We are glad he is staying on the reservation and pray his
work goes well. As much as we need help in this work, we were only
able to keep it for 10 months because of the greater needs around the
One change we’ve made this year was the organization of our services.
We moved our Sunday night Bible study to right after worship on
Sunday morning. This has greatly helped the attendance of our Sunday
Bible studies. On Sunday nights, we do a different type of fellowship,
such as a night of prayer, signing cards, or a bonfire devotional. We
could admittedly be more organized and creative with our Sunday night
fellowship times, but it’s been a pretty good change thus far.
One huge accomplishment that literally took the whole year was the
completion of the trailer project. Countless donations and hours of labor
contributed to the trailer on the church property actually becoming a
place to live. Five different church work groups from around the country
totaling around 100 volunteers helped in the development of the trailer
project. We were blessed to be able to move into the trailer in November
and help lower our cost of living. The trailer is not only a blessing to us,
but the church in years to come. We won’t live here forever, and it’s a
great selling point for a potential missionary because housing is very
hard to come by in Kayenta.
We try to make an effort every year to hold events that draw in the
community with the purpose of building relationships, getting people
into our building, and putting forth a positive image of the Kayenta
church of Christ. We had a “giveaway day” in May where we gave away
lots of clothes, household items and small furniture. Typically we would
call these clothing drives, but this time we had an assortment of items.
These always take a lot of time to advertise, organize all the items and
clean up the leftovers afterwards.
In July, we held Vacation Bible School, put on by the Northwest church
of Christ youth group from Fort Worth, TX. VBS always draws a ton of
kids to the building, but we also built relationships with a few adults.
Some of these adults are still visiting with us on Sunday mornings.
In the fall, we held a gospel meeting focusing on the role of the family.
We were blessed to have a dynamic speaker, Jerry Groves, come down
from the Lone Tree congregation. We’re making plans to get him down
here again. Phenomenal study.
Lastly, in December, we had some donations come in to help families in need during the cold winter months. We were able to purchase gifts for all the residents of the local women’s shelter. This included three women
and seven children. When talking to the shelter, they told us that none of the residents had winter coats, so everyone received a coat, hat and gloves along with a few other fun items. One lady has since attended service and the church was able to help her get her own place to live. We were blessed to be able to go home to spend Christmas with our families. Because of the distance we don’t get home often, but being able to go home for Christmas does us a lot of good. The men in Kayenta really stepped up to teach and to preach so that we could leave and feel comfortable that things were left in good hands. I hope there comes a day when I’m out of a job because these guys have stepped up to carry this work alone. There is no doubt in my mind that they have that potential.

For those of you interested in numbers, our average attendance on Sunday mornings in 2012 was 40 people. The most encouraging part of our attendance is that we’ve regularly had new visitors attending. With so many visitors we see a lot of potential for growth. Six people were baptized into Christ in 2012 and four of these people are still attending. I’d love to see the kinds of results that we read about in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost, but for a congregation as small as we are we’ve done pretty well to convert a small handful of people each year that we’ve been here. The real challenge is teaching them and training them and keeping them here. The growth of the church has so much to do with the people who are in the church, and right now in Kayenta we have a very solid foundation. We have the kind of leaders and workers who are making this job easier for us.

I was very pleased that we continued on with the second annual Kayenta Ladies Day. More importantly, some of the ladies started planning it while I was out of town. It was great to see them take the initiative and have an interest in this event. Ladies nights have continued on Monday nights, but have lost some momentum towards the end of the year. I would love any suggestions for fresh ideas including activities or Bible studies to do with the ladies. Please email me at hidLynnr@gmail.com if you have suggestions.

October 13, 2012

September Newsletter

The Main Dish
Change can stir up something good or it can stir up a mess. This
month we decided to make some changes in our worship schedule to see
if we could get better attendance and more fellowship between our
members. Call me crazy, but I actually believe that if we’re going to call
ourselves the family of God we have to do better than just showing up to
the same building three times a week and sitting two chairs away from
anyone and then shaking hands and going home. We moved our Sunday
night Bible classes to Sunday morning right after worship. We’ve had
better attendance in the last month for our study than we ever had on
Sunday nights. People are staying for class that wouldn’t normally have
come back on Sunday night.

Every week now on Sunday nights we have a different form of
fellowship. So far, these changes have stirred up a lot of good. On
Sunday night, we have done a bonfire a couple times with s’mores and
hot dogs, which was a huge success. We’ve gotten together to write
cards to encourage people, hiked “the toes” for a teen devotional,
weeded the property, and took the time to pray for our entire prayer list
together. We’re planning on hosting bigger area wide teen events in the
future, as well as having some devotionals “off-site” since there are so
many wonderful places around here. There is really a pretty unlimited
potential to what we can do with this designated time of fellowship, it’s
been a very cool change for us.

A few weeks back, we did some work around the building digging out
weeds. I got a chance to meet two guys from the neighborhood, both of
whom struggle with alcohol and wanted to make a change. The first guy
I met, Mike, has never come around again. His scenario is the one we
see played out most often. The second guy I met was Rob, I talked to
Rob for over an hour right there on the spot about his addiction problems
and desire to change. Ever since that night, I talk to Rob three or four
times a week, counseling him and just letting him know I am on his side.
Heidi asked me last week, after I chatted with Rob for almost an hour, if
I was his sponsor. I said NO NO NO, we’re just…okay yeah I’m sort of
like his sponsor. Right now, he is just looking for a friend, but I pray
someday he will be open to the Word of God. Pray for Rob as he tries to
get on the right track. We have a good relationship and that’s half the
battle of helping people find the truth.

In September, I was honored to speak at the Family Retreat for the
Gallup church of Christ in New Mexico. The church in Gallup is located
just off the Southern New Mexico border of the Reservation. We don’t
go on too many retreats so it was really great to get that opportunity.
The Gallup church is not one of the ten “Navajo” churches that we talk
about around the Reservation, but they are very close to some of our
more Southern congregations. They have Elders, a strong membership, a
terrific connection to the Manuelito Navajo Children’s Home and they
have a passion for the Reservation mission works. Especially in the last
few years as their preacher Jeff Foster has taken a great interest in this
mission work, they have been building a strong relationship here.

In September, we also started (renewed) a Bible study with a couple who
has been members for a few years, but have been struggling with their
faith and with their teenage kids. Although it has been very inconsistent,
when we do meet, it is a great teaching opportunity and the word is well
received. Pray that we can keep this going and see them grow as a

Their situation is a perfect example of what we’re up against here on the
Reservation and in the broader American church. They have a desire to
live for God, but a life that is too committed to the busyness of the
world. They view “church” as one more thing to squeeze into the
calendar. When we truly live for Christ, He becomes the framework that
supports everything else and we fill our calendars around Him not just
to include Him.
Ladies Corner:
Winter is approaching fast and we are looking to do a “warm and fuzzy”
drive. We are soliciting donations for hats, gloves, scarves, socks, and
coats. We will accept any of the above mentioned or gift cards to walmart
and target as well as money to purchase these items. We would like
to collect any of these items by Friday, November 10. Thank you in
advance for anything you are willing to give. If you have questions,
please email me at hidlynnr@gmail.com or call us at 928-697-3096.
On the Back Burner:
We are approaching the end of 2012 anticipating a lot of change to our
mission team and with a lot to be excited about. Heidi and I are expecting
our first child in early February. Dan is getting married to Rose in just over
3 weeks. I’ve been talking with a number of young men who are interested
and seriously considering coming to work on the Reservation. There is a lot
of potential for growth and development in this work. There is a reason that we refer to this as a mission field. The church is in its infancy and has plenty
of challenges, but we have a mission here and we’re working with a purpose.
We’ve talked a lot in the past about the trailer that the church acquired to use as
a parsonage of sorts. Dan has been a trooper to live there in various stages of
disrepair over the last 10 months. When he and Rose are married, he’s going to be moving into her trailer in Chilchinbeto. Heidi and I have decided to move into the trailer at the church building. It’s going to save us some money and help us to stretch our support further and to better prepare for the added expense of a baby, which I’m told are expensive and need things.

September 4, 2012

Summer Summary

We had sooo much stuff going on this summer, that of course I never updated on, so I want to sum up the big events and post some cool pictures.
The last week of June, we were the directors of the annual reservation church camp. We introduced some new, fresh ideas and I think everyone had a blast. Some exciting things were camp t-shirts, minute to win-it games, splitting into 4 teams to do everything from pray, memorize verses and play field games. We also tie-dyed t-shirts, had a volleyball tournament, and of course had great Bible classes for all ages. We had 85 in attendance of all ages.

Immediately after returning from church camp, we had a work group from Denver come and work their tails off in the trailer and around the building. They made some real progress. We also did a lot of hiking with them and devotionals. Here is a pic of a devotional after a short hike.

In the beginning of July, we had an opportunity to take a short trip to Phoenix where Nick's mom and step-dad were vacationing. Later in July, we had another work group come from Phoenix for a whole week. They did some work around the trailer and advertised for our VBS coming up the following week.

The last full week of July was our VBS, put together by a group from Ft Worth, Texas. They did all the teaching and brought all the materials, which was a true blessing.

August 1st, we left for a loong trip to visit family, supporters, and attend Polishing the Pulpit in Tennessee. We were gone for about 3 1/2 weeks. It was a blessing and we came back recharged and ready to get back into the work. Here are pictures of our nieces:

June 18, 2012

New Sister in Christ

Let me introduce to you, Alice.
She is a very sweet lady who serves everyone in every chance she gets. She is easy to talk to, caring, and loves her family. She has been attending services since last fall in addition to several studies Nick has had with her family outside of regular services. In a study with her the other day, she said she has only missed two Bible studies since she started coming. TWO!!! That's incredible, especially for someone who isn't even a member. I don't know how many of our members could come close to saying that. She has a desire to learn and do what's right. After much prayers, studies and patience, Alice decided to put on Christ in baptism last evening! We continue to pray for her family members as well.

June 12, 2012

May Newsletter

The Main Dish:

May was a month of highs and lows. We spent much time in the spring preparing to plant the garden. Essentially, I had a greenhouse in my office for the past two months preparing seeds to grow. In March, we did a lot of digging with the work group and prepared the soil. We had a work night with the church in May and planted most of the seedlings. Almost all the beds were planted and the last week of May, our worst sandstorm hit and basically blew everything away. The chain link fence fell down on one side, then drug through the garden, destroying anything even remotely salvageable. While this was such a discouraging moment, we will be re-planting in the very near future.

One of our old members, Alfred Gene, moved to Texas over a year ago for work. A few weeks ago, his family was in a very bad car accident, killing his niece and nephew while severely injuring his sister and other niece. Al sat by his one-year old niece in the hospital for two weeks in Albuquerque. Some of the brethren in Albuquerque spent a lot of time visiting with him, which is a true blessing. We had an opportunity to go to Albuquerque, visit and have dinner with Al. While this tragedy is taking a toll on Al and his family, Al knows his niece and nephew are in a better place and he has an opportunity now to be there for his niece and hopefully be by her side for a long time to come. The little girl’s father is somewhat absent and her mother is still in bad shape, physically. Al could change his niece’s life forever. Please be praying for this family.

In terms of outreach and events, we had a giveaway day at the building that included anything from clothes, to chairs, to a furnace! Usually what happens is a burst of people come through the doors for the first two hours and then it’s a ghost town. Instead of just packing all the clothes back up, we went over to the recreation center where people set up like a flea market. We were able to give away a lot more clothes there and meet some more people in the community. The biggest victory was meeting a woman who grew up attending the church of Christ on the Joy Bus. She had a desire to come back to church and the next day, she attended services. She has been attending every Sunday since then and even helped plant the garden!

Work continues on the trailer. Thank you to those who have donated to the cause. The last weekend of May, we had a small group from Phoenix come in to work. They installed all the windows, patched drywall, built steps and a small deck, took out the skylight, finished one of the bathrooms and built eaves. They worked hard and got a lot accomplished. The trailer could not be completed if it was not for wonderful volunteers who give up their time and much energy.

Ladies Corner:

The first weekend of May, we had an amazing adventure down to Prescott, AZ to attend a ladies retreat. Thirteen ladies and teenagers from Kayenta attended, which was the largest group! We were so proud to have so many ladies eager to give up their Friday and Saturday to spend with each other learning from God’s word. The theme was “What’s under your hat?” and we all left with at least one hat we decorated ourselves.

At the end of the month, two of my best friends from Pennsylvania came to visit. We did a lot of sightseeing, but I also thought I would take advantage of their experience in teaching children’s Bible classes while they were in town. They have been teaching children’s classes for years and majored in education so I knew I could learn from them. They both taught our regular children’s classes, while myself and another one of our members observed. We gained some great ideas on how to improve our classes. I was definitely blown away by how great they handled the class and held the children’s attention.

On the Back Burner:

We always talk about how our summer schedule is very busy. This year between June and July, we have church camp, three different work groups coming including one to conduct VBS and a couple visitors from back home. August will be no different as we are making plans to visit family, several supporters and attend Polishing the Pulpit in a three week “tour.”

April 10, 2012

What a fun Sunday!

Our Easter Sunday started with worship at 10 am. Dan preached about the resurrection of Jesus, but also why it is important to remember Jesus and what he has done for us every Sunday. Without remembering Jesus' death, we have no forgiveness of sins. After worship service, we had a nice potluck with tons of ham and other delicious treats. We cleaned up all of that and had our evening service early at 2 pm. This was pretty neat, because people stayed for the afternoon service that normally wouldn't. Then the craziness began with an Egg Hunt for all ages. Over 300 eggs were hidden behind the church building followed by a water balloon toss and raw egg relay. While Dan was winning the water balloon toss, Nick thought it would be fun to start throwing water balloons at him from every angle. Needless to say, it ended in a pretty wet and fun battle.

April 6, 2012

Parts of February and March Newsletter

The newsletter was really long, so I took out chunks of it for our blog.

February was an exciting month for the growth of the church. I was able to continue some ongoing Bible studies that really have begun to show promise. One of those studies was with Justin Curley. On my birthday, of all days, Justin decided to be baptized. He has grown up around the church and has shown a real passion and boldness in sharing his faith. He’s a young man who has a lot of potential to someday be a tremendous leader in the church here.

Through February and March we held a couple of workdays on the trailer. The end goal is to have Dan move into that trailer and live on the church property. He’s been a real sport as his current living conditions are pretty rough. Until we get the doublewide in livable shape he’s staying in a small camping trailer and using the church buildings office, kitchen and bathroom. With some of the high winds we’ve had already this March we’re lucky Dan didn’t blow into New Mexico. So far this year we’ve lost part of the trailers roof and had an entire section of our chain link fence blow over. The windy season here is challenging to say the least.
In mid-March we had a group of nearly 50 come from the Northwest church of Christ in San Antonio, TX. This was the biggest work group Kayenta has seen since the construction of the building. Josh told me the other day that the biggest work group they ever had was around 25 people. Last year, we had all of our summer groups fall apart so this was essentially our first work group to visit the work since Heidi and I moved here. Hosting our first mission trip group, we basically just didn’t know any better. Planning for that many people is a HUGE undertaking. It was worth every second, but there is no denying it’s a lot of preparation.
The upside of having a group that large is that we accomplished an unbelievable amount of work. In the weeks leading up to the mission trip, we made a list of literally every little thing that could possibly need to be accomplished and we very nearly knocked out the entire list. Inside the trailer they accomplished in one week what would have taken us months. Last year, we were able to plant two garden rows. This year we’ll be planting five. That is exclusively because of the work of this mission trip group. That is a job we could not have done otherwise.
Aside from all of the physical work that they completed, every morning they signed up for time slots throughout the day and then one by one stepped away from the tools and the worksite and went someplace alone to pray. It was amazingly powerful to see prayer become the focus of our day. I regret not taking more time to join in that exercise.

I think that the awesome amount of work they accomplished, combined with their singing and their positive attitudes, their engaging our members who were able to be around, it’s going to have a huge impact on our congregation into the future. We really can’t thank those guys enough for their willingness to come and work and their great example.

March 23, 2012


Last night, we watched the movie "Courageous" as a congregation. 30 people were there, which is awesome!!
If you don't know, Courageous is a God-centered movie, mostly about fatherhood. Everyone should see the movie, but most definitely fathers. Seriously- go see it now, before it's too late. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie with all of its heartfelt moments, downright sad moments, and humor, but mostly for its strong push to encourage fathers to be better fathers. This movie is not just talking about spending more time with your children, but making a conscious effort to impact your children in the most positive way; to make a purposeful effort to see your children grow up to be followers of God and contributors to society. The Bible illustrates what it means to be a good father and this is where all of our answers should come from.
This movie also makes a point of displaying what it's like to grow up without a father or a father that isn't so purposeful. To drive this point home, I found some statistics. 63% of teen suicides come from fatherless homes. 90% of all runaways and homeless children are from fatherless homes. 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes. I could go on and on or you could visit this site to learn more: http://www.dadsworld.com/parenting-statistics/importance-of-fathers.html
Children need to feel loved and important and special. Be a better parent today or mentor someone who needs that kind of love.

March 19, 2012

Lessons I have learned

James 4:10 states “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” I had a humbling experience this past week. Through the Bible, God and others, I learned that I am not in control of anything and I can’t make anybody do anything. But, let’s stop and think for a minute. God is in control of everything and He has power over everything and everyone. So often, I sit and ponder how I can help people change and influence people to change and in reality, make people change. My mind goes over and over what to say to someone when I think they need a change in their habits or attitudes or actions. I think about the lessons I could teach in ladies’ classes or teen classes that would press their heart to change. As I am pondering everyone else’s problems and how to change them, I am getting angrier and angrier. Their actions are causing resentment and bitterness in my heart. Now I know all about only focusing on what I can control. Focusing on other peoples’ faults will not do any good or make that person any better. The only thing I am creating is a bitter heart for myself.

So what did I learn this week? What is it I can change to help others change? Let us remember that God is in control, so the answer is prayer. What can I control? I can control my prayer life. I can pray more often, for more people, for more situations. When someone aggravates me and pushes me to make them want to change, I can pray for that person. God can change that person, in his own way and in his own timing. I might be a part of that change or it might be someone else he uses to influence them. Or, God can simply use his word to change their heart, desires, and actions. God can also change my heart and help me have a more gentle and soft attitude. I learned this week that I am not in control, but God is in control and he can change people through many different avenues.

To put this into practice, a situation came up the other night. A woman from church wanted to talk to me about some problems she was having with her teenage daughter. Her daughter has been drinking and popping pills and dealing with depression. Based on what I know about their family, I think the daughter needs more structure and discipline. I also think her parents need to be more united and be better examples of God’s word. I gave her the advice of starting to read the Bible and pray every day with her daughter so her daughter knows that the void she is feeling can only be filled by God. Her mother needs to be the example of how a Christian should live. I also told her I would be praying for her family. But, I am not just going to pray that the teenage girl finds the answers she is looking for and stops turning to substances. I am going to pray that God would work through this family to change their lifestyle, their dynamics, and the way they love each other. I am going to pray that God would work through me or someone else to influence them positively. I am going to pray for the right words to say when this woman wants to talk about this situation again. Most of all, I am going to pray for patience with this family as they seek a change.

February 7, 2012

Newsletter, Jan 2012

With the New Year comes a new team (the addition of Dan Keele) and new strides we are able to make within the church. Our attendance has been high through the month of January, averaging 50 every week. Many visitors continue to attend and ask questions. Speaking of which, we had an opportunity to study privately with one of the visiting families. When I say one family, I mean 15 of them! They always have a lot of questions and they are truly seeking the word. I laid a good foundation for the Bible as our only authority, and then fielded a host of questions ranging from gambling to what happens after we die. It was an intense study but very rewarding. This family continues to attend faithfully and gets involved in the fellowship and work of the church as well. I have also studied a few times privately with a teenager, Justin, who is very eager to learn the word.

We had the privilege of hosting the monthly reservation- wide Bible study in January, concluding our study of Hebrews with professor, Wayne Burger, from the Bear Valley School of Preaching (pictured above). Not including ourselves, we had 12 members of our congregation in attendance. This is always a huge deal, because it means our members giving up their Friday evening and Saturday morning to study the word, something you don’t see very often.

In our first attempts to get the new trailer into livable condition, we held
a workday to get all the trash, debris, floors, and unwanted cabinets out and into the dump. It was a huge success with 13 people showing up to work. The trailer is structurally sound, but in need of some pretty serious renovations. The last occupants of this trailer burned coal in the wood stove while the roof pipe was disconnected. Nearly every surface is covered in ash and dust. We plan to hold another workday in February to wipe down the walls and start priming for paint. (Priming for paint gives the impression that it’s further along than it truly is) We’re hoping to get it in livable condition by June and completed by later this fall.

Now that Dan is a part of our team, we have weekly meetings to plan upcoming events and solidify teaching and preaching schedules. We also take a look at all of our members and visitors and decide who might need visited and/or studied with. Lastly, we talk about overall goals in the church and ways to get there. One goal is to get the men in a better position of leadership. We are slowly getting them involved in co- teaching and leading devotionals. We love having a team-mate again. Especially while I have been sick this past week, it’s been nice to have someone available to cover for me.

We are blessed to have a lot of groups interested in coming out this spring and summer to work on projects and help with evangelism in the community. Last summer we had some groups interested in coming, but then they all fell through for financial or travel reasons. It seems as though our luck is going to be different this summer. I have spent a lot of time in January communicating with various leaders in different
congregations to work out the details of their trips. We are thrilled that other people are so excited about the church here on the reservation. It’s really great to see so many people want to come and be a part of the work here.

Every month we really have plenty of positive things to look at to be thankful for, but maybe more than any month since we’ve moved here I feel like the work here is really growing and succeeding and moving in the right direction. Truthfully, I have never felt better about the work than I do right now. There are so many exciting things going on in Kayenta right now, and a big part of that is the planning we’ve done for the summer and future of the church.

The last week of June, we have our Reservation church camp. This year, I am the camp’s director. As far as I know, I am the only person at our entire camp who has been to another church camp (including Heidi and Dan). We had a long team meeting yesterday afternoon to try and plan out some new activities and develop some ideas to improve camp. We have a plot of land that is completely undeveloped in every single way. There are no cabins, no buildings, no restrooms, no shelter houses, no
utilities or running water. It is the definition of the term “roughing it”. We plan to start some rustic and simple improvements to the campgrounds. We are really excited to get to camp this year.

This summer we are going to make an effort to bring 5 interns out across the entire Reservation. This effort is going to take a lot of preparation. A lot of preparation. We need to find the right guys, put together a plan to work with them, interview, check references, schedule their travel, work out the finances, etc. It’s a mess of organization to get an intern to the Reservation, but it’s a great experience for the students and a pretty nicehelp for the mission works. The hope is that if we can create a good relationship with a large number of interns then we can begin down the road to recruit a new wave of fresh blood to this work and strengthen the whole through better missionary efforts.

January 16, 2012

2011 year in review

This is a long one, but it's a whole year.

Now that we’ve come to the end of the year, we wanted to take a look back at the past year’s events and look ahead to the goals and plans for 2012. The congregation here has gone through a lot of change in this past year. The biggest of which, obviously, is the loss of the Austin family. In March, Josh had an opportunity to go to Denver and work with Bear Valley as a coordinator of one of their largest extension schools. That meant that for the first time in nearly a decade the pulpit here has been filled by someone other than Josh. The rest of the family’s presence have been missed too. Six people don’t disappear around here and go unnoticed, especially six people who contributed as much as the Austins did.

The congregation has continued to grow in spite of the losses of a number of families and individuals. We’ve had new people move into town where others left and we’ve had at least nine baptisms in this past year. That number includes five men who are under the age of 25. One of our long term goals here is to train men to be the leaders in the church. We want to see Navajo men become preachers and teachers and Elders and deacons. Baptizing new men into the church is a positive step towards accomplishing that goal.

We could talk about a lot of numbers and statistics and they wouldn’t begin to tell the story of what’s happening in the work here. True growth isn’t measured in attendance, in the offering or in the number of conversions, but in the condition of the heart. That doesn’t mean that we don’t pay attention to some of those other tangible things, but we try not to judge ourselves by them. Along with nine new converts in this past year, we’ve seen a few people be restored to the church. Obviously, when someone gives their life over to Christ we are filled with joy. In a similar way, when someone who knew the truth returns to do what is right, it is a tremendous victory for the church. Those occasions have been some of the most precious to us, personally.

A big event on the 2011 calendar was the garden project, which amazingly went an entire year with the unoriginal name: “Garden Project”. Our garden received mixed reviews this year, and depending on whom you asked the answer might be quite different. (Yes, I just used the word whom. Appropriately. Someone forward this to my past English teachers.) Since I write the newsletter you get to hear my review of the garden. It was fantastic! It didn’t attract 100’s of followers and eager participants. It didn’t feed the masses. It didn’t spread through our community like a wildfire. It didn’t produce any blue ribbon vegetables (this year). It didn’t even lead to any new families placing membership at the church.

It did, however, create a small buzz in our neighborhood and open some lines of communication with our immediate neighbors. It did on occasion cause people to say, “You’re that church that started the garden?” It did produce vegetables in what used to be an empty lot full of broken beer bottles and it did serve to feed - or supplement- some people in need. Measuring by those standards, it was a success.

As a master gardener, I am woefully inept. We lost good cauliflower and broccoli only because I lacked the knowledge to know when it was ripe. We lost our beets to a barrage of beetles. We failed to stake our tomatoes and they grew into a gigantic mass of vines that was impossible to penetrate.

The “Garden: 2012” (any takers on that name?) will be better. We’re better at recognizing what problems and pitfalls a garden will have and we’re better equipped to handle them. We’ll make a bigger push to involve the church in this summer’s garden and we’ll be smarter about using it for an outreach. Last year, we bought seedlings in Flagstaff for our garden and our hands were tied a little bit based on what was available at the nursery. The only problem with the nursery in Flagstaff is that they live in an entirely different climate than we do. They have trees, water, good soils, shade and cooler days, less wind, etc. This year I am going to start our seedlings from a seed and focus on the types of plants that both grow well in our climate and are more filling to eat. Things like potatoes, melons, carrots, beans and cucumbers instead of the lettuce, hot peppers and beets we planted last year. It’s a work in progress.

Billy Kniffen and his wife, Mary, also known as the two hardest workers in the world, graciously gave up their time to visit Kayenta. Billy has been described to me as one of the world’s leading experts in water catchment. He’d never say so, because he’s as humble as he is hard working. He designed a water catchment system for us. The average rainfall in Kayenta is less than 9 inches a year. In Columbus, Ohio where I grew up it’s 38.5; in Nashville, TN it’s closer to 50. We don’t get much water. Now, thanks to the Kniffens, we have a system in place that will capture enough water to keep our garden watered for an entire growing season, in theory. Most people will find this paragraph boring, and that’s okay. I’m really excited about it. Watering a garden as big as ours with just rain water is cool- extremely cool.

Last summer, we made another huge development for the work in Kayenta by hiring a college intern. Cory Landolt came to us after completing his freshman year at Harding University. Cory did a great job for us here in Kayenta. Last summer, was essentially phase one of our plan to increase exposure and strengthen missionary teams on the Rez. This summer we plan to bring out more interns across the entire Reservation and eventually increase the number of mission workers.

In addition to some of these larger events throughout the year, we have maintained a hectic normal schedule. We meet for services three times per week, hold a Bible Study on another night and then a monthly Bible Study for the entire Reservation once a month. We had both a clothing drive and school supply drive at the church building this year. We continue to have an abundance of visitors to the church and do whatever we can to study with them and teach them the truth.

This past year, Heidi and I have had the opportunity to be a part of some retreats, workshops and lectureships that were just outstanding. We’d like to be able to do more of that. We recognize the importance of taking time for ourselves and for improving our marriage and our spiritual life. Recognizing a need for it and doing it are separate matters. I’d imagine that nearly all of the ministers reading this could find some bit of truth in that.

Polishing the Pulpit in Sevierville, TN is an example of just one lectureship that was excellent. It was a great opportunity to get to meet new people and visit with some of our supporters and to get recharged spiritually for the work we’re doing.

The plans and future of this work are really exciting. Dan Keele is here. The new trailer has arrived. Garden:2012 is right around the corner. I’m the director of church camp this summer {gulp}. We have as many visitors as we’ve ever had. Our sights are set on tackling our goals and this church is moving in the right direction.
Many good strides were made for the church in 2011 when it comes to the ladies of the congregation. We have managed to keep ladies’ nights going every Monday through the year. This includes Bible studies, crafts, eating together, cooking together, and so much more! Many of our members really look forward to Monday nights, but it’s not just members. We have a few ladies who never attend services, but show up on Mondays almost every week. It has become a great evangelism tool! In addition, some of our members have stepped up to lead devotionals and other activities. It is such a blessing to know the ladies want to take ownership of this event.

Ladies Corner:
In September, we held the first ever ladies day on the reservation. It was a huge success with close to 50 in attendance. The feedback was incredible and we are making this an annual event. We also started a relationship with the local women’s shelter. This was led by one of our members, Jennifer, which is so encouraging. We collected items to give to the families at the women’s shelter and hosted a Christmas dinner for them. We hope to continue this giving and start providing more help for the women’s shelter throughout the year.

One area I personally tried to focus on was spending more time with and developing relationships with the teenage girls. In the spring, I held a study on sexual purity. I thought the study went well, but only one or two were in attendance every week. Also, I learned a huge difference between teens raised in the church and those new to the church. I had my work cut out for me and I would like to try something different in 2012 with a focus on foundations of faith. There were other ways I connected to some who were not in that class. I had an individual Bible study with a girl who ended up being baptized, Josslyn. I started tutoring one of our teenage girls, Lucresha, almost every day for a while. I set up at the flea market with a troubled girl, Annie, in hopes to talk to her and help her do something productive. I am trying to be a mentor, guide and friend to some of our girls and hope to continue this in 2012.

Lastly, my children’s classes went really well and right now, another lady is teaching the 7-12 year olds, which is a huge blessing! We come up with our own material, but we are looking to purchase new curriculum with solid Bible teaching and also stimulating to the children.

If you have any suggestions or know of any solid material, please contact me. We are looking for a few options to choose from. Also, we would love to have people come out to do a workshop sometime on how to teach children’s classes. Please contact me if you are interested.

New Bible studies, attendance still high!

Our attendance Sunday morning was 55, again a really high number for us. Sunday night, we had 34! This is great! There are a few faces that haven't been around in a while who seem to be re-committing themselves to the church. One made a comment to Nick that she was really enjoying the teachings and thinking about them a lot. This is great news!
Nick started up his study with a teenager again, Justin. He seems really eager to learn and do what is right. Another teen girl, Chelsey asked me to study with her this week, so we are getting together on Thursday.
Aaand, we finally set up a study with one family that's been visiting for a while. They attend every service and are really eager to learn as well.
Pray for these families as they look for the truth.

January 11, 2012

Sometimes some one surprises you

In case you don't know or understand, one of our main goals with the church here is to not be needed anymore. We desire for Natives to run the church and be self-sustaining without an outside "missionary" helping. This can only be accomplished by getting members of the church to step up and start leading and initiating things now.
For the most part, I am in charge of Ladies nights on Monday nights. When we were gone for Christmas, a couple of the ladies took charge of events. I was amazed and so proud of them when I heard that they kept things going. This past Monday, another member, Velda, volunteered to lead something. I had no idea what to expect, but had confidence in her. She came to the building on Monday night with snacks, decorations, and a whole table of stuff planned for the evening. She led some songs and a short devotional. She encouraged us to remember how much we are blessed. Then she asked everyone to fill out a notecard with information about themselves. By the end of the night, we all got a partner that over the next two weeks, we are to get to know, hang out with and encourage. We are to log everything we do together. At the end of two weeks, the partners with the most activity win a prize. This is such a wonderful way to get people to know each other!
I am so proud of Velda and the other ladies who lead and serve for the church.

January 9, 2012

Start the New Year off strong!

We had an wonderful long trip home for Christmas. We had a lot of quality time with friends and family and my 2 month old niece.

We all know what happens in January. We make a bunch of New Year’s resolutions. Some of them we follow through on and most of them are long forgotten by February. No matter how you look at it, the New Year does feel like a fresh start and a whole new set of opportunities. I definitely feel that way about the Church here in Kayenta.

In this coming year, we hope to do some new and exciting things in the church, especially because we have a new team-mate, Dan Keele. Dan just graduated from preaching school in December and he is on fire to preach the Word of God to anyone who will listen. Let me take a moment to explain how well our team is balanced. Dan’s greatest strength is talking to people and evangelizing. Nick’s greatest strengths are preparing lessons and improving the organization of the church. I love to do paperwork and anything administratively. This year we will be starting Teen events again and Nick will be teaching a teen class. Dan plans on doing a lot of evangelism at places like the flea market. At the end of 2011, we moved a trailer onto the church property for Dan to live in. This year, we will have a lot of work projects to do on this trailer. We already had a couple guys come to assess the repairs and plan a trip out this summer. We also want to try a new event called “fifth quarter.” After a high school basketball game, we invite everyone to the building for pancakes and a devotional.

By the way, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog more about the work, so stay tuned!!!

September 11, 2011

Ladies Day

For the first time ever at the Kayenta Church of Christ or on the whole reservation...we hosted a ladies day. I can not even begin to explain how encouraging this event was for myself and the rest of the ladies in attendance. We usually attend events in or near Phoenix. So, one day we said, why can't we do this? A couple of the ladies, Beverly and Pat, had a strong interest in pulling this off and helped a great deal. Our theme was "serving others through the fruit of the spirit." We had 3 guest speakers from Oklahoma and Texas. I got connected to them through the website Come Fill Your Cup: http://comefillyourcup.wordpress.com/
If you have not been on it, it is an amazing website for Christian women. Kristy Huntsman is in charge of the "Missionary of the Month" section and I wrote an article for her a few months back. Erynn Sprouse is the founder and editor of the website. We gained great knowledge and insight from these 3 women.

We had lessons, door prizes, great singing, prayer, activities and delicious food. One of the highlights for me was a young teenager who I have recently been studying with and was baptized a couple weeks ago, Josslyn. She stepped up to lead singing (pictured above). Nykhona, a 6 year old, was also up there with Josslyn, leading singing. It was a true blessing! We had 44 ladies in attendance including several visitors! I was very encouraged to see some of our members bring friends and family!

One of our members, who is a manager at the Hampton Inn, organized the guys to prepare and serve lunch. What another amazing blessing to not have to worry about lunch and have the guys take the lead on this!

I believe that all the ladies were truly encouraged and uplifted. Many of them have never attended an event like this. They are already making plans to attend a ladies day in Cortez in a couple of weeks with no coercing from me!

August 8, 2011

School Supply Drive!

On Saturday, we held a school supply drive at the church building. We provided school supplies to roughly 120 kids including our members. We really enjoyed being able to provide for so many in need. Many people inquired about the church and we handed out "Searching for Truth" DVDs. I really enjoy days like these where we can really interact with the community. The picture is a son of one of the members at church. We had a group from Texas in last week who brought a ton of clothes and some of the school supplies. Karen (from Texas) and I sorted through it all and then delivered it to our members before the drive.

August 1, 2011

Teen Lock-In

Our intern, Cory planned a teen lock-in on Friday night. We had a great turnout and we had a blast! It started off with a Wii bowling tournament and pizza bagels. Then Cory had some interesting activities that involved whip cream, bubble gum, and lifesavers. We had some wonderful singing (better than the adults) and Bible study. Then we played some board games and got back on the Wii for "Just Dance." It was over at 11 but we couldn't get the kids out of the building! I think they took the words "lock-in" a little too seriously!

It was great to have so many kids there along with two girls that haven't been around in a while because they moved to Tuba City about an hour away. They are living closer to town now with their dad and we hope to see them a lot more.

July 28, 2011

The Art of Encouragement

There are so many people that need encouraged. It's a full-time job. What should I do? Send a card? Go for coffee? Give her a hug? Bring her cookies? Study the Bible with her? Listen to her? What do I say? I don't want to say the wrong thing. I also don't want to feel like I sent a card, so I did my job and now I can move on. I genuinely want to see this person grow. I want to see her change and grow closer to God and feel like I care about her.

I am not talking about just one person here in this blog. I have encountered many people here in the church in Kayenta that need a lot of encouragement. There are people going through any or all of the following: need a friend, dealing with bad relationships, confused about the Word of God, going through struggles at work, family issues, abuse, and loss of a loved one. Could this be because I have asked God to give me more opportunities to help others? My prayers have been answered and I am glad. I feel like I have accomplished something if I spent an hour listening to some one's struggles. I am thankful they feel comfortable confiding in me and I try to give advice based on God's word alone.

June 30, 2011

Church Camp was AWESOME!

Here is a pic of some of the kids at camp.

Camp was a huge success and I did not die from a lack of showering. The scenery was beautiful. We camped up in the woods in Arizona surrounded by trees and just over a canyon. We had adult and children's classes everyday focused on "A Closer Walk with God." We spent a lot of time singing and spending time with churches from all over the reservation (5 churches total). We got to meet a lot of new people. There was also a lot of time for games and competition. Our church won the volleyball tournament. We played horse shoes, bean bag toss and ping pong. The weather was beautiful and it only rained the last day which was much needed. I really enjoyed camping and actually hated to leave the camp site. It's amazing what less than a week of being in nature, studying the Bible and spending time with other Christians can do for a person. Six people, aside from us, from Kayenta attended and they are already talking about next year. The best part for me was that Josh and Divine made the trip out with the kids. It was so good to catch up with them. Nick is the camp director for next year and we already have a bunch of ideas!

Now we are back in Kayenta and Nick's good friend, Ben is staying with us for a couple of weeks to do some work.

June 24, 2011

Church Camp

I thought I should put in a recent picture of our dogs!

Church camp is next week and I should be excited but I am agonizing a little bit about the interesting conditions I will be in for 4 nights and 5 days. I have only been tent camping a few times in my life, but all of those experiences involved running water and real showers. This time, forget ever feeling clean, we are really roughing it. Now, I am not trying to sound like one of those prissy girls who has to have a hair dryer and make up everyday. However, I do value cleanliness. Well, regardless of the conditions, it will be an uplifting time full of Bible Studies, camp fires, singing, and activities. Nick has spent a lot of time this week preparing for the classes and luckily finding porta-potties!

In other news, we have a connection to the local high school to get leftover food from the cafeteria. Yesterday was the last day of summer school so they called us to come and get some milk. Nick and Cory picked it up and were able to distribute it to most of our church members along with several others. It's a great way we are able to provide.

In case you don't know, I am getting my masters degree in Marriage and Family therapy online. I am really enjoying all my classes, but it does take up most of my time these days and limits my ability to work with the church. At this rate, I think I will be done with my classes by the end of 2012 and then be looking for a place to do my practicum.

June 22, 2011

Summer is HERE!

Forgive me for not staying on top of this blog. Instead of trying to catch you up to date on everything that has happened, I will let you know what is going on right now. Summer comes with lots of events, visitors and fun!

Two weeks ago, Nick's grandfather passed away. He was battling cancer, but still came as a shock, because his condition was progressing. This was a big blow to Nick and me as well, because his grandpa was a very strong Christian and our biggest fan in the work out here. He was very supportive and excited about our ministry. We flew back to Ohio a couple days after learning of his passing and spent a week with family and friends. The memorial service was beautiful and Nick gave a great "speech" about his very influential grandfather. We saw and heard a lot about his service to God, the country and his family. His legend makes me want to be a better person. It was a sad week, but a great opportunity to see everyone. I have been pretty homesick so it was good to go home for a little bit. We spent significant time with both of our families as well as our friends.

It was good to be home but the work in Kayenta never stops. If you haven't heard, we have a summer intern, which we were especially grateful for when we had to take the trip back to Ohio. He was able to cover for us while we were gone.

More updates to come about events and happenings!

March 29, 2011

Visitors and Party!

We have had a very busy last couple of weeks. It started off with our good friend, Mike coming to visit us from Abilene, Texas. He was here to hang out with us but also to get soil samples of all the churches on the reservation for the garden project. Nick and Mike drove the whole way around the reservation in one day and it took about 13 hrs. We enjoyed having Mike stay with us and get to see what our life is like here. On Mike's way out of town, Nick rode with him to Albuquerque to meet up with an intern from Healing Hands international (head of the garden project) in TN and a student from ACU. They came out to the rez to do research on the Navajos and do kind of a needs assessment for the garden project.

That weekend, I traveled to Gallup, NM about 2.5 hrs away to go to our monthly Bible Study on the book of Matthew where I met up with Nick and the interns. On Saturday, we drove back to Kayenta and the interns spent the night here. I think these 2 students walked away with a ton of information and a great understanding of the Navajo reservation.

On Monday of last week, our friend and future team member, Dan Keele, came to visit for four days. It is always a pleasure to spend time with Dan. We spent a lot of time helping Josh and Divine prepare to move and eating cereal. :) Dan will be moving here in December of this year to be a part of our team. We can't wait!

At the end of last week, Nick's mom and step-dad came to visit for 2 days. We did a lot of sightseeing. We went to Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly and it was awesome. We got a lot of good pictures and had a really nice visit. Again, we loved to be able to show them our life out here, where we live, where we work, as well as the beautiful sights.

And last but not least, this is our last week with Josh and Divine. We have spent a lot of time helping them get ready to move- painting, cleaning, moving boxes, etc. On Sunday evening, we had a surprise going away party for them at the church building. The turnout of people was amazing. We estimated around 125 people were there. Our average on Sunday morning has been 50 so to have 125 is AWESOME!!! They have impacted a lot of people in their time here and it definitely showed at the party. We had a ton of food and a short devotional. Nick spoke some great words about Josh, a lot of tears were shed and Josh spoke some great words about his time here. I included a picture from the party of Josh speaking. We are really going to miss them!

February 28, 2011

New Happenings

Nick and I started a Bible study today with a lady named Aleta. She has been coming to services regularly and she has even gone with us to the monthly Bible Study one weekend out of every month. During the monthly study, we go to one of the churches on the reservation and study for seven hours. Now this takes dedication so we know this woman is interested in the Bible. We will be studying with her every week so it will be exciting to see where this goes.

In other news, I will be traveling with a group of ladies down to Phoenix this weekend for a "ladies day" hosted by a church down there. Phoenix is about four and a half hours away so it will be a nice opportunity to get off the reservation and get into the city. I am excited to spend quality time with the ladies.

Josh and Divine's departure is coming upon us very quickly! It's going to be a whole different experience without them, but we are happy for their new opportunity and our new opportunity here. Many people in the church will miss them very much including us. We have to keep reminding ourselves that God has a plan and if we keep relying on him, the work will grow. It will be hard without a team, but we are also looking forward to Dan joining us next January. Dan is in preaching school right now and joining our team when he graduates in December.

February 15, 2011

Why are we here?

Sometimes its hard to put into words what we are actually doing out here. Most of the time our newsletters and this blog is filled with events. Over the past month it has been more about dealing with everyday events and people. There is no typical day out here although we have tried to create more of a schedule lately. This week, for example, we are putting a lot of focus on planning for the summer especially since Josh and Divine are leaving in April. We will have several groups come out from various churches. We have to decide what they will do, when they will do it, and how we get the members of our church invovled. Another strong effort is hiring an intern for the summer. Nick has contacted several Christian colleges to look for an intern this summer. We are making plans to first of all find the best candidate and then get the money to support this person.

Now to go back to the title of this blog. As I said before, we don't have a typical day and I don't think God opened doors for us here to do one specific event or routine. We are here to shine light in this community. I know this sounds cliche, but there is a lot of darkness here, meaning struggles in every aspect. I think we are here to show joy, which isn't always recognizable. Part of that is just trying to be a faithful Christian. We are also here to show people that we care about them and want the best for them. Sometimes this means giving some one a ride to the store who doesn't have a car. This might mean listening to them talk about the worries of their day. Sometimes it means serving them a meal and getting to know them better inside our home. Maybe it's a phone call to let them know we missed them at church on Sunday. All of these things are a part of our purpose here. I pray that we don't lose sight of this purpose. I know sometimes we get sick of being a taxi cab and doing people favors, but we have to remind ourselves why we are here.

I included a picture of me with my Sunday night Bible class. I am actually starting to enjoy the kids a little bit, which is a far stretch from where I started.

January 15, 2011

Back in the work!

It always takes a while to settle back in after being gone on a trip. We are definitely settled in and back into the work. Nick has been preaching every Sunday and doing every Bible study, because Josh has been out of town. We have Sunday morning worship, Sunday night Bible Study, Tuesday night Bible Study and Wednesday night devotional. You can see how these services alone eat up a lot of our time, especially for Nick when he has to prepare them all.

There has been a lady coming to services who is very close to being homeless. She has three kids and they just moved here from Loiusianna. They are living in a camper trailer and using a generator for heat. They take showers at the church building because they don't have running water. We had them over for dinner a couple nights. More recently, they have been staying at the building because she admitted they weren't warm enough in their trailer. We tried to get them to stay with us but she didn't feel comfortable doing that. They did stay with Josh & Divine a couple nights. Anyway, there are a lot of holes in her story and something doesn't seem right, but we are trying to help them as best as we can. This has become very very wearing on us. Their truck recently broke down so now we are serving as the taxi service as well. The more time goes by, the less we see the mother making an effort to get her life in order. Therefore, the frustration and skepticism in us rises.

There are a ton of details that I left out of this story, but please pray for this situation. We want the best for these kids and it is turning into a legal obligation on our part to turn her in to social services.

This Friday we will travel to Fort Defiance to study the book of Matthew with a professor from Bear Vally Bible Institute.

January 11, 2011

December was a crazy month!

December was filled with drama, activities, visitors, events, and traveling.

As soon as we got back from Thanksgiving break, we organized a clothing drive. Members of the church organized a ton of clothes to be given away to the community. In addition to the tons of clothes, we had brand new socks, underwear, hats, gloves and scarves donated that we were able to give away to the community. We had great contributions that everyone was extremely thankful for. Clothing drives have traditionally been done once or twice a year and we had the privilege of organizing it this year. Members of the church really stepped up to make this a success. We spent at least 4 nights out of the week organizing these clothes to allow for ease of finding what people are looking for.

The following week we had visitors and more events! A friend and Deacon from our church in Columbus came to visit and get a better feel for what is going on here on the rez. He came at a great time when we had a lot going on. At the same time, we had Dave Goolsby from Healing Hands International visit. Dave is the mind behind the garden project. He was on a fact finding trip to learn more about the people, land and possibilities.

During the same weekend, we had a teen Christmas party. Yes, this was all in the same weekend, but it was a blast! We had 6 teenagers come and even though we have grown a little closer to most of them, we are always worried about how they will react and participate. We had several Christmas-like games planned with prizes for winners. They loved every single aspect! Some who we have never seen come out of their shell, really shined that night.

The last thing I would like to talk about is a family we have been helping for some time. It consists of a single mother with 8 kids ranging from 6 months to 23 years. They were evicted from their home. Nick helped them move an hour away to live with family who has little room to spare in their trailer. This family has a ton of social issues and we were very close to the teenagers in the family. I could go on and on about their issues, but I will spare you the details. The good news is that some of our supporters helped provide a Christmas for them! On our way to Phoenix for Christmas, we dropped off boxes of Christmas presents with this family. One of the teenagers had told us that she hadn't gotten any Christmas presents in years so we really wanted to find a way to help them out. Next year we might do an adopt a child type thing so be looking for that next Holiday season!

November 8, 2010

Ladies Night!

I have been hosting ladies nights for the past month every Monday night here at our house. Once a month, we do a Bible study. The other weeks, we find fun ways to fellowship- recipe exchange, cooking together, and watching a movie. Tonight we had our second Bible Study and I was so extremely encouraged. We had 12 ladies including 2 teenagers. We have had a great showing for these nights, which confirms my thoughts that the ladies were longing for something like this. On the other hand, I learned that ladies can drink a lot of coffee! Tonight I was very encouraged by some of the comments made. Some of the ladies have a lot of problems in their lives right now including severe financial troubles, substance abuse, and endless problems with their children. The maturity to make consistent, positive, valuable decisions is lacking. However, some of the comments made to encourage the others feeling discouraged were awesome. For example, one lady said that she reads the Bible with her daughter every morning. Another lady mentioned that all the answers are in the Bible and we should look to it for help with everything in life.
Tonight we talked about Esther and her courage to be a leader and influence those around her. I tried to stress that we all have opportunities everyday to influence others in a positive way especially our family.
Please pray for the ladies ministry. I think it is a great opportunity for our ladies to grow, develop strong relationships, and learn how to be a better Christian woman.

October 25, 2010

Teenagers- oh what a trying time!

Nick and I have been spending a lot more time with the teenagers lately. We have hosted two teen nights. The first one involved an outside movie and some games. The second one, we had a devotional and played games. These are really great kids. We love them all. They have great personalities and some amazing potential. I would ask for everyone's prayers because with every family and with every teenager, there is great baggage, insecurities, and bad habits. Some of the problems these kids deal with are alcholic parents, absent parents, suicide, and financial issues. There are two families right now on the verge of being kicked out of their house for late payments. These are good people with low paying jobs. Please pray for these families and all their struggles.

October Newsletter

Just click on the "October Newsletter" to see our latest newsletter.

September 25, 2010

Our trip to Texas

We were off the reservation last week. We decided a little bit at the last minute to go to "Summit" at Abilene Christian University. If you are not familiar, this is a 4 day series of Bible lectures on a variety of topics. Our friend, Mike, works at ACU as a professor and we crashed at his place. Our main goal was to raise some support and make some contacts. We did attend some lectures, but we also spent a lot of time talking to people about the work in Kayenta. We set up a small and next to everyone else pathetic-looking booth. However, we did have candy so you would hope that that makes up for it! I should add that we are not talking about mints or dum dums or other mockery candy that nobody wants, but solid chocolate!

Enough about sugar- this trip proved very fruitful for us. Abilene, Texas is a 13 hr drive from Kayenta, so this was a little bit risky in terms of the time and money we would spend. Looking over the week- definitley worth it. We went to an Agriculture missions lunch that our friend, Mike, got us into. We learned about all the ways people are spreading Christ through agriculture. Particularly, there is a group called "Healing Hands" that goes to third world countries and teaches them how to farm and preserve food. The presentation was fascinating. Nick got a 5 minute slot to talk about the reservation and some of the challenges. Healing Hands were very interested and by the end of our time at Summit had already decided they wanted to take a trip to the reservation and fund a project there! We had been talking about doing some sort of garden on the property of the church building to help the community, but now it seems like a reality.

We had a lot of fun over the week listening to various lessons, playing scrabble, eating yummy steak and meeting some great people.

First Newsletter

September 16, 2010

A couple more things

I forgot to tell you that I started the first ever bulletin at Kayenta Church of Christ. I am training another lady who could use some help on her computer skills on how to do it. It's really nice for the members to see all the upcoming events and prayer requests on paper. Nick has been cleaning up the "yard" most of the day. I have been putting together some materials for our support trip in Texas. We are getting ready to have dinner with a member who's been helping Nick with the yard work.

September 15, 2010

Staying busy!

So, the intent was to keep this as a more day to day activity but it's a lot harder than we thought! It's already been a month. We are going to try to get better at this. I will give you a brief update then give you some more day to day stuff.

The 1st big battle: Consistent classes on Sunday nights for all ages with solid teachers. Nick is building a curriculum and teaching the teenagers. Attendance is very inconsistent, but hopefully will get better as word spreads. I am teaching the elementary age and training a woman from the church to do the same. Nick says that consistency is the word of the month so that's what we're trying to create.

Nick is preaching once a month and leading devotionals on Wednesday. My classes started back up for my masters degree in counseling so that is also keeping me pretty busy. It is a lot of reading, but very interesting!

Last weekend myself and 9 other ladies from the congregation attended a ladies retreat about 4 hrs south of here in Prescott, Az. We had a blast and felt encouraged at the same time. My next goal is to get some regularly scheduled ladies events on the calendar.

So what goes on in between all that you ask? Well, I will give you an example of one of our days in the past week. On Monday, an elder from Payson, Az and his wife were visiting. So, after getting some things done around the house, we had lunch with them. Then we drove out to the edge of town to visit a member who has not been regularly attending. He's been struggling lately and needed some encouragement. Then we went to the "culture center" at the school where another member works. Then we had dinner and spent most of the evening starting to prepare for a support trip next week in Abilene, Texas. In between all that, a family from the church came over to use the internet to get some homework doe so we visited with them a little bit.

Since we are going to Texas next week, we are spending a lot of time this week preparing for it. We are attending the Abilebe lectures and setting up a booth to spread the word about our mission work and hopefully gain some more support.

Thanks for all your prayers, cards and encouragement!

August 13, 2010

Finally settling down

The last month has been a crazy whirlwind of events. We got married on July 9th and the wedding turned out to be fabulous. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was personal and beautiful and a blast!!! The following day we left on our honeymoon to the beautiful Punta Cana for a whole week. It was so relaxing and just what we needed after all the chaos of the wedding and preparing for our big move. Just as soon as we flew back into Cincinnati, the chaos was back full force. We drove straight down to Hendersonville, TN to present to the missions committee at the church on Sunday morning.

Sunday, we drove back to Columbus to open our wedding presents and get the apartment in order and ready to move. We had one week to pack up everything, use the gift cards we received, tie up any loose ends and visit my family one more time in PA. It was kind of a bittersweet week, having to say goodbye to everyone, but still we're excited for the future.

Tuesday, July 27 was when we started our journey across the country in a great big Uhaul. I thought it was a pretty fun adventure as I have never driven across the country. We stopped in St Louis to see the arch, which was really fun. Then we went through Oklahoma City and Albuquerque. We had a couple hiccups including losing air conditioning for about 4 hrs, but we made it safely on Friday, July 30.

Since then we have been doing a lot of unpacking and trying to get the new place organized. We are getting ourselves familiar with the town and with the church here in Kayenta. We have already connected to a young girl in High School that wants to learn more about the Bible and we’ve set up regular studies with her. Also, we had the opportunity to attend AIMS- American Indian Mission Seminar held in Colorado Springs this past weekend. Some of the preachers from the Navajo reservation were there and spoke about their challenges, successes and ideas to improve. One speaker couldn’t attend due to a death in the family so Nick got a chance to fill in. He did a great job speaking about why we chose the Navajo reservation to be in the work of the Lord.

Now that we are here, we see an even bigger need to work with the teenagers. This is mainly due to the large number of teens but also because there hasn’t been a lot of structure for them in the past. We will be looking to build a solid youth and family program here to get the teens involved as well as their parents. The first Sunday we were here, there were 56 people in attendance and 26 of them were under 18. Speaking of which, Josh wasn’t feeling well that day so Nick got his first opportunity to preach here.

We got puppies too!!!! We got two sister puppies from a litter of seven. They are basically pure mutts (they call them rez dogs), but adorable. Nick is trying to train them up to be guard dogs but they are too cute for that right now. Their names are Uncle Paulie and Mr. Rocky Balboa- yes you heard that right, they are girls but they have boy names.

Well, so far so good. We really love it here and are so excited about the opportunities we have already found. We thank you for your continued prayers and support.

June 24, 2010

One month to go...

Once again, we have neglected to update this as often as we intended. We haven’t had a tremendous amount of news to report. In the past few weekends we have been able to make presentations for the University church of Christ in Morgantown, WV and the Watterson Trail church of Christ in Louisville, KY. In the upcoming weeks, we’ll be making a presentation at the Dublin-Powell church of Christ and immediately after the Honeymoon we’ll be travelling to Nashville to meet with the missions committee at the Hendersonville church of Christ. We are keeping busy however we still need to find support! We have made a good start, we have eclipsed the amount that will make it possible (although very tough) to make the move and go through with our plans. That being said we still have a considerable need for continued monthly supports.

I had dinner a month or so ago with my grandparents. My grandfather has been very ill with cancer (I’d certainly appreciate every prayer you can give on his behalf) and so I have been made even more aware of the uncertainty that is life. While we were eating we started to talk about some of the challenges of the work in Arizona and how to deal with people. He said, I have always answered people’s complaints the same way, with one question. ‘What did they say when you told them that?’ It’ll fix the problem every single time he said. That reminds me of something I want to make sure that I’ve been very clear about in regards to our plans and communications and especially this blog. I would rather answer a couple of questions about something that’s been unclear so I can let you know exactly what I meant or think instead of the alternative. I myself have been guilty of reading or hearing something and then using it to gossip rather than straightening out the issue at the source. Great piece of advice, via Bob Smith. As often as I can manage it I will be sharing nuggets of wisdom from my grandfather instead of my own. I am very blessed to have a strong Christian man as an example in my life.

June 2, 2010

On the Road Again...

It's been a couple of weeks since we've updated the blog here, been a while since we've had much news to report. I just wanted to leave a quick note about our coming weeks plans. We are still looking for support. So if there is a person, a congregation, an Eldership or organization that might be interested in getting involved in this work or might have connections that we could use to meet potential supporters, please let us know. (That sentence should probably have a colon or semicolon or something. I only use the colon when I'm writing the time and the semicolon when a comma doesn't seem appropriate but something is needed.)

This coming Sunday I am headed down to Louisville, KY to the Watterson Trail church of Christ to meet with the members there and give a presentation about the mission work. Unfortunately, Heidi will be staying behind on this trip to attend (and host) a wedding shower at the church for our friend Lisa. Then the following weekend we'll be headed together out to Morgantown to visit with and make a presentation for the church there. We also have a meeting set with the Hendersonville church of Christ in TN on the day after we return from our honeymoon in July. As far as dates on the calendar, that is the extent of our travelling schedule for now. We've been talking with a few local churches and are waiting to hear back from a handful of churches in other areas. Please continue to pray for our support raising efforts as we still have some work to do.

We are just over halfway to our goal right now, in terms of monthly support. We have also collected a very generous amount of individual donations and one time supports that will be very helpful in making the actual move and getting some things set up once we arrive in Kayenta. Hopefully, the gas prices will continue to go down. I've been advised that a uhaul (fully loaded) pulling a car behind will get about 8mpg optimistically. Our trip is going to be close to 2,000 miles. Ha ha, so we'll need a lot of gas.

In other news, the wedding plans are coming along well. We are just over a month away now and are pretty much down to the minor details. There are still 2 groomsmen who haven't been fitted for a tuxedo yet, Ahem. Excuse me I'm just getting over a cold. We're also anxiously awaiting the RSVP's, that has been one of the best parts of the wedding experience so far. I personally, can't wait to see and experience the Western PA tradition of a cookie table. Retraction, I can't wait to be married to my beautiful bride and then to see the cookie table.

Heidi has started a Bible study with a friend of hers from work and has been really excited to share her faith. We've both been excited to get to Arizona and get started in this work, putting our faith into real action. Thanks for all of the support and encouragement that you've graciously given us both.