Happy (almost) Summer!!
Something that we did not anticipate when heading out to the Navajo Nation was becoming DIY experts! You figure some unskilled, on-the-fly, handyman work might be needed, not unlike your average homeowner, but we’ve learned complex plumbing, basic electric, tile and more! Someone on campus recently told Sharon that “God gives us the skills that we need, we just need to use them.”
Because of this, we felt confident to jump into a major project here at the mission. One of the houses on site had become as nearly unlivable in the kitchen. Two of our young teachers moved into it last summer, for want of anything else on site, and occasionally we would hear about how they were coping with the different issues (mold and mildew, rot, leaks, broken flooring that had become extremely sharp and hazardous). Most of the problems seemed centered in the kitchen. Sharon got approval from the director to tear apart the kitchen. Both of the young ladies are away for a portion of summer break, visiting their families, so what better time to gut their kitchen than now? The kitchen has been pulled apart down to the subfloor (and in same cases, below it), cabinets are out, sheetrock is pulled back to rid of the mold (from a major leak at some point not long before they had moved in). Steve has refitted much of the plumbing to the kitchen and installed new shutoffs at the pipes and the propane line. The house is among the older on campus and so has seen many residents and many repairs. Today, we got the new cabinets in, leveled, mounted, calked and ready for countertop (and something for it is backordered, so that part is on hold). Tomorrow Sharon will level and prep the floor around the cabinets for new flooring.
Somewhere in and around all of this it occurred to us, the aforementioned, we didn’t expect this. Much of our work here (from prepping snacks for the teens to sorting checks and handling mission finances) are supportive roles. We knew our jobs are to help other people do their jobs. This newfound DIY skillset is no exception.
The two teachers in particular are among our paid school staff (our staff and teachers are half supported missionaries, and half paid positions…. very low paying positions). They are fresh out of school and this is their first and second year teaching, respectively. Anzhelika is our pre-k AND art teacher, Liliya is our second grade teacher. They are amazing young ladies who enjoy working at our school, but our tiny mission school is the job for them. Their mission, and the reason they are here, is to partner with the Russian Baptist church not far from here and do mission out in some of the far reaches of the Reservation. Everything from street corner preaching, to dinner with elderly people in a dirt floor hogan with no electric. These gals are amazing and we are so blessed to know them and to be able to fix up the kitchen and dining room (where one gives art classes and the other teaches Russian language in addition to everything else). What a delightful duo of young ladies. Pray no injuries occur during the remaining renovations. Pray Sharon’s cat allergies stay away – so far so good – the kitty who occupies that house looooves keeping her company. Pray for Liliya and Anzhelika to be able to use the renovated space to God’s glory as they continue ministering on the Reservation and with our school kids and pray for their safe trip back here over the next few weeks. Please also pray for their friend Joy, who stays with them frequently and has had a hard year. This, her first, teaching in the middle of the pandemic and with a rough group of kids. Joy teaches at a public school up north, but spends the weekends with the ladies and is involved in ministry with them. Incidentally, Joy grew up an hour from me, so we share a connection to Pennsylvania.
— Having issues cropping these pics, more below —
Now, for the fun stuff. We thought, after 10,608 hours we could leave Covid out of our newsletters, but alas…
We had two confirmed cases in office, active illness, with symptoms. Within days, several more on staff developed an array of symptoms from sinus pressure to fever and delirium. No one in our house is ill, but we are under full quarantine (until Saturday presuming no one comes down with any symptoms). The contact tracers (because they stalked us) said anyone vaccinated can be free to continue normal activities provided they were a facemask for the chances of asymptomatic transmission. One such lady – our first grade teacher, Sara- went and got us all the essentials at the grocery store!! Absolutely sweet. She’s also peeked in and checked on Sharon while she’s working on the house renovation (on campus and isolated from others). The Everetts are great friends and we are blessed to know them. Pray for healing on campus, especially for the woman who is experiencing more severe symptoms than the rest of us. Pray our immediately family continues to be symptom free and can return to life on Saturday. Pray, too, for the Everetts. Roger and Sara, that they remain healthy as they shop for and run errands for those of us fully locked down. They are a huge blessing.
Celebrate Recovery attendance has leveled off at seven attendees, but they are faithfully coming, reaching out to Steve and the other leaders and are growing both in their faith and their recovery.
We had a very special gift donated to Celebrate Recovery last month, and Steve was able to use much of it to help get a CR group on the Zuni Reservation (an hour and a half south of us) back on it’s feet after the severe impact of our lengthy Covid lockdowns and the direct lockdown on the Zuni Rez…. no one on or off Rez, road blocks for a good chunk of the year. The Zuni Reservation lifted these restrictions in April. This special gift helped restock Recovery Bibles, sobriety and recovery chips, and other resources that the group needed to fully restart.
Due to the high level of exposure and last minute notification on campus, CR was cancelled last week (for the first time since New Mexico’s original lockdown eased last summer. Tomorrow night’s meeting will still be absent Steve, but one of our other leaders who hasn’t been exposed to anyone on campus has offered to lead it, but quarantine should be lifted before next week, bringing us back to our newish normal. Praise, thank God with us for the CR gift, for other special gifts recently that have been used in powerful ways, for the ability to equip the Zuni CR group and for continued work with our Celebrate Recovery friends. Pray specifically this week for JJ, JH, and also for Darlene J. who is leading tomorrow night.
We had visitors last month!! Grandma and Grandpa visited from PA and we had a grand time! The kids were super happy to see their grandparents in their own house (we stayed with them last fall when we were back east… I think the kids like especially to be able to have them, to show them around and involve them in their lives). We took a road trip around the immediate area, pointing some sights out, unfortunately all of the Tribal parks are still closed, but we had a good time driving nonetheless. Complete with some special coffees for the trip.
Next week, Adam gets to go to Summer Camp! This is a camp not far from the mission with who’s lea are well-acquainted, Adam, on the other hand, doesn’t know a soul. So pray please that we are clear of any covid symptoms before our quarantine lets up and that he has a wonderful experience filled with fun, new friends and spiritual growth.
Millie Anne is stuck home! Mommy plans to try and get her to the movie theater down town as her own special treat. Rumor has it there is a horsey movie that has a little girl 😉 Keep her little heart in prayer too, she easily feels left out when big brother gets to do cool things.
Summer is kicking up, the mission has a team arriving next week to work on the radio station building, Sharon will be finishing up the girls’ house over the next two weeks, Steve is looking at the next classes he can take for chaplaincy and planning more radio programs for Celebrate Recovery, next month Sharon will be logging time in Hilltop’s library, creating new entries for some several hundred books that were donated for the school. The kids are back to school (we school year round with several long breaks, they just had four weeks off) and we are about to study SPACE – we are all obsessed with the Mars missions. In the near future, Steve is hoping the jail will reopen and allow services back in so that can be resumed, and Sharon is talking with school administration about volunteering some hours during the school year in the library, as we do not have a dedicated librarian at this time. Please pray for all of this as summer and fall is definitely our “busy season”.
Love in Christ,
Steve and Sharon