Spring is always a wonderful time of year! Everything has been cold and quiet and suddenly, the world defrosts, the sun perks everything and everyone right up! It’s no different here on the Navajo Nation.
The outlook on Covid has improved slightly, despite reopenings and reclosures around spikes and variants. Things are steadily improving and with it, restrictions are easing.
We were able to have church for the first time in over a year on Easter Sunday. Because of the lockdowns and curfews on the Reservation, we have been barred from Sundays until now. (We have been able to meet in homes and hold Bible Studies somewhat, but this has not been an effective way to gather in the health climate and with those restrictions).
Our first Sunday back we were “packed” at about 40 people. We were able to distance, keeping family groups together, sing, offer nursery services AND share communion through the very convenient individual communion packets (like they serve at revivals, camps and festivals with the wafer on top of the little cup!) It was wonderful to connect with the community again in this way after a full year. Steve has taken on much of the sanitizing and logistics of holding services according to both Navajo and New Mexico regulations. This is nothing he hasn’t already been doing for Celebrate Recovery, so it’s something we are able to accomplish with extra time given to it. In addition to this, Sharon is maintaining strict cleaning and sanitizing protocols in the nursery for any infants and toddlers to be able to play safely. We are hoping children’s church will be able to start up soon as well. Pray for these endeavors as we help-as members- to get out local church back to our available pre-pandemic services and resources.
It has been a year and a half since we have been able to hold our Radio Sharathon fundraiser. Annually and sometimes more, it has always lifted a huge part of our financial burden as far as radio services and staying on the air goes. With four functioning stations (currently broadcasting identically across the reservation on AM and FM) it takes work and money to keep our signal live. We’ve had to cancel Sharathon repeatedly since Covid began and on Saturday we pulled off a big, drive-thru/outdoor event! Most of the staff was able to help as well as retired and former staff and local community friends. It was a great time and a sorely missed staple event of the Mission. Sharon organized food for the staff throughout the day (this year, regulations prevent us from feeding the local public except for water and sealed chip bags, which were well enjoyed by all. Staff was well-fed from 8am through 6:30pm!!!). Steve processed donations throughout the day (as is a normal part of his job) and we raised over 8,000 with additional money pledged. Much of these donations come in from immediately local community members who have long-loved our station and are able to give back and help us keep it on the air – not unlike supporting your local Christian radio such as is done with K-Love.
We had 150 or more cars drive thru and many stayed parked, listening to the radio from their vehicles, watching the live music and cheering, honking and praising together. As a high risk community, we have taken special care to continue to be present for those needing it most without bringing undue risk and impact to their health. It was an encouragement to see so many familiar and new faces come through, honk and wave. Praise that we’ve brought in close to this year’s goal, which will offset a huge chunk of operating costs and help toward equipping the new station building which is ever closer to being completed. As a side note: Sharathon takes a lot out of us, it is a big undertaking, even for a single day event…. we might take a day or two off 😉
Bunch-a photos follow… cause, ya know, it was exciting
Sharon is getting the opportunity to help through the summer at the Hilltop Christian School Library - as most of the teachers are off for the summer updating supporters, seeing family and otherwise taking a break from school and mission life. The work involves getting a handle on a year of low staff, no steady library staff, donations of books and supplies that haven't been sorted or shelved and other maintenance tasks. The kids will often be with her through this project and they can watch movies, have snacks, do crafts and even help out with odd jobs around her work. She's excited to be able to have an impact with the school through this flexible and quiet summer opportunity. And of course, we absolutely love our school, and so the participation in making the library a great resource again for the next school year is something we love. Pray as she works through this that things are smooth, interruptions are minimal, and the rather large job can be completed before staff is back on campus to prep for the school year (from the last week of May through the first of August).
We had special visitors today: Joel Miller, the missions pastor at LifeHouse Church in DE came up with his friend Jeremy from the Phoenix area (the Miller family is visiting them in AZ from DE). Steve gave them a tour of the campus, some general life updates and we enjoyed lunch together. Pray for the Miller family as they spend time in the Valley and when they and their sweet kids travel home and for Jeremy and his family.
Thank you for all of the prayers and support! Happy spring, Blessings and love in Christ
Steve and Sharon