Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Missions Trip to the Navajo Nation


From June 3rd to June 10th, 2023 I travelled with a team of 31 from Saddleback Church to the town of Dilkon, Arizona in the Navajo Nation.  We were there to support the Dilkon Church of the Nazarene (DilkonNaz). (That's my Jeep above on the drive from Winslow, where we were staying each night, to the town of Dilkon).

The 3rd and 10th were travel days as Dilkon is an 8 hour drive from Southern California.  June 4th we attended the church service at DilkonNaz and visited the Dilcon Community School where most of us would be serving over the next 5 days.  (That's not a typo in the name of the school.  Depending where you are at the in area they spell the name of the area differently and differ on whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.) 

The principal of the school gave us some background on the community while we were there.  He indicate that 50% of the students come from homes with no running water and 10% come from homes with no electricity.  The unemployment rate is about 50%.  Many of the kids are living with extended family or are in foster care.  Because the area is so rural, they send buses to pickup locations up to 60 miles from the school where the parents drop off and pick up the kids.  Some of the kids are from so far away or face other living situations that require that they board at the school during the week.

Our mission was multifaceted:

First Aid/CPR training

A couple members of the team were providing free American Heart Association First Aid/CPR training classes for adults (along with a free lunch) at DilkonNaz.

Trust-Based Relational Intervention training

A few other members of the team were providing free Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training for adults (also with a free lunch) at Dilcon Community School.  TBRI is an attachment-based intervention approach for working with children that have experienced trauma.  Originally developed to help work with foster and adoptive children, the approach has also been found to work well for other children that don't respond well to traditional approaches.

Basketball and Crafts camp 

The rest of us ran a basketball and crafts camp at the Dilcon Community School.  Basketball is one of the most popular sports on the Navajo Nation (the other being skateboarding).  Summer school was in session at Dilcon Community School, so the students were allowed to participate for some period of the day.  In addition DilkonNaz had been promoting the event in the community, so kids from the area that were not in summer school could still come by and participate as well.

In addition to the basketball camp, there were three tables where the kids could work on crafts.  There was a different craft at each table, and a different craft was done at each in the morning versus the afternoon, so kids had an opportunity to work on six different crafts each day.

There was also another table where kids that were interested could work on a jigsaw puzzle.

Finally, the table I was at through the week was the one were we were doing Legos.  

Just prior to lunch we'd gather the kids that had come in from the community into the gymnasium and we'd sing a worship song and then have a Bible skit performed (the Good Samaritan shown here).  The kids that were in summer school didn't participate in this part as they were back in their classes at this time.

Monday we had about 80 kids total.  Tuesday was about the same, with some new kids and some kids that had been there Monday not returning.  Wednesday we had over 100 kids and Thursday we had over 90.  I don't have the count for Friday but is was less because some of the school kids were on a field trip to Flagstaff.

Some of the highlights of the trip.

  • A number of people completed the TBRI training, including the pastor and some of the leaders at DilkonNaz.  The pastor wants to get some of the other local churches involved in taking the classes online.
  • One of the people who took the CPR class returned home to find somebody in cardiac arrest and was able to resuscitate them.
  • On Tuesday the local food bank had a significant amount of food that they weren't able to distribute.  We picked it up and were able to distribute it.
  • On Wednesday a portion of the team went to Walmart to get school supplies for 50 kids that the local church (DilkonNaz) will distribute.
  • The person leading worship for our team donated the guitar he had been using during the trip to the worship team at the local church, as they needed one.

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