On Saturday afternoon, we told our family see you in a month. On Saturday afternoon, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I hugged my dear friend, ‘’Sani Willy”, goodbye. The tears came, despite knowing I’d see her again in August. We’ll be back and at our business at the beginning of the month and yet I was completely consumed by the tugging in my heart that could only be captured in one word, sadness. It was an unexpected reaction. It’s certainly not one I ever imagined I’d experience out here. There it was though, a legitimate sadness over leaving my beautiful Navajo family.
You see, she adopted me into her clan on Sunday. I now have my own clan…I belong to these beautiful people who have so openly loved and given to my family without hesitation.
When J and I first established BHP, we prayed fervently over what our mission statement would be for our ministry. One of the hot points was to develop families who know Jesus in such a way that generations will be forever changed. Funny thing is, God’s changed our family for generations to come. It’s an odd feeling, knowing you have a place in a culture that for so long your own culture has caused so much pain.
This past week was our first VBS as full time missionaries. There were lots of changes in my family, ones I didn’t even realize had happened until I watched my babies playing with their friends. We heard several times how well the littles has acclimated. We were reminded of how nervous we all were last year, aside from J, and the beautiful way we’ve adjusted to Rez life. The crazy thing is, I wouldn’t change this beautiful life for any thing in this world.
I was asked last week, how we found time for each other? How did we make time for self-care? I answered as best I could…we know it’s a priority in ministry. We know for balance and rhythm for our family, boundaries and self-care are a non-negotiable. The more I’ve thought about it though, the more my response has morphed into something even deeper. All the things I mentioned above are very true…boundaries and self-care are non-negotiable for our family. We spend time at least once a month off the Rez. We’ve found a church to feed and refill us so we can be most effective. Yes, all those make a difference in how we live out here…most importantly though, we are fighting for our best family, best ministry, best selves-we are fighting to know God deeply and intimately. We are praying more now than ever before because most times, it’s all we have. J and I spend hours in the car with our children and somehow we are closer as a family now than we’ve ever been. There’s no running from the hard stuff when you are all each other has. Hard conversations happen on time because there isn’t the opportunity to run from them. Our boundaries and self-care look so different here but our devotion to making those priority is top-notch. We aren’t perfect, we have our battles-our family has just begun to understand in a tangible way that there is only one who has won the war…
What’s all that got to do with being sad about leaving the Rez for a month, you might ask? There is a comfort in knowing God surrounds you daily. Even in the darkness, I feel His presence so strongly in the desert. There is a fear in going into the world as we once knew it. There is a space in my heart that wasn’t full until I settled into His calling and I’m sad to be away from the people who helped me fall into that calling. I am sad not to see their beautiful black hair and their smooth brown skin. I am sad to be the only one speaking Navajo with my babies for a whole month. While I’m excited to see the many faces of our family and friends back East, my heart will long for the red sand that fills every crevice, the smell of the sun hitting the rocks, the warmth of the sun on my face and the sounds of my beautiful family mixed with the sounds of sheep.
I am amazed at the awe inspiring way my Father has settled my wandering heart. I am thankful to have a clan, a family, my people.