The Navajo People

Yá'át'ééh!  That is Hello in Navajo! There are plenty of things about the Navajo Nations camp that are unlike other camps.  Things like watching wild horses cross the road, seeing prairie dog scurrying about the ground, petting countless (and very friendly) dogs wandering around the mission site, looking around to see beautiful clay colored rocks jutting up from out of the ground, and not having to use bug spray or swat at bugs are just some of the things I experienced here that I haven’t in the other camps I’ve been to.  While all of those things added to my experience in Navajo, and gave me great pictures and stories to share with others, those things are probably the things I miss and think about the least.  The best part about Navajo was the people.

This summer we served within the Church Rock Chapter and more specifically, in the Miller community.  Although the groups came to serve the community, several people from the community served right alongside us.  Even before the summer started, one of the men that lived there went around to the some of the others to see what needed done and what colors they wanted their houses painted.  Once groups arrived, he spent several days working with the groups to complete projects.    Water on the reservation was a precious thing and not everyone had running water.  If you’ve ever painted, you know that water is essential to keeping brushes cleaned off and usable, so without having access to water on the mission site, we had to bring all brushes and rollers back to camp each evening to clean them so that they would be ready to use the next day.  Another man in the community had seen this need for water and he hauled a bucket of water so that the groups could wash a few brushes and let others soak until they could be properly cleaned.  Not only did this man decide to bless us by bringing us some water to use for out paint brushes, he got nothing in return for it.  We hadn’t been working on his house, nor were we going to through the rest of the summer.  He gained nothing from bringing us this water, yet, he did it anyway.

During the second week of camp, we had a large group of students serving the people in the Miller Community.  There were about 6 or 7 different paint jobs and projects being worked on at one time.  That Wednesday, one of the homeowners approached me as everyone was cleaning up the missions sites for the day.  She said that she was so thankful for the young people who had worked on her house, her sister’s house, and the community center that she wanted to make lunch for us he next day.  I was worried because there were a lot of people to feed, but she wasn’t worried at all.  Her and several other women in the family worked together to cook and serve enough Navajo Tacos for just about 70 people total!

It wasn’t only the adults who did the volunteering and serving.  The kids did too.  More specifically, two sisters, ages 6 and 8, were always excited to and asked to help the groups when painting was involved.  They may have dripped a little more than everyone else, and someone may have needed follow behind them to fill in the spots that were missed, but it was wonderful to see the groups and these girls not only play, but work side by side throughout the day.

There were so many things that I loved about my time in Navajo.  There are so many things that come to mind when people ask me about what makes this camp different or special and, although I am so thankful for every new experience, my favorite thing about Navajo is, by far, the people.