May 15, 2013

Navajo family homestays

As we ended our time at Hopi, we prepared ourselves for a new culture and new relationships. On Friday afternoon, we drove to a Mother’s Day Feast hosted by the Black Mountain Mennonite Church in Navajo Nation. After helping serve dinner, we were divided into groups of two or four and sent out with host families. On Sunday, we joined back together at the Church for the Sunday morning service.

Here are our stories from the weekend with our Navajo families.

Jan and Janet: We stayed with Mary Trejo and her family. We were able to relax for a day, have lunch at Chinle, and also see Mary’s classroom where she teaches art.

Ana, Lynelle, Natasha and Tabitha: We stayed with Dorothy. Besides treating us like her own kids with a large breakfast and hospitality, she also included us in her son’s family. The whole family trekked up Fish Point (see photos), which is 1500 feet in elevation. We continued our hike up other mesas where we saw dinosaur tracks and desert plants, among other things. We thought it was a fitting end to the day to spend hours talking and laughing in the family hogan (a traditional Navajo shelter).

Natalie, Grace, Rachael and Vasti: We went to the flea market in Gallup, New Mexico and bought some awesome jewelery with our host mom, Shirley. For lunch, we drove to Top of the World mountain and had a picnic there. The next morning we learned about Navajo marriage traditions, because our host mother’s daughter is getting married in June.

Madeleine and Katrina: We stayed with a young family of four. On Saturday, we attended a Mother’s Day bible study back at the Hopi reservation with our host mother, Naomi, and two other Navajo women, Margie and Sammy. We also hiked down the beautiful Canyon de Chelly in the evening. Altogether we had a wonderful time and a highlight was seeing a rattlesnake for the first time.

Ben, Seth, Micah and Jacob: We were generously accepted into the home of Pastor Daniel Smiley and assistant Pastor Alfonso, where we were fed generously. Saturday consisted of a Navajo-Christian funeral including a massive feast, digging the foundation¬† of a hogan and a hike up to the cliff next to Pastor Smiley’s home. All of these activities were interspersed with conversations about Navajo culture, politics and religion.

Jess and Samita: We stayed with our host mom, Perfinna and Mama Jane. Her home was surrounded by homes of her family and every morning and evening, the family congregated at our living room. We spent our day herding sheep with Perfinna and ended it with a great Mother’s Day feast with four generations of the family. It was great to see how much they valued mothers. We also enjoyed seeing our host mom’s bead work and her grandmother’s rugs.

Adrienne and Drea: We trekked through the mountains and the back roads to Monument Valley, Utah in the bed of a truck. The beauty of the country awed us as we saw wild horses and jaw dropping landscapes. The sights made us want to burst out into singing “God of wonders.” It was very hard to leave our wonderful host family who made us feel so welcome. We hope we can come back soon.

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