Acadia Imhof is a junior sustainability studies major.
As our time at Black Mountain Mennonite comes to a close, I cannot help but reflect on how we were embraced into that community. When I first set foot there I felt a bit like I was in another world. Our first experience with members of the church was a meal that they provided us on the night we arrived. I remember feeling like a shy child as I entered into this culture which felt somehow both foreign and familiar. There was a sense of fascination mixed with fear, an awe for the space and the land that was tinted with anxiety from the newness of it all. However, after two weeks there, Black Mountain Mennonite felt like home and the idea of moving on held a sadness I never expected.
Homestays played a big part in this shift in perspective for me. As we were separated and each adopted into new families, I don’t think anyone knew what to expect. I had no way of knowing that I would become a daughter and eventually only refer to my host as mom, or that I would become completely comfortable riding on the tailgate of a truck over the uneven and dusty back roads. The landscape that once looked barren and lifeless to me started to feel dynamic, beautiful, and a little bit like home. After just three nights with our host families, we came together as a group, each of us bringing a wealth of knowledge and relationships. Some of us learned new bits of the Navajo language, while others had been taught about traditional medicines or handicrafts. Many of us became acquainted with the histories of our host families and learned about their unique connections with the land. This provided us with perspectives that we would have otherwise never uncovered.
On our final full day at Black Mountain Mennonite, we got to observe and assist in the butchering of a sheep. Many of the Navajo women who were in charge of the butchering had been our hosts just a few days before. I think on that day, many of us felt like part of a family as we worked together to create a meal. After all of the academic learning we did prior to this trip, it felt good to finally be living into that experience and learning firsthand from people with whom we had built relationships. That day and that meal felt like such a contrast from the first one we shared together.