There's Tom, a young 30 something, wandering. Abandoned by his father and orphaned by his mother who died too soon from a game of Russian Roulette, he is searching. Will he ever find what he's looking for?
There's Martha, a grandmother of many precious babies. Her neighbors are her relatives and they are persistent in giving her grief. Taking her to court, arguing over the property line, and even losing 40 baby chickens to their dog. When will it end?
There's Charley, a pastor of the local church. He's caught between serving God and maintaining some of the Navajo tradition. He is faced with opposition for his position. He is looked down upon and people have left his church. What did he do wrong?
There's me, a young woman attempting to serve God each day. I'm out of my comfort zone most days, struggling with my insecurities. Am I sure I can do this?
Today marks three weeks I have spent on the reservation. Each week has been full of its own surprises, its challenges, its joys. Some days I don't know how I'll survive with the heat, the sand covering what seems to be every inch of my body. Showers turned into quick rinses by the garden hose. And how about that dirt between my toes that I can't seem to get rid of. Might as well forget about the smell of my feet too because it isn't going to get better any time soon.
That's when I meet people like Tom, Martha, and Charley. They struggle every day too. They wonder about how they will survive, how they will make ends meet, how to face the difficult challenges that come their way.
I have realized that there truly are no differences between them and me. In fact, when I look at them, I see me. I see a heart that just wants peace. I see a heart that just wants love. I see a soul yearning for understanding and meaning. Navajo or white, we're all the same.
This past week was a challenge. Our pace turned from teaching and talking to physical labor: remudding an adobe, taking everything out of a incredibly dusty and cough inducing shed just to put it back in, rebuilding an entire fence, digging a 5 ft deep hole for an outhouse, and rebuilding a sheep corral. We spent our nights sleeping on the cement floor of a hogan, where we had a few 'visitors' overnight.
There were a few moments when I felt like quitting or at least crying. But God reminded me of a few things.
"Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised."
Whether it's me, Charley, Tom, or Martha, we will all face days where we feel like giving up and letting go. But God has called us to holdfast, to not let go but to remember his faithfulness and love. Instead of letting challenges separate me from others, they can be used to bring us together. They can be used to let someone know that I hurt too, and that I'm not the strongest person. Although maybe the Navajo and I come from two different worlds, we both come from the same Creator. Through him, we can be whole again.