(Please excuse the randomly changing fonts. I didn’t do it.)
I’d kind of thought that this mission trip would be an incredible week of awe-inspiring Mother Theresa moments. Like a heartwarming feel-good-fest of building fresh water wells for native children who only had prune flavored Nehi to drink. And curing lepers and repairing cleft palates and teaching adorable yet deprived young children about God’s promises.
We’ve been here in the Navajo Nation, aka New Mexico, for three days now and I haven’t seen a single leper. In asking where we’d build the fresh drinking well, I was told that their water supply was fine, but I was welcome to clean the algae out of an old koi pond on the back of the property.
In spite of being disappointed, I remembered that God needs humble workers for the “small stuff” just as he needs “Red Sea Parters” and “Golliath Defeaters.”
Obediently, I spent an hour scooping out stringy, fluorescent green globs that were reminiscent of my sister’s cooking…. the feces-scented homegrown “Nepalese Kale” that she obnoxiously insists we try every holiday.
Elim Haven, the mission we’re serving, is run by Brother Roy, a big-hearted, quirky 50’ish fellow with eye glasses identical to those worn by Walter White in Breaking Bad.
There are lots of us who showed up with our work gloves on, gung-ho about being of service. However, I get the feeling that Brother Roy doesn’t have any super-immediate manual labor needs and is creating busy work for us on the fly (ie the koi pond cleaning).
Bro Roy: “I don’t know, uh, cut down some of those trees over there.”
Us: “which ones?”
Bro Roy: “Just pick a few…..And then y’all can clean out the parsonage basement….After that, maybe paint a few walls somewhere….. And then take sledge hammers and bust up a dozen or so concrete blocks.”
Us: “where are the concrete blocks?”
Bro Roy (looking puzzled): “well, didn’t you bring any?….Then, after that, I’ve got a basket of shirts that need ironing.”*
After lunch, our Backyard Bible Club plans hit a bump in the road because a Navajo guy named Gui Gu got put in jail.*
It was like a bad game of telephone.
Me: “why did he get locked up?”
Cliff: “because his wife got drunk.”
Me: “wow, New Mexico laws are so different! If that were the case in Georgia, my neighbor’s husband would be serving a life sentence.”
I also tried to ask how Gui Gu’s legal misfortune affected our kids’ ministry plans, but was met with that look you give a four-year-old who asks “why” one too many times.
Apparently Gui Gu’s arrest caused us to lose our Bible school venue.(I seriously don’t know the details) Maybe he was under house arrest. Anyway, Kristy, Brother Roy, Bobby and I were stressing out, worrying that we wouldn’t have a place to teach kids about Jesus.
However, God had everything under control, serendipitously directing us to a Navajo woman named Mrs. Jordan who was thrilled to open her backyard to us.”
“I’ve been hungry for the Word and praying that God would use me to help spread his message,” she exclaimed.
“I love the Lord and I learn about him from Pastor Jimmy Swagner on TV. I love Jimmy Swagner.”
At first, I wrinkled my nose in judgement at the thought of Jimmy Swaggart, the gaudy, disgraced Southern televangelist. But then I remembered another important thing about God. He uses EVERYONE for good. Even people who do bad things, and the ones who are “bad” by our standards and don’t know they’re furthering His kingdom. He uses us ALL.”
Great. And now the electricity just went out. Maybe God is saying “you wanted bigger, more important work? Try fixing that transformer down the road. And quit complaining!”
* Some details are embellished for entertainment purposes.