Monday, December 9, 2013

Time Passes in the Blink of an Eye!

     Learning about the Navajo culture has opened my eyes in many ways. I have definitely become a lot more culturally aware of not only the Navajo culture, but my own as well. It's easy to not to think about what makes up my own culture because I just live in it on a day to day basis. I have become so accustomed to my life at home, I never really thought about what aspects actually make up my culture. I have gained a lot of respect for the Navajo people here. Going into the semester, I was not knowledgeable of Native American culture in the slightest. All I knew was what I was taught throughout school, so pretty much TeePees and the Trail of Tears. After learning about the Navajo history and life today, my ignorance has bloomed into admiration. There has been several occurrences throughout this semester which has enhanced my appreciation for the Navajo. Just this past week we went to a Navajo lady named GeorgeAnne. GeorgeAnne is an elderly Navajo woman who weaves blankets. I have seen over one hundred different Navajo blankets and the great detail in the blankets, but I had only seen the end result of the blanket. I never knew how much work, concentration, and patience it takes for the weavers. GeorgeAnne showed us how she makes the string from the wool, what she uses to dye the wool, and how to weave. The designs of these unique blankets are all in the head of the weaver. It just astounds me how precise some of the Navajo are.
     Just like every culture, there are people struggling in the Navajo community. Seeing some of the living situations here in Gallup, NM has opened my eyes. While tutoring at Church Rock Elementary School, I have learned about some of the kids living situations. It makes me wonder why God gave me the life he did. Why am I so blessed with a loving family that is financially stable while some kids are growing up in trailer neighborhoods where shootings occur weekly and alcoholism is a severe problem? It has made me realize that I need to give back to a higher extent.
     This weekend is our last weekend in New Mexico. We only have three more days until we make our departure for home in our separate ways. I am going to be headed to Florida for a short trip with my Dad. Megan will be off in Santa Barbra, CA only a few hours from Charis who will be in Ontario, CA. Dani and Joyce will be headed home in the van (aka "Kool Express) to Springfield, IL and Grand Rapids, MI.
     I started packing some of my clothes in one of my suitcases and it's definitely a bitter sweet experience. While I am excited to return home, I vividly remember rolling all my clothes as tightly as possible in order to cram as much as possible into two suitcases three months ago. Saying goodbye to these girls is going to be so strange. I've lived with them for three months and seen them everyday. I wouldn't be surprised if we had separation anxiety ;). haha. But seriously, I am so thankful that we have bonded over these past few months. We have shared an unforgettable experience that we can reminisce about for the rest of our lives. This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to come on this semester program.

 Our last day at Calvin. Our first day of the semester spent travelling to New Mexico...and our first group picture.
Our first hike in New Mexico with the DeYoungs. I am definitely going to miss looking outside and seeing mesas/hogbacks surrounding the land. The views here are something I could never get tired of looking at...even when the mesas are covered in snow and its 20 degrees outside. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Studying-Preparing for our last week

As the semester is coming to a close, we have a lot of homework to get done and a lot of things to wrap up. We have our Prime Kingdom Citizenship papers due tomorrow, a project and presentation in Geology due Thursday, an outline for Plantinga's book, a paper on Remember the Titans, as well as preparing for 2 tests. Seeing as there is a lot that needs to be accomplished in a small amount of time, prayers from our readers would be much appreciated. We need to focus these last few days to get things done. On top of all of our homework, we are also looking forward to going to Shallaco this weekend. This is a traditional ceremony that will be performed by the Zuni tribe. We will arrive there at around 10 p.m. and will not return until 2 a.m! This is sure to be an experience we won't soon forget. 

In closing, we are really looking forward to all of the adventures still to be had in our 10 days left here in Rehoboth! Let's pray for good endings for our semester. 

Studying hard for our final assignments! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013


On November 17, we went to Zuni, New Mexico. Zuni is known for its artists. They make pottery, paintings, fetishes (tiny statues). We stopped at a trading post in Zuni that had all of these along with jewelry and Navajo pottery.

Zunis have a unique societal structure. They live all together in pueblo buildings. Sometimes as many as 5 immediate families will live in the same complex. Community is very important to the Zunis. When we talked to a teacher at the Zuni mission school, she said that when she visited students' houses for parent-teacher conferences, sometimes she didn't know if she was talking to the child's parent or another family member.

We toured the Zuni mission school. It was a K-8th school and a church. They're preparing to add a huge addition to the school. The part we toured that was finished was beautiful. The teachers who gave us the tour said the students really enjoyed the new building.

We also went  to see the old Spanish mission. Unfortunately, we couldn't go inside but outside was a cemetery. The cemetery was overgrown with weeds. Even though the weeds were a bit out of control, you could tell people cared because there were flowers placed on the graves.

I'm glad we visited Zuni because we could see a community that still maintains its cultural roots and shares it with others. In a couple weeks, we're going back to Zuni to see Shaliko, their biggest religious festival of the year.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

This past weekend, on Friday we went the Bisti’ wilderness area and then to a Navajo rug auction. Then on Saturday we went to various places to shop and then horseback-riding at Canyon De Chelly. Phew. For Bisti’ we parked in what seemed like the middle of nowhere and headed down a pretty flat area with rock formations around it. Nothing was especially interesting at first and we weren’t really sure what to expect. But before long we came to an area full of rock formations called hoodoos which look like a lean tall rock with a flat rock balancing on top of it. It honestly looked like we were on another planet. It’s amazing that there are places on this earth that you can’t even imagine; every single time I think I’ve kind of got the gist of what the world around me looks like I’m proven very wrong. Our teacher, Mr. De Young showed us places where millions of years old petrified wood was with the trunk still intact. We talked about how the trees fell in the same direction and so there was some type of event that made them fall down at the same time. Probably Aliens. He also showed us where dinosaur bones were sticking out of the ground.  I guess I always assumed that all the dinosaur bones that people found were dug up, but here the bones were right in front of me relatively undisturbed for millions of years. We found remnants of clams from when there was once water in the area as well as pieces of turtle shells. In just a few hours there was so much history to take in. We took some time to just relax and enjoy the silence, the blue sky, and the beautiful rocks all around us.
Afterwards we went to the rug auction for a couple of hours. The Navajo rugs were absolutely beautiful. They had all kinds of intricate patterns or even pictures of animals or people. Even a relatively small rug could take a couple of months to make, yet would only go for about a hundred dollars at the auction. That means that they are getting only a few cents per hour of work. Some rugs wouldn’t even sell. It was sad seeing such beautiful art not being recognized, especially since Navajo weaving is a dying art form. I think in our culture we’ve gotten so used to things being mass produced and cheap that we don’t realize when something is actually worth paying more money for. It’s definitely something I need to be more conscious of as I get souvenirs when I travel.

I guess that’s all I have to say for now. We did other awesome things over the weekend but I've save those stories for when we come back. Everything is great here and we will be beyond sad to leave in a few short weeks.

Majestic Grand Canyon squirrel

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What I learned this week

The link above really ties together a lot of aspects we've been learning from a lot of our classes. From cultural lenses, to acceptance between different social barriers. This article truly is a goldmine, and my friend Alex co-founded this coalition. Trust me my friends, if we could all be this bold and outspoken for social justice, the world would be a much brighter, and safer place.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Just some of the goofballs on my floor, these five girls are some of my closest friends here so far. One of the girls, Laura, was on my wilderness trip to Colorado this summer. I would love for y'all to meet them when you get back! I hope that you guys can grow closer to God as you embark upon your journeys in God's beautiful outdoors!

I'm sorry I haven't been keeping the best contact up with you guys. I miss you guys so much!! It looks like you guys are having the most amazing time in Rehoboth. I just wanted to post some pictures so that you guys could be connected to the life back at Calvin. The first picture is of a group of my friends and I at art prize in downtown Grand Rapids. It was a really cool experience that i deffinitly recommend you guys to go to another year when your back on campus. The second picture is of most of the people in Heyns Hall, but not everyone. We went on a dorm retreat for a weekend. It was really fun to get to know everyone better and really connect with people. I hope that when you guys get back, I can introduce you guys to my new friends and help you get back into the swing of things. Love you guys.