Everybody has a voice that wants to be heard. Every person you encounter wants their story to be heard and to feel that their life has value. Loving people isn’t easy. Those four verses in 1 Corinthians 13 that explain how to love aren’t just for weddings. They are words that should govern our lives. The verses explain how to help people, people in every classroom, office, city, neighborhood, or even reservation.
A year ago, my husband and I moved to Kayenta, Arizona from Columbus, Ohio to be missionaries on the Navajo reservation in a small church. Our goal was to help encourage the church members and help people grow in their faith. I worked in an office for several years and always wanted an opportunity like this to help people. I came with little understanding about the people and grand ideas about how to help them. I am slowly learning that all they need is love. I know this sounds cliché especially since it is a Beatles’ song, but it’s the truth. The first thing they need is to be listened to. They all have a story, most of which are unlike anything I’ve heard before. Alcoholism, abuse, poverty and lack of education are some of the major problems and most of the stories I have heard have at least two of these problems. Although these problems are everywhere, they are magnified here. This is on top of things we can’t control like death and disease. I have a long way to go in mastering this thing called love, but I have learned that the solutions to everyone’s problems are simple. It starts with love and it ends with the truth that we know as the Bible.
So what is it that I do here as a woman, a wife, and a missionary? I lead a ladies’ night every Monday. This is a regular occurrence with a different activity every week. Some of the things we have done so far are cook, eat, study the Bible, crochet, plan a party, and a spa night . The idea is to get to know each other as ladies of the congregation, form a bond, and encourage each other. I am also teaching the teenage girls on Tuesday nights about sexual purity. We talk about loving ourselves, doing things to achieve our goals in life and doing the things in life to lead us closer to God. I teach the 7-12 year olds in Bible class. I never taught a kids’ class in my life before moving here but God has blessed me with a great class and it has been a learning process for all of us.
In between all of that, I try to spend time with the ladies and encourage them. I try not to take the small things for granted like writing a card, stopping by to say hello, or bringing some one cookies. These small acts contribute to a person feeling valued and boosting their self-esteem. I am also starting to do individual Bible studies on my own with ladies, which is very gratifying. I can get to know the person and share the Bible with them. On top of all that, I am getting my masters in Marriage and Family Therapy online, which takes up a lot of my time. Most of what I am learning I can directly apply to the work out here as many families have issues with their kids and in their marriages.
Most of the things I mentioned above are still a work in progress and I pray that God will give me the ideas, words, thoughts, and motivation to do them to the best of my ability. Most days I still feel like I have no idea what I am doing or what I should be doing. I have to remember that it’s all about love and God will work through me if I seek Him.
Although I do feel like we are in a different country sometimes, we are in Arizona so it gives us more freedom to see our family and friends. There are several mission fields here in the states that I encourage you to explore. Remember that everyone needs love and the Bible and that can be done anywhere, anytime.