It’s time for Southwestern students to get ready for the Navajo mission team during 2013 Spring Break, March 7-17.
Dr. Randy Butler, a former professor at Southwestern Adventist University, has led the spring mission trip to the Navajo Indian Reservation since 2003. Bill Kilgore, religion professor, who has been a member of the team since 2007, is now co-coordinator for the trip with Butler, who still goes on the trip and provides valuable leadership. Since 2003, the mission team has averaged about 30 participants, who include Southwestern faculty and students, students from a variety of academies in the Southwestern Union, and church members from the Texas Conference.
In the past, students participating in the mission trip have helped build a deck, paint a building, and pour concrete. The group also holds tutoring and story hours for the Navajo students at the youth center when possible. Last year, Chisholm Trail Academy and Southwestern combined forces on the Mission Trip.
“I enjoyed the experience that I was able to receive as well as the different perspective on life,” said Tj Grady, freshman at Southwestern, who participated last year as a CTA senior. Princess Demiar, a Southwestern freshman who also attended last year as a CTA senior, said, “I really enjoyed the trip because I got to learn a new culture and make new friends. It was awesome to teach these Navajo kids about God in a fun way!”
This year the group will continue with construction on the youth center in Fort Defiance, Arizona, which now provides housing for a social worker as well as programs to help combat gangs and juvenile delinquency on the Reservation. They will continue the after-school programs for the young people in the community that team members coordinated last year.
The Southwestern team put on a bike and skateboard competition last year and they plan on repeating it this year with the kids in the community, as well as the popular nightly basketball games.
The mission team will continue to “make a difference in the dirt.” Their agricultural program at the Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance reintroduces native plants that have been lost due to years of “free ranging” local cattle that are now fenced. In addition, the group will continue working on Aaron Kinechee’s home, a Navajo man who recently became a Christian, adding insulation, drywall, and outdoor siding. Small projects include adding handicap access ramps to homes, as well as several projects in cooperation with the Gallup, New Mexico Adventist Church, which is 30 miles away. Volunteers will extend the nature path that was worked on last year, as well as perform some railroad tie work and landscaping at the front of the Gallup church.
“These projects are on-going,” says Kilgore. “There’s an advantage to returning to the same place each year and continuing what was already started.”
Kilgore states that there is a job for everyone regardless of ability, and that a variety of skill levels are needed.
“The mission philosophy that each member lives by is that they are there on the Reservation to serve,” he says. “There’s no such thing as men’s work and women’s work; only work. Everybody on the team is committed to doing the task at hand.”
The information sheet and application are available in Kilgore’s office at the Barron Building, or contact him by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for applications is Dec. 14 as well as the $100 deposit, which can be turned in to Melissa DePaiva in the Spiritual Life and Development Office. That office will also keep track of the finances for the trip for each individual.