Monday, October 1, 2012

Girls Retreat... or desperately trying to plant words of life & wisdom

We had our Girls Retreat this weekend and it was definitely a first. There are so many things I know I will have to do differently or earlier but I'm so glad we went for it! The boys had their camp out this weekend so we had the campus to ourselves. As we looked over the calendar before school started, Heidi and I realized this weekend would be perfect for a girls retreat! (I had become inspired by this book I ordered from Amazon: Girls Ministry 101.) So, we set the date and started planning, in sporadic moments when we would switch the phone or just whenever we'd get a chance to talk about it. Point being, if it were'nt for God helping put the frantically placed pieces together, this weekend would have been a disaster! Most of the girls stayed (we had 19) and it seemed they enjoyed it! We started on Friday night for an Agape Feast out in the commons area next to the gazebo. I really wanted to string up lights to make it look enchanted and all was well until I realized that I couldn't plug the lights into the power strip because both sides were flat... Jared, the maintenance man actually came over and we were able to figure it out but I was pretty stressed for about 20 minutes!

Heidi made all the food for the entire weekend and it was all so very delicious! On Friday night, we had an agape feast so there was lentil and potato soup, fruit trays, home made bread, cheese spread, and juice. Heidi then gave a worship thought, reading the geneology of Jesus in the beginning of Matthew and mentioning the women. She talked about how the only way we will truly be remembered for our good characteristics is if we have God in our lives. Afterward, we spent like half an hour just singing songs out there. I asked one of the girls to take photos and I think she did an amazing job, don't you? (My photos have a tendency to come out blurry and off-center, so I was glad to give the job of photographer to someone else!)

On Sabbath morning, I woke up early to set up the Rec Room for Breakfast. I had looked at some ideas I had collected from Pinterest (LOVE that website) and drew a tentative layout, then I went shopping in Show Low and Snowflake for the materials I would need. With  a $50 budget, I feel like we did the best we could (but I will continue to scower through websites to see other ingenious ways to stretch the dollar when it comes to decorating and event planning). The little girls were especially excited!

After a late-ish breakfast, we had Sabbath School. I talked about God's love for us and how we need to understand His love (how it satisfies our EVERY need) before we start looking for a relationship with any guy. Friday night, after vespers, I had no idea what I was going to do, but I think God was merciful (because I should have prepared this a long time ago) and gave me this topic of His love for us. We went through some scripture and I showed several songs about God's love (How He Loves Us, Beloved by Tenth Avenue North, and Like an Avalanche by Hillsong were a few I played).

Then, Jovannah delivered our sermon. She talked about life on the reservation for her and all that she had to overcome in order to be at the point she is today. I thought it was very creative how she wove this idea together. She used the topic of cards. In a card game, if you are given a bad hand you try to switch out your cards. She made her own stack of cards with situations written on them like: alcoholic parents, parents without a job, being raped or sexually abused, not having enough food to eat, etc. Then she said with God's help, we can make the most of the cards dealt to us. Even though we cannot choose the situation we were born into, we can choose where we will end up. Throughout the message she shared some personal testimonies, which I thought were so powerful because, as a Native American woman, she can connect so much better with these girls!

After church, we headed over to the cafeteria for lunch (Heidi needed a well-deserved break!) and had some down time before our workshops. Leanne and Mrs. Gungle were willing to talk to the girls for about an hour from 3-4pm. Leanne talked about finding a good guy and Mrs. Gungle talked about child abuse. During this time, I had my youngest girl watch a Veggie Tales at my apartment while I whipped up the facials for that night! At about 4:30, we went on a walk to the gulley behind the girls dorm and I made some reflection envelopes. Inside, I had put a piece of paper with several pieces of Scripture (all were passages of encouragement and about God's love for us) and a piece of journal paper. I told the girls to find a place in the gulley to spend some time alone with God. (I really wish I had brought my camera because it was such a beautiful picture seeing all the girls sitting in nooks and crannies or laid out on boulders.) Then we had supper!

Once the sun set, we had facials and foot soaks! The girls really had a great time with that! Then Jovannah (who is IMMENSELY  talented) painted the girls' nails. After getting pampered up, we watched the first two Anne of Green Gables movies. The girls loved it and became fans of Gilbert!

This morning, we had brunch and that ended our Girls Retreat. It is my hope that we continue to do this every year and that it gets better every time we do it! (I would like to bring in a team from a university or college to come and do our program, eventually!)

I know there was a huge time gap between this post and the previous, but that goes to show you how busy dorm life is! I love my job and I feel so honored to be here. Please continue to pray that God may keep piling on the blessings for this dorm, these students, and this school!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sanctuary, A Light On A Hill

I would like to introduce you to my roommate, Sashina Yazzie. She graduated from Holbrook Indian SDA School last year and, with her permission, I would like to share with you a part of her story. Sashina is from Window Rock, AZ (which is on the Navajo Nation). She has just recently gotten out of an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. He would beat her, control her, take her things - he took her phone and computer as well as total two cars she had -, verbally abuse her, and cheat on her. But Sashina is no ordinary woman. She said that after he would beat her, she would wash her face and leave their room with a smile. She said she has always been strong and she is lucky to have gotten out alive because many women get killed on the reservation by their boyfriends. As I listen to all of this, I can only look at her in wonder. It takes a different kind of strength and courage to go through a horrible relationship, a personal hell, and still be able to smile and laugh. Sashina finally ended the relationship when she realized he wasn't going to change and now is starting a new life for herself.

As the congregation shared praises and prayer requests in church this past Sabbath, Sashina spoke of her gratitude for Holbrook and the support she has found here. Through sobs, she said if it wasn't for Holbrook, she didn't know what she would have done. All I could do was hug and hold her. What can you say when someone shares such strong,  soulful feeling?

I am remembered how, in history, people would claim sanctuary and would hide in the church against evil or violence. This is how I view Holbrook. It is a sanctuary for all the students who attend, whether they realize it immediately or not. This is one of God's lights on a hill and I pray that I will not get in the way of its shine.
Sashina is back at Holbrook to work on campus as a custodian and take some classes at the local community college, NPC. She wants to become a nurse and plans on transferring over to Union college at the end of this academic year. I am so immensley glad she is my roommate! We have laughed every night over trivial things and we have bonded over Veggie Tales and tea. She is a blessing God has placed in my life and I am eternally grateful for our friendship.

I went and got Sashina from Window Rock two Sabbaths ago and we started working on the dorm the following Monday. Here are some photos of our accomplishments!

 The donation closet before and after. We ended up filling up trash cans we bought for every room with donated items that would have probably been left to expire in boxes if Sashina and I hadn't organized and gone through everything we had!
We often get soap bars, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotions, face wash, shampoo, sunscreen, and other toiletries sent to us by the box so I decided that we needed to make use of the stuff before it all goes bad! Here are the trash bags. We made some for elementary, junior high, and high school. At the last step of registration, each room was given a trash can with the donated items.
Sashina and I also finished making posters and we staple gunned them to the walls (except for the ones I had painted. I had to nail them onto the wall because the board had curved. It was extremely hard and I have vowed to never paint one of those foam boards again!). I've got to send a shout out to my mom who sent me all the letters for the quotes on the posters in the high school wing. I love you, Mami! :)
 This one is a little hard to read but it says:
"I'm not telling you it's going to be easy. I'm telling you it's going to be worth it."

 This one says:
 "You've only got three choices in life: Give up, Give in, or Give it all you've got."

 My mom made this one :)

My mom also made this one!

I also set up a photo booth for registration using wrapping paper and the staple gun my mom gave me (never realized how fun those things are). I had to force some of the girls to take their photo but some of them got away from me! I also cut out some mustaches (that seems to be all the rage right now) and some of the littler ones got excited to use them!

I should have video'd the entire dorm just so you could see the tremendous difference Sashina, Malvina (an RA), Heidi (the other girls dean) and I did! But here are a few more photos of the finished product:

 Laundry Room before and after. We ended up throwing a lot of old, stained, and disgusting things away while we cleaned out the dorm. There was actually an enormous pile in the lobby area that I regret not taking a picture of.

 Our cleaning closet before and after.

 High school bathroom, shower side. There are lots of bathroom photos I could put up but lets just say, it took Sashina and I a good 2 hours to feel as though the bathrooms were properly disinfected. Heidi actually made some cleaning scrub and liquid that smelled great. After we finished, I got some air fresheners at the dollar store and the bathrooms now smell like rain. :)
 Junior high and Elementary wing.
 The playroom. This took FOREVER to clean! I found a decomposing mouse underneath the piano. It reeked down the entire hall, even after we had put it in a trash bag and closed it.

 High school wing.

My mom also made this gigantic poster! What I plan to do is take all the photos we took during registration and put them up on this poster.

We have 25 girls right now but I'm told more normally come in the next to weeks. It's my hope to have a full dorm! Your prayers are greatly needed and appreciated. The staff did a prayer walk last Friday night all over campus and Heidi, Sashina, and I stopped at each girls' door after lights out last night to prayer over them specifically. But I don't think there's such a thing as praying too much!

There are also so many needs in the dorm. A lot of the girls don't have working lights in their rooms, our plumbing is crazy, and the roof leaks. Please pray that we get mission groups and donations to help us fix up the dorm!

I will try and keep you posted. Right now I've got to get ready for my class!