Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm back.

Many miles to and from, and I'm finally back in Austin. Sincerest thanks to everyone who assisted with the costs of participating in the Four Corners Mission. We did many good things, and I learned so very much.

Out of respect the privacy of the individuals whom we met and with whom we worked, I will only post a few pictures here. Here is a summary of what we accomplished:

1. We replaced the flooring in the living room and kitchen of one house. A couple joists were rotted through in the kitchen, so we also had to replace those.

2. We rewired two houses so the owners could have light in the bathrooms.

3. We repainted the living room in the first house and the stairs in the parsonage.

4. We donated the remainder of our unused budgeted money to the pastor's discretionary fund, which will help people pay their utility bills in coming months; directly to two families who don't have enough to buy groceries and rely on the kindness of neighbors; and to the local day-care center.

5. Our unused groceries from the week went to the Ojo Food Pantry.

A word on stereotypes of Native Americans: While we only worked with Navajo, and only with a select group of individuals, I found that once you approach these people without expectations of nobility, alcoholism, laziness, or some inherent wisdom, then they do in fact emerge simply as people.

The people we met care for their families. They have a wicked sense of humor. They laugh a lot. They speak quietly. They are patriotic Americans (albeit with some justified suspicions of the federal government). There are discarded appliances in the yards, but that's also true in San Francisco. There is trash on the reservation, but there was more on the roadside in West Texas.

Mainstream America has many misconceptions about the many native tribes of this country. It's a shame to dismiss them as undeserving of basic respect.

And, bonus: I found lots of yarn for sale in bulk at the local trading post. All this - a whole pound of wool - for $16.99!!

Dude: if only I'd had more room in my luggage.

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