Road Journal – Day Six

Posts in the Road Journal series

  1. Road Journal – Day One
  2. Road Journal – Day Two
  3. Road Journal – Day Three
  4. Road Journal – Day Four
  5. Road Journal – Day Five
  6. Road Journal – Day Six
  7. Road Journal – Day Seven
  8. Road Journal – Day Eight

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Grey Rock, Arizona

This is going to go down as a strange day among strange days.  We have no schedule.  Allegedly, we’re supposed to be doing an afternoon hang with the locals, play with some kids and then serve a dinner (which we brought and prepared) and then do a concert around 7pm.  As of this moment, we’re the only ones here.

Erica’s family has deep ties to the Navajo nation.  One set of her grandparents were teachers here on the reservation, the other were missionaries.  Her folks met here, and one of Erica’s uncles married a full-blooded Navajo woman.  Erica spent many summers of her youth about 80 miles north of where we currently are, in a town called Page, at the southern tip of Lake Powell.  She has cousins who look like they came from The Big Book of Native American Stereotypical Appearances, and the best part is that they have the last name O’Reilly.

Erica has told me that the Navajo people are very informal, very reluctant to commit.  Gatherings happen in an impromptu manner.  We whiteys like structure.  We like to know when things are going to start and stop.  We like to know the exact running time of movies.  We appreciate precision.  I do not know if this is a good or a bad thing.

So… we’ve done basically nothing today.  We’re hanging out in this sweatbox of a gym, and the sanctuary next door, waiting for something to happen.  Erica and I are frustrated, feeling like this tour, which thrives on structure, is mismatched for any kind of significant ministry to Navajo people.  It seems like it would take a week (or longer) just to begin to even figure out the basic ebb and flow of this culture, much less be some sort of encouragement or service to them.

I’m praying that we’re proven wrong, that sometime in the next few hours, the hundred or so kids that we’ve prepared for and are told are coming here will arrive, that we may have something to do.

Oh, I forgot the best part.  Our bus company, seeing that we weren’t scheduled to go anywhere today, decided that James (our driver) should go get the routine maintenance done back in Flagstaff.  We’re literally stuck here.

Maybe this is a good experience for this white boy.  Maybe it’s a good thing for me to have to surrender my agenda, on a trip where I’ve already surrendered my agenda.  Maybe that’s the point of today.  Maybe God is just looking at me, waiting for me to stop looking out the window, waiting for me to just embrace the day.

I’d kill for wi-fi.  Well… at least maim.

10 feet to the left of last time I entered something, Arizona

This day is endless.

I just offered a sponsor $1,000.00 to make it tomorrow.  She didn’t take my deal.  There have been a few kids that have shown up, so that’s cool.  I guess it just seems strange to me to spend an entire day literally in one space, after spending five days in a row moving with such rapidity.

Nina and Rebecca, our two resident Top Chefs, have put together a huge meal worthy of a picnic.  Hot dogs, watermelon, chips, baked beans, veggies.  I’m actually about to go get myself a plate and have a bite.  After all my running and good dieting, today has just been a gut-buster.  So much time, so little to do, so much food, nowhere to run.

I don’t know if I will take the time throughout next week, as I am posting these, to insert some pictures for you all to enjoy, but one of the ways we have been passing time today is playing with our new toy.  For our birthdays, we decided that our gift to one another was going to be a really good camera.

I wanted an SLR type, but I had no idea that it was multiple thousands of dollars just to get in the door.  We settled on a Canon Sure Shot S5IS, which was the top of the line non-SLR camera available at Best Buy.  If we were talking audio gear, it would be called, “Pro-sumer.”  It has great optics, and a nifty feature that recognizes faces, no matter how many are in frame, and makes sure that they’re in focus.

It’s actually quite creepy, as these little boxes magically form around any human face, and then track with them as they move around on the screen.

It’s an extraordinary little piece of consumer electronics, in my opinion.  Today, I’ve been shooting the abandoned trucks in the open space about 200 yards behind the church, the bell tower, the clouds as they changed shape, the endless vista and horizon of the high Arizona desert, and of course, the inside of this truly interesting gym.  The pictures are striking, the best I’ve ever personally taken.

The kids have all made fun of me, calling me the stalker.  I hate posed pictures.  I like the ones that are real moments… expressions… laughter… frustration.  Those are the ones that really grab my attention.  So, I stalk them from on my two and a half inch screen.  They’re unpredictable targets, always darting here and there.  Their faces are beautiful, innocent, unblemished.

I’ve also had a great time shooting the sponsors, who are mostly in their fifties and beyond.  I think I mentioned Neva, who’s 82 years old and has gone on this trip, sleeping on church floors and wrangling teens, for 24 consecutive years.  She shared with us yesterday that it was the 25th anniversary of her husband’s heart attack and death, in McDonald’s of all places.  We just sat, stunned.  This anniversary happens every year on Agape tour, as do our birthdays.   We asked her if she ever considered remarrying, as she was only in her 50’s when it happened.   She said no, that it had never appealed to her.  She had her work and kids and grandkids and church, and simply never felt the urge.

Earlier today, she was sitting in the pew in front of us while listening to the pastor of this church tell us about what we could expect.  Her left arm was extended and I flipped the camera to super macro mode, and shot a picture of her wedding and engagement rings glistening on her time worn finger.

It will be, without a doubt, the most beautiful picture I take on this trip.

Grey Mountain, Arizona

Matthew 10:11-14, New International Version

“Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.  As you enter the home, give it your greeting.  If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.  If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.”

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One thought on “Road Journal – Day Six

  1. JC

    Been following your exploits while in Colorado. Thanks for keeping us in the loop. Even one poignant moment would seem to make the trip worthwhile, and you have had many. Loved your story about the guitar. I relayed it to Julie and couldn’t help but tear up when I got to the part when you presented it to Mike. It is such an encouraging story about the power of giving. Oh yeah…God bless Neva…please.

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