The focal point of the mission trip week was Thursday night.  It’s the community carnival.  Simple games and simple prizes, plus food and a drawing.  With a double dose of relationship-building.

The games were simple.  The most polished was a putting green with auto ball return.  Others included throwing a foam football into a 5-gallon bucket, bouncing a ping-pong ball into flower pots, and rolling 6-inch balls into upside-down frisbees.  Mine was tossing home canning lids (the ring part) onto water bottles.  (The kids – and some adults – kept coming back to my game after the others had been abandoned.  I didn’t think it would work that well – but they even ran off with the rings at the end of the night!)

For food, we ordered 250 cheeseburgers from McDonalds, and served them with chips and a cup of instant drink mix (like Kool-Aid).  For dessert, we brought in a local snow-cone vendor.  Parents came and ate. 

And then there were the drawings.  A $20 bill.  A $50 bill.  A $100 bill.  And the CD player we had been using for puppet shows.  For many of these families, another $20 is a big boost, and for the family that won the $100, it’s a significant boost to household income.  We’ve done these in Virginia (larger denominations) and the winners tend to be – by God’s good planning – people with specific needs, and their winning of the money gives us opportunity to meet them and share the Gospel.  (How much is a family worth?)

Just after the drawing, but before the evangelistic puppet show, the skies opened up and it rained!  I kept moderating my ring-toss game until I saw a young (3-year-old?) boy, lost, standing in the rain with one shoe off, crying.  I grabbed him and his shoe and headed for shelter.  After a few minutes, he was getting heavy to hold and since he was hugging me tight, I sat down.  The daddy in me took over and I started rocking back and forth on the table bench, and soon he was asleep.  He got a good 15 minute nap, 20 minutes in the arms of a male adult.  He woke up when the rain stopped and I reached for the van keys, and then went home with his older sister.  I don’t know if he will remember those 20 minutes, but I will, and I pray they build in him acceptance and trust of future mission workers, enough to hear and accept the Gospel.

Update on the Navajo Mission Trip:  While half our team led Backyard Bible Studies in three different neighborhoods, the rest of us split into two work teams to do home repair.

The neighborhood events are even more important here in New Mexico.  The city is spread out, with clusters of housing, usually according to “chapter” within one of the local tribes.  Often, someone of one chapter will not attend events in another chapter of the same tribe.  So we go to teach in their context.  It also spread our witness around the area. The teams did a craft, recreation, snack and Bible story.  Between 10 and 20 kids came to each. Several acknowledged they had accepted Jesus.

The home repairs were to show Christians helping other church members with tasks beyond their capability.  Team 1 went to one older couple’s house to build a ramp on the front of the house of her aged mother, and to repair the roof.  This is as much an act of honoring God’s servants.

Team 2 went to a mobile home of another member.  The kitchen flooring was chipped and worn, and had several soft spots where the floor sank when you walked on it.  I was on the team that removed the old flooring, cut out the rotted flooring and replaced it with new patches, and then installed new vinyl.  It was hard sweaty work, but was necessary for a quality job.  We were able to honor her request for a wood floor look with plank-patterned sheet vinyl, and were able to find and repair the leak where water was coming in to cause the damage.  When we were done, she blessed God for our efforts, and we were able to share the love of God and Christian care for one another with her kids (7 and 15).

And we had time to do repair and fix-up of the down town First Indian Baptist Church facilities.  A good week well spent.