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Deer Lake School: Love Dine'

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Sand, shrubs, sun, and the sound of your own voice is all that fills this deserted part of Arizona. About six hours from Las Vegas, Nevada, lying in the middle of nowhere, is the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering 27,425 square miles, occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States. They have been struggling for a long time with diabetes, unemployment, and the affects of extensive uranium mining before environmental laws were passed. During the week of March 19-26, I truly saw God’s love through their eyes. As a senior in high school, there are many pressures amounting day after day and week after week until the day you graduate. At first, this mission trip began as a getaway, but ended up as a takeaway, in an uplifting sense.

The moment I stepped onto the plane headed to Las Vegas was the moment I knew there was no turning back. After a two hour flight and six hours on the road, all 53 of us Deer Lake students, teachers, and families were ready to crash. As the sun fell behind the desert landscape, we finally arrived at the Red Mesa Community Centre, the place where we would be staying for the majority of the Mission Trip.

The next morning, we woke up to the smiles of the Fowler family, the Navajo hosts. Sadly, those smiles faded away when the father of the family, Alan, broke sad news that their nephew had been shot the previous day. Unbeknownst to us, the sudden death had affected the community so dramatically that assumptions began popping up, questioning if our presence was a bad omen. From that moment on, I knew that this was truly a Mission Trip. We had something to prove and we needed to ultimately bring hope for a better tomorrow into a hopeless place.

The next couple of days was an exciting blur. We hosted a cooking class on diabetes prevention, prepared a banquet, sorted items for the Fowler’s yard sale ministry, and worked on several construction projects. Hour after hour and day after day we worked tirelessly.



About halfway through the week, a group of girls headed out to the surrounding homes to invite the community to our banquet and cooking class. While the turnout for the banquet was fantastic, our cooking class didn’t receive much response. When the clock struck six o’clock on that fateful Tuesday night, no one had arrived. Suddenly, as quickly as our hope had burnt out, one woman walked through the doors. She smiled as we greeted her and began talking to her. Her name was Caroline. During our conversation, she began opening up about her life and her family. She told us about growing up on the reserve, then having to leave her home and move to Las Vegas. She served in the army for 15 years, then returned back to where she once grew up on native soil. I was able to imagine the journey she had been through and I could see that she was a person that never gave up, regardless of her circumstances.




With only a few days left, I remember heading outside on a breezy evening. The sun had just set and the sky was turning from a light airy blue to a calm, dark black. As the stars began peeking out, I remember saying to myself, “Thank you God for placing me here at this moment in time. God, you love these people. I know that you will take care of them no matter what. Please give them strength and hope to face another day.”

As the hours drew closer and closer to our departure, I felt a yearning in my heart. A yearning to finish what we had started. One week is never enough to finish a project so big, but one week is enough to begin to turn a page towards a new chapter in our lives. Looking back, I realize the moments in life that I should cherish more, especially those times with basic necessities at my fingertips. Surprisingly, having been gone for only a week, my outlook on life changed. Not only for those seven days, but for a lifetime.



I’m always astounded at the way God places certain experiences in our lives, such as the Mission Trip, at the perfect moment. I know that this is just the beginning in my spiritual journey to come closer to Him. Having gone on this Mission Trip, I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

By Aaron Guillen, Grade 12 Student, Deer Lake School

Deer Lake School: Love Dine' Mission Trip