Much of my childhood was unstable, and my parents were unreliable. What I believed was skewed. But I was given a gift. God sent me missionaries.
These missionaries were people who were sent to my area of the reservation to give the gospel of Christ. I have a hard time remembering when certain things from my childhood took place. I just know I was in elementary school when missionaries came. There were different families that came at different times. I remember being told not to do a lot of things that had to do with my culture, but the ceremonies were how my mother fed us, so that brought confusion.
The one thing that affected me was this God & Jesus they told us about. He cared. He lived. He died then lived again. What? In a family of neglect and sexual abuse it began to sink in. God cared. He was bigger than anyone. I was important to Him even if I wasn’t to my family. As I got older I began to question many cultural things. I wonder now why didn’t the missionaries just explain what was wrong. I understand it now. I met these missionaries in two ways. There were those who set up the church near our home in Hogback and there were those who I met when I came to what was then Navajo Missions.
What I see now is the way our culture was set up on fear. “Yii”! That’s the Navajo word for scary. I was told by my family that I couldn’t whistle for fear of the evil spirits coming. I had to splash water on the floor when a child hit their head on the floor. There were many other things like this that stemmed from fear.
I had confidence in the “Big God” to understand that He was bigger than all that fear! That was what the missionaries came to show me. Some days I still lived in fear more than others. Toward my traditional family I stood up and wasn’t afraid because of my belief in God. Alone though, I was having nightmares that I did not understand so I prayed for protection. He did protect me! As I grew I begin to realize that God was more than Big, He was with me and Jesus was close like a friend.
I began to see what parts of my culture were not honoring God. I began to see how my pain could be given to God. But there came a time where I began to drift. After going my own way and doing what I wanted for a while, those missionaries were still there for me. They would point me back to the loving arms of God when no one in my family would be there. They all had their own troubles anyway and didn’t know God.
The people of God pointed out scripture to me and reminded me that the love of God was always there. They led me to the loving arms of the God who had become my Dad. I began to see God differently from when I was a child. As an adult I finally saw that God wanted more of a relationship with me and to heal my heart that was made of stone.
I came to The Four Corners Home for Children a second time and learned from missionaries that God loves me. While here He did it. He changed my heart.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put my new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:25-26
I was a hard hearted person who realized her need for God. It became more important after my daughter was born out of wedlock. God impressed upon me to raise her in the knowledge of Him. He gave me people again and again to lead me to Him. I am thankful for all those people He put in my path. I am thankful for the McBrides, the Hills, Lulu, Florence, the Popes, the McKees, the Crebos, the Bakers, the Baumans, the Terpsmas, the Fitz’s, the Wells, the Tuttles, the Stoners, Marty, Sarah, the Eubanks, and many more.
I am thankful for the wonderful people whom I call missionaries here that became my family. They are in my family of God that I am privileged to be a part of. Now I am thankful that as a member of this family I can look to my wiser brothers and sisters to lead me back to God. I am thankful for the God who is my Dad who loves me and shows me how to be more like Jesus.