Another week full of new adventures here in our Lupton area. I guess the big news for the Navajo Nation is that they finally have elected a president – some five months after the fact. It has been quite the roller coaster with the election being on, then off again, numerous injunctions filed people's jobs at stake, and a lot of apathy because the process drug out so long. They just extended the term of the current presidency until the matter could be sorted out. Things should settle down a lot now, and everyone is anxious to see how the new president will handle things.
One of our dear members passed away last Sunday with her funeral on Thursday. She was 92-years-old. We attended her 91st birthday party last year shortly after we got here. She had 13 children (10 boys and 3 girls). Three of the boys and one girl have already passed away. Most of her family still live in this area. They weren't able to hold the donation meeting at the Chapter House because of the election. Then they couldn't hold the funeral in the Stake Center because they had contracted to have the carpets cleaned on Wednesday and Thursday. The Chapter House was having a meeting on Thursday so it wasn't available again for the reception after the funeral. As if the family didn't have enough stress, they had to deal with all those stumbling blocks. Finally they decided to hold the funeral at the mortuary, and the donation and reception meetings at one of the brother's homes. They borrowed the tables and chairs from our church which helped out a lot. In spite of all the hitches, things seemed to work out, and they had a very nice LDS funeral for her.
We took some food out to the family on Tuesday. One of the granddaughters-in-law followed us out to the truck as we were leaving. She asked if Elder Olsen could give her a blessing. She told us that her sister had had a baby earlier in the day, and it had passed away. She was having a hard time dealing with it all. Owen called the senior couple in St. Michaels and made arrangements for them to go to the hospital and give the sister a blessing. Then he gave her a blessing. I guess when the missionaries got to the hospital there were five other family members there, and they were able to give them all blessings also. The family also asked the missionaries to give a prayer and a blessing at the graveside service for the baby. It is pretty cool to see the faith that the people (even non-members and others less active) have in the power of the Priesthood.
We had to make two trips to Wide Ruins this week to take kids to school. Then several trips to Gallup and a trip to St. Michaels for our District Meeting. It seems strange to have only four couples at the District Meeting. We can all fit around one round table in the District Leader's front room. We enjoy the association we have with them; however, three of us are short-timers. Doesn't seem possible, but it is true. The days are speeding by, and we still have lots we want to get done.
We were able to finish the fourth missionary discussion with three of the investigators this week. So we will keep nourishing them and encouraging them towards baptism. Hopefully, we will be able to see that happen before our time is over.
Owen gave an art lesson to an eleven-year-old this week. He helped him paint a mountain scene. He was pretty excited. Owen has had to break out his paints and brushes because several people have asked for one of his paintings. I guess we could say he is becoming famous.
We went out to a member's home yesterday to observe part of a purification ceremony for her twelve-year-old daughter. It goes for four days. The schools will excuse the girls because they realize the importance of the ceremony. She has to run several times a day and do various skills (such as killing and preparing a sheep, cook, make fry bread, and other skills that a Navajo woman is expected to do). She is dressed in a velvet dress and has turquoise jewelry on that anyone who wants a blessing will loan to her for this time. On the first day, a big pit (4 feet around and about 8 inches deep) is dug. They start a fire in it and keep it going day and night for the four days. The girl has to grind corn (on a stone), and then an older woman will help her make a cake batter (gallons of it). On the last day, the ashes are removed from the pit. Then they line it with wet corn husks and foil. The cake batter is poured into the pit. Then they cover the batter with more corn husks and foil, and build another fire on top of it. The cake will cook in the pit over night. On the last night, the medicine man comes to the hogan. The girl stays up all night while the medicine sings songs and gives her blessings. There is a lot more to the ceremony and a lot more symbolism involved. We only saw a small fraction of it. Pretty interesting. Relatives and friends will come from far and wide to show their support for the young lady.
So the missionary work continues to go forth bringing with it new adventures along the way.