It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. – Ephesians 2:10 Living Bible (TLB)

We never really understand the beauty of a desert, the pain of poverty or the joy of service until we’ve made the journey to see, smell and experience them.

Now we have.

We, the South Central Conference Mission Team, spent three and one half days at the Holbrook Indian School in Holbrook, Arizona.

Our team – comprised of 23 eighth grade students and 14 adults from 7 of the 10 schools in the South Central Conference – prepared a garden area for planting, dug trenches for drain pipes, cleared wind strewn debris, assisted in cafeteria duty, engaged in rigorous games of basketball with the athletic Native American boys, enjoyed a tea party with beautiful  Native American girls, and made memories that will last a lifetime.

This is our team’s second mission experience at Holbrook Indian School and the previous trip inspired our students to be more conscious of the advantages they are blessed with, including caring families. Their interaction with the Navaho students caused them to have a deeper respect for those of different cultures. They visited the classrooms and noted that Indian students learn the same way American students do. They study from the same textbooks and write the same prompts.

This year our students have enjoyed the new found friendships, the chance to be in nature, and the benefits of manual labor.

The provocative presentations each evening during the “Jesus Loves Pajamas” meetings have given the students a deeper sense of God’s love for them and the need to let others know of this overwhelming love.

It is because of this kindled desire to serve others that we embrace the message reflected in the last part of Ephesians 2:10 which says “that long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.”

The final days were filled with bittersweet feelings of excitement and sadness. Soon our team would be home, but they would be leaving behind many wonderful people and numerous opportunities to serve.