Loving Native America: June Update

Happy summer! Here are some updates for June.

Apache Trip
Our team had a great trip up to the White Mountain Apache Reservation a few weeks ago. We had two purposes for this trip: build relationships and provide a church with a tech setup to aid them in streaming their services online. Joel Bidderman developed a simple, portable, and affordable solution for churches on the reservation to get high quality audio for videos that they can use to record on smartphones and stream to Facebook. Our first stop on this trip was to Canyon Day Miracle Church, where we met with Bee-Jay James (who attends there, and is a friend of our church) to set them up with a beta version of this setup. They will be testing it out over the next couple of months, and will give us feedback before we help another church on the reservation. Next the team went to historical Fort Apache and toured locations on the reservation. For the second half of the day the team had the privilege of attending a graduation reception of long time friends of Joel and Marissa, where there was traditional Apache food, Apache music, as well as horseback riding. We’re so thankful for a great trip, and invite you to join us in praying for the community up there, as we remain attentive to how we grow in our relationships with friends and churches on the reservation.

Navajo Trip
On May 24, we were able to help the Hard Rock Senior Center by taking up a load of items for them. The Senior Center serves about 60 seniors lunch daily, and did not shut down during the pandemic. While the dining room closed in March 2020, seniors have been able to drive through to pick up meals.

When we reached out to Hardrock a few months ago, the Senior Center specifically requested disposable containers to allow for food distribution. On this trip, we were able to bring more than 500 disposable food containers and bowls in addition to food items that were donated by both our church community and from the surplus from our food pantry. They expressed gratitude for those items, as they shared that when they are short and lack resources, staff will often use their own money to purchase supplies. It was great to meet with some of the Senior Center staff, and we will be in continual communication with them to learn how else we can support them in the future.

School Drive
It’s that time of year again for our second annual school supply drive for the kids living within the Hardrock chapter. We are excited to partner with the teachers of the Rocky Ridge Boarding School to help with school supplies for the 2022-2023 school year. After our school drive last year, we received a note from a first grade teacher, expressing how excited her kids were to receive a free backpack full of school supplies. If you’d like to help out this year, some suggested items to donate this year:

pencils with erasers
pencil sharpeners
markers/crayons/coloring pencils
glue sticks or bottles
Other classroom supplies: disinfecting wipes, kleenex, copy paper, dry erase markers, hand sanitizer, construction paper

We will be posting local school supply deals on our social media pages weekly. Keep an eye out for them! You can drop off donated items at Vineyard Gilbert during Sunday morning worship services, or on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10am-1pm.

Heard Museum
Our field trip to the Heard Museum is coming up next month, on Saturday, July 30th. This will be to learn about Native American art, culture, and history, and will be open to all of Vineyard Gilbert, adults and kids alike! We will meet at church in the morning and carpool to Phoenix together. More info to come!

We’re proud of the work that Lynette Graybull is doing, who was a part of our church, and who now lives in the Windriver part of Wyoming. She has an organization called Not Our Native Daughters, which works to end the trafficking exploitation and murder of indiginous persons through education, policy change, coalition building, and strengthing indiginous capacities to address the endemic violence. You can learn more through her website at https://www.notournativedaughters.org/. We are hoping to have her share more on how we can help in this effort.

Prayer point
Last Thursday, June 2, an officer on the White Mountain Apache Reservation was shot and killed during a traffic stop. Another officer was wounded and is still in the hospital. Please join us in prayer for that community as they grieve the loss. If you want to know more about it, here’s a link to a news article. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-breaking/2022/06/03/white-mountain-apache-police-officer-killed-another-injured-after-traffic-stop/7497042001/

Cultural Fact
The water drum is a traditional instrument used in Native American ceremonies and social gatherings, made of a hollow chamber filled with water, and covered tightly with animal hide. The chamber is filled right before playing the instrument, and removed right after to allow the chamber to dry out. The water drum is played by hand and can accompany a capella singing in native language. During our recent trip to the White Mountain Apache Reservation, our group had the opportunity to hear these drums played at a family celebration. One of the family members explained to us that the song that they were singing was recounting the story of creation. 

Knowing this, my much-loved family members, we must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. For human anger will not take us down the path of Creator’s right ways. So scrape off all the mud of your evil ways and humbly receive the message that the Great Spirit has planted deep within you. This will set your heart free and make your mind whole. 
James 1:19-21
First Nations Version