Challenge - Spring 2010 
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The Passionate Love of God

“And in that region there were Shepherds in the fields…”

We Christians often speak of the unconditional love of God, and by that, we mean that there is nothing that we can do that can separate us from God's love. As a matter of fact, throughout our history God has often chosen the greatest misfits and rouges to lead his people, King David arraigned the death of Uriah because he lusted after his wife. Moses killed a man in anger. Before his conversion St. Paul persecuted the church. Jesus himself was a religious and political revolutionary, executed for heresy and sedition against the state.

 Yet, all of these people loved God with a great passion. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that those who love God passionately are often those who have most deeply experienced the unconditional love of God. Or as Jesus taught us: those who love God the most are those to whom God has cancelled the greater debt.

It is a powerful thing to say that God loves us unconditionally, but those are hollow words, unless we in turn love God without condition. Do you love God more than your own financial security? Do you love God more than you fear your own death? Are you passionate about your faith? Are you willing to engage in honest, and open debate, and even risk conflict within the church in order that she may live, grow and be renewed in the spirit?

I think one of the litmus tests of a passionate church is a church in which people are willing to speak openly and honestly with one another. A church in which people say what they mean, and mean what they say. 

Fortunately, the Navajo Lutheran Mission is a passionate place and attracts people of great passion. One of those people was Janet Toedtman. She came to the Mission during the second week of Easter and spent the week working with the school library organizing and arranging the books. Janet had a great passion for learning and she was willing to come out here all the way from Lebanon, Ohio, with her church, Resurrection Lutheran. They were joined during the week by a neighboring Lutheran church, Christ the King, from Centerville, Ohio. 

 

Fortunately, the Navajo Lutheran Mission is a passionate place and attracts people of great passion. One of those people was Janet Toedtman. She came to the Mission during the second week of Easter and spent the week working with the school library organizing and arranging the books. Janet had a great passion for learning and she was willing to come out here all the way from Lebanon, Ohio, with her church, Resurrection Lutheran. They were joined during the week by a neighboring Lutheran church, Christ the King, from Centerville, Ohio.


We had a wonderful week together working during the day, and sitting around a fire at night. On the Second Sunday of Easter, we all worshiped together at the House of Prayer, where the two churches presented a beautiful quilt to the Navajo elders of our community.
On Monday we gathered together in the parking lot to say our goodbyes. I gave her a hug, thanked her for coming to help us and she said she was planning on coming back at the end of the summer to continue work in the library. Tow days later, I was informed that she was killed in Dodge City, Kansas in an automobile accident on her way home.
When I learned of her death, I remembered something, I had said to the group on the first day they arrived at the Mission.

I told them that many people come to this place wanting to do work here, to help in someway, to “do” something. Many people also come here thinking that they are going to learn something about Navajo culture, and they end up really learning much more about themselves, who they are,
 what they are about, and where in their lives they need God's healing touch in order to be made whole. Instead of being on a “working Mission trip” they are actually on a spiritual pilgrimage-brought here to this Mission not by accident, to help “fix” things, but rather they were brought here by design, to find what they truly seek, to find the presence of the risen Christ.

Here in this remote Mission, in the midst of sand storms and mud, in the midst of poverty, suffering, and death, the risen Christ is alive and well; still living among the shepherds and the sheep, the first Heralds of the incarnation, to whom the angels first appeared, prompting that ancient pilgrimage to Bethlehem.
Jesus was not just a sweet, loving and kind guy. He was filled with the passion of one who loved God without condition. He called it like he saw it. He insulted people, offended them, and took a whip to those who desecrated the house of his father. And all this to teach us how to love God with passion, and to risk the conflicts, and conflagrations, which will inevitably occur, when the unconditional love of God meets the passionate love his people.
Janet Toedtman loved her God with a Passion and in serving that passion, gave her life returning from spiritual pilgrimage, where she not only sought, but successfully found his presence.
This is the last song Janet sang to her Lord. It was the final Hymn at the House of Prayer where we all gathered to worship on the last Sunday of her life:
“The Lord now sends us forth with hands to serve and give, to make of all the earth a better place to live. The Angels are not sent into this world of pain to do what are meant to do in Jesus name: that falls to you and me, and all who are made free, Help us O Lord, we pray, to do your will today.”On behalf of the Navajo Lutheran Mission, I dedicate this edition of our newsletter to our sister in the faith, Janet Toedman, who gave her life in the passionate pursuit of the risen Christ.
I hope you find the following pages both informative and inspirational. To those who are new to the Mission, I welcome you in the Peace of Christ. To those who are already our friends and supporters, I thank you on behalf of the children and the people of Rock Point, and encourage your continued friendship and support.
Pastor Lynn Hubbard


Reflections on a Mission Visit

Written by Babbie Cameron of Christ Lutheran Church, Sedona

On a rainy and snowy Sunday afternoon, December 13th, seven members of this congregation set out for the Four Corners area to bring blankets and Christmas gifts to families connected with the Navajo Lutheran Mission School. Our trip was a continuation of the faithful work Donna and Gerry Collins have spearheaded for this mission. It was a passing on of the generosity and hard work of our WELCA leaders (Roene Cammack, Rita Topp, Diane Hedquist) who collected and labeled over 80 new, warm blankets for the elderly on the reservation. Most of all, it was a beginning of a new chapter in our church's outreach to the mission.
Caravanning together gave us lots of time to chat and get to know one another better. After a comfortable stay in Kayenta on Sunday night we took off for Rock Point early Monday morning to be there when school opened. We were met by Lenora Gray, the extremely capable sponsorship coordinator of the mission, and by Rev. Lynn Hubbard, the newly appointed Executive Director of NELM. Just walking into the mission office is a visual invitation to welcome a new day at Rock Point under the Hubbard's joint leadership. 
There is Native art including several stunning icons on the walls. One shows a shepherd in native dress with a sheep draped over his shoulders. 
Rev. Lynn gave us a tour of the refurbished House of Prayer Lutheran Church (pastored by his wife Deborah), took us to the impressive Medical Clinic that is open with volunteer nurses, and to the Thrift Shop which received all the winter coats Christ Lutheran sent up in November.
 

Lenora took us to the school and gave us an introductory tour of the facilities and the various classrooms. We split up and went to different classes to read/tell Christmas stories with the children. It was great fun and apparently very much appreciated judging by the hugs lavished upon us by the adorable children. 
Before we left to head back to Sedona we talked with Rev. Lynn about bringing a work team up in mid-May. The church needs exterior painting, and we will probably be assigned that challenge. We will stay in the guest apartments at the mission and do our own cooking. If you ask any of the seven people who made this Advent journey to follow a star to Rock Point, they will tell you that it is an amazing place where you are welcomed, needed and challenged. Our church continues to be faithful supporters of NELM, and we begin a new chapter of more personal engagement with our Navajo friends and colleagues in ministry in the Four Corners.

Sponsors and Friends

  

Helping Hands

ACSTO

 

Campbell's Soup Labels 

We encourage Arizona residents to consider participating in the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization (ACSTO) and designate the Navajo Mission School as the recipient. Arizona taxpayers can receive a dollar-for dollar credit against the taxpayer’s Arizona state income tax up to $1000.00 for a couple and $500.00 for single taxpayers. If you live in Arizona, and would like more information on this organization, please call 480-820-0403 or go to www.acsto.com. 

- Help the Mission!

When you send in your labels, please designate these are to be credited to the Navajo Evangelical Lutheran Mission account. We are truly grateful to all of you who continue to send us those labels! It does make a difference! Please check the website atwww.labelsforeducation.com for step by step instructions.
Remember, you can now send in labels directly to Solheim Lutheran Home, where they will check labels, package and send them to the Campbell's Soup Company.

Campbell's Soup Labels at the Navajo Evangelical Lutheran Mission

The address is: Solheim Lutheran Home
Campbell's Soup Coordinator
2236 Merton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90041-1915

 

Box Tops - Labels For Education!

The Box Tops for Education labels must be sent directly to the Mission, as they need to be sorted by amounts and then we send them directly to the General Mills address.
This program is offered by the General Mills Company and generates points that are reimbursed to us in dollars.The labels are found on more than 100 different General Mills products, and are only about one inch long. These labels do have an expiration date, so be sure to clip that label and get it to us – even before you use the product if possible! Thank you for collecting these precious little labels. As with the Soup Labels – they do make a difference!

Boxtops for Education

Managed Funds

Another way you can contribute to the Mission is through Onward! A Legacy Foundation.

The Operation Reserve Fund is managed by financial experts to invest donor fund responsibly to preserve capital, provide growth and earn income for a diverse cultural and ethnic groups. Contact Chuck Forth at (970) 565-9047 for more information on how you can donate through this fund.

Onward Foundation

Health Clinic in Action!

Since September of 2009, our health clinic has been seeing patients here in Rock Point!

 


Our primary Nurse Practitioner volunteer, Elaine Henson, flies in from Lake Havasu City every month to see patients and coordinate health care services with Marina Elliot, our Certified Nurse Aide.


Other volunteer Nurse Practitioners—all from ELCA churches!--include Eileen Doench (Fountain Hills), Karen Plager (Flagstaff) and Katie Timbers (Northern Arizona University).


As of this semester, our clinic is now an official clinical practicum site for NAU nursing students!

We are trying to build this “core group” of nurse volunteers to enhance our primary health care and education services to the school and the wider community.


Our health care clinic is funded by grants from Wheat Ridge Ministries and the Johnson & Johnson Health Care Program, but we could not provide this much needed service to the Navajo people without the partnership of our dedicated nurse volunteers!


If you would like to volunteer for this project, or know of any health care professionals who might be interested, please contact Deborah or Marina right away!

House of Prayer

Since our last newsletter, many things have been taking place at the House of Prayer. 
We have had community events like the Christmas pageant performed by our school children, a puppet show about the tribes from the Pacific Northwest, and the annual gifting of quilts and toys to our Rock Point neighbors.


The Navajo people are learning the Lutheran liturgy, and I continue to struggle with their language: Dine bizaad!
We had a rather harsh winter here in Rock Point—pipes burst, many animals froze to death, some people had limited water and no heat—but the mission helped out in the community whenever we could. Lynn and I have been able to visit many churches in the Phoenix area, and we continue to be amazed at the support and offers of volunteer mission groups from everyone we have met.

Folks from Lutheran churches everywhere help us inspire hope for the future. The Navajo people are important partners in our work here, and they see a brighter vision through the body of Christ at work here at the House of Prayer Lutheran Church.
Easter Season is upon us and as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, we are mindful of the newness of life all around us. From the blossoming desert in springtime to new life at the House of Prayer, we praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Serving on the mission board in 2010:

Ron Augustson
Janice Lee Jim 
Roger Johnsen
Jerry Thomas
Richard Wixom
Bob Hutson
Kay A. Fett

Christel Badey
Clarence Begay
Sue Vogel-Herrera
Alice Natale 
Kathleen Carpenter
Angela Root