Me and the stray dogs waited for the door to open. Scraps would fly in our direction. We just had to be patient. We were all hungry all the time. The year was 1968 and I just turned twenty-four years old. I listened for the creek of the door. We heard it. The Indian lady would get in trouble if she got caught. She was very traditional. But she was kind to me. Don’t tell she whispered. Winter 1969 I was cold, lonely and miserable. Hunger was my constant companion. The Navajo Reservation was vast. The family’s huddled in their hogans near the fire. I stood still and sniffed the air. I smelled food. I followed my nose. Soon a home came into view. I was very shy but my hunger was stronger. I knocked on the small wooden door. I heard a word in Navajo that meant “come in”. I ducked down and entered. A group of natives sat around a cast iron pot. They used their fingers to scoop up fried potatoes. It smelled so good. I knew I should stand in the shadows and watch. When I saw a slight movement. Two people moved apart. That was my signal that I was welcome to sit with them. I kept my eyes cast down to show respect. I waited my turn to gather a few pieces of food. Toddlers and babies sat on mother’s and grandmother’s lap. The food was chewed then placed in their mouths. I felt so accepted. I felt cared for. Somehow, I knew these people would care for me in their own way. Forward Fast – 2018 and Holidays are near. The toddlers of long ago are now teachers and school bus drivers on the reservation. Some are nurses and some young men and women are police. Others entered the military. I am still among them. We talk, we laugh, we cry tears of joy when we think of the past that brought us together. These are my people. They fed me when I was hungry. They cried with me at losses in my life. And they now rejoice with me because my daughter and I work together bringing gifts and supplies. Third and Fourth generations of Navajos are my family. Fifty years of my life and I can truly say God is Good and He had a plan when I didn’t. Speaking of Plans, can you please fit us into your Holiday Plans with Turkey’s and Gifts for our Indian Children? You can shop and ship or we can do it in your name. Together we can give a little back when they Gave Me so Much!
One of my earliest memories was the day I acquired a five-gallon plastic pail and a piece of rope. I felt like a queen. Now all I had to do was find water. A few days later I came across a deep well. I knelt by the well with my pail. Water! How precious, I hauled it back to camp. With some soap and a cast-off toilet plunger, I had just invented a washing machine. After bubbles and a rinse, I hung my undergarments to dry. I sang praises as I tided up the camp. I sang loud and clear. How happy I was. Suddenly, I heard another sound. Indian boys on horseback spotted the rope clothesline. They wanted it. They cut it lose and there went my wash through the red dirt of the Navajo Reservation.
Let’s continue to Celebrate my milestone of 50 years among the Navajo people. This summer, you and I can deliver more water, more food and more comfort than ever before. The need is great among the children who are alone and trying to survive each day. Recently, I was at a home where a nine-year-old boy lives. He is very thin. The grandmother said he’s hungry. She was ill with the flu. I gave her some over the counter meds and I handed him my bologna sandwich. Soon two more children appeared. their glance in my direction said it all, “thank you”. The children shared the sandwich sitting on their bed which was a piece of flat cardboard on the dirt floor.
Summer, 2018 We need more supplies. You and I together, are the only ones to continue on the trails reaching hungry thirsty Indian children this summer. Summertime is not vacation time on the reservation. It’s lonely, hot and boring. Most homes have no electricity, bathrooms or water. The children are in survival mode wishing for school to start. Come along with your prayers and gifts, be with us in spirit. We really need you.
50 years!! How can it be. Where did Fifty years ago? 1968-2018 this is my 50th year on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Come to walk with me down memory lane. I met a shy people with even shyer children. Most spoke only Navajo. They quietly shared their food with me and let me cuddle their babies. The young mothers taught me how to communicate with them through smiles and sign language. I learned how to tell time by the shadow of the sun on the smoke hole. They also taught me with a frown. One day a sheep liver was being cooked outside. The fire was very hot. I poked a piece of meat with a long stick. I was hungry and not thinking. Then I remembered, it is a fearful thing to point or poke in any way at anything. That could bring evil into the camp or even death. I hung my head in shame and stayed hungry. Even today at school a pencil is given sideways not pointed at the student. Over the years you and I have made education possible. Children are in school and they are looking forward to their dreams. They want to attend college, be a math teacher, a soldier in the military, doctor, truck driver or nurse. One small girl said, “I want to be like Sylvia, she gives kids stuff and makes children happy”. Yes, I look back and realize looking forward is good, it’s healthy. Remember the past, it’s a teacher. Learn the lesson and go forward. The Navajo people have taught me many things, most of all to grow and accept what I could not change. They have been very patient with me. Ahee hee (Thank you) to my Navajo people. Still on the trails with your help and prayers. Indian Mobile Mission.