MNU Passion to Serve Project | Sun Valley Indian School | MidAmerica Nazarene University
 

Passion to Serve

Sun Valley Indian School

In the spring of 2007, the Sun Valley Indian School athletic director and coach came to speak at an MNU chapel. He asked the MNU community for help with work and witness teams that could do sports ministry at the school. Coach Lamar and his wife, Jo Lamar answered that call. Together, they have taken a work and worship team from MNU nearly every May and have sponsored several SVIS students in visiting MNU.

This partnership has also sponsored:

  • Gamma Chi (Pi Lambda Theta honor society) fulfiling SVIS wish list items
  • Teacher Education courses learning along with SVIS classrooms via Skype, Flat Stanley and pen pals
  • The collection of Campbells Soup Labels and Box Tops for Education
  • MNU community members hosting the SVIS visitors at their homes for pool parties, dinners and outings when they visit MNU
  • MNU community buying visiting SVIS summer basketball campers new shoes

The need continues. That is why the Sub Valley Indian School is the 2014-2015 Passion to Serve Project. Read the blog below for additional stories about SVIS and the impact your donation makes. Please help us with our Passion to Serve.

That awkward moment...

March 2, 2015
By Morgan Singleton

Have you ever been in a situation that you never would have dreamed you would be in? And not only is it unexpected, but that moment is, well, awkward? I’m talking about flushed cheeks, afraid to look people in the eyes, don’t know whether to laugh or cry, awkward. Have you been there before? Have you felt that?

While there are many moments in my life that I can say I’ve had awkward interactions and been in many awkward situations, none of them stands out in my mind quite like the one I had two summers ago at Sun Valley Indian School.

I’ve written before about my infamous boy with the rocks, Colton. In that post, I talked about the difficulties I had finding ways to interact with the students at Sun Valley. Well, I’d like to clear up some confusion about that. After I realized that those kiddos just wanted to be loved, being their friend became a little easier. Eventually, I grew to know (and love!) dozens of names, smiles, and Sun Valley Indian School Warriors. It was not an easy process but it happened.

So, I was talking about my awkward story…

The students at Sun Valley live in dorms on campus. Those dorms are separated into boys and girls dorms and then divided again by age and grade. During some afternoons while I was at Sun Valley, we were given free time to hang out with the kids, rest, laugh, or sharpen our basketball skills by playing H.O.R.S.E.

One afternoon, I was invited by some of the younger girls to join them for some hang-out time in their dorms. When I agreed, I had no earthly idea what I was signing up for. When I walked into the dorm building, I was overwhelmed by movement, noise, and free and honest expression and creativity. One girl was playing on an electric piano in the hallway, singing along to a loud and chaotic tune she was making up. Another girl was slipping and sliding around on the tile in her socks. Two girls were lurking in their bedrooms, giggling and randomly screaming.

Oh, and they were all saying my name. “Morgan, look at this!” “Morgan, watch me do this!” “Morgan, can you braid my hair?” “Morgan, will you dance with us?” And on and on and on. I was way out of my comfort zone, to say the least.

After about half an hour of chaos, the girls came running to me all at once. They wanted to watch a movie. You can imagine my delight when they wanted to do something that would be quiet, entertaining, and all in one place.

However, that is when things got awkward. The girls had a random array of old Disney movies on VHS. And of all of these movies, the girls wanted to watch Pocahontas. Yes, the movie about the Native American during the colonial time in America’s history.

And that is what we watched, Pocahontas. I was watching a movie depicting a time when white people severely disrespected and disregarded Native Americans. Me, Morgan, a white girl, was watching a movie depicting a time of racism with a bunch of Navajo girls.  It was what could have been a social catastrophe.

But, it wasn’t. Sure, I felt super awkward. Every time the word savage was spoken in the movie, I had to keep myself from physically cringing as I had two beautiful girls curled up on either side of me. The girls didn’t even really notice that we were watching a movie that showed white people forcing Native Americans to change their culture and way of life in order to fit into something that is “better.”

After the movie, I got to thinking about why those girls didn’t realize how awkward the whole situation had been. Could it have been the fact that none of them was over 10 years old and they didn’t realize the cultural implications within a seemly child-friendly movie? Surely there was another reason why I had been the only one to feel awkward.

I thought about that for a long time, and I honestly still think about it. However, about nine months after I had left Sun Valley, I got my answer to my wonderings about the whole Pocahontas awkwardness.

I was flipping through a book each of my team members was given to read before we went to Sun Valley. I had made a note in the margin of one of the pages that said, “At Sun Valley, they aim to teach students that being a Native American doesn’t mean that they can’t be a Christian. At Sun Valley, they strive to teach students that is okay, good even, to be both a Christian and a Navajo.”

I think I wrote that note during one of my team meetings during my week at Sun Valley. I must have written it without thinking too much about it and before the whole movie fiasco happened. But, regardless of when I wrote that note, it stands to be the truth.  Colossians says, in chapter 3 verse 11, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”

So in my last post, I asked the question “why care about Sun Valley Indian School?” And I’ve come across another answer for you.

Care about Sun Valley Indian School because it is a place that teaches Navajo students that they have worth and value as people. Care about Sun Valley because it teaches a fundamental Biblical truth that it is Christ that unites all people, no matter how society classifies them. Care about Sun Valley because it is a place that teaches students that they can be Navajo and Christian. Care about Sun Valley because it is a place where Christ is all, and is in all, even awkward interactions like watching Pocahontas with a bunch Navajo girls.

The boy with the rocks

February 10, 2015
By Morgan Singleton

This year’s Passion to Serve project is centered around a Sun Valley Indian School in Arizona. You may be wondering why a small school full of Navajo youth is a concern to anyone.

To be honest, that was my biggest question upon boarding the plane to fly out to Arizona a couple of summers ago.

“Why is Sun Valley so important? Why has God pulled me in this direction? What is the big deal about a bunch of rowdy Navajo kids?” I thought to myself the entire flight to Arizona. Within 48 hours of arriving at Sun Valley, I got my answer: the boy with the rocks.

So I guess some extra information may be needed here.

On my first day at Sun Valley, my team and the staff of the school took the students to the Navajo Reservation to hike in the Badlands. If you have never been to the Arizona Badlands let me give you a clue as to what it is like. Basically, it was sandy, rocky, mini mountains made up of billions of tiny rocks. When I think Badlands, I think “human sized anthills.” When we got to the Badlands, the kids ran off and started to climb these “human sized anthills” and then dive off of them, sliding on the pebbles until they reached the bottom.

We spent the entirety of the afternoon out hiking. It was overwhelming. There were all of these kids running around diving off of mini mountains, yelling, running, running, and more running. They all had so much energy. I was out of my element, to say the least.

While we were out there, we were told to make friends with the kids and begin to build relationships with them. That is a task, which is already difficult for me, as interacting with kids is not my strong suit. But then throw in the fact that these kids had so much energy, and I didn’t stand a chance.

Throughout the afternoon, I tried to talk to several of the students but struggled to make any real connections. I kept picking out students who were girls, older, and calmer, hoping that I could form a bond, but every attempt failed miserably on my part.

About halfway through the afternoon, I noticed a second grade boy following me. Eventually, a game of sorts was formed between him and myself where I would pretend to not notice him spying on me but then would randomly catch him. Quickly, he became my shadow. What I didn’t realize was that this boy who was following me would also add another element to our game: throwing rocks. At first, it was funny when he would hit me in the back with a dime sized rock, but as the afternoon wore on, he started to get better aim and began hitting me on the back of the head. Dodging his assaults became impossible. He was relentless!

Throughout the course of the week I was at Sun Valley Indian School, I had a lot more interactions with the boy with the rocks. He was in my classroom, in my group for basketball camp, and yes, he continued to throw rocks at me every chance he got.

I asked the staff at the school how to make the rock-throwing stop, and the only answer I got was to throw rocks back at him. Let me throw in a disclaimer here: they were extra clear with me that I was never to actually hit him but to just kind of fight back until he saw who was really in charge. Eventually, he began to lessen his attacks.

So why should anyone care about Sun Valley Indian School? Colton, the boy with the rocks, is my answer. You see, to society, those kids are hard to love. They are sometimes rough around the edges, and they don’t always know how to respond to kindness. Colton was the epitome of this to me. He was hard to love until I understood that his throwing rocks at me was a form of love.

I learned a big lesson in grace at Sun Valley. Colton tested my every ounce of patience, and yet, he touched my heart. He was ornery, adventurous, funny, and creative. For that week at Sun Valley, Colton was my best friend, and I was his.

The boy with the rocks was a representation of what I am to Christ: a being who continually hurts others. I was given a unique opportunity to show love to someone unconditionally and forgive without limit, like Christ does.

Sun Valley Indian School is a special place, filled with special kids who are brilliant, unique, exciting, precious, beautiful, and so ready for love. They love to learn, play games, pull pranks, and sing. They are so amazing!

So I challenge you to care about Sun Valley because of the kids who are like my boy with the rocks.

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Attn: MNU ServiceCorps

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Phone: 913-971-3541
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Email: mnuservicecorps1@mnu.edu