Mission to Sells, Arizona - 2014

Dear Supporters of the CCHS mission trip to Sells, Arizona,

     Thank you from the Champion Christian High School Mission Team! We would like to thank everyone who helped make our trip to the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Sells, Arizona possible. It was a productive and a life changing trip for all of us. While there we were involved in several types of ministry: construction, mechanical, evangelism in a Christian school and reservation neighborhoods, and helping a local church to clean and beautify their building and grounds.

     After a long but safe bus trip from Donegal, PA to Sells, AZ, we arrived to be greeted by warm, sunny weather and our Praying Pelican ministry team leaders – Derrick and Lenny. They introduced us to Candy and Eddie Ware who are missionaries from Tennessee originally and have been helping the Papago First Baptist Church in Sells for the past three years. They oversee the grounds where we stayed which includes living quarters, a kitchen, a watu (we call it a pavilion), the Papago First Baptist Church, and the Ware’s house. The compound is surrounded by barbed wire in order to keep the free ranging animals out. Children from the surrounding neighborhood came around often at mealtimes or after school. Many of these children are in tough situations at home because one or both of their parents have done jail time, have difficult economic situations, or are dealing with addiction and other issues. Our missionary hosts encouraged our students to offer them food and to play with them. This gave our students an opportunity to really connect with them and give them the love and affection many of the children so desperately needed. Several of our students gave their new friends little gifts before we left for home later in the week. Our group bonded so well with the children and it was difficult to say goodbye later in the week.

     On Sunday morning we attended the Papago First Baptist Church and heard a great message from Pastor Jay Juan. Jay is a former police officer who is also the manager of the reservation’s motor pool which includes hundreds of vehicles and numerous personnel. He is a man of great vision and the church has flourished under his leadership with the support of many good people such as the Wares and many others. We actually met a Wycliffe translator who has spent his life translating the New Testament, select books of the Old Testament, a dictionary and many Christian songs into the Tohono O’odham language. It was fascinating to talk to him about his life’s work. We enjoyed our worship and fellowship with the congregation. Later in the week, Jay cooked delicious hamburgers using mesquite wood which is a favorite on the reservation.

     Each morning we went to the only Christian school in the area. There were 13 - 14 students from the reservation each day. Our students and adults enjoyed the time with them so much. Our students performed puppet shows, did artwork, and interacted with the Indian students in several hands on ways. The Indian students appreciated the opportunity to learn about biblical concepts through this variety. One of our former faculty members that went with us made pillow cases with Bible verses on them to present to each student. Also, each student was presented with a backpack that she made. A highlight from our time at the school was a co-ed basketball game on our last day with them. Who won? Let’s just say the Indian students can really play the game! Our students were so blessed by these students – many of whom come from very difficult situations in life.

     Each day after lunch at the school, we split up into groups and did many things to help around the school or the church property. Here is a compilation of the jobs we did: built a watu at the school; repaired the church van so that it would run; on the church compound we painted a fence, cleaned the bunkhouse thoroughly, picked up trash which was plentiful both at the school and compound (it is windy all the time and trash blows everywhere), made seat cushions for the church pews, and sorted used clothing for the church clothing ministry.

     Another thing we did each day in the late afternoon is go to a reservation neighborhood and have block parties. The ministry has access to a trailer containing an inflatable bouncy house and a wide variety of toys and sports equipment for children of all ages. Our team was divided into groups and when we arrived where that day’s block party would be, each group went in a different direction and knocked on doors and invited people to the “party” to participate in food, fun, and fellowship. A highlight of this activity was some of our students sharing their faith in Christ and witnessing in front of a large crowd of Native Americans of all ages. We shall never forget spending time in those reservation neighborhoods in Sells and meeting smiling faces and watching beautiful sunsets each evening.

     There were many other experiences we had that were educational and fun too. One thing that is fascinating about Arizona is its free ranging animals, especially on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. We saw donkeys, horses, cows and especially dogs roaming freely everywhere. The highest mountain on the reservation is home to Kitt Peak National Observatory. It has more telescopes than any place in the world, including a solar telescope. We were “blown away” by the speed of the wind where the highest telescope cowling is located. Our bus negotiated the peak well and coming down the mountain we saw a Western Diamondback rattler. Before we departed Arizona for home, we went to the Grand Canyon and were fortunate to be there before and during sunset. A female elk and her young were grazing near where we were on the rim as well as a deer, and cameras were clicking rapidly!

     We are so thankful to God for the opportunity that we had to go on this mission trip as we learned so much about life, others, our Native American brothers, and about the Lord’s work in each of our lives. The Tohono O’odham provided us with an interesting understanding about the worship of false gods because they live on their historical homeland and have a mountain that they believe their god lives. Although there was much spiritual confusion, we could see in the lives of our friends in ministry what God can do in our lives when we give them to Him. We are so thankful that people like you responded with both prayers and financial help. May our Lord bless you richly for it.


The CCHS Mission Team 2014

P.S. While we had a group away in Arizona, the remainder of our High School Missions team were serving 4 local area ministries in the area. Check out our pictures from local missions below!

Some interesting facts:
-The reservation is very large with half of it in the US and half in Mexico.
-Sells, AZ is 60 miles west of Tucson, Arizona in desert terrain.
-The people were very friendly, but some of the problems they face are very typical to the Native American groups: poverty, casinos, gangs, alcoholism, drugs, unemployment, and broken homes.
-Only one half of 1% of the tribe believe in Christ. Most believers and church goers are women and children. There is some ancestral worship as well as worship of more than one god.

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