Dear supporters of the CCS mission trip to Hikiwan, Arizona,
Thank you from the Champion Christian School Mission Team! We would like to thank everyone who helped make our trip to the Tohono O'odham Reservation in Arizona possible. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience for all of us. While there we did physical work every day, ministered to the children every evening, and met and worshipped with many amazing people; both natives and missionaries. We worked very hard but got to also see and experience some amazing things including a stop at the Grand Canyon on the way home. The various perspectives of the mission team members have been combined in the following letter to give you a glimpse into the trip and the many different activities in which we participated.
After a very long bus trip from Donegal, PA to Hikiwan, Arizona we pulled alongside the Christ Fellowship Community Church, a Native American Christian Church right there in the middle of the reservation. How different this area is from what we are used to here in Pennsylvania! It is a desert, far from Walmarts and movie theaters. There are saguaro cactuses everywhere, stray donkeys and dogs roaming around, mesquite, and lots of sand. There are laws against touching the cactuses and mesquite. The dogs looked like they lead a pretty hard life but we weren't supposed to feed them. One of the hard adjustments we had to make!
Everyday there was work to be done. We were helping to build a mission house beside the church, and many of our team worked on the cement team. We were building the floor for the mission house which will make it easier for future teams to come, stay, and work toward accomplishing the work of the mission. Because of how remote that place is, we had to mix cement by hand using a 90-year old concrete mixer. That is hard work! We got a lot of the floor done, and the kids learned some useful skills including how to finish cement. Isaiah and Tyler both said "It was good to learn how to mix and pour cement and a privilege to learn how to finish it." Tom also gained some electrical skills installing lights and wiring.
We also painted the ramada, a type of pavilion for outdoor church and Sunday school. Haileigh, Laney, Yavri, Jasmin, Emily, and Rachel are now expert painters as well as proficient with a screw gun. We even painted the roof and got the place ready for their Easter Sunrise Service. In addition, we painted a new sign for the church. Their old one was weather beaten and almost unreadable. We cleared away some second-hand lumber they had laying, stacking it up off of the ground and pulling nails to get it ready to use. The fun part of the job was that Emily found a lizard and chased it down and caught it in a container. We all got a chance to study it before Emily let it go. We also were able to get a sound booth started for the church to use for their worship services.
In the evening, we led a Bible School for the local children. This Bible School was planned, and carried out entirely by the high schoolers. We did crafts, snacks, puppet shows, and games for three nights with a different theme each night. On the last night, each kid was given a backpack filled with supplies, snacks, and a bible, all supplied by Nancy and Russ. The Champion kids said, "We could tell that the kids really liked our Bible School because more came each night." "The kids were full of Jesus and love." After each Bible School we had time to just play with the kids who came. This was everyone's favorite part! To just be carefree and have fun together was a wonderful experience. Yavri said it was "an Immense joy." At one point the kids were asking for Joey because he was over working on finishing the cement. When he came over, they all piled on him. Everyone was laughing and having fun.
We met and worked with some great people. We met Ken and Thurlene who are missionaries who have been coming to Hikiwan for 11 years. We met Felix who is the native American pastor of that church. He taught us how to say "God the Father, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit" in the Tohono O'odham language. We met Duncan, a Native American who loves the Lord but has had some trouble staying on the right side of the law. He was going to begin an 8-month prison sentence the week after we were there. We prayed for him there and have been praying for him since. We met Amanda, his wife, who made some wonderful Indian fry bread tacos for us while we were there.
Here is a quote from one of the high schoolers that expresses what we all feel: "Overall the experience was great. It is something I'll take with me for the rest of my life. The skills I learned and the connections with the people I had are things I am thankful for and will never forget."
Thank you for your support,
The CCHS Arizona Mission Team