From Morgan ’16
On Saturday we went camping near the Black Mesa on the land that our friend Lena grew up on. She welcomed us by telling us about what it was like to grow up on the site where we would be staying the night; no electricity and no running water. Next, we all were instructed to explore the surrounding area and collect firewood so we would be able to cook dinner. Hamburgers, hot dogs, Lena’s special stew and of course fried bread were all on the menu. We all took turns making fried bread, but of course none of us could make ours anywhere near as perfectly round as Lena’s.
When dinner was ready we all sat down around the fire and ate and told each other some of the stories about our students we had collected throughout the previous week at school.
When we were all finished we played volleyball (or at least attempted to) until the sun was just beginning to slip beneath the horizon. It was finally time for what we had been anticipating all afternoon – smore’s. We debated over who was the best at roasting marshmallows and, of course, started to share the scariest stories we had in our repertoire. Needless to say they ended up being more funny than scary. When we had all had a laugh and the sugar rush began to die down, it was Lena’s turn to share more of her stories with us. We all sat around the dim fire and listened as Lena shared more about her family and childhood, gave us advice, and thanked us for coming to the reservation and helping the kids at the school. She said that the kids ask about us constantly after we leave, and even if we didn’t know it or realize it, we really do make a difference in their lives. Next, we all went around in a circle and shared where our parents and their parents were from and one thing that we have gotten our of coming to Kayenta. The bond between the group had never felt stronger than it did that night as we all went around and shared the most valuable things we have learned and appreciated on this trip.
After everyone had the chance to speak, Lena said a prayer for us while she spread cornmeal over the fire, a Navajo tradition. Although we could not understand what she was saying because she was speaking in her native tongue, her expression and power in her voice gave me goose bumps. Later, she told us that she had prayed for us all to be strong and ready for whatever life hands us. When our sharing session had come to an end and the fire had slowed to a dim flicker, we were all ready to fall asleep. We laid around the fire in our sleeping bags and marveled at the stars that were visible in the sky, as there was no light pollution out near the Mesa. Eventually everyone drifted off to sleep even though none of us wanted to shut our eyes.