the lamb

Our third group left really early Friday morning, so we had a “day off”. Normally after groups leave, our days off consist of cleaning and running around, which is exactly what this Friday also entailed. I cleaned the grill and the food storage shed and headed off to Tuba City with James, Sarah, their daughter, Townie and Matt the journalist intern that had been with us for the week. Chris woke up really sick so we left him home deciding whether or not he wanted to survive. We were gone most of the afternoon and randomly ended up riding home with Felix so we could help butcher a sheep with the family that night.

The way home was more than interesting. Felix is one of those people with testimonies that you almost can’t believe because God took someone so broken and completely turned them around. And as Felix was sharing a part of his testimony with us, he was also asking us deep questions, like the one thing we would ask of God that would edify the church body and how do we recognize that we trust God completely in our lives. I wrestled with those that night. I wrestled with what Felix was talking about.

And then we get to grandma and grandpa’s house and we wrestle a sheep to the ground, tie it up and slit its throat. It was such a crazy picture. Once the sheep or lamb is tied up and lying down, it doesn’t cry at all. It simply lays down its life. Like Jesus, like my Savior did when he willingly gave up his life on the cross. I watched them slit the throat. I held the legs while they took off the skin. I helped hold the bowl as they pulled all the insides out of the sheep. I held up the fat so it could dry and then after they cut it into strips, I wrapped the intestines around the fat so they could cook it over the open fire. I ate the liver and the tongue and had the time of my life.

A few years ago, there’s no way I could have done any of that. There’s no way I could have watched any of that or participated in any way. But I look at where God has brought me, how’s he’s given me the grace to jump into different cultures like the Navajo and appreciate who they are and the traditions they carry.

Without the lamb dying, there’s no celebration, there’s no family party.

Without Jesus dying, there’s no party in heaven.

He died willingly… for you and me, so one day we can have a big feast.

what it's like to be followed

First off, I forgot to write about the nicknames that the Navajo have given us since we’ve been here. Chris just got his from a grandma that kept seeing him at the gas station driving the van. And so in Navajo she called him the tall white pole or an easy target. Alex has a t-shirt that says “townie” on it, so that’s what the boys started calling her and that’s probably what I’ll refer to her as throughout my blogs. And after I jokingly yelled at the boys for throwing a football they started calling me Mama Marge, or just Mama. It also applies since I’m the cook as well.

So, twice a week we have to take the trash to the dump about 30 minutes away. Normally, Chris does this since he’s technically in charge of the van. But on Tuesday, Chris was in charge of the evening program and so Alex and I had to do a late nite trash run (it wasn’t really midnight).

Now townie and I were off on an adventure. We’d only made this drive in the day and we were also only passengers. So townie made me drive since she’s short and she was real scared since it was just the two of us going to the dump by ourselves. We felt a little safer since we both had our knives (not that we’re great at using them for self defense yet).

It was a pretty entertaining drive and we kept getting passed because I don’t totally trust the van so I was going slower than most people would like. We get to the dump and we’re trying to throw these big trash bags into the dumps that are too tall. It was funny because we were trying to hurry since townie was so worried. Townie also thought she heard someone say “hey” from behind one of the big trash cans. We emptied the van as fast as we could and hurried to get back to the road.

Halfway home, we were passed by a car and had someone wave at us. Turns out, it was Jere Bear, Steven and Sister. They didn’t trust me and townie to take the trash all by ourselves and not get hurt. Well, at least they care that much to follow us out.

Just one of many crazy adventures.


“All God wants to do is take you where you cannot go alone and make you what you cannot be alone. You were not created to live your life absent of God. There is a dream for your life you can’t even begin to imagine without God. Without him you are settling for less. If you were meant to fly, not even running really fast is that impressive.”
- Erwin McManus – Soul Cravings

I read the above book last summer when what I did all day was sit by the pool and watch two girls. Last year, I was dreaming. I knew then that this summer was going to be different, that this summer was going to take me somewhere I may not want to go. But I still couldn’t see it. At that point, I was still running really fast. And it wasn’t that impressive.

Today I feel as though I’m flying. Being here is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and yet also one of the best. It’s hard now to imagine my life without these people in it. In one month’s time they have changed me. They have taught me so many things, so many life lessons. And I know without a doubt that if I left today I’d be a different person for the rest of my life.

The good news is that I’m not leaving today. I still have 6 more weeks with these amazing people. I get to live alongside them and participate fully in their culture. I’m flying. Last summer I was running safely. This summer I’m flying without a parachute.

But that’s all right. I was meant to fly.

“You can spend your whole life trying to become what your soul longs for without God. You might resent that he’s made it so hard for you to live out your dreams or fulfill your destiny. It’s never quite hit you that it’s in the struggle, in the process, even in our search for God, that he is making us strong enough to take flight.”
- Erwin McManus – Soul Cravings


the initiation

This morning at church, James and Sarah stood us up in height order (Chris, Me, Alex) in front of the congregation and talked in Navajo for a while. We had absolutely no idea what was going on until they handed each of us a knife and told us to always carry them with us and be prepared. When the Navajo’s ask, we better have our knives on us.
I didn’t know how to say thank you. We stood there dumbfounded. None of us had a clue that the church would do something like this for us. We were simply amazed. As I told someone this story later, she told me that the moments like this are the ones that make every heartache and backbreaking thing we do worth it. It seems to me like we’re a part of the family after all. And once again, I felt so blessed.

Every day is a new adventure. You never know what is going to happen; what challenges you’re going to face or what amazing moments you’re going to have. The pastor at Exit 59 where I go to church when I’m at school always says that he would have never dreamed he’d be where he is today and if he could have seen the future while in college, he wouldn’t have ever believed that this life would happen for him.
It feels like that this summer. If I could see into the future for the rest of the summer, I’m sure there are things that will come across my path that I would never have believed I’d do or handle. But that’s the beauty of living in the now, living day by day, and not worrying about what may happen tomorrow.
It’s still hard to believe I’m here: cooking outside for 50 people, washing pans with ash from the fire (it takes the fire burns off so your clothes don’t get black!), hiking down into canyons, eating new things, actually wanting to butcher a sheep, driving big vans on crazy dirt roads and tackling my fear of heights.
There are times when I wonder what in the world I’m doing here, and times when I’m simply amazed that I’ve had this incredible opportunity.


my cloud of witnesses

I used to be scared of the spring. For four consecutive springs, we lost a member of our family. The first was unexpected, the second was necessary, the third was not what anyone wanted and the fourth seemed a little unreal. Since then, there’s been more, not in the spring, but they hurt nonetheless. There’s been at least one death close to me every year since 2001. That moment in may when uncle buzz died was the moment I realized life wasn’t easy.
It took me a long time to even begin to understand why I’ve dealt with so many of these. I have friends that just recently have experienced the first death close to them. And while I have no answer, God has granted me a peace that transcends understanding. And tonight, he made things somewhat clearer for me.

In the church I’m working in this summer there’s a large mural on the wall that Daniel drew using pastels. Some weeks he explains the meanings of the different images that are portrayed. There’s a picture of a young person with an old grandma above her. In Navajo, the elderly are given much respect. They carry so much wisdom and they also see the potential in all the young.
Then there’s the symbol of those that have died in service to the country. At the front of the mural is a gun standing straight up with the hat on it. This signifies those that have died for our country and have gone ahead. And Daniel talked about not only those that have served but any of our family members that have also gone ahead and become our cloud of witnesses.
They are up there, looking down, and they see our potential. My many family members and friends, they are my own cloud of witnesses. They see my potential. They see who I can be if only I let God work in my life. Though I can’t see them, they are like a constant encouragement, cheering me on as I run the race, as I work in Arizona this summer, as I finish college and as I head to Africa in the spring. And maybe they see the potential in me beyond that as well. Maybe they’re up there dreaming up things with God for my life.
And just maybe, your own family members and friends are doing the same for you. When we let God dream for us, it’s always better and more adventurous than anything we could come up with on our own. And there are people cheering us on in the faith, even when we can’t see them or hear them or feel them.

There are people here too. I have the best support system anyone could ever ask for. Mom and Dad, thanks again for giving me up to God and allowing me to follow where He’s taken me. Matt, thanks for being the best brother and friend. Kelley, even though we’re separated most times, thank you for the lifelong friendship. Christi, I don’t even know where to begin, but I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without you. Sarah Black, thank you for knowing me better than I know myself most times. Sara Lynn, thank you for challenging my thinking and talking intellectually with me even when I don’t understand half of what you’re saying. Beth, you taught me so much, thank you for being the first one willing to fight and disagree with me, but still love me at the end of the day. Emma, thank you for your smile and the sunshine you bring to my life. Sisterhood, thank you for providing me with something so unique and special. Mark and Scott, thank you for being like brothers to me. And to those that have gone before, thank you for your wonderful examples of lives well lived.

Every day I realize how blessed I truly am.


*when my faith can't reach that far*

*don’t leave me now
my memories are more than I can take tonight
and God show me how
I’m supposed to trust in things beyond my sight…

So teach me how to kneel
When I don’t know how to feel
And show me where you are
When my faith can’t reach that far
My faith can’t reach that far…

And tell me there’s more
To this life than only what my heart can see
Take all these things
Make them into more than who I used to be

Is my soul too blind to see
The truth you have for me
Cause this peace I feel inside
Is too weak to survive
Too weak to survive

My heart has left me alone again
Is this the beginning, is this the end,
Is this the time you’ll never let me in again?

So teach me how to kneel
When I don’t know how to feel
And show me where you are
When my faith can’t reach that far
My faith can’t reach that far…*

“reach that far” – eleventyseven

My brother is the music man. One of our friends once said that if there was a jeopardy Christian rock band edition, she’d want Matt on her team. I don’t know where or when he found the above song, but I remember him telling be about it. He hands me cd’s and tells me which songs to listen to. This one has been in my library for a while and has applied at different times in my life.
Today it hit home in a different way. In a nutshell, I’m more out of my comfort zone than I’ve ever been. And while it’s good, and I find myself turning to God more, it can still feel as though my faith isn’t reaching far enough. The days aren’t easy. They’re long, they’re hot and sometimes they’re downright frustrating. It’s a battle in my mind on what to focus on at any given moment. The small decisions I make affect not only me anymore.
I’m living with two amazing people that I’ve grown to love and respect, despite the fact that we’ve known each other less than a month. It’s a team, and there are differences, but we still share so much. And it’s strange at times, and it’s also fun. And I realized tonight that I need to work harder on encouraging these two people God has placed in my life. I’m here ultimately to serve God and the Navajo people, but I’m also here to serve these two.
God shows me in a new way how much of a behind the scenes person I truly am. Tricia was right in putting “the man behind the curtain” on the back of my t-shirt. We saw it then. I saw it in softball. I struggled with it this past spring break in Costa Rica. And I’m here doing it again. And there are days where I feel I have a thankless job and I wonder whether what I’m doing really matters.
But it does. Rob Bell said in Velvet Elvis that it’s the small, quiet, stealth acts that change things. I may never see it, but it could be those small actions that I do every day that change things. This is where faith and trust come into play.

God show me where you are… when my faith can’t reach that far…

*Matt: I’m always thinking about you… I wanted to let you know that I’m so proud of you and I love that you and I share a heart for good music and for missions. I always listen to the songs you tell me to listen to… those are actually the ones that have changed my life. I miss you like crazy and I’m constantly praying for you this summer. You’re the best ever. I love you.

when truth makes you cry.

today I saw my mother. I wish it had been in a way where I could touch her and hug her (no one hugs me here), but it wasn’t this time. it was through someone else. Someone who carries my mother’s wisdom and strength and love throughout her whole being. And it made me miss home so much.
Sarah, the pastor’s wife talked with us for a long time today about almost everything under the sun. she talked to us about teamwork, she told stories of people she knew, of the church she’d grown up in, of her family, and what a real friend looks like. And it felt to me like it was my mom sitting there teaching me all of these lessons. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard them before, or seen them in my mom’s actions and the way she lives her life. But real truth was spoken into my life today. And sitting there with James and Sarah and Chris and Alex, I just cried.
I cried because I missed my mom and her wisdom. And because it was Father’s day and I couldn’t be there to give my dad a hug for being the best dad and always providing for and loving our family with everything he is. Every time I leave home it gets harder. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Isn’t it supposed to get easier?

So thank you, mom and dad, for being the kind of parents that are hard to leave. Thank you for being my constant support, for still letting me lean on you when I’m tired, for loving me through everything and not only letting me be gone for 2 or 3 months, but actually encouraging me to take hold of every opportunity, even when it means we’re far apart.
I am blessed, so blessed. And although I now call the Navajos here family, no one and nothing could ever replace you two. I could never thank God enough for the both of you. You mean the world to me. And I love you so much.


failing and falling... and climbing back up

The team told me the meals were good, but I got a different word from others, and I have to admit that I wasn’t so impressed with myself. The timing is insane when trying to cook for 50+ people, and I haven’t been in the rhythm I need. And when someone tells you outright you need to go to spaghetti class, it doesn’t quite make your day. There’s so much to learn for a seemingly thankless job. And when I took on the cooking, I didn’t realize that there was so much cleaning involved as well. Cleaning is not my favorite activity.
Plain and simple, I failed a lot this week. Only a few saw it, but it was so evident to me that I once again felt completely inadequate to be here. Is that how I’m supposed to feel throughout this whole summer? Or will some measure of confidence slowly start to creep into my life as I continue to cook and live 24/7 with this crazy job? There are definite moments when I look up at the sky and ask God what he was thinking…

Our “days off” have been more than incredible. They always involve cleaning, which isn’t my favorite, but kinda has to be done. But then there are hours and moments like we had today, as we hiked far down into the canyon and saw the most incredible sights. Pictures are never good enough, and for those of you that could make the hike, I would encourage you to come down here in a heartbeat. God’s handiwork is everywhere, and as we sat and listened to Daniel’s canyon stories, I have to admit I was convicted. They’re testing our character here. Maybe that’s why life seems so hard sometimes… most times. Maybe the hike down was a test of character. Did I pass? I made it back up, but I honestly have no idea what they think of me.
But does it really truly matter? Am I here to please the people here or am I here because this is where God has placed me? Where’s my focus? Who’s my focus? It’s a hard question to answer. Hard because you have to deal with the people you’re working with and yet they are not perfect either, like me… and I’m not here to worship them or give them any sort of glory. It’s all for Him. It’s all for the man who saved me so many years ago and brought me to this place.

I’ve failed and I’ve fallen in the past week. But even when I’m tired and I can’t breathe, I know there’s some sort of strength in me to climb back up. I did it tonight. I made it back to the top of the canyon. And yes, I had some amazing people standing beside me or behind me or holding my hand. But there was still some courage and strength to get back up. It came from Him, the man I’ll gladly hand my life over to.

you learn something new every day...

*to all my future housemates and family…
… I now officially know how to fix a septic tank, a talent not all women should necessarily possess, but one that may be helpful nonetheless.

Thursday, June 12: a layer of grease.
Seriously, I need to get a before and after picture of this event grill I have to clean every week. It wasn’t that bad until bbq chicken night and by today, it was just a mess. I’m pretty sure it takes about 3 or 4 hours to clean and to make it worse, we couldn’t shower or go to the bathroom in our house until we figured out what was wrong with the septic tank. So we started digging, and digging, and all the while smelling this wonderful smell of the backed up stuff. And then grandpa Roy appeared and figured out what was wrong. So now we are allowed to shower, but the septic tank is something we have to check regularly. So fun.
Another sweet thing I did today was clean the grease pan from the grill which was chalk full of grease, all the way to the rim. So I stuck my hand in there and dug it out. It felt kind of like clay and it was real interesting. Alex was grossed out, but I thought it was kind of cool… crazy new adventures every single day.

On the flip side, we got to sleep in today, which was great. And the boys slept over last night outside on their cots. They didn’t invite alex and I to sleep out there though, which was fine with us to have the house to ourselves.

You honestly NEVER know what’s going to happen next. It makes life real interesting.


more adventurous than i can tell you.

Monday: simply amazed
It’s 8:45 and the teams just left me. I’m alone here at the church and I’m wondering how much of this time in the morning I’m going to have throughout the summer. There are a million things to do (like cleaning – mom, you’d be so proud). I have meals to prepare and things to get ready because my afternoon will be spent getting kids for Kids Club and visiting the work sites on the last day. Tonight’s meal isn’t the easiest to fix either. But for some reason, I can’t stand up. My mind is racing with everything else.
I don’t think, wait… no, I know I’m not ready for this team to leave. Maybe it’s because it’s my first. Maybe it’s because they have been amazing and organized and so much fun (especially for knee highs!) The days are long and hard. Everyone was right when they told me this was the hardest summer of their life, but also the best. Even though I want to throw my alarm clock in the morning, I also love when it goes off. I’m normally the first one up, making breakfast and putting things together for the teams. The mornings have been cool, but beautiful. And the sight when I walk out our front door and over the parking lot to the outdoor kitchen is breathtaking. How blessed am I to wake up to that every morning this summer…

On Saturday night we took the group to the canyon, on the other side where we could safely hike and build a bonfire. And as I looked across and saw all of the edges and straight drops of the cliffs, I thought about how I’d gotten here. Arizona… never in my wildest dreams. As a freshman, there’s no way I could have taken a leap of faith like this. Look where God’s brought me. And next year, He wants to take me to Africa? What? I never dreamed I could do these things, but then again, it’s really not me doing this at all. It’s all God. The fact that I’m inadequate means that He gets all the glory. And living this way is more adventurous than I can tell you…

*Mom – we have to start investing in Blue Bird flour so I can make Navajo tacos with fry bread when I come home. Miss you lots.

Once again, I thank everyone who has been a support system in my life. Leaving was harder than I thought this summer and I miss you all so much. I am so blessed to have you all in my life. God is so good.

Hanging on to Jesus,

“I found a way out through everything I’d known
I’m walking fearless with my faith down and all that I own
Don’t take my picture, cause I won’t be there standing alone
I’m living fearless, so fearless, like everyday’s my own”
Fearless – Falling Up


annie, get your gun

Friday: my first puddle-jumper…
I flew to Phoenix in the morning and met the other interns before our puddle-jumper flight to Flagstaff. It was the smallest plane I’d ever been on (besides my uncle’s two-seater that he let me kind of fly). We met Kristy who was sent to help us get situated and hopefully teach me how to cook for large numbers of people.
sidenote: if anyone remembers the section at the old COSI where you fake-cooked from the pioneer days, yeah, cooking here is just like that, only with real food and for 50 people. I should have a picture posted for you soon
Anyways, after we met Kristy and gathered some groceries, we headed out to the reservation. This place is beautiful. There are so many mountains and with the red dirt and clear blue skies it was such a wonderful change from the flat Midwest that I’m used to seeing.
We met a good portion of the Tate family on Friday as well. Grandpa Roy and Grandma Suzie greeted us. They have 8 children, all of who live on the same road with their respective families. Their daughter Sarah is married to the pastor of the church and we met her and her family who we will be working close with as well.
We came back to the house and the church property, had a late dinner and went to bed early since we had all been up since 4 or 5 in the morning.

Saturday: get your gun…
We had the morning to ourselves but that probably won’t happen often. By lunchtime we had half of the family running through our small intern house fixing some of the plumbing and hanging out with us. We sat down and met with Pastor James and Sarah about some logistics and spent time sitting and talking with the family.
Relationships are key with the Navajo. Time is flexible and they love to sit around and talk with everyone. So that’s exactly what we did. And then the boys decided to take us on a little adventure.
In this family’s “backyard” is a canyon that they know like the back of their hand. It’s not that far away, but you have to do some serious off-roading to get there. So here we are, in the back of a truck, driving next to this serious canyon. (mom, you wouldn’t have made it, there were times when I couldn’t look). The canyon was beautiful. There’s a part that hangs over a 3000 foot drop that they call the egg shell. It’s a good thing they didn’t tell me where I was until I was on top of it.
We then hiked up a little mountain thing to get a better view of the canyon and this is where I experienced a first in my life. I shot two guns off into the canyon. One kicked a little and that’s the video that will hopefully work on this page. The other pictures are mostly from the canyon on Saturday. We finished the evening with a very late BBQ with the Tate family, which was, once again, amazing. They are so full of life and can always make me laugh.

Sunday: rock band
Church followed by a family picnic. Seriously, can this get any better? Navajo fry bread and Jeremy’s amazing grilling abilities left me stuffed after a Sunday lunch with the Tates. I love them more and more every day.
Pastor James took us to see some of the construction projects today (which was good for me because I won’t be leaving the church much with Kids Club and my LARGE cooking responsibilities). I had to remind myself to walk into these sites with an open mind. They simply live differently and we are here to completely help and not judge at all. At times, it’s like being in another country because they ALL speak Navajo. So if they don’t want us to hear what they’re saying, they’ll talk in Navajo around us. It’s really interesting though, because it helps us rely on them. We are so not in control here. We need these people, and it’s humbling, but I’m so grateful for their presence and complete involvement.
Anyways, Sunday night consisted of us sitting around with the boys and being amazed by their Rock Band abilities. These kids are good, and they put me to shame when I attempted to play the drums. (I only failed once!)

Monday: the grill
I think it took us 6 or so hours to clean up the camp and it took a while to clean this grill to get it ready for the team coming Thursday. We also sorted the food pantry and semi-organized what we had so that cooking can be more efficient for me as I attempt to feed 50 people every night. I’m excited though, just pray that I don’t burn anything.

Tuesday: black widow spiders
We finished up some cleaning projects and organizational things. And as we were cleaning the outdoor showers, Kristy found a black widow spider in the corner and I watched her kill it. (I’m so not to the point where I can kill deadly animals myself). We’ve been briefed on how to recognize the things that need to be killed around here, like black widow spiders, scorpions, and rattlesnakes (for that, you call one of the local teenage boys and watch them kill it with a shovel… but they taught us how to walk/run away!).
The family took us to Navajo park where there are some cave-dwellings you can view from afar (again, mom, the height thing would kill you!) And then we went up into Utah to see Monument Valley during the sunset, and it was beautiful. Everything seems so majestic out here and we are all amazed (especially since we’re from the mostly flat Midwest).

Wednesday: the grocery bill
We’re in Page today (an hour from the rez), getting on the internet because we don’t have it where we are and doing our grocery shopping for the upcoming week with a team. It’s completely overwhelming, knowing I have to buy 600 slices of bread plus all of the other crazy numbers of things it takes to feed 45-50 people for a week. I still can’t wrap my head around the numbers and the amount this grocery bill is going to be…

In other news, my fears have faded tremendously. I’m probably less nervous than I should be, especially with our first team coming tomorrow. But God has granted me an extreme kind of peace and I want to thank everyone that has been praying for me and this summer. I’ve already seen his hand in placing me here, with these other two interns (who are amazing, by the way!) and with this incredibly relational and wonderful family (think the Starkey/Aurand clan times 6). He is so good and now I’m simply excited about being here and serving for God’s glory.

In case you want to send me anything, here’s the address.
Margie Termeer
Hc 70 Box 3
PMB Box 5086
Tonalea, AZ 86044

I love you all, and I really do miss everyone. But it’s so comforting knowing that this is where I’m supposed to be.