Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Food Run Report - Dilkon-Leupp-Birdsprings, Fall 2012

by Jane Wierengo

(Note: Jane is one of a trio of dedicated volunteers from Georgia that we affectionately refer to as the Georgia Peaches. On this food run, Jane and Shirley were joined by Jean Lindstedt, a friend on her first trip to Navajoland.)

September 22, 2012
Shirley Upchurch, Jean Lindstedt, and I headed out west a few days early to spend some time at Canyon de Chelly, the Wigwam Motel, and Hubbell Trading Post before making our way to Winslow. We flew to Phoenix from Atlanta, rented an SUV and headed north! We wanted to show Jean some of our favorite things in the area since it was her first time to come on a food run.

September 23rd
Shirley had arranged to meet her elders, Alice and Austin Tso, and their daughter Linda, at Denny's for lunch.  Linda interpreted for Alice. Jean asked her about her childhood. She responded that "it was an ugly childhood". All she did was herd sheep. She wanted to go to school but had to stay home to help out. She regrets not learning English because her grandchildren do not speak Navajo, and now she can't communicate with them.   We found out from Linda Begay that several of the elders have obtained solar panels to allow them to have electricity. This is a very big deal as it allows the elders to have a refrigerator, lights, and so many other things that we take for granted.

We made our trips to Walmart and Dollar Store to purchase things for the elders. Then we went to the Trading Posts. Jean got dizzy looking at all the old pawned jewelry, saddles and so on at Moore's! 

September 25th
During the ceremony which was on "compassion", Shirley and I were surprised by the gift of an ANE Pendleton blanket for our service and commitment to the program. We were speechless and so honored by this gift!

September 26th:  Dilkon
We met at Denny's for the morning meeting. We got to renew friendships from the past and meet the new volunteers.  There were only 19 support people on this food run so it was a smaller group than usual.

Jean has been wanting to come to a food run for several years. She retired from teaching this year, and her children gave her the gift of the trip !  In the group photo, I believe you can spot Jean on the front row as the "happiest" of the volunteers!

Shirley bought a Code Talker book and was able to have Sam Tsosie to sign it.

Fientje Allis served as the nurse on this food run. One of her friends sent Kenneth Lee a ring.

 The food run is held at the Mormon meeting house in Dilkon. We had 2 missionaries, Elders Jared and Jaden, who helped us unload the truck and participated in the games.

Pat brought knitted hats for all the elders, and Fientje gave "bobbing flowers" to all the elders as her "giveaway".

After the Dilkon food run, we always make a trip out to see my elder, Anita Jackson. Henry, her son, was mowing the land getting ready for the Teesto food run which was to be  held at Anita's house a few weeks later. We had a good visit with them. We saw Anita's loom being strung for a new rug, and saw all the improvements that are being made to Anita's house.  I always feel very special to be invited into Anita's home.  She is able to answer some of the questions we have about life on the reservation , growing up, school and so on.

Thursday September 27th: Leupp

Jean gave Lola Bahe yarn that her sister had donated. They will use it at the Senior Center, where Lola is the director.

There were many beautifully wrapped items sent from the SLC Warehouse. We realize there are a lot of behind the scenes volunteers when we see all the giveaways that have been prepared in advance.

One of my duties was to meet Henry and Ann Lefthand. A friend from Georgia adopted them, and she had given me many items that they needed.

One of the most meaningful things at Leupp is when Lola and Dean sing and play the guitar. They lead the elders in beautiful worship music before the meal.

We are fortunate to have Mary Robertson Begay as our interpreter. This year she attended every food run. The other Robertson sisters helped too, Ella and Alice.

Thursday, September 28: Birdsprings

Jean got up early to go to the sunrise service. When she got back we loaded our car. After Birdsprings we head to Phoenix to make our way back to Atlanta.

When I went outside to load the car, Allison (Dayle Laughlin's  granddaughter) came right up to me to say hello.  That reminded me that the "best girl scout troop " had made it to Winslow for the food run.  Dayle has been bringing Allison and Hayley on food runs since they were 5 or 6 yrs. old.

They grew up knowing Sadie and going out to the land.  The troop always brings nice gifts to every elder.  I saw Allison walking hand in hand with one of the elders to help them to their seat.

The troop made applesauce for every elder this year.  Jennifer, Dayle's daughter, does such a wonderful job with the troop.  They worked hard unpacking the truck and the medical van, assisting the elders and doing anything asked of them.

Boyd drives the Penske truck from SLC and is much appreciated by everyone.  He gets better at each food run at introducing himself in his Navajo language!  All the guys who are there and also the missionaries pitch in to do the hard work of placing the boxes.

At each food run, Mary Lou and Ed Kulsick bring the most beautiful quilts from a quilting guild in their city.  It is really such a generous gift of time and talent. The elders appreciate the quilts, and I know they will be warmer during the winter because of the generosity of these quilter.

 Jean adopted elders at Birdsprings. Her new elders are Junior and Betty Ann Nez. I think several other volunteers adopted elders during this food run at Dilkon and at Leupp.  It is such a happy time when an elder knows they will have support coming.  It is happy for them and for the ones doing the "adopting".

One of my favorite couples to meet was Carol and Jimmy Wilson who are Navajo potters.  They had their work out at Birdsprings, and being a potter myself, I did buy some.

Speaking for myself and others, I would like to express gratitude to Linda Myers for persevering these past 26 years to uphold the trust of the Navajo elders. Every person who works with the program has a heart for these people. Kindness, compassion, and empathy comes from every person who volunteers.

Linda's question to the elders that makes me smile is this - - - "What's the best thing about being in the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program?"  The answer..."being old", and getting the giveaways!!!!!

Thru Linda's efforts, she has drawn together a group of loyal and dedicated people to help her with the tasks of the program. She always says that the elders go home with their "giveaways" and look at everything they were given.  They pray for the volunteers who gave these things to them.  She always tells us they pray for our safety in traveling back to our homes and pray for us to come to the land safely.

I know every volunteer goes home and reflects on all the gifts they received such as thoughts of others, the people met, the hands held, and the journey to a special place with special people.  These are gifts that we as volunteers receive. Our prayers go out to the elders and support people also during the time we are apart.

So, we Georgians will have a couple of months to practice our "Ya'at'eeh Ya'll's" until we meet again. Happy Trails!

1 comment:

  1. happy servant said...

    Thank you, Jane for your wonderful description of these Food Runs and the beautiful photography!
    I have so much admiration for all of the volunteers that made these Food Runs a success. It was a wonderful surprise to see the photo that you took of my elder "Uncle" Kenneth Lee, in Dilkon.
    You have made these days come alive for those of us who were not able to attend this year.
    I sure hope to see you all on future Food Runs!
    Lois in Ct.