One of the families we were traveling with has a son serving on the reservation, which gave us a great resource. Under the direction of the church leaders from that area, and with the insight of the missionaries, we were able to focus on projects that foster self-sufficiency. Before we left, we spent an evening with a couple who had recently returned from a mission to the reservation. They taught us about the gardening program that has been started by the church. We were able to haul 3 huge trailer loads of fertilizer and supplies to help with the gardens, and another two enclosed trailers full of quilting, canning, and sewing supplies. We were also loaded with wood cutting supplies, with plans to haul and cut large quantities of wood with the members to use through the winter, as wood is most of the people's only source of heat through the winter. The months before we left were filled with preparation, which I think made it more meaningful to the kids because they had worked so hard to gather donations.
We headed south a few weeks before Thanksgiving in what ended up being a whirlwind weekend of a LOTS of driving and working! (Ryenne spoke in church about our project a few weeks later and commented how long a 13 hour car ride can be when you are riding with a car full of teenage boys!)
Luckily, the kids had cousins to ride with which always makes life more fun!
The branch wanted to do something to thank us for coming, and prepared all of our meals while we were there (a big sacrifice for them). That first night, Jodi and I spent a few hours with Nancy (the branch Relief Society President) at the senior missionaries home learning how to make Navajo fry bread. What an amazing lady- we learned so much more than fry bread skills from her!
Most of the men and big kids went back up on the mountain to cut more wood, while Courtney and a few of the older boys stayed back to begin to chop the massive pile of logs they had brought back the night before.
The little girls and I stayed back to help with lat looming and quilting. My nephews had made quilt stands as part of their project and had four pair to donate to the branch, along with tons of fabric and sewing supplies. With some of the donated money, our friends had bought a sewing machine to donate to the branch as well.