Since I was talking about John-dog and the mission yesterday, I thought I’d explain what I was doing on a mission in the desert of New Mexico in the first place.
When I graduated from Ohio State I took a job with our local school system teaching third grade. I loved it. I loved it so much that when the principal handed me my paychecks I always felt guilty taking them. In retrospect, I see that the Lord was getting me ready for the years when I would have no paycheck and live only by the faith that God would meet all my needs. At the end of my first year of teaching time came around to renew our contracts, I simply could not sign that contract. I felt almost that it would be a sin to commit to another year with Dover Schools.
It was about this time that I became aware of the need for a teacher at the mission my mother had visited for several years to help with their annual Bible school. In the back of my mind I had already known that they had established a school in conjunction with their spiritual outreach, but it really hadn’t had any bearing on my life. Now the Lord dealt with me that I was to be their much needed teacher. This was not something I wanted to do. My mother’s reports of the desert were all negative. She liked the people and enjoyed the work of the Lord, but she found the desert barren and ugly, lacking in greenery and full of blowing dust and heat. I did seriously question: “Lord why would you send me to a place I’m going to hate?”
After several days of wrestling with the definite direction of the Lord I told my principal I was going to request a leave of absence for a year. I told him what I was planning and explained that I wasn’t sure how it would work out. Yes, I know, it was a lack of complete faith on my part. I should have been able to simply resign my job and go where the Lord was calling me to go. Nevertheless, the principal, a Christian himself, was excited that I would choose to do something so ‘daring’. He was willing to approve my leave insofar as his responsibilty reached. With his recommendation, the administration also approved and my way was set to go to teach on Rocks Springs Mission.
My first trip out to Gallup was with a friend, Sandy Wendell, and sister Blackwell, a elderly sister in the Lord who had visited the mission several times. Sandy and I left New Philadelphia, Ohio in my little Corvair and picked sister Blackwell up in Findlay at sister Grace Henry’s house. We traveled from there to Gallup and then out to Rock Springs in three or four days.
The most exciting event on the trip was the tornado we ran into between the Okalahoma state line and Amarillo, Texas. We didn’t know it was a tornado. Sandy and I were excited at the heavy rain and wind. There were hailstones about the size of nickles. We were forced to pull over on the freeway and take shelter under the canopy of an abandoned gas station. That was a stupid place to take shelter from a tornado, but ignorance is bliss. While Sandy and I were squealing over the hailstones, sister Blackwell was telling us we should be praying for deliverance from a tornado. We’d never had any experience with tornados and pooh-poohed the very idea.
When the rain and wind stopped we drove on into Amarillo. We had last gotten gas just outside of Oklahoma City so we stopped almost the first gas station we found. THAT’S where we discovered we had waited out our first tornado under a canopy on top of a hill. It had passed north to south about 45 miles outside of Amarillo. That’s probably about where we were parked. God certainly does take care of naive idiots.
We arrived in Rock Springs and were given rooms… someplace. I don’t remember where right now. Sandy and I helped with Bible School and I got to know McCormicks and the Navajo who came to church and the kids in Bible School . I enjoyed it tremendously. When the week and a half of Bible School ended, we all went back east leaving them with my commitment to return the end of August to prepare for the coming school year. Over the next 8 or 9 years, I made the trip over and over.
I wish I had pictures of the mission and the Rock Springs area, but that was a long time ago and the photos are all packed away. Besides, even if I had them, I’m not computer savy enough to scan them in to my computer and post them.