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Students Serve on Navajo Reservation for Fourth Time

James Shim, January 17, 2014
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Twenty-two students from Pacific Union College spent a week of their winter break serving and providing aid for a Navajo community located near Page, Ariz. This was the fourth time PUC students have made an impact on the Navajo reservation, all in cooperation with Project Pueblo, a student-led volunteer organization.

PUC students Clifford Young and Dominic Hwang led the December 13-21 trip. Ben Speegle, a 2013 PUC grad who now works in PUC’s Service, Justice, and Missions Office, and Tom Turner, professor of visual arts, went along as sponsors.

This year’s mission trip wasn’t just a return to the Navajo nation, but also to the local Seventh-day Adventist church, where PUC students have served since a renovation project began. “We helped a local missionary family with some of their tasks as well as assisting a Navajo family develop their property,” Speegle added.

“These mission trips allow us to really give back and serve an impoverished area,” said student leader Clifford Young. “Many of the things we take for granted these people struggle with. It’s nice to see fellow students act selflessly and sacrifice their own time to give back.”

From simple tasks like helping rebuild a community center to assisting a man with a home renovation, the team was kept busy throughout the weeklong trip. “I really helped building a Hogan, which is a traditional Native American house, out of tires and dirt,” described sophomore Byron Lee. “Although we didn’t finish, it was definitely a new experience and one worthwhile because I was able to help out and see the contribution of the team.”

At the conclusion of the trip the missionary team surprised the man in charge of maintenance at the Adventist church and community center with the gift of a chainsaw. Dale, the maintenance man, cuts down trees in order to get firewood, and the chainsaw will make this process much faster and easier.

The Project Pueblo mission trip also gave students the opportunity to appreciate the beautiful landscape surrounding Page, such as Antelope Canyon, which is known for distinct geological formations. “You can’t really describe the beauty of it,” sophomore Daniel Yang said of the rocks in the canyon. “The beauty of the rocks lies in their smooth edges and the interesting flow and curvature.”

Project Pueblo is another great example of the many mission trips and service opportunities available to the Pacific Union College community. These return trips to the Navajo nation are the continuation of wonderful relationships students have built with those outside of the local community.