july 29th-august 2nd bluff, ut

We had a wonderful trip! Our hosts, St. Christopher's Mission, pampered us with Navajo Tacos, hospitality and friendship. We look forward to joining them in the future. We offered two half days of service and a full day of service- moving the office, cleaning and organizing the sacristy. They took us to Monument Valley and to a hogan outside St. Mary's in the Moonlight. Additionally, we had a chance to go to Hovenweep and see Jupiter's rings in a dark sky experience, and see rock painting left by Ancestral Native People. 

Most importantly we made friends with several folks living near St. Christopher's, members of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland. 

For these things we give thanks to God. 

Mission Trip 2019

Deepening Relationships - Growing Faith

We believe that the Partnership...will foster radical

generosity among the participating congregations of the Episcopal Churches in Colorado through

relationships with our Episcopal neighbors within the Episcopal Church in Navajoland (ECN), the Dine’.

We also envision new forms of evangelization among different age groups to spring from collaborative,

missional service, based on working together, learning from each, and sharing in the spirituality of both

cultures. We believe that all cultures in a cascading manner, now suffer from injustice, poverty, and

oppression throughout the world, no matter whether they are essentially modern or traditional.

Embracing ways to mitigate this societal pain, and to progress towards deeper forms of spirituality, is

the major challenge shared among us all. 

(written by mission partners, Dr. Sam Burns and Rev. Debbie Shaw)

Sue's Reflection

Why did I go? I couldn’t quiet the voice in my head, urging me into the unknown. I had

never been on a mission trip, and am fascinated with American Indian culture. Here

were the Navajo, asking St. Matthews for help. I signed up. The voice stopped.

We leave technology behind except cell phones as cameras. They asked that we not

swear, bring liquor, or wear skimpy tee shirts with nasty slogans. Not too difficult. We

challenge ourselves to live by the golden rule in everything we are about to do.

We travel in borrowed pick-ups about the same distance as Denver. St. Christopher’s

Mission is 1 ½ miles from Bluff, Utah where we see: “The Episcopal Church Welcomes

You.” Turning on a dirt road in the desert, we see a tall teepee-shaped building

silhouetted against a large red rock formation. The Chapel! Several natural stone

buildings with arched construction are scattered about the grounds. A small orchard of

apple and peach trees is dwarfed by nearby giant cottonwoods for heavenly shade. The

San Juan River is at our back. So quiet and peaceful . . . I want to stay forever.

We accomplished 3 small tasks in 3 full days.

Cleaned and mopped six guest rooms in the stone Retreat Center. We moved in

donated beds and furniture. When finished, it will host 12 people for retreats or families

and individuals for a short stay.

Relocated Pastor Kay’s 0ffice to one end of a huge room in another building. First

cleaned it, then moved, sorted, and shelved books, files, and her furniture. Next, set up

her office. For the first time, she has a window to see people arriving. We moved

couches and chairs to the other end creating a welcoming space for meetings and


We cleaned, sorted, and re-arranged everything in the Sacristy. Polished chalices –

borrowed robes to launder, and hem to fit the clergy. Laura was finishing up when 2

sheep and their dogs tap-danced down the steps into the Sacristy. She’ll tell you the


Navajo stonemasons constructed these buildings in 1944. Inside they are in dire need

of repair, as is a large commercial kitchen. Everything must be brought up to code. A

long term renovation plan is in its infancy to improve the retreat center and perpetuate

the original mission to serve the Navajo, locals, and tourists. Bluff is central to several

National Parks.

The Navajo hosted a dinner for us. They made Navajo Tacos the traditional way. Yum!

About 20 came - All generations. - Grannies, teens, college kids, families from age 65 to

2. Our group of 10 ranged from 80s down to 9. We lacked teens and twenties. We

talked and learned. Several Navajo joined us for Evening Prayer.

Families and clan are everything to the Navajo. All generations live close to one

another. Not scattered. They are friendly, gentle, relaxed and smiling. Most are

educated and bilingual. They raise well behaved children. Many are unemployed

because there are no local jobs. A few follow construction, but live at home.

Margaret is a wise, gentle Navajo grandmother who visited us every day; answering

questions and proudly telling of their culture, with a shy smile. She works part-time at

the Mission, and teaches computer technology to 4 th , 5 th and 6 th graders on their IPads.

Walter, was our foreman and Navajo storyteller. He was born at the clinic at St.

Christopher’s, went to elementary school there, and has returned as the handyman and

groundskeeper. He joined us under the Shade Shelter for Morning Prayer.

We gasped at the sight of the chapel interior - a natural cedar ceiling soars high above

us to the point. A Navajo rug floats just above a free standing altar. There are pews for

150 people, but now 20 come on Sunday and average plate collection is $40. For

several years, Rev. Kay Plummer serves as priest with Deacon Paula, Walter, and 2

others. Kay is a retired park ranger, and with her dog, they are permanent residents at

the mission.

The well-being of St. Christopher’s Mission, and its people matter to us. We gave our

honest selves. And like the hummingbird, we brought our drop of water. I believe St.

Matthew’s should continue this mission. We can do this.

Margaret sent everyone this message: “Thank you for coming. We will miss you, so

please come back, and send others from St. Matthew’s.”

Here’s the good news: This fall, you’ll all get to know Walter. He has agreed to visit St.

Matt’s and share his story. He believes: “St. Christopher’s is a Place to Come and

Change Your Heart.”

Laura, you gave us Leadership, Insight, Energy, Fun, and Prayers. You

shared the heavens and the earth and gave us a lifetime of memories. Thank You!