When the super moon went blood red in its full eclipse earlier this year, it was a frightening astronomical event for some of the students at La Vida Mission near Farmington, New Mexico. Coming from a traditional Navajo background, they consider eclipse viewing “taboo since they believe looking at the moon could shorten their lives,” explained Dolores Bentley, mission director and special design teacher.
La Vida Mission is a unique place—unlike any other Adventist school in North America. It had its beginnings in the 1940s in a one-room trading post infested with mice. Over the years the school, cafeteria, medical clinic and church were built by volunteer labor and are a testimony to faithful sharing of a Christian vision.
Today, 26 Navajo students attend the school, a fulfillment of the dream given to a young Navajo girl of many moccasined feet walking into the light of Jesus, and the result of labors and dedication by another woman, Veda Scholder, after whom the mission was named.
The dream continues to evolve after more than 50 years of service. The current mission administration is looking to the future with long-range plans that include self-supporting industries and vocational classes. Current class offerings include woodworking and mechanics. A certified nursing assistant class is in the planning stages and students who take it could finish high school with a vocation or use it as a means to put themselves through college.
La Vida Farm now produces vegetables to supply some of the school’s needs, and greenhouse head, Aquiles Gayares, “has grown a tomato of such high quality that we are looking at ways to market our produce starting next year,” said Bentley.
A La Vida Mission story would not be complete without mentioning its church plant at Crownpoint, 30 miles south of the Mission, that has between 25–35 people regularly attending. They have outgrown the trailer where they’ve been meeting, according to Dorie Panganiban, school chaplain and office manager. She and her husband direct the church plant.