The Navajo Nation, where La Vida Mission’s ministry is focused, has been hit so hard by the coronavirus pandemic that it had the highest per capita infection rate in the United States, even surpassing hotspots such as New York City. A lockdown, stay-at-home order and nightly and weekend curfews were implemented throughout the nation to provide safety, but these have made life difficult in terms of mobility and securing food for daily needs, especially on weekends. Add to this the loss of jobs and income, and it is no surprise families are struggling.
One of La Vida Mission’s activities during the lockdown was reaching out to the community through small care package deliveries of fresh fruit purchased with church outreach funds. Supplies of rice, beans and masa flour from the school cafeteria were added to these deliveries. Thanks to a gift from the Montrose Church, food boxes were prepared in addition to care packages and food bags.
In the first week of May, these food supplies became extremely low, so the general food distribution was stopped. “But we left our church’s doors open for community requests for help,” reported Dori Panganiban, La Vida Mission’s community outreach director.
By the second week of May, Sherman Mohler, president of Southwest Paleontological Society, offered the mission loads of assorted food, groceries, clothes and household appliances. “He also gave us cash donations he received through his GoFundMe fundraiser,” explained Panganiban.
A Facebook fundraiser generated donations as well. “We used the [funds] to order flour, assorted groceries and toilet paper online for the next food distribution,” Panganiban added. Neal Kelley and his wife from The Sharing Ministry even drove from Montrose, Colorado, with a pickup load of food to add to the supplies.
“Putting all these donations together, we were able to make 150 food boxes that we distributed in our church parking lot. It made these packages reach the people quicker in preparation for the coming weekend curfew and lockdown,” Panganiban said.
The donations continued. On May 28, Navajo Strong from Utah arrived with 80 gallons of hand sanitizer to give to the ministry. “When I returned to my office after the distribution, I received a call from Brenda Maldonado of Colorado Springs Central Church asking how their church could help with our outreach,” reported Panganiban. “Coming home that same day, my husband gave me an envelope that was left on the bench in our sunroom with a generous check appropriated to our Food Box Distribution Ministry left by a local member. I could not believe all this happened in just one day.”
On Friday, June 3, the ministry did another drive-in food box distribution in the church parking lot. “Just as Jesus made the five loaves of bread and two fishes multiply, He multiplied our small care packages into something bigger to impact our community for Him,” Panganiban concluded.