Shining and Sharing the Love of Jesus to the Navajos during this Pandemic

Staff members and friends of La Vida Mission have been working hard to serve Navajo individuals living in New Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic.

In July we conducted our sixth COVID-19 relief operation at the Flea Market of Crownpoint, New Mexico, offering free propane tank refills, food and water. When we arrived at the flea market at 8 am, the long line of cars and trucks waiting for help was impressive—four hours before the giveaway was scheduled to begin (an evidence of how desperately people need relief during this difficult time of lockdown and loss of jobs and income).

La Vida Mission staff and our church members initially planned on serving 125 families, but the number quickly increased. By the end of the day 250 families had been blessed.

This event could not have taken place smoothly without the help of the Crownpoint chapter team headed by chapter president Rita Capitan, who arrived early to set up, organize and direct the flow of traffic. Their team even contributed fresh produce to our food giveaway.

Nations Gas provided propane bottle refills to 170 families. Approximately 80 families came just for food and water. Adding to the fair-like atmosphere, the Crownpoint Fire Department brought two engines, and firefighters patiently stood side-by-side with the propane tanks to ensure everyone’s safety.

People have been asking how we were able to do this.  On our own we cannot—it is impossible with our limited resources. But with God, all things are possible if we trust Him and act out in faith. We have seen how His promise of opening the windows of heaven was fulfilled in front of our eyes.

When we started this relief operation in April, we never thought it would be a huge ongoing activity for our church and the mission. We started small with what we had: rice and beans from our cafeteria and bags of fruits purchased by our meager church outreach funds and delivered to peoples’ homes around La Vida Mission.

However, when Neal Kelley and Montrose Church heard what we were doing, they came with a truckload of assorted foods and bakery products from Sharing Ministry, and we were able to deliver food boxes instead of just food bags.

When I posted our activities on the church Facebook page, we gained more supporters. Sharman Mohler of Southwest Paleontologist Society started a GoFundMe fundraiser, and Claire James—one of our teachers—started a Facebook fundraising campaign that generated enough money for us to do a mass drive-in distribution of food boxes to 150 families last May.

Just as we were finishing our drive-in relief operation, I received a call from Pastor Mike and Brenda Maldonado of Colorado Springs Central Church. They read in the Rocky Mountain Conference newsletter about what we were doing, and wanted to join us in helping our Navajo community. They asked to come the following week to deliver supplies of food and water. That enabled us to do our fourth food distribution on June 5 to another 125 Navajo families.

With a little money left from all these fundraising donations—and after talking to some local native leaders and friends about what the people needed—we hosted our fifth COVID-19 relief operation on June 29. This time, in addition to free food and water for 125 families, we added free propane bottle refills as serviced by Nations Gas, a Native-owned gas company on the reservation.

We thought this community relief event would be the last such help provided. But we received several messages from Crownpoint, a small town 30 minutes away from La Vida, where the Mission has been conducting outreach programs. People expressed their needs and requested prayers for the Mission to consider extending help in Crownpoint, since most of the individuals had no way to get to the Mission.

I prayed when I received these requests and, in my heart, I felt it would happen. God opened the windows of heaven to us again! Assistance came from RMC Adventist Community Services director Cathy Kissner, who promised that the conference would contribute funding for purchasing food.

Then, another generous donation arrived from a Facebook donor. With those donations, we knew we could do another COVID-19 relief operation in Crownpoint.

But God wasn’t finished opening the windows of heaven. He opened them wide when Restore-a-Child ministry sent us generous booster funds to help in our relief operation for the Navajo families, providing more food, water and propane.

During the last four months, the Lord has gifted us with the joy of serving close to 800 Native families with food, water and basic household necessities.

What a mighty and generous God we serve! He has His coffers full, and when we ask to help His children, He opens the windows of heaven.

Even as I write this, another ministry partner called offering to help deliver 150 emergency relief packages and boxes next month. And yet another mission donor sent a check to help with our relief operation, which we will use for a propane refill event to go along with the emergency relief packages.

What the community people are saying

SP from Farmington: LaVida Mission is an awesome place where caring and love is poured out with God’s tremendous blessings. Thank you to all the donors.

HC from Crownpoint:
Thank you, Dorie, for helping out our Diné people; we love you. Be safe and bless your family, the La Vida Mission and all the staff you work with. We can’t wait to go to the Bible study again. Miss you guys!

EL from Lake Valley:
La Vida Mission has been very helpful to us Navajo people. Thank you, Dorie, and your awesome team for helping the community! God bless you in abundance. 

JM from Dalton Pass:

Thank you, La Vida Mission, for the free propane for our people; many blessings back to the church and your donors.

Dorie Panganiban is office manager and outreach director for La Vida Mission in Farmington, New Mexico.