Christmas on the Rez (part 2)

Upon leaving Chinle, the weather took a turn for the worse. Pelting, freezing rain fell from the skies and the wind stole our breath. We were joyful in the warm truck. As we made the turn towards Pinion, we saw two men hitchhiking towards Pinion. Derek looked at me and said, “What do you think?” I shrugged and smiled with a “whatever you think.”

The two men were dressed in only sweatshirts and jeans. They were dirty and reeked of liquor. Archie and Arnold got in the back seat with big toothless grins. Our dog was skeptical and kept her eye on them from the front.

After introductions, Archie said, “We just got out of jail!” Derek and I stared straight ahead. 

Unfortunately the problem of alcohol continues to do great damage to First People. Though it is a dry reservation, the demon bottles find their way into young and old alike. Archie and Arnold had embibed too much and then became disorderly. Alcohol often leads to abuse, homocide, and a host of other problems. These two fellas were put in jail to dry out and come to their senses. Archie told us they had no cell phones as they were taken by police. He also mentioned his wife was “pissed!” 

Derek engaged them in conversation about Burnt Corn. They were impressed with his knowledge and Arnold was from that area. They mentioned the roads may be bad back there as the rain was turning to a blizzard. 

Derek also preached a bit and they quickly called him Christian. Derek said he hoped to never find them along this road again coming home from jail. They promised to obey. The cold was bitter now and we couldn’t imagine what would have happened to these two crazy guys. They were getting a ride to Pinion to the big gas station there. We didn’t ask what would happen from there.

Many times here near the rez, you will hear funny stories about picking up Native hitchhikers. They will tell you they need a ride “just up a few miles.” You will drive a few miles and they will say, “just one more turn.” Soon you find you have driven them to the other side of the state!

When we arrived in Pinion, I asked the men if they wanted to use my cell to call their wives. Arnold saw a relative at the gas station and he jumped right in their truck before they were done pumping! Derek made sure he sent bread, candy and well wishes with the family and Arnold. Another unexpected encounter.

Archie called his wife. When she answered he said, “Sweetie…” Swearing and yelling came through loud and clear on the other end! He spoke Navajo after that but occassionally I would hear, “Christian.”

Archie wanted money from us. He received bread and candy instead. This is a tough scenario anywhere there is poverty. Our Mormon friends in Pinion really have a hard time with this aspect. The people coming to their church and fellowships are angry when money isn’t given freely. Sometimes a story can really break your heart and discernment is necessary. Archie wasn’t breaking our hearts that day. 

We left for Burnt Corn with laughter filling our truck. We were wondering what our parents would say about picking up two strange men!


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2 Responses to Christmas on the Rez (part 2)

  1. Bob Olmstead says:

    In as much as you have done it to the least of these …
    … enter into my rest.

    Blessings to you both,

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