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Thirteen years ago, we made our first trip to the Navajo Nation in Arizona with Pastor Charles Dennis, “the singing preacher.”  

We’ve been back every year since then, and several times during a few of those years, until this year when they were the “hottest spot in America” for the COVID-19 pandemic. And through all those years, we’ve been learning about the land and the people.

They believe God gave them the land bounded by the four sacred mountains; Blanca Mountain to the east, San Francisco Peaks to the west (one of the most beautiful drives we know about is from the Grand Canyon down to the San Francisco Peaks and Flagstaff), Mount Taylor to the south, and Hesperus Peak to the north. (The most beautiful drive was from Holbrook on I40 down through the Salt River Apache Reservation to Phoenix.)

Those four mountains are part of the Dine Bahane or “story of the people” and their homeland is known as the Dinetah.

The first or dark world was an island floating in the middle of four seas and inhabited by four Diyin Dine’e.

The second or blue world was inhabited by blue-gray mammals and various birds including blue swallows. The third or yellow world was inhabited by animal people who lived along two rivers and were driven away by a great flood.

The fourth or white world was inhabited by the first man and the Holy People who created the sun, moon, and stars… and death came into this fourth world.

Then it should be no surprise that the four sacred colors of the Navajo are black, blue (turquoise), yellow and white. It all began as the Nilch’i Diyin or “holy wind” rose up through the darkness to animate and bring purpose and life to the Diyin Dine’e.

The first human, Yoolgaii Asdzaa was born into the fourth world and matured into Asdzaa Nadleehe who gave birth to hero twins named Naayee Neizghani and Tóbájíshchíní.

Now you might understand why 1 Chronicles 4:10 is a special verse to both of us, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”

The first eight years after we married, we moved 15 times ... first while we finished our senior year at Emory University and taught school after graduation, and then while I was in the Navy.

Over the next 40-plus years of ministry, we moved seven more times. God has certainly blessed us and enlarged our territories.

We have friends up and down the East Coast, all across South Georgia and out west; and our two sons have friends in several places where we lived. But the real point of all this is that God was with us every step of the way and he led us to lots of good friends and some of the most beautiful country in our nation, if not our world.

“Thank you Lord!”

Pastor’s viewpoint is written by Charles "Buddy" Whatley, a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland and Bold Springs United Methodist Church and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

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