Answers to your questions

a) General Information (5)

The Navajo Reservation has about 300,000 people enrolled and it covers 27,000 square miles making it about the size of West Virginia and larger than 10 States.

More information can be found on our Main Menu or you can click this link to open it in a new window.

The days are warm to hot and sunny while the evenings are cool and comfortable due to the high mountain desert climate. If you schedule your trip in mid to late July, you will potentially experience the Reservation “Monsoon” season which means there may be scattered showers and storms in the evening hours.

Navajos Speak Navajo. And English. Depending. Confused?

Don’t be. Most Navajos speak both Navajo and English. There are some older Navajos who speak only Navajo and there are some younger Navajos who speak primarily English.

In our video training, we teach you to say ten handy phrases in Navajo that most Navajos will understand.

Navajos, that practice their traditional religion say that they “Walk in Beauty” of they “Follow the Beauty Way.”

What this means is that they believe in a Creator who made everything. They call him “Father.” They believe that earth is their mother. They believe in greeting the morning sun with corn pollen sprinkled out as they pray. There are creation stories. Monster people and holy people. Animals and nature play a big role in the traditional way. The traditional way is kept alive via Medicine Men who hold ceremonies and sings. The purpose of these activities is to restore balance, and thus healing, to the person who is suffering.

Of, course that is the short version.

The beliefs among the Navajo people vary from the “Beauty Way” described above to Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, various types of Christian churches from Pentecostal to Southern Baptist. Many, many Navajos say that they are traditional or Catholic, but they don’t really have a sense of what that means on a day to day basis.

There is also the Native American Church which is a blend of many different beliefs from all tribes of Native Americans. They are most widely known for their use of the hallucinogen, Peyote, and you will find that they also acknowledge Jesus as “The god who died for me” but not as the only true God.

Chinle does have a few venomous creatures. However, only a few are considered potentially life-threatening to most people. Scorpions and rattlesnakes are what we watch for the most. Keeping yourself safe is mostly a matter of doing a couple of common sense things. The area emergency room is equipped to deal with potential problems that may arise from any incidental contact.

b) Mission Experience Information (7)

We love working with youth groups, adult groups, families with children, junior high, high school and college students. Our youngest missionary in 2017 was a 5 year old named Kiki. As you can see, it was quite exhausting for her…

Much of the work we do here in Chinle requires a certain level of maturity. In general we ask that children are at least 12 years of age, unless there is an adult with the younger child who can interact one-on-one with them for the duration of the trip.

We have found that one adult for every five youth works best. Make sure you have a healthy male/female mix so that you have adults in each sleeping area or hotel room.

We do not require background checks. We work primarily with church groups and we expect you to know your adults. If someone is new enough to your church that you can’t vouch for them, then, yes, do a background check. We ask the group leader(s) to make sure they are certain about their adult leader’s suitability to chaperone your Mission Experience.

Like any small town, crime occurs here just like everywhere else. We lay down some strict rules that are meant to keep you safe. We’ve never had a mission team experience a major incident of crime. We live and work in Chinle. We know the people you will be ministering to and – we’ll be right there with you.

I put the “fun” in quotes because I hope that you have fun during this entire trip. More than that, I pray that your life will be drastically changed for the better.

But, to answer your question directly. Yes. You’ll definitely get to do a walk-in tour of White House Ruins (google it). We’ll get you over to the sand dunes one evening and that is a blast! Depending on the week you are here and the weather, there may be other things you can do as well.

You bet. In fact, you’ll probably get tired of people asking you to look at their hand-made souvenirs. We’ll help guide you to people and places that will sell you genuine Navajo products.

We do not have a way of verifying that you have medical permission slips for your team’s youth. Please take this seriously. We have a decent medical center in Chinle and, should there be a need to take a student there, they will not treat a minor without parental permission.

Make sure that it has vital information needed such as allergies, prior conditions, medical insurance info, etc.

c) Cost and Logistics (5)

Once you register, you will receive a trip packet that contains basic information like safety and cultural tips, what to pack, fund-raising ideas, training materials and an arrowhead necklace for each team member. We send you arrowhead necklaces instead of t-shirts because they are culturally relevant, pretty cool and they are a great fund-raising idea. It’s all explained in your trip packet.

Once on location you will receive three meals a day, sleeping accommodations, ministry details, opportunities to share Jesus, devotional/growth teaching, worship times, prayer, times of sharing and debriefing, and a visit or two to Canyon DeChelly.

Your ministry materials will be ready for you – unless you are doing a VBS or sport camp in which case you will have brought them with you and we’ll give you space and time to get everything set up.

Airfare and ground transportation throughout the trip. You’ll want to bring spending money, VBS or Sport Camp materials, personal insurance, and money for any optional recreational activities you might plan.

Yes, there will be optional recreational activity ideas in your trip packet.

You are responsible for your own transportation. You can drive your private vehicles, church vehicles or rent from the airport. There are bus rental companies available should you not want to drive multiple vans. They are less convenient should you be going to multiple work-sites.

Albuquerque, NM. (ABQ) It is the nearest major airport to Chinle. Albuquerque is a major city (population 560,000) and should have everything you need as far as rental vehicles, etc.

Alternately, if you find that air travel is less expensive flying into Phoenix, you may do that – but realize that it is a 5-6 hour drive from Phoenix and only a 3-4 hour drive from Albuquerque.

It depends on what type of Mission Experience you have selected. If you have decided to stay in a hotel, Chinle has accommodations to fit your group. Your hotel rooms are a part of your trip costs and we’ll have taken care of them for you. There have been some groups that wish to reserve their own rooms – we have no problem with that. Let us know so that we can adjust your trips rates accordingly.

If you have chosen a floor trip, you will be staying in our church building. There are showers available and separate restrooms (one for guys – one for gals). Guys usually sleep in the fellowship hall and gals sleep in the sanctuary and office.

When available, we work with several of our church members to increase the number of showers available to your group.

d) Food and meal information (3)

Hot breakfasts usually give you the options of oatmeal or a breakfast burrito (home-made by one of our local Navajos). We keep milk and cereal on hand for those of you who prefer to go that route.

Lunch is usually a sack lunch, unless you are doing an Outreach/Engagement trip. For all trips we encourage your group to eat with the families you are working with.

Outreach/Engagement trips will be cooking lunch with the help of their Navajo host families and will have their biggest meal of the day at lunch time, rather than at supper.

Supper is a hot meal cooked by a local Navajo. Navajos eat pretty much what you eat, spaghetti, BBQ, Lasagna, Tacos, etc. At least one meal will be the Navajo Staple of Frybread with chili-beans and all the toppings – a Navajo Taco. Ask us ahead of time and we’ll have a local family butcher a sheep and cook up a real traditional Navajo meal for you.

We typically have fruit available at each meal as well as peanut butter and jelly for the “Ewww, I’m not eating that” person in your group. 🙂 Tossed salad is a normal part of most evening meals.

Bottled water along with Iced Tea and Lemonade are the norm for drinks.

I’d stick with bottled water and we use purified water for any drinks we make. On the day that we are at the Chinle Flea Market, there will be 10 or 12 food trucks out selling and we encourage you to buy your food from them. It is generally pretty good and they are inspected regularly. No additional money is needed for the Flea Market lunch. We will simply give you the amount we have factored in for lunch that day.

The meals we provide for you are made by cooks that we know, trust and who have their food handler cards. We make sure you’ll stay healthy eating what they make!

Your trip packet will have a typical menu in it. If your entire group is vegan, we’ll accommodate that.

If it is one person, we’ll do our best, but you may have to make arrangements to get separate food at the local grocery or bring it with you.

Please note that we do make peanut butter available and we cannot absolutely guarantee that there will be no cross contamination in the kitchen or dining area.

e) Ministry Information (6)

This is described in as much detail as I can give you – HERE – until you register and I am able to make concrete plans for your group. (Link opens in new tab)

As soon as I have commitments from local residents, I will begin passing this information on to you.

VBS, Sport Camps and other community service ministries will receive more detailed information sooner since they are not dependent on local Navajos.

Every group is different. We realize that and work with you to make this the best trip for your group and an effective outreach for our church. The schedule below is a very generalized “normal” schedule.

Tuesday AM – Arrive in Albuquerque
Tuesday afternoon – Arrive in Chinle.
VBS/Sport camp visitation (where applicable)
Tuesday PM – Evening worship/ministry time

Wed AM – Ministry time
Wed Noon – Lunch Ministry with host families
Wed 2 to 4 – Optional ministry time
Wed PM – Evening worship/ministry time

Thur AM – Ministry time
Thur Noon – Lunch Ministry with host families
Thur 2 to 4 – Optional ministry time
Thur PM – Evening worship/ministry time

Fri AM – Ministry time
Fri Noon – Flea Market Ministry
Fri 2 to 4 – Optional ministry time
Fri PM – Evening worship/ministry time

Sat AM – Sunrise Devotions
Sat Noon – Local Sightseeing/Hiking/Horseback/Jeep
Sat PM – Evening worship

Sun AM – Morning Worship by your Mission Team
Sun Noon – Meal with Church Members
Sun PM – Drive Home/to Airport

Mon AM – Flight Home/Arrive Home

We are officially finished for the week on Sunday after our shared meal. Most groups head for Albuquerque Sunday afternoon to begin their drive home, catch their late evening Sunday flight or to be in Albuquerque for their Monday morning flight. NOTE – If you spend the night in Albuquerque, this hotel night is not included in your package price.

If you wish to stay in Chinle until Monday morning, church floor sleepers are welcome to stay. Hotel groups will need to book an extra night for your group.

We provide hotel lodging from Tuesday night until Sunday Morning only. Let us know if we need to accommodate you differently.

We have power tools available here. If you are doing a large work project, we may ask you to bring an additional Skill Saw, cordless drill, etc. We’ll communicate this to you well in advance.

Be sure to bring work gloves. hats, sunscreen, appropriate clothing to work in – painting in your $200 sneakers can be a real downer. Putting in insulation and drywall in short sleeves can be really itchy. Again – we’ll communicate with you.


We try and have a project for every 8-12 people. We don’t ask you to mix and match with other teams- this is your team’s growth time!

There are, occasionally, small churches that want to bring five or six people out. If they want to join your team’s ministry time, we’ll ask you well in advance and give you contact information so that you can do team building with them. You, of course, can always say, “No Thanks” and we’ll pass that on politely and without conflict for you.

If you are that smaller team – realize that the larger group is letting you join them. If done right, it can be a rewarding time that builds lasting friendships.

Not usually. Truthfully, very rarely. While there are Mission organizations that split teams apart, we don’t like to do that for ministry, team building and safety reasons.

As in the previous FAQ, should a smaller group wish to join your team, we will still try and keep them together, possibly even giving them their own project while the two teams share meals, worship, etc.

We do have rules about power tool usage, team ladder climbing, etc.

In general, they are common sense procedures. We don’t let youth under 16 use power tools that run by electric.

Cordless drill may be used under adult supervision. We don’t use air nailers around teen groups.

Gloves are a must for clean-up projects.

These safety measures and more are in your trip packets.