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Shawnewa, 18

Finding the Right Spirit

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, July 3.

By Shawnewa, as told to Diana Fish


y name is Shawnewa. I am a student at Holbrook Seventh-day Adventist Indian School. I am from the Hopi and Navajo nations. Like many students at Holbrook, my family practices traditional beliefs. My grandparents on my father’s side are Christian.

One summer, my younger brother Naracaho and I attended a Vacation Bible School program held on the Navajo reservation. I loved what I learned about God. I wanted to know more, so I went to Vacation Bible School the following summer.

During my eighth-grade year of school, my grandfather tried to encourage me to enroll at Holbrook. The school is several hours by car from my home, and I didn’t want to be so far away from my family. So I chose not to go. Then, tragically, my grandfather died. In my sadness and out of respect for him, I decided I would go to Holbrook for ninth grade.

When I arrived at Holbrook, I loved the atmosphere. I especially loved what I was learning about God. It gave me so much peace. One day in class, the Bible teacher asked if any students wanted to be baptized. I wanted to be baptized but was afraid of what my family would think. So, I did not raise my hand. A few weeks later, the teacher asked again. This time I decided that I did not care what other people thought. I wanted to follow Jesus. I was baptized with five classmates at the end of the school year.

When I went home for summer vacation, members of my family would not talk to me. If they did, it was only to tease me. My mother told me she was not going to allow me to go back to Holbrook. They were angry with me for becoming a Christian.

I asked some staff at the school to pray for me.

Not long after, my mother changed her mind. She told me that she saw a change for the better in me. She said I seemed happier than she had ever seen me before and that she did not mind me believing in Christ, even though she did not share the same beliefs.

Now I am finishing my last year at Holbrook. Recently, my brother Naracaho was baptized. He went through a similar experience. He was told that if he got baptized the spirit that was in him would be replaced by another Spirit, the Holy Spirit. He struggled with the decision but, by the end of last school year, he, like me, chose to follow Jesus.

We are thankful for all of the people who made it possible for Naracaho and me to learn about God’s love for us at Holbrook Indian School.

Thank you for your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering three years ago that helped kickstart plans for a new gym and health center called New Life Center at Holbrook Seventh-day Adventist Indian School. Your offering this quarter will help finish the second phase of the center, where the school will address high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and suicide among Native American children and youth.