Funny Nickname: My name makes it possible for me to have lots of funny nicknames. Samoa (from our trip last year), Samsung, Samela, Samson, Samaya, SAM (Surface-to-Air-Missiles) – just to name a few!
Things I Enjoy Doing: Writing, reading, drawing, cooking, guitar, piano, singing, hanging out with people, and oddly enough… studying. If I were honest with myself I would also include pinning things to Pinterest onto my list.
Things I Enjoy Eating: I really like spicy food – buffalo wings, Asian cuisine, jalapenos, and the list goes on. Other than that, McCalister’s is my favorite eating place right now. Their Savannah Chopped Salad is the bomb.
First Trip to the Navajo Reservation: 2011
Funny Rez Trip Memory: My favorite funny trip memory was last year when we were making the 20-hour drive to the Rez. It was probably like 2 or 3am and we stopped to shuffle out passengers (we had people rotate whether they were riding in the van or in the car so that everyone would get to hang out with everyone else). Most of our passengers were pretty out of it until, of course, they realized someone was climbing over them to get to the back seat. This someone was Jarrod. Jarrod climbed back to the back row of the 14-passenger van (sandwiching himself between Josh and Andrew – not to mention he destroyed the elaborate armrest Josh had made out of seatbelts) and sat down. I guess Jarrod was picking on Josh or something because eventually Josh, utterly bewildered that his roomy backseat was now uncomfortably packed, exclaimed: “Don’t touch me there, Jarrod! Those are my ribs! That’s a very intimate spot! That’s where God made Eve!” The rest of us broke out laughing!
Testimony Snapshot: I grew up in a home where I was taught about Jesus. It wasn’t all daisies and roses or anything – my parents got divorced when I was two – but the general idea of God was with me from a very young age. As I got older, I went through some of that painful forming-your-own-identity-in-a-public-school-where-there-are-bullies stuff and really became depressed and in bondage to different things. I remember 6th grade being the most difficult. I was generally angry or overcome with loneliness and felt like I had very few friends. At this time, I also felt an unusual drawing towards God. I would talk to Him a lot, never really sure if He actually heard what I was saying. A little while after that, I started going to a youth group. My first visit to the youth group, I encountered the presence of God during worship (even though I didn’t know at that time what was going on) and found some relief for the pain in my heart that had been pent up until then. I kept coming back to youth group over and over again because of that experience, just hoping that that worship time would strengthen me enough to make through the next week. In that context, however, God got ahold of me and started really growing me in Him. That was the beginning of the beginning of this now 8-year-long journey I’ve been on with Him. He’s has healed so many of the wounds of my heart and strengthened me in the confidence that He truly loves me. There are so many stories about His faithfulness I don’t have room to do them justice, and I can’t wait to see what adventures with Him are in front of me!
Something the Lord Taught Me on the Reservation: I remember on my first trip to the Reservation, the Lord taught me so much about His desire and His compassion for the Navajo people in particular. On the second trip, I actually learned so much more about His heart for me personally. I thought it was interesting how He didn’t do the same thing in me twice, but each time was completely unique.
Hopes, Dreams, and Goals for this Upcoming Trip: My dream and desire for this upcoming trip is that God would sovereignly step in to the lives of the young people on the Navajo Reservation and encounter their hearts. I know how He drew me to Himself by really revealing to me that He wasn’t just a bunch of memorizable facts or information, but that He is a person. I pray that God would give our Navajo friends this kind of revelation – a revelation of the living, real, tangible, powerful, captivating Person of Christ – the kind of revelation that marks them for the rest of their days. This is something I know it will take Him to do, because it is something no human being can give them. And I long that our Navajo friends would go home not just with a nice camp experience, but with something lasting.