Occupation: Student (Major: Music Composition and Technology)
Nickname: “Mandrew.” There were more girls than guys on our trips so if I did something like kill a spider or mention something like trimming my beard I was sometimes called… you guessed it… “Mandrew.”
Things I Enjoy Eating: It’s hard to pick a favorite. I’m creative and love food – whether it be Italian, Mexican, American, Chinese, etc… in fact, I’ll even combine foods.
My First Trip to the Rez: 2011
My Testimony: I’ve grown up in a Christian home under a wonderful church. I may have gone through a few “teenage phases,” but my testimony really is that the Lord has kept me all this time. I will note that I really began pursuing the things of God around eighth grade and was kept accountable by again, great parents, but also some wonderful Christian mentors.
Music: I’m studying Music Composition and Technology at Oral Roberts University. Quite a bit can be said or felt in just a few minutes through music. I have so much fun thinking of a song idea, arranging what all the instruments will do, and then recording it. On our trip last summer, I had the idea to write an album for the kids we’d be visiting at a youth camp in Arizona, so it happened. During the month of June I wrangled a few others from the trip (Jarrod, Rhiannon, and Samantha) to collaborate on writing some songs. We periodically met at my house to pray, share input on song ideas, solidify the songs, and then record different parts in my room. It was exciting but a huge challenge on my end because this wasn’t tracked in a professional studio with a team of engineers and high-end gear. I had to wear several hats to problem-solve and make sure everything worked out with what we had. On top of that, I had to work very quickly for it to be ready in time. I contributed to the vision, tracked everything others sang or played, recorded most of the instruments myself, and mixed it all together… but I can say it was well worth it. In about one month’s time we accomplished a 12-song CD and handed it out at the camp. We also got a chance to sing some of our songs live when we were there. A handful of kids said they really appreciated the music and it reminded them of us and what God did in them. Since then, I’ve decided I want this project to be available to everyone so I’m working on several changes and enhancements to make the quality “commercially acceptable.” It has been a huge learning process for me as I continue to get better at what I do and I look forward to getting this project onto iTunes, Spotify, and other online markets as soon as it’s done!
What God Taught Me on the Reservation: On our first trip we were sort of bombarded by a new culture with many different needs and behaviors than we were used to, but our hearts grew quite warm for the Navajo people by the end. On our second go-round last summer, I was encouraged that much of our work had visible results. Some kids gave up their traditional religion for Christianity, some abandoned poor habits like drugs, or at least reached out to us for help. Many who felt depression and hopelessness began to lighten up simply because someone chose to come into their world and show them somebody cares; that God cares. As much as their lives were changed, I gained a deeper understanding of how much God loves me too. I can’t wait to help them however I can on our third trip!