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Bonnie Yoder

She grew up in a household that valued simplicity, but she never imagined that one day she would rely on the generosity of others to meet her and her family’s daily needs. Bonnie Yoder is ready for your questions.

When did you begin your work at the Navajo BIC Mission, and in what roles do you serve there?

Our family moved from Nappanee, Ind., to the Mission in Bloomfield, N.M., in 2005. Ralph, my husband, and I manage the Navajo BIC Overcomers Program, a six-month alcohol and drug rehabilitation program for Native American men. I am also the administrator/principal of Nizhoni Christian Academy, an Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) school attended by the children of community members and Mission staff, including our son and daughter. And I’m the CFO for the Mission, Nizhoni, and Overcomers.

How were you introduced to the concept of living simply?

Both of my parents are from Amish–Mennonite backgrounds and grew up in households that valued living simply, which transitioned into their own family life. Dad pastored small churches that could pay very little to nothing, and Mom did not work outside of the house, so my siblings and I learned to have a garden, can our foods, and make do with a lot less than many of my friends. To my knowledge, this did not harm us in any way. :)

In what ways do you pursue simplicity at the Mission?

Church First Nations Gathering (Bloomfield, N.M.) Favorite summer treat Watermelon Beach or mountains I enjoy both! Fun fact I love horses and am a certified riding instructor.

We raise our own support for the ministry here and so try to maintain on as little as possible. The majority of what is in our home and closets is donated to the Mission and to us. We share food items amongst the staff, and I shop locally from sale flyers. We’ve learned that we just don’t really need all the “extras” that at one time seemed so important.

How does being at the Mission affect your understanding of simplicity?

In some ways, living simply is easier here, as life is very laid back, and so my wardrobe is also very casual and minimal. At the same time, the cost of living is higher here compared to where we used to live in Indiana. The cost of gas is also higher, and we need to travel further distances to get places, which means those of us on the staff try to consolidate all our trips into one. So, we’ve found it’s a mixed bag when it comes to adapting this commitment to our lives today.

Having grown up aware of this value, what new aspects of it have you discovered?

I have learned over the years that if we do with a little less here and there, we have more to give to others in need. God has shown us in so many ways that He will supply our needs (not necessarily our wants) in every way.

I’ve also realized that being able to give to others goes beyond the monetary and involves time, energy, listening, caring, lending a helping hand, and giving of yourself.

This article originally appeared in the summer 2011 issue of In Part magazine.

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