Dad gave me a very meaningful gift a year before he died: a turquoise ring that had been given to him by Scott Redhouse. It was crafted in silver with a breath-taking turquoise stone cut in a handsome square. Scott was the first from the Navajo Nation to become a minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Dad, a church planter, had been instrumental in leading him to Christ and then encouraging him to follow the call to be a minister.
We were at Rehoboth, New Mexico, just outside of Gallup. I was 11 at the time and befriended a local boy, Elmer Yazzie. Elmer’s father, Sampson, also became a Christian minister. Scott Redhouse, his brother Paul, and Sampson Yazzie were courageous men of faith. Dad wore that ring for 30 years until he gave it to me. “My arthritis makes it difficult to wear,” he said. “I want you to have it.”
I’ve never been one to wear rings, but I wore this one for 10 years with pride and remembrance. It fit perfectly and felt “right.” Only an accident could tear it from my finger. The ring was cut off to allow my finger to be surgically repaired. When I left the hospital the next day, I carried the ring home with me, in pieces, in a plastic bag.
A year later, my wife, Pat, had a jeweler remake the ring and surprised me for Christmas. It was just a bit too large, and I had to wear it on my other hand. A few months later, after working for a day in the flower beds, the ring was gone. Hours of frantic searching turned up nothing. I don’t often form attachments to things—my first car, a ’64 Chevy Impala SS, comes close—but no “thing” ever worked its way into my heart like that ring. I grieved silently and eventually locked the emotion away in a box. I’d lost a link to my dad, my wife, my past.
Several years ago, my family and I traveled to Rehoboth, New Mexico to attend a convention. I was back for the first time in 40 years. I walked the streets I’d played on 40 years earlier. I attended a seminar led by an old friend, Elmer Yazzie, now an accomplished artist and art teacher. Later that evening, we took some time to renew our friendship. Before leaving, Elmer gave me the names of a few jewelry stores in Gallup. Pat wanted—and I wanted—to buy some turquoise jewelry.
We walked into the jewelry store in Gallup and looked at an impressive array of jewelry. The woman behind the counter was patient and helpful. We talked about jewelry and Navajo tradition. Eventually Pat and I were drawn to a beautiful silver pendant that featured a stunning turquoise stone. This was the one, whatever the cost.
The woman introduced herself as Mitzi Begay, the store owner; her uncle had crafted the pendant and earrings we selected. When I gave her my name, she turned and asked, “Are you related to Rev. Bart Huizenga?” “Yes, he’s my dad.” She smiled and said, “It was because of your father and Scott and Paul Redhouse that my family came to know Christ. Your father was very important to us.”
I’ve never received a more meaningful gift than that experience in a jewelry store in Gallup, New Mexico. Through the words of a woman I’d never met before, God spoke through my dad. Pat wears the pendant with pride and remembrance. By God’s grace, a part of my life had come full circle.