Randal Schafer is a semi-retired surgeon and supporter of Holbrook Indian School (HIS). He has been heading the HIS triplex building project since 2019. He has always worked on a volunteer basis, but since taking a step back, he will be able to spend more time on this project now.
Schafer’s connection to HIS began with the honest desires both to help a people group and to grow spiritually.
“I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Indian people,” Schafer said. “I had been praying and asking God to strengthen my faith.” An opportunity would soon present itself for him to step forward.
Schafer regularly had gone on mission trips with various groups, but after a period when there were no trips available for him to be part of, Schafer saw an opportunity to look into possibilities for fulfilling his wish to help Native Americans. “Maybe this is a good time to see Holbrook Indian School,” he thought.
Schafer spoke with HIS Principal Pedro Ojeda, who told him about a need for staff housing. HIS needed funds and labor for the construction of two apartment buildings. It was one of the school’s most pressing needs at the time, but it was also a need that it could least afford in terms of time, labor, and cost. “If you would like to help with this, it would have to be on a volunteer basis,” Ojeda told Schafer candidly. “Our small maintenance crew are already occupied with their duties on campus.”
Schafer says the weight of the demand was not lost on him. This meant he would have to recruit labor and take on the responsibility for the project, including doing some fundraising. After visiting Holbrook to scout the land and speak with staff, Schafer decided to take on the challenge and accept the call.
“I started raising money, making building plans, and recruiting help,” he said. John Materne, a retired plumber, responded immediately and has remained for almost the entirety of the project. Tyler Dick, who has plenty of construction and equipment experience, also has spent extensive time working on the project. Along with members of his church and his brother, who worked in construction, Schafer raised funds and started moving forward on the project in 2019. The building site was chosen and marked in late 2019, and site preparation began in January 2020. Some of the building construction was done in his absence, but he maintained supervision.
Shortly thereafter, COVID-19 came on the scene. This initially created an opportunity for further help as it canceled many international mission trips. As Schafer said, “There were groups who still wanted to carry out mission trips domestically.” The triplex project provided that for them.
At the same time, this helped fulfill Schafer’s desire for increased faith that he had prayed for. “For me, this whole project has been a walk of faith. God has again and again supplied funding and volunteers, just when we need them. It’s a beautiful thing. I have just been amazed many times.”
As this project moves forward, Schafer says there is a need for help with both labor and expenses. Skilled volunteers in construction and some non-skilled volunteers are welcomed. To find out more about this project and how you can help, visit HolbrookIndianSchool.org/triplex.
By Chevon Petgrave