We had a successful and eye opening week in Pecos, New Mexico. Our group consisted of 11 teenagers and four adults. We had two vehicles between us and drove almost 1,500 miles serving and exploring northern New Mexico, on our way to and from Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Pecos.
We left St. Martin’s around 1:30 pm after a lunch at church and arrived at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Amarillo by 8 pm. After eating a dinner of pizza and salad, we played games and then prepared for bed.
After waking up and packing all of our stuff back into the van and extra car, we had breakfast and geared up for our last leg of the trip to Pecos. We made a brief stop at the New Mexico border and had a quick look through the “what to do” section for New Mexico.
We arrived in Pecos after 2 pm and stopped at a local restaurant for lunch before going the last few miles to Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey. Everyone received their room assignments and we spent the rest of the day exploring the monastery and getting the “stuck in a car” energy out. That night we experienced our first evening gathering where we spent time saying what we looked forward to and what creatures/neat sights were seen during the exploration of the monastery.
Early wake-up found us waiting for breakfast and then jumping back into the van for a thirty minute drive to Santa Fe for our first service project at The Food Depot. We took a tour of the facility and then for the rest of the morning we worked in two groups to sort massive pallets of fresh produce. Volunteers like us make every donation the pantry receives stretch to provide meals to people in need.
After lunch afternoon we again split into two groups and ventured through the streets of downtown Santa Fe.
After an ice cream regrouping, we then went back to the monastery to get ready for dinner and an evening meditation walk and group prayer.
Our 5:30 am call to morning prayer was greeted with grunts and snores as we made our way to the outer prayer area of the monastery. As a group we prayed morning vespers and watched the sunrise before morning mass. We spent the rest of the morning serving the monks. We weeded flower beds, cleared cobwebs, swept, vacuumed, and dusted. It was a time our teens were able to use as silent work mediation and as an opportunity to work next to each other and our adults.
Wednesday afternoon was a much needed free-rest time until dinner. Afterwards, we met with a brother of the monastery and he answered questions and described what it is like to live within a monastic community. We had our regular evening gathering and one of our adults led us in evening vespers after we spent thirty minutes in total silence. It was a day mixed with prayer, mediation, and self-check-in time.
Thursday was our major project day. We woke up so early that we had to leave before breakfast at the monastery. We packed the van once more after breakfast bars and muffins and drove to Espanola. There we spent a full morning deep cleaning an abandoned schoolhouse that is being converted to a community center. Our time with McCurdy Schools was full of learning about the history of the school from lovely men who are devoted to the revamping of the community center and gym, plus cleaning walls, floors, windows, bathrooms, and kitchens.
We left the school around 1 pm and began the first leg of the drive home. We returned to St. Andrews Amarillo that night, where they provided sandwiches, chips, and tea for us. We were grateful for the loving hospitality they showed us! An early bedtime brought an end to this long but empowering day.
Leaving at 6:30 am brought the need for a donut shop stop for breakfast and coffee for the drivers. We only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks before finally pulling into St. Martin’s parking lot at 12:30 pm.
I was honored to prepare and lead our students and adult volunteers on this incredible trip. Without the dedication of our adult volunteers Rhonda Ackley, Carla Pulliam, and Jacob Tiemann, we would not have succeed in bringing our students into the service of others and themselves on this trip of monastic serving and community building. Thank you to everyone who committed time, money, and prayers to this experience. We have been changed in small and large ways because of it.
See all the Pecos mission trip photos in this Flickr gallery; click or swipe through below.