My name is Will Targy and I am the youth ministry director for St. Mary’s Church in Bellevue, Nebraska. This summer, we invited our high school youth to join us in mission as we traveled to Gallup, New Mexico. For most of us, it was our first time being in Gallup and our first time working with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Our group consisted of eight young people, myself and another adult chaperone.
To sum up the entire trip in one word, I would choose: amazing! The Sisters were incredibly hospitable and made us feel like we were part of the family. We were fortunate enough to be able to stay in one of the volunteer cottages on the grounds of Villa Guadalupe. We ate in the dining hall, attended daily Mass with the Sisters and Residents, and got to learn a great deal about the history and apostolate of the Little Sisters.
Our work days were spent mostly outdoors. We painted parking lot lines and railings, washed windows and hauled away trash and debris that had collected around the building. All of our young people did get to spend some time indoors, working alongside the Sisters, the staff and with the Residents. We had youth helping with meals and clean-up, making arts and crafts and our big finale was helping to host a birthday party in the dining hall. We sang a few songs, played a game and enjoyed cake and ice cream.
One of the other incredible aspects of this mission trip was our experience of God’s creation. We spent our first day in Gallup (Sunday) hiking up to Church Rock, then Tuesday we hiked Pyramid Trail and finally on Wednesday we drove to Canyon De Chelly in Arizona. All of these outdoor adventures, especially the canyons, were breath-taking experiences of the beauty and majesty of God’s creation. We didn’t have anything like that back home.
In conclusion, our time in Gallup was incredibly well spent and I will make it a point to recommend this mission experience to other high school groups. Please know of our continued prayers for the Sisters, the Residents, and all the staff at Villa Guadalupe. And we’ll pray extra hard to try and get a Little Sisters house set up here in Nebraska.