March 29, 2019
For the past four years we have spent each spring break in the beautiful state of New Mexico. Franciscan University of Steubenville sends out around 300 missionaries each year on spring break mission trips all over the world! We have been so blessed to be the advisors for New Mexico Mission for 4 years now. The mission team serves in Gallup, NM and we work with the local Catholic schools, the Missionaries of Charity and the Little Sisters of the Poor.
The first time we went, I was 8 weeks pregnant with John and spent the majority of the trip dealing with horrible morning sickness. The second time we went, John was 5 months old. Last year John was 17 months old and this year he was 2 and Grace was 2 months! The Little Sisters of the Poor run a nursing home/assisted living facility and both the sisters and the residents have enjoyed seeing our family grow and change throughout the years. It really feels like we are visiting family! We love seeing the familiar faces each year and talking with them about our family. John and Grace have such a unique way of bringing JOY to the lives of the residents who live in the home.
We began our trip in the wee hours of the morning. We left campus at 3:30am and flew out of Pittsburgh, PA. We had a layover in Chicago and I snapped some pictures of our team resting in the gate area. John and Grace loved getting to know the students and John LOVED having more people to play with! Yay, more friends! We flew to Albuquerque, NM and rented 3 cars for the week. For lunch, we went to this amazing local burger place called Laguna Burger. If you are ever in Albuquerque make sure you stop by and try it! After we ate lunch we headed out west on the beautiful 2 hour drive on Route 66 to Gallup. The entire drive is stunning. The landscape is so different than any other place I’ve been. The sky is HUGE and seems to go on forever. There are majestic plateaus and towering mesas and buttes. The land has a red hue to it and there are very few trees. A few years ago, it was so windy that there were tumbleweeds rolling across the road as we drove!
When we arrived in Gallup we went to Mass at the Cathedral and then settled in at the Little Sisters of the Poor. This is where the team slept and ate all week. On Sunday we had a team bonding day and went out to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. We ate lunch overlooking the vast canyon and then we hiked down into the canyon. Matthew and I wore both kids in our Tula baby carriers. I had John in the Free to Grow carrier on my back and Matthew had Grace in the Explore carrier on his front. These made the hike WAY easier! I took a bunch of photos on our hike and I’ve shared my favorites below.
The rest of the week was spent serving at the Missionaries of Charity (MC’s) soup kitchen and homeless shelter and with the Little Sisters of the Poor (LSP’s) serving the elderly. I spent the entire time with the LSP’s so I took photos of the team helping and working there. One day, it snowed! So I took John out to explore the snowy desert. It was so stunning! John’s favorite part of mission was definitely the dog that they have at the LSP’s. Her name is Maxie and John would wake up each morning and say, “Puppy! Puppy!” “Yes John, we’ll go see the puppy but first you need to get dressed!” He absolutely LOVED walking and playing with Maxie every day!
On Thursday we went to Grants, NM and put on retreats for a local Catholic school the whole day! It was amazing! The students had prepared songs, skits and talks for each of the grades at the school. They even did a retreat for the preschoolers! (That was John’s favorite classroom…so many toys!) I was so impressed with how organized and well run the retreats were. The missionary students did an amazing job and you could see how the school students were captivated by them and the message.
We said goodbye to Gallup on Saturday morning and drove back to Albuquerque to fly back. We had a layover again in Chicago, flew into Pittsburgh and were home by 1am. PHEW! A long day of traveling with two little kids. I have to say it was honestly much harder than I anticipated traveling with two kids but we managed (it was our first time traveling with both and it was Grace’s first time flying). But even with the difficulties, it was so worth it. We hope to keep going on this mission, year after year, as a family. It is something we look forward to each spring break and I love that it’s teaching our children to give of themselves to others.
Below are some of my favorite photos from the week! I hope you enjoy them!
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