Guest Blog by Ashton Knotts
During spring break, a group of Gardner-Webb students went to Pecos, New Mexico, as part of a mission trip. The students left early Thursday morning, March 9, and returned to campus on March 16.
Among the travelers was freshman Ashton Knotts, who documented her experience in New Mexico on her blog, Knitting and Sass. Below are some of the highlights from her piece. To view the whole story, click here.
Leaving at 5 a.m. from the parking lot behind my college’s gym is where this day begins.We load into two vans – while Mr. Eric Davis entertains us all with his “New Mexican accent” that he so boldly practiced for thirty minutes before we all had to say that was enough for 5 a.m. shenanigans. At Charlotte International Airport, we catch a 7:35 a.m. flight to Atlanta, later to connect us to Albuquerque.
Albuquerque – one of the most magnificent mountainous areas I have ever seen. It was breath-taking to watch snow-capped peaks come into view, to see little houses from so high above. I kept wondering if maybe this is how God sees us sometimes or if he prefers to be closer, I’m not entirely sure. We rented a van, and man, did we squeeze into that thing. Luggage was everywhere and we barely fit; but we made it work.
After eating [our] second lunch, we headed to our hotel, where we [met] in the lobby for a debriefing before heading to supper with our host family – the Strock family.
Our host family is so wonderful! They have five beautiful children whom they’ve home-schooled. I’m looking forward to getting to know each individual person and sharing our mutual love for the Lord. We’re here in New Mexico to help them reestablish their church by painting, doing light construction, and organizing things such as files.
Today, we [helped] scrape paint off buildings that we were going to repaint later. Some of the things that touched me and my friends today included getting to chat with the kids, the awareness of their surroundings, the way they are so aware of God and the sacredness of their home, and how much they trust God – fully relying on him to provide EVERYTHING they will ever need. Their faith is astounding and seeing the Strock kiddos grow in their faith even over these two full days we’ve been here.
Bible study/devo tonight was led by Morgan and Carol. They focused on the inadequacies we sometimes feel when God calls us to do things for him. Tomorrow we’re supposed to go with the Strock family to their church (Glen is the pastor) and maybe even lead [the] worship one time!
Today, we stripped the rest of the back building we’re working on and began priming it for the gorgeous sea foam colour we began painting it! I’m so encouraged by the progress we’re making. Everything is coming together really well and the Strocks are so lovely to us. The love that I’ve experienced is gigantic and so over-whelming.
The Strocks really have shown me what pure love looks like to strangers. I didn’t even know them before Thursday, yet they were praying for me and hoping to get to know me well enough so that we can stay in contact with them in the future. It’s beautiful knowing people love me like that (aside form family) – enough to pray for me before they actually know me.
Tonight was glorious. We gathered at the Strock home once again for work and fellowship. After we finished painting the house and church office/Mr. Strock’s office, we began cleaning up outside where we’d kept everything throughout the week. Some of the guys hung pretty, industrial lights on the back porch, and we turned them on when the sun went down! Wow! It was such a beautiful night!
After dinner, all of us went into the living room to do a little worship and Bible devotion. Chloe led us in singing by playing the piano, while Morgan, Christy, Angela, and I sang – Caroline signed the songs as we sang them. One of the things I noticed was the different ways of worship that went on in the room.
Caroline was signing, we were singing, and others simply hummed with their eyes closed. It was so empowering to witness. After worship, we sat down to a “popcorn prayer.” Each person, as they felt so led, prayed out loud about anything they needed to talk to God about. While I didn’t offer up a prayer of my own, it was so beautiful to listen to others’ prayers about life, love, and everything under the sun.
It was a glorious night to be in Pecos, New Mexico.
DAY EIGHT – the Last Night
We woke up ready to conquer the day! We met the Strocks after breakfast and headed to Taos, New Mexico. Arriving in Taos, we met Benny and Edna – the couple who runs the First Indian Baptist Church at Taos. They were so lovely to get to know!
After lunch, we had to say goodbye to the Strocks. Let me tell ya, this was so difficult. Names won’t be said, but plenty of us let loose on the tears. The Strock girls cried and we cried, it just wasn’t the best atmosphere to keep tears at bay. It wasn’t goodbye, but it was a “see you later” kind of ordeal. Leaving Taos, we headed to the airport in Albuquerque.
Being back in my own state has its perks, but I really miss being in New Mexico. I also miss the lack of humidity in New Mexico. I had so much fun getting to know the Strock family, and I so badly want to be back again.