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After a hiatus of two years…

We excitedly resume the long-standing Menaul School tradition of Mission Week.

Mission week has always been one of the highlights and most beloved aspects of the Menaul School experience. It is a rare Senior Commencement speech that does not refer to their Mission Week experience with great affection. We began this opportunity 16 years ago knowing that our students needed to learn that part of being human is giving back and to create a positive bonding experience.

We are rarely disappointed by the powerful effect on our students. Students do direct projects where they see the effect of their work immediately in the smiles and appreciation of the recipients or for indirect projects were we do good without expecting to see an immediate result. An example of direct projects are teaching preschool or organizing a school fair or visiting with the elderly. Indirect projects like painting a church or planting trees often does not let us see the result.

However, yesterday I got to see the good we did 12 years ago come to bear fruit. In 2011 Mr. Moses and I took the class of 2014, who were freshman at the time, to Whitfield Conservation in Belen, where we planted over 200 native scrubs and trees. Yesterday, I ditched my administrative duties to join the Sophomores at Whitfield again and Mr. Moses and I could not get over the transformation. Where there was just bare, sandy, weedy soil, we found healthy bushes and trees full of birds and insects.

What joy to see the good work of 12 years ago come to fruition!

The Primary Objection of Mission Week is Connection

We want our students to experience the real needs of people while working at a food bank or Mexican border experience. We want them to experience our world’s needs and challenges first hand. We have also discovered that this is a powerful connecting time with their classmates. Sleeping on a church floor or digging holes together bonds students in new ways.

As an adult I have also come to appreciate different strengths of our students. A “C” student in my class often surprises me as the first one to wash dishes or to volunteer for a difficult task. We develop empathy and compassion for each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It is an exhausting and exhilarating experience of the faculty too. They are out of their comfort zone as well but speak enthusiastically after about our great students and how happy they are to work for this amazing assembly of diverse young people.

Mission Week means a lot to our community and we are pleased to share a few photos of our great time together serving Albuquerque, New Mexico and by going to the Mexican border with our students from 20 countries—the world!

– Lindsey R. Gilbert, Jr., Head of School

9th Grade – Habitat for Humanity and Tres Hermanas Farm

Habitat for Humanity – students helped organize items at the Re-Store and stored supplies used for building homes.

“Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit housing organization working in local communities across all 50 states and in more than 70 countries around the world. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

Learn more

Tres Hermanas Farm – students prepared the ground for planting, seeded and planted vegetable plants.

“Tres Hermanas Farm is a program of Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains Refugee and Asylee program in Albuquerque. Tres Hermanas works with the Albuquerque community of refugee farmers to ease integration and increase self-sufficiency by growing produce, accessing farmers markets, and improving English skills.”

Learn more

10th Grade – Jemez, Cuba, Fort Craig, and Whitfield Conservancy

On Monday students went to Jemez Springs where they did a variety of service for the Presbyterian church, as well as the rest of the community.

Some students built a wall at a historic site, some helped at a community members’ home, some worked on the grounds at the Zen Buddhist center, and others fixed the church’s driveway.

Tuesday was spent in Cuba, NM working at the first Presbyterian church. The students cleaned up trash in their cemetery, and spent most of the day clearing the grounds at the church (raking, mowing, weed-whacking, breaking up and removing tree stumps, etc.).

Wednesday, students traveled to Fort Craig and worked for the Bureau of Land Management. They raked their gravel walkways to enable them to create wheelchairs access for the historic site, planted seeds in their flower boxes, and cleaned up the trails and signs.

“Thanks for sending some extra hands my way! The students were great company and hard workers. We made 30ft of progress on a wall we often don’t have time to get to during the adobe season, so it was great to have their help!”

Zack Lance
Plant & System Operations
Jemez & Coronado Historic Sites

11th Grade – First United Presbyterian Church: Las Vegas, Mora, Chacon, Taos, and Dixon

The Junior class took part in a grand tour of historic communities connected to the Presbyterian Church and Menaul’s own history throughout northern New Mexico. At each church, students engaged in service work and educational activities.

Before public education spread throughout New Mexico, these communities were educated by Presbyterian “Plaza Schools” as part of a system overseen by Menaul School.

We’re truly heading back to our roots as an educational institution by engaging with these communities.

12th Grade – Mexico

Seniors travelled to the U.S./Mexican border to learn about border and immigration issues, reflect, meet people and have fun.

Their experience was organized by Frontera de Cristo, a joint ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbyterian Church in Mexico. Frontera de Cristo has safely hosted mission groups of all ages for 30 years.

Forty high school students and teachers from the Menaul School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are spending this week with us in ministry. CATPSIC is leading four classes in tamale making for this delegation from 13 different countries. Today they made more than 40 dozen delicious tamales that will be shared with the guests of the Migrant Resource Center. The MRC’s wonderful team of volunteers have welcomed more than 400 men and women in the last 36 hours alone, and more than 14,000 since the beginning of the year.” – Frontera de Cristo April 6th Newsletter

The Privilege of Serving

This Mission Week was our first since the pandemic started. The host churches and organizations were barely coming out of the pandemic mode of operation.  Yet, working together, the old relationships have been revived and new relationships were built.  With the blessings from above, we will nurture these seeds of new learnings and relationship into the future years.

What an important and valuable opportunity provided to our students. To realize how they are part of a long and rich history, to witness enduring relationships and to learn the privilege of serving.

Many thanks to contributors, President Gilbert and Rev. Terino, along with Menaul faculty, who provided photos.

Special thanks to Senior, Flavia, for her tamale video.

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