This morning we packed up our belongings, swept out and tidied our bunkhouses and then … it was time to go. It seems like it was only yesterday that we arrived at Dusty Pines! Roger Scarbro, our mentor and guide, came by to pray with us before we departed. It was bittersweet – sweet because of all the ways that the Lord had blessed this ministry and bitter because we all hated to leave. For the last time this year, we watched as the Dusty Pines faded into the distance.
Then off we went to Albuquerque! It’s about a two hour drive from Gallup to the “big city.” We paused along the way for brunch, then kept driving. We had been hoping to do a little sightseeing when we reached Albuquerque but honestly, the team was so tuckered out from the past two weeks, that after a refreshing stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee or ice cream (thank you Bob for the treat!) we just headed to our hotel for a nap. By dinner time, everyone was renewed and ready for a good hearty meal. Laurel recommended the 66 Diner and she was spot on. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner in a room decorated with all kinds of old signs and petroliana. After dinner, the team posed for a group photo in front of a vast wall of signs outside the diner.
When we got back to the hotel, we gathered in one of the rooms for our final devotions and a service of Holy Communion. Sharing this sacrament was a fitting conclusion to everything we had shared together in the past 14 days. After the service, we shared in one more mission trip tradition – affirmation booklets. At the end of every trip, each team member is assigned their own affirmation booklet in which every other team writes an encouraging message or thought from the time we have shared together. These booklets have proved to be powerful reminders of ministry and encouragement in the days and months to come.