Students Serve in Taos, New Mexico

Earlier this month, a group of students and two adults traveled to Taos, New Mexico for a mission trip. This is the first time a group from CJ has traveled to serve in Taos.

“I have gone on four mission trips through CJ during my time as a student and Taos exceeded all my expectations,” shared Dani Ostendorf ‘17. “I wanted to go on this trip specifically because I really wanted to learn more about the culture that I was serving.”

The group served at the Taos Pueblo and Taos Day School alongside groups from Cincinnati and California. 

“When we arrived, we were greeted with many smiles and great energy from the kids,” CJ group members wrote in a journal entry. “We split into two groups; one was playing freeze tag with the kids on the playground and the other was playing basketball with the boys. This was a great start to the day because we were so welcomed in their environment.

“When the playtime was over we had to get to work.” the entry continued.”The boys went out as a group to pick up trash around the Pueblo and the girls stayed inside and made cookies for the celebration the town was having the next day. When we were making the cookies, one of the adults was telling us how to make the cookies in the Taos tradition and described to us how their community was known for their intricate cookie designs. Once we finished the cookies we headed out to the fields to play with the kids some more. We played basketball and capture the flag and had such a great time bonding with them.”

During the mission trip, the group also took in the sights in the Taos area including the Rio Grande Gorge, the Taos Pueblo Catholic Church, The Loredo Chapel and Joseph’s staircase. Taos Pueblo drummers even performed for the groups one evening during the mission trip.

“My favorite part was having two Taos Pueblo drummers named Midnight and Doc come to the house we were staying at and perform for us,” reflected Ostendorf. “They explained how upholding their culture and traditions is very important to them, how to make a Pueblo drum, and how to dance at a Pow Wow. They really helped me understand their culture and history better even though they weren't able to tell us all the specifics since they hold so much sacred.

“One thing I wasn't expecting was to leave the trip with such a greater respect and knowledge for something so foreign to me,” Ostendorf continued. “I knew going into it I was anticipating different surroundings and culture, but I am very grateful for the experience I had in which I was able to dive head first into learning something many people today don't know about. The importance of this culture, yet the sacredness of their traditions, really moved me and struck me as fascinating and I left wanting to research so much more. I highly recommend this trip for those students who wish to learn more about the Native American tribes that are still very prevalent in our country today, and for those who wish to serve kids and make memories in such a unique environment.”

Posted June 30, 2017 (Photo Courtesy: Dani Ostendorf)