Faith in action: 300 youth in Lea for ministry project
To be in Hobbs for just a week, 130 youth and adults from five different churches in central Texas hope to leave their mark before leaving on Saturday. More than 170 other volunteers are in Lovington.
Only 15 years old, Amanda DeHart, of Hutto, Texas, said this year’s Central Texas Conference Youth in Ministry trip is her fifth. She started at age 10.
“I do it because I enjoy it and I like serving God. I like being his hands and feet,” Amanda said.
Doreen Vasseur, youth director of Grace United Methodist Church, of Copperas Cove, Texas, explained, “This is our philosophy for this week: ‘CTCYM answers Christ’s call to be his hands and feet to all the world.’”
CTCYM brings more than 2,500 youth and adults together to put Christian faith into action by repairing and rebuilding homes and small facilities weathered by age, poverty or natural disaster, according to the organization’s website.
For two separate weeks each year, the church identifies a geographic area to provide the service. Affiliate churches in various cities serve as “Living Centers” for the youth during their stay. Hobbs’ First United Methodist Church on Snyder Street is the living center for 12 teams working at eight locations in Hobbs.
“We’re here to repair and do work for the community,” Vasseur said. “Our kids have built wheelchair ramps; they’re putting a roof on a house; they’re putting a deck on a house, redoing a room, all kinds of work for anybody that needs it. And it’s all free.”
“I just thank God because it is he who sent these people,” said Noemi Garza, who lives in a house in south Hobbs with her mother Nora Montanez. “My mother receives Meals on Wheels and she received an application asking if any work may be needed on our home. She filled it out and now we have these people here helping us and I thank God for it.”
Some of the work done to her house includes a new roof, painting and a new shelter for the water heater. The project is expected to last all week.
Breaking for lunch, Maya Garsias, 18, of Waxahachie, Texas, confirmed the work at a house on Perry Street and why she’s in Hobbs, “(To) do God’s work … we’ve been building some stubs. We’re working on a deck right now. We’re doing drywall, but we’re about to paint now.”
Garsias was sitting at the lunch table with Dehart, as well as Destynee Morris, 17, of Killeen, and Makenzie Herr, 17, of Ft. Worth, both of whom spoke of the good feeling they get while performing the service.
There are two Living Centers in Lovington, one at the First Baptist Church on North First Street and the other at the First United Methodist Church on North Main Street.
United Methodist churches represented in Lovington include Alliance (Ft. Worth), Cout’s (Weatherford), Hillsboro, Methodist Children’s Home (Waco), Red Oak, Salado, Temple, Waxahachie and the FUMC Lovington Youth group.
The five Texas UMC churches represented by the 130 youth and adults in Hobbs this week are Grace (Copperas Cove), Genesis (Ft. Worth), Discovery (Hutto), FUMC (Killeen) and Ferris Heights (Waxahachie).
Other New Mexico cities hosting CTCYM teams this week include Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Artesia, Clovis, Las Cruces, Roswell (two Living Centers) and Tucumcari. Nearby Texas cities included in this week’s effort are Andrews and Lubbock.
Vasseur explained the materials for the work being performed are purchased from a budget developed from fees participants paid to make the mission trip.
“Construction has a budget. Cooks have a budget. I have a budget as the director. That’s from our money we pay to get here,” she said. “Then, when we get here we try to make deals like McCoy’s where we’re buying most of our lumber. They’re giving us a little discount because they know where it’s coming from.”
Associate pastor Allyson Zollinger, of the First United Methodist Church in Killeen, praised Hobbs’ First United Methodist Church for its participation and efforts in the ministry.
“First United Methodist Church here has also been extremely gracious in offering a location for us to sleep and eat and hang out, as well as bringing in food and taking care of a whole number of things,” she said.
Vasseur added, “They got us an extra dumpster. They got us free ice because ice is a big deal. They’ve brought us snacks, fruit and they’re getting us pizza for Friday night. This church has been incredible. We couldn’t have asked for a better church.”
This year’s CTCYM trip is Vasseur’s 17th, she said. “This is my favorite week of the year.”
The youth spend time working, but they also have prayers, meals, fun and fellowship during their week away from home. Most are high school seniors and juniors.
While they’re not working, the students will have time for some fun. Several projects are planned for the kids. On Monday, they participated in a scavenger hunt throughout Hobbs. More events are planned in secret, in order to be a surprise for the kids.
“We have some things set up for them,” Vasseur said. “It’s not just about work and fellowship, but also fun and fellowship. We’re just so thankful to be here this week.”