Wind River Reservation, Wyoming
The purpose of the San Damiano program is to serve as St. Francis did and rebuild God’s church. We did just that while in Wyoming, not so much physically rebuilding the church, but doing some needed yard work and other maintenance tasks. The concept of rebuilding the church has always been more metaphorical to me than physical, but by getting my hands dirty with work on this trip, I genuinely felt closer to what St. Francis did and closer to the Franciscan mission of Neumann.
This service immersion trip was certainly eye opening: we met great people, built lifelong relationships, and truly got to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation! My favorite part of this trip, by far, was our hike up to two beautiful waterfalls in Sinks Canyon. The hike up the hill was for me, a time where I had the chance to reflect on why I was on this trip. If you talk to the other students on the trip, they would share with you that I was pretty emotional during each reflection time, but during this hike, I would argue that this was almost two hours of deep internal reflection and the most intense one that I experienced while in Wyoming. It truly changed my mindset. It allowed me to disconnect from the modern world and focus on growing my relationship with God. I was grateful for the scenery of all of God's creation along the hike. When we reached the top and I saw the water rolling down the falls, I just sat in awe - everything clicked for me. My mind was, for the first time in years, worry-free, stress-free, and I owe this all to my reflection time with God.
Since returning from the trip, I've been able to hold on to this mindset because my time serving on the reservation taught me that I was worthy enough to allow myself reflection time with God, and that God wanted to hear from me. I’ve always been one to think that prayer was only physical words, but I now realize that reflection about my relationship with God is just that! I will most definitely be visiting Wyoming again and am forever grateful for this opportunity!