Melanie Marquez – Class of 2011
I became involved with Campus Ministry the first service of the semester when I was a scared freshman, trying to find some sense of community/friends. I joined a small group my first semester and joined one every semester after that. My sophomore year, I led a women’s small group and my junior year led a huddle as a small group coach. CM became the community I was looking for, and more importantly, helped me grow in my faith and deepen my relationship with Jesus.
Besides being involved in small groups, I also went on 3 spring break trips. In 2009, I decided to go on the Mescalero trip. Little did I know how God would use this trip to completely change the course of my life. On this trip, I made some of my closest college friends and my heart was broken for so many kids that I met. I left with a desire to make a positive difference in their lives and continued writing letters to some girls I had met for the next 3 years.
The next year (2010), spring break trip time came again, and I knew I had to go back to Mescalero. I had to see the kids I had continued writing again. God opened the doors for me to do that, and I left an even bigger piece of my heart in that place as I deepened relationships with more people in that community. In May 2011, with Mescalero still strong on my heart, God provided the means for me to return to this incredible place and I ended up spending a month volunteering at the Reformed Church and also at Mescalero Apache School. I left changed again and hoping I would be back soon.
After graduating in December 2011 with an elementary education degree, I still felt the tug on my heart about Mescalero. I prayerfully decided to look for any teaching positions at the school on the reservation in the spring of 2012. In a matter of weeks after applying, I interviewed, accepted a job at Mescalero Apache School, and drove across the country to move to New Mexico to begin my first year as a kindergarten teacher. I also continued my involvement at Mescalero Reformed Church by volunteering, leading, and participating with the children and youth ministries, Sunday School, women’s ministry, and other church activities.
Fast forward 4 years to 2016 and I am now beginning my fifth year of teaching kindergarten at Mescalero Apache School and am a ministry associate at Mescalero Reformed Church. Over these last 4 years, I have fallen in love with this place and these people. My heart has broken for so many of “my” kids here both at church and at school and I know this is where God wants me to be to make an impact on their lives for His glory. In the midst of a lot of challenging experiences, God has been faithful to my calling to Mescalero. Some of the greatest highlights of my life here have been getting to lead the CM Spring Break and other work groups that come to Mescalero, coordinating our yearly VBS and seeing 100+ kids singing praises to Jesus, building relationships with the Apache people, and seeing the girls I wrote letters to 7 years ago graduate from high school.
God used Campus Ministry at GVSU to strengthen my faith and trust in Him in order to do things that otherwise would seem impossible. God used Campus Ministry to show me a beautiful people with whom I can share His hope and His love and can equally experience it from them. Although this journey has not always been easy, I’m incredibly grateful to be part of God’s work here in Mescalero, New Mexico. And it all first began for me at Campus Ministry at GVSU!