I would be remiss if I didn’t dedicate a blog post to the time (however brief) at the mission in Topawa. As we first drove down that long dusty road, looking for where we were staying, several people in our van thought Professor Guse was joking when we drove past the fading, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it white façade of a small mission compound standing almost alone on the side of an empty road. But as the day went on, it became clear that this was our home for the next two nights, a far cry from the hotels we’d stayed in in Phoenix and Tucson.
Don’t read that at a criticism though. Initially, I was skeptical when we walked into the small guest house where Donny, Evan, and I would be spending the next several days. The heavy metal outer doors and bars on the window didn’t seem to be a welcoming sign, and I’ll admit, even as a Catholic the breadth of religious symbols and Christian books threw me off for a little. But the house proved to be cozy, and the mission another step inching further into the desert.
It felt like stepping back into the 70s, while surrounding by the ghosts of the mission that was. The burned-out shell of the school, the house where the now departed sisters once lived, all the outdated appliance, it really felt like we’d entered a place frozen in time. This was a body, mummified by sand and sun, now standing testament to efforts and hopes blown away by time. But, still standing, nonetheless.