A 10-day tour through the Southwest was an eye-opening experience for a Pratt teen. Participating in a Mission Education Tour (METour) of the United Methodist Church, Abby Black, a recent Pratt High graduate, was surprised at what she learned at a community program for children in Dallas, Texas.


A 10-day tour through the Southwest was an eye-opening experience for a Pratt teen. Participating in a Mission Education Tour (METour) of the United Methodist Church, Abby Black, a recent Pratt High graduate, was surprised at what she learned at a community program for children in Dallas, Texas.

The children can’t count on getting dinner at home, and the only time they get milk is at the center. Parents don’t believe their children can do well, so the kids give up on themselves, she said. At the center, volunteers try to give them the attention they don’t get at home.

At the Wesley-Rankin Community Center for just a day and a half, Black was assigned to help a group of 45 fifth grade boys with school subjects and Bible lessons.

“I really connected with them,” she said. “If I had a place to stay in Dallas, I’d love to stay and volunteer all summer.”

Black plans to attend Emporia State University in the fall to prepare for a career teaching secondary math. Before the trip, she had been adamant that she wouldn’t want to teach at the middle school level; now she thinks that age group would be okay.

The goal of METour is to educate girls between the ages of 14 and 22 about Methodist missions throughout the country, Black said. The program was established in 1950 as a tour only; over the years, it has evolved into a volunteer experience as well.

The tour began at the United Methodist Kansas West Conference center in Wichita, then moved to Youthville in Dodge City, where participants helped trim trees and take care of gardens. They cleaned houses and did outdoor work at the Navajo United Methodist Center for abused women in Farmington, N.M., and did some cleaning at the 100-year-old McCurdy Mission School in Espanola, N.M.

The girls learned about prison ministries in New Mexico, visited mission homes for pregnant teens considering adoption and for disabled young adults learning to take care of themselves. In Oklahoma City, the group sorted and boxed 263 boxes of canned food in less than four hours — record time, Black said.

The group of 30 girls, mostly younger than Black, and five sponsors traveled by bus, slept on church floors and prepared their own food when the churches didn’t provide meals. If the church didn’t have showers, they walked several blocks to a community center or swimming pool.

The United Methodist Women of the Pratt church paid Black’s expenses and the Pratt Walmart store donated $140 worth of items including flipflops, sunscreen and bug spray for the Methodist Mission Home and Children’s Home in Dallas.

“If I don’t have a job next summer, I hope to do it again,” Black said of the experience.