Monday, March 31, 2008

2008 Mission Trip Photos

Photos from all four 2008 mission trips have been posted to the school's Shutterfly collection at:

To go directly to the class albums, follow these links:

Freshman Mission Trip Photos
Sophomore Mission Trip Photos
Junior Mission Trip Photos
Senior Mission Trip Photos

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Final Word

Blog: it's what I do.


Mrs. Seely at our surprisingly fun square dancing session!

The Class of 2009 at the Grand Canyon

Caroline's near-death experience.

Yes, it is snow. No, it does not feel good when it hits you square in the face.

Cathedral Rock: an example of the famous red landscape of Sedona

Posted by: Steven

Today was yet another stunning day in the beautiful state of Arizona. We left our hotel in Flagstaff this morning, and rode to the city of Sedona (notable for its renowned rocky, red landscape.) We had the chance to eat lunch at a local Martian-themed diner in the area, providing a great time of fellowship (and a really good dish of vegetable teriyaki over rice!) After lunch, we hiked the Cathedral Rock Trail and/or went shopping at the local stores. Once again, God's creativity and majesty is so evident from atop a beautiful mountain surrounded by such tranquil silence. Following our few hours in Sedona, we departed for the Dream Center in Phoenix. We had the opportunity to enjoy a great dinner from "In-N-Out Burger" before returning to the church here.

This is a bittersweet blog entry as it is my final night sending news back home form Arizona. This trip has exceeded all of our expectations by far, and has been such an incredible blessing. Everyone here will testify, both students and chaperones alike, that this truly has been one of the greatest experiences of our lives, and I know I can say that with confidence. As a class, a family, and members of the body of Christ, we have all been impacted by this mission trip immensely. Together we have tried new things, conquered great challenges, overcome fears and struggles, grown closer to each other, and grown closer to God. I am incredibly thankful for this incredible opportunity as I know we all are. Once again, we would like to thank all of you back home for your consistent support and love; God has worked in tremendous ways through all of you and your prayers as well.

Tomorrow we depart from the Dream Center at about 4:30 a.m. t0 head to the airport for our early-morning flight. It will be hard to say goodbye to Arizona, yet we miss you all back in the Sunshine State and look forward to being home again soon. This trip has certainly been evidence that life is real, prayer is real, and Jesus Christ is real--period. No words could ever describe this entire experience effectively, and the only thing left to really say is praise God.
For the last time, good night and farewell from Phoenix.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A "More Than Grand" Canyon

Posted by: Steven

We awoke to a balmy 22 degrees here in Flagstaff this morning. Our warm showers and later than usual call-time were happily accepted by everyone in the group as we prepared for our two-hour ride to the Grand Canyon. Upon arrival, we stood in awe at the magnificent sight of the rocky expanse that extended for miles. What they say about the Canyon is true: no photograph or painting could ever recreate the experience of seeing the breathtaking sight for yourself. Yet again, those of a more venturesome nature hiked the Bright Angel Trail. Don't be deceived by its seemingly name, however; Logan described it as being a winding, narrow, and icy path that proved to be treacherous, but also a great physical challenge. Those less courageous, like myself, journeyed around the South Rim of the Canyon. We had the opportunity of witnessing spectacular views of the jagged edifices and snowy slopes of the trail, while stopping for the occasional (okay so maybe it was frequent) snowball fight. What a revelation of God's power the Grand Canyon is! While at the --an observation deck with a view of the Colorado River--it was also neat to see a plaque posted displaying Psalm 66:4, which reads: "All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name." We can all testify, that after witnessing such a sight, that verse couldn't be the more appropriate one to display. After our three-hour visit with one of the seven natural wonders of the world, we traveled around the area and visited a big gift shop nearby.

Many of us are quite tired and are preparing to get some much needed rest after a long day of adventure. We look forward to tomorrow as we'll be visiting the city of Sedona, and we plan on posting some more pictures by tomorrow night. We appreciate all of your feedback, love, and prayers! Until next time, so long!


Our Last Work Day at Camp Biloxi

Posted by: Nick H. and Devyn H.

Our second to last day at camp Biloxi began
rainy and cold, but we kept ourselves busy
until the rain cleared up, allowing us to
work. Insurance problems still kept us from
doing any heavy construction, but the class
stayed optimistic and completed tasks
involving lawn work and removing construction
materials from houses that were being worked on.
The entire first floor of one of the homes
we worked on was flooded during the storm surge
caused by the hurricane,the homeowners could not
receive compensation for damage caused to their
home. Insurance companies in the area will not
grant flood insurance to certain homes which are
inland, but are still close to the ocean. After
our time working, we viewed a video documentary
produced by the local news-station in Biloxi
about the hurricane and the toll it took on the
community. Tens of thousands of homes were
completely destroyed leaving many people without
food and shelter. Even three years after the storm,
there are still shops and homes left standing that
show obvious signs of damage. We drove past entire
fields and empty lots were houses once stood.

Although we did not accomplish as much as we had
planned; we were still moved by the devastation we
saw around us, and by the impact Hurricane Katrina
had on the city of Biloxi.

Our plane leaves for home tomorrow at four (hopefully).
We're looking forward to seeing you all. Thank you for
all your support and prayers.

Nick and Devyn

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

H.E.A.R.T pictures

Posted by: Caitlin Crawford

Coach Hood's Birthday and Sophmores at Work and Play!

Pictures from the Juniors

Saturday, March 8th, 2008.

Papago Park

Serving food at an outreach with Pastor Walt

Leading worship at "the Zone"

The music crew after a church service

Posted by: Steven

At last, the long awaited pictures have arrived!
This morning, a handful of driven and incredibly audacious students (and Mr. Spidell) joined a few of the disciples for an early-morning workout at the Lord's Gym--and by early morning, I mean at roughly 4:30 in the morning. After our final ministry at "the Zone", we packed our things and traveled for a few hours to our current location of Flagstaff. Much to the pleasure--and at the same time, displeasure thereafter of some very cold and wet juniors--we stopped for a break and had a snowball fight. Arriving safely here in the much cooler climate of Flagstaff, we partook in fellowship around the pool deck of our hotel, and we are now all preparing to hit the sack for our fourth night in Arizona.

Witnessing our class come together as brothers and sisters in Christ has been such a phenomenal sight. I, along with the rest of us, have truly been impacted by the breaking of the walls of shame.
Again, we thank you all immensely for all of your prayers, and continued contact with us here!

We've been praying for all of you back home, and want to say a special hello to Nikki--we hope your trip went well! Kim, Amy B. sends her regards and says "hi" as well.

Goodnight from the La Quinta lobby. PTL.



Once again, I apologize for the filter error in the past two posts. The word that is blocked should be defined as "a native percussion instrument often played with the hands."

Monday, March 10, 2008

1st Day of Working

Posted by: Emily Woda and Kirsti Burgess

WOW!! Today was a busy day at Camp Biloxi. It was Coach Hood's birthday (and Billy's as well - Happy Birthday, Billy!). Yesterday, we went to Walmart to pass some time before dinner and bought Coach Hood a giant birthday cake and little football decorations which we placed all over the cake. We also bought Spongebob decorations, a birthday balloon, and a very special birthday present – Spongebob playing cards. After dinner we all sang Happy Birthday to him in the packed Mess Hall and had him blow out his candles. Everyone in the mess hall joined in the celebration and birthday cake. He turned a slight shade of pink and smiled widely. Then, he checked out his playing cards. (He’s been trying to get everyone to learn how to play Yukor..sp? and Nerds – last night he tried to teach Mrs. Caperna but that didn’t work out too well!) Anyway, it was nice to be with Mr. Hood for his birthday! Real nice.


Today was also our first full day of work. Again, the trip continued to be a surprise, every step of the way! Coach Hood woke us all up at 5:30. IN THE MORNING!!!!!! After we got over the shock of the morning, we had breakfast in the mess hall, followed by devotions, and then Coach Hood quickly ordered us to get ready to go to work! (You know, "Guys, get ready. We have ten minutes and we're outta here!) So, we got ready and headed for the cars, but then discovered that Coach Hood WASN'T really ready. He just wanted us to be ready. He and Mrs. Riter went to the "Green Room" to get our work assignment while we waited for by the vans. During their foray to the "Green House," we hung out outside. Hunter tried to teach Charlie how to waltz, then Mrs. Caperna, taught them how to two-step and do the samba. But, Coach and Mrs. Riter were still not back, so everyone sang and talked, until finally they showed up. Charlie insisted that Coach Hood “owed” him twenty pushups for being late, but we still haven’t seen that happen!

Usually when you get directions, you don’t get lost, but of course, we did!!! Instead of driving toward Gulfport, Coach drove toward Biloxi and got lost. We went on a long detour of Biloxi, and got to see a lot of beach. Oh yeah, then when we stopped at a red light, we all did a Chinese Fire Drill. Benji got out of Coach Hood’s car to run around the car, so Coach left him there. He kept driving and Benji kept running after him…he was doing fine until a little miniature chicuacua mixed-breed dog started running after him. What a Coppertone moment!

Today’s work assignment was at the local Children’s Discovery Center. It’s a children’s play museum that was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The center was inundated with 5 feet of water during the hurricane and suffered massive damages. Although most of it has been rebuilt and refurbished, they still need work setting up, organizing and cleaning the place. When we got there we were split up in three groups – one group cleaned the large windows in the front building, Mrs. Riter and another group cleaned the upstairs play areas, Coach painted some furniture, and Devyn, Jessica, Andrea, Emily, Megan and Mrs. Caperna set up crafts for the art room. It was wonderful to help out a place that brings so much joy to children that have lived through such terrible circumstances. Since we finished early, so we returned to Camp Biloxi and relaxed for about five minutes before Mr. Hood gleefully came out to advise us we were going to clean up Camp Biloxi.

Camp Biloxi is a big and busy place. It resembles those Army barracks you see in the movies with sleeping quarters, mess halls, mobile bathrooms and showers, and even a canopy chapel (which we used for devotions tonight!) We cleaned for four extremely long hours. We raked and bagged tons of leaves, cleaned out the portable chapel and prepared it for evening devotions, raked and swept the preschool, and Chase even cleaned out the cook’s large cooking rack (which was covered with some sort of grayish-green moss Mrs. Caperna argued was just grease! Yeah, right.) All of it was fun though!!!! ( It has to be, right???) The camp is now spic-n-span and the cook is delighted that he has his rack back. The staff at the camp has been so nice to us, always trying to accommodate us and take care of us… and SO MANY OTHERS! It was a joy to be able to give something back to them. Tomorrow we head out to help repair a house that Katrina devastated. Details to follow.

Before we close, we wanted to share with you the intense connection we experienced during tonight’s prayer time. We gather in our little canopy-tent chapel with those plastic construction lights. It reminded Mrs. Caperna of the old MASH units (Mrs. Caperna remembers but nobody else knows what she’s talking about) We reflected on what it means to be a servant and to be obedient to God. We chuckled at how even the most perfect plans don’t’ work out if they are not God’s plans. Finally, we gave thanks to our God for making this trip so random – we have had to totally depend on Him from day to day. No matter how much we plan, he changes our plans. And we have followed Him, and will continue to follow Him. As he leads, we follow – we are being molded into the servants he wants us to be. It is hard to follow, to submit, to give up control – but when we do…God takes us out of our comfort zone – and we grow as we learn to depend more on Him and less on ourselves. We are learning that a servant allows God to make the plans – while he simply follows in joyful obedience, expecting great things to happen!

Well, that was pretty much our day. Like Abraham and Moses, tomorrow we start off on another adventure – and only God knows what it will be. And, we are content. We are expectant. We are ready, able and willing to serve Him wherever he plants us.

“Extreme dependence and strong compassion” Live it, love it!

Hope you are all doing well back home. We all miss you.

P.S. - We have been fervently praying for Mrs. Carpinello. Please let her know she is in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers. We love her!

27 Charcos Falls!

Posted by: Meg ;-)

Hey friends and family back home! Just stopping in to update you on another amazing day in the D.R.
Well today was all about the fun for us seniors. Rising to another early morning wake up "knock" by Mr. Smith. At about 7:30 a.m. all were up and VERY excited for the journey ahead of us today.

Swim suits, water shoes, life jackets, helmets, water bottles etc…
Have you guessed it yet!!!??? Hiking to the 27 Charcos waterfalls… that’s right!!
Packing all 31 of us into two very fun off-roading trucks we were ready to explore the falls. On our way, the tour guide stopped to show us, what he called some surprises, a few really cool tings about the Dominican Republic. These “SURPRISES” included a stop at a local Christian school, an outdoor coffee making post, sugarcane and cacao plantations, and some outdoor markets.

As soon as we arrived at the Christian school little kids from all over started running up to us begging for food and toys. After gathering the suitcases of ministry items that we had brought to give to the school, we were able to enter the school yard, meeting kids and greeting some teachers. Surrounded by children once again, I was personally able to unload our gifts for the school and with a smile I just couldn’t hold back, handed the very thankful teachers things to distribute among their students. I know for me I was so overjoyed to be able to personally see how thankful and excited both teachers and students were to see the new school supplies and tennis balls we had brought for them.
Children surrounded us clapping and yelling for joy at all the cool stuff they knew they would be receiving. Though this was a short little visit it meant a lot to all of us to be able to give once again, to these kids who are so happy to receive something so small such as a tennis ball, that we take so much for granted. As we left in our trucks waving goodbye many children began to chase us down the road yelling, thankful for our visit!

Soon after we arrived in a cute little town where were learned how to grind coffee beans, boil the coffee, and even got to try some freshly made right in front of us. As some students repeated over and over, “That is some good coffee… Mmm Mmm Mmm!!” We also were able to taste some freshly ground cocoa…YUM!! After these demonstrations it was off to the falls! Suited up with helmets and life jackets we hiked off to climb through the falls. To our surprise it was extremely thrilling! Let’s just say it was a bit chilly and a little more of a swimming adventure than we had expected. IT WAS A BLAST!!! Climbing though the gorgeous rocks and soaking in the beautiful fresh water was surely refreshing. Our God is an amazing creator!
On the ride home we quickly stopped along the way to chop down and enjoy some locally grown sugarcane for the ride back to our hotel.

Time for bed for now, but check back tomorrow for some more exciting news about our Catamaran snorkelling trip!


Posted by: Steven Gallo

Jesus Christ is Lord and He is real. How can one describe the events that have partaken here among the junior class? As I sit here, I face the challenge of putting into words that which is indescribable. I send my apologies for the delay of this blog post, however the following is an account of that which has transpired in the past two days through God's marvelous love:

On Saturday morning, we split into several different groups, and, alongside our disciples, we ministered to those living in the area of Phoenix. Traveling door to door, we got to experience first-hand what it's like sharing the gospel with strangers (whether it was leading people to accept Christ or getting a straightforward rejection.) Some groups, after finishing what many here refer to as "soul-winning", participated in an adopt-a-block ministry. This involved playing games with children in the surrounding area, sharing the gospel with them, and praying with them as well.

It was on Saturday night, however, that the spirit of God touched us all in a way that we never can, let alone will, forget. Despite all of us being really tired, we assembled for devotions (half-reluctantly) and began sharing experiences that impacted us from that day. One by one, the Holy Spirit began working on us as we poured out our hearts, sharing regrets, struggles, and concerns. Never before have I felt the presence of God so strongly in my heart, and many others here have expressed the same sentiment. Our evening didn't come to a close until well after midnight, as we all embraced each other in tears of repentance, forgiveness, and love. There was no discrimination, no judgment, no animosity, no separation--hug after hug, each of us was filled with tears of joy and immeasurable emotion. This was love. Their truly aren't words that I could say that would do justice in describing the night of March 8th, 2008. This class has come together in ways that none of us could ever have dreamed possible, and the power of God has rekindled our hearts, paradoxically, in the most real yet unreal way.

Sunday was truly a day of worship. We had the privilege to attend both Sunday school and a service at the Dream Center following breakfast. Being in the presence of those with a true heart to praise and worship along with an impacting message was a blessing to us all. Within a two-hour period we were singing, dancing, listening, learning, and praying! As our class will testify, each visit to "the Zone" is more and more impacting, and Sunday afternoon we had the chance to engage in yet another outreach to the homeless people here in Phoenix. Serving food, handing out Bibles, and simply being there to talk and listen to these men and women is a ministry to them, and at the same time, a testament to each of us, too. In the afternoon, we faced another challenge and opportunity: you guessed it, a mountain. This one, fairly larger than those we had climbed previously, was a blast to hike. Once we had reached the top, the views were breath-taking and spectacular; we have plenty of pictures to show for it (which I must confess, we have not had the time to post, however we are trying to get them up soon.) Together as a class, but more profoundly as a family, we have scaled many mountains and conquered numerous challenges throughout the trip thus far. We also had the privilege of attending a service at Phoenix First Assembly of God after our third rocky trek.

David Li:

Sunday morning we all woke up refreshed and remembered the most awesome night of our lives. God never stops at anything to win our hearts and the hearts of others. really tries to get in the way of God's people and he's out there trying to distract us from our true focus. He wants us to stay comfortable and cover up our sin. I love how God can use my (our) mistakes and past sin to bring about a love that reaches the depths of my heart and others. Also, just hearing from the disciples here is just an awesome experience. As I sit here, thinking, God is not just a God who hears, but knows and heals. I've realized so much, I can't say how much He loves His children. I can't describe it. It's not a feeling, but it's something that God's doing in each of our hearts. We (me included) serve a God of Love.

Steven (again):

Yep, it's yet another late-night blog entry here in Phoenix, local time - 1:48 a.m. (That's roughly 4:48 in the morning back home, so I sure hope many of you will be reading this by the time we are fast asleep...well, rather by the time I join everyone else in sleeping.) We are thankful for your prayers, and continue to await God's blessings. We are all incredibly renewed, and our own class spiritual revival is a manifestation of the Lord's work and answer to prayer! We especially want to send our regards to Jennie, Kim, Brenna, and Kelsey--we miss you guys and wish you the best back home!


There's a correction to make in the previous blog entry. The parenthetical phrase regarding our time of worship at night should have read: "Mr. Spidell really enjoyed the - - - -o-s." Naturally, however, Cybersitter--the filters installed on school-issue computers--blocked use of the term - - - ; hopefully my use of hyphens here will bypass it. Yes, we all enjoyed a rather good laugh after realizing this one! Good night...or rather, good morning!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Camp Biloxi

Posted by: Emily Woda, Kirsti Burgess and Mrs. Caperna

Hi Y'all,

This morning we had the privilege of attending service at Camp Biloxi's church, The Church of the Good Shepherd, and it was awesome. Before service started the pastor introduced "The Extra Mile K9 Crisis Team." This ministry was created by Pastor Ralph Buchorn several years ago. They travel all over the country with "K9 chaplains", trained ministry dogs, who provide spiritual and emotional comfort to individuals who have be traumatized by tragedy or crisis. We were introduced to two special K9 chaplains, Georgie and Hollie,. These K9 golden retrievers had just returned from a missions trip to Northern Illinois University, the site of a recent college shooting where 5 were left dead and 12 injured. Georgie and Hollie spent time with students in the residence halls and around campus, and provide much needed comfort to the grieving university family. But, that's not all they've done recently- they've also visited with children who have lost parents in the Iraq War, and provided emotional support to Katrina families in the Biloxi/Gulfport area still trying to recover from Katrina. These dogs are beyond cool, they rock! And we hear two sheepdogs will be joining their team shortly. Please pray for them.

Shrimp boat? Did you say shrimp boat? Yep, you got it. We went fishing on a shrimp boat this afternoon. No one knew much about shrimp fishing, so this was a new adventure. We hopped on the boat and sailed out into the murky waters. Once we were out a bit, the fisherman pulled out a 16 ft. wide net and slowly let it down the back of the boat. Once the net was completely out, he used a lever to spread apart two "boards" that served to open the net wide. Then, we had to wait...and wait...and wait. After twenty minutes, the fisherman began pulling the net back as swarms of seagulls nipped at the delicious scavengers resting at the bottom of the net. From the sophistication of all these gadgets and the clanking sounds they were making, we all thought the fisherman had caught at least some shrimp. Well...actually - he only caught one! A white shrimp - an interesting, albino-looking creature with long antennas. But, never fret, in the net were lots of other less interesting sea critters like sardines, anchovies, catfish (little ones) and many other kinds of small bait. At any rate, just when we thought the height of the trip was our small acquisition, Hunter decided to eat the live bait! Yes, you heard right. He put it in his mouth for all to see, grimaced a little, and swallowed it. Of course, he then drank all of Mrs. Caperna's green tea soda. Interestingly, it didn't stop there, one by one our sophmores volunteered to do the same thing, including Jenna, Megan, Kirsti and Andrea! (Megan Guadagnino actually swallowed a live fish. Can you believe it!) Mrs. Caperna was gagging. Mrs. Riter couldn't believe it, and the lady who owns the boat asked for a copy of the pictures because no one who has every ridden her boat has ever eaten and digested live bait. - Guinness Book of World Records material, maybe?

On the camp front, today was Sunday so there were no work assignments for us; however, tomorrow we have to report to the "Mess Room" by 6am for breakfast, then pickup our work assignments, and be at the work site by 8:30am. Of course, Mr. Hood (our quarterback) doesn't want to take a chance on Megan and Jenna not showing up (can't get them up and, they're always "freezing"), so after this evening's orientation, he gathered us in a huddle to give the game instructions. Everyone has to be in bed by 10pm "Quiet Time" and up by 5:45am to report for duty at the mess hall. Although this was hard to swallow at first, when you come down here and see all the people who have come here from all over the country to help, and the devastation Katrina left behind, you just want to go out there and start working as soon as possible. You want to make a difference. As we drove to camp, we saw a church steeple sadly placed on the side of a road, perhaps waiting for volunteers to raise it back up. We also so miles and miles of destroyed beach front, decimated neighborhoods and very few construction site fully completed. So, disaster relief is still vital here. Sadly, people are still stuffering.

Lastly, please continue to pray for us. Tomorrow it's our turn to make a difference, and with God's help, we will accomplish much. We are excited about the opportunity to serve. For devotions, we have been reading portions of the book, Improving Your Serve by Chuck Swindoll. Today we read out of a section entitled, "Portrait of a Servant" and reflected on the Beatitudes. We learned of two attitudes found in true servants - dependence on God and strong compassion. It struck us that throughout this trip, we have had to truly depend on God - when we sat in the airport for 11 hours, when our flight was canceled, and now, when we have to trust and depend on God for guidance and strength in completing our job assignments. But the longer we're here, the more we're convinced that that's how God wanted it. Utter dependence and faith in Him, and Him alone, so we can really do HIS work at Camp Biloxi.

"Extreme dependence and strong compassion" is our new motto.

Tomorrow should be interesting. More news from team Biloxi to follow!

- Emily, Kirsti and Mrs. C

Day 3: HEART Institute

Posted by: Monica, Caitlin, David, and Grant

This cold morning we woke to Mrs. Bonorandi's wonderful Japanese singing alarm clock. Last night Stephen and Hollie had a little problem with dehydration. They're fine now, and everyone learned a lesson about the importance of drinking plenty of water. We headed off to a Haitian Church where we were greeted warmly by the members. A translater helped us understand the Creole sermon. Later we came back and had plenty of free time to rest up. Afterward the Survivors won the team challenge - a scavenger hunt! Another rest period came before pizza for dinner.(David, Christian, & Josh ate 10 pieces!) We then went to Infusion's ministry on the college campus. Everyone enjoyed a great time of worship! We're about to make s'mores over a campfire...YUMMY. We'll then have our last reflection time, and we'll see you all tomorrow night!

P.S. David can't wait for s'mores & Billy better have a quadruple dose of Juice Plus when he gets home! ;)

Faith of a Mustard Seed

Posted by: Meg and Gab :)

Rise and Shine!!! This morning we rose for church in order to fellowship with our Dominican friends over at the Christian school and church. During the church service, we were able to sing our newly learned Spanish song that we have been wanting to share, Trading my sorrows
(Si Sen-or, si si sen-or). Michael, the missionary that has been leading this trip, delivered the sermon in both English and Spanish (and what an amazing job he did!)

After the service, our group was surely ready for some Dominican chow. We all packed in the bus and rode to Armando's; a new favorite lunch spot of ours. Students finished their lunches as some walked around town with Michael. As some of you parents and friends know, while walking around town some seniors found a special spot where it was cheap to call or email home. What a surprise! :)

Later we journeyed to the Mustard Seed Orphanage where our whole group had an amazing experience that they will never forget. We were able to meet around 20 orphans who were all mentally and physically disabled in some way. Our seniors were able to reach out to each and every one of the children in different ways. Some played with bubbles (a huge hit), others played catch/keep away with the tennis balls (let's just say our guys were battled), while some just held and spent personal time bonding (how sweet). Donny ministered to one little boy with severe disabilities, by singing to him the entire time!! :) The senior class was pushed out of their comfort zone and quickly became comfortable with the challenging experience. Saying good-bye to our new friends was hard as some children hugged the bumper of the bus, begging us not to leave. The children were so thankful for our fun visit. While hugging us they repeated; gracias, gracias, gracias!!!! It was a life changing experience for all of us.

We are all about to walk to the beach before dinner is delivered. Did we mention this beautiful beach is 2 minutes from our hotel?! Adios for tonight!!!

We are working on posting our photos, maybe tomorrow ;)

Gab and Meg say Hola to amigos y familia!!

Estefanie would like to tell her mother that her tooth broke! :(

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Some Sophomore Pictures


Posted by: Emily Woda, Megan G., Kirsti Burgess
Hey Florida, what's up??? So, we finally made it to Biloxi, Mississippi. Safe and sound!!! The food was pretty good here. Everyone is having so much fun, and we are all so happy that we finally made it. We can't wait to get started on work, and are looking forward to the new experience!!! Miss all of you back home!!
- Emily Woda 

What's up parental units and peps down in 561.!
Okay, so besides sitting in an airport for 11 hours on Thursday, then coming to the airport and being in it for about 6 hours or so today.. This has been a GREAT trip! Ha! Ha! We arrived in Camp Biloxi today at around 6:30 or so and ate dinner then devotions. Thats about all we've done today. Oh and they have this super cool hammock that we all went in. Yeah fun.
- Megan Guadagnino #24 :)

Hey Parents!!!
Well we finally made it to Mississippi! =) So while waiting in the airport, guess who we saw?!??We saw and met Don Shula only the best football coach there is! ( being that I am a Dolphins fan, whooohooo) represent the Miami Dolphins =) We were able to meet him, talk a little bit to him, and take a picture with him. He was really nice and he showed us his huge Super Bowl ring. That just made the trip even better. So, today, we're finally here safe and sound. Yay! Thanks
Talk to you tomorrow.
- Kirsti Burgess =D

Lots of Work, Lots of Play

Posted by: Daniel Braga

With a later wake-up time, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the Dominican coastline. After the usual quick breakfast, we headed out for our big day of construction at the Christian school we had ministered with the day previous. The different groups packed drills, routers, toys, scrapers, and plently of other supplies to prepare us for the big job ahead. Once we got to the school after the usual bumpy ride along the coast, we got off the bus and headed right to work. We prayed for God's blessing over the seemingly impossible amount of work that lay ahead of us. The basic game plan was to repair and finish school desks on all three floors in one of the school's main buildings. Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

Some of the desks were in absolute disrepair, and some of the remaining laminate that had survived was hard to scrape off and replace. We also had to score and measure out new pieces of laminate, glue the desk it was going to mount on, and route the edges smooth. Our group worked the entire day to get them done, and the desks really turned out well, with some much-needed help from the Dominican seniors. One group tackled the desk laminate replacement, while another group went to install brand new fans, two per classroom. This group had to drill holes to mount each fan, and find outlets to plug them in. Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

The majority of the school buildings are solid concrete, and the team, headed up by Mr. Smith, had difficulty in getting the drill-hammer (deafening!) to get a descent hole. The anchor goes in the hole drilled into the concrete, and the fan can be screwed in from there. This did not even come close to stopping Mr. Smith, who muscled in the holes with after a few tries. The fan team really pulled through all of the difficulty though, and the fans came out a great success!

While the teams worked, some of the guys started a pick-up basketball game on the school's court with some local Dominicans. Mario Labady met a young boy of his own nationality, Haitian, and found out he was a victim of domestic abuse. He later shared that he was sent away from Haiti by his mother, who told him he can come back only when he recieves his full education. Sadly, the boy is forced to be self-supporting at age 15, having virtually no one to help with education and living expenses. Mario, a little rusty with his Creole, remembered enough to communicate with the boy. The boy insisted on shining Mario's shoes just to have someone to talk to! As we left the school, the boy wished to see Mario again, and Mario was able to invite him to church tomorrow!

That, along with all the construction-related aspects of today, really make one realize how God has a presence in all that happens, and works for the good of those who love Him. Sixty desks were laminated and sanded smooth; 24 fans were installed and working by the time we left. Dead tired, we wrapped up the projects and basketball game and piled into the bus, heading for some rest and reflection at a beach resort. We settled into the beach chairs in the sand and watched the waves roll in every shade of blue and green one could imagine. The sunny coast wrapped around into a bay-like area, with a backdrop of tree-covered mountains. The sheer beauty of the Dominican reflects how amazing our Creator really is. After dinner at a local shopping mall, we headed back home for a devotional time in the book of James, continuing to discuss our weaknesses as an individual and group. Tomorrow, we wake up even later :) and head to church, followed by a visitation with orphans that are mentally and physically disabled. Please pray that God gives us strength after this long day, and as some battle minor colds and soreness from the past few days...

H.E.A.R.T. Institute: Day 2

Posted by: Caitlin, Grant, Monica, Josh, and David

Day 2 at the HEART Institute began with morning chores and pancakes for breakfast. After breakfast, we split into 3 groups. 1 group went to butcher a rooster. Monica chopped off a roosters head EWWWWWW!!!! But the body was still moving after the head was off... weird i know. The next group butchered a bunny. Mrs. Barnhill will be proud of our dissection skills! The other 2 groups went into the college and cleaned up the campus. One group got to watch part of a baseball game. We took trucks to get to the campus (we sat in the truck bed). On the way there and back we had a "bumpy offroad adventure" :)
Then we had rich man/poor man lunch. Out of 4 sections, 1 group was rich(normal food), 1 group had only rice, 1 group had only water, and the last group had nothing. This lesson helped open the eyes of everyone as to how much we are blessed. The rich men were nice and shared their food with everyone. More chores and lessons took place after lunch. After hot dogs for dinner, everyone participated in a team challenge. Each team had to complete an obstacle course - blindfolded! Each team guided a teammate through the obstacle vocally. After a ton of confusion, the Blackout team (w/ Caitlin) came out victorious. The lesson behind this game was that although there are many voices in this world, we must learn to listen to God's voice.
Everyone had fun in the cold showers BURRRRRRRRR!!!! And tonight it is supposed to get down to 38 degrees!!! Since we're in a "two-thirds world country" :) , pictures won't be available until after the trip. Sorry :(

P.S. Missy & Christina love Jeffy the dinosaur; Linzi says "Hi, Mom!!" (AWWW)


Posted by: Daniel Braga and Meaghan Arnesano

Hey, and my apologies for those of you who checked in with us last night! We got in very late last night, and by the time we got through unloading and devotion time none of us really felt like blogging...

Yesterday, after a quick wakeup call, we had a quick breakfast and headed for the Christian school in Puerto Plata. The bumpy ride into town was very scenic, and we caught the sunrise off to our left over the mountains. Once we arrived at the Christian school, we were met by hundreds of kids playing in the adjacent basketball court ready to have some fun. Our seniors jumped right in setting up tons of things for our new friends to do. We had games all over! Jump roping, baseball, beautiful chalk art, basketball games, and kids all over playing with some of the 400 tennis balls that were donated to us. After that we were able to present a chapel program, involving two skits, the Tennis Skit and the Movie Skit, Donny sang a few songs, and Jason presented a great message of salvation along with our wonderful tour guide Michael Giglio who translated. Later most of our girls played in a very competitive basketball game against one of the local schools teams. Let me tell you, our fans were loud and spirited and our girls pulled through to win an amazingly tough game (let's just say Brooke was up against a giant just as David had been)...It was a challenge!!

For dinner we ate at a cool little burger shack and enjoyed exploring the coast and a beautiful port the rest of the night!!



Music, Fellowship, and Sleep Deprivation

Posted by: Steven Gallo (Shakespeare)

I am blessed and overjoyed to report that thus far, this mission trip has already surpassed all of our expectations, and this after only two days. Our Friday here in sunny (yet delightfully dry and cool) Phoenix was spent in fellowship with disciples in the program; each group of 2-3 students were assigned a buddy with whom we got to spend the afternoon. The stories and experiences of each person here are all unique and an incredible manifestation of God's grace, faithfulness, and power. From recovering alcoholics, to former addicts, and ex-prisoners to previously homeless people, each has a story and a heart for the Lord. As we have all witnessed, it is truly incredible to see how God can guide and heal anyone and how He can work through sin as a means of bringing his children back to Him. Jay and Matt even met up with a disciple who is a former cage fighter and spent some time training in the weight room, while the girls fraternized with other women from the church.

Following lunch with the disciples, we took yet another trip to Popago Park, and once again, our daring, adrenaline-seeking friends sought out more adventurous endeavors. After conquering an even higher mountain, while some stayed below to play frisbee, we returned for dinner here at the Dream Center.

As far as the evening is concerned, we were incredibly blessed by the presence of God in a time of worship and sharing. I am certain that all of the students will attest to the impact (and fun) we experienced tonight. Students, disciples, and all filled the chapel room downstairs for a night service, including drama skits and praise and worship by our very own class of '09. After music, acting, and the sharing of testimonies by disciples in the program, we all truly came together. We spent a good hour just singing, dancing, and making music, filled with the Holy Spirit (Mr. Spidell really enjoyed the os!)

As for now, we've met with yet another late night, and an early morning awaits us in a about 6-7 hours. We appreciate all of the posts, and look forward to what God has in store for each of us.

We want to thank you all so very much
for all your prayers, and love, and kind concern.

(Iambic pentameter.) That is all.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Day 1: H.E.A.R.T. Institute

Posted by: Monica Sowers, Caitlin Crawford, and Garth Sangree

The freshman class arrived at the HEART Institute around noon. Guess what's for lunch - Mystery meat...I mean BBQ rabbit. Yum! After lunch the freshmen split up into 4 groups (Black Out, Survivors, Foreigners, and from Latin America...Las Rosas). They did chores like gardening, feeding animals, cleaning up, and preparing supper. We had a tug of war competition between the groups. The final 2 groups (Foreigners vs. Las Rosas & friends) battled it out over a muddy duck pond. Grant Slagle (Foreigners) got the full experience when he ended up in the pond. We're heading off for a bond fire now! We'll post more tomorrow. P.S. there's no electricity and the bathrooms are a bit of a challenge :)

Sophomore Airport Pictures

Posted by: Mrs. Caperna
Sophomore Airport Pictures - 3/6/08


Posted by:

Sophomores waiting at the airport while Mr. Hood (he's NOT sitting) tries to figure out what's going on with our flight.


Posted by: Mrs. Caperna

Friday, 3/7/08

I've always known God has a sense of humor, but yesterday, he must have been really trying to get our attention! As you can see from Mr. Hood's blog - No! We didn't make it to Biloxi, but we did go on a missions trip - to the airport! After checking in and being asked to wait at Gate E4, and then, losing Hunter (who was listening to music with his earphones on, cellphone off, and drawing a bumble bee at the same time), followed by another trip over to Gate E6, only to find out that the next flight was to Philadelphia and the Air Tran pilot flying folks there was missing - we started to notice that the people sitting ALL around us were traveling to Biloxi to visit the casinos!

As time passed, the conversations around us starting becoming clearer and more noticeable. They were about gambling, they were about drinking, they were about everything other than the hurt of the people who were devastated by Katrina. And, Glory to God, our sophomores noticed! It was such a joy to see them show patience in the face of discomfort, uncertainty and changed plans. But, for me, the best things was seeing them analyze what was around them and seeing the fruit of what their parents, BRCS and, more importantly, God, has ingrained in their hearts and minds. Jessica and Andrea wondered what would happen if only a few of those people would spend a small portion of their "gambling money" on those devastated by Katrina? Megan and Kirsti did a prayer walk around a newpaper stand! And, of course, God couldn't leave me out of the picture. As Mrs. Riter and I sat chit-chatting, waiting for our turn to fly out of there, God planted two gamblers in the seats right behind us who unexpectedly started inquiring about our trip to Biloxi. Yes,you guessed it. What followed my conversation about our disaster relief missions trip was a presentation of the gospel. At that airport, in the middle of that lost crowd, I told this man about the void in our hearts that only Christ can fill. And, he listened. And, seeds were planted. And, I've been thinking maybe God didn't let him get to Biloxi last night because those seed that were planted needed some nurturing time, some time away from Biloxi! I don't know - but- God does! And I pray that man and the son-in-law that was with him come to know the love of God and the gift he has given us in Christ. Pray for them!

As for the rest of them - well, the Sophomore class is awesome! They hung out at the airport, one tried doing yoga for the gawking crowd, and some, like Benji, weren't satisfied with that. He had to roll through the airport last night!

Pray for good weather tomorrow and God’s will everyday!

With Christ in our midst,

Mrs. Caperna


Biloxi, here we come...on Saturday!

Posted by:Mr. Hood and Mrs. Riter

Yesterday was an adventure to say the least. We headed off to the airport at noon and ran into a lot of traffic due to rain storms. Once at the airport the lines were extremely long and I heard the airport had been temporarily closed due to lightning. We got through security without a hitch and headed to E4. People were all over the airport. They changed our gate but other flights kept coming thru and there we waited - watching as other flights left. After a few hours of waiting they announce that our plane is taxing to the gate. People get off and all of a sudden the kiosk says Atlanta and all sorts of people start showing up. The airline announced that as soon as the plane deplaned we would be getting on to go to Biloxi. As they finish deplaning they tell us there is another gate change so back to E4 we go... Where there is once again no plane at the gate. There are planes all over the tarmac just sitting there. No one appears to be moving. By 6:15 we start to board - yippee! This is only 3 hours late. We all get settled and they tell us because of the weather we will be sitting for a little while. At 8:10 they tell us on the plane that we are headed back to the gate. Someone is on the Internet and sees that the status on the flight is cancelled. So we now deplane and head to the ticket counter. The gentleman who had checked us in 7 hours earlier was still working and his jaw hits the floor and he says "not the group!" The flights for tomorrow are totally booked. We tried to go into New Orleans as well, but they were also booked for tomorrow. So the new plan is to fly out on Saturday. We will miss a few days of working but I know somehow the Lord is in this. The students are disappointed but a bunch are having a sleepover tonight. Maybe all of this today was for the Alumni sighting at the airport. We ran into Andrew Robertson- class of 2005 - standing right next to us with his dad as we all waited at one of our gates. Anyway - this gives me another day to fight off this cold and rest. Keep praying for us.

I forgot to tell the part about the rental vans. As we are sitting on the plane waiting to take off I say to Mary who I'm sitting with "let's pray." Of course she says yes and we have an awesome prayer time. While praying the Lord puts it on my heart to call the rental car company and let them know we are running late. When I called they said they closed in 5 minutes. Sorry but they can help us in the morning. I left them a message and hope we can get the vans on Saturday! Mrs. Riter

From Mr. Hood: I must say that it was the craziest start to any of the trips I have been on. Through it all God helped us to be calm - even me! Even when I asked the man behind the counter why the sign just changed from Biloxi to Philadelphia and then it changed the next time from Biloxi to Atlanta!?!? He tried to explain that our plane hadn't arrived yet and other planes needed a gate to depart from - Wow! It was a true building of our patience. The students were incredible as we all had to just sit on the floor for awhile because it was so crowded. They showed tremendous understanding and patience in the midst of a very frustrating time. They did not even complain when we had no dinner until 9:30 pm due to all complications.

We are thankful that God is in control and He knows why we did not need to fly last night. They did have some crazy weather in Biloxi last night with tornado kind of conditions, strong winds, etc... So I say that God was keeping us safe and here we are with a day of rest, ready to go out tomorrow and try again! We will be meeting at the high school at 11:30 am Saturday morning to depart for the airport. Good news from the rental car agency as well: they sound like they will actually have our three vans waiting for us at the airport, which is better than it was before!! Thanks for keeping us in your prayers - Biloxi here we come!! Mr. Hood

Welcome to Phoenix

Posted by: Steven Gallo

The junior class groggily, but excitedly departed Ft. Lauderdale International Airport yesterday morning; destination: Phoenix. Before arriving here in the dry and chilly Arizona climate, we experienced many an adventure passing through our connecting flight in Atlanta. While waiting for our plane to arrive, we were even captured on film by a CNN camera man reporting on airline delays (keep your eyes peeled!) After exploring concourse B of the ATL airport, we boarded the plane.

Following our arrival in Phoenix, we eventually found our way to our current location, the Dream Center at Church on the Street, after navigating across town in our four-van convoy. Yesterday evening, we had the opportunity to visit Popago Park where we all hiked, and those those daring enough climbed atop stunning rock formations. I know I can speak on behalf of all of us when I say that experiencing the sun set from atop the glorious mountains is a view none of us will forget. Gazing upon the red glow from behind the Phoenix skyline, we were all reminded of God's power and majesty.

After yet another early morning, we set off to "the Zone" today, an area near the Dream Center where we served in an outreach to the local homeless people in the area. By serving them hot food and coffee and sharing praise and worship songs with them, we reached out to those in need, and it was definitely as much of a testament to all of us here as it was to those we met. A pastor from Church on the Street also met with us as we all gathered around Katy to pray for her, her family, and her mom as she is undergoing surgery. Following the outreach, Katy shared the following: "I really enjoyed how everyone came together and prayed for my mom and how I saw God open doors of opportunity. I love you Mom."

Thus far, we have been welcomed by a warm reception here, and have been blessed by many inspiring testimonies from the disciples at the Dream Center. For the remainder of the day, we will be doing some more work around the Dream Center, but for the most part our schedule is tentative and we are open and awaiting for an opportunity to serve here at Church on the Street.

P.S. - My fellow roommates Ben and Jay send their regards to all of their friends and family back home, along with everyone here. More updates to come soon.

My apologies for the length--I like to write. >.<

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Posted by: Daniel Braga

Arriving at school by 7:30 this morning, we got right to work packing our ministry luggage bags and finishing up final preparations before leaving. We then weighed our luggage, and loaded Bonnie to the limit before pulling out of the high school at roughly 9 o'clock. We were able to pack and bring everything that we had planned, which was a major success in itself, as we will be able to give as much as we can to the Dominican kids we will encounter while here. The group flew through airport security and check-in without a problem, and our flight arrived in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. With just under 200 or so peices of luggage, we were relieved when every last bag was accounted for at the airport, and the trip was officially underway! After a scenic ride along the coast, we checked in at Hotel Casablanca and got settled into our rooms before going out to eat at Casanova's, an italian-style pizzeria right on the beach. The tiki torch-lit dinner was a great way to cap off the great start we've had to this trip. Tomorrow, we will be at the Christian school in Puerto Plata, doing dramas, all kinds of sports, and hanging out with the seniors that go there. We're all pretty tired by now and have to be up early tomorrow, so pray for us as we minister to these kids most of the day tomorrow!

Sophomore Mission Trip Day 1

Posted by: Brandon Kreisel

This is Day 1 of the 10th grade missions trip....

Our flight was cancelled (after a 9 hour delay =] ) so now we are going home...we are going to have Friday off and take a flight on Saturday.

Patiently Waiting

Posted by: Mrs. Riter, with help from Mrs. H

Waiting at the airport. Because of weather, the flight has been delayed until 4:45pm. We will keep you posted....

What a crew, posted by Mrs. H

Posted by: Mrs. Harrison

The Class of 2010 left the school for Mississippi today at 12:00 pm. Excitement was in the air... the third class to leave today. Charlie forgot his pillow, but knows how to sleep on the floor, we'll see. Please pray for our group, as a few of our chaperones are fighting colds and not feeling 100%. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Praying Parents

[Posted by Mrs. DiMauro, Moms in Touch prayer group]

The following BRCS parents have committed to pray for our students during their mission trips. Any parents who would like to discuss a special prayer request will be able to contact them via e-mail.

Freshman parents contact Kirsten Hood -
Sophomore parents contact Carolyn Nitto -
Junior parents contact Debbie DiMauro-
Senior parents contact Katia Hummel -

Monday, March 03, 2008

2008 Mission Trips are Almost Here!

Bookmark this page, everyone! Students will be posting updates here during their class mission trips March 6-13, 2008.