Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Today was a day of rest for our weary class. We simply engaged in touristy activities such as exploring the Grand Canyon and visiting multiple gift stores. Our ride back to Flagstaff also entailed an encounter with Arizona State law enforcement.....

But the end result was only a traffic warning........
For the fourth day in a row however, we have had someone throw up. And many of the group are starting to feel tired from a combination of time change and constant travel.

The day was concluded with group sharing time. We all are awaiting the long day of travel tomorrow.
Posted by: Nick

Day 6: Grand Canyon

Posted by: Thomas

Here are some more pics from today at the Grand Canyon.

We traveled to the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon and went up into the Watchtower to get a better look at the canyon and the Colorado River.

Then there is the picture of Mrs. Barnhill getting pulled over for going 12 mph over the speed limit. ( She was frekin' out when the cop pulled us over and she told us to put our seat belts on quickly)

Zip: A More Unorthodox (and Awesome) Method of Travel

Day 6: Puerto Plata. As the sound of waves crashing in the distance seeps through the window beside me, I sit here writing today's blog before dinner has even been served. This update comes a bit earlier than usual, quite frankly because I actually have time to post before nightfall! It has been an exciting day thus far, and we are enjoying a relaxing afternoon of rest and fellowship here at the mission house. This morning's adventure took us on a ride to a heavily forested area just outside of Puerto Plata. This morning's adventure? Zip-lining. After gearing up with harnesses and gloves, we traveled to the starting point of the course. Some were a bit nervous, but by the time we got gliding down the first inclined cable, everyone was enjoying the thrill. How often do you get to zip across a vast jungle suspended above a canopy of enormous trees, surrounded by mountains? After completing all seven zip-lines, some of which were up to 300 meters in length, we returned to the mission house with great photos and memories.
As I mentioned, this afternoon has primarily been one of rest. Many of us are pretty exhausted from the activities of the week, and we've spent time napping, relaxing by the beach, and of course, eating. (Did I mention the food prepared by our cooks, Oscar and Nora, is oustanding?) As I type this, Mr. Oliver Haines is settling in here at the compound. He has arrived safely from his flight and will be spending these last days with us due to a standby flight situation with Lisa and Caroline. We will likely be spending the remainder of the evening here at the mission house, and we will have our nightly time of devotion and sharing following dinner. We send our love and thoughts back home, and we are grateful for your support and prayers. Nick is feeling better; he didn't participate in the zip-lining to avoid further injuring his knee, but he is making progress. We won't know details until we arrive back in the US, but please continue to keep him in your prayers. He sends many thanks to everyone for their love and concern. As a deviation from the norm, I wish you all a good evening, and we look forward to hearing from you in the coming days.
P.S. - We are having trouble with transfering some of the photos with this computer, so only certain cameras work. Unfortunately, we can't get the pictures up from yesterday, but I encourage you to attend the missions chapel on Friday to see (and hear) all about the trip. Thanks!

Posted by: Steven Gallo

The Day We Left The D.C. (Dream Center)

Posted by:Andrew Hanssen

Hey all you peoples!
Hope everyone had a great DAY!

We left the Dream Center today after our "Brutal" workout with the Disciples.. That was fun for the guys! The s went to a womens outreach. Sadly we had to leave and say bye so we had to drive for a while before stopping at an ALIEN restaurant. That was odd! We ate then went to Sadona and went hiking again. Some of us didnt really get far... Well, Nick got about 100 feet from the car and laid down and waited for everyone else to come back. Benji and I went up for a while, looking for some shade to chill in, but got distracted by rocks. "Odd" you may say, "NO", actually very entertaining! We rolled them down the rivers but they got about 4 feet and didnt even brake, so we gave that up. Then we went up and started throwing rocks at absoulutly nothing until we found a cool plant and butterfly to throw them at! DONT WORRY.. we didnt hit the butterfly! Meanwhile, the others went to the EXTREME and climbed up to the higher part of the mountain. Jamie fell.. but again, dont worry, he's fine, it wasnt far! Only a couple of scratches. They got as high as possible.

After our adventure in the wilderness mountains we headed for our new hotel. We got situated and ordered pizza. Some of us went to an obeservatory to look at the sky! We saw Saturn and some double star, which was cool! The guy said that we have stuff in common with the sun, because we all have sundust in us and are related to the sun, somehow.. We didnt really feel like questioning him and causing a riot, because I think we had confused him enough by just wearing volleyball and soccer sweatshirts. It was cold there so we didnt stay for too long!

Otherwise not much has happened here.. oh yeh, Nick threw up but we didnt get a picture! But yeh, keep praying because some of us are still sick and the rest of us dont want to get sick...
God is with us! He's really cool! You should come up here and check out the view of the stars from these mountains! It's beautiful.. or you could go to a mountain in Flori... Oh wait.. there arent any...

God Bless you!
Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Last Full Day at Long View Ranch

Posted by: Shannon Lee, Amy Barwell and Mr. Hood (Posted Tuesday morning because internet went down at 1:00 am when it was ready to publish!)

After a yummy pancake breakfast we had another wonderful time of personal devotions in and around the dining hall. At the end of our devotions we all gathered on the porch overlooking the Smokey Mountains and listened to God's creations as it awoke - we even heard a woodpecker off in the distance!

We then divided into four work groups to spend the morning serving our friends (George and Kay Widmaier and their son Dave) at Long View Ranch. The group led by Mrs. Sengberg helped clean windows and wash the screens at the dining hall. They also cleaned the bathrooms of all the cabins (thank you girls!!) and cleaned the inside of the bus. Another group led by Mrs. Wenzel went to the barn to curry the horses - which means to brush the horses in order to remove their winter coats! A third group led by David Widmaier went to work re-stringing all of the wire for the electric fence on the horse pastures. The fourth and final group led by George Widmaier, Mr. Hood and Mr. Mitchell cleared the land of old branches and logs by the front entrance to the camp. They made two large fires and threw all of the wood into them. It was a tremendous morning of work and we were all thankful to go to lunch. However....
When we arrived at lunch we were not expecting a team building activity to be part of our lunch experience. This activity involved each person having both their wrists taped to their neighbor's wrists. Each person could not feed themselves but could offer to feed their neighbor and vice versa - all of this was a fun attempt to show servanthood and build teamwork. Lunch consisted of cheeseburgers, chips, grapes, vegetables and soda or water. It was fun to say the least!

A brief free-time was followed by a low-ropes team building activity. It was called the "Trust Fall". Several smaller exercises helped us be prepared for the ultimate trust test with our classmates. Eventually students voluntarily climbed up to a 4 foot platform (it felt like 12 foot when you got up there), turned their backs, tucked in their arms, closed their eyes and when all was deemed "ready" - fell backwards trusting their group of classmates below to catch them. Everyone stepped out of their comfort zone and participated in this challenging activity - we even caught Mr. Mitchell!

The remaining afternoon time was spent horseback riding, playing games in the dining hall or just relaxing. Mr. Hood, along with George Widmaier, went back to finish some of the work on the house which we worked on this past Saturday. He brought back compliments from all of the people who our Sophomores blessed this past weekend.

After dinner there was an extended time of group reflections and devotions. We were challenged to do several games which also carried the message of the week - "receive the love". The concluding activity was an opportunity to "step across the line" if you were in that category. It opened many people's eyes to what their classmates were going through. This was followed by our most powerful time of sharing. Everyone shared their thoughts on the topic of "what impacted you the most" from the trip. We feel the poem below by Christian Baez aptly describes how we have felt during this incredible week. As a class we want to continue to grow closer to each other and to God as we return home.

We look forward to seeing our families today. This is the Sophomores signing off for the final time in Tennessee! God bless you.

Where God Is
Where is God?
When the little ones are starving
Where is God?
When the sick are dying
Where is God?
When disasters occur
Look around you
That's where God is
And if you're too blind to see
His wonderous creation
And if you're too deaf to hear
The splendour of His Name
Then Fool you are part
Of a dead, dead world
You're life is meaningless
And like a fool
You blame God

Accept His love!
Get swept up by His grace!
And then you will know
Where God is.

A Day in Santiago

Day 5: Puerto Plata. Greetings to everyone back home. We awoke at an earlier than usual time this morning, but as I headed down the outdoor path from our rooms down to the kitchen, I couldn't help but stop and admire the beautiful sunrise over the ocean. God is truly amazing. There are some advantages to being up a little earlier!

The bus ride to Santiago, the Dominican Republic's second largest city, took about an hour and a half. Our first stop was El Colegio Evangelico de Jacagua, a Christian high school of about a hundred students, where we had the opportunity to interact with the seniors and learn about them and their school. We brought them clothing and school supplies that we had collected, and eventually, we split into two groups. Our music group went from class to class, freshmen through seniors, and performed songs for them as well as a skit portraying God's forgiveness. Meanwhile, others went outside and helped paint the school's chapel building, which was due for a fresh coat.

God has truly been using us to bring smiles to people's faces and to share His love with them on this trip, but this afternoon in particular was a special occasion. During lunch time, two unsaved girls named Carolina and Anyse began talking with Mrs. Bonorandi; they seemed to show curiosity and interest in communicating with her. Ultimately, Mrs. B. shared the gospel with them, and they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior! She spent the remainder of our time at the school with them, meeting with their families and visiting their homes nearby. Mrs. B. plans to follow up with them; they traded e-mail addresses, and plans are already in the works for one of them possibly visiting South Florida in the summer. We also visited with some local residents of the small village near the school, learning some more about their culture and customs.

The remainder of afternoon was spent at a hospital in downtown Santiago. There we visited with injured children, bringing them clothing and toys as well as sharing gospel tracts with their parents. It was definitely an eye-opening experience that was difficult for some, but the patients and their families were grateful for our generosity and care.

Yet another long ride home back to Puerto Plata had many of us at least trying to catch up on some sleep, but many of us are looking forward to doing some more of that tonight. We enjoyed dinner here at the mission house, and we even had the opportunity to visit a neat beach house down the street for dessert. All I can say is that if you've never had deep fried Milky Way bars with ice cream, you should definitely try it. (Please forgive me, Mrs. Wenzel.) We want to send our regards to all of our classmates back home--we miss you! Ben, we are continuing to pray for a speedy recovery, and we look forward to seeing you all soon. Once again, thank you to everyone back home who has continued to support us and pray for us; we appreciate it! We are experiencing some technical difficulties with uploading pictures, but we hope to upload some tomorrow. Good night from Puerto Plata!

Posted by: Steven Gallo

Day 5: Sedona

Posted by: Thomas

Today started really early for the guys. We woke up at 4 AM this morning and worked out at the First Church weight room. All the guys went (except Brandon cause he was sick) It was a good workout. The girls woke up later and did some womans outreach. Later we packed, said our goodbyes, and left for Sedona. We got to sedona and ate at this Alien place for lunch. We got to see
Cathedral Rock. After climbing, we headed to Flagstaff. We are going to an Observation later today. Check back for pictures.

Freshman ETA: 9:30 - 9:45 PM

Posted by: Mrs. Poole, by phone

We greatly enjoyed our time with retired missionaries this afternoon and consequently we're a bit behind schedule. We expect to arrive back at school between 9:30 and 9:45 PM.

Lifting Each Other Up

Posted by: Ryan M. and Ashlie J. (first half) and Carrie K. and Casey K. (second half)

Last night we went to Warner University for the youth service called Infusion. Before the service they had some yummy candies, hot chocolate, and coffee set out for everyone. We were able to meet some of the college students there and talk with them. They started off the night with a few songs of worship. The topic for the night was homosexuality led by Pastor Bob. The church staff were a little nervous about sharing this message with us high schoolers so they offered us to go elsewhere. But the teachers got together and decided to stay because they had faith that we would handle the subject matter with maturity, which we did.

After the service, we went back to the H.E.A.R.T. campus and went straight into group reflection time. This night was probably one of the most emotional nights. We also saw the Holy Spirit work tremendously. The night started off a little slow. Mr. Harper was asking us questions to start off and get into the discussion. It turned out great -- pretty much everyone participated and really shared what was on their hearts. God really worked in a mighty way that brought our class together in ways we never thought would happen. People really emphasized how much we all bonded with each other throughout the weekend.

After everyone had basically finished talking, which was an hour later than scheduled, we all prayed. Then a group of people stayed in the room with Mr. Harper and talked about how we can bring this back to school and not be intimidated by thhe upperclassmen but stand for what we believe. We all stayed in there until like 1:30 and just had a great time.

After all of this we tried to get some sleep before the early morning but some were prevented from doing this due to goat noises made by Matt, Alex, and Ryan across the campground.

Today was the culmination of our trip. We had to conquer the wall! There were mixed emotions about the wall. Some were excited, some were nervous, and some were apathetic at first. We put a lot of thought into how we were going to conquer the wall as a class. We've come to realize that it really took good strategy, trust, strength, and perseverance. There was no negativity whatsoever, and everyone was encouraging and lifting each other up (No pun intended) :-) Eventually, everyone that attempted to go over the wall went over, and everyone was happy for each other. It was really a great experience that taught us many lesons, and we had such a great time doing it! See you all tonight!!

--The Freshmen
P.S. from Mrs. Poole - THANK YOU for your prayers!!!! God has answered them!

Day 4! Church, outreach, sickness, and hiking

Posted by: Andrew Hanssen
Greetings blessed readers,

Today our day began with Sunday School, where the word was was awesome and it was soo cool to see how the people interacted and asked questions and their insight into what they have read! It's really cool to know what they read and know of the word. After that, Chase, Kirsti, Devyn, and I went and helped at childrens church while the rest of us went to real church. I shared a quick testimony of my life and how the people have challenged and encouraged me here.
Dream Center all day while we went out. But sadly, Brandon, Benji, and Nick haven't been feeling so great. Mainly Brandon who laid in theBenji threw up too... The people from walmart asked us to leave because of Benji!

Before all this at Walmart, a guy here gave us a rap/poem he had written of his life while a guy played guitar, it was soo good! Then we went to an outreach and served the hungry and a few homeless people. They were all really nice to us and really hungry too! Andrea and Nick led a worship song there and I shared my little story too. It's amazing how much the people at the park appreciate what they are given! One man kept on coming over and asking for food and went to all the workers and thanked us, multiple times. He was homeless too, but believed in God and said he'd get everything back. It was cool to see someone so low, homeless with a dog and a bike, so happy and trusting in God.
Through the work here, God reaches out and touches people in a way they dont know at first but come to learn about. Many of them were once in the shoes being reached out to but didnt want to listen and turned their ear, but now they remember what they heard and saw! It's encouraging to hear where they've come from and all they can talk about is their change and their joy in God!

After the outreach we went to walmart and got lots of garlic *Mrs. Weil* but no salt water, sorry.. because people were getting sick. (thats when we learned more about how Benji was feeling- No Details). We then went hiking in the mountains! That was loads of fun! Climbing the rocks and mountain, and seeing Nick and Jamie challenging themselves while the rest of us kinda took the easier ways. The scenery was beautiful! We could see all of Phoenix. I think some of us received some more bumps and bruises.

After the fun hike we went out to diner at an authentic Mexican restaurant. It was really good, but I think I ate too much too fast, so I felt a bit weird.. (nothing happened) I also learned how much Chase can eat... he ate his own dish plus a "give me whatever you dont finish" dish and a desert on top of that.

Tomorrow we, the guys, are getting up at four to go "work out" (YEY!) while the ladies are getting up at around 6 and going to a women's outreach.

Good Night! Thank you so MUCH for all your prayers! It's a blessing to know we got people praying for us here.
I'm still praying for all you other trips! Keep us in your prayers as we start heading for Flagstaff and some other fun stuff tomorrow!!
God Bless you!
Thank you for reading!

By the Way.. this is what Mr. Spidell Looks like when he drives.

this has been a presentation of Boca Christian Missions, grade 11.. writer of this article is Andrew Hanssen.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sea Glass, Mules, and Techno Music

Day 4: Puerto Plata. Early this morning, the students headed out to Fortaleza San Felipe, a historic fort that dates back to the mid-1500s. Grassy lawns surrounded the edifice constructed of stone and coral, and we all had the chance to sightsee and learn about the fort on a guided tour. We also had the chance to take photographs at the picturesque site. Following our exploration of the fort, we enjoyed lunch under the Dominican sun. The beachside location allowed for exploration along the shore, where some students found blue and green shards of washed-up sea glass.
After our visit to the fort, we traveled to a nearby market where we had the opportunity to take part in a significant aspect of the Dominican consumer's lifestyle: bargaining. Some of the neat purchases included paintings, sculptures, and jewelry, nearly all handmade. Will got the deal of the day, buying a $160 dollar shark sculpture for only $10 after some tactful bargaining! Not only that, but a random man asked us if we were interested in purchasing a mule. A mule?
We returned home for an early dinner before boarding the bus again for church. Contrary to American culture, services are traditionally held on Sunday night rather than Sunday morning. In addition to the sermon, which was translated by our awesome chaperone Mike, our musical group had the opportunity to play music, and Jessica shared her testimony with the congregation as well. Following the two-hour service, we had the chance to interact with the younger members of the church. Some of them spoke as much as English as most of us speak Spanish, but they were such a pleasure to get to know. We even had the chance to play music and sing with them; it was so much fun. Music truly is a universal language! It was uplifiting to interact with the body of Christ across the sea, and I'm sure it was just as encouraging to them.

At last, we are back at the mission house, and we are a bit tired to say the least. Evidently, a resort is holding some sort of concert or party across the cove, but the music is loud enough to be heard from here. Despite the perpetual ambiance music, one upside to the local celebration was a firewords show that we had the chance to enjoy. However, as the night grows older, we are beginning to prepare for bed. Tomorrow will bring us to Santiago, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. The hour-and-a-half bus ride will take us to our next ministry destinations, which include a school, children's hospital, and the homes of local residents.

We continue to thank you for your comments! We have been printing them out and posting them in the hallway for all of the students to read. Ben, we miss you and hope you're feeling better! Also, Nick's knee is still a bit weak, but he has gained a lot more mobility and we continue to pray for a full recovery soon. All of us send our love to our family and friends back home, and as the stars shine brightly over Puerto Plata (and as the techno music from down the street continues to pulsate), we wish you a good night from the class of 2009.

Posted by: Steven Gallo

A Day at Church

Posted by: Megan Jones, Shannon Lee, Mrs. Wenzel

Good evening, all! We had yet another awesome day at Long View Ranch. Tennessee was exceptionally cold today, and everyone had to bundle up. We had breakfast at 8:45 this morning, which allowed everyone to sleep in for a little while. After breakfast we had personal devotion time, and then we loaded up in the bus to drive to church. The drive was about 45 minutes long, and along the way some students played games to pass the time.

We arrived at the church, which was based at Tusculum College. It was a rather small church - it was so small, in fact, that they usually meet in a cafe at the college. During the service the sophomores did three skits. The skit group performed very well. The preacher came up after some praise and worship and talked to us about the story about Ezekiel in the valley of bones. His message was that we have to listen to whatever God tells us to do, no matter how impossible it may seem. He has a plan for us in everything that we do. We had an ending song and prayer - afterwards, we headed down to the cafe to have a potluck lunch. Members of the church had all brought in their own dishes for us to enjoy - we had pulled pork sandwiches, scalloped potatoes, casseroles, chips, desserts such as cake and brownies, and iced tea and pink lemonade. It was all very good and we are thankful for their generosity.

After church, we went to Walmart so students could pick up things they needed or wanted. We stayed there for half an hour and left just a little bit late thanks to some sophomores who were on the wrong side of the store. Then we departed for Long View, arriving at about 3 PM. We had free time until dinner at 6, which was nachos. For devotions tonight we all headed down to a bonfire, wearing our warmest clothes. Some sophomores made s'mores and huddled close together with blankets for warmth. We had a time of sharing, songs and prayer. Some students have chosen to go inside to stay warm and not get sick, while others are going to stay by the bonfire for a little while.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. It is getting colder, and students are starting to get sick and dehydrated. We all need to be at our best health tomorrow, as we are going to be working hard for Long View once again.

We are all very tired, but excited with all the things that God has been doing for us. Over and out! ~The sophomores

More Sophomore Pictures!

Posted by: Mr. Hood

Follow this link for more pictures on Shutterfly:
>>> Sophomore Mission Trip (so far) <<<

A Rainy Morning and Lots of Valuable Lessons

Posted by: Nicholas C. and Megan S.

From Nick:
Last night we participated in an exercise that showed us how the world uses its resources and distributes them to various people groups. Through this "Rich Man Poor Man" experience, (the details of which will remain undisclosed to the public eye) we learned to appreciate what we have. Even though some of us went to bed hungry, we learned a memorable and valuable lesson.

The next step on our journey was a Team Challenge that required us to trust each other. A member of each team was blindfolded, spun around, and when Dr. Joe gave the signal, they made their way through the obstacle course with only the voices of their teammates to guide them. Even though my team, the "Poole Party," got 2nd place, we learned a valuable lesson about listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd and tuning out all others. Mr. Phil had a time of devotions with us afterward and the class learned that even though we can't always trust our friends to guide us rightly, we can always trust God.

After that was the greatest part of the day - a shower! It was cold, but we still appreciated getting clean after a very dirty day.

From Megan: This morning, we got to sleep a half an hour more than usual! We woke up to the sound of RAIN on the roofs of our cabins, in addition to the crowing roosters. I have learned that rain creates mud, and the chores that seemed tedious yesterday suddenly had a new level of difficulty. Some of us were slightly incredulous that we wouldn't be excused from chores on account of the rain, but the tasks still needed to be done, rain or shine. For morning chores, our group fed the animals, including Freddy the billy goat and the roosters and the bunnies. Other groups were pulling weeds and making breakfast. Carrie dropped a bunny, but it's okay. We went to breakfast, and then we headed to church.

The church we attended was the First Hatian Baptist Church of Avon Park. The first hour of the service was praise and worship. The music director led us in an assortment of Creole songs, one of which had dancing motions. Apparently, I (Megan) was good at it and was called to the front to perform the motions as we sang the song again. It was a confusing service because it was in Creole, but some of the songs we still were able to recognize, like Amazing Grace and When the Saints Go Marching In. It was cool to see such enthusiastic worshippers.
Even though we spoke different languages and were part of different cultures, we still felt like one family worshiping the same God. When the service was over, some of the ladies from the church gave us ICE COLD beverages, something we haven't yet experienced this weekend! There was also a REAL TOILET there at the church!!!

We're going to a college service tonight and having pizza for dinner! Please pray for endurance, that we all make it to the end. Megan especially asks for prayer that there will be no more cockroaches in her cabin. Oh, and Casey and Valentina say hi.
The Freshmen

P.S. from Mr. Calder:
I have enjoyed seeing God illuminate spiritual truths in the hearts of a few freshmen. When God takes us deeper in understanding who He is, it makes us love Him even more and love each other more. I have one of the coolest jobs on earth! God's peace and protection to everyone as our trips move forward.

P.S. from Mrs. Poole:
You have no idea how valuable your prayers are. Please pray for the students constantly! I feel such an urgency to pray for the Holy Spirit to really move in the lives of these kids - there are baby steps being made, but we all have so far to go! Please especially pray for our evening times of reflection and worship, that the students would open their hearts to hear what God has to say to them. Also, I apologize for the fuzzy group picture - we have a better one on somebody's camera.


Salutations from the arid and sunny state of Arizona! Despite having already posted today, we have decided to share more about our adventures in Phoenix. After our experiences in Adopt a Block this morning (ranging from simply walking the neighborhood to breaking up fights between children over shoes). We attended a party at the dream center for underprivileged teens; a rather unique experience involving a fog-machine, strobe lights, and loud music. Some of us also had an opportunity to sing and share testimonies in chapel....which we did......

In conclusion we look forward to many bread and energy drink fueled days of excitement in Arizona......
Posted by: The Cak

Day 3: Adopt-a-block outreach

Posted by: Thomas

We woke up this morning early to go "march" with the men and women disciples. We ate breakfast and then we prepared for the busy day that we had. First we packed up and went to the First Assembly of God church. We loaded up the vans and went to a neighborhood and broke into smaller groups with a disciple and went door to door. We let the families know about what we were doing. ( We were having a childrens outreach to the community. Church on the street was giving away free food, clothes and a message to the parents.) Some of us met this kid named Will. He was pretty cool and entertained some of us. We played with the kids on the playground and danced with them and really enjoyed the first part of the day. We came home and ate lunch late and we were just in time for a wedding that was going on. (the s attended the wedding and the guys just chilled.) It was a really interesting story about how the groom and the bride met and married. After the reception was over, we helped set up for a "party" that church on the Street was having for some of the teenagers in the neighborhood. The party took place and we went to this room where "Atmosphere" was playing. Benji, Nick, and Andrea played for a worship service that was going on with the s here. They all sang and shared each of their testimonies. We have had a really busy day and we hope to upload some more pictures soon.


Saturday, March 28, 2009


Day 3: Puerto Plata. We headed down to breakfast this morning, Mrs. Bonorandi's boisterous singing still echoing in our ears. After breakfast, we walked on the winding dirt trail from our mission house down to the main street near the shore. There, a bald, forty-something, Dominican man namd Elvis--who is probably one of the coolest guys I have thus far met here--greeted us and informed us that we would be riding down the highway in what was basically a truck with a long, covered bed and two rows of seating. He would be our tour guide for the day. Did I mention he speaks five languages? We drove through the beautiful countryside, banked on both sides by a myriad of trees thar ran up the sides of the sloping mountains. Elvis took us to a site where handmade sculptures made of stone and petrified wood are made.
Our next stop with Elvis was a small village in the countryside where we had the opportunity to witness how true Dominican coffee, which all you coffee connoisseurs out there know is outstanding, is made. We got a sample shot of the flavorful black roast as well as some hot chocolate made from cocoa beans grown right in the village. Yea, it was amazing...and by that, I mean it was the greatest hot chocolate that I have ever tasted. Lunch was next, and I know I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that it was simply delicious. From beef to chicken, ziti to fresh vegetables, it was likely the best meal we've had here as of yet. We took a group picture at the picnic site, which featured a magnificent, tropical backdrop of God's majestic creation.

It was our final stop, however, that was by far the highlight of our day. If you've never explored and jumped off of waterfalls, do it. The expedition up (and down) the waterfalls were breathtaking...literally. We nearly froze to death in the rushing currents, acquired a few scrapes along the way, and jumped from a 10-meter waterfall into the water below. Translation: "sick nasty." The entire class had the opportunity to hike up the waterfalls and swim through creeks, exhibiting teamwork as we helped each other along the way. Waterproof cameras made recording memories easier, but I doubt it's an experience that any of us will soon forget.

At last, the day came to a close as we drove over a bumpy and rugged--and I mean bumpy and rugged--road back home. However, just before we thought the day was over, we had a bit of an accident. Long story short, Nick injured his knee, and he is doing his best to rest it. We are unsure of how severe it is, but minutes after the accident, a total stranger stopped by the house and called one of the best orthopedic doctors in the area who offered to evaluate Nick free of charge. This Good Samaritan preceeded to drive Nick, Mrs. B, and Mrs. Rhodes to the hospital where he was examined and treated. Furthermore, he went out of his way, drove to two different pharmacies, and used his medical insurance to minimize the prescription cost as much as possible. It is evident how truly provident God is. Even in the midst of unexpected conflict, the Lord has provided for our needs and has worked in unimaginable ways. We thank and praise Him! Continue to keep Nick in your prayers as well as the rest of us here in the Dominican Republic.
All of us, especially Katy, would like to wish Mrs. Carpinello a very happy 21st birthday! :)
We appreciate everyone's love, support, and comments, and we wish you all good night from Puerto Plata.

Posted by: Steven Gallo

A Day of Blessing Others

Posted by: Megan Jones, Shannon Lee, Mr. Hood

Today was yet another great day in Tennessee! We departed Long View at 9:30 this morning for three seperate work projects. Mrs. Wenzel and Mrs. Sengberg took a group of four sophomores to help a work crew renovate the bathroom of Tom and Barbara (the couple expecting their second child on May 1st). They also removed three large shrubs from the couple's front yard, and delivered the baby basket, which was filled with things such as diapers, wipes, outfits, and toys. They were able to finish a bit earlier than expected and headed back to the camp. On the way back, they had a small incident with Tennessee mud - the van got stuck. Thankfully, they got out fairly quickly with the help of some friendly locals.

The second group was led by Mr. Mitchell, with another group of four students. They were going to build a new wheelchair ramp, but the bad weather caused them to forego that. Instead, they were able to renovate their porch, which had rotten wood and was in bad need of repair. One of the residents has MS, which would prevent her from leaving the house if the porch had not been repaired. When they were finished, Mr. Mitchell's group rejoined the largest group, which was ministering at a family's farm.

The farm work consisted of several different projects. One group went to the barn, which needed a new coat of paint. However, it soon began to rain too heavily to continue the work, so they joined the group working on the house. That group was removing the rotten wooden siding and carting it off to a trailer. One of the tedious tasks was removing all the nails from the wood. A third and final group of three boys was involved in repairing the barbed wire fencing. The family that we were blessing with our work had a single mother with four boys, three of whom were working side-by-side with us during the day. One of the family members explained how thankful they were for our group by stating that it would have cost 3 to 5 thousand dollars to have hired workers to do the jobs that we did.

We had another run-in with Tennessee mud as the farm group was going to leave. We were pulling out of the drive way when we backed into the grass, which had looked perfectly solid at the time, and got very deeply stuck in mud. We spent an hour and a half to two hours trying to get the bus out of the mud, and thankfully, with the help of a lot of teamwork and prayer, we were able to make our way back to the camp.

An exhausted group had dinner a little late. We had barbequed chicken, beans, corn souffle, cole slaw, and ice cream for dessert. After dinner we had a little bit of free time before devotions. For devotions, the group played a game and had praise and worship. When that was done, we all gathered around a warm fireplace to share our thoughts and experiences for the day. We are all grateful for each other and the friendships that are being built with classmates we might not have usually spent time with back at home. The Lord is moving in our lives and we look forward to the next couple of days here in Tennessee.

We're tired. Goodnight. Love, the Sophomores.

(Too tired to put pictures in tonight.)

Roosters, Logs, Carpet, and Goat Hooves

Posted by: Gordon, Tyler, Casey, and Lauren W

This morning the camp awoke to the continual sounds of a rooster crowing to which we found had no off button on it. Also, many of the surrounding cabins woke up to the sound of Casey falling off of her bunk bed "top bunk" because the ladder had moved. Our group, group C "The G's," including Gordon, Mr. Calder, Lauren, Casey, Abbey, Pam, Valentina, and Tyler, began our day by removing harmful and dead plants out of the garden. A lovely breakfast followed our hard work consisting of pancakes, sausages, and fresh squeezed orange juice.

After fully filling our stomachs, we loaded on a bus and headed out to a local home which was donating carpets to the institute. Our mission was to pull the carpeting from the floor, load it on a trailer, and ride it back to camp. Another group took on the strenuous task of relocating a tree, roots and all. A third group raked what seemed like acres of leaves in a house that is rented out (for free) to needy and/or recovering community members. After a job well done (and some sore backs), we were rewarded with a nice lunch of subs, chips, peaches, cookies and fresh lemonade.

Right after lunch, the "G's," embarked on an activity relating to the importance of a strong community. The place we learned these important lifelong skills was the H.E.A.R.T. Institute ropes course. Our first activity was based on communication skills, where we all had to succesfully pass four balls around a stretched circle four times, shouting each others' names before each pass. This taught us how to work as a group using communication. The next challenge taught us how to work as a team to accomplish a goal. We were each given one tube, which we all connected to each others' to try and move a golf ball, then a marble, and then a smaller marble, to a wall 30 feet away. We were forced to work as a group moving the ball down the line without letting it stop. Our group accomplished all 3 trials without 1 error. This alone just proves what we could accomplish if we work together!

In the final task, we had to learn to trust each other and persevere in the long and strenuous task of switching places on a wobbly log. First Val and Lauren completed the challenge in perfect synchronization. Then Tyler and Gordon tried something never tried before - Gordon spreaded his legs as far apart as possible without falling off, then Tyler slowly inched his way through Gordon's legs until he was clear. Then they both walked off the log successfully completing the objective. Casey and Abbey followed who with one swift but car4eful step passed each other and gracefully walked off, receiving a warm round of applause.

We then learned how the camp irrigates and saves their water supply (which clearly we didn't learn very well because we can't even explain it). The final event of our long but fun afternoon was to feed and cut the hooves of goats living at the Institute. Tyler bravely took the food to all of the goats, even after being told they may attack. Thankfully, no goat was in bad spirits and it was a successfull dinner for all animals involved.

After this we proceeded to cut the hooves on a goat. Immediately Valentina stepped up and began cutting like she had been doing it forever. After dinner we will have some devotions, in which the Spirit of God will move in our hearts. I personally hope that each day here will be as perfect as this. God Bless, and keep praying!

9th grade Pictures

Posted by: Mrs. Poole

Here are some pictures from yesterday that we didn't get a chance to upload until today! The first picture demonstrates one group learning how to flip over a goat and trim its nails. The second picture is of the guys playing soccer during free time. The last shows some girls in their cabin! Thank you for your prayers! Keep praying!!


Posted by: Andrew Hanssen

Day 2
Today was a great day from waking up and helping around the Dream Center to the Children's Outreach! We woke up and had breakfast and then helped around here. Some of us helped sort out clothes and some did more cleaning or maintenance work, so it was fun. Then we met around the pool and listened to Maurice share his AWESOME testimony of where he came from and how God has changed his life.
Maurice was a drug addict and rebellious kid. He was in and out of prison and almost killed a lady right before he realized that he was missing something. He was supposed to be in prison for life because it was his third time there, but God had mercy and he only served five! At that time he was 46, and now is 51. 2 months ago he, for the first time in 11 years, spoke to his daughter and grandson. He shared how we have a great start to our lives in Christ and need to build upon that.
Oh, (to Ben Braga and Jessica Demelo) Rolando remembers you and says "HI". He said he wants to send a picture with me back to you. He is doing really well and, I believe, he's graduating from here on Sunday! Praise God!
Then we went to the Market and bought some munchies! We saw some interesting stuff.. such as <------------Beef Head, which Matt really wanted, and whole chicken, head and feet too. After lunch we went to the mountains. That was Awesome! It's really cool to see God's creation from on top of a mountain! Only a few scrapes and bruises. Nick, Jamie, and Brandon went further than anyone. That was cool. Something we couldn't really do...

We came back for dinner and helped load a truck with food for the Children's Outreach! It was AWESOME to go there!!! Benji, Matt, Chase, Jamie, Thomas, and I went with a disciple knocking on doors and inviting people to come.. well some were a bit scared.. meanwhile, the rest of our group was setting up and playing with the kids. They were sooooo cute! Some were a bit rebellious and stubburn and some fights broke out between them, but not much more than an angry wrestle.. haha They were so happy to have us there! Just to be able to sing songs, play games, face paint, and make bracelets made them so happy!! Lets just say Kirsti and Devyn wanted to take them home. These kids come from mostly poor and rough homes, so it was so nice to get to minister into their lives!
We came back tonight and had a worship service. They just sang praise and worship and let everyone worship as they please!
Yey tomorrow we wake up earlier and march with the disciples!

Please keep praying for us! We are having a great time and really learning a lot from these people. They have a HUGE heart for Christ! It's soooo AWESOME to see!! I know we can learn a lot about God from them!

We're praying for the missions trips! Hope all is going really well!
God Bless You ALL!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Faith of a Mustard Seed

Day 2: Puerto Plata. As the sun rose over the Dominican shoreline, the senior class awoke to the "harmonious" sound of Mrs. Bonorandi's singing, Japanese alarm clock...and her singing. We all traveled--in what is actually a mini bus, contrary to my previous blog--through the city on the way to our first ministry destination: Metro West Caribbean Mission's primary school. We traveled throughout the city, witnessing scenes of Puerto Plata unkonwn to the tourists who flock here each day. Poverty, stray dogs, and roads worn by countless motorbikes make up a majority of the inner parts of this Caribbean city.
We arrived at the school where we held a chapel service for the 3rd through 6th grade students. A few of us led them in song, Jennie shared her testimony (with Mike translating), and Mike preached to them as well. Following the chapel, we held a "kid's fair" for the children, playing baseball, jump rope, and soccer. A few of us also made crafts for the kids while others made balloon animals that the children enjoyed playing with. We struggled at first to recall as much Spanish as we could to communicate with the children, but finally, Spanish class paid off and many of us were able to talk to the students and enjoy their company.

After lunch, we boarded the bus bound for Mustard Seed Orphanage for disabled children. An uneasiness could be felt in the air as we filed through the rooms of young children, many of whom are unable to move on their own or even feed themselves. It was far beyond what many of us expected. However, it warmed my heart to see that in only a matter of moments, so many of us surrounded these children with love and compassion. Though these children may not have been able to understand the words that were spoken or the purpose of our visit, they certainly could understand the love of a caring embrace--and that is what we set out to do. Some of us organized the clothing and hygiene products for the orphanage, while others gave massages and manicures to the women who work at Mustard Seed. Still, others played with the children and fed them their lunch. There are not words that can describe the feeling of holding a baby with cerebral palsy or simply being there to hug a child who is deaf, blind, and mute. God clearly moved in the hearts of many of us, and He led us to reach out to those children in need.

Following our visit at Mustard Seed, we had the opportunity of heading back to repeat the morning's activities with kindergarten through 2nd grade children. In addition, we got to exchange our American money for Dominican currency as well as visit a local "supermercado" (a Dominican equivalent of a Super Target).

Tonight, we gathered for dinner, and had a time of devotion and sharing led by Jennie and Jessica. As most of us now prepare for bed, we look forward to the exciting day that lies ahead of us. Tomorrow we will be trekking through waterfalls outside of Puerto Plata, which is sure to be a blast. God is already working in amazing ways, and we are eagerly waiting, with the faith of a mustard seed, to see how He will bring this class both further and closer--as paradoxical as it may seem. Everyone here sends their love and regards back home! Ben, we miss you and we're continuing to pray for you. Feel better! Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. God bless, and good night from Puerto Plata.

Posted by: Steven Gallo