Saturday, May 28, 2011

We're coming home!

Hello dear friends and family!
We're preparing for our return flight home, and are excited to see you all again!

Depart: 1:07pm San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) AirTran Airways, Flight 162
Arrive 5:09pm Atlanta, Georgia (ATL)

Travel time: 4 hours, 2 minutes

1 stop- change planes in Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Connection time: 2 hours, 46 minutes

Depart: 07:55pm Atlanta, Georgia AirTran Airways, Flight 51
Arrive: 09:55pm Los Angeles, CA

Travel time: 5 hrs

If you are planning to pick up your loved one from the airport, please let us know by sending a text to 951-490-3392 or 951-288-3084. If we don't know that you're picking them up, we may whisk them back to Riverside without seeing you at the airport. :)

Current List:
Abby Calzada LAX pickup
Jonathan Blair Riverside pickup
Austin Cary LAX pickup
Sarah Cary LAX pickup
Sam Albro Riverside pickup
Chelsea McClelland LAX pickup
Jackson Brown LAX pickup
Allison Hall LAX pickup
Hannah Sorola LAX pickup
Mary Sorola LAX pickup

We will ask all of our team members to send out a text to their pickup person during our layover in Atlanta. We'll update you on flight delays and estimated time of arrival. :)

If you do not receive a text and are concerned for arrival time, check this helpful website!
Our airliner is AirTrain (FL)

Debriefing Suggestions

Sometimes it's hard to know how to draw out the story of the trip. Here are some suggested questions for probing deeper as you try to understand a team member's experience in Puerto Rico.

-Mary and Sarah

Suggested Questions for Parents/Friends

1. What was the biggest highlight of your trip?

2. What was the hardest thing you faced on your trip?

3. What did that hard experience teach you?

4. What things surprised you the most?

5. Do you feel like you were prepared for your trip?

6. If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

7. Do you have any regrets?

8. What was the food like?

9. Where did you sleep?

10.Tell me about the people you met and ministered to.

11.Did you connect with anyone that you might keep in touch with?

12.Did you get a chance to share your faith?

13.Does your view of the world and your life look any differently now?

14.Do you see Jesus any differently now?

15.Did you see anything gross?

16.Did you get sick?

17.What was the scariest thing you experienced?

18.What was the weirdest thing you ate?

19.What was the church you worked with like?

20.How was their form of worship different from ours?

21.Did you get a chance to meet anyone's practical needs?

22.Was there ever a time that you really felt like God was directing you?

23.What was the funniest thing you experienced?

24.How did you work out any differences you had with your team?

25.What was it like in the evenings? What did you do?

26.What were your worship times with your team like?

27.Did you miss me?

28.Did you pack enough stuff?

29.Did you really miss me?

30.What was the weather like?

31.Did you cry when you thought about me because you missed me?

32.Would you ever want to go back?

33.Do you think you would consider being a full-time missionary?

34 What was the biggest thing you saw God do?

35 .Do you think you'll go on a short-term mission trip again?

36. What's going to be the toughest thing about being home now?

37. Do you think anything will change with your friends that weren't on the trip?

38.Do you think you have changed in any way? How?

39.Is there anything you smelled on your trip that you'll never forget?

40. Are you tired?

41.Has this changed anything in your relationship with Jesus?

42.What were some of the ways you ministered on your trip?

43.Did you get to share your story of how you met Jesus with anyone?

44.Did you get any ideas of how you could minister here at home?

45.Was there anything you saw that just broke your heart?

46.Did you give anything away?

47.Is there anything you HAVE to do this week after experiencing what you did?

48.Was there ever a time you felt completely out of control in a situation?

49.What's the number one thing you are thankful for?

50.Did you catch yourself praising God for things? Like what?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oh this Caribbean.

Hello to all these faithful readers out there! (trust me, I've seen numbers, there are a lot of you folks) This is Chelsea Lauryn and Abby Rose reporting in from our blessed mission trip. We are going to tag team this post for double the reading pleasure of our audience.

Yesterday, to say the least, was a glorious fun filled day. We were able to go as a team on a special catamaran trip. For those of you who are not aware of what a catamaran is, it is a large boat that is flat and takes a person to certain locations of the main island for snorkeling, swimming, and entertainment. We started out getting up a little early this morning to make it out the boat. Once we arrived at our location we checked in and got our snorkel gear then made our way onto the boat. (side note- we were not allowed to wear our shoes on the boat, so the majority of us left our shoes back in a box in the port. This caused me to panic once or twice about the location of my shoes when I forgot I did not have them with me.) Our Captain and staff crew was introduced then we headed out onto open Caribbean sea with the first island destination straight ahead of us.

The first island was absolutely beautiful, with the clearest water I've ever seen. Postcards don't do justice. There were many kinds of fish we saw while snorkeling. The most interesting creature I (abby) saw there was squid. The way they floated ominously in a line staring straight up at us was super creepy. Jonathan saw a huge crab. There were many varieties of blue fish and fish that blended in with the sand. I wish I knew the names of them so I could share them with you. The most specific I can get is that were many fish that looked like Dory, from Finding Nemo. Somehow though, the dreaded mosquitos followed us to our vacation spot. I also might add that most of us got terribly sunburnt on this Catamaran trip, with the exception of Austin the golden. >:(

(back to Chelsea now) The second location was near a private island. Although we were not allowed to be on the island, on it's back steps was a HUGE coral reef filled with countless fish. At this location the water was so perfectly clear and cool. It was absolutely beautiful. We took some bread to feed the fish which was very cool. I stayed with Jackson and Austin most of the time and it seemed as if the fish swarmed around us and our bread. We explored for at least an hour. It was just amazing how many living things are below the water. Different plants, fish, and coral surrounded us for miles. In the middle of it all I dove underneath the water and prayed a silent prayer and I just felt completely blessed. God put even the smallest creatures in the ocean right where they needed to be. He knows each of their needs and supplies them with the specific environment that they need to survive. He then blessed us with the opportunity and equipment to view them. It was a good feeling to know that God will never place us where we are not needed.

After everyone on the ship had finished snorkeling we embarked on our slow journey back to the mainland. Instead of using the motor and sails on the boat the crew only used the sails. It was a very relaxing hour ride back as the wind pushed us along. The team sat together at the front of the ship sleeping, eating, and talking. When we got back to the shore we drove back to the school. Later on in the night we went to our favorite ice cream shop and rented the last 2 Lord of the Rings movies. (Sam has never seen any of the 3 so we are in the process of watching them in short increments before the trip is over) The day was something the team really needed. It was a special bonding time and gave us enough rest and encouragement to finish out this wonderful trip of ours.
We'll be home soon. But please do not stop praying. I love you mom, dad, and Jake. I ca not wait to see you guys on Saturday.
This is Chelsea Lauryn signing off. Goodnight, ya'll.

Graduation Day!

Hello my dear readers!

Yesterday was the much anticipated graduation day for Johanely, along with awards for and recognition of the rest of the students, staff and several others involved with the school.

We began our day with some last minute work: mowing lawns, touching up bathrooms, tidying up outside, etc. Then, in the midst of the chaos, we took a much needed team break and went for a horse ride! Some of us have lots of experience with horses and others, like myself, have ridden maybe three or four times before. However, we had an absolute blast. We got some lunch (where a few of us gagged on the molasses-like soda that I bought in hopes of finding a little something like Dr. Pepper) and a few of us played on the beach for a bit. It was hot and, despite some sunscreen, we got a little pink, but we left satisfied and mentally refreshed to take on the evening of graduation.

After cleaning up and resting for a bit, we all got ready and went to work, mostly helping in the kitchen and valet parking. In between work we quickly ate our pizza dinner, then went to the chapel. Seventy-five people had RSVPed for the event. The students came dressed up, the boys dashing and the girls beautiful; Johanely looked gorgeous! The event was a mix of English, Spanish and ASL. Mary interpreted the English and Sam did stupendously interpreting for the Spanish. Trophies were awarded, presents were given, Johanely's cake was cut and by eight o' clock, the guests departed.

We started to clean up, but Betsy soon announced that we were to go on a night beach trip! We changed, met her and the other teachers there and enjoyed some time in the water! When we returned to the school we split up into our dorms for guy time (not sure what they ended up doing) and a girl's night in, but a few of us were pretty worn out.

It was a busy day yesterday, but the school year here has officially come to an end. We are all happy to have been a part of it, but thankful for the break we had today, which I will let another one of my teammates share. We have two days full days left here and then we head out on Saturday! It's been great, but I am definitely pretty much at the end of my ropes in Dr. Pepper withdrawals. Oh, and of course I miss everyone back home. Love you mom, dad, and puppy Max! Can't wait to see you! ;)

Love and blessings to all,
Alz (Allie)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Picture update: May 22, 2011

The team is now preparing for the last week of our mission trip. The past two weeks has been full of blessings and trials for the team. We are doing all kinds of work preparing for the upcoming graduation happening on Tuesday, the 24th. Johanely Garcia is the only senior graduate of this year but the staff, the team, and her family is very excited to be able to experience this special night. The team is decorating the chapel room, the boys doing yard work; all work is almost done.
Prayers for the team would be much appreciated! We all miss our families and we are excited to be coming home soon but we are focused on finishing the last week strong for His glory.

An update about the past few days will be coming up soon!
Don't worry!


Dad, Mom, and Brady, I miss you all. I'm excited to see you all soon.
Love you!

(Pictures provided from Jackson Brown)
The pictures are just a taste of what we have experienced already in Puerto Rico. The beach is wonderful; the water is warm! The food here is amazing! The sunset tonight was beautiful. Enjoy the pictures!

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011

Dearest friends, family, and other support groups,

We are just past our mid trip point, and Mary and Sarah wanted to give you an update. We've been so blessed by the staff at ESD, and the kids are wonderful! We're growing so fond of each child's quirks and little personalities. The youngest boys (Gaby, Saul, and Mizael) are fascinated by the men on our team, and eagerly follow them around attempting to learn how to paint, mop, and do yardwork. Here’s a taste of what we’ve experienced the last four days.


We focused on completing a long list of odd jobs. A few team members started the exterior painting, some worked inside classrooms, and others cleaned. Chelsea did a beautiful job restoring a wall that had been desecrated by the coqui frogs that lull us to sleep every night. There are at least three thousand of them in the grass surrounding our dorm. We’re positive.

We also finished sending out newsletters for ESD supporters and counting soup labels for them. While most worked to clean the staff’s apartments, chapel, and plan for graduation decoration, Sam and Abby had the opportunity to work in the classrooms with the students and also prepare curriculum for the next school year. When most of the cleaning was completed, we gathered in the kitchen to cut out soups labels the school collects and redeem for cash. (This is actually far more challenging and rewarding than it sounds! A few years ago, the school purchased their two 15-passenger vans with box top rewards!)


We woke up and walked to a local bakery. I think the people there are getting to know us pretty well. J After breakfast, we shared testimonies and a bible story in chapel and sang songs with the kids. They have iWorship dvds with lyrics, and the kids love to sign along. After chapel, we were blessed with real sunshine for the first time in a week. We took advantage of it by putting most of our effort toward external painting. Everyone pitched in, taking turns braving the high ladders, finishing detail painting, and coordinating the enthusiastic but less-than-professional efforts of a few kids who joined us. We celebrated the progress by spending some time at the beach that evening. Salt water works pretty well as paint thinner. J We made a trip to Subway for dinner, and then some of the team introduced Sam to the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy.


Jackson told the story of Zaccheus in chapel, and the kids loved it. His communication skills and expressiveness had the kids and staff completely engaged. Jonathan and Austin worked outside on touch-up/detail painting, and all three boys led the charge to finish yardwork. We trimmed trees, hedges, weedwhacked and chainsawed everything possible until the rain started pouring again. Mary and Sam worked on perfecting English AND Spanish interpretation for the graduation speeches, and then Mary and Hannah continued their interpretation of Tangled for the kids. (We finished it today. Johanely cried.) Some of the girls went to get haircuts from a wonderful man who brings lunch to the school, teaches guitar lessons, and is also a hairstylist :) We went to see POTC 4, fully appreciating the fact that we were watching the film on location.

Praise for our wonderful team:

Sam: We are so thankfully for her endless willingness to step up to any tasks. She seems unfazed by requests ranging from helping cook tonight's dinner to being the Spanish interpreter for Tuesday's graduation. Sam has blessed our team in so many ways. She works without complaining or stopping. Her attitude of being willing to learn and work sets a good example for the rest of us to follow. (Her ASL skills are even better than before. We're so impressed with her perseverance and commitment to learn.)

Hannah is amazingly flexible and willing to help with a variety of tasks. Her cheerfulness and expressiveness have been so helpful as she offers to interpret, clean, and plan graduation decorations. She volunteers for all different types of jobs. Her boundless energy and willing heart have blessed us so much.

Allie: She has been such a blessing to this team. She's willing to take on any job, even the ones that are undesirable, and she does them to the best of her ability. The staff has already noticed and appreciated her eye for detail and organization. She's been assisting the staff's 86- year old librarian with organizing and labelling books. She has a sweet heart and is able to connect with the older workers easily.

Abby: Abby is another tireless worker. We can honestly say that she has gone above and beyond what is expected of her. She has volunteered for many tasks without any prompting. She has especially been attentive to chapel. She has led worship, told her testimony, and shared a Bible story with the students in the last 2 weeks. She is a wonderful example of a servant heart.

Jackson is a natural leader and a quick decision-maker. He's dedicated to our purpose here, and happily accepts big responsibilities like cooking and driving. We're so grateful that he's willing to drive that huge 15-passenger van, because both of us are terrified of the thought.

Chelsea has been pouring her energy into painting classrooms and other tasks. She's always ready for another adventure, and has been doing a wonderful job leading devotions with her partner Johanely. She gave her testimony yesterday in chapel, and made both her story and the gospel clear and relatable.

Austin is always enthusiastic and a hard worker. He and the rest of the boys have pushed themselves to their limits. Like Abby, he is first to volunteer for challenging and intimidating tasks. He has proven to be a spiritual leader concerned with keeping the gospel central to our mission.

Jonathan constantly encourages the team with his positive attitude. He lightens the mood and encourages other team members to stay committed. He is excellent at working with the kids and uses his drama skills to keep them entertained. He has been working tirelessly with the other boys to complete a large majority of the external painting.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16th, 2011

Good evening everyone!

A lot has happened few days ago. It started on Saturday morning in the chapel, The staff decided to have a prayer time. We all split up into group of 2. Five people in the staff had different prayer requests. I was touched that morning, because the requests were all for each other. they asked small requests for themselves. I was with Allie, we went to all 5 rooms individually and prayed for each person. one woman was about 85 years old. I liked her a lot, she knew english sign language, and wasn't fancy but it was enough for me to understand her completely. But she signed like an old man telling a tale, that made me feel awed by her "wise-looking" signs. =)

few hours later after a hot, sunny day, Clouds formed and started pouring rain within minutes. After devotion time with Mary and Allison, I ran down the stairs and out in the yard, I took off my shirt and yelled. Jonathan joined me, we both were jumping all over the place. It was the best feeling of freedom all week, it rained so much, we could stand and open our mouths and the rain would fill it half-full in like 2 minutes. It was the best rainstorm I've ever remembered to be in. There was some thunderstorms that killed our power but it wasn't too long til it came back on and we all had brownies, and played "apples to apples" board game. The team just hung out with each other. I had a good, relaxing day.

So to summarize everything of yesterday and today, We went to a deaf church, which had a hearing pastor preaching in ASL. He did a great job, Jackson and I were talking about how hard it is to find a pastor who signs so clear for all the audience who were all deaf or hard of hearing. We went to lunch and celebrated Jackson's 19th birthday at a special restaurant. We shopped for a couple of hours in the city. We went to a hamburger and grill place close to our school. I cheered for the MIAMI HEAT! We had to leave at half-time. (I think I was the reason they were winning the whole first half.) =)
This morning Mary and Hannah shared songs, pretty soon the kids started the get involved and got up on the stage and signed with them! and shared their favorite songs. It was a cool thing to see. The team started to pair up with their kids for devotions. Saul (my kid) wasn't available at the time. Kevin, fifteen year old boy wanted to have some time. So I went over some both of our favorite verses and he has opened up about his dad, he left him when he was kid. he's been struggling with that ever since. I would truly appreciate it if you guys would pray for him to get over his struggle with his dad. He wants to grow up with a dad there for him.
Anyway we finished our devotion with a great encouragements. The team started to work on painting, cleaning the bathrooms, interpreting movies for the kids, making stories easier to read in their language. It was a long day of work in the sun. We all went to the beach about 4, I went snorkeling close-by, Jackson and Chelsea wore goggles and tagged along with me. We all found interesting plants growing on rocks and saw some fishes. nothing amazing yet. haha but we are all going to go again to a more popular location. Then it started RAINING while we were in the water! Awesome feeling, you don't get anything like that back in Cal. Water's too cold back there. =)

PS. I love you DAD I miss you alot.
MOM, I love you, I think about you everyday.
BROOKE, there's a girl here who reminds me of your personality. she is one of the team's favorite kids. =)
BETHANY.. nope, nothing for you. =) Just kidding, I Love you! and every time i see horses, I think about you, riding that thing showing others how it's done. =)
SHAUN dude, Mizael (kid below) the third pic from chelsea pics, reminds me of you so many times! you know why? he's the smartest kid for his age in school. That's right. =) I miss you pal.
I can't wait to go back home to see you all! just a few more weeks of ministry. I'll be home before you know it. I love you all.

New posts are still coming up for you all to see! =) Good night!