Project Journal

Thursday, 21 July

3:40AM - alarm to leave for Lambert St. Louis International Airport.
6:30AM - Depart, Gate A9, Continental Express Flight 3210, Embraer ERJ-145, Seat 16A.
8:00AM - Arrive GHWB-Houston, Breakfast and several games of euchre.
12:00PM - Depart Gate 76, Continental Express flight 2052, Embraer 145-XR, seat 9B (switched to 10A).
3:00PM - Arrive Huatulco, Immigrations/Customs. Van ride to Roca Blanca.
6:00PM - Arrive at Roca Blanca; dinner, tour, orientation, more euchre.

Friday, 22 July

Woke up at 6:30. Water had not been turned on yet. Cleaned up and got dressed. Walked around base and attempted to take some pictures ofthe sunrise overthe Pacific. Coffee at 7:30. Met move of the STAT (Summer Traning Action Team) group. Personal devotion time, sat outside gate fronting the beach. Group devotions in Casa de Oraciones (House of Prayer). Then readied to leave for Panixtlahuaca (Panix), and ate breakfast. Loaded vehicles for 4-hour drive into the mountains. Passed van on the way to Juquila; it would not start. Stopped for a while in Juquila - first to wait for tour buses to clear, then to wait for van to catch up. (The tour buses brought people making pilgrimages to La Virgen de Soledad - The Virgin of Solitude, patron virgin of Oaxaca.) Took dirt road for final hour up mountain from Juquila to Panixtlahuaca. Once we arrived, we unloaded and ate dinner while STAT group showed some of us how to set up for the Vida Extrema program. After dinner we moved into our host houses and got ready for the first evening program. Approximately 150 youth were present for the opening presentations, videos, testimonies, and showing of the Etreme Days movie (subtitled in Spanish). Afterward we tore down the equipment and then I skipped the snack to get to bed early.

Saturday, 23 July

Got up and dressed for coffee at 8:00. After personal devotions, we prepared for the morning/afternoon program for the little kids. Approximately 400-500 children showed up for songs, puppets, games, and other activities. After 4:00 lunch, spent siesta time talking with John, Diane, and Rebekah. The rain that started during the siesta continued and got stronger throughout the evening. At one point, we had to puase the program to sweep the water away from the equipment. The program went well even though attendance was down due to the rain, and Saturday evening church services at the Evangelical Church (our church) and the Catholic church. Also, we did not have auditorium lights available since the room to access them was locked. But, all the visual effects looked very good without the house lights. Tonight's program included break-dancing, skate boarding, "La Decision" drama, yo-yos, and music videos. After tear-down and a late dinner, we played one more game of euchre before bed.

Sunday, 24 July

Woke up at 7:30 to shower, but the church was still locked. Did personal devotions before coffee, then group devotions and preparations for the ninos program, which took place today in the auditorium. Afterward, took a shower before lunch. After lunch and a short siesta (with another game of euchre), we prepared another drama for the evening program. The church service started about 6:00, with worship in Spanish and English.Phil spike to the church, and his message was translated into Chatino. The entire service was incredibly powerful, with the team having the opportunity at the end to lay hands on and pray for the whole church. Forthe past couple days, the primary school director has been coming to see the program for the children and youth, with great interest in the message of Christ. Tonight he - Felipe - came to church with us, and witnessed the power of God during the service, which led to morequestions. After the service, Elias started the movie for the youth program, and we went to eat dinner. When we returned to tear down at 10:30, the movie had finished, and several youth were break-dancing to music videos. These youth showed up during the movie, asking when would be the dancing. These were some of the "lost" youth of the village (all were members of the local gang called "Eighteen"), and Elias took the opportunity to tell them that if they would stay for the movie, then they could dance afterward. So Elias put on an impormptu dance competition. Mike and Cody also joined in. The youth were also attentive to listen to testimonies from Matt and Cody. Althought several of the youth arrived drunk and high, they were open to the message. After cleaning up and talking to the youth, we went to bed around midnight.

Monday, 25 July

Today is the final day of the Guelaguetza (the annual festival of Oaxaca), and the fireworks started about 5:00 this morning. Got up at 8:00 for coffee. After personal and group devotions, we ate a quick breakfast and then prepared for the final children's program. We practiced a new drama and a new puppet show for the program, which today took place in the church. Afterward we gave all the children candy and prizes. The program ended at 2:00, and after we cleaned up the church, we had some free time until lunch at 3:00. After lunchwe had free time until 6:00, when we reviewed for the final evening youth program. We set up in the auditorium and then played frisbee and basketball with the children and youth. For the evening program, we presented two dramas, testimonies, skateboarding, music videos, and an invitation. Several youth and children gave their lives to Christ. Afterward, Cody held an impromptu skateboard competition to give away his skateboard. When the eventual winner, Andres, said that he had no shoes to compete, Cody let him wear his own shoes. Cody then just ghave them to him, and we talked to him about Christ. Andres showed us his Virgen de Soledad around his neck. After unloading the equipment at the church, we had tamales for dinner. Afterward I went to bed around 11:15.

Tuesday, 26 July

Overslept alarm and woke up at 8:00. Skipped coffee to pack and shower. After group devotions, we ate breakfast and prepared to leave for Juquila. The drive to Juquila took about an hour. When we arrived, we went to the prison to minister there. In Juquila, the families of the inmates live in the prison, so we had the opportunity to minister to men, women, and children. We played basketball and soccer with some of the men, presented the drama La Decision, gave testimonies, gave out Bibles, prayed with people, and gave out clothes, hygeine products, and toys for the children. Several men prayed to accept Christ. After ministering at the prison, we said goodbye to Elias, who returned to Panix (Rebekah had also stayed behind) to lead the arriving team, whom we later passed on the road down the mountain, and we ate lunch at the house of the pastor of the Juquila church. She was a graduate of Victory Bible Institute (VBI) at Roca Blanca, and graciously opened her home to us. The return to Roca Blanca from Juquila was nothing if not adventurous. We drove with eleven in the van, plus the driver, and another seven plus the driver in the truck. The van was several miles behind the truck, going slowly with occasional carburateur problems. But about ten minutes outside of Puerto Escondido, the van caught up with the truck, which had stopped on the side of the road because the clutch had gone out. Two from the base got rides back, and two stayed behind to get the truck fixed. The rest - sixteen total - piled into the van for the final 45 minutes to Roca Blanca. After several rounds of singing Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord we arrived around 10:00, in time for dinner and bed.

Wednesday, 27 July

Woke up around 7:30 to take a shower, do personal devotions, and journal. Since our return last night, I can't help but appreciate how relaxing it is just to hear the sound of the powerful Pacific waves crashing on the beach a few hundred yards away. After breakfast, we prepared to leave for Puerto Escondido. When we arrived, we left our things at a restaurant owned by Christians, and took a half-hour boat ride. Our boat driver took us to see the sea turtles, and at one point dove into the water, roped one, and pulled it into the boat. Afterward, we swam at the beach, relaxed in the shade of the restaurant, snacked on coconut, shrimp and squid salad, and purchased some souvenirs from the beach vendors. We drove to the surfer's beach to El Jardin Italian restaurant owned by a Christian named Franco. One of the servers was a sixteen-year-old, English-speaking, Jewish surfer named Jonathan. After we ate, Cody began talking to him about surfing, and eventually he, Matt, Phil, and John helped lead Jonathan to Christ. We then spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. We returned to Roca Blanca, and after dinner we went back to the beach to listen to the waves and see the stars. Since the beach at Roca Blanca isn't safe at night, Virgilio from the base went with us. We returned and after a couple games of euchre on the porch of the guest house, we went to bed.

Thursday, 28 July

Woke up at 6:30 on our final morning to watch the sunrise on the beach, then we returned to pack for the trip home. After personal devotions and breakfast, we had a debriefing session, and then took one last team picture at the base before loading the minibus we rented for the drive to the airport. We stopped in Puerto Escondido for gas, and David presented us with parting gifts that Elias had prepared for the team: t-shirts with the Vida Extrema logo on the front, and the message, "I life [sic] the Extreme Life... and you?" We arrived at the Huatulco airport, and after passing through customs and immigration and security, we made it to the gate just in time to board our plane. Upon landing at Houston, we had to pass through American customs and immigration, go through security again, and re-check our luggage. The CBP and security lines were so long that, after taking the train to our terminal and running to the gate, we arrived 15 minutes after our scheduled departure time. However, the plane had been held for us, and we were able to board. After sitting on the tarmac for about 20 minutes waiting in the takeoff cue, we took off and headed for St. Louis. The plane landed about 10 minutes after our original ETA, having made up most of the lost time in the air. We made our way to the baggage claim, collected our luggage, said our goodbyes, and headed home.

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