Saturday, July 24, 2010


We are sitting in the airport aboout to leave and we are all antsy and ready to get home. Sleeping in our own beds is the top priority for the day.

Yesterday was a completely relaxing day. Some kids went to the beach. Others were swimming in the pool. Most of us all ended up at the mall though and some money was spent on different souviners. One of the most popular items was Bass Pro Shop hats and t-shirts that poke fun of BP and the oil spill. (of which we so no evidence of.)

Last night was out final dinner as a whole group so we went to Hard Rock Cafe. Highlight of the evening was when YMCA by the Village People started and our group led the party line around the restaurant.

We look forward to seeing most of you at the airport this evening. Not raining right now in New Orleans so that is good. See you in about 7 hours.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Hey all parents,

Let you know a little about what has happened since the last blog entry. The coolest part for me is that I am back with the kids. I have finished my duties with the NYG and can finally just the be the youth guy. We left New Orleans on Wednesday and headed over to Destin. It is hot and humid here as well. We all headed down the beach on Thursday morning but were down down there by like 1 pm. There is an outdoor mall across the street so many of us headed over there for lunch and some shopping. Dinner last night was at a Destin tourist trap - Fudpuckers. Good food and just a fun place to be. They have a pool with a bunch of alligators so that was good to see.

Check out Mike's blog below for the FLIGHT CHANGE info. Basically the group gets in an hour earlier.

Look forward to seeing you all at the airport or church on Sunday.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

THURSDAY, July 22, 2010

Hello all! Mike here.

Wow! What a journey! Since we have left on was Thursday...right??, it has been absolutely non-stop action and things to do. From getting checked in our hotel, the servant event, registering for the gathering (with ,000's of others), and the countless miles and hours participating, it has challenged every single one of us, but in a very good way.

Over the last several days, I have had the joy and honor to work with Chris and Elise, who have been my tireless lieutenants, going way above and beyond the call of this wonderful duty. Without them, I never would have been able to get the kids to all the events, meals, beddy-bye time, etc, etc, etc, ad exhaustion =) When you see them, be sure to give them ALL the credit for the success of this trip!

I cannot fully describe what has happened to my/your kids (who I have nicknamed "my llamas from another mamma!" You will have to ask them about that). I have seen unbelievable growth, not only at a spiritual level, but in character as well. They have melded into this mobile church family of which Christ is the head, pulled together and loved and taken care of each other. From my perspective, these young people, who ready or not are the Church of NOW, have been indelibly changed by the word and grace of God, and a collective energetic love Christ of 25,000+. Although all the kids have had profound things to say about the gathering, I think that AJ nailed what happened here by saying (during our late night/early morning family group devotions) "...for the first time, I saw God with the eyes of my heart." God has opened the eyes of our heart, and I know that this will be the way that we see Jesus going forward.

I could not be more proud and blessed that God chose me to be with these beautiful kids. Thank you parents for letting me have this time with them. And thank you congregation for supporting our youth ministry.




Due to a mix-up at Continental, we are flying back on different flights.

Leave New Orleans on flight 129 @ 4:51, arriving in Houston @ 6:01

Leave Houston on flight 417 @ 8:05, arriving in San Diego at 9:14

If you have any questions, feel free to call me or Jim.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

TUESDAY, July 20th

Wow, I’ve had such an incredible time here at the National Youth Gathering! Because it was the last full day of gathering, we all gave it our all and got the best experience we could. Forgive my grammar, because it’s one in the morning right now, but I will do my best.

We started off our day by sleeping in, and then heading to the convention center for a day filled with more speakers, bands, and excitement. Because my family group was in charge of getting our group dinner for tonight, Bobby, Alana, and I spent over an hour in line waiting to place an order at Subway. It wasn’t a bad experience, though, because we made friends with the people from Arkansas behind us. The lady from Subway who placed our order was probably the sweetest person I have ever met; Having to deal with thousands of kids every day would seem stressful and frustrating, but she was calm and collected.

At two, a group of us went and saw “Questions You Can’t Ask Your Mama” by Craig Gross. The audience texted Craig…well…questions you can’t ask your mom. We also saw Remedy Drive, a great band that opened for Craig Gross.

After Craig Gross, the same group of us went and saw Bob Lenz, a hilarious speaker with a great message about forgiveness and grace. His act was opened by this Australian band, Charmaine, who were spectacular.

We arrived at the Super Dome early to get good seats for the last evening at the mass event. Connor and AJ rushed in and got us great seats near the front. Alana and I bonded with the group from Florida behind us, especially when we rapped and sang together. The mass event was incredible this evening. We started off singing songs with the band, like we had the two nights before, but then a huge group of choir kids and a (high school?) band came up on stage and performed great worship songs.

From Elise: At this point it was about 2 in the morning, and Julie headed to bed.

Last night was our worship service, so we had short messages from two different pastors, and we got a chance to commune with 27,000 other people. WOW. What an amazing experience. It was pretty close to an easter service, we had a reenactment of Jesus’ death on the cross, and of course, the resurrection. There were about 20 different dancers, along with a huge highschool choir and band. That band was so impressive, not having much time to practice, we’re sure. We’re checked out of our rooms and about to hoof it to the SUPERDOME one last time! Miss you guys! We’ll talk at you from Florida next!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

MONDAY, July 19th

[The one between the boys is Mandee, and yes, that is chocolate that they bought her in her hands.]

What’s up guys it's Brandon and Ryan. Today may have been the day that we met our future wife (Mandee Redford). She is the lead singer of a two girl band named Alathea which means truth in greek. She had the most adorable accent that was mind bobbling. Enough with that we needed to just tell someone because everyone thinks we're weird and we are love struck. We sat in on a Bible talk taught by a pastor by the name of Scott Giger. We learned some hand gestures to give us a quick recap of the old testement. Maybe we can teach you guys some when we get home. We have to go its 1am and Elise is tired. Buh-Bye Saint Diego

From Elise: They make me sound like some awful dictator. The fact is, they stopped blogging to show me all of the hand signs they learned, and then said that they were done blogging, so yes, I did kick them out of my room :]

After the inter-centers finished two family groups hoofed it straight to the super dome in order to get a good spot in line for when the doors opened. The third family went to grab pizza for dinner. Needless to say everyone else in line was pretty envious and impressed by our dinner at the dome. Being there an hour before the doors opened payed off, we ended up in the 18th row on the floor, where the music is so loud you can feel it. The kids loved it, so thats the plan for today as well. Last full day of the gathering! Keep sending those prayers!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Hola San Diego it’s Connor and Brandon . Today we learned about teenagers in a deeper perspective, as food deprivation is the most effective way to incite internal rebellion amongst teenagers. This morning we started the NYG experience with a 9am bible study with Rev. Dien Taylor. Suprisingly it was quite a wonderful experience as he was very energetic and up beat. The rest of the day we were allowed to roam free through the convention center going from different events throughout the convention center. Some of the kids were so into it they decided it would be okay not to eat and just check out as many things possible.(Brandon and Ryan) This obviously bit us in are butts as shown in the second sentence. Talking to all the diverse groups around America really shows us San-Diegans how fortunate of a life we are able to live. In the SuperDome we listened to a lady that lost her daughter at a young age due to a tragic accident. It shows us that we can’t change yesterday or worry about tomorrow but only to live today to the fullest, staying strong in our faith. We all met some pretty awesome bands and shows that Christian Rock isn’t as boring as I thought. See you guys soon Much love. Peace.

From Elise: Sorry for the lateness of the blog, but we didn't finish up last night until 1 and I was just way too tired to trek down to the lobby to update this. The first picture below this is our "where's AJ?" photo, we lost him for a quick minute on our way to bible study, but don't worry, we found him and caught up with the rest of the group in no time [thanks to google maps!]

2nd photo is our group waiting outside the BACKSTAGE door for the Echelon concert and the Jesus painter. Somehow our kids talked a staff member into letting us in early [this may or may not have involved Ryan's surgery scar], so we got front row [and second, and third row] seats! [I think Mike got some really good shots of the Jesus painter; we'll have to work on getting those up for you.]

Starting out today, everyone is healthy and happy. We're going to try to get some front row seats for mass event tonight, so we can have our ears blown out, and hopefully hug Hannah, who has been on stage every night! We SERIOUSLY appreciate your prayers, and hope everything is well at home.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

July 17, 2010

Hello, Stephanie Castillo and Madeline Simmons here!

Today, we experienced our first trip to Bourbon Street. It was the complete opposite of Christianity. It was definitely not what we are used to seeing. It smelled all along the streets like waste and garbage.

We also went to the French Market where we learned how to bargain (: Here we really got an understanding of the New Orleans’ culture due to all the masks/beads/boas being sold everywhere. A couple of us purchased them!

After, we experienced our first youth gathering in the super dome. There were a lot of people and speakers who really touched our hearts. The praise team was great during worship too.

We then went to a dance at our hotel and it was lame at first, but then we mingled with other teenagers and made new friends from out of state!!


From Elise: Here are some of us after registering for the gathering, which we did before our walk on Bourbon St.

Also, we had breakfast for dinner at IHOP :]

Tomorrow is our first full day of gathering activities and our group will be experiencing the LIVE portion. Hope all is well at home and we appreciate the prayers!

Friday, July 16th, 2010 SERVANT EVENT

Hello guys… this is Aaron Ruano and Ryan Walsh. Today we did our first servant event which was working in a cemetery where the people who cannot afford an above ground burial are buried. In New Orleans the law says that after a day and a year another body can be buried on top of a pre-buried body. All the deceased were buried underground and due to the hurricanes and constant rains the bodies were becoming exposed. Our job was to help rebury and level out any exposed dead people, pull weeds, and remark the tombstones with sharpies. This was an eye-opening experience for us because a lot of the people were buried very young. It also made us realize how selfish and ungrateful we can be, constantly wanting stuff when people can barely afford to bury their loved ones.

For dinner we went to an authentic Cajun restaurant with gumbo, po-boys, jambalaya, ect. A lot of us tried new things and actually liked it. Tomorrow the actual gathering starts and we are really looking forward to it. Peace

From Elise: Sorry this is a day late parents! We, well, I had some trouble finding the blog email and password. We'll have another post tonight, sure to be about the mass event! We're all so excited!

Thursday, July 15th, 2010 TRAVEL DAY

Don't worry, parents! We all made it, safe, healthy, and whole!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hey all youth and parents. Almost to the beginning of NYG in New Orleans. Check out this blog everyday as kids will be posting what they have been up to as well as posting some pics. THANKS - JIM