Monday, March 30, 2015


We just kicked off our 2nd retreat in 4 days. This time we are partnered with SOUL Adventures and 23 outstanding youths. We have smashed a lot of excitement and a lot of good meals into the next 3 days... "Beat Them & Feed Them" - that's the motto we regularly adopt ;)

1 DOWN... 1 TO GO

We finished up a great retreat with the high school youth group from First United Methodist Church of Oviedo (FUMCO). We praise God for how well everything went!! Special thanks to an incredible team of volunteers and GTD staff for all the time, effort, and heart you poured into the students and this event. Your help made a bigger impact than you may ever realize! THANK YOU!

Our next retreat starts in 6 hours!!!! Goodnight! And keep us in your prayers =)

Friday, March 27, 2015

DAYS 82-87 (52 Days)

ON THE ROAD... BACK-2-BACK RETREATS!! Pray for our 2 retreats over the next 6 days that God will impact lives, protect lives, and change lives. We have some great plans that we are looking forward to putting into action. Check back for our retreat updates each day =)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

DAY 81 (52 Days)

EDITED MOVIES ORGANIZED!! THANK YOU CAROLYN & JESSICA!! One of our staple activities on GTD base camping events is showing an outdoor movie during one of the nights. We hang up a bed sheet, crank up the generator, plug in the projector and push play. It's a pretty cool experience to sit outside under the stars next to the campfire while roasting marshmallows and watching an exciting flick. We use edited movies so all the garbage (profanity and sexual content) is removed and the actual substance of the movie can be enjoyed. Over the period of many years we have collected about 200 movies. They've needed to be organized for a long time. Now I'm thrilled to say that Carolyn Butler and Jessica Marie have tackled that project and they did a FANTASTIC job! They categorized each movie according to title, year, genre, original rating, run time, and main actors. Then they printed up 4 different copies so that the group leaders could search for movies by 4 different categories. It's absolutely a phenomenal job!! And it's just in time for our next 2 retreats. Thank you Carolyn and Jessica!!! As usual, you blow us away! Great, great job! Oh, it's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

DAY 80 (52 Days)

BACK-2-BACK GTD RETREATS STARTING THIS FRIDAY! We are getting ready for 2 God-awesome back-to-back retreats that kick off this weekend. Our first retreat starts Friday night with the high school youth group from First United Methodist Church of Oviedo. We've been hosting events for this wonderful church for 11 years! Our 2nd retreat begins Monday morning as we kick off our first annual partnership with SOUL Adventures which is based out of Skycrest Baptist Church in Clearwater. This retreat is open to all youths aged 10-15 and will take place at Cedarkirk Camp in Lithia, FL. It lasts till Wednesday. And squeezed in between these 2 retreats Erin will be helping lead up our March SAC (Sunday After Church) event with Smiley's - PAINTBALL!! It's going to be a GREAT 6 days of outrageous Christ-centered fun. Keep us in your prayers and pray for God to use us and these events to impact lives for His glory and kingdom. It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DAY 79 (52 Days)

RETURN OF THE STAFF MEETINGS! With only 2 people on staff for the past 5 years we fell out of the habit of having regular Staff Meetings. Today marked the return of the Staff Meetings. It went a little long, but it was effective. It was another step in the right direction. We are thrilled to have some more hands on deck. God's doing some cool things. It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!

Monday, March 23, 2015

DAY 78 (52 Days)

THINGS ARE "HEATING UP"... ERIN POWELL HITS THE PERMANENT PRESS CYCLE IN GTD!! We are "busting out" with great news! We are excited to announce that GTD has hired on Erin as our permanent part time staff. She was originally brought on temporarily for 1 month to help us with our 52 Days campaign. One month turned into two months and now we've asked her to stay on as long as she likes. We're honored and excited to have her on Team GTD. Erin is one of the most fun, intelligent, hard working, and Christ-centered young adults we've ever encountered. She will play a critical role in helping GTD with hundreds of tasks we want completed during this year (our 19th year of ministry). Erin is a full time nursing student and will work for GTD about 15 hours per week. We look forward to the year ahead and all that God has in store. It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD! (PS: A lot of people ask me where I get all of my dry jokes from. Just look at the picture... now you know!)


Sunday, March 22, 2015

DAY 76-77 (52 Days)

WEEKEND OFF! Usually a post about taking the weekend off isn't really note worthy, but for GTD it is. There is so much work to get done that it's very difficult to make yourself take some time off (or at least be comfortable while you're taking time off). Ministry work is like digging a hole at the beach - just when you start to make some progress a ton of sand slides back into the hole. A part of rebuilding the walls of GTD is to finally take hold of the elusive goal of balance. We are no where near patching that hole, but we are at least talking about it and taking a baby step in the right direction. This weekend was a beautiful time spent with family & friends while spending time at restaurants, a festival, a wedding, going to church, going to a hockey game, taking a nap, and watching some wilderness shows. It was hard for me not to get up and go work, but I resisted the constant urge. =)

Friday, March 20, 2015

DAY 75 (52 Days)

ORGANIZATION & BALANCE! Laurie has been working on organizing hundreds of GTD tasks. She has been entering them into our Google Drive account so that our staff & volunteers can have access to them (and hopefully adopt some of them!) from anywhere in the world. About 85-90% of the work of the ministry falls on my shoulders and this is one of the ways we are trying to share the load. Nearly 20 years of 12, 14, 16, and 18 hour work days 6-7 days per week is more than enough. Actually it's way too much. It isn't sustainable and that's why we are striving so hard this year to get to a healthy place in running this organization. Many hands make for light work and God has been blessing GTD with some great faithful volunteers, partners, and staffers in ministry. We still have 9 months until we turn 20 years old and we are pushing hard to have everything in order to go into the next 20 years in GREAT shape.

Speaking of great shape and balance, I'm working at getting back to a strong level of fitness. My nutrition has been pretty poor for the past 5 or 6 months. I'm happy to say I started back working out 2 weeks ago. Tonight Laurie and I went grocery shopping. She already eats healthy regularly. I'm getting back on that wagon. Soon I hope to also add a few more hours on to my 4 hours of sleep each night. We only have 1 body to use for our entire lives and I had better get back to taking care of this one if I want to be of any use for the next 20 years of ministry.

We are striving after some significant changes. Hopefully you will notice many great improvements as we journey on through 2015. It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

DAY 74 (52 Days)

RECON FOR DUG! COSTA RICA PLANNING FOR LAURIE! I spent the day "reconing" (aka: doing reconnaissance of) campgrounds and mt bike trails with my good friend Paul Williamson - Director of Soul Adventures. Soul and GTD are teaming-up for our first ever retreat partnership. The retreat is called The Spring Break-Out Retreat and is geared towards youth 10-15 years old. It takes place during Spring Break March 30 - April 1. Reconing is invaluable. It's the first step at figuring out how to logistically accomplish our mission. It allows us to work through the learning curve, make mistakes, and implement immediate solutions so that the entire group doesn't have to experience the setbacks of doing something for the first time. A lot of times reconing can actually be uneventful and somewhat boring, but today was a blast as we zipped down some exciting mt bike trails at Alafia River State Park.

While I was away from the office "playing" Laurie was at the office working diligently on our upcoming summer mission trips to Costa Rica. She loves to work on mission trips and pieced together the preliminary agendas for 2 private events planned for June and July.

There is a lot of good stuff going on in GTD and we are thrilled about what God is doing and where He is directing.

It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

DAY 73 (52 Days)

DAY OF REST for me. DAY OF STRIVING for Laurie. Part of rebuilding the walls of GTD is getting to a place of healthy balance between striving and resting. We are getting there and the ministry will only flourish more when we attain this balance.



One of our new additions to the GTD menu is mega sized stuffed pancakes. Choose from bananas, blueberries, walnuts, pecans, cinnamon, and chocolate chips. Fill your cup. Then STUFF your pancake! It's been a big hit. Delicious!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

DAY 72 (52 Days)

EXHAUSTED! Working through a day full of personal exhaustion. So glad to have a growing team of staff & volunteers that are shouldering more & more of the load.

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:30-31

Monday, March 16, 2015


One of the measurements we use to gauge the success of a GTD event is whether or not our participants want to come back again. Based on that one indicator I would have to say this past weekend was an overwhelming success. God blessed us with such a great time. The students, the volunteer leaders, and Pastor Justin and Carie made it easy to succeed. They were so much fun and dove into every part of the retreat with positive Godly attitudes. Justin and Carie made the most of every opportunity to speak into their student's lives and convert our daily adventures into teachable moments for Biblical life principles. The students soaked it in! Our prayer is that God uses each of our events as part of a transformation process as we strive to become more Christlike. Our time around the campfire each night became a time to share highlights of the day, sing praise & worship, and dive into a challenge from Pastor Justin... as well as a time to make some smores. In the mornings we took time to seek God through prayer and reading from the Bible. Then we would come back around the fire ring and share what God was teaching us. It's always an amazing time to listen to young people share what God is teaching them... which also ends up teaching us as well. One of my highlights from the weekend came when we were 30 feet underground in a cave and we all turned off our headlamps so we could experience total darkness. The students wanted to sing a praise song with the lights off. It was such a powerful moment. This morning also served as another highlight as we watched 22 young participants work hard to breakdown & pack-up camp before leaving. They did a FANTASTIC job. We gathered up for one final farewell and hugs goodbye. As the group drove away one of our GTD volunteers commented that this had been a great group of students that displayed positive attitudes, strong work ethic, and a real hunger for God. All I could say was that the students are a reflection of their leadership. We are excited to see what God is doing in the lives of the youth at Calvary Baptist Church of Clearwater and we were blessed to work with Justin, Carie, Dickie, and Denise. We look forward to watching what God continues to do in and through Elevate High School Youth Group!

Sunday, March 15, 2015


We had a FANTASTIC day today with the high school youth group from Calvary Baptist Church of Clearwater! It's hard not to have a good day when it's filled up with stuffed pancakes, daily devotions from John 15, wagon rides to the bathroom, caving 30 feet underground, total darkness, singing worship songs in total darkness, teachable moments, non-stop fellowship in a shuttle bus, make your own pizzadillas, praise & worship around the campfire, a day full of challenging message from Pastor Justin, smores, and late night showers. It's been an amazing day of great memories. Thank you Jesus for what you are doing in the lives of young people!!

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Our retreat with Calvary Baptist Church of Clearwater's High School Youth Group kicked off today!! We love this group of high energy enthusiastic students. The day was full of setting up tents, devouring hamburgers & hot dogs, adventure racing, swimming, camp games, hammock chill time, tree climbing, fellowship, singing praise & worship songs, laughter, campfire Bible study, playing in the rain, tacos, cart rides, roasting marshmallows, movie night, and more!! It has been a God-awesome day with some wonderful people... and it's only day one. Looking forward to another day full of adventure tomorrow. Thank you Jesus =)

Friday, March 13, 2015

DAYS 68-71 (52 Days)

CBCC RETREAT MARCH 14-16!! We are excited about our camping retreat with the high school youth group from Calvary Baptist Church of Clearwater. We spent today setting up camp. We have a great weekend planned including a day of caving, an adventure race, outdoor movie, campfires, smores, and some great time seeking God. It's going to be a God-awesome weekend! Follow our posts to see all the fun. Maybe your group will want to experience a GTD event! It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

DAY 67 (52 Days)

MAKE A DIFFERENCE! VOLUNTEERING FOR GTD JUST GOT SIMPLER! GTD is growing and we need more volunteers!!! Special thanks to "Scrubs" (aka Erin) for creating our new online Volunteer Application Form. Click on the link, complete the form, and start making a difference in a ministry that God's using to impact lives. It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

DAY 66 (52 Days)

PARTNERSHIP, PLANNING MEETING, AND BACKPACKING WITH LANDRY ACADEMY! We are honored, excited, and thrilled to be partnered with Landry Academy for 2 big backpacking trips this year. We loved meeting with Jen Henriksen today as we continued planning out 2 big backpacking trips for this summer. Jen is an administrator for Landry Academy and has the position of Director of Travel and Community Network. We love Jen and what she's doing to advance the gospel through adventure and international travel... not to mention her adventurous spirit and zeal for life! We look forward to all that God is going to do through this partnership! These partnerships another way God is rebuilding the walls of GTD! Good things ahead. It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

DAY 65 (52 Days)

WATCH OUT APPALACHIAN TRAIL (AT), HERE COMES GTD! We are planning out 2 section hikes on the AT for this year and talking about the real possibility of doing the entire 2180 miles of trail (thru hike) next year! It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!


Monday, March 9, 2015

DAY 64 (52 Days)

SUMMER IS ALMOST FILLED UP! One of our goals during our 52 Days campaign is improving our approach at filling up our annual event calendar. Well, God beat us to the punch! Before we even had a chance to implement enhanced efforts God moved the hearts of several pastors & group leaders to register for GTD events. We've had a very busy spring and our summer calendar is almost filled up. In fact, one of the good "problems" of why we didn't get even more done during the actual 52 days (and we did get A LOT done) is that we had so many groups signing up for GTD events this year. A lot of work goes into building God-awesome trips so a lot of time has gone into writing contracts, reserving activities & venues, planning out daily agendas, and creating Trip Organizers for each group. In fact, I'm working on 2 more contracts right now. Praise the Lord! It's panning out to be an amazing year! It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

DAY 63 (52 Days)

DAY OF REST! I was planning on doing some GTD work today after church, but I resisted. It's hard to cease from striving when you love your work, are seeing great progress, and see more that needs to be done. But sometimes the greatest act of faith is doing nothing.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

DAY 62 (52 Days)

WORK DAY PROGRESS... RECLAIMING THE 2nd FLOOR TERRITORY FOR GTD! We loved our work day with our small army of awesome volunteers. Special thanks to Richard Dunn, Erin Powell, Alex Powell, and Laurie Finger for their hard work and fun-loving attitudes as we stormed the GTD office and attacked the projects that will unleash this ministry to make greater impacts for causes of Christ. LOVE these people, LOVE this ministry, LOVE where we're headed! It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!

Friday, March 6, 2015

DAY 61 (52 Days)


We are constantly working hard to add new elements to our annual Grand Canyon Trip and one of this year's new additions will be our SPECTACULAR accommodations.

This spacious 5200 square foot home in Page, AZ is perfectly situated on the Rim of Manson Mesa overlooking spectacular views of Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam, Vermillion Cliffs and Canyon Lake Golf Course. Boasting three levels and four master suites this home has enough square footage to comfortably accommodate a small army of adventurers.

It's only minutes away from Antelope Slot Canyons, Lake Powell, and the amazing Horseshoe Bend!

Literally steps off the back yard and through our own gate is access to the Rim Trail, a hiking/walking/running/biking trail that circles the town of Page.

The large backyard has plenty of space for activities and includes: a grass lawn, a cement pad with basketball hoop system, a covered patio with lounge furniture, and a BBQ for outdoor grilling.

This will be one of our best locations ever!

This year's Grand Canyon Trip is scheduled for Oct 5-10, 2015. The website link with event details is in the works and will go live soon. Make plans today to join us on this once-in-a-lifetime God-awesome trip.

It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

DAY 60 (52 Days)

OVER HALF WAY THERE! HELP US KEEP MOVING THE THERMOMETER UP!!! To add to the great lyrics of Bon Jovi's 1986 hit, "Woah, we're (OVER) half way there, Woah, livin' on a prayer." We truly are living on a prayer and thanking God for His provisions as we trek closer to our $250,000 funding goal. We have seen the needle go up (& down) over the past 6 weeks since we last posted an update. Thankfully it settled on a 10% increase as of the end of February. That brings our current total projections to 55% of our total goal! Praise God!! We will try to update the thermometer at the end of each month.

Reminder: THIS IS A VOLATILE THERMOMETER which means it can go up or down based on projections over the remainder of this year. Things that can make it go up are new Ministry Partners, fundraisers, unexpected donations, adding more private trips to the calendar, exceeding anticipated amounts of participants on events, renting out gear, and product line sells. Things that can make the thermometer go down are cancelled events and lack of follow-through of monthly pledges.

As stated before, we are humbled and thrilled by God's mighty hand of support, and we are elated by the generosity of our donors. This has already been an amazing 3½ months of rebuilding the walls of GTD. We are excited, but we are not relaxing. We are pressing on towards the goal that will put GTD in position to effectively minister to the next generation for the next 20 years.

The $250,000 amount represents the sum total needed to:
<>  Cover all 2015 operating expenses
<>  Pay off remaining debt from first 18 years
<>  Repair & improve aging equipment
<>  Acquire necessary new equipment & gear
<>  Organize & archive 20 years of data, pictures, etc
<>  Launch new events, ministries, and endeavors
<>  Strengthen & fortify our current vibrant programs, events, & ministries
<>  New marketing campaign (brochures, ads, proactively promote GTD)
<>  Office renovations and administrative infrastructure improvements
<>  Begin "famine" savings account for future recessions & troubled times
<>  Hire on needed part-time assistants & co-laborers

14 Month Timeline:
Nov 18, 2014 - Jan 4, 2015: Assess "The Walls"; Communicate the needs
Jan 5 - Feb 25, 2015: "52 Days" Objective ("All-Hands-On-Deck")
Feb 26 - Nov 16, 2015: Transformation of a ministry; Run regular events
Nov 17, 2015: Annual Banquet ("The Mother of All Banquets")
Nov 18, 2015 - Jan 18, 2016: Reintroduce "The New GTD"!!

This is an exciting time to be a part of GTD!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

DAY 59 (52 Days)

WORK DAY #3 THIS SATURDAY!! The work continues on. This Saturday we are tackling more GTD office renovations. Things are shaping up! Click on the link below to sign-up for a few hours or for the full day of volunteer work. Free lunch included! It's an exciting time to be a part of GTD!

SCHEDULE:  Sat = 10am - 8pm
LOCATION: The GTD Office above Fortes Auto & Boat Connection (11495 66th Street N, Pinellas Park, FL 33773) (2 story white building; 1/4 mile north of Bryan Dairy Rd)
MEALS: Lunch, snacks, and hydration will be provided
SIGN-UP: Click here to sign-up


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

DAY 58 (52 Days)

HALF DAY OFF, HALF DAY ON: We returned back yesterday from a very productive work trip in TX. We took a half day off this morning and then went back to work this afternoon on our 52 Days projects. We are chipping away at our office renovations... making progress =)


Monday, March 2, 2015

DAY 57 (52 Days)

Our profound thanks to Harvest Church of Watagua, TX for their incredible and gracious hospitality! Thank you Pastor Craig Norton for opening your home to me. And thank you Laurie Rodriguez for opening your home to Laurie Finger. Thank you Roger Walls, Sandi Schiveley Davis, Aloha Orton Bishop, Dr Phil, Pator Reid, Pastor Joey, and Pastor Joe for all you did to make this trip phenomenal. In addition, thank you for all the delicious meals, wonderful fellowship, productive meetings, chauffeuring, and an endless list of things you did to take care of us and Pastor Danilo. We look forward to what lies ahead =)


Sunday, March 1, 2015

DAY 56 (52 Days)

PASTOR DANILO SPEAKS AT HARVEST CHURCH! Pastor Danilo share his vision for church growth and outreach for the church in Costa Rica with the Harvest Church congregation. Good things are on the way... more info to come!