Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WHAT A GREAT RETREAT!! (As you can tell from these pics!)

GTD was honored to host Calvary Christian High School's senior class retreat to kick off their final year of high school.

The goal during our 24 hours together was to lay a foundation that would promote Christian unity and launch legacy leadership. This is an amazing group of seniors who don't want to waste their senior year on selfish ambitions, but rather seize the opportunity to influence the rest of their school towards Godly things.

One of the many things I love about running camps is that camp actually is a relationship incubator. Camp literally accelerates the growth process through concentrated quality time together and activities that inherently quicken relationship development. You can accomplish months worth of growth in 24 hours of intentional relationship building.

Just check out this list of activities from our 24 hours together: canoeing, swimming (belly flop contests, of course!), wagon rides, create your own pizzadillas, low ropes course, water slide, gaga ball, 9-square, basketball, dodge-ball, volleyball, bonfire, smores, nighttime sermon, small group discussions, campout (in air conditioned cabins!), stuffed pancakes, morning devotions, climbing wall, high ropes course, ziplines, and hot dogs for lunch!! Now that's a lot of memory building along with great conversations to forge deeper levels of unity quickly.

They had an absolute blast! And so did we!! It was a God-awesome activity-packed 24 hours that accomplished a lot! Glory to God!!

Our heartfelt gratitude to the teachers / leadership who spearheaded this trip and daily pour their lives into these students: Lauren Schaeffer, Janessa Jannarone, Brandon Ray, and Jon Seals.

Special thanks to Pastor Stephen Rice for a superb and passionate sermon from Hebrews 12, and Cavan Ingram for a fantastic and inspiring morning devotion among his fellow seniors.

Much appreciation and respect to my fellow workers and volunteers for all of their hard labor and great attitudes before, during, and after the retreat: Laurie Finger, Erin Powell, Matt Russell, Shannon Kennedy. And a HUGE shout out and big time thank you to my Dad (Jerry Garner), Ray, Al, and Dean for helping us piece together equipment and supplies while our trailer (with all of our gear) is 7 hours away having the axles replaced. Ministry is a team event and GTD couldn't do what we do without all of our helpers, volunteers, staff, and supporters!

Thank you Word of Life for all you do to reach young people with the gospel and create lifelong memories!

And finally, thank you so much to Calvary Christian High School of Clearwater, FL for giving us the honor and privilege to host our largest event in 21 years of ministry! We love what you guys do and the many lives you impact!

That was GTD's last event of the 2017 summer... we are already looking forward to the fall and winter!! Thank you JESUS!!

Check out all 500+ pictures from this retreat on our online photo album HERE!

Monday, August 21, 2017


Just kicked off our largest retreat EVER with 75 seniors from Calvary Christian High School of Clearwater, FL. Looking forward to the next 24 hours of jam packed God-awesome fun!!

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Praise God for answered prayers!!!!  Alfredo is home and his daughter says he is doing better and nothing is broken. He is very sore and his face is swollen, including an eye that is swollen shut. Thank you everyone for your prayers. Please continue praying for him and his family.

From his daughter:

Agradecemos sus oraciones
Muchas gracias ;)
Ya mi papá se encuentra en casa y esta mejor ;)

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Alfredo is one of our dearest and closest Costa Rican friends. He is like a brother. I call him the Costa Rican Indiana Jones. If you've ever been on a mission trip with us to Costa Rica then you already know and love this guy. He comes over during the trips and adopts our groups and takes us on all types of unique and exciting adventures. He's a selfless loving strong man of God. We love him dearly. He was involved in some type of accident today that may have involved bulls. I was told that he was found unconscious with blows to the face and a broken nose. He is in critical condition and they fear he may have some brain damage. Please take a moment to pray for him and his family... that God would intervene and supernaturally heal and restore his entire body and mind as well as supply the peace that passes all understanding to his family and friends. Thank you so much!


Our mission trip to Costa Rica with Cross Mountain Church of Texas was phenomenal! Laurie Finger and her US missions team of Dave Ungar along with John and Jen Brueggen did a FANTASTIC job and are on their flight back home. Check out how Pastor Dave described this experience:

What a GOD AWESOME LAST DAY and night we had. The construction team and other pitching to get a community kitchen built. The pastor here said, "THIS IS A HUGE ANSWER TO OUR PRAYERS. A lot of these kids ONLY get to eat one time a day, and that's at school. This kitchen WILL help provide them other meals, and a platform to share the Gospel of JESUS!" Tears of Joy and a heart that praises the Lord for this. God not only helped the incredible mission team He let us lead from texas, raise the funds to get get it started, but got all 4 and 1/2 slabs of concrete up, tons of concrete poured, the framing and the roof done, with money left over for the locals to complete all the finishing touches and furnishings.  The building full of people is the kitchen, we held a church service in it, to dedicate it to the Lord. The awesome medical team, that The Lord gave me the privilege to help lead, helped approximately 200 people with the different illnesses. 
Several churches seeing people THEY have never seen darken the door of their churches BECAUSE of God using them. . The children made it possible for the medical to do there jobs by entertaining the children and Sharing the Gospel through Bible stories. What A GOD AWESOME MISSION TRIP GOD GAVE ME THE PRIVILEGE TO BE ON! Special THANKS to Laurie Finger who is a super kind, tender, and precious  soul and also Doug Garner, the founder of GOING THE DISTANCE MINISTRIES for giving me the privilege COME AND HELP THEM. Special thanks to JOHN & Jen from Lesson Learned Ministries  for their service, kindness, friendship and HUMOR- I still can't get enough air I have laughed so much! Thanks most of all of you for all your prayers for this TRIP!  THEY WERE ANSWERED!

- Brother Dave


Sliding over a waterfall is always better with friends!!

Reliving the adventure! SLAMMED 2017

GTD... Building lifelong God-awesome memories since 1996!

(Location: Turtleback Falls > Gorges State Park, NC)

Thursday, August 10, 2017


All the pictures from our last 2 amazing Adventure Trips have been uploaded to our online photo album.

Enjoy reliving all the special moments!



Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Last night around midnight Laurie contacted me to let me know that they were in route to the hospital emergency room in Costa Rica. One of the teenage mission trip participants with multiple allergies was having a severe allergic reaction to something. When Benadryl wasn't helping her they had to administer an epipen. They loaded her up in the vehicle and rushed to the hospital about an hour away. The doctor administered some more meds and brought the situation under control. The teenage young lady was doing well. With prescriptions in hand they returned to the church in the early morning hours. Praise God for modern medicine, hospitals, and people who spend years specializing in caring for the body. Please continue to keep the mission team and our leadership team in your prayers as they continue their outreach mission this week. Running group events is every bit exciting, inspiring, and spiritually satisfying... but it also comes with inherent risks, stresses, and challenges that can quickly leave you sleep deprived, overloaded with stress, and emotionally worn out. Those aren't complaints. It's just a reality of running group events in developing countries and in the wilderness.

About 1 week ago I was in NC running an adventure camp for a wonderful deaf organizations. Around midnight (that seems to be the most popular time for emergencies) someone ran over to my tent to let me know that one of the teenage participants was in severe neck pain from a fall he took during a game of capture the flag (most of our injuries don't happen during the riskier activities we do such as rock climbing, white water rafting, etc... most injuries happen during the time between the headline adventures). I'm a former Respiratory Therapist and Wilderness First Responder. Along with a few adults we went over to do a basic assessment of the student. His pain was so severe and so unusual around his head and neck area that it was a no-brainer,  we had to take him to the emergency room immediately (see attached picture). We never take chances with people's health. We always err on the side of caution. Long story short it was a pulled neck muscle combined with low pain tolerance. The student was administered some pain meds and muscle relaxers and released. We got back to camp at 4am. We had to get up a few hours later to run the day's adventures.

In June, Laurie had to make several trips to the hospital with her immersion team in Costa Rica. Thankfully none of them were too serious, but it was extremely taxing. She rolled with the punches and kept rising each day to lead the team on into their next adventure. It's what we do. Tired, exhausted, and many times drained more than people will ever know. We seek God for renewed strength, put an optimistic and sincere smile on our face, and march on. There is an enemy trying to stop what we are doing... trying to prevent ministry and lives from being impacted... but we will never give up. Onward and upward we march on.

Thank you to our small army of prayer warriors and supporters who strongly uphold us and this ministry! God uses you to bless us and the many that we encounter more than you may ever realize (until we get to heaven)  =)

Saturday, August 5, 2017


Our 22nd Annual SLAMMED Adventure Trip was one of the best ever! The camaraderie, fellowship, and instant family dynamic was second to none. 35 individuals became 35 lifelong friends almost immediately. There were no divisions, no cliques, no drama, no put-downs, no arguments, no harsh words (not a single curse word or complaint)... absolutely no negativity at all. There was, however, plenty of fun, joy, love, laughter, instant bonding, selflessness, servantheartedness, and Christ-like attitudes. And it was anything but boring! We had non-stop fun for 5 straight days!! It was absolutely amazing!! Except for a couple minor scheduling and staffing hiccups it was nearly a perfect trip! And at the top of almost everyone's highlights of the week was the baptism of 5 participants (including my nephew Carson) at the base of Rainbow Falls. Pastor Rob Beswetherick baptised 5 fellow followers of Jesus who wanted to make a public declaration of their faith and personal relationship with Christ. So, surrounded by both friends and strangers, these 5 people took the spiritual dunking at one of GTD's favorite adventure spots. It was a joyous and significant time that we all celebrated!! This is FULLNESS OF LIFE! Glory to God!

Friday, August 4, 2017


If you've followed our ministry through the years then you already know that it has been a very long time since we made it through an entire year without a tire related incident. This was looking like it was going to be our year. With 7 months of retreats, adventure trips, day trips, and mission trips under our belt with not even a hint of trouble it was looking promising. All we needed to do was bring the trailer back down from NC as we transition into our slower season. Things were looking good. We just finished one of our best SLAMMED Adventure Trips of all time (details coming). All the camping equipment was packed up by 10am on Wednesday morning and my friend Mike & I began our 16 hour drive back to FL. Along the way we popped in to say goodbye to friends in NC and north GA as well as drop off equipment at our Gear Cache in Hiawassee, GA. Things were going good although I was a little behind schedule (no big surprise there!). Then it happened. Around midnight in Milledgeville, GA I notice sparks coming out of one of the wheel hubs on the trailer. That isn't good. We pulled over and assessed the situation. It appeared to be an issue with the hub, bearings, & possibly the axle. With all the repair shops closed it looked like our best option was to grease up the bearings, find a specialized repair shop, and drive very slowly to the shop so we could be first in line when the shop opens. With flashers on and virtually no traffic we started driving at a snails pace towards the shop 12 miles away. Well, to make a long story even longer, the sparks and friction ignited the excess grease and caused a fire around one of the wheels. This just went from bad to worse real fast. We were only a few minutes away from the trailer (and everything it) going up in flames. We had to act quickly. Multitask!! Call 911. Chalk the tires. Disconnect the truck from the trailer. Douse the flames. Thankfully, we were able to put the fire out with a gallon of water just before the the firefighters arrived. They were very helpful and kind. They even gave us a rear escort for the last mile of our drive at 3 MPH. They were ready to put out any reoccurring fires. Thankfully nothing reignited! We pulled into the shop around 3am. We tried to sleep, but eventually walked over to Huddle House for a 4am breakfast and waited for the repair shop to open up at 8am. The final verdict is that the axle needs to be replaced along with the hubs, bearings, etc. It's going to take a few days so we drove the remaining 6 hours back home last night. 32 hours later with maybe 1 hour of sleep we arrived back to Seminole, FL. Praise God for so many things. It could have been so much worse if this happened in the mountains or during the daytime when I wouldn't have been able to see the sparks. I will still need to drive back up to retrieve the trailer, but at least I'm able to get some needed sleep. Thanks for all your prayers, support, and encouragement! It's not always pretty, but it is always an ADVENTURE! =)