Sunday, March 31, 2024

HAPPY EASTER!! He is risen!

HAPPY EASTER!! He is risen!

Enjoyed a beautiful Easter service at Mahaffey Theater presented by Calvary Chapel Fellowship... great job CCF!

Then enjoyed lunch with Dad 😀

But as for Easter >>> Thank You Jesus!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

All packed and ready to go =)

All packed and ready to go for Saturday's annual LIQUID Kayaking Trip! This year we are returning to Weedon Island 😀 😀 😀

Special thanks to Cocoa Kayaking in Cocoa Beach, Florida for their AMAZING donation of 15 tandem kayaks to GTD last year!!!! We've been getting so much great use out of them!! You guys rock!!!!!!!!!

Going The Distance Adventure Ministry
God-awesome Adventures Since 1996!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024


Happy Birthday Laurie!! You're an amazing, precious, caring, loving, kind-hearted, adventurous, beautiful, Godly woman! You are one of God's greatest inventions!! Over the past 16 years we've worked together and done a whole lot of life together... We've traveled all over the U.S. and to a few countries together running all kinds of adventures, mission trips, recon trips, personal vacations for my parents, and even a few of our own fun getaways... We've had so many ups and plenty of downs... We've been engaged twice & called off the engagement twice... We've been on the same page many times and had plenty of disagreements and our fair share of arguments through the years... We have no idea what we are or how to describe our relationship when people ask... sometimes we are a well oiled machine and sometimes we are a train wreck... but through it all we have always remained authentic close friends who genuinely care for one another and wholeheartedly want God's best for each other... through it all our commitment to God and our love for Jesus and doing things His way has covered our long journey to nowhere with grace, forgiveness, Godly love, mercy, and a whole lot of special moments, cherished memories, and treasured experiences. And along the way I've had the honor of watching you grow more & more into the beautiful Godly woman that you are today. Welcome to the 50's club!!! Nifty, nifty, look who's fifty!! No one will ever believe it!! You'll have to be carded to prove your age! I hope today is full of all kinds of special moments, and I pray that the year ahead becomes one of your most cherished years ever!! Happy Birthday "Sporty" "Friend-of-the-animals" "Number 6" "Powder" "Sunshine" "Crazy Cat Lady"!!!! I hope it's unforgettable!!!! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ 

Monday, March 25, 2024


Yesterday Laurie, Traci, & I visited our dear friend & former Costa Rica Mission Director - Jim Butski - and his family at Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville for several hours. It was wonderful and awful at the same time. I'm not going to sugar coat it. Here's the update:

- Jim had a massive and severe stroke on Jan 31, 2024. As of today he has been in the hospital for 55 days. If I remeber correctly, the first week or two he was on a ventilator and unresponsive.
- On Jan 31st Jim felt the stroke coming on and called 911 as he was getting into his car (I believe before his 3rd day at his dream job with FWC in Gainesville) and when the ambulance arrived they found him collapsed on the ground unresponsive next to his car.
- His first stroke (about 6 years ago) affected about a golf ball size of his brain while his 2nd stroke affected about a grapefruit size part of his brain.
- it has left him severely debilitated
- he does understand & comprehend
- he wants visitors and needs our love & support
- he needs a supernatural miracle
- his 2nd stroke has affected the "good side" of his body that was not affected by the last stroke.
- the surgeons removed the blood clot from his brain, but the part of his brain that didn't receive blood because of the clot has died.
- he can't talk
- he can't write
- at this time he can only say "no" and nod yes and move his "bad" arm and move his eyes as forms of communication. You have to figure out what he is trying to say almost like playing charades with very few hints.
- he can see like he was able to see before the stroke, but the part of the brain that has learned how to read has died... so he can see, but not read.
- he cries & sobs at times (both when sad & when laughing)... the stroke makes his emotions very raw
- he can eat, but has to be fed and is on a feeding tube at night as an added supplement
- he rests a lot and can fall asleep easily when there isn't something keeping his attention, but that has always been Jim hahaha! He has always either been on a wild adventure, coaching, teaching, or taking a nap LOL!
- he was engaged almost the entire time we were there as long as we were engaged with him and telling stories (laughing and crying at times)
- he seeks and makes good eye contact
- he has some facial and right side "droop" ... his right side is paralyzed so that side of his face & body drops downward slightly, but not nearly as dramatic as we expected.
- he looks very healthy
- his mom & dad have been there daily since Day 1, and are staying at a family member's house an hour & 15 minutes away so they commute back & forth each day
- his mom was a nurse for 50 years and demonstrates great motherly love, care, & empathy as well as helping stretch his muscles and give him basic physical therapy
- he needs aggressive physical therapy, but isn't getting it at this hospital.
- he loves hearing from friends & family. His family is reading all the comments on FB to him. They sometimes have to show him the picture of the person's profile before they read the comment because he doesn't always know who it is when they only say the name.
- they are trying to find a good rehab facility for him in Charleston, SC near where his parents and sisters live.
- we brought pictures from past times with Jim (great job Laurie!) and relived the stories with him. It made him laugh & cry at times, but he really loved it. Traci brought him a birthday card & I brought him a blown up poster of him with a group on one of our adventures
- as you can imagine he has many new limitations that are very hard in and of themselves, but visiting him brought him (and us) great joy... and when another friend from high school showed up to visit him his face lit up.
- I highly recommend going to visit him, bring pictures and retell stories, love on him, pray with him, and tell him how he has impacted your life.
- Jim is in a private room at Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville (currently on the 5th floor). Address is 1600 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, FL 32608
- If you are not able to visit right away then make a video and send it to his phone!! We made a video from my Dad and he started to cry because it touched him so much.
- His 53rd birthday is Thursday March 28th

We serve a God that makes dead things come back to life. My prayer with bigger than mustard-sized faith is that God would resurrect the parts of his brain that have been declared as dead... in faith, we declare them alive again. That's my prayer & declaration of faith.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Soooooo, Dad's trip to the ER last month wasn't a false alarm after all...

Soooooo, Dad's trip to the ER last month wasn't a false alarm after all. After having a nuclear stress test done his Cardiologist found that Dad's chest pain & "heart attack symptoms" were due to a moderate (60-70%) blockage in one of his heart arteries. Since it's a moderate blockage Dad was given the option to do another heart catherization to possibly place another stint or try to address it through medication over the next month. Dad's pretty tired of surgeries and hospitalizations so he chose the medicine. Just wanted to update everyone about that ER scare last month and his follow-up tests. Thank you Sista for taking him to his heart Dr and for taking such great notes!!

Thursday, March 21, 2024


I'm so saddened to share that our dear friend & former Costa Rica Missions Director - Jim Butski - has suffered a severe stroke. This is his 2nd stroke in about about 6 or 7 years. We are just learning of his 2nd stroke that evidently occurred at the beginning of February right after Jim moved to Gainesville to take a new position with FWC. We are learning about the severity of this 2nd stroke, but it appears to be very severe. Jim has been one of my best friends since meeting him 22 years ago. He worked on staff for GTD for a couple of years and lived in Costa Rica helping to develop our CR Mission Program. Before & after working on staff, Jim was one of our most frequent volunteers dedicating many summers and weekends to helping us run camps and cooking up a ton of delicious meals. He has lived with me, cared so deeply for my family, been a faithful supporter of GTD year after year, and we have traveled plenty of places together as part of GTD as well as several trips with our group of friends... we have biked across Florida, hiked the Everglades, kayaked the 10,000 Islands (and many other places), rock climbed & rappelled in GA, caved in TN, and other countless adventures together... he loves Jesus and we've shared many conversations about our faith and what God was teaching us along the way... he is a great great friend full of selflessness and a huge heart to serve... I gave him the nickname of "Rock Star" back around 2005 when we were at a restaurant eating lunch and the waitress handed me the bill and handed him a note with her phone number... the note said, "I think you are so hot! Call me!"... being an average looking guy I obviously had never experienced this before LOL... I've only seen things like this in the movies haha! I was slightly offended that I had never received a note like this from a waitress at a restaurant (they were probably just too shy to ever tell me - that's the lie I tell myself - haha!), but I was more amazed than offended that I was in the presence of someone who does receive such attention LOL!! I said, "Wow, Jim, have you ever received a note like that before from a waitress?" Expecting him to say no, I was jaw-dropped when he humbly forced the words out, "Many times." I was like, "Say what?!?! Bro, you are like a Rock Star!!" I had one good looking year of my life when I wasn't too repulsive looking and I think I got a love note from a "secret admirer", but I've only heard of things like this when watching documentaries of rock bands hahahaha!! While I saw it as AMAZING! Jim saw it more like a nuisance. He didn't want the attention I was relishing him with, but I couldn't stop. From that day forward I called him "Rock Star"... I don't know if I was happier for him being a Rock Star or happier that I had a friend that is a Rock Star hahaha! Jim has been my right hand man helping run many many adventures through the years - sacrificing his time, treasure, & talents to help me run God-awesome adventures for 15+ years. In fact, if you were on a GTD Trip between 2002-2017 there's a great chance you've met and been blessed by Rock Star! He has always helped me, always... he always goes on the trips and says, "Doug, what can I do to take as much off of your plate as possible. I'll do all the cooking and help with anything else you need." In the picture above you can see Jim CARRYING 2 BACKPACKS three miles up a mountain to help run a rock climbing trip!! He was and is a Rock Star on many levels! One time he was riding his bicycle (not a motorcycle! a bicycle!) from Florida to Michigan and biked over 100 miles OUT OF HIS WAY to help us run an Adventure Trip in Tennessee!!! All I can say is if I was biking from Florida to Michigan I would be looking to cut off any miles I could and wouldn't add miles on my trek!! That sums up Jim Butski "Rock Star"... he is an extra mile kind of friend! He has been battling for 6+ years to overcome the devastating effects from his first stroke... and just weeks before his 53rd birthday he suffered a devastating severe 2nd stroke. I'm so saddened to hear this and ask my friends to lift him up in prayer - mountain moving faith-sized fervent effectual prayer!! Rock Star needs it! We are planning to go visit him in Gainesville in the next 3 days. Thank you dear friends 🙏 🙏 🙏
UPDATE (March 23, 2024): 
Thank you all for your prayers for Jim! Traci, Laurie, & I are going to visit him tomorrow and we will read him your loving words. I talked to one of his family members yesterday. They were so helpful. While trying to honor the family's privacy & needs, and at the same time also keeping his cherished friends updated, informed, and best equipped to pray all I can say is that our dear friend Jim desperately needs our prayers, love, and support. His 2nd stroke greatly surpasses his 1st stroke. He needs lots & lots of love from his friends, mountain-moving faith sized prayers, and he needs God's supernatural intervention... he needs a miracle. Thank you again for your love & prayers! I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024


We are continuing to make good progress each week on our construction projects PTL! Jan & Faith did a great job priming the GTD Storage Container (formerly known as "The Green Monster"). We are prepping it for paint. What color do you think we should paint it (hint: it won't be green this time)??? Can you guess the color I'm leaning towards???

Monday, March 18, 2024


We have been getting caught up with mailing out & delivering Ministry Partner Gift Packages to our AWESOME SUPPORTERS from the past 5 years (& beyond). If you have EVER donated to GTD a $100 or more then you qualify for some free GTD swag!! If you did not receive your GTD shirt(s), knit cap(s), etc at our last banquet (or have not received anything in the mail - recently or EVER) and would like some GTD merchandise then let us know because we want to get our slick & comfy shirt(s), knit, cap(s), etc out to you asap!! Jan has been working diligently to follow-up with everyone, but please let us know if you haven't received your swag yet... or if want some more!!

GTD office phone: 727-394-9483
GTD email:
Or comment below 😀

Sunday, March 17, 2024


Happy "St Annie's Day" to my extraordinary Mom whose birthday falls on St Patrick's Day each year! This is a long distance birthday as she spends her 2nd birthday in Heaven in the majestic presence of our Savior (it's hard to top that venue & that guest list!). Mom, you are my hero! Thank you for every ounce of love, laughter, and sacrifice you poured into my life!! As selfish as it sounds, 91.75 years was not enough... soooooooo I'm overjoyed knowing that God actually makes our future reunion last for all eternity (with a slight separation in-between). I'm at peace and greatly comforted knowing you are basking in the fullness of joy, fullness of health, and fullness of love in your eternal mansion surrounded by a great Heavenly host of amazing people and cherished loved ones. Not gonna lie, I'm kind of jealous hahaha!! Enjoy your absolutely divine birthday cake & endless ice cream that never melts!! HAPPY BIRD DAY BIRDDOG!!!! I LOVE YOU ❤️ ❤️ ❤️!!! ... or, as you would say, I LOVE YOU MORE!!!

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” - 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
"In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." - John 14:1-3 (NKJV)

Saturday, March 16, 2024


Our cousin Kurt (Dad's nephew) found a song called, "Homegrown Tomatoes" by Guy Clark and mailed the lyrics & a really nice letter to Dad. Well, Dad LOVES THE SONG (understatement)!! He is telling everyone about "Homegrown Tomatoes" hahaha!! Everywhere he goes he tells people to "play Homegrown Tomatoes on YouTube". Last night we went to Country In The Park in Pinellas Park (where Dad worked for 21.5 years) and he immediately hobbled over to the sound guy who was preparing for the night's live concerts and asked him to play Homegrown Tomatoes by John Denver (Dad's favorite version)... you can hear the results in the video LOL! It's the PERFECT SONG for The Tomato Man!!

Friday, March 15, 2024

MORE PROGRESS!! Tabernacle Church of Tampa Bay Makes BIG Impact In 1 Day!!!

One of my dear friends (who would karate chop me if I gave him credit for saying this) once said something to the effect of, "The Body of Christ (AKA: the church) is the greatest force for good on earth that God has ever created." I couldn't agree more! HUGE THANKS AND A STANDING OVATION for Tabernacle Church of Tampa Bay who came out a couple weeks ago to serve & bless GTD. About 20 members from that church (several of which were kids) swarmed the GTD Storage Container and the area around it and did more work in 1 day than I could have done by myself in a month!! They finished 80 ft of the exterior insulation, attached 80 ft of siding, trimmed hedges, moved building material, raked up 2 truckloads of leaves, and so so so much more!! We kicked off the morning with breakfast and devotions and then jumped into the projects. This group came to work hard (including all the kids) and in a matter of about 6 hours they made a HUGE IMPACT while at the same time having a whole lot of fun & authentic fellowship. I'm so very grateful for all their love for Jesus & hard work, and I love that their church puts a monthly emphasis on serving their community. Check out the pictures to see the progress. So far 2 churches, a few families, and our GTD Staff have helped with this project. It has been such a blessing to watch God work through the Body of Christ! Thank you & God bless you Tabernacle Church of Tampa Bay!!! You blessed us more than I could ever articulate!! 

Saturday, March 9, 2024


A few months ago one of out dear friends along with his daughter-in-law volunteered to help Carson & I add a deck to the top of the GTD storage container while thicken the insulation to a whopping R-20 plus adding a radiant barrier. We all had a blast cutting, drilling, placing, & fastening each section as we worked our way down the length of the container. They knocked out a ton of work in about 6 hours, and blessed us immensely with their fun-loving can-do attitudes and skilled labor! Carson & I finished the rest of the deck over the next few days. We attached the remaining 3/4" plywood, caulked it, & applied water sealer stain as the temporary finish to the deck (once complete we will apply a silicone for flat roofs). The end product is a heavy-duty mammoth 480 sq ft deck that can hold a ton of weight (can you say "deck party!!"). It also supplies a 4ft overhang that will help cover 8 future mini-sheds. Special thanks to our dear friend (who likes to stay anonymous... that's why you can't see his face in the pictures 😀) and his amazing daughter-in-law!! You guys decked us out!! We are forging ahead with Operation Insulation & Deck Party USA 😀 😀 😀

Wednesday, March 6, 2024


One of our most popular events of the year is only 6 weeks away!! The GTD IGNITE Camping Retreat registration is open! And at only $55/person it's less expensive to go to IGNITE than it is to stay home! 
As stated, this is one of our most popular events so register ASAP to lock in your spot(s)!
- IGNITE Camping Retreat
- April 19-21, 2024 (Fri night - Sun afternoon)
- Word of Life (Hudson, FL)
- Costs starts at $55/person
- Camping
- 2 Morning Devotions
- Climbing Wall
- Zipline
- Team Sports (such as volleyball, ultimate, basketball)
- Camp Games
- Swimming Pool
- Nightly Campfires, Bible-Based Messages, Smores... a perfect combination!
- Outdoor Movie (with family friendly editing)
- Bunkhouse Cabins (Optional Add-On).... Add $40/person ($20/night per person)
IGNITE Link & Registration:

Tuesday, March 5, 2024


Having worked with youth groups & young volunteers for over 20 years I can tell you that if you need a lot of good work done then give me an army of God-loving pure-hearted teenagers! They'll get it done while having fun! This is our Tue & Wed work crew that are helping renovate Jerry's living space... I just call them: "Jerry's Workers". We kicked things off today and they got a ton done!

"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

PS: The power tools are only a photo op... the under 17 youngsters aren't using power tools.

PSS: No animals were harmed while making this picture.

Monday, March 4, 2024


We've set aside about 20 hours each week over the next 3 months (March, April, & May) to tackle several work & construction projects (personal & GTD), especially renovation projects for my Dad's living space.
Our work schedule is:
Tuesday: 10a-3p
Wednesday: 10a-3p
Thursday: 10a-3p
Most Saturdays: 9a-2p

Location is in Pinellas Park, Florida.
Comment below, FB Messenger me, or text me if you want to help!

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization your volunteer work may qualify for school & work volunteer requirements (if applicable).

(*pictured here is one of our construction projects... a shipping container used for ministry storage that's being insulated on the exterior to protect the gear stored inside.)


Jan, Faith, & I spent 2 weeks at the end of January & beginning of February tackling the GTD stoRAGE container (it's a 40' shipping container formerly referred to as "The Green Monster" that was donated to GTD by the amazing Wilder family!). We house over $20,000 worth of quality backpacking, camping, & banquet equipment in this 320 sq ft x 8 ft tall "monster". Over the past few years it has gotten a bit cluttered and was in dire need of some tidying. I'm thrilled to share that the ladies took care of business and made it more than tidy... they made it MIGHTY TIDY! Everything has a place, and there is a place for everything! It's a big step in the right direction as we strive to get back on top of everything that had to be put on the back-burner during the past 5 years. IT FEELS SO GOOD to not have to search for an hour for an item we have, but can't find... as well as not have to climb over or trip over things while navigating down the aisle!! It's a big win for us! YIP! YIP!!

Saturday, March 2, 2024


It's our annual Day-Before-Easter FREE Kayaking Day Trip we call LIQUID, and everyone is invited! Join us for a fun day of yaking at Weedon Island!
To claim your spot all you have to do is register on the link below.

Click on the LIQUID website link for all the details and show up ready to paddle March 30th!
Location: Weedon Island Preserve
City/State: St Petersburg, Florida
Date: Saturday March 30, 2024
Time: 12:00pm - 4:30pm
Registration Link:
Join us on another God-awesome GTD event that we hope blesses your day & your soul!

It was a month ago, but...

It was a month ago, but we had a great time making pizzas and watching Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day! We had 30 fun people participate in our last Movie Nite of the winter at BIRDDOG CINEMA :)