Picture slideshow available at 2911students.com, might not be viewable in email.
Dell City is a small, very small farming community 100 miles outside of El Paso. It is in the shadow of the Guadelupe Mtns the highest points in Texas. There is “hidden water” below the ground that allows for irrigation and large fields of commercial crops. The town is made up of about 300 people. You should look at the satellite image of Dell City with all of the desert around but in this valley green crop circles. Pastor Sosa has been serving as a mission pastor for two years here, driving out and conducting services. They started in a home and now meet in the community center on Thursday evenings.
We arrived on Thursday to see a town and some families in crises. Last Saturday two 20 year old boys were killed in a incident involving US and Mexican border. They were running from police in El Paso and took their car in a speed chase across the border. They were shot and killed in the incident. We arrived and the families were looking for a place to conduct a funeral. Every church turned them down in the process, their own Catholic Mission without a priest said no along with two other churches. Pastor Sosa was here to offer our services. The funeral was to be Friday evening. We offered for all of the kids of affected families to come to the park. Ford and Andrew were practicing to play guitars for the service. The Anglo First Baptist Church allowed Sosa's congregation to use the facility. This was a huge thing as there had not been a good relationship between the Anglo and Hispanic churches. Last year we had met Raymundo a 20 something young man, whose mom and dad would not come to church with him. By the time that we had left the park events last year, they had agreed to go to church with him. A year later I see Pastor Sosa ministering to this same family who was so standoffish just a year ago. They were part of the family of one of the young men. The efforts of Sosa's congregation and the renewed connection between the two church congregations had shown the town something big. However the body was not released until Saturday. By that time the Catholic Church had changed its opinion and allowed the funeral to be held there. However, the community and families saw the response of these two churches to the crises.
We setup an outdoor vbs at the park in Dell City. The people come and stay at the park, and it is hard to establish a start and end time. On Saturday we started at 10am and we ended up rotating people at the park because the people were not leaving. We stayed at the park form 10am to 5pm! The house that a member allowed us to stay in for the weekend is two blocks from the park. We setup crafts, games, song time, and Bible study. We gave out Spanish and English Bibles and other materials that they were very excited to get.
Jaime Perez, Esmerelda's father talked some of the group members to go run the DC Mountain with him. It is a small mountain outside of town that has the letters 'DC' written in rock on them. The incline is sharp and the trail is filled with rocks. Chase Mik and Covey Bonnema kept pace with Jaime who runs it everyday up and down up to ten times. Molly, Raigan and Kellie made several trips. Griff and Gunner made one trip, I took pics and he enjoyed a pack of Cheetos that he brought up.
After that we headed to the park to play softball with the church members. We mixed the teams of DC and VA people. It was a fun game of softball that we played from 7:30 to 10:30pm!
Our last day of soccer camp had a great turnout. We had a group of the older guys from the park come and join us for the games. They came on a great day as Octavio shared his testimony. His testimony included our group from VA and our soccer camp. He talked about how he believed in God as a kid, but it was when he believed in Jesus that changed his life. I know of one of the older guys who talked to him after about going to church with him in the future. One of the older guys that we met last year at the park. Last year he was in a teen skater group that were standoffish to us, but by the end of the week we had started to form a relationship. We are praying for Joe that he will step out and seek God, I know that God is working on his heart.
VBS had a great response despite the conditions. At about 4-5:30pm there was a storm blow in. It had wind which equals sand storms, lightning and rain. We start VBS at 6pm and by then it had stopped lightning and the kids started showing up. The girl who we mentioned earlier in the week, who had received the flyer at the store and immediately came to camp was there, but she was not alone. Her mom and dad were with her! They went to the adult study and then even to the fiesta. I watched as the church members reached out to them at the party, it was great to see. Her mom came over to our group of teens and expressed gratitude for soccer and the studies. I think God used us to reach a family.
The members threw a fiesta at Pastor Sosa's house. They went through a lot of work to make a great party to celebrate what God had done this week. It is a great time for new people that they have reached this week to join us and be welcomed. They had different food booths setup in his yard: bbq grilled chicken, tortillas, mexican corn cups, aqua frescas, and desserts. It is always a highlight of the trip, and this time was no different.
We are heading to Dell City this morning. Dell City is a small town of about 300 people an hour and half from El Paso. We went there last year and established relationships quickly. That is where Esmeralda is from. We are staying in a members house and yard (boys will be camping out). We are to be at the park by 10am with the vbs this morning. We will be playing sports vs teens and adults tonight and Sunday.
We were a little tired heading out today…but we had a very productive day. We had more kids come to our soccer camp this morning as a result of being at the park on Tuesday night. We had a good lesson about Joseph and how his life shows that God cares about each of us.
We had Chico’s Tacos for lunch today, which is an el paso staple food. They are not like regular tacos. They are basically taquitos that you soak in their special red sauce for a couple of minutes, optional spicy green sauce, then cover it in cheese. Chicos has been in el paso for over 50 years.
Tonight we noticed that there was a smaller crowd at both the park and vbs. We still had a great time at both. Tonight the kids made tshirts at vbs, adults had a Bible study and worship time, and we taught a lesson about God has a plan for everyone’s life. We sent a group to the park where we had a good time playing soccer, making notebook covers with the boys, and handing out free sno cones.
Tonight after leaving we headed to rim road in El Paso. Up on the mountain the view of the city lights of Juarez and El Paso make a beautiful scene.
Looking forward to Thursday morning. Octavio will be sharing his testimony to the soccer camp. Octavio is from El Paso and is an elite soccer player. We first met him 6 years ago when he was 10. We are all looking forward to it.
What can bring clean cut preacher boy griff into a conversation with a man covered from the top of his head to toe in tattoos? If you said a sno cone, you would be right. A group of us setup for a second time in the park with a craft station, soccer game, and free sno cones. Rudy approached our table tonight with two lil girls. He asked how much the sno cones were, and I said “free”. He asked why were doing this. I told him that we were Christians and we wanted to just share God’s example of a free gift of salvation by giving out sno cones. We talked for several moments about his journey, his belief in God, his desire to be a good dad, he wanted to be attending church but hasn’t found one for him, how he returned to God of his upbringing in prison. I gave him and his girls a new Bible and my card, He is supposed to meat us at the VBS.
All because of a sno cone.
We had day two of soccer camp, and it was different than day one. We did not have all of the adults from day one, but we had a great group of kids. We had a lot of great soccer action and fun. Abby Smith did a great job teaching a lesson about creation and about us being creations of God. Some went with Pastor Sosa (Rick Mik, Hannah and Ford Smith, and Mark Boevers) to hand out more flyers for soccer camp and vbs. We had one girl who received the flyer at the grocery store and camp to the fields immediately. She and her mom came to VBS tonight!
The ladies of the church cooked us lunch today. It is always a special treat to have them cook for us. We had the best gorditas and green salsa you have ever tasted. The Gorditas were typically meat with potatoes and a great bread. There was another option, the chicharon which is pig skin. Some tried it, it is good but it does have a different texture. They really do take care of us while we are here!
This afternoon we had the opportunity for some rest since things were setup at the church for VBS. We headed to the dorms to take a nap. In El Paso they do not use refrigerated a/c in many places such as homes and churches. They use the old water cooler types, since the humidity was so low. However this afternoon in the dorms it was really warm as they were not working correctly. Many of us still took a couple of hour nap despite the heat.
We headed to the church to get ready around 4pm to get geared up for the evening. We had a great group of kids show up tonight at the church. We had about 25 kids tonight, compared to 8 the first night. One of the best things about the vbs here is that they have adult Bible studies while we are working with the kids. Tonight there were about 30 adults. Andrew and Ford got the opportunity to lead worship for the adults with Pastor Sosa.
Tonight it was Lindsey’s time to lead the Bible study and she did a great job with the groups rotating to here. We selected Abby and Lindsey to be our designated teachers and it was a good choice! Kerrigan took over running the whole craft area so that Tonie could go to the park, she did such a great job. Raigan, Molly and Hanna along with Esmerelda have done such a great job as the youngest teens on the trip. You cannot tell it by they way they serve and work! We have a great team of students on this trip who have been working very hard and not complaining.
We sent a small crew out the park where we had worked last year. Tonie and Kellie setup a table with sno cones and a game field for soccer. Immediately we had people coming up and saying they remembered us from last year. We had several boys who had remembered us. We handed out free sno cones to the people at the park along with a card inviting them to the Soccer Camp in the morning and VBS at the church. Chase, Dakota and Covey played soccer with the boys. Tonie had a man ask, “why would you give free sno cones?”, The answer “we are Christians and we want to God’s free love in simple way.” I was walking up and a teenage boy on a bike said, “aren’t you the guy from the Christian camp?” That was a powerful testimony of what we have done here in the past and are continuing this year. We plan to head back the park tomorrow and continue what sharing God’s love with whoever comes there.
One word to describe our time since El Paso: blur. We arrived on Sunday evening after our 12 hour drive. We met the members at the church and headed to the streets to hang our flyers.
On Monday we headed to the church at 7:30am to get things moving. We had to unload trailers, a group went to soccer camp while a group stayed at the church to setup for VBS that evening.
We had a great group at the soccer camp in the morning. We had a wide range of ages from 6-60, but the best part is that all of these ages played soccer! We had games going for under 12 year olds and games of teens, moms, and even grandparents out on the field playing!
At the end of soccer camp Molly Mik developed a severe migraine. She was unable to hold down fluids and from past experience her mom took her to a local hospital. It was an answer to our prayers that the medical attention was able to quickly bring a remedy to the situation so that they could return to the group.
Tonight for the VBS we frantically setup to meet the deadline and be prepared for the people. However very few showed up. We have a different setup this year. The church has an actual building that they are meeting in along a highway. They had wanted us to use the building and have VBS for the first time at that location. However, unlike the past there are not any residences in walking distance to the church. We are hoping and praying that more families will be there tonight. We are also looking into sending some groups to the parks and meet people were they are at, as we have done in the past.
We have a friend that has joined our group for the week. Last year in Dell City we befriended a family who had a daughter, named Esmerelda. She was the same age as Raigan and Molly Mik. Last year, Molly and Raigan were not on the trip. We knew that the girls would be great friends if they would meet but that would be a year away. So Tonie started the girls writing actual letters not emails throughout the year. Today they finally got to meet. The family brought her to stay with us until we head to Dell City later in the week. Speaking of friends, Octavio joined us this morning on the soccer field. We have known him for over six years now. It was great to see him, his smile, soccer skills but also to see a life God is working in and through.
Mission trips teach us that following God is not always following your plans. We are seeking God for direction to how he wants to use us this week. We ask that you join us in that prayer, that we would see his direction.
Follow and pray for our mission team in El Paso the week of July 11-19th.
2911students.com - nightly updates.
Griff's facebook - short updates ( fyi, you do not need a facebook account to view my page.)
Mission Team: Hannah, Ford and Abby Smith; Gunnar, Raigan Servati, Molly and Chase Mikulastik, Dakota Burchfield, Covenant Bonnema, Lindsey McLain, Mark Boevers, Andrew Jolly, Kellie McCarter, Rick and Tonie Mikulastik, Griff, Kristi and Kerrigan Servati
We had a Texas themed party for Jaja. It helped that the church vbs theme was western and that we had left bbq brisket from vbs family night! Instead of cake we had an amazing ice cream sundae bar.
It showed how many people grew to love Jaja over her year here. She had the little kids that was in her choir class in church that she helps with on Wednesday night. Family friends came to help setup and enjoy the time with Jaja. Class-mates and teens from the church completed the large group of attendees.
For the first hour and half it was tear-free, then it seemed like the next hour and half was tear-filled!
The girls get their first look at Caden Alan Crosson, Jessica’s baby boy!
Slideshow of Fathers Day Lunch at Thai Noodle Wave.
Slideshow focusing on Our Jaja: her smile, personality and photogenic personality.
By Joyce Godwin
When I think about Father’s Day, I always remember my own father first. Luckily he was serious about his role in raising my brother and two sisters and me. He spent time with us, shared himself with us and taught us about life and more. His last words to me came as I was leaving his hospital room before he had surgery from which he never recovered. “I’m going to love you all of your life,” he called to me. He was my special knight in shining armor who could fix anything for me.
I know another special father who lives in Van Alstyne. You might think I’m going to write about my husband Billy Wayne here, but although he is a special father, he’s not the subject of this writing.
This special father is younger and has more children — all girls. He always thought he would have a son and teases about it now, because he has four beautiful girls who were born to him and others he’s adopted emotionally.
I’ve been blessed to be close to this family almost from their beginning. When Griff and Kristi Servati came to Van Alstyne, they were two youngsters themselves just starting out. Kristi was a coach and teacher at the high school and Griff was the youth minister at First Baptist. They made a difference in the youth of Van Alstyne almost immediately. My daughter is one they influenced.
I remember her saying she wouldn’t get married until she found someone just like Griff. She eventually found her Griff, but that is another story.
Over the next 13 years or so, Griff became a father to Raigan, then Kerrigan, then Jaidan and finally Kailan.
One special thing I remember is a Valentine surprise Griff orchestrated for Kristi. It was nothing elaborate, but he did it all himself. It was a portrait he had made of the girls, I think there were three of them then. He had to fix the girls’ hair for the picture, and although he didn’t do it as well as Kristi would have, he did it for his family.
He says now, he’s happy having just girls. A boy child in their house might upset their balance at this point. As Raigan began to participate in youth league sports, Griff always stepped up to be a coach for softball and then soccer. He didn’t know anything about soccer when he started, other than he wanted his girls to play because it would be good for them. So he set about teaching himself. He has coached Raigan’s team and Kerrigan’s team and will, no doubt, coach Jaidan’s and Kailan’s teams if they decide to play.
All of the things I’ve mentioned are wonderful, but there’s more.
Griff and Kristi have both mentored countless teenagers over the past 13 years. Some of the young men who’ve grown up watching the Servatis have said they know how to be a father by watching Griff.
One young woman who is about to have her first baby told me just the other day that she wouldn’t be the person she is without the Servatis’ influence. They took her into their home for her last few years of high school and she learned by watching them. She said doesn’t want to think about who she might be now if not for the way she was influenced during those years. Now she knows how she wants to raise her children.
This year the Servatis have opened their home to a foreign-exchange student. JaJa has been a wonderful addition to the family and they will all miss her when she leaves for Thailand this week. So will I.
There is yet one more dimension to Griff’s fathering abilities. He will say he’s not doing anything special. He will say he’s just doing his job, and that’s right. But one of the things that impresses me is his faithfulness to his mission. There is no fanfare, he just does what needs to be done. He will never know how many lives have been changed because of the lifestyle demonstrated to and shared with the teenagers in Van Alstyne. When Raigan was little, she referred to the youngsters in Griff’s youth group as “Daddy’s kids.”
That’s exactly what they are.
One of the great projects of the 3rd grade is the Living History Museum. Each student studies a person, writes a biography, memorizes it, dresses up as that person and when touched they share their ‘story’. Kerrigan was Clara Barton, the Civil War nurse who established the US portion of the Red Cross.
The dress that she wore has significant meaning. This dress was worn my ‘Mom’, Jay Hill some 15 years ago when she and ‘Pop’ were the Marietta Frontier Days King and Queen.
So Tuesday, March 2 will be a day that we will not soon forget. We thought it would be marked for a celebration day of Jaja’s 17th birthday. But this day had more in store than we had planned.
I (griff) was going to the dentist in the morning for a couple of fillings. It had only been 10+ years since a dental visit! My checkup the week before I was told I was lucky and had been blessed with good teeth genes. In my life, I have never had a cavity or braces, only had my wisdom teeth removed. Until, March 2, 2010. While working on one of my feelings, my tooth basically caved in. They said it was hard on the outside, and soft on the inside. So a root canal was needed. Not even knowing what that was, we had to move on with it because of the exposed area of my tooth. So what started out as an hour process beginning at 9am actually ended at 3pm!
After school and dental work we headed home to get ready for the celebration night. We all were putting on our shirts that Jaja’s mom had sent from Thailand for Christmas. On the top it says “Mom”, “Dad” or “Daughter” in English and below it the same thing in Thai. We were heading out for seafood and Jaja had requested for her birthday meal. Just before leaving, Raigan said she felt sick, and she was. So with Mom and Raigan out of the picture this changed our situation. Kerrigan really wanted to eat at Thai restaurant, Jaidan did not want to she wanted Pei Wei only, and Jaja kept saying she didn’t care. So we headed out to find a restaurant. I really did not feel like taking the two little girls to a traditional Thai restaurant so we were pushing for the Pei Wei. In the Eldorado area of McKinney there is a new Thai food place called “Thai Noodle Wave”. Thinking this was a probably not as fancy as the other Thai restaurant we headed there. It wasn’t what we expected from the outside! It was an eclectic not traditional with “fresh thai cooking”.
So as Jaja and I were trying to find something for everyone at the table, Jaidan started screaming! She was choking on a peppermint. A peppermint that she had grabbed from the front of the restaurant. I knew that you did not do the Heimlich on children but could not remember what to do. So I screamed across the restaurant asking for help for a choking child. A man and his wife came to help from the opposite side of the restaurant. He was very calm and said if she can cry she was getting air. That helped calm the situation. But Jaidan pointed that the peppermint was in her throat, so the women said for her to take a drink. And about two seconds later up came flying a peppermint! The man and women who came to my aid, were with a party of about 25 people. There were others closer who only looked at our situation, but did not react. These two guardian angels, were the heads of this very large Muslim family, as the women were in full Hijab. Later after finishing our meal, Jaidan and I went again to express their thanks to this very caring family. I am very thankful to this family as they responded quickly to our distress.
After that things calmed down, and we did end up having a wonderful meal. Jaja picked out some things that we all shared. This restaurant was wonderful!!!!!!!!!!! Very trendy, food with flair and presentation, and very moderately priced. I especially enjoyed the Kaow Soy soup (pictured here). Jaja said this was one of her Mom’s favorite foods and now it is one of her Dad’s too! Jaidan and Kailan got to play with the little umbrellas that came with the free ice cream you get after choking. We also had Pad See Lew and they all liked the Thai Herbal Chicken pictured below. So all were very happy!
We headed home after this long and exhausting day. After arriving home, and replaying the event of this adventure to Kristi I mentioned that I was starting to feel the effects of the root canal. She was surprised and said, “I thought you were scheduling a root canal, not have had one!”
I am not sure this was the birthday Jaja would have planned, however it would be one that she will not forget! Happy 17th Birthday!
There were five categories for creating a valentines box in the 3rd grade. Kerrigan had an idea first, then searched for a theme that would fit. She made a garden out of her box and entered it in the “movie” category, with the title “The Secret Garden”. She won her category and received a sweetheart shake from Sonic during lunch.
Thanks to “Ma” (Joyce Godwin) for being our school project helper!
So with the blizzard that hit NTexas on Thursday/Friday, we were not too prepared for Valentines. So after Kerrigan’s bball tournament, Kristi told me to run and get some valentines for the girls. So Kerrigan and I, headed to McKinney. I have been trained over the course of our marriage that Kristi believes flowers are now a waste of money. Since we are married and share the money, it is a waste because basically she is spending money on herself. Also, several of our girls do not like chocolate. So we set out to buy some small gifts for each girl, several hours later, Kristi called wondering where we were. She thought, that I would just run and get flowers and candy for the girls!
Kerrigan and I spent the day, on a quest. We enjoyed the time to be alone. She loved getting her sister and mom gifts, that she did not even get anything for herself! I asked at every location, is this something you would like? She could only focus on everyone else. Upon arrival she could not wait to handout the gifts.
On Sunday, the two big girls helped me prepare the valentines dinner. Raigan and Jaja, helped shop and set the mood. Raigan did the table decor and individual nameplates, and flower petals. We had steak! Which we have not had in months. Baked potatoes, grilled: mushrooms, asparagus, squash and zucchini and salad bar.
We sat around the table and Daddy shared stories of the beginning stages of love between Griff and Kristi. We all laughed at our differing viewpoints of the early relationship. Jaja and the girls, laughed so much at the stories!
I am a blessed man to have so many girls to love, and who love me!
Picasa slideshow embedded, but if you cant see pics, here is the link
So I knew we were having a slumber party for Kerrigan’s birthday, but I did not know the “rest of the story”. The party was going to be just a Sunday after church event. We had two basketball games scheduled and mom had a tournament all day. Raigan thought that Kerrigan should have a slumber party attached, enough that she volunteered to make it happen. Here is what she has done for her sister:
Being the clueless Dad, I had no idea that she was doing all of this for her sister. I am humbled by her selfless actions. At times I have been concerned that in the future my girls would not get along. We see that the girls closest in age struggle to get along. I am filled with hope that my girls will be sisters for life. Yep, my eyes are teary.