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Each year, during the week before spring break, high school students at Cornerstone Prep experience school outside their classroom walls. For six months leading up to IMPACT week, students meet monthly during lunch sessions in teams, preparing for their chosen mission. During this required week, students make real life connections between their faith and classroom learning by participating in their chosen IMPACT team.

Students are encouraged to lead, serve, and learn through IMPACT. When teams return, written reflections are due, providing an additional opportunity for students to cultivate and improve their communication skills, enhance their college resumes and allow this week to impact their lives.


Video Heroes IMPACT Week
Melita Conrey

David Melcher

On the first day of our Impact we went to Must Ministries. We met with Coach Cagle’s wife, Kaye Cagle, who is in charge of many of the things that take place there. We were told what the goal of the video we were making was. Our video was supposed to motivate people donate to Must Ministries in order to have enough money to help around the community. The video will be played at their yearly gala in front of 600-700 people. We went into their food pantry and set up all of our equipment for shooting. We interviewed Dr. Rivera who is the Head of Marietta schools. He spoke on how beneficial Must Ministries has been in the community and the impact they have had on many people. After we got our footage we packed it up and headed to Must Ministries other location.

We were given a tour of the other facility. They showed us how they sort everything out and what stuff they carry. They send out care packages every week that have food, toiletries, and many other products to several in-need families. After the tour, we shot B-roll and got footage for our the gala video. We were then given pizza and drinks during lunch. We started to wrap things up and took a group photo, then headed home.

Eliana Fullerton

The week kicked off visiting MUST ministries. We started out at MUST headquarters to film the Marietta school superintendent and the principal of an elementary school. The setup and break down of the equipment took longer than the actual interviews. We then drove across the street to their warehouse. We filmed B-Roll and ate lunch over there. The very best part of that day was meeting new people. We met some volunteers and staff members, all of whom were kind and welcoming. 

Xarian Tillman

On our first day of IMPct, we arrived at the school at 8:30 and left at 9:00. We drove in buses to Must Ministries to film two school executives. They talked about what Must Ministries is doing for their community, and what Must Ministries is doing for individual families.

After we got their input on Must Ministries we then went on to another Must MInistries facility to learn and film the Home Depot Workers. We got to hear from one of the workers who explained what Must MInistries had brought to them. We also learned how they run the donation facility, and we can volunteer. 

Samantha Stoudt

Monday was our main filming day. I was honestly slightly nervous because I had no previous filming experience. However, right after we arrived at Must Ministries, I knew it was going to be a good day. Immediately, our group began to set up our equipment. Our team displayed great cooperation as some of the more experienced students helped out the less experienced ones. Before filming even began, I got to see how much work truly goes into multi-camera filming.

First, we filmed Ms. Mize. Ms. Mize is the principal at Green Acres Elementary. In our video, she discusses the impact the food bank and its resources have on her students. She also told a heartwarming story of a child who had to take turns on which sibling got to eat that day. Next, we filmed Dr. Grant Rivera, the superintendent of Marietta City Schools. He told about the impact of a full stomach on student success.

We then rode down the road to the Must Ministries Warehouse. While we were there, we got to tour the facilities and see how they keep everything organized. After that, we were released to take some B-Role of the facilities. It was really cool to get to see that videography is not just keeping the camera straight but also taking creativity shots. Overall, Monday was my favorite day because I got to know some do my team members and learn a little bit more about videography.

Caleb Cowart

This Monday was an incredible experience for me. Monday, we had the chance to video clips for MUST Ministries. Each camera was specifically placed to take clips of different people. First we had Ashley Mize speak on her testimony about a student who came to school hungry. The student said that it wasn't his turn to eat the night before. It was a very emotional testimony. Next we had the super attendant of Marietta schools, Grant Rivera. He spoke on how families need food, detergent, clothes, etc. Each child needs these resources to do better in school and in life. With the interviews done, we moved onto videoing all of the behind the scenes. After that, we took shots of Home Depot volunteers who helped move donated goods into MUST's Warehouse. Once we were finished with all of this, everyone hopped on the bus and went home.

Alexander Hamm

Monday was a great start for my first IMPACT. My IMPACT group and I went to a MUST ministries building and interviewed two people. We set up  all the cameras, lights and audio. Then we had two people to interview, one was a principal and the other was a superintendent. The superintendent talked about a child who came to her asking for food. She asked the child if he had any dinner or breakfast and the child said “No, it was not my turn to eat.”

The principal talked about how MUST ministries has teamed up with some schools in the area, these schools have food pantries for the kids who do not have food for themselves. These schools also help the families of these students. MUST relies on people donating things to them, the two main things are food and toiletries. I've learned that toiletries are something I take for granted, some kids don't come to school because they do not have toiletries.

Ethan Cundiff

On the first day, we went to Must Ministries to film two interviews for a must ministry trailer. We had to set up the stage for the talents. I was in charge of the clapper. I had to clap it to show the editors when to align the video. The talents were there to speak on the hunger the kids experienced even in school. It was a interesting experience and I learned much from it.

Wesley Manning

On Tuesday of IMPACT week, the Video Heroes team was exploring different studios to understand the workflow and process surrounding video production. We visited two locations, Wits End and Vlink studios which both in their own way helped describe the workflow needed for such a large scale production and tips and tricks to help our team build our video. On this part of the trip, I learned about the need for efficiency. We discovered that planning ahead of time for a video by laying out the schedule and having it planned far before you ever turn on a camera. I deeply enjoyed this part of the trip because it explored how in everything that we do, we can plan ahead and understand the process of it before doing it. 

Jeremiah Anderson

This week has been an enlightening week for me. I have been able to learn skills of something I love to do, and I have been able to serve the community. On Monday, we filmed interviews with two people, who had testimonials of Must Ministries. That was a great experience because it showed what a fantastic impact we can make in the community. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to tour two different video studios, which was very interesting. On Wednesday and Thursday, we worked on finishing the video at the school. IMPACT was a awesome experience for me this year!

Trey Young

This week for IMPACT we worked in groups on making the MUST Ministries gala video.  On Monday, we went to one of the MUST workspaces and filmed several interviews with high-level executives from MUST.  We then went to a MUST warehouse and filmed Home Depot volunteers making food packages for MUST customers. On Tuesday we went and toured several film studios, being Witt’s End Studios and VLink Solutions.  We learned about what it takes to make high-quality videos and ads.

    On Wednesday, we stayed at Cornerstone and worked on editing videos.  I was in the group that filmed the morning announcements. We filmed most of it and started editing.  On Thursday, we finished filming the announcements and continued to edit them and the MUST video.

Larkin Chastain

This week I was in the Videos Heroes IMPACT team. It is not just about filming, but also friendships. I've gotten to know much more about my friends than I have ever learned before. But, back to the filming part. Over the last week, we filmed a whole video, which I thought was awesome. I was in the Behind the Scenes group, and we made a separate video for how we made the video and also bloopers. The people we filmed were a vice president of Marietta city schools and the principle of another school. I really realized the importance of Must Ministries through these two people. We had a lot of fun filming and learning a lot from the talents. 

Alexa Cosgrove

Wednesday was our first day editing our video for the MUST Ministries Gala! I am on the music team for the editing portion of the video making process so my day was spent setting up audio equipment. I was extremely excited to be on this team because I have been running sound for the Musical Theater performances for 2 years and I love running sound whenever I can. It turned out that the sound system was not going to work in the music room like we had hoped it would. This realization came after problem solving for about 2 hours. During those two hours, those of us on the music team had the opportunity to talk about what we were doing and get to know each other better. While we didn’t necessarily get done what we had hoped to sound-wise, I learned a lot about what we were doing and I got to have some cool conversations with some awesome people. 

Jordan Mitchler

Friday was my favorite day of the IMPACT week. Most of the team played video games and basketball while I took my time putting the finishing touches on my part of the project. We went to Five guys for lunch and I took home nearly five pounds of extra fries just because I felt like it. 

Overall this IMPACT week was full of learning experiences, getting to know new friends, and having fun doing the service project along with the announcements. I'm quite satisfied with my choice to be a part of the Video Heroes team this year. 

Jett Jennings

This week we filmed videos for Must Ministries and edited them to make the video for the gala. We were able to tour the must donation center and see what it is like. It showed me how it can make an IMPACT on the people in the community. We toured two studios including Wit's studio. We were able to meet the owner of it.

Once we had all of the video clips, we had to edit the videos. We had filmed the behind the scenes clips earlier in the week and we had to put them together into a video. Also we recorded some audio voice overs so that we could put them in the gala video. Some people in our group made the announcements for the school.

Toby Penner

This week we began by taking as much footage as we could to make sure had enough time to take B-role and more audio and then edit. We began filming the Superintendent of Marietta Schools. He helped to explain the impact of the Must school pantries and how the children were asking for food from their teachers. Later, we went to Must’s pantries and filmed several of their workers, displaying the vast amount of donors. We took a ton of B-Role footage of the Home Depot volunteer workers.

We then went to Witt’s end and met a film producer, video editor, and actor. At Witt’s End, we discussed the budget and schedule for our video, and what a real movie schedule would look like. We discussed several common mistakes made by the film industry and learned from them. We ate and then went back to Cornerstone and did a large amount of editing. We almost lost all of our footage but then found it again. Luckily, we were able to finish in time and make our video.

Tyler Francis

During this week in IMPACT, we were able to help MUST Ministries in producing a video for their annual gala.  We went to their campus and interviewed a school superintendent, as well as a school principal.  We were also able to visit a couple of film studios for tips on shooting video.

For the second half of the week, we stayed on Cornerstone's campus and edited our footage into videos. We split into different groups that had different tasks.  There was a group responsible for music, which recorded original music to put into the video.  There was also a group of people that recorded behind the scenes footage and edited it into an edited video.  We also had a team that was responsible for the creation of the school morning announcements that will be played on Monday, April 8.
  • IMPACT2019
  • Video Heroes
Pathways to Paul IMPACT Week
Melita Conrey

Abby Harrah

Today was our first day touring in Greece. We went to Corinth and Mycenae. It had the Lionesse Gate, the Tomb of Agamennon, and many other interesting sights. One of my favorite places we saw was the Tomb of Agamennon because it was shaped like a beehive, and there were actually many bees there, even though they are not there year-round. My favorite artifact that we saw in a museum was an ancient mirror. It relates to the verses 1 Corinthians 13:11-13, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Now I can further understand what it means when it talks about only seeing a reflection as in a mirror, when I thought all mirrors showed good reflections. The ancient mirrors were just polished bronze, so the reflections were not very clear, unlike a modern mirror, in which reflections are clear. I am very excited for what else there is to see and do in the coming week.

Evan Cavanaugh

Today we went to the city of Corinth and then to the city of Mycenae. In Corinth, we went to an extremely high canal and an ancient Greek museum. In Mycenae, we went to one of the largest tombs in Greece and then we went to one of the oldest forts in Greece. The fort was really cool because they designed it in such a way that the high priest couldn’t be reached from behind, so attacking armies had to go up an extremely long hill while under attack from archers/stone lobbers. I can’t wait to see what other cool places we visit in Greece.

Michelle Castro

Today has been my favorite day of our trip so far. We started with a nice breakfast and then headed into the streets of Athens. We got to shop and buy some pretty neat souvenirs and I fell in love with all of the amazing artworks and crafts we saw along the way. The views of several ancient ruins were really cool to see as we strolled along the streets. Also, we got to eat some really authentic Greek food, and I enjoyed the gyros. After lunch, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe and I bought more sweatshirts and key chains to add to my collection. We ended the day with a tour of the Acropylis museum and pictures on the steps at the national library. I enjoyed spending time with everyone and we all were having an amazing time together. I look forward to the rest of the trip with this amazing group!

Rachel Weber

Today was a great day as we explored Athens and took in the Greek culture.  We went on a walking tour of the city and shopped at local vendors and bought plenty of souvenirs.  The guide took us to lunch at a small restaurant and most of us ordered pork gyros and we all enjoyed the genuine Greek food.  They treated us to a dessert which was greek yogurt and honey, but it was not as well liked as the gyros. We headed back to the hotel after lunch and decided to go to the Acropylis hotel.  To get there we had to brave the metro, but we managed to make it there and back without losing anyone. Through the day as we walked the streets, the whole group was able to bond some more and really get to know each other, even the quietest kid was being loud.  The day was busy but so much fun and taught us about the modern culture of Greece.

Rose Mullinax

Today our IMPACT team awoke early to see the Parthenon in all its glory. We all loved the beautiful sight of the city from above with all the timeless beauty. After viewing the large city, we made our way toward Paul’s podium where he shared the gospel to the Greeks. The tour guide really helped us fall back in time and connect the sight we saw with the history of the place. Eventually, we came to a local shelter where we served where they needed us. It was really humbling to have the Holy Spirit be present and surpass all the language barriers when the sermon began. Today was special and I look forward to seeing more history to connect to our present day!

Evan Barrett

Today the first thing we did was going hiking to explore the Acropolis and Parthenon. We spent about 3 hours exploring and learning about some of Paul's work as well as some ancient Greek mythology. Later, we went to our service project. The tour group we went with normally does not plan service projects. But our tour guide did some research and found a volunteer shelter that serves food and gives devotions to the homeless. It was called katafigio agapis. We were there too early to serve them food, but we were able to help prepare the meal and partake in the devotions.

Braden Rhein

    Today was one of my favorite days on the trip. We ventured out early this morning to visit and tour the Monastaries of Meteora. Driving past these huge rock formations really reminded me of how powerful God really is. No one else could have shaped those rocks in a certain way so that they could hold churches for people to worship in. When we were told the story of how the rock formations came to be, it was evident to me that God had the right timing so that the monastaries were there in time for people to be drawn to Christ. Climbing up the stairs to the monestary was one of the most fascinating things to me. We were able to see all the architecture that I love and the beauty that was bestowed upon the mountains. One day I would like to return so I could witness the beauty once more.

Abigail Larsen

Mountains, Monastaries, and Memories! Our day in Meteora was full of marvelous colors, scrumptious foods, and laughing until our stomachs hurt. My highlight of this day was standing in the center of the monastary, enchanted by the teachings of the tour guide, when I notice that I am standing directly on a Star of David carved into the floor. Not taking it to thought, I notice the shape and continue listemning to our guide. Moments later, she directed the group to look up. My eyes started to water with tears of joy. A wave of comfort and joy captured my heart as I stared into the eyes of a painting of a personified God watcing over me from the domed ceiling. The Star of David symbolizes the union between heaven and earth, and in that moment, I’ve never felt closer to my eternal home. All at once, I felt the weight of His love on my shoulders like blanket of grace. The overwhelming grace of His presence lay in every detail of the monastary from floor to ceiling, in all the cracks of the mountains, and every moment of our days in Greece. 

Emma Harrah

Today, we ventured from Kalambaka and the monasteries of Meteora to the city of Thessaloniki. We got up, ate our breakfast, and boarded the bus. In about two hours, we would arrive at King Philip's Tomb. The tomb was the second greatest archeological find of the twentieth century, the first being King Tut's Tomb in Egypt. Phillip was Alexander the Great’s father, and we observed artifacts from the burial process such as belongings buried with him, the box where the bones and ashes were found, and gold crowns buried with them. In his burial, Phillip was given a bath, then burned with all of his treasures and belongings, then his bones were cleaned with wine. After his bones were cleaned they were wrapped in purple and gold cloth and his ashes, wrapped bones, and skull were placed into a gold box. We were able to see the door to his tomb, as well as, the door to Alexander IV’s tomb, Alexander the Great’s son. The doors were made of marble to be able to hold the weight of the dirt when they were covered to be hidden from others as a risk of stealing. We ate lunch and shopped in the small town and then got on the bus and headed towards Berea. After the thirty minute bus ride, we got off and looked at a memorial to the Apostle Paul, a synagogue and the remains of the predominantly German Town. It was interesting to see the paintings that the church had in Paul’s memorial. It showed Paul being given a vision on one side and on the other it had Paul preaching to the people (Acts 16:9-10). I enjoyed seeing the memorial as a memoir to Paul and his preachings. After this brief stop, we had an hour bus ride to Thessaloniki. Miles of blue water and coffee shops welcomed us. We first got off at what the Greek’s call “White Castle.” The castle is where prisoners used to be kept but is now a museum. Next we went to the top of the city and saw the ruins of the Ancient Roman walls that once surrounded the city. The view of the entire town and Aegean Sea was absolutely breathtaking. Our final stop today was the Ancient Roman Marketplace Paul went to. We read from Acts as we stood there looking at the ruins looking at the columns and the road imagining what it would have looked like. Seeing stones from the infamous Roman Road and the marketplace, it was clear and I was awed to actually be standing where Paul was. Reading it and standing there is something not many people can do and it is breathtaking to know you stood where Paul was and traced his footsteps. After a long day of bus riding and touring we checked into our hotel, went out for coffee, and ate dinner. It is bittersweet that the trip is coming to an end, and I am so grateful for the new friendships and memories made. I am looking forward to touring Philippi tomorrow and I am grateful that I was able to experience something so special and so priceless.

Raeah Woodson

Today was the last day of an amazing week. We followed Paul’s footsteps to Philippi and Kavala. My favorite city to visit was Philippi where Paul was publicly punished and unrightfully imprisoned without a trial. I am so grateful for being able to live as a Christian freely, without fear of punishment. After Philippi we visited Kavala, a sea port where Paul and his disciples (Timothy and Silas) landed. This week was one of the best weeks of my life, getting to see these amazing sites and getting to know everyone on the trip. During school, I do not usually see most of the people that are on my trip. So it was very exciting to get to know everyone and make new friends. By the end of the week, we bonded and became a small little family. I am so blessed to have had this opportunity to travel behind Paul’s footsteps and learn about Greek history. I loved being able to walk on the same roads of important ancient and Biblical figures. This IMPACT week has brought the Bible to life and has strengthened my relationship with the Lord.

  • IMPACT2019
  • Pathways of Paul
Surf's Up! IMPACT Week
Melita Conrey

Cassie Petersen

Sunday was our fun and relaxing day, we woke up to the smell of pancakes (courtesy of JT) and then spent all day on the water. As I was doing my quiet time that morning, I read a passage from Matthew about  Jesus calling the first disciples (Simon Peter and Andrew), Jesus said He would make them "fishers of men" which was a little ironic as I sat on the porch watching our neighbors fish. It was cool reading how Jesus takes the gifts and talents you already have to build His kingdom!
We were all so grateful that our house was right on the beach, and we could walk off our porch and straight onto the sand (which made snack breaks easier). Sunday was definitely one of my favorite days because we spent it together having so much fun! Listening to music, flying kites, and playing volleyball made our first day full of memories. That night we sat under the stars and had a mini worship night, we sang praises and Pastor Nolan taught a message about fears, and how the Bible tells us "do not fear!" (Deut. 31). One by one we opened up and shared our fears about the unknown futures ahead of us. It was such a sweet moment that made me so thankful for my senior class and the bond we've had for so long! This IMPACT trip was so amazing and I will never forget the memories made with my best friends!

Lillian Cook

Monday was only our second full day at Cocoa Beach, but I think we could all agree that it had already been the best IMPACT week yet.  On Monday morning, we headed to School of Surf for our first day of surfing.  The school is owned by Todd Holland, one of the most famous surfers from the east coast, and his wife, Lauren.  After we suited up in our wetsuits, Todd taught us the basics of surfing and helped us practice the "pop up" (standing up) on a surfboard inside before we hit the beach.  I'll admit I felt a little nervous, but at the same time I was stoked to get in the water and catch a wave.  We were divided up into groups and four and each group was led by an instructor.  I was in a group with Grace J., Grace C., and Cassie, and our instructor, Forest, was so laid back and friendly and helped us feel confident about learning to surf.  It was the best feeling when I paddled into my first wave, heard him yell "Up!" and stood up on the board and actually surfed for the very first time!  We were all able to stand up on our boards on the first day, and after riding that first wave I could not wait to do it again and again.
Surfing was pretty tiring, so we went back to our beach house to make lunch, relax, and get ready for our next adventure of the day: a kayak tour through the Mangrove Tunnels in the Thousand Islands of the Banana River Lagoon.  I was amazed when our tour guide, Genevieve, explained that all the tunnels are naturally occurring and part of a very intricate ecosystem.  Elliott and I were kayaking (or "yakin") partners, and it took a lot of teamwork to get through some of the tight spaces in the tunnels, but we had so much fun.  My favorite part of the tour was at the end as the sun was setting over the water and the sky was lit up with beautiful colors.  My heart felt so full as I paddled toward the sunset, admiring the view, and feeling so thankful to be on such a special trip with some of my best friends.
After "yakin", we had a night in at the house and ate pizza for dinner.  Then, we did our daily devotion and talked about the day.  Something we realized as we talked was that we all had a similar takeaway from the day: surfing is a metaphor for our spiritual lives.  Many times in life, and especially now as seniors getting ready for a new chapter, we have to do things that we might feel afraid to do.  Just like getting out in the ocean and standing up on the surfboard takes some guts, following God's plan takes some guts, too.  When we actually do stand up, it might be hard to balance, but God will always carry us through to the shore.  And, even if we fall and make mistakes, there are always more waves, which is God's way of showing us grace and giving us endless chances to put our trust back in Him and get back up on the board.  Sometimes, falling is even part of His plan in order to teach us a lesson and help us grow our in faith.  It's easy to try and go through life on our own strength, but we ultimately need to depend on Him and go with the flow of what He has set before us.  It was so cool to hear how everyone took away pieces of this bigger lesson throughout the day.  The last thing we did was go around the room and everyone said one nice thing that they noticed in one person.  We highlighted four people each night, so by the end of the week, all 16 people on the team had received so many kind words of encouragement about them.  This was my favorite tradition of the week because it really helped us see the best in each other and it was so refreshing to hear everyone lifting one another up.
This IMPACT trip was by far my favorite.  It was such a fun adventure and God worked in so many ways.  I feel incredibly blessed that I had the opportunity to be a part of the Surf's Up team and make some rad memories that will last a lifetime.  God is so good!

J.T. Snyder

On Tuesday, I started out the morning by making breakfast for everyone, After that, we all went to surfing for three hours. Once we finished surfing, we then went back to our house to get lunch. Then once we were done eating, my group went to go do our service project. Our service project was to help organize a thrift shop that was in desperate need for volunteers. We helped by organizing multiple bags of clothes. Once we finished this we went home and went to bed. 

Elliott Stone

On Tuesday, we started out surfing again, which left all of us beaten and tired from tackling the waves. After that, we went to a thrift shop nearby. There, we had helped unpack loads of bags full of clothes in the back room. Some of the clothes were in garbage bags which, to our best guess, must have been sitting there for a while. The guys and I joked about getting numerous diseases by the second because of said questionable garbage bags. After we were done, the lady who had helped oversee us complimented us. She later told Pastor Nolan that only six people worked at that thrift store! Through this act of helping at the thrift shop, I felt at ease the whole time I was there, even though my back was killing me. I found it amazing that even the smallest act of unpacking lots of clothes can really make a difference in someone's day.

Madison Locke

The surfing lifestyle is one of patience, hanging loose, and learning to get back up. Today our IMPACT team served in a local community donation center for the homeless. It was hard work and smelled awful but the impact it made upon the workers and those in need was incredible. When you work together as a team and complete a task so simple sometimes it can feel like you are not doing anything. And the truth is you are not because it is God who had gone before you in every thing even in folding and hanging up clothes. If the Lord has moved this much in the community of Cocoa Beach this early in the week I cannot wait to see what else he has in store. 

Alyssa Pilcher

Today was a full day of activities. We woke up and went surfing, and the waves were especially rough today. We were able to send everyone out on the water, but wave after wave came crashing down on us as we tried to get out on our boards. I personally was able to catch a few, and after the effort it took to get out on the water, surfing back to the shore felt amazing. The group also got to experience an aerial adventure park with zip-lines and obstacle courses from fifteen to forty-five feet in the air. It took a lot of physical strength that was especially demanding after a morning on the water, but I got a lot out of the experience. Sometimes God puts us in situations that seem difficult or even impossible to handle, but when the waves were toughest, we were able to surf. When the obstacles were demanding, we continued to climb. I learned a lot about trust on this trip, and that is a lesson that I am happy to take home with me.

Reid Finnegan

I really enjoy those sort of adventurous activities, so I was excited to head to a high ropes course today. But once we got to the top level, it sort of hit me. We were all harnessed up and I knew I wasn’t going to fall, but standing in front of monkey rings fifty feet up in the air is a bit unnerving. I started freaking out a bit thinking about taking that leap of faith where all I had to rely on was my own strength and ability. After much inner deliberation, I finally picked my feet up and started swinging from ring to ring. But, once I was out there I realized that I wasn’t relying on myself, but the encouragement of others was really what propelled me across. I made it across just to turn around and see the whole group cheering. I couldn’t help but think about that in relation to this new chapter in my life. Going to college, it seems like that all you have to rely on is yourself. And although that might be somewhat true, I know that I will always have these friends and family to cheer me on and catch me when I fall.

Scott Everill

As I paddled out for the last day of surfing, I was struck by the power of the ocean. We were dragged back and forth, completely at the mercy of the waves. Die hard surfers describe the experience as spiritual, and I can say that it is true. They feel the power and beauty of the water and do not realize that they are seeing a glimpse of the majesty of God. 

Levi Willoughby

This week has been incredible.  I had no idea how many life lessons I could learn from something like surfing.  I enjoyed trying something new, and I loved every minute that I spent with the people on this trip.  As a bunch of seniors, we are all going through some similar times in our lives.  There are a lot of questions running through our heads, and spending time with each other helped answer those questions.  We put some fears about the future to rest, and we spent time building each other up.  It was an incredible week, one that I will remember forever. 
  • IMPACT2019
  • Surf's Up
Backyard Adventures IMPACT Week
Melita Conrey

Bailey Bulliner

On our first day of IMPACT our group went rock climbing. I enjoyed the challenge. There were different levels of difficulty you could choose based on the height of the wall and the color of the handhold. The climbing was also a great way to get to know the members of our impact group better, either by encouraging an individual to reach the top or by standing in line to climb a certain wall. Personally, I did not know some of the people in this impact group well, and by making some memories with them today has changed that for the better. Lunch was delicious and a great opportunity to talk face to face. Overall the day was challenging and fun, but also provided a glimpse of the fun we are sure to have the rest of this week.

Jason Beckham

The rock climbing that we did on day one of IMPACT was very fun. We climbed rock at stone summit then ate ice cream at Jason's deli. So overall the first day of IMPACT was very fun.

Harrison Borders

Today we went to Stone Summit in Kennesaw, Ga. Stone Summit is a rock climbing place that has all levels of rock climbing from easy to hard. It was really fun. Then after, we went to lunch and ate a lot of ice cream.

Kaelyn Eeles

On Tuesday we traveled to Alabama where we went rappelling. Before we repelled, we went hiking a bit to reach our destination. Rappelling was very fun, and most of us enjoyed it. I was inspired to do more things out of my comfort zone, because it ends up being awesome. The view was magnificent and I can't wait for tomorrow!

James Greene

The second day of our trip was a good one for a couple reasons. First, when I signed up for this trip, I didn’t know anyone too well, however now that the group has worked together for a little bit of time, it seems much more cohesive and laid back. Second, we went repelling today. After our guide asked who all had been repelling before and only two raised their hands, it made me realize something; we are very lucky to be able to do this sort of thing whereas much of our generation doesn’t get to. It reminded me to be appreciative of the blessings that God has given us, because not everyone will get the same opportunities as I might.

Matthew Garner

On day two, the Backyard Adventures IMPACT Team went repelling, followed by a short hike. I am not deathly afraid of heights but the view beyond the edge of the rock ignited any potential fear. As I grabbed my end of the rope, I was formulating any possible way to get out of repelling down the cliff, but I swallowed my fear and shifted my weight to the horizontal side of the large rock. At the end of the excursion, I looked up and admired my journey down the cliff, but more importantly, the defeat of the fear of the unknown, the fear of discomfort, and the fear of inconvenience. For me, day two will not only be defined by fun, thrill, and adventure, but by the subjugation of fear itself and the triumph over complacency.

Suzanne Whitney

Today, our IMPACT team was given the opportunity to serve at a nearby humane society. From playing with the canines to snuggling with cats, it was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. I was overwhelmed with immense joy simply watching the dogs frolic in the balmy sunshine. I was excited about attending this trip but had no idea it would be as incredible as it was. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. You could always expect positive and heartfelt laughter when we were together. From galloping across grassy meadows on my feisty horse to getting stuck on a zip line, it was hands down a week I will never forget. 

Sophia Sanders

Today, the fourth day of IMPACT, we went ziplining. Going on the ziplines took a lot of courage because they were so high off of the ground and there was no telling how fast you would go. Sometimes you have to put your trust in something that you do not know very well. I put my trust in God. No matter how close you are with God, He will always get you safely to the other side of the obstacle. However, putting all of your trust and building your foundation on a person either won’t hold you, won’t get you as far as you need, or won’t have enough strength and you both get hurt in the end. Anyways, the ziplining was a blast and there were some wobbly ropes, but God has your back always.

Isabel Guice

On the third day of IMPACT, my group had the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature while horseback riding. We set off on the trail and soon discovered a few of the challenges of riding horses. There were definitely moments of panic and uneasiness as the horses would take off sporadically, but the overall experience was one of excitement and delight as we were captivated by the scenery. We ended the day by taking an exhausting hike to the top of a mountain. The view was breathtaking and made me realize how beautiful God's creation is and how powerful He is. So far, IMPACT has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and has helped to grow deeper relationships.

Jake Lashley

Today was our most traveled day during IMPACT, we drove 2 hours to Track Rock, in Blairsville. Once at Track Road we saddled up on horses and hit the trail. It was most of the groups first time on a horse, but some did have a differing range of experience. I had so much fun horseback riding. Then we went to Brasstown Bald, ate lunch and enjoyed the view of the surrounding landscape. It was a long, but fun day with my group.

Nicholas Hamm

 Today was the third day of IMPACT. We rode horses and then hiked to the top of a mountain. It was my first time riding a horse and my horse was named Toby. He didn’t do much but eat grass and walk around but I still felt a special bond between Toby and I. He went galloping through the field without my command which I wasn’t ready for and luckily he stopped right before I lost my balance. Afterward, we went hiking up a mountain. On my way up I decided that it would be easier to walk up the paved trail backward. As I turned around to conquer the mountain I was struck by a falling branch. It did nothing more than a scratch on my forehead and only a couple people saw it but the impact of being hit straight in the face was an eye-opener for me. After that, I was sure to check my surroundings. All jokes aside I had an amazing time and the view on top of the mountain was so amazing. You could see all the way to North Carolina from the lookout at the top. 

Ella White

This past week has been incredible. From rappelling to zip-lining, every second has been an amazing encounter with God’s creation. Today was our service day and we served at Etowah Valley Humane Society. We cuddled the cats and took the dogs for walks. It was cool to see where our groups favorite sections were and to see everyone’s faces light up at the sight of the animals. I would definitely go back to see those animals again and to help there. Our final day of IMPACT was a pretty good day. 

Sarah Setzler

Today we went zip lining and it was incredible. The guides were very nice and had a great sense of humor. The actual zip lining was not as terrifying as I had thought it would be. Almost everyone was in a good mood the whole time, you could just tell we were almost all having a fantastic time.

  • Backyard Adventures
  • IMPACT2019
Wondrous Works IMPACT Week
Melita Conrey

Jake Auton

Today's adventures were thought provoking and portrayed an encouraging message. To start the day, our group met with children's illustrator that taught that possibilities are always just around the corner and that creativity has no limits. Any art style that people enjoy to participate in, is being sought after somewhere for people to admire. The illustrator, Michael White, taught all about creating a children's book and being a personalized and creative artist. The goal of art to have fun and create as many fun ideas as possible. I was encouraged to participate in expressing myself through art more than I ever have been before. After the illustrator left, the group was able to create more art to enjoy what we had just learned about. I had a blast being able to spend time with my friends and create colorful objects. Next, we went to Young Chef's and made cupcakes. It is fun to see how many options there are to express artistic ability. I think that food art is my favorite art form. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn all the possible ways to express myself through art. 

Madeline Cusick

Today was a fantastic day for the Wondrous Works IMPACT Group! First, an illustrator came to speak to us. He is a children’s illustrator and brought in his art supplies so he could teach us how to draw some of his characters. Next, we did some service. We painted some canvases for teachers. We are going to give them out during teacher appreciation week. Then we had lunch and headed to our final activity, which was cake baking and decorating. We baked cupcakes and decorated them however we wanted. The message I gained from today's activities is that art can come in many different forms, it can be edible or crazy colored or weirdly drawn. But, it is art all the same. I cannot wait to spend another day with this amazing group!

Brooke Williams

Wondrous Works went to Paradise Gardens. We saw many types of art and saw how art could take shape in many ways. Much of the art we saw was made using every day objects. After the gardens we ate lunch at a park. This was my favorite part of the day because we got to be in the nature and see God's beautiful creation. We took a small hike on one of the trails nearby and this was a wonderful time to reflect on the day. 

Matthew Barber

Today on my trip we went to SCAD and it was a very interesting experience to see the different pieces of art throughout the school. Although I do not plan to go to school there it was still worth seeing the students creative artwork during our tour. Next, we went to the Krog Street tunnel and I thought that the street art was very creative and unique to see. Before ending off the day we walked over to Krog Street Market and there I ate at Richards. This place makes the best chicken sandwich and that was a great way to end the day.

Ivey Bolding

Today, Wondrous  Works went to help at  Feed  My  Lambs.  We split into groups and told the children about the story of Jesus leaving the ninety-nine to find the stray.  We then played with them on the playground.  

Adriana Holbrook

On Wednesday, March 27, we had our service day at Feed My Lambs, a daycare for underprivileged children. We split up into three groups, two with the four-year-olds and one with the three-year-olds. Those children were so sweet and really craved attention. We entered the room and they came and sat in our laps and were so sweet! I told the Bible story for my group about the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Then we made a sheep craft out of a paper plate, paper cutouts, cotton balls, and glue. They loved it! And we brought them animal crackers. We were able to play with them during recess and it was such a sweet experience. It was such a blessing to love on them and to shine the Light of Christ through our actions. Those children felt so loved and so did we as a team. It was sad for everyone to leave, but I plan on going and volunteering again! It was such a blessing to be a part of! 

Megan Ingram

On Thursday we visited SCAD, the Atlanta Beltline, and Krog Street Market. Visiting SCAD made me really excited for college because art in many forms is scattered throughout the hallways, and the place was very chill. I thought the graffiti covering the Beltline was beautiful and I learned the power of leaving a positive mark for other people armed only with a sharpie marker.

Ashley Lago

Today we went to Paradise Gardens and after that hiked in a park. I was excited to see Paradise Gardens because I was interested to see the art that caused an entire movement. I learned that while some art for God may seem weird and confusing, it is still art for the Lord and no one should treat it differently.

Gavin McCollum

The whole IMPACT trip was fun, though I was assigned to do the last day alone. The main event was glass blowing, which was good, though not what I was expecting. The workshop, for lack of a better term, wasn't as fancy or polished as I had somehow come to anticipate, but the instructors were nice and knowledgeable, and the actual process was simpler than I expected. Overall very enjoyable, and I'm excited to see how my ornament turned out when it gets back to me!

Hannah Mickler

On Monday me and my team, Wondrous Works, had a meeting with a book illustrator named Michael White. He showed us how he draws his signature characters and food drawings.  He’s an inspiration to many telling all of us to sign our names on whatever we do and to follow our dreams. He said that he’s never met someone who never lived out their dream. After that, we all piled in our bus and went down to Young Chefs and learned how to make delicious cupcakes.

Caleb Setzler

Today we spent our time in Paradise Gardens, an art exhibit made by a famous Baptist minister Howard Finster. He made this exhibit after feeling he was called to “make sacred art” according to the vision that he claimed to have. During his life, he claimed to have visions of other worlds and that he had lived past lives on other planets. Many see his artistic expressions of his beliefs in the garden to be true spiritual experiences that he had and others saw it as simply a new artistic form that he made and did not truly believe to be accurate. Regardless of the origin of the art, this exhibit and Finster’s other art pioneered a new style of art and showcases how art can come in a massive variety of styles and forms. I also think that this experience helped me bond with many other members of my team who I am less familiar with, hopefully, as IMPACT week continues we will grow closer and closer together.

Jordan Weber

On today’s IMPACT, we learned about the art of glass blowing. We were each taught how to blow glass and made our own ornaments. I was unaware of how much time and effort it takes to blow glass and was excited to learn about it. Today’s trip taught me that art can come in many different forms. 

  • IMPACT2019
  • Wondrous Works
If the Earth Were a Golf Ball 2 IMPACT Week
Melita Conrey

Roger Brown

Yesterday we visited the Fernbank museum, it was interesting to see the activities that showcased various science properties. The planetarium show was fun to watch and I was able to see how early astronomers outlined the constellations that they saw. I was amazed to see how God created the great constellations.

Mimi Chapman

My IMPACT group and the first If the Earth was a Golf Ball group got to go to Compton Elementary School to do various jobs around the school. Some people worked with the kids to make a kale salad, others checked on the aquaponics system that was installed by another impact team last year, and some cleaned and sorted a room of clothes that were to be given to the kids or donated. A couple people from my group and I sorted and cleaned the room of clothes. Although I was hoping to work with the kids, I found myself enjoying organizing the clothes. I found that sometimes you can find satisfaction in different ways than you expected. Though organizing wasn’t my first choice I had so much fun, and made so many memories with those who helped. To me the most important thing was learning to have fun and doing everything to the best of your abilities.

Drake Kinsey

Today on our IMPACT trip we went to Topgolf. at Topgolf we would try to hit golf balls into targets and get as many points as possible. I had played it before and also played normal golf before so I knew the basics. we were not allowed to bring our own golf clubs so I had to use the ones there. The clubs there seemed fine at first, but it went downhill. The balls would always turn to the right no matter what. I may have forgotten how lucky I am to have nice golf clubs and some people might not have the same choice of what clubs they are going to use. Overall it was a fun experience and I would definitely do it again. What made it the most fun was the people I went with, so make sure you have a friend if you plan on going. 

  • If the World Were a Golfball 2
  • IMPACT2019
Thrill of Hope IMPACT Week
Melita Conrey

Adam Whitney

Today was an amazing day of IMPACT during the Thrill of Hope trip. We got to drive to a local church. I really enjoyed the sermon about Jesus' capture in the garden of Gethsemane. I was especially blown away by the power of Jesus' name, which causes a multitude of troops to fall to the ground. I had highlighted this in my bible before, which helped hit home the fact that Jesus has a powerful name. I also got to purchase a pair of AirPods for myself. We also got to play basketball, and the guys beat the girls in beach volleyball. Overall, it was a very "IMPACTful" day both spiritually and athletically for me. 

Margaret Sansom

These few days of IMPACT have truly been an experience I will never forget. At the start of this trip I did not know many of the kids. But, through all the belly laughs and inside jokes I have formed bonds that will never be broken. After getting only five hours of sleep, getting up for church was a struggle. But, the powerful message about selflessness completely changed the trajectory of the entire trip. I am loving the opportunity to lead, learn, and serve with a family like this.  

Landon Perkins

During the car ride there I was in a terrible mood because I didn't have my phone or anything and Jonathan and I were squished in two little seats. Once everyone started talking and hanging out I started to enjoy it a lot more. The first day of the demolition we all started off strong but then we all just crashed. The pollen really got to me. Jonathon cut his knee open with a toilet and I really enjoyed hanging out with the kids and getting to know them personally and realizing how open they where to share their story.  

Hannah Baines

It seems like forever since we pulled into Hope Children's Home for the first time this morning. Mr. Tagliarini, also known as Uncle Tags, took us on a tour of the campus. The dorms and cottages where the children live are really cute. It is really obvious that the staff at Hope put a lot of effort into making sure that the children have a very home-like environment. I was surprised at how nice all of the bedrooms were; each one had a specific theme. 
During our lunch and dinner breaks, we were able to play with the children. The little ones are adorable and all of them are really friendly and open.
For our service, we are tearing down an old mobile home. The teamwork today was really neat to see. Everyone worked really hard and we were able to pull all of the furnishings. cabinets, fixtures, interior walls, and insulation out. In tearing this mobile home down, we will be able to save Hope time and money so that they can focus on developing relationships with the children who live there. It was really hard work, but I am very glad that we are able to make a difference in the lives of others and in the kingdom of God. God can and does use anything, even demolishing a house. I am excited to see what God has in store for the rest of the week as we continue to invest in others every moment we have!

Lily Eaton

Today was so fun and I felt like we worked hard. We tor down an old trailer from top to bottom. It was incredible to meet the kids at Hope. The kids had the sweetest and loving personalities. It felt amazing to know that we are helping the people at Hope Children's home and make their home a better place. 

Elijah Cundiff

We did several different tasks today, but the two things that stood out to me today. The first thing was we were the guest of the place we are working at and they always let the guest go first when serving food. We offered to let them go first. It was not a huge thing, but they mentioned it several times shocked and one kid came up to me and asked why that we would let them go first to eat. I was surprised because it was such a simple thing we had to wait five minutes tops just to get food and they were all surprised at that one fact. The other thing was we took down a house in less than two days. We all worked together and took an entire house down which was crazy. I thought and the people here thought we wouldn't get it all this week and cause we all worked together and got it done quickly. 

Anna Capozza

Today's IMPACT was meaningful to me. I met this sweet girl named Lily a the children's home, who was seven years old. We played volleyball and games together and she saved me a seat at lunch and we had fun bonding. Right before I went back to work she ran up to me gave me a hug and wrote me a note and it made my day. I realized just hanging out with one girl for a short amount of time can have an strong impact on both people. I will never forget the joy she put in my heart, and I can not wait to see her again on Thursday. 

Jana Wrenn

Today was the second day we worked on demolishing a small mobile home on the Hope Children's Home property. It was hard work but it was fun-- especially tearing the walls off and watching the bulldozer smash through the roof. We've had the opportunity to interact with the kids staying at Hope during lunch and dinner. It's been so amazing to see how these kids have joined together and resisted the hardships they've faced. They all seem so genuinely filled with the love of Jesus and it shines through Hope's ministry. The power of prayer has struck me this week-- throughout the Hope campus they have 'Prayer Needs' whiteboards where they write prayer requests. The way God meets those requests is amazing and it has really reminded me of what prayer can do. I can't wait to see what else this week holds and how the Lord is going to work through our group. 

Brian Adams

At the start of the week, I thought that my first IMPACT would be very awkward because I really didn’t know anyone and to be honest I only knew the names of people because they were my brother’s friends. I never expected that in one week I could build pretty strong relationships with the guys and I had a ton of fun. I really enjoyed helping the people at HOPE children’s home by doing something as simple as tearing down a house with a crowbar. One of the kids I met, Justice, was such a nice guy and he was an example of how well these kids are being raised at HOPE. He loved the Lord, he cared for all the other kids like siblings would care for each other, and he really was an example of a good Christian kid. Overall, I’d say that for a first IMPACT, this was definitely a very impactful experience.

Jonathan Everill

Though there were many high points of the trip the most influential occurred on the first day of IMPACT. At the beginning of the trip, the host at Hope was certain that our group would never finish the job of destroying a mobile home in one week. Despite his doubts, however, at the end of the first day, we had hollowed out the entire house and knew that we would be able to finish with time to spare. This experience was impactful because despite doubt our group was able to complete an enormous task. This taught me that that no matter how big an obstacle is, that if you focus and push through you can accomplish much more than you may think. This trip changed me in a way I did not anticipate. I learned how to push limits and work better with others in order to tackle a task and help others in need. 

Tessa Jamieson

Today the Thrill of Hope IMPACT team drives back home from Tampa. In total, we all have spent thirty hours in the car this week but the car rides are truly one of my highlights. Getting to hear everyone's stories, jamming out together and having deep conversations really helped the team get closer. Going into the week ready to help the children at HOPE I had a picture in mind that the kids would be living in some type of orphanage. When we got to Hope it was completely different than what I had pictured, they were all a family and cared for each other, the children’s home had stable education, housing, and activities or the kids to participate in. During the time we spent at home I became good friends with some of the older girls there and hearing their stories of growing up there really showed me the importance of family, and it opened my eyes to being grateful for the people in my life. I really enjoyed every time the group would get together to play Catchphrase, go to the pool, play volleyball, or Walmart stops because it brought us so much closer together. IMPACT was very edifying and gave me a different outlook on life. 

Zach McIntyre

I think that this IMPACT trip has been my favorite trip so far. I've got to hang out with people that I normally wouldn't talk to. I got to connect a lot with Adam and the other boys. Although it was very hard work it was very rewarding and satisfying to see our job finished by the end of the week, I think that my favorite part of the day was walking through the beach parkway. We were able to experience the local exotic beach life, and the boys spent fifty dollars on chicken wings. Adam also got hit in the head by a tater-tot for singing too loud. I also got see Elijah, the leader of birds and alpha male lead his flock of seagulls on the conquest of reclaiming the beach. All in all I think this was one of my favorite trips and it will be really hard to top. 

Jackson Waterman

Throughout the entire week, we got to know the kids at Hope and today when it came time to say goodbye it was a sad and emotional time. However the rest of the day was filled with fun times and new memories, after leaving Hope we made the journey down to Clearwater Beach where we all came together and overran the beach with help of Elijah and his flock of seagulls. Throughout the week we had many bus rides filled with the singing of many of our favorite songs and today was no exception. Overall this has possibly been one of my favorite IMPACT Trips and I am excited to see if next year’s can top it.

Kylie Phelps

Today was our last day here in Tampa and it was extremely bittersweet. We finally finished all the work that we had; tearing down the trailer and cleaning up some brush around the campus. I have never felt so accomplished other than this week and seeing all the work that we had done. We also were given extra time to play with the kids because we finished everything so early, as well as being able to go to the beach. All of these things made today so amazing and only added to the great time I’ve had on this trip. However, it was hard to say goodbye and leave these kids. These children were dropped off by their parents, and I get to return home to loving parents. It isn’t fair, and I’m so glad and thankful that I was able to help and benefit them in some way. Overall, this week has been eye opening and life changing and made me really appreciate the blessings God has given me. Today was extremely fun, but it was a very difficult goodbye today.

Caroline Cotra

I'll be honest- IMPACT has been a challenging event and it has been completely different from anything that I might have imagined at home. 

Challenge accepted.

The Thrill of Hope has exposed me to many new experiences, from ripping down entire walls with a crowbar to riding my first roller coaster. Most importantly, we have been able to lend a hand to a noble cause. Hope Children's Home offers a more than just a dorm to children; it truly provides hope to some of the most vulnerable people in the area. Hope Children's Home endeavors to provide the attention and love that one would receive in a traditional family, reflecting our spiritual adoption into the family of Christ. 

Seeing the children at Hope was eye-opening, making me incredibly thankful for my own family and home. As an adopted child, I cannot help but think that I could easily find myself in a similar or worse situation. God has richly blessed me with a wonderful life, and I am grateful that I have been able to share some of what He has given me with the children and staff at Hope. Tearing down a mobile home was the last service project on my mind when I originally signed up for IMPACT, but now I would not trade the experience for the world. This week has been quite strenuous, but no growth exists without a struggle. With a worthy cause on our minds and God's love in our hearts, we will diligently persist so that someone might experience The Thrill of Hope. 

Laura Grace Crews

Today we finished tearing down the old, broken down house at Hope Children’s Home, and I feel so accomplished. It was incredible to see how much work a group of 20 inexperienced students and 2 leaders could do. Finishing so much work really emphasized the point that it does not matter who you are or what you do, you can still make a huge impact on the community and people around you. Even though we did not interact with the children at Hope while we tore down the house, I know that the work we did helped and benefited them greatly. Being around these children made me realize how lucky I am to have a comfy home and caring parents that other children do not have. I hope that the work we did today glorified Jesus, and I hope that I was able to show how good He is and shine His light. I loved this trip so much, and I pray that I was able to impact the children at Hope as much as they impacted me. 

Will Houghton

Today we finished our task a day early. This is significant because at first the house seemed too large a job to complete, even with our large group. However, we stripped the entire house down to the frame, with time to spare. This was impactful to me because I saw how grateful and frankly surprised the supervisors of the project were to see the house come even close to completion. Overall, though I put a nail through my hand, I think our group took a significant amount of work off the backs of the Hope staff. 

Alyssa Galvin

On the first day of IMPACT we went to a small Baptist church that the HOPE kids go to weekly and this was one of the most impactful days of the trip. I felt God’s presence as the preacher spoke about the same message of being all in for Christ which we talked about in our last IMPACT meeting the previous Friday. Monday and Tuesday were our first days at the HOPE center and we met the sweetest kids and girls my age in between demolishing the small home they had us working on. The most impactful thing about these two days was seeing the kids and how they interact and spread the love of God to each other knowing the circumstances of their lives. On Wednesday, we were able to go to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. This was a super fun experience and I enjoyed being able to bond with the group the whole day while waiting for rides. Overall these experiences on the first few days made me excited to finish the work at HOPE.

Annabelle Pritchard

As a freshman, I think my first IMPACT trip is off to a pretty good start. On Sunday we went to a small Baptist church in Tampa. The message was based off of a theme we had discussed in our last meeting. It was a really meaningful service and it started our week off strong. On Monday we went to HOPE Children’s home and took a tour. It was a lot different than I expected. The school looked like a normal school and the cottages looked like modern, nice beach houses. We ate lunch there and played basketball with some of the kids. They were all super close and encouraging to each other. They acted like one big family and they were super welcoming to us. Both Monday and Tuesday have been service days so far. We are tearing down an old trailer home that is falling apart. It is hard work but it is also pretty fun. Wednesday was our “fun day.” We went to Disney’s Magic Kingdom and I had a blast. We rode lots of rides and ate some good food. It was a fun break from the hard work of tearing down the trailer, but I think we’re ready to go back to work stronger on Thursday.  

Jake Wall

I think that this IMPACT trip has been one of my favorites so far. We’ve been tearing down a mobile home, we went to a Baptist church in Tampa, but the highlight of the trip was going to Disney. I’ve been to Disney before, but I went with my family, not my friends. What made this trip enjoyable was simply hanging out with friends and doing whatever we wanted. I also enjoyed tearing down the old mobile home at the children'sns home. For a while, I’ve always enjoyed manual labor because I get to use tools to destroy stuff. The kids at the home are also pretty cool too. They are all encouraging to one another and treat each other as family. Above all, getting to know everyone on my trip is the best thing about this trip. I look forward to every moment whether it is from Disney, tearing down the mobile home, or hanging out at the cabins.


  • IMPACT2019
  • Thrill of Hope
¡Vamos a Ecuador! IMPACT Week
Melita Conrey

Danny Kotula

Okay, let me be honest here. In some ways, today was a struggle, and I don’t mean the fact that we woke up at 6:00 this morning or that homesickness is sinking in. Today was a personal struggle because, much more so than yesterday, my translation skills were not very good. I didn’t cause some terrible problem or make an embarrassing mistake (sorry, I’m sure everyone reading this wanted to hear an embarrassing story), but I made a lot of small errors in my Spanish. After yesterday, I felt really good about my speaking abilities and comprehension in Spanish. I was excited to get to continue doing that today as we traveled up one of the highest mountains in Ecuador, at about 4,000 meters. As expected, the views were incredible, the people were so hospitable, and the food we ate was excellent. But what was not expected on my part was a quick realization that my Spanish is not at the level that I naively thought it was.

Yesterday we worked at a cerebral palsy center where most people I talked to were just thankful that we had come to visit their family members with special needs. They were willing to work with my broken Spanish because of their gratitude, and I'll admit, I thought I was pretty awesome for being able to communicate with them and translate for my friends. But God broke down that wall today. Today I met a bilingual lady about my age who actually corrected all my mistakes in Spanish- for those of you who know me, you’re probably laughing hysterically right now at the fact that I got a severe dose of my own medicine. For those of you who don’t, I’m somewhat obsessed with grammatical accuracy in English and I’m somewhat well-known for correcting people’s grammar. So today, it was like looking in an Ecuadorian mirror, and that broke my confidence down a lot, down to a place where I left my reputation at the door. Which is exactly where God needed me to be. I ended up doing a lot more receiving than I did giving, and at first, I really didn’t like that all too much. Leave it to me to be so self-centered that even in my giving, I’m not allowing God to work through me, but I was so focused on my “mission” of doing things for other people and feeling like I was purposeful that I forgot that giving is a two-way street.

Let me make this clear, to myself as much as to anyone who’s reading this- I am not here in Ecuador to serve. Not with my time, not with my Spanish, not with my efforts, and not with the relationships I’m building with my new friends on the trip. All those things are part of why I’m here and are incredible outcomes of this trip, but God didn't put me here for any of that. I am here to be a vessel for God. If that means any of the aforementioned gifts I can provide, then I’m all for that. But today I’ve learned that I need to be just as excited and willing to receive what others have to give to me. Giving is a two-way street, and that’s the kind of radical, Christ-centered concept that will make a difference in my own life long after this week is up.

Paul Sikkelee

You know I never truly expected anything that happened today to take place at all. In some ways I did, I mean we were dropping off presents to kids and entertaining them while they got checked out by doctors. What I didn't expect was the love and gratitude that was shown by each and everyone of them. As soon as we began to meet the kids we were serving I was immediately hit by a wave of endless hope and love as we were bombarded with hugs and praise. What really did it for me though was the opening of the gift boxes that we brought and the reactions that the kids showed. It was just endless appreciation with every smile and scream that the kids gave as they rummaged through the toys and items. Mateo, one of the kids I was working with, ended up finding a frisbee in his box and immediately grabbed my hand and raced to the field. There we had the best game of frisbee catch I had ever had, granted neither of us caught a single frisbee.  It was a bond that we seemed to share even though we just met. For the rest of the time he held my arm and when we departed he gave me a huge hug and goodbye. This experience fully changed my perspective on what gratitude is and how much the little things in life really matter just like a simple game of catch.

Miriam Donovan

We have made it to Ecuador and have had a great time on the first full day. We woke up and headed to Funapace for breakfast. We then started to serve by cleaning up the the property with pulling weeds and cleaning out flower beds. We also got to spend time with the special needs children helping feeding them a snack and also lunch. They had such a pure joy in their heart and it was amazing to see how God moved through the day. One boy in particular named William was so full of joy and laughter and I was able to serve through helping him with physical therapy. We are still catching up on the sleep we have lost, but we have been so blessed today on our first full day. Keep praying for us and the work that is ahead of us.

Katie Richardson

Thursday night was the night we arrived in Ecuador. It was a long, bumpy, and cramped ride down to Quito. There was a lot of frustration with the whole packing and passport situation. After we landed in Quito, all stressed disappeared and we were excited to take on this new week. I was nervous at the idea that I was in another country away from my home and family, but I also knew I would be serving and changing the lives of many kids and adults. I cant wait to see what this week has to offer!  

Maggie Schaefer

Today our group got to go to a church and worship with the people of Quito. It was a very special experience because the church was very welcoming and loving to us. The people were worshiping in Spanish and even though we did not understand most things we felt the love of Jesus in the church. At one point the worship leader even sang a verse in English for us to understand. This was a very special experience for our entire group. Then after church we were able to go to the farmers market and look at all of the delicious fruit and vegetables. After that we went to a cliff by a volcano and got some amazing pictures there! Then we went to the middle of the world monument and got to see the beautiful creation God has made. This entire trip has shown me how special the whole earth is and there is so  much more to it than what we see on a daily basis.  Today was a very special day that I will cherish for my entire life. 

Symone Gaskin

Today was my favorite day so far. It began with going to our guides, the Cabrera's, home church in Quito. I didn't know what to expect because I figured that the whole sermon would be in Spanish. However, I was so surprised and touched when they translated the sermon and some of the music to English. It made me feel very welcomed and cherished. We then had the opportunity to go to a farmers market across from the church. It was special because we saw fruits and vegetables that we had never seen before or tasted. We were surrounded by different examples of God's detail and care. Our group had the chance to find joy in something as small as a basket of fruit which was a specific prayer of ours. Our team drove up the mountain to the edge of a cliff. We were so high up and everything seemed so small from up there. The view was breathtaking and I couldn't help but wonder how some people deny the existence of God. Later, when we went to The Middle of the World, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy. I was so grateful for small things like the vibrant colors and the fellowship with my friends. I know that the joy I had came directly from the Lord and hope that I can bring that joy back home.


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  • iVamos a Ecuador!
Standing Firm IMPACT Week
Melita Conrey

Hope Anderson

Today was the first day of IMPACT week. My group was able to learn some self-defense moves with Deva and Scott Hoffman. We learned moves like the palm strike and hammer fist and they also talked about the legal side of self-defense. It was extremely fun to practice moves on pads and I’m excited for tomorrow because they are going to teach some gun defense. I believe everything we learned is useful and everyone should have knowledge on how to defend themselves or how to be able to help others.

Riley Galat

Today was my Impact team’s first day. I am on the team Standing Firm with Mrs. Eeles and Mrs. Smith. We started the day at 9 with a little devotion time. Then we got started with our scheduled self defense class at 9:30. The instructors of the class were a couple, Ms. Deva and Mr. Scott, who work with National Self Defense Company to help teach individuals in a variety of age ranges how to physically defend themselves if someone is trying to harm them.

    The first technique we learned is called the palm strike. It is where you have a flat palm and “punch” as hard as you can at your target. After practicing the palm strike technique, we learned the hammer fist. The hammer fist is where you make a fist with your hands with your thumb on the outside and make a hammering motion like your hammering in a nail. Next, we learned how to do an actually effective punch. To do a punch that is actually effective and won’t hurt you as much, you make a fist with the thumb on the outside. You then angle your wrist to where you aren’t aiming with the two smaller knuckles leading. This will deliver a pretty powerful blow even if you aren’t that strong. The fourth technique we learned is how to elbow someone. When you are using the elbow technique, you hit with the softer part of your elbow, the forearm, and hit as hard as you can. The elbow technique is probably one of my favorite techniques that I learned today. The final offensive technique we learned is how to properly knee someone. In order to properly knee someone, you have to hold onto them, their shirt, their hair or anything you can grab a hold of to maintain your balance and you knee them as hard as you can wherever it is necessary.

After learning the offensive techniques, we learned how to block blows that are aimed toward us. Then we decided to take a lunch break and continue after a bite to eat. When we returned from our lunch break, we learned how to free yourself if someone is trying to take you somewhere. You can free yourself from someone’s grip if you ask them a random question such as “Where did you get those shoes?” or “What is your favorite color?”. By asking them questions like this, it will distract their mind for just enough time to take the offensive side of a fight. You can also use your arm in the manner of a crowbar and push forward and up to free yourself from their grip. I think that today was a fun day and definitely worth remembering.


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  • Standing Firm
Melita Conrey

Rachel Shannon

Our first day of IMPACT was certainly the most surprising and the most meaningful to me so far. As we drove into the SIFAT (Servants in Faith & Technology) I thought to myself, "Ok. This is just going to be like your normal summer camp experience." That was certainly an understatement. For the first couple of hours at the camp grounds, a storm was raging, so our group bonded with hilarious camp games like Mafia and just goofing around. Then, the adventure began... By this time it was dark and our SIFAT leader, Maggie, led us on a trek through the woods to the huts where we would be spending the night. The catch about this little hike? Well, there were several. Firstly, we were only aloud to bring along 8 items to simulate what it is like for escaping refugees. Next, as we were walking along the path, we were suddenly stopped by "customs guards" who confiscated most of the items we needed for a night in the woods. We did not have these items for the next 24 hours. By this time, everyone was pretty frustrated, but this was just the beginning. When we made it to the Global Village, we were given a tin can, a pack of quinoa, and a spoon and told to cook our food over an open fire. Once this was finished, it was time to sleep in huts just like in other countries. Mine was "Ecuador". I was shocked by how cold it was and hard to fall asleep in the huts so many people around the world call home. This night taught me to be grateful for heated homes, beds, pillows, electricity (we were in the dark woods with few flashlights), and running water. I am confident every team member was changed by this eye opening first night of IMPACT.

Faith Aldridge

Monday night at SIFAT not only pushed me out of my comfort zone, but also strengthened my confidence in myself. I had never spent the night in the woods so I was extremely doubtful of my abilities to stay calm and have an enjoyable experience. My entire IMPACT team had to go through a simulated "border patrol" in the pitch darkness of the cold night. The "border police" took almost all of the eight items we were allowed to carry and left us only with our sleeping bags and water bottles, much like many real life refugees. We hiked to an unknown location and were split up into families to start a fire and cook our dinner. Luckily, my "family" was extremely helpful and we all worked together to boil drinking water and cook a safe, healthy meal of quinoa. The night itself was quite difficult because we had to sleep in separate "countries" with some made of dirt and wooden floors and this made it even colder to sleep in. However, we all persevered and learned how to work together to feed and protect one another through teamwork. This experience was eye-opening to the type of conditions that over 50% of the world's population live in and made me even more appreciative for the blessings I am given. I hope to use my knowledge I gained from SIFAT to provide aid overcoming poverty and the food crisis that is attacking people all over the globe. 



  • IMPACT2019