Planning for Our 2015 Mission Trip

The location of the village of El Pedregal (red marker), the site of our 2015 mission trip. 2015 will mark the fourteenth year our team has worked at this site.

Planning For Our 2015 Mission Trip

This page has been established as a central online site for planning information about the 2015 mission trip to the Dominican Republic sponsored by Christ Episcopal Church in Valdosta, GA. This page was last updated on June 24, 2015, by Julius Ariail.

A one-page flyer (updated January 15, 2015) that summarizes the detailed information below is available here.

Our initial set of trip photos will be posted on Christ Church’s Facebook page in this album.

Sign Up for Email Updates for the 2015 Trip
Click here to sign up to receive general updates about the 2015 trip (and other email messages from Christ Church, if you select that option also). Note: confirmed 2015 mission team members have already been added to this general update list, as well as another list for specific details about the 2015 trip.

Destination: the village of El Pedregal (near the city of Jarabacoa – map).

Team Leader: Fred Richter, Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro GA; (912 531-4021;

Local Valdosta Co-ordinators: Julia Ariail, Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta GA (229 559-7329; and Helen Tucker, Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta GA (229 242-1900;

Dates: June 15-22, 2015.

Projects: Our projects for 2015 include the renovation of an existing building to serve as a day care center, the replacement of a wooden house with a concrete-block house, knitting and crocheting classes, and a “splash party” for the local children. Check this Vineyard article for more information and photos of the 2015 construction projects.

Specific Skills Desired
A servant’s heart
Ability to knit or crochet
Ability to do light construction work (concrete blocks, wooden roof rafters, metal roofing sheets, painting) under the direction of a Dominican supervisor
Ability to speak Spanish (not required, but any Spanish proficiency level would be very helpful)

Joining the Team
As of March 11, 2015, the 2015 team membership is complete. No new members are being added at this time. However, if you are interested in the 2016 team, contact any of the team leaders or coordinators (see email addresses above).

Deadline to sign up for this trip and to purchase flight tickets: February 15, 2015. Deadline to pay the mission trip fee of $650: April 9, 2015.

Information about our flights:

June 15, 2015 (Monday) JetBlue Flight #1705 Orlando 2:15 p.m. – Santo Domingo 4:42 p.m.
June 22, 2015 (Monday) JetBlue Flight #1706 Santo Domingo 5:50 p.m. – Orlando 8:28 p.m.

Please note that JetBlue flight times frequently change, sometimes significantly. If you have purchased your ticket and have provided your email address during that purchase, JetBlue will alert you via email about any flight time changes.

Information forms required from team members:

Personal information form: MS WORD | PDF

Medical information form: MS WORD | PDF

Overnight stays in Orlando on June 14 and June 22, 2015: In the past, team members have gathered at the Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport Hotel [7550 Augusta National Dr, Orlando, FL 32822 (407) 240-5555)]on the night before departure to make final preparations for the flight to Santo Domingo on the next day. Overnight accommodation in homes of members of the congregation of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Orlando is also available, and will be coordinated by the Rev. Sonia Clifton, the rector of St. Matthew’s. Please contact Julia Ariail by May 18 if you would like to stay in one of these local homes. Given our return to Orlando on the evening of June 22, it is likely that some team members will elect to stay overnight in Orlando before continuing home on June 23.

Expenses: In addition to paying for your own airline ticket, there will be a trip fee of $650, payable by check to Christ Episcopal Church by April 9, 2015 (mail check to Christ Church, 1521 North Patterson Street, Valdosta GA 31602). This trip fee includes our room and board at the Episcopal camp in El Pedregal, our in-country transportation by chartered bus, the hotel in Santo Domingo, and the supplies and other expenses for our projects at the camp. This amount is determined by what projects we expect to accomplish and the amount of supplies necessary. Other costs to team members to plan for are the cost of the hotel in Orlando the night before our departure, meals in Orlando, and any Dominican souvenirs or other incidental items you purchase. Other costs include a meal in Santo Domingo on the night of June 21 and the optional hotel in Orlando on June 22th, if you elect to stay overnight after our flight lands that Monday night.

Tentative Trip Schedule (also available as a PDF document here:

As of April 14, 2015 – note: will probably change…welcome to the world of DR missions….

June 14 (Sunday) – Travel to Orlando and check in at hotel (Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport, 7550 Augusta National Dr, Orlando, FL 32822 (407) 240-5555) or other housing. Team meeting and supper in the Parish Hall of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church (5873 N. Dean Rd, Orlando, FL 32817 (407) 657-9199) at 6 p.m. where we also give out 2nd team duffle bag to those staying in homes in Orlando.

June 15 (Monday) – Shuttle bus from the hotel to the airport at 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. For those staying in homes in Orlando, meet at the JetBlue check-in counter at 12 noon. JetBlue flight 1705 flight to Santo Domingo (2:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.) Clear Dominican Republic immigration and customs at Santo Domingo airport by 5:30 p.m. Board chartered bus for drive to Campamento. Stop along the way for quick supper at Jacaranda highway rest stop. Arrive at Campamento approximately 9:30 p.m., move into dormitory rooms.

June 16 (Tuesday) – Team meeting with camp administrator after breakfast to set schedule for the week. Orientation walk through village of El Pedregal and work sites of day care center and house construction. Construction works begins. Knitting and sewing classes begin.

June 17 (Wednesday) – Construction work and knitting/sewing classes. Church service in the Episcopal Church of the Mount of the Transfiguration that evening.

June 18 (Thursday) – Construction work and knitting/sewing classes.

June 19 (Friday) – Construction work and knitting/sewing classes.

June 20 (Saturday) – Construction work concludes. Splash party and hot dog meal for village children in afternoon. Concluding supper meal for team and local staff and villagers in the evening.

June 21 (Sunday) – Pack up to return to Santo Domingo. Church service in the Episcopal Church of the Mount of the Transfiguration at 9 a.m. Board chartered bus at 10:30 a.m. and drive to Santo Domingo. Lunch or snack at Jacaranda highway rest stop along the way. Check into Hodelpa Caribe Colonial in Santo Domingo. Free time for shopping and touring in the Colonial Zone in the afternoon. Team supper (one large group or several smaller groups) in the evening.

June 22 (Monday) – Pack up and check out of hotel; store bags at hotel. Free time for shopping and touring in the Colonial Zone. Lunch on your own in the Colonial Zone. Board chartered bus for transportation to airport at 2:30 p.m. for JetBlue flight 1706 to Orlando 5:50 p.m. – 8:28 p.m. Clear USA immigration and customs by 9:30 p.m. Transportation via hotel shuttle bus back to hotel or by host vehicles to local homes for overnight stay.

June 23 (Tuesday) – Return home.

Note on time zones: during the time of this trip, Eastern Daylight Time (United States) and Atlantic Standard Time (Dominican Republic) are the same.

List of the 2015 team members (as of June 5, 2015):

1. Julia Ariail | Lake Park, GA
2. Julius Ariail | Lake Park, GA
3. Allison Carroll | Statesboro, GA
4. The Rev. Sonia Clifton | Orlando, FL
5. Dan Cook | Orlando, FL
6. Jim Drazdowski | Sidney, NE
7. Emily Gibson | Santo Domingo (and South Carolina)
8. The Rev. Dave Johnson | Valdosta GA
9. Grady Lacy | Woodstock, GA
10. Eben Nelson | Statesboro, GA
11. Gavin Nelson | Statesboro, GA
12. Pepi Nelson | Valdosta, GA
13. Andrew Nutting | Orlando, GA
14. Bert Power | Woodstock, GA
15. Bill Querin | Valdosta, GA
16. Fred Richter | Statesboro, GA
17. Rylan Smith | Orlando, GA
18. Paul Stevenson | Valdosta, GA
19. Mary Stowe | Chapel Hill, NC
20. Debby Wunderly | Orlando, FL

Other useful information documents:

A Guide to Praying For Our Team Updated for the 2015 trip.

Suggested packing list Updated for the 2015 trip.

Communication plan while in the Dominican Republic. Updated for the 2015 trip.

Thinking about taking a smartphone or laptop on the mission trip? Updated for the 2015 trip.

Lessons Learned.Updated for the 2015 trip.

Location of online photos during the trip. Updated for the 2015 trip.

Prayer Partners. Updated for the 2015 trip.

Medical Information for Travelers to the Dominican Republic
For medical advice for travelers to the Dominican Republic, consult your personal physician or go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s site here:

2015 Mission Team Email Messages: Copies of email messages about the 2015 trip are archived below.

June 24, 2015: It’s Not Over Part 1

June 8, 2015: Mission Team Countdown 1

June 1, 2015: Mission Team Countdown 2

May 25, 2015: Mission Team Countdown 3

May 18, 2015: Mission Team Countdown 4

May 11, 2015: Mission Team Countdown 5

May 4, 2015: Mission Team Countdown 6

April 16, 2015: Timeline and Orlando Housing

April 14, 2015: Team Forms

March 9, 2015: Team Fee and Deadline

December 17, 2014: Team forming rapidly

November 7, 2014: Flights designated for 2014 trip

October 17, 2014: Planning page established for 2015 trip

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Links to more information about our mission work in the Dominican Republic:

The summary report from our 2014 mission team.

A one-page handout used during a presentation about the 2014 trip to the adult education class at Christ Church on March 2, 2014

The slide images and captions used during the March 2nd presentation about the 2014 trip

Trip report and links to photo albums from our June 2013 mission trip

Overview of Christ Church’s mission work in the Dominican Republic

Overview of the Diocese of Georgia’s mission work in the Dominican Republic