Archive | January, 2017

1/23 Kickoff Meeting notes

25 Jan

Opening Prayer

We discussed the trip, starting with “What do we do at Camp”, and covered many aspects of camp, the home, and the region. The main themes:

  • The girls are darling, bright, and full of potential. Their families face many poverty related challenges.
  • The Carmelite of Saint Joseph (Carmelitas de San Jose) Sisters are loving and committed to the girls’ education, self-esteem, and values. They also run Catholic schools in the country.
  • Camp is one small piece of the system that the Sisters have developed over the years. We didn’t go over how we started at the meeting, it’s all spelled out here, but we started this after the Sisters requested it. The content is based on the Sisters’ guidance.
  • Azua is one of the poorest regions in this poor country with the highest rate of teen pregnancy.
  • Many nuts and bolts questions can be answered at, but you can always contact me if you have any questions.
  • No one has to commit to anything yet, although you are all welcome! The commitment is made in Late March early April when you buy your ticket.
  • Two rules that many be new to past travelers:
    • Travelers are invited to participate in one week of camp only. The complete Code of Conduct is here.
    • We require travelers’ health insurance (not trip cancellation). More info on purchasing traveler’s health insurance here.

Camp will be Week 1: July 8-16 and Week 2: July 15-23

We collected travelers’ names and weeks they can travel. We’d like 4-6 more potential travelers, especially for Week 2 so please spread the word!

Closing Prayer

Travel Log Excerpts from Campamento 2016

23 Jan

To give you an idea of what camp is like, here are excerpts from the daily e-mail we sent from camp last year. These were first posted on St. Ed’s website at

July 9
Today every camper got her camp bag filled with camp supplies. We introduced the theme “Women of Faith” and the theme song “By the Grace of God” by Katy Perry. At night, we were treated to a Mass at the Hogar, given by a bilingual priest who is originally from Columbia, but is part of a community based in Milwaukee. His message coincided with the lessons of camp, especially the negotiation curriculum we have for the high school girls. All that plus we went to the beach!

July 10
We all made a big prayer circle. We prayed for Father Mike who not only supported Campamento and encouraged us but who also inspired others to join. We prayed for all parishioners at St. Edward’s Church, without whom we could not make Campamento happen.

July 11
Patricia read Ex 14:21-29 and Ex 15:19-21 which describes Moses parting the Red Sea and how his sister Miriam and the women celebrated. We broke into four age-based groups for journaling, math, and English. For math, the Dominican Republic has a standardized test in order to move to the next grade. Our girls tend to need help in math. And, English is very helpful for getting a job in tourism, a major industry here. Meanwhile, the oldest girls participated in the first session on win-win negotiation. It’s a curriculum developed for teenaged girls. After stations and negotiations, we gathered together to make tambourines. Finally, the group presented their skit and talked with the Sisters.

July 12
Estella read Mark 16:1-11 which describes how Mary Magdelene was the first to learn that Jesus had risen. In English, the dentist who is traveling with us gave a dental hygiene lesson and gave out cool dental care packs donated by a generous dentist parishioner. Meanwhile, the oldest girls discussed typical problems girls face. Next, we gathered together to make butterflies, which is a symbol that represents Mary Magdelene because she was transformed. Later, we visited five homes. Many of us have heard the statistic that 1.2 billion people live on less that $1/day, one billion are illiterate, and one billion do not have access to water. We witnessed how hard it is for people facing this kind of life and we saw how much we have in common, too, like a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s.

July 13
¡Hola! Today was another special day at Campamento. A local party supply company brought in a trampoline, a big pool, music, face painting, and snacks for the girls. It was so much fun playing in the pool and jumping on the trampoline. They played from 11am to 6pm! It was fun for everyone. We were all tired and hungry at the end of the day. Usually we take an excursion, but the planned excursion fell through so this was plan “B” and it was a hit! After lunch, we toured the younger girls’ rooms. They were so proud of their neat closets and it was fun to see their school uniforms, the cincenera dresses, their dolls.

July 14
¡Hola! Today we continued on with our “Women of Faith” at Campamento and also did the math, English, and reflection stations while the oldest girls continued with their excellent negotiation program. At circle time at night, a group did a wonderful job on the drama about Tabitha, complete with costumes and a lot of action. The oldest girls recounted everything they learned in negotiation. It was interesting. I hope they can use what they learn at the home, at school, and in their neighborhoods. Two girls and the woman who designed the project presented Sister Fifib and Sister Carmen with the 16 blankets the girls made for poor babies in the area. The Sisters do pastoral work, so knew new babies who could use a nice blanket.

July 15
¡Hola! Today is our final official day of our “Women of Faith” camp. Continuing with our theme, we studied Teresa Toda and Teresa Guasch who founded the Carmelites of San Jose, “our” Sisters’ order. This mother and daughter started off with an alcoholic, abusive husband and father. The mother escaped with her baby; but, soon after, the abusive husband abducted the baby. Thanks to faith in God, they ended up living fruitful lives. They cared for and educated orphans war and famine. They founded the order. Julianna and Margarita read the story during opening ceremony. The oldest girls performed a drama. It was wonderful, emotional, disturbing, then in the end, uplifting. The Sisters commented that their order is still doing similar work, as the same problems still exist.The older girls also finished the negotiation program. We are so proud of them, as well as Jeane and Meghan who delivered this program in Spanish for the first time. The youngest three groups did the math, English, and journaling. For journaling, they had a list of character traits. They discussed the traits of the Teresas. Next, they looked at the list and selected their own traits, both good and bad. They each decorated a head with the appropriate words. They came out so cute! I had fun this afternoon with two of the older girls; both novices who are helping out this week. They wanted to learn more English, especially verbs. Ha! I’d like learn how to conjugate some Spanish verbs myself. We worked about three hours together. They were so in to it. We wrapped up that with some competitive games of Spot It. At final circle we prayed for all who have supported camp through past travel, donations, prayer. Thank you all so much!!

July 16
Final post of Campamento 2016! Today was our last full day together. After breakfast, we went to the beach. No pics, because I don’t bring my phone to the beach, just a waterproof camera. Sister Sandra greeted us when we came back from the beach! She looks so good! Her big news is that she’s going to be at El Carmelo, New York starting in September! I sure hope I can visit her there. She ran the home for the first 12 camps. We changed it up with circle time before lunch. We reflected on the week. The girls are so special. The older girls work so hard at their chores and are so helpful to us. The younger girls also help and aspire to be like the older ones. The Sisters are so gracious to us. They all make us feel like family. In the afternoon, we packed our craft room, and got ready for the Feast of the Virgin Carmen, which is important to all Carmelites around the world. A cloistered Carmelite order is in Azua since about 1 1/2 years ago. They invited the Sisters to join them at Mass. So the Sisters, the Americans, and the oldest girls went to 5:00 Mass. It was an absolutely packed house. Neighbors went home to get more chairs. It wasn’t just us, either. There were a lot of people there to celebrate. I wish I could have taken pictures of these Sisters, but didn’t think it would be polite. Think the “Sound of Music” movie; yes, full habit in this heat. They visited with us after Mass from behind a grate (like for an old fashioned bank teller). They were so happy to see us and tell us about their lives. They were exuberant and wanted to hold hands, which surprised me, given they chose a cloistered life. One Sister is an Italian WW2 orphan and the others were Dominican. They just seemed like a blast from the past. Next was our party with pizzas, ice cream, and pop. We gave out the gift bags, danced, played more cards and encouraged everyone to come back next year.

Decision 2017

12 Jan

Many of you are deciding whether to join us for Campamento 2017. We’re hoping for two weeks: July 1-9, July 8-16. Here are some thoughts that might help you make the decision.

Everyone has gifts to share! This is a wonderful way to use them.  Although the trip is challenging at times, we learn so much and benefit from the trip spiritually, personally, and culturally. I think I’m a better parent when I return from Campamento. The picture above is a 6 year old doing her morning chores – mopping. Do you think my kids mop at home? Well they do after camp! It’s great because the kids contribute to family life and learn how to take care of a home themselves.  Every girl in the hogar(home)has chores to do. They feel like a valuable member of the family. They accomplish something themselves. Wow!

Your Own Goals

If you are interested in taking this trip or contributing in another way, please think about what you’d like to get from the trip.

Walk with Us in Our Search

Help us discover our own riches;
Don’t judge us poor 
   because we lack what you have.
Help us discover our chains;
Don’t judge us slaves 
   by the type of shackles you wear.
Be patient with us as a people;
Don’t judge us backward simply 
   because we don’t follow your stride.
Be patient with our pace;
Don’t judge us lazy simply 
   because we can’t follow your tempo.
Be patient with our symbols;
Don’t judge us ignorant 
   because we can’t read your signs.
Be with us and proclaim the richness of your life 
   which you can share with us.
Be with us and be open to what we can give.
Be with us as a companion who walks with us neither 
   behind nor in front in our search for life and 
   ultimately for God!
Written by Bishop Bienvenido S Tudtud
Prelature of Marawi,Lanao del Sur, Philippines

“I have realized that mission trips give us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and out of our seemingly ‘busy’ lives to reach out to others and discover another dimension of life.” Ami Peacock Florida/Mission Trip to Dominican Republic

Questions for you, the traveler or volunteer:

Why are you thinking of doing this?

What is your purpose in going?

What are your hopes and dreams for this journey?

How do you feel about traveling so far from home?

What might it mean to you to offer a hand, not a handout?

How do you think you would receive a hand on your shoulder?

Whose needs are you meeting?

How will your needs be met by this venture?

How do you respond when things veer away from a plan?  Do you get upset or do you roll with the punches?

How will you contribute to the trip? Do you have specific talents, experience, or career you can share?

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

6 Jan

People have asked me why I, a mom of two active boys, spend one beautiful Minnesota July week per year away on a mission trip. Our group stays with girls and Carmelite Sisters in the poorest region of the Dominican Republic, a very poor country. The girls and Sisters only speak Spanish (I studied French). We do not visit the world famous resorts or pristine beaches. We live with the girls, eat with the girls, attend Mass, swim at the local beach, take a cultural excursion, visit families, and share a lot of good times at a summer camp. I’d like to invite women and girls ages 15 and up to join us July 9-17, 2022.

Why Travel?

“This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.” Pope Francis


We love the beach! All 50+ of us!

When you travel, you enjoy unique experiences. Breaking from your daily routine helps you gain a new perspective, maybe even a more hopeful one. You make surprising new connections with locals and fellow travelers. Plus, travel is fun!

Why a Mission Trip?

“Find new ways to spread the word of God to every corner of the world.” Pope Francis


When you join a mission trip, you will connect with people in a deep and fulfilling way – at a spiritual level. You will find commonality with people who are poor for no other reason than where they were born. You will admire people who work for justice in their countries. You will bond with fellow travelers who are experiencing new sights, sounds, smells, and emotions. You will return energized and with a new perspective on your own life.

As Catholics, you experience the global Church in an intimate and profound way. On our trip, you get to attend Mass in Spanish, where you will find familiar and new traditions. The parish we attend is over 500 years old!

Why Teresa Toda Camp?

“Wherever there are dreams, there is joy, Jesus is always present.” Pope Francis

Joenni “Then and Now” – She graduated from High School!

The Teresa Toda Home is a joyful place of dreams. Carmelite Sisters started the home to help girls learn values and skills so they can realize their dreams. At camp, you help this successful program by providing the girls with values and companionship that can’t come from financial donations alone.

As a Sister Parish, when you come to camp, you’ll be welcomed like family. We’ve been having wonderful times at camp for over 15 years. The Sisters have told us that the girls talk about camp all year long. The driver told us that among all the groups who come visit the girls, they only cry when we leave. It is truly a touching experience for the girls, the Sisters, and the travelers.

Why me?

“Once we come to realize how much God has given us, a life of self-sacrifice, of working for him and for others, becomes a privileged way of responding to his great love.” Pope Francis


If you are ready to respond to God’s gifts to you with love, you can make camp happen. Camp is 100% volunteer run, supported by the Church of Saint Edward in financial and other ways. No matter your talents and skills, you will make a difference. Most travelers report that they get more out of this trip than they give.

Yes, international travel is a hassle. Yes, you’re leaving beautiful summer weather for the hotter Caribbean sun. Yes, it’s a unique, unforgettable experience. Find out why almost 100 travelers have made this sacrifice to join camp and are glad they did.

Why Now?

Image result for regret quotes

Join this mission trip while you can for your own reasons. Do you want to follow the lead set by Pope Frances? Do you want to help the world? Do you want to have a mind-expanding experience – one you’d never find on a tour or at a 5 star resort? Do you want an opportunity to use your gifts to help others? Do you want to meet people who live with a low carbon footprint? What ever your reasons – what better way than to join our long and rich relationship?

To learn more, join our kickoff meeting or visit more of his blog site ( )contact me though this blog.