2018 DR Mission Trip Planning Page

The location of the Dominican Episcopal camp and conference center in the village of El Pedregal (red marker), the site of our 2018 mission trip.

This page was last updated on August 9, 2018. The page is maintained as an information resource for the 2018 trip. Information about a 2019 trip will be available on a separate page as soon as planning for that trip commences.

Now that our 2018 trip is completed, the following after-action documents are available: trip summary report | daily diary | comprehensive photo album | highlights photo album

All information about our 2018 mission trip to the Dominican Republic was placed on this planning page just as soon as it was avalilable. Contact information for the team leaders: Julia Ariail, (229) 563-0074, juliacariail@gmail.com; Julius Ariail, (229) 563-0209, julius.ariail@gmail.com.

If you would like to receive email messages with updates about the Dominican Republic mission program at Christ Church, please sign up here and check the “Dominican Republic Mission Trips” box. For an overview of this mission program, click here. For scanned copies of the thank-you notes received from the students in the K-8 Episcopal school in El Pedregal who received scholarship assistance from us for the 2017-2018 academic year, click here.

The dates for our 2018 mission trip to the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic are June 23-30, 2018. We are returning to the Dominican Episcopal camp and conference center in El Pedregal, which is equivalent to our Honey Creek Retreat Center in the Diocese of Georgia.

14 MISSIONERS ON THE TEAM (as of March 15, 2018)
1. Julia Ariail | Lake Park / Valdosta GA
2. Julius Ariail | Lake Park / Valdosta GA
3. Wil Brown | Brunswick GA
4. Caroline Hiers | Thomasville, GA
5. Meg Hiers | Marietta, GA
6. Phyllis Hiers | Valdosta, GA
7. Steph Johnson | Valdosta, GA
8. Grady Lacy | Woodstock, GA
9. Mary Marwitz | Statesboro, GA
10. Mary Jeannette Pringle | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
11. Sally Querin | Valdosta, GA
12. Fred Richter | Statesboro, GA
13. Paul Stevenson | Valdosta, GA
14. Casey Wesselman | Athens, GA

The size of the team is limited to 18 missioners due to the size of our in-country transportation vehicle.


The overall cost of the 2017 trip was $1,600, including the Valdosta – Santo Domingo flights and the in-country room and board, transportation, and projects costs. The costs for those flying from and back to Atlanta were less. We intend for the 2018 cost to be in this general range, although we have noticed a significant increase in the Valdosta – Santo Domingo flight costs for our June flight dates. If these hold, we might have to scale back our project budget or increase the overall cost slightly.


In 2018, given the significant increase in costs for starting and ending the trip in Valdosta from 2017 to 2018, the mission trip will start and end in Atlanta, and individual missioners will travel to and from the Atlanta airport on their ultimate destination on their own. In 2017, most of the missioners flew from Valdosta to Atlanta and then on to Santo Domingo, and then returned the same way. Several other missioners joined the group in Atlanta for the flight to Santo Domingo and then left the group in Atlanta while the others continued on to Valdosta.

The designated flights are as follows:

DELTA 686 Saturday June 23 2018 ATL 9:50 a.m. -> SDQ 1:10 p.m.
DELTA 576 Saturday June 30 2018 SDQ 2:10 p.m. -> ATL 5:35 p.m.

The round-trip cost for these flights on the dates indicated is below:

January 5 $640
January 10 $700
January 23 $665
February 5 $985
March 11 $942
March 15 $892
March 22 $1,122


If you are interested in joining the 2018 team, contact Julius by email or phone [(229) 563-0209; julius.ariail@gmail.com] to discuss your participation. If you are accepted as a missioner on the team, then proceed to purchase your flight tickets on the Delta flights indicated above. When that purchase is complete, send a copy of your flight ticket receipt plus a deposit check of $100 by January 31 to the DR Mission Fund at Christ Episcopal Church (complete address below).


The team will be limited to 18 missioners, and the final list of projects will depend on the number of missioners on the team and their talents and interests as of January 31. Julia and Julius were in El Pedregal on February 6-8 to meet with Padre Canela, the priest in charge of the camp, and reviewed with him the list of possible projects and the roster of the team. During that meeting, the final list of projects will be decided. Then we will proceed to calculate the in-country costs of the trip (project supplies, in-country transportation, room and board at the camp, hotel in Santo Domingo) and will divide that cost by the number of missioners.


The fee this year is $650, the same as in recent years, and it is due on April 25. As you will remember, this fee pays for the costs of our chartered bus transportation, room and board at the Campamento, the hotel stay in Santo Domingo the evening before we return home, the costs of our project supplies, and a few other miscellaneous expenses. Most of these funds have to be sent to the Diocese of the Dominican Republic at least a month before we arrive.

Please send a check for this $650 amount with “DR 2018 Team Fee” on the memo line to Amy Creasy, Christ Episcopal Church, 1521 North Patterson Street, Valdosta GA 31602 to arrive by April 25. The check can either be mailed or placed in the collection plate at Christ Church during a Sunday worship service.


Home Team and Go Team, save the date: May 3rd for the DR Dinner and Auction, our primary fundraiser for Dominican Episcopal school scholarships and team projects. The DR Dinner and Auction will be held Thursday, May 3rd, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Cotton Corner in downtown Valdosta. Information about ticketing is coming soon. For an album of photographs from the 2017 dinner and auction, click here.


All of the projects depend on the number of missioners and their talents and interests. Possible projects include the following:

1) Repair and repaint the wooden playground structure that we built with the Nebraska team in June 2014. This Nebraska team has been repainting the playground structure every summer since 2015, but will probably be going to a new work site and not returning to El Pedregal in 2018. The playground is showing lots of signs of wear now, and needs to be refurbished annually. To see detailed photographs of the condition of the playground in February 2018, click here.

2) Paint individual cartoon characters and murals on the perimeter walls of the school and kindergarten center. To see detailed photographs of the mural and other design painting areas, click here.

3) Teach Vacation Bible School based on the 5th Mark of Mission – “safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” We would use the DR diocesan approved curriculum for this. The number of children in VBS would probably be limited to 40 or so, perhaps the younger children. Although the Episcopal school would not be in session while we are there, Padre Canela said that the school teachers would come back to help us with this and that we could use the church and school classrooms as in 2017. The materials we will use are linked here: VBS booklet in Spanish | VBS booklet in English | VBS lesson plan in Spanish | VBS lesson plan in English

4) Sewing classes using the sewing machines we brought several years ago. Four of those machines are in good shape, and we might bring more machines with us. The classes would be limited to 8 people.

5) Make friendship bracelets with the village teenagers.

6) Veterinary clinic, one for the village and perhaps another half-day clinic in the city of Jarabacoa in collaboration with an established dog rescue program there.

7) Half-day splash party for the children of the school/village. Since Padre Canela and his wife are new to the Campamento, we have given them a set of photographs of splash parties in earlier years, and Leidy and her cousin, Mariella, both veterans of many splash parties, will be helping to assemble all of the needed supplies.

Map legend: green=Novus Plaza Hodelpa; blue=Cathedral Square; red=Hodelpa Caribe Colonial; orange=El Conde pedestrian walkway.


Our designated Atlanta airport hotel for the night of Friday, June 22, is the Marriott Courtyard Atlanta Airport South/Sullivan Road. The address is 2050 Sullivan Rd, College Park, GA 30337, and the telephone number is (770) 997-2220. The hotel’s website is here. Those missioners living close to Atlanta might opt to stay at home that Friday night and come directly to the Atlanta airport Saturday morning, but those living farther away will be staying at this hotel in preparation for our June 23 flight to Santo Domingo. Check-in time is 3 p.m. Those leaving a vehicle at the hotel until our return need to get a parking pass at the front desk while checking in. Those who have checked in will meet in the hotel lobby at 5:45 p.m. and drive to a nearby Ruby Tuesday restaurant for supper. At 8 p.m., we will have a team meeting in the hotel (location TBA – assemble in lobby) to have team introductions, distribute team crosses, t-shirts and supply duffle bags, and to go over the plans for Saturday, June 23.


We have made a reservation for everyone on the team for the night of Friday, June 29, at the Novus Plaza Hodelpa (location in green above), which veteran missioners will remember as the former Mercure hotel.

In past years, this was the “go-to” hotel for just about all of the mission teams overnighting in Santo Domingo, but it became a bit run down from lack of maintenance by the previous owners. It was purchased by the same company that owns our previous hotel choice, the Hodelpa Caribe Colonial (in red above), was closed for over a year, and during that time was totally renovated. We visited it in November 2017 and toured the public spaces, and this past March the missioners from St. Anne’s Tifton stayed there and had glowing reports about that experience. The Novus Plaza is located on the Conde, the pedestrian walkway that runs through the heart of the Colonial District (in yellow above). Another landmark to orient veteran missioners is the Cathedral Square (in blue above). If you would like to explore the location via Google Maps, click here.

The Novus Plaza has a snazzy website that you can check out at this link. There’s a toggle switch at the top right corner of the home page that you can use to switch between Spanish and English.


April 9: Team fee of $650 due on April 25
April 12: Lessons Learned
April 19: Lessons Learned and Team Members/Prayer Partners
April 26: Atlanta Hotel?
May 3: Santo Domingo Hotel
May 10: Atlanta hotel; DR fundraising success
May 17: DR Fundraiser in Fron the Field
May 24: Team T-shirt and VBS booklets
May 31: VBS, Translators, and the Baby
June 7: Packing List and Notes on Clothing
June 14: New information documents, details on events for Friday June 22 – not linked since it contains a link to our detailed team roster with contact information. Contact <julius.ariail@gmail.com> if you need a copy of this message.
June 20: Three Days To Go
July 1: Message from Leidy
July 5: Photos and Pesos


Lessons Learned — updated for the 2018 trip.
Team member names and prayer partners — updated for the 2018 trip.
Photographs and Reports – updated for the 2018 trip.
Smartphones and Laptops – updated for the 2018 trip.
Packing List – updated for the 2018 trip.
What You Need to Know for Friday, June 22 updated for the 2018 trip.
Team Roster with Contact Information – updated for the 2018 trip. Link not public – contact <julius.ariail@gmail.com> if you need a copy.
What You Need to Know for Saturday, June 23 updated for the 2018 trip.
Room Assignments in the Campamento Dormitory updated for the 2018 trip.
Tentative Daily Schedule plus Canela Family Photographs updated for the 2018 trip.
Daily Prayer Card updated for the 2018 trip.