I know we say it a lot, but, Jacob and I really believe in charitable giving. The biggest way we feel we can give is of our time and talent. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but, sometimes, I have a sense of inadequacy because I can’t always make monetary donations. So, when the opportunity meets availability, I will give what I can.


About 4 weeks ago, the student minister at Raintree Christian Church (where my family and I attend), called me and asked if I would be interested in going on their youth mission trip to Manuelito Children’s Home in Gallup, NM. He was looking for someone to lead worship music in the evenings and take some photos, and thought I would be a good fit.


Full disclosure: I didn’t really want to go, but, it was an opportunity to help my daughter get involved, so, I agreed.


The Wednesday before we were to leave, we had a meeting with all of the kids and sponsors who were going to discuss what would happen on the trip and go over packing lists and such. During the meeting, it was mentioned that a previous sponsor had take pictures and done some blogging during the week. I threw my name out for the job since I was going to be documenting the trip anyway.


Well, if you know any Hamils at all, we can’t leave well enough alone, and I decided that, instead of taking pictures, I was going to try to post a finished video a day while we were there. It was a challenge but it was one that I was willing to take on. Below are the daily posts and videos that I took care of, as well as some of the thoughts I shared throughout the week via Facebook.

Monday Update

Hey there friends and family. Day 1 is complete. The first day is always the roughest while planning, getting supplies, and finding a groove. We got a lot of painting done today on the small gray cottage, got a bunch of weeds pulled, and we even broke out the power tools to get some new doors installed in the shop.

We ended the day with a meal with some of the children here, had a great devo, and heard a truly inspirational story from Norman, who grew up here, at Manuelito, and has been serving this children’s home for 10 years.

Thank you for all the prayers and the encouragement!

Tuesday Thoughts

Having gone through Pathways, one of the things that I have to remind myself is that in order to progress, we have to be challenged. In order to be challenged, we have to invite challenge. Challenges do come knocking, but, you have to allow it.

This week, I am in Gallup, New Mexico, on a mission trip with the Raintree youth group. My job is to document everything that is going on. That’s easy enough as it is well within my comfort zone.

But, I wanted to allow myself to be challenged this week. So, my challenge has been to try to be as involved as I can be and get to know these people that I have traveled so far with. It would be very easy not to do because I am literally sleeping/working in a laundry room that is probably 12×7. I could stay in here and work the entire time and only come out to eat and shoot, but, that leaves no room for growth.

Thinking back to my days in high school and going on mission trips, the highs and excitement of doing the work faded. The growth never did, and it’s time for some growth.

Being introverted, that’s a hard thing to do, for me, this week, but, I’m doing it and growing closer to my Raintree Family in the process. After going there for 2.5 years, it’s almost embarrassing that I don’t know more people than I do, but, this week, I’m changing that.

So, how will you challenge yourself?

Tuesday Update

Day 2 is in the books, and, as I anticipated, it was a much busier day. Everyone found their groove and we got a lot done.

The shop doors from that had been started on yesterday were mostly finished today, barring an accident involving a gust of wind and the purchase of some plexiglass to replace the original glass in the door.

Some of the wooden doors were removed and repainted, since they take such a beating from the weather.

The small, gray cottage is nearly finished. The painting was completed and just a few things need to be done for it to be ready to move into.

This evening, Jeff took everyone, including the residence of the home, to Golden Corral where many of us took it as a challenge to see how many food groups we could consume in mass quantities. I, myself consumed at least 5 food groups: the beef food group, the chicken food group, the seafood group, a salad, some macaroni and cheese, and a couple Dr. Peppers. I also taught Shelby how to cut a steak with a knife. A few more years of practice and she’ll be pretty okay at it.

After dinner, we came back and some of the group participated in a cut-throat game of Ultimate Frisbee. The play of the game was awarded to Holly who took Steve Miller too seriously when he sang, “Go on, take the Frisbee and run.”

All in all, it was a big day and tomorrow looks to be another.

Thank you for all your prayers and words of encouragement.

Wednesday Update

What a day! What a day! A lot of projects were completed, and several are nearing completion.

As happens in life, something unfortunate befell 3 of our team. Clayton, Shelby, and Taylor, were picked to dig a hole down to the septic tank which, they thought, had a leak. I endearingly named them the “Poo Squad” and they quickly became our favorite #2 team.

Samuel was taken to an ER to have his shoulder checked on, but, fortunately, it was just a bruised shoulder.

This evening, we traveled into Gallup Proper and joined the Church of Christ there for an evening of puppets and singing.

All in all, today was a great day!

Thursday Update

Well guys, this is our last night here. This update is going to be short because there is a lot to the video. Ultimately, today was our fun/tying-up-loose-ends day. We went on 14 mile hike… Well, technically it was a 4-mile hike, but, after indulging at Golden Corral the other night, it felt like 14 miles. After the hike, we came back and mostly cleaned our cottage and finished up some tiny pieces of our projects this week.

We had planned on going into town to see the native tribes perform their dances, but, due to them doing to well at the rain-dance last night, tonight’s was cancelled because of rain. Instead we all came back and played games up until devo time. There were lots of hugs and lots of tears. We definitely cannot wait to come back next year.

So, it has been my honor and joy to bring you documented evidence that these kids really can work, and with that, I say good night

Ross out!

Needless to say, the trip was very fulfilling and I will be, God willing, attending next year. The friends and family gained left me without words.


As a side note, one of my new friends is Cordee. Cordee loves Superman. Some of you know that I also have an affinity for Superman as that was part of the contract I earned through my training at Pathways. On Thursday, we all took a hike up Pyramid Rock in Red Rock Park. about half-way up, Cordee and I noticed that we were both wearing Superman shirts. When we reached the top, one of the house-parents, Jennifer, informed us that we were overlooking what is called “Superman Valley” in Gallup. Part of the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie was filmed there. It was a really cool moment to share with Cordee.


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