summarized by Samuel Garcia
Exactly one month ago, Arkansas was hit with tornadoes, destroying neighborhoods and taking lives.
Three of those precious lives were our member and close friend Rebekah Tittle, and her sister Tori, and her father Rob Tittle. Their house was also completely demolished as well. We set up a memorial page for Rebekah's honor and linking all the Tittle memorials.
To show our love and honor for the Tittles, we organized a memorial gathering. And it was one of the most blessed times that I was privileged to experience. There were a total of twelve of us that managed to sacrifice time and money to go. And my, that time and money were nothing compared to what God gave us this week.
It was so awesome, that we have decided to attempt to make this an annually recurring gathering with the blessing of Mrs. Tittle. Details will be worked out soon.
The trip lasted officially from the 27th to the 28th. In reality, it started on the 23rd, when one of our members, David, arrived early. He hung out with the Pierces, playing some Ultimate Frisbee, and helping out on the farm. He scouted the house to make sure the logistics would work.
On Monday, the 26th, the first wave commenced. Morgan flew in the morning and was picked up. They spent the day wrangling chickens. At night, Caeleb, Joshua, Kit, and Mrs. Brown from Texas arrived in Little Rock, picking up Hannah in the airport, and played rounds of Mafia.
On Tuesday, the 27th, the second and final wave commenced. I flew out in the morning, arriving at 11 AM, and was picked up by the group. We headed to the Chick-Fil-A where Emily and Whitney Tittle worked. Whitney was off for both days, but Emily still had to work until Thursday. Victoria, Catherine, and Jessica arrived from Louisiana to meet us at the restaurant. We had a great lunch to start of the day.
Waiting for Emily, we took a stroll at the nearby mall. Whitney led us to a toy store full of Legos and trinkets and figurines and models... it was neat and also a bit amusing to see college students fawn over the various knickknacks.
We headed back to the restaurant as it started to rain. Because of the thunderstorm, we had to cancel our plans for Ultimate Frisbee in a park. However, we were able to go to the Tittle's church gym and play dodgeball! We played multiple games with switched teams, but lastly, we had a boys versus girls game.
The boys lost. *sniff*
After that, we had some games of Mafia before closing down the church and heading to a pizza buffet for dinner. We arranged for Whitney to have a sleepover with us in the Pierces' house. So it began, a night filled with games of Mafia! It was the first time I played the game, so my friends taught me. Joshua and Whitney took turns being the narrator, and boy, could they narrate! I was a simple civilian for most of the time, but that's okay. Caeleb apparently got to be a sniper for most of the game. Whitney deviously took the Mafia role away in a round, leaving us guessing. The quiet girls (i.e. Vikki, Caitlin, Caterina, and Jessica) made really mean Mafia. When Kit was assigned the role of the Doctor, he kept healing himself. We added ore people as the Pierce siblings joined in, Elijah and Josie. It was great fun, but we did have a curfew. So we got ready for the night.
Wednesday the 28th was the best day of the gathering. We woke up really early to check-in at the Team Rubicon volunteer tent in the Home Depot in Conway. After signing a huge amount of paperwork and get gloves, we then proceeded to drink Starbucks to get us caffeinated and we set out for Mayflower. (On a random note, the paperwork was exactly what FEMA testing prepared us. Unfortunately, they now do not accept FEMA credit.) Driving up the road we saw devastation even I have not experienced before. We found the volunteer team organizing us, and we proceeded to clean up the debris. Plenty of metal, glass, wood, and all the material possessions of this world. It taught us that the materialism of this world is simply just a passing thought in light of eternity. It started to rain and get muddy, but we didn't care. We were having such an awesome time being a team and learning together. Ladies from the tent gave us some lunches, a sloppy joe and some beans. We ate outside, dirty and all, but with smiles on our faces. After a bit, Tina, one of the point persons from Team Rubicon, led us to another assignment half a mile up the road. And it was empty. Oh well, but we had so much fun.
After the cleanup, we headed to the Pierce's for a rest and shower. It was then time to get to the Tittle's church to help Emily move all the donations from their church to their rental house. We transported a lot of clothes, and boxes, and shoes, and toys, and what-not. But of course, it wasn't that straightforward, we had a bit of fun as well. Whitney got on the dolly and rode around, while Kit played dead on the elevator floor. We piled all the stuff, then we all gathered at the Tittles for pizza. Mrs. Tittle thanked us for coming and promised to adopt us. :)
We then rushed to church to attend Emily's youth group function. The group was introduced as the VDP. I just realized how many states we were all from: 2 from Ohio, 3 from Texas, 3 from Louisiana, and a Montanan and Virginian. Worshiping and singing songs lighted our hearts, and we split into small groups to discuss some deep things. The VDP guys went up to play in the youth group Family Feud game. We then chased Emily down to take selfies with us, and she did not relent.
Our last day, the 29th, was a very happy and sad day. We first said goodbye to the Pierce's after packing up our stuff. Emily planned to meet us in Cracker Barrel hours before the first flights come out.
Many hugs were given that day. Some tears were shed. But many empty hearts that were filled, longing to be together again. This is true friendship. We flew out, and we all eventually make it home. Some disasters were faced in the trek back: floods in Ohio and Louisiana, breaking down of a plane to Colorado, a dead transmission in Texas. It just solidified the fact that we missed each other.
We will see all each other, again.
I thank to VDP Director of Events Chelsea Napierala for helping me organize this gathering. I couldn't have done it without you. She is also responsible for the poster we did not get to present to the Tittles, but we have mailed it. And also to Joshua Denton, who was instrumental in laying down the groundwork for our trip.
We thank the following who donated and made this trip financially possible: The Brown Family, Maria Van Parys, Joshua Subra, The Poppen Family, Nancy Brown, Jeenee Lawhorn, The Baird Family, and Jessica Marse. We thank those that prayed for us from our prayer requests in church, Facebook, and other social media.
I thank the following students who were able to go to the trip. I am proud to call them my close friends: Caeleb Brown, Kit Carson, Victoria Christian, Morgan Rachel Cody, David Haymond, Catherine Danielle Kent, Joshua Loomis, Jessica Marse, and Hannah Musick. They have willing hearts and caring souls. When I was hesitant, they encouraged me. When I didn't know what to do, they stepped up. When I was at a loss of words, they carried on.
We thank Caitlin Pierce, her mother Stacy Pierce, and their family for hosting a sizeable chunk of our group in their farm. We thank you all for our food, laundry, and sharing living space with some crazy homeschoolers.
We thank our moms for the trip Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Christian for being willing to drive our group to various, diverse places around Little Rock, and also carpooling some of those that came. They are models of patience and have withstood our test of endurance. Because we can get crazy at times.
Lastly, we thank our Father in heaven for all His goodness and love.
by Samuel Garcia
In VDP conversations, members and officers alike often joke about the convoluted government of the VDP. How in the world did we get a President, Vice President, King, Queen, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, and so on, and so on? A couple reasons, for fun and culture.
We have Minister Connell Howard to thank for that. It wasn’t at all planned. He just made some of the titles on the spot, and we ran with it. In the beginning, it was all for fun. There was a bit of an online monarchy that we wanted to copy, and so that’s where we got the Royal Family from. The Parliament was a direct creation of it and it just... grew. The official term for our government type is “American-style Republic Federalism plus British-style Constitutional Monarchy”. It’s very steampunky, and very balanced, too.
After the VDP Constitution was written way after the positions were set, each position received a solid and sober role. It was still fun, yes, but as we headed the path of becoming a society, our titles became serious ones. After some debate, the officers have decided to use new titles when dealing with external organizations, each is a Director. We will still keep the ceremonial titles for tradition’s sake internally, and to encourage a unique culture. We do like tea, you know?
But I just said all that to go to this point, our titles and our positions in the VDP mean ultimately nothing. They exist only so that we can delineated roles to better serve and further you. None of our words are involuntary commandments, they are often requests. We officers are nothing without you guys, our general membership. We are your peers, equal in all respects. There is no pecking order in the VDP. A new member is just as important as the most senior of officers. As Christians, we are not to exercise dominion over others.
When I resigned as an April Fool’s joke, it truly made me look at my position and title at the VDP. If you hadn’t read my (fake) letter, I present the verse that is integral to me and the officers of the VDP:
Because of our “chiefness”, we seek to be your servant and the servant of others. It is we that have to take the VDP members’ responsibility to heart: “To assist and support you in everything you do with Integrity, Innovation, and Initiative for His glory”.
I thank all the members, officers, and associates of the VDP. Thank you for all the hours you put in into running the VDP and making what the VDP community an atmosphere of inclusiveness. We could have not survived to this present day without your determination.
Happy 2nd Anniversary of the VDP!
Prime Minister Samuel Garcia and the rest of the High Command
P.S. On another totally unrelated note, today is also our Queen Chelsea's birthday.
I got to meet member Brittany King!
Hey Everyone! Adam Wentworth here!
It has been a great honor to serve you all as vice president during these exciting last few months, being able to watch and help guide the VDP in our new role as a student leadership society. It has been a great time and I have enjoyed every minute of it. However all good things must come to an end. And sadly this is one of those times.
Because of new opportunities that God has put in my life, I will not have the time to complete my duties as Vice President any longer. I am therefore stepping down from this position. I will be officially stepping down at the end of this month. As I said before I am very excited about the changes happening in the VDP, and I can’t wait to see what God will do with this mighty group of young people. With that being said, I want to leave you with the words of Paul the Apostle,
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:10-17
The members of the Valiant Defender's Party, usually the High Command, write the blog posts here. Announcements, experiences, issues, projects, stories, and everything Valiant is discussed.