Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, Rainbow Acres, Arizona Karen Baptist Church
When the team first arrived in Phoenix, we immediately got a tour of the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, where the 2013 National Gathering for Girls will be held. Here's our tour guide, Gregg, explaining how the River Ranch works. (More about the River Ranch later!)
The Pointe Hilton has these wonderful courtyards--most with water features--tucked in all over the place. Lots of places to cool off in the heat of the day!
Here the NLT is heading for where worship and other activities for Gathering will be taking place--those doors under that section of roof that we're walking towards are our worship space. Woo!
Another lovely water feature. Doesn't it make you feel cool and refreshed just looking at it?
And here we are at the River Ranch, looking at a portion of the Lazy River (picture yourself floating down it on an innertube!). You can see a small part of the mini-golf course on the right--the golf course runs right through the River Ranch.
One of the pools. Enticing!
Here's the top of the water slide...
The next day, we headed off for Rainbow Acres in Camp Verde, Arizona. It's about 90 minutes north of Phoenix, driving through some beautiful scrub desert countryside. (Yep, there's snow on that mountain in the distance!)
And we've arrived! (NLT left to right: Mary, Courtney, Elena, Grace)
We were invited to have lunch with the ranchers and have fun with them during their Valentine's celebration so, of course, we brought Valentines with us to hand out. Here Courtney is giving one of the ranchers a Valentine's Day card and chatting.
The NLT couldn't wait to get on the floor and dance with the ranchers!
The ranchers were glad to make our acquaintance.
(Dancing isn't just for the girls on the team--the adults got into it too! AB GIRLS coordinator Ruth Alerte)
The face painters were a popular stop during the party. (I believe he was in the process of becoming a tiger but don't quote me on that--I don't remember now!)
Mary decided she needed to get in on the action.
Rev. Chris Roush, VP for Administration, Church Relations, and Advancement at Rainbow Acres (left) led the NLT on a tour of the campus. She was joined by Chelsea Sneller--a now-grown-up AB GIRL who is working as an intern at Rainbow Acres as she applies for graduate school--she plans to go into social work. Having been at Immerse, she recognized Elena and gave Elena the inside scoop on a college that Elena is considering attending. AB GIRLS connections come in handy all through life!
Some members of the NLT took the cushy ride.
Some preferred to get some exercise.
Elena makes friends with the goats.
Some intrepid members of the NLT who cared little for the soles of their shoes went right into the goat pen to get up close and personal.
And then they got up close and personal with one of the horses. Ranchers take care of the animals and are able to ride the horses as well.
The tour included the wide variety of classrooms and craft rooms used by the ranchers daily. Here the NLT got to see works in progress--mosaics, beadwork, and painting, all done by the ranchers.
These painted rocks crop up all over the Rainbow Acres campus. Wouldn't you like some in your gardens?
After our day at Rainbow Acres, the NLT visited the nearby cultural site, Montezuma Castle National Monument, a cliff dwelling in habited by the Sinagua Indians for generations until around the 1400s.
Grace and Elena are impressed.
Reading about the Native Americans who lived here for generations. (Left to right: Courtney, Grace, Mary, Elena)
On Sunday the NLT was invited to worship with the Arizona Karen Baptist Church at Monte Vista Baptist Church in Phoenix. Here is one of many choirs that sang during the service.
And here's the youth choir. (There were others that also sang--we just didn't get pictures of everyone. But take note of some of these young women--you'll see them again!)
After worship, the NLT met with some of the girls and young women from the congregation. They ranged in age from about 15 to around 20.
Dah Gay (left), is one of the leaders of the youth ministry at the church. A very dynamic young woman! The NLT started by playing "I'm going on a picnic." Let me just say, it would have been a *very* interesting picnic!
Here Courtney takes her turn and tries to remember everyone's name and what they would bring on the picnic.
Then we broke for lunch. Pizza, of course--what else do you eat when youth get together?
They worked off their lunch when Grace led them in a game of "Where the Wind Blows" (also known as "Upset the Fruitbasket"). It started out looking very calm and orderly.
But soon enough bodies were flying!
This game, "Ninja," required amazing balance and fast reflexes.
The last four standing were at it for awhile--pretty amazing!
"Group Up" became another game of fast action and loud fun.
No, they didn't end up in a pile on the floor but we were worried there for a few seconds!
At this point, the adults were taking refuge in chairs along the side. Dah Gay and Ruth talked girls' ministry for awhile.
After getting to know each other, the NLT talked about AB GIRLS and Gathering. (Left to right: Mary, Courtney, Grace, Elena)
Ruth handed out bookmarks with the dates of Gathering and our other summer conferences.
The whole gang. Dah Gay said they'd never had an event just with girls before, and she thought it was a great idea! She hopes to do more now that the NLT has shown them what fun it can be.
As the Karen youth left, members of the Hispanic Baptist Church that also meets in the same building arrived to spend some time with the NLT as well.
Grace (center) and Elena (with her back to us off to the left) spoke in Spanish to better explain AB GIRLS and the three conferences being held in Phoenix.
And here the NLT is with the women (and one girl!) from the Hispanic church. We're hoping to see them this summer again too!
Just in case you think it was all fun n' games, by the way, we did spend a lot of time meeting. It just doesn't make for very interesting pictures. Here we're having conference calls with our worship leader, Rev. Mona Bagasao, and our Bible study leader, Rev. Karen Yee, via Skype. Modern technology makes close communication possible!
Here we are on our last night together--tired, but oh, so happy. And we can't wait to be back in Phoenix in July! Woot woot! You'll join us, won't you? (Front: Courtney, Grace; Middle: Mary, Elena, Ruth; Top: Angel)