Monday, July 26, 2010

New Video Up!

Watch our Camp Rules video that we made for the campers upon their arrival! It's funny!

Younglife/Fishnet Senior Camp Rules Video from melissa mills on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I have to admit to you how strange it is to actually be looking out my window in South Pasadena. I tried to drive a car today and it was weird. I tried to talk to a few friends, even more weird. Not having pork for every meal will also be weird.

Personally, I'm having a hard time readjusting to life here in Southern California and it hasn't even been 24 hours. I was supposed to go to work today but I wasn't really able to because all I could think about was camp and the kids and what God did there. It was such an intense two weeks, especially for the media team as we were working hard to get ready for Klub and to make all of our deadlines for videos. Simultaneously, we got to experience the campers and what it is they were going through as well.

With such demands put on all of us on the American team to be "ON' at all times, it was difficult to have time to process and to reflect on what exactly we were going through. For me, it hit me as soon as I was alone with my boyfriend. All I could do was cry. Cry for all the intense emotions I felt. Cry for joy at the steps the kids took toward Jesus. Cry that I finally got to live my dream out and be on a mission trip. Cry for the fact that I was able to bring the cameras and equipment back in one piece. Cry that my time with 17 people I used to see at church who are now more like family is over.

While one portion of the journey for me complete, another is just beginning. After processing these feelings, I have to get down to business and find an editor to start editing all of the footage I have for the documentary. Al and Stacy Anderson, our friends and kingdom leaders in the Czech Republic, will be coming to visit California in September. I hope to have something done for them by then. It will likely be a rough cut. In the meantime, keep checking the blog to see the videos we worked on and some little blooper reels I'll be putting together. Thanks for reading!

Melissa Mills
July 13, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Camp is over, We're in Prague

After a tearful goodbye with our campers (literally 57 kids crying and waving goodbye to us at the train station), we have made it to our hostel in Prague. We're all a little exhausted (especially after the dance party last night that went till 2AM), and the crazy camp schedule which kept us busy for two weeks straight. We're hanging out in the hostel now and it's actually really nice. I have approximately 7 or 8 hours of footage to go through when I get back, so I'll be able to relive the camp experience over and over. I hope to share this experience with the rest of the team, too. Our team is debriefing a little bit while in Prague and trying to enjoy the short time we have here. Tonight we're walking around the center of the city and possibly going to see Twilight with CZ subtitles. We have a lot of pictures and videos and hopefully we'll be able to update them tomorrow or tonight with the quick internet connection we now have.

We're safe, a little sad, and excited to see the city. We made some lasting and amazing connections with some of the kids. Some of their lives truly changed, thanks to God! He really used us. Can't wait to tell you the stories!

Melissa Mills
July 10, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First (and probably only) post from CZ!!!

Hey Everyone! I want to start off by saying that we are all thoroughly loving our experience in the Czech Republic. We are at a camp in a beautiful valley in the middle of the forest near the town of Tisnov in the southern region of the country. Our travels were long and arduous, three flights, two trains, and a total of nearly 36 hours! There were no major hiccups and we are almost over our jet lag.
We had two days to prepare and bond with the Czech YoungLife team that is doing a fantastic job running the camp operations. (not to mention what God is doing thru them throughout the year in Ostrava) We even have two staff on summer assignment from Singapore and a volunteer from Texas. Team unity is excellent and we are enjoying getting to know them and learning from them.
Campers arrived on Friday and we greeted them in wacky outfits and much excitement as they got off the bus. Our daily routine has been kind of like this: start off with a team-wide prayer meeting, breakfast, morn. English class, workshops, lunch, afternoon English class, big camp game, free time, dinner, Klub, 2nd dinner/cabin time, and then lights out. We have already made great connections with the kids and have begun to form some incredible relationships. The kids are loving the English classes and we have been told we are some of the best "non-English teacher" English teachers that Fishnet/Younglife CZ has ever worked with. We are also leading workshops in film-making, softball, cheerleading, and ultimate frisbee and those are turning out great as well. The film team is capturing all of this for not only our documentary, but also for a promotional video we have been asked to make for YoungLife Europe.
Quickly, for those not familiar with YoungLife, let me explain Klub (Club in Eng). Klub is a fun-filled time where we sing/dance to pop songs, play wacky games, and get to hear from our camp speaker, Jim. Jim is speaking to the kids through an interpreter (Luci, the camp program director). He is very methodical in how he is building up to sharing the gospel with these kids, and after hearing from the Czech leaders who work with these kids on a regular basis I know why...there are strongly held opinions held by many of the Czech students that the Bible and its contents are not accurate and Jesus was not the Son of God. Please pray that Jim will continue to slowly break down this barrier and that they will began to question their scientific, agnostic worldview. After Klub, they meet in their cabins and their Czech cabin leader leads a discussion about what Jim said. Some of us may have to opportunity to participate in this cabin time in the next few days and possibly share our testimony with the students. Please add this to our list of prayer requests.
Speaking of prayer requests, please continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to fill this camp and to touch the students. There is also some spiritual warfare in the form of distractions during Jim's Klub talk. Also pray that we continue to build the relationships with the kids and that we may have an opportunity to have a spiritual conversation with them in the next four days. Another barrier we are coming across is that the kids fear that Christianity will divide them from their families, who strongly agnostic. Lastly, pray for physical, mental and spiritual strength for both our team and the other leaders as we finish out the week. Some of us are getting sore throats and bad allergies to bug bites and to the pollen. Today it's rainy, so that might exacerbate the situation.

I wish I could upload some video or pictures, but the internet connection I am transmitting from is incredibly slow. The film team promises many pictures and videos when we return!

Thank you so much for your prayer and support. God truly is working here and we are excited to be a part of it! Our nightly prayer times with our American team have been growing us all so close. We are constantly praying together for these kids and hoping God will use us in his plan to reach this region of the world. The Czech kids are so unique. They are respectful and kind and they are learning how to share their opinions with us. The trust being built is amazing. After a couple of days they are giving us tastes of their ice cream cones, asking to have dinner with us, and trusting us with the details of their lives. We are doing the same with them and it's an awesome experience.

Keep praying!

Melissa Mills and Chris Garcia
5:09 PM -Czech time, July 6, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

30 hours left

Getting packed. Praying lots. Admitting last minute fears but giving them away to God. This isn't our trip, it's His.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Urban Plunge Video!

Here's the video that the CA Czech Media Team along with a few awesome friends from Christian Assembly. Our own Chad Hines wrote the music for this video!

Urban Plunge - After the Weekend from Sam Lundquist on Vimeo.

Melissa Mills
-June 22, 2010

Film Test

Okay this has very little to do with the film, but it does have to do with the equipment we'll be using. We are now going to have 1 Flip Cam, 1 JVC handheld digital camera, a Mini DV camera, and a Kodak waterproof version of a flip cam. After getting the flip cam on Saturday night, I played around with it and made this at a party I went to:

Small Moments At A Party from melissa mills on Vimeo.


Friday, June 18, 2010

We've been commissioned to make a film!

Got a message from Luke today from the Young Life Camp in the Czech!

"We are wanting your team to create a funny video explaining the rules of camp. Once I get the list of rules I will send them to you. But, I would like you to ask your film team to start thinking of ideas….characters, scenes, lines that rhyme. We will have 2 days before camp to film. Some rules off the top of my head are – no drinking alcohol, stay in camp boundaries, no boys in girl cabins (visa versa), respect everyone, throw away garbage…. "

WHOO HOO! Guess we're getting to work as soon as we get there!

Melissa Mills
-June 18, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chris's Update

Wow! So I am almost out of double-digit days to count down before the trip. I got nervous last week when I visited our high school group, Vertical Reality. It felt weird…I felt so removed from high school since I have started my “adult” life. Struggling to make conversation with American high schoolers, I questioned how I would be able to make conversation with Czech high schoolers. Let alone build trust and a friendship with them. Following that up with our bonding weekend, I realized almost all the other team members are in a much better place to interact with high school Czech kids: teachers, youth ministry leaders, similar heritage, or simply just being closer in age. So starting Monday, I decided to start praying for this specifically, and I ask you to join me in this prayer. Talking it out with close friends is also helpful as they are providing much needed encouragement. My hopes for the trip have not changed and I was exciting to hear the hopes of my other team members as I got to know them this weekend.

Chris Garcia
-June 16,2010

12 days...whoa!

Well it's officially less than two weeks before we leave! We went on our Czech team bonding trip and after hoping to go to Mexico, we realized there were some difficulties at the border and thus decided Palm Desert was a better option. I was so thankful for John's family because they opened up their three bedroom condo to us! I also got excited to start actually filming our team. I got a lot of great b-roll of our team being goofy and hilarious together. We truly did bond over World Cup Soccer, stuffed peppers (a Czech food), making breakfast, going out for ice cream in 100 degree heat, and the time we spent getting to know one another better. I'm sure we'll have plenty of that in the CZ as well, but this was a great start to it. There's nothing like taking 13 people and putting them into a house together for a weekend. It felt like Real World but without the drama. So fun. Pictures to come. I mostly took video. If you are praying for us, please pray that we can get all of the equipment we need before we go and that it can all be packed safely! Also, our commissioning from Christian Assembly and Fusion is Sunday night at 6PM if you want to come! Thanks for your support!!!

-Melissa Mills
June 16, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Panda Express Fundraiser!!!

NEXT SUNDAY, May 23, from 1 to 7pm, Panda Express in Eagle Rock is giving us some of their proceeds! This will go to the Czech team as a whole. Here's the deal: all you have to do is tell everyone you know (particularly people who will already be in the area) to take a flier, go eat some yummy "chinese" food, and support the Czech team.

You have to take the flier with you when you go to Panda or else we won't get no monies from the purchase. If you need a flier, let me know! I'll email it to you once we have one.

Also, I'll see if I can scan the flier and get it onto Facebook so that people could also print it out themselves and go. Would really appreciate everyone's support on this. Thanks and Blessings to All!

The Support Raising Committee

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Well the Rummage Sale was a success! We made some money, learned how to do it for next time, and are still working hard to finish our fund-raising efforts well! You might be wondering what this picture is. It's actually a picture of some of the kids we'll be teaching in the Czech republic. They look like fun kids and how cute is that dog?!

We're working on getting equipment, storyboarding, and working on the general story of what it is we're trying to tell. Also, please pray for us as all of us are about to plunge into learning how to use cameras, sound equipment, etc. We have a huge learning curve ahead of us before we go! Thanks for all of your support thus far, readers!

Melissa Mills
-May 11, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010


This weekend we're having a Rummage Sale to help raise money for our trip to the Czech! Details to come! If you have any stuff for us, please let us know ASAP so that we can pick it up and sell it!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Filming the LA sites this weekend

Jennifer mentioned that the kids that we're going to be meeting in the Czech Republic are infatuated with Americans and especially Californians! That's really exciting for us because we're going to have such an opportunity to relate with them since we live here in LA. Right now, we're in the process of filming a really short piece about life in Los Angeles that will eventually be shown on one of the nights of the Younglife camp in the Czech. (

I'm really excited because this will be the first test run of our crew and we'll see how quickly I can learn to use iMovie. My old laptop completely died and I had a decision to make: Go Mac or buy a crappy refurbished PC that would probably only last me a year or two. So after much hemming and hawing and asking everyone and their mom about what I should do, I got the Macbook. I didn't go Pro, because it was WAY too expensive. But I must say, I love the Mac. Ah but I digress. All that to say, now that I have a Mac, I have IMovie, which is GREAT! Now we can better edit since JEnnifer also has a Mac! Whoo!

All that to say, the film team is shooting this Saturday morning. I'm quite excited about it! We'll see how it all goes...

Melissa Mills
April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mini-Bio about another team member, Jennifer Peyrot

Quick facts about me: Native Angeleno, Jewish Believer (My great-grandpa was a business partner of Canter), high school teacher, semi-tri-lingual (I can understand more than I can speak of Spanish and French), kind of grew up in church, Army vet, pet owner, scooter rider, hiker, traveler, lover of God and all things good.

I have been on quite a few mission trips to an orphanage in Mexico. This will be my first to a country overseas. Quite honestly I checked it out because I have the summers free, the cost was relatively inexpensive, and just my presence will allow more students to participate in the program.

Since my application was accepted and I’ve met with my teammates my enthusiasm has grow. I'm really excited to get to know better my teammates, the young people in the Czech Republic, and the group of people that are living and serving the people of this city

Another neat thing is that I am getting to document the trip through photography, film and writing. These are all things that interest me and I am excited to use these gifts, grow in them, and share them with some of the young people in Czech.

I have heard that the students in the Czech Republic are interested in Hollywood. Given that I have taught a History of Film class, worked at a premiere entertainment agency, and a restaurant frequented by celebrities I will be able to name drop for the Lord = ]

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rummage Sale!!!

In efforts to raise money, we're having TWO rummage sales on May 1 and May 8. If you have any stuff to donate to us that we could sell in our rummage sale, please leave a comment on the blog or email me! Or if you want to COME to the rummage sales, let me know too! One man's junk is another man's treasure!


Monday, March 29, 2010

The Best Week of Their Year or Mine?

Today we got news from Al, our leader in the Czech, who is planning the camp and working with the kids we'll be meeting in a few short months. It made the trip more real to me, or rather, it made the kids we're going to meet more real. I heard more about them, and learned that we have an opportunity to help make this camp the best week of their year.

According to Al, one of the big reasons kids come to camp is to meet "the Americans, especially ones from California." He writes, "there is still a desire to meet and know Americans here, so your team plays a big role just by showing up." Wow, I suddenly feel humbled hearing that. Who am I? Just because I was born in America and happen to live in California, a bunch of kids want to meet me? Really? That's cool, because I'm looking forward to meeting them too. I wonder, how can we have that attitude towards them? I don't want to walk in there all prideful, thinking I know it all because I'm an American. Hundreds of years of colonialism has to have taught us something...we aren't just these awesome amazing people walking in to help kids who don't know English and make their lives better. We do have a message we want to bring. We have hope we want to share. But that does not make us better. It makes us grateful. We need to go with humble hearts and minds, open to LEARNING from these kids. Who knows what they will teach us...

-Melissa Mills
March 29, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Focusing Despite The Murkyness

"It's worth it brothers and it's worth it friends to know your maker, to lose your sin. Did you know that you are dearly loved?" - Jimmy Needham

I just had to put that song quote up at the top of this blog, because this song reminds me of the road trip I took back from Urbana 2009 after committing to go on my first missions trip. I didn't know where I'd be going first, all I knew that I had to take a step of faith and say I was going to go. I stood up in front of 17,000 people and committed to get out of my own way for long enough to let God's story play out in my life. At the time, I remember thinking, this isn't that big of a deal, why aren't more people standing up? Isn't this what Urbana is all about? The realization that we are to love our neighbor whether they be next door or in the Czech, or India, or Laos, or Argentina, Africa, or the Middle East.

I have to admit, in the last few months, my desire to do just that has been really clouded. It became crystal clear to me at Urbana that my life was to be more about me. It was easy to live in that reality. It was clear cut. It's become murky for me in the last few weeks. I've been running around at my new job at the Community Center and I've really been able to throw myself into it. It's been great. Not since my discovery of God's heart for justice have I been able to get behind something so much. I'm that kind of person who loves to discover a cause and just run toward it. Working again after months of unemployment has been a huge blessing. But now I need to focus.

That's My One Word for the year FOCUS. And now to focus on the Czech. I've been focusing on my new job, my relationship, and everything else besides the task before me. Pray for me, please! Pray for our team as we raise funds and prayer support for this journey. Pray for unity and focus. We need it! :)

Melissa Mills
March 24, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Story and The Importance of Connection

I just realized today that in three months, we'll be in the Czech. It's exciting to think how this whole journey and idea for the trip came about for me. It started with a class called Perspectives when I realized that the world was so much bigger than I am. I realized that my life wasn't about my story, it was about God's story. I was a storyteller but I questioned "Whose story am I telling anyway?"

I want so much to be a part of something bigger than my own story, my own set of experiences, which are very limited. I've found that while we all have differences, the things that connect us are our stories. Brenda Salter-McNeill reiterated that to me this week at a luncheon I attended this week on women and leadership. She gave an example of how she was from Trenton and asked if anyone in the room was from there. When no one raised their hand, she asked, "Does anyone know anyone from there?" At that point several hands went up. The point is this: If we can find a connecting point for other people to understand us, and we can try to understand them, we will be so much further along! Once we realized that we could start with something small like "place of origin" as a connection point, people stopped being strangers and started to be people.

This week, I've been trying to figure out how the heck we're going to make this documentary while giving an accurate and true to life depiction of these kids from the Czech. I don't know them. I've been to Prague, but only for 3 days and I was sick most of the time. I didn't really have time to soak in the culture, understand what makes the people tick. But then I remembered, it's about story. It's about finding a connecting point between us and them so that maybe it won't be an "us" and "them" anymore, it'll be people who are connecting across cultures who want to find our commonalities so that we can further connect others to the broader story of who we are in God's story.

One of my favorite quotes about connection and bridging the gap:
"In these dangerous times, where it seems that the world is ripping apart at the seams, we all can learn how to survive from those who stare death squarely in the face every day and we should reach out to each other and bond as a community, rather than hide from the terrors of life." - Jonathan Larson, creator of "Rent".

-Melissa Mills
March 21, 2010