Adriel and Aian Vissani plan to board an airplane for the first time in their lives in August 2011. And they don't expect the life-changing experience to end there.
The twin brothers are among the members of St. Wilfrid's Episcopal Church in Huntington Beach flying to Arusha, Tanzania next summer to help renovate a school and soccer field. The Vissanis have been out of the country before when they went on church missions to Tijuana, but they expect the shock to be even greater when they land in the impoverished African country.
A few things they've heard about the village where they plan to stay: The tank at the local children's school provides the only clean water around. Mosquito nets are required for sleeping indoors. The school soccer field resides in the bush and has no lighting. And the students get by with a single, worn ball.
"I want to bring 10 [balls], so they can practice or make a team," Adriel Vissani said.
Over the next 14 months, the twins, who graduated from Ocean View High School and attend Golden West College, have their sights set on raising $5,000 each for the 24-hour flight to Tanzania. The church at 18631 Chapel Lane has fundraisers of its own planned, including a "Holy Cow" breakfast before and after service this Sunday, which will raise money to purchase cows, chickens and goats for families in Arusha.
St. Wilfrid's, under the direction of parishioner Cheryl Kyle, formed a relationship in 2004 with the Diocese of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Since then, the Huntington Beach church has made two missions to Arusha, raising funds to build schools and teachers' homes, providing classroom supplies and more.
The Vissanis and the half-dozen other teens on the 2011 mission plan to stay at the Peace House Secondary School and work at several locations throughout Arusha, including a kindergarten and a Bible college. Some of the sites were built from scratch by St. Wilfrid's volunteers in previous years.
Shannon Kassoff, the co-mission coordinator, visited Arusha in 2006 and 2008 along with her husband and plans to return in 2011. The area, she said, is so remote that the St. Wilfrid's team needs to bring locals with them as guides.
"This particular area is pretty arid," Kassoff said. "There's no road even out there, so it's an adventure. There's a road at the beginning, and then we veer off the road and we're in the bush."
IF YOU GOWHAT: "Holy Cow" breakfastWHERE: St. Wilfrid's Episcopal Church, 18631 Chapel Lane, Huntington BeachWHEN: 8:45 to 10 a.m. before church service Sunday, then resuming at 11:30 a.m.INFO: (714) 962-7512 or roadtotanzania.com