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Link to Sierra’s 2017 Article Below
Hey there! My name is Sierra Noelle Hammond. I am 19 years old (was 18 when I was at DAL last summer) and would like to share my experiences regarding Dinosaur Adventure Land, Dr. Kent Hovind, and the work I did in Lenox, AL last summer.
I decided to go and help upon hearing they were rebuilding DAL and were desperately in need of a cook! I don’t know how useful I am for most things, but I do know how to cook. So I decided to go help, and spent mid June to the very end of August at Dinosaur Adventure Land in Alabama.
When I arrived, the crew was very small still…perhaps 14 or 15 people at most. I was warmly welcomed and all of the guys appreciated my presence. I was the only girl there, aside from Lady Di, a sweet older lady who works in the office. I enjoyed the work and it was a sweet spirit of fellowship. We worked together, and everyone was grateful for everyone else.
I did all of the domestic work that would ordinarily be associated with running a household, but for the camp, not just however many people you may have in your home. This included menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning the kitchen, bathrooms, and dining area, doing laundry, etc. As I was there longer and longer, the group size would get bigger and smaller. I think at most I had 50 people to feed, but the average was between 20 and 25.
I made many good friends while I was there. I met a girl who would become one of my best friends, and the man I will one day marry. We had a group of 5 of us who were all around the same age, and we were nearly inseparable the whole time we were together there. I have so many lovely memories of swimming in the lakes in the heat of the day with them, or late at night, and spending weekends at Pensacola Beach together. We had an amazing time last summer. There was a lot of hard work, but we had a wonderful time together.
When I went to help at Dinosaur Adventure Land, I was excited to be able to see people getting saved, baptized, and committing (or recommitting) their lives to the Lord. I saw a genuine desire to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in most if not all of the people who were there. I’ll never forget the night that Lenae Valentine, Doctor Hovind, and I were able to lead a girl to the Lord out of my personal Bible. That was an amazing night, and that’s why I wanted to go and help. I wanted to be used of the Lord to see people reached with His Gospel and saved.
In the beginning, they had Bible study perhaps 2-3 times per week. I enjoyed them immensely. They were wonderful times to get into God’s Word and study it and fellowship together. They weren’t always recorded…it was simply a time to grow closer to God.
However, as time went on, things began to change around DAL. The peaceful atmosphere became stressed as we all got tired, and began to become overworked. The Bible studies changed too. They became less of an actual Bible study, and more of a big commercial for Doctor Hovind’s bookstore. He would talk about the books nearly equal to as long as he would the actual Bible. Here, you can see that for 7.5 minutes (from where the video begins at 3:10) he talks about his books, Mormons, and Muslims. Then for about 8.5 minutes he chats about 4 Bible verses, then for an additional half a minute, he talks about the bookstore. He does end it with a invitation to salvation. Also, I was one of the girls out taking pictures of the lightening mentioned in the beginning. Oops!
I went to Dinosaur Adventure Land as a volunteer, but I did eventually get added to paid staff. The way they set it up, I had to sign a little paper, marking me as a certain class of volunteer. There were 4 classes, although I cannot remember how they were divided. I was not given any copy of the documents that they asked me to sign. Each class got paid a certain amount. One got $500 per month, one $1000, one $1500, and the last $2000. I received $500 per month, cash, with no taxes withheld.
Their treatment of me began to change rapidly. What I was doing, and the way I had been doing it became scrutinized and I was treated like an employee. I was told I could delegate my work, and to manage others as well, but I was the only young lady who was reliably there to do the domestic work. My friend Beth helped me a lot, but was not there the whole summer. Just before I left, they expected a hot breakfast at 6 am (muffins or something made the day before were not acceptable. They wanted bacon, eggs, toast, etc. every morning–meaning I needed to be in the kitchen by 4:30 am), a hot lunch prepared at noon, and a homemade dinner at 6 pm. If you were doing this for a small number of people, that would perhaps be possible, but as mentioned before, I was the only girl there most of the summer, and I would have anywhere from 14-50 people to feed…usually around 25. We would also have a ‘mandatory meeting’ at 7 am every morning and 8pm every night, to do the bible study, and have a general meeting. The 8pm meeting sometimes could run an hour or more, but breakfast was still expected bright and early every single morning, without fail, in addition to the other two meals, and cleaning around the camp, kitchen, bathrooms, and dining areas. When Lenae Valentine (then Byers) arrived just before I left, she helped me a lot…we would trade off which meals we would prepare to give each other breaks. That woman was an amazing blessing to me, but it was still far too much for two people on their own.
I did most of the work by hand. I did all the dishes for all the people by hand. Sometimes people would help (I had one friend in particular who helped me nearly every night for the 5 or 6 weeks he was there…I appreciated him so much!) but more often than not I was doing them alone. One night, the evening before my friend I mentioned was scheduled to depart, I did not catch up all the dishes. I was sad he was leaving, and planned to do them in the morning, so I could spend that evening with him. Doctor Hovind was gone for the week preaching somewhere, and Steve, his right hand man, was left in charge. I went to sleep that night and planned to do it immediately in the morning. Around 4:30 am, Steve came into the girl’s bunkhouse where Lenae, myself, and a friend of mine from Ohio were sleeping, angry that the dishes were not done. He brought me to the kitchen, and using extremely colorful language ill-fit for a man of God, basically told me I better run this kitchen like an industrial kitchen and keep it clean, “or they would find some one else who could.” I was shocked. I did my best to keep up, but it was a very big job for anyone to try and tackle alone, and yes, had left the dishes undone for the night to spend time with my sweet friend. I was also appalled that he went into the girls bunkhouse early in the morning uninvited. We could have been in any array of undress. I was also upset at the expectation to run it like an industrial kitchen. If I had an industrial kitchen to work with, of course I could. But I had far from that…just a stove, a microwave, a shop sink, two refrigerators, and a hope of the promise that they would build me a proper kitchen in the pole barn. I spent hours a day simply trying to keep up with the dishes. 25 people times three meals a day without a dishwasher is very overwhelming.
After I started getting paid, I had an online class I started taking. It took me about half an hour each day. Usually from about 2:30 or 3 pm (when I finished the lunch dishes and cleanup) until 4:30 pm (when I had to start dinner) I had a bit of “free time” and worked on the class then. However, one afternoon, Doc came in and discovered me working on the class in the kitchen. I was told (paraphrasing) that, “We need to come up with a policy regarding online classes and such. If I give you a half an hour now to work on it, then Joseph* will want to take half an hour to work on his house in the afternoon, and James* will want to take half an hour to take a nap every afternoon. You should be scrubbing the floors or the cupboards or something.”
*names have been changed
While I can understand where he was coming from, in the evenings when the men had a bit of a break for the day, I was still busy in the kitchen, preparing dinner and cleaning up afterwards, doing more dishes. I did not get an evening break like they did, but suddenly was not permitted to work on my class online. Wait…what happened to volunteer?
The treatment of women was atrocious. I would be told I may delegate some of my (extensive) tasks to others, but I would then be told that I could not make any of the men help me, because it was “women’s work” and that if they wanted to help me after they put in a day’s labor, that would be okay. Obviously there were not very many men willing to help, as they were all tired and worn down by the end of the day. Doctor Hovind was extremely stubborn about it, to the point that he would come into the kitchen and ask for a drink, but would not get it himself if Bethany, Lenae, I, or any other girl was there to do it for him, and after meals, he would not even bring his plate to the sink. The behavior spread to the other men, and soon several of them were leaving their plates behind for me to clean up. He also suggested that the men give me their laundry to do, and I would do it for them. I obviously was already very busy each day, and on top of that, at first we only had one washing machine. We eventually got a dryer as well, but most of the summer had to line dry everything. We never got more than one regular household washing machine, with which we were expected to keep up with the whole camp’s laundry. Lady Di personally did all of Doctor Hovind’s laundry for him.
Another issue I encountered was an extreme attitude of wastefulness. Many things were wasted, like food, money and materials. If I had to spend the day in Pensacola or Monroeville to go grocery shopping, I would usually either slow cook a casserole in the oven, or make some sort of a crock pot meal so they would still have something to eat. However, when I would come back, even if it was late in the evening, there were always dirty dishes everywhere, food left out (and sometimes gone bad), and a general disarray in the kitchen, with the exception of one time where they made sure to clean it well after I was in Pensacola for a full weekend helping Lady Di move fully to Lenox. It was a very common sight to see tools, wood, nails, screws, and other materials out laying in the dirt then getting rained on because no one took care of things when they were finished. Money was never spent in a manner I would’ve considered wise, especially with a baby ministry. Some weeks the budget was so tight (or non existent) they would tell me I could not go grocery shopping, and to make due with what I had in the pantry and pray for donations. Then in the evenings, they would go out and buy large amounts of ice cream and sweets and such (see a video of that here). Also, I would regularly be told that they were building me a proper kitchen in the pole barn. I couldn’t wait! The small kitchen I had was hot and cramped and not properly equipped for what we were trying to do. I found out that $6,000 had been donated to the ministry. Surely the long awaited kitchen could be installed now! But I quickly realized that no…they would not be using that money for the kitchen. Instead, they would use it to build a luxurious wedding gazebo. Which brings me into my next point: Doctor Hovind’s divorce, wedding and marriage to Mary Tocco.
Doctor Kent E Hovind and Jo D Hovind got divorced on June 21, 2016. It was finalized on June 24th. You can see the original court documents online right here. She filed for divorce from him, on advise from her lawyer to protect her from potentially going to prison for this man again. I am no expert on the situation, but before the divorce was even finalized, Doctor Hovind began talking about Mary Tocco. One night, again, before the divorce was even finalized, Doc mentioned that Mary might be the “next Mrs. Hovind.” I was surprised, and asked him how he could justify remarriage the next day. He quoted 1 Corinthians 7:10-13, which says,
“10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. KJV”
Obviously this passage of scripture deals with a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever, and when an unbeliever seeks a divorce. So I asked Doctor Hovind if he believed Jo Hovind to be an unbeliever. He said he did believe that she was/is saved, so I asked how he could apply that passage of scripture. He did not give a clear answer, but instead changed the topic, and quoted Genesis 2:18, which says,
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. KJV”
He then said that he talked to 15 Christian pastors, and 14 of them told him it was okay for him to get remarried. (I later found out that the pastor who hosted the meeting where I first contacted him about working with them was the 15th pastor who said it was unbiblical.) I mentioned that going with the crowd instead of God’s way is how Barabas got released instead of Jesus. He would not discuss it any further with me. You can see him discuss marriage and divorce for yourself in this video.
Recently, Doctor Hovind and Theodore Valentine have come to a large disagreement and are no longer working together. You can look up Theo’s page and see his reasoning at Lies of the Devil. In Theodore’s second video, he shows a photo of Doctor Kent Hovind and Mary Tocco holding hands shortly after his divorce. In Doctor Hovind’s next video here, starting at 8:27, Mary will claim that they were not just holding hands, and that they were praying. I am shocked and saddened that she would say that. I took the pictures. That is not true. I was in the car and took all of these photos. They held hands all the way home from a church meeting on August 7th. There were 7 of us in the van… Doctor Hovind and Mary, me, a man named Jim, and my friends, Sam, Joshua, and Rheten. They were not praying, they were romantically holding hands. Then again on August the 8th, they went to a town called Fairhope for a date. I went along because I needed to go grocery shopping and they would drop me off at a SAMs Club along the way. My friend Joshua also came to help me, and because he needed to make a phone call to another timezone and did not have good enough cell reception at the camp. I took the photos on the way home, and they held hands most of the time. They were not praying. I was extremely surprised and disappointed that they would say that.
|August 7-after church meeting|
|August 8-Fairhope, Alabama|
|August 8-Fairhope, Alabama|
In the video they posted (linked above) they tried to say they were praying, and that is wasn’t a romantic thing. As a witness to it, that is not at all what happened. It was very romantic. In addition, before and after Mary came to DAL, Doc would spend hours at night on the sand dunes talking to her on the phone. Within days of their date in Fairhope, Doc began construction on the wedding gazebo. While Mary was in Alabama, she and I scoured all of the property at DAL to find the perfect location. They very much knew they wanted to get married then. On August the 18th, Doc went out to the partially constructed wedding gazebo to “practice his kiss” with a mannequin. I was asked to delete these pictures, but saved them because I found them amusing. I never dreamed I would have to use them as proof that Doc and Mary were indeed romantically involved in August.
|The completed wedding gazebo.|
The wedding gazebo was chosen as a priority over the new kitchen. I left on August 28th because the expectations were too high for me (or any sane human being) to tolerate. My friend who was there part of the summer with me, Bethany, visited at the end of April 2017, and told me they were still using the small kitchen, and never completed construction on the industrial kitchen.
Overall, my experience at DAL was chaotic. I had a wonderful time in some ways. I saw a girl get saved! I saw several baptisms. I met good friends. We had a lot of fun together. I even met the man I will one day marry. It was, of course, all worth it to me. But I would not go work for Doctor Kent Hovind ever again. I was also over worked and tired, and got caught up in doing so much “good” I could barely take care of myself anymore. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have learned what I did last summer, and for all of the new experiences I gained. But all in all, I’m glad I’ve settled back into a more routine lifestyle.
Thanks for listening to my story.
Sierra Noelle Hammond
Update December 15, 2019
Sierra is expecting!
Update December 31, 2019
Kent’s former right hand man, Theodore Valentine Valenzuela, has broadcast a YouTube video today featuring Sierra’s report above.
Update June 18, 2020
I ran across Sierra’s video from the summer of 2016. I don’t recall seeing it before.
Update January 1, 2022
Update April 30, 2023
The rest of Sierra’s story, so far, recently posted to her personal FaceBook page:
Sierra Noelle Hammond – The Hovind Experience — No Comments
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