Our Mission Statement

Friday, March 31

pack wisely

Can you believe that April is here already? Unbelievable (I use that word a lot). April 1st marks the start of my 7th year here at Central Church of Christ, in beautiful Sarasota, Florida. Yeah, some of you got it right off the bat. April 1st. April fool’s day. Yep, that was my first say of work down here. Funny, huh? But that is my anniversary none the less. Its almost fitting to be honest. 6 full years working in Sarasota, my 14th year in Florida (5 in Miami and 3 in Orlando). This year also marks my 25th year of working with teenagers. Teaching, coaching, and working in youth ministry adds up to 25 years of service. OK, that was my pat on the back, now I think I will go drink some Boost or something. I am officially declaring myself old. Physically that is (especially the knees), but trust me, mentally, still as young as ever. I don’t plan on every growing up completely! I love what I do and can’t think of anything else I would want to do. Except mission work, which is what this blog is all about.

The summer trips are right around the corner!!! Its time to panic, time to find that stupid “easy button” you see on TV!!! Run around in circles and scream if you have to, its time! ITS TIME!!! OK, might have been a bit dramatic, but it is time to get in gear and get going. Especially if you are going on the May trip. The May trip, as of today (Friday, March 31st), is 45 days away from departure. That, my friends, might as well be tomorrow for those of us planning these things. 45 days is the “point of no return” you hear about. You know, the sign above the river that goes over Niagara Falls, the one that says if you go beyond this point in the river you have no choice to go back, you are going over? We are at the point of no return on the May trip. Tickets are set in stone, names are on them, and it will cost a lot of money to change anything now.

SO, IF YOU ARE ON THE MAY TRIP, HERE IS INFORMATION ESPECIALLY FOR YOU (July teams take note, most, if not all, applies to you and your trip as well):
* Make sure you have your passport. Is it current? A photocopy of your passport needs to sent to me ASAP for your file.
* Make sure you have checked your insurance to make sure it is current and you have done whatever is required for traveling outside the United States. Make sure you have an insurance card to carry with you. Everyone going on the trip receives SUPPLIMENTAL accidental insurance on the trip.
* Shots are not required for the trip but make sure your tetanus shot is current. All shots (hepatitis, malaria, and cholera) are optional.
* You are allowed 2 (two) suitcases) for checked-in baggage. EACH BAG CANNOT WEIGH MORE THAN 50 POUNDS!!! There is a fine (mucho dinero) for going over, so don’t! Pack wisely.
* Remember that the Mission House has laundry service available for $4 a load (wash, dry, and fold). Pack wisely.
* You need to bring a backpack; use it as your carry on bag. In your carry -on bag, include 1 set of clean clothes (you never know 100% if your bags will make it down with you on the flight…. wish I was joking). Also, your money, passport, and any other items of real importance, should be in your backpack. ALSO remember no knives, hammers, nails, etc. in your backpack! You can say hasta la vista if you forget. Hammers, knives, tools, etc., go in your check-in luggage. Pack wisely.
* Girls, you can also bring a purse on the plane if you want. Guys, well, you are on your own, I am not going there…..
* Remember, there is a dress code on this trip. Modesty is of utmost importance. Shorts are knee length, shirts have sleeves and are not tight fitting. CLOSED TOED SHOES ARE A MUST, sandals and flip-flops are used in the dorm areas only (Honduran dirt is packed with bacteria on steroids). Girls, this includes Sunday church attire. No tank tops or equivalent. Pack wisely.
* Work gloves and eye protection are required. Sunglasses work fine. But you have to have them if you are working at a construction site.
* Canteen or water bottle required. Several are better. Staying hydrated is muy importante, si!
* A light jacket is also needed, especially one that is water resistant. Also a hat, sunscreen, and bug repellent. Bull Frog sunscreen is the brand of choice, along with Cactus Juice bug repellent.
* I recommend that you bring your own hammer for the trip. Go and pick out one that works well with you (weight, feel, etc.). We do have tools, but having your own is best. Guys typically like to swing a 20 ounce hammer or bigger while girls tend to use lighter hammers.
* We will be on a media fast during the trip. Please leave your I-pods, Walkmans, CD players, etc. at home. We want you focused on the trip and getting to know your teammates, not jammin’ out in your own space.
* We will be going to a grocery store when we first get to Honduras. You will be able to buy a lot of your snack foods and lunch items there. However, it will be cheaper to buy stuff here in the states.
* The rules sheet, WHICH MUST BE NOTARIZED, is being sent out this weekend. This document must be signed, notarized, and sent back to be no later than April 29th. Everyone going on this trip must do this.

Toilet paper (comfort is everything)
Pepto Bismal (the pink miracle)
Tooth brush/paste
Hand wipes (bring a lot!)
Hand sanitizer (very important)
Imodium (life savers)
Shaving cream/razor
Towel/wash cloth
Insect repellent (Cactus Juice)
Deck of cards
Watch (waterproof)
Work clothes (disposable)
Work shoes (closed toed)
Work gloves
Peanut butter/jelly
Laundry bag
Zip-lock bags (sandwich size)
Zip-lock bags (gallon size)
Flash light
Alarm clock
Spending money ($50 - $90+)
Water bottle (s)
Sunscreen (psf 20 +)
Spanish/English dictionary
Snack food
Pocket knife
Sharpie marker
Personal medicines

Depart Monday, May 15th, from Nashville International Airport on American Airlines flight # 1879 @ 6:56 AM arriving Miami @ 9:59 AM. Connect on American Airlines flight #953 @ 11:47 AM arriving Tegucigalpa @ 12:08 PM.
Return on Wednesday, May 24th on American Airlines flight #954 @ 1:20 PM arriving Miami @ 5:39 PM. Connect on American Airlines flight #1422 @ 8:27 PM arriving Nashville @ 9:46 PM.
Depart on Monday, May 15th from Miami International Airport on American Airlines flight #953 @ 11:47 AM arriving Tegucigalpa @ 12:08 PM.
Return on Wednesday, May 24th on American Airlines flight #954 @ 1:20 PM arriving Miami @ 5:39 PM.

* Santa Ana (Tegucigalpa area): clean-up / paint / work on road
* Build 2 or 3 houses (Valle de Angeles and San Miguel)
* Comayagua church project (leveling road and digging drainage ditch); hospital visitation; orphanage visitation; possible medical work
* Work on Baxter’s retaining wall (Tegucigalpa)
* Valle de Angeles children’s home projects
* Stucco and paint inside of San Miguel’s church building (Tegucigalpa)
* San Miguel’s feeding program and food distribution (Tegucigalpa)
* Visitation at Hospital Esquela and Hospital San Philippe (Tegucigalpa)
* Visit orphanages and children’s homes (Tegucigalpa)
* VBS at Valle de Angeles (3 days)
* Devo at Jesus statue and @ Santa Lucia; dinner @ the Kluge’s
* Retreat at Hotel Copantyl

Faulkner men’s team soccer matches:
* Baxter University
* Los Pinaras Academy
* Honduras Air Force team
* University of Comayagua
* University of Honduras/ Tegucigalpa
* Cobras Elite Task Force team

Lodging in Tegucigalpa: Casa Gracia (Mission House)
Lodging in Comayagua: Hotel Moralas (2 days, 2 nights)
Retreat in Tegucigalpa: Hotel Copantyl

Our team will meet in Miami and will fly down together. Torch T-shirts and journals will be passed out at the Miami airport.

So, there ya go, more information than you thought could be possibly given out before a trip. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I hope everyone is getting excited about the trips, I know I am! And, for those going in July, specific information about your trip is coming soon. Pray for success for the trips, may God always be glorified by what we say and do. God’s speed to all of you.


Wednesday, March 29

Its true

I have been following with great interest the story of the Afghan who converted to Christianity 16 years ago who was recently thrown into prison in Afghanistan, his home country. According to Afghan law, converting to Christianity is against the law and is punishable by death. As news of this event reached around the globe many countries implored the Afghan court to reconsider their law and set Abdul Rahman free. Clerics from the Muslim faith voiced their condemnation and vowed Abdul’s death if he was set free.

Protestors chanted “death to Christians” during their protests as the fate of Abdul rested in the hands of the high court. Pressure mounted from presidents and prime ministers from all over the world, along with religious leaders, including the Pope. But the Muslims of Afghanistan made it very clear what their thoughts were on this event. They said the Quran calls for infidels to die. Abdul was caught with a Bible in his hand and even confessed to the charges. This was a very serious moment. What would the court do?

The high court announced that Abdul would be released because of lack of evidence against him. The court also said that it was not sure if he was mentally stable enough to stand trial. Clerics were outraged and protests of the news swept through the streets. Abdul was kept under heavy guard for his own protection. Then, without warning or announcement, he was released. His where a bouts was unknown. I cringed at the possibility of what would happen to Abdul. His life was in danger and the court released him. I was certain that he would be killed. But today I read that Abdul is safe in Italy and that they are granting him asylum. Leaving his home country was Abdul’s only choice, if he wanted to live. Leaving his home, his family, his relatives, leaving everything behind. Why? Because he became a follower of Jesus.

The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion in the world and one of the fastest growing here in the US. Many of its spokesmen say that the Muslim religion is a religion of peace. They say that the Muslims that are terrorists and murderers are a small radical group that does not represent the whole of the Muslim people. However, I disagree. I believe that the Muslims are extremists, that they believe that they alone shall be justified before Allah and that anyone who is not a Muslim is an infidel, and should be considered an enemy. We need to be very concerned about all of this. Countries all over the world are having major problems with riots and uprisings and if you look closely, you will see that in many cases it is the Muslims that are involved. Their goal is global domination. And once they are in control, look at the laws they make. Look at the laws in Afghanistan, against anyone who proclaims to be different, such as a Christian. Look at what happens in Muslim countries, do you think for a moment that we really know everything that is going on over there? Come on, wake up and get real! For every Abdul that we read about, there are a thousand we never hear about. People are dying all over the world because of their relationship with Jesus. EVERYDAY.

Jesus said that if we followed him that the world would hate us. It is true. He said that if we followed Him that we would be persecuted. It is true. Jesus said that it would not be easy, for if the world hated Him that the world would hate us. It is true. Jesus said not to fear the one who could kill the body but to fear the one who could kill both the body and the soul. It is true. Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life. No man can go unto the Father except through Him. It is true. Jesus said that if we love Him we will obey His commandments. Again, it is true. Obedience in Jesus Christ is without question the most important thing in the world.

I am afraid that another holy war is coming. Just like the crusades we read about in our history books. Christianity against the Muslims. Except this time it will not be swords, bows, armor, and horses. It won’t be spears and javelins and foot soldiers. What will it be like? Tanks? Missiles? Bombs? Nuclear weapons? I don’t know. Will it be a war of words, policies, and sanctions? Will it be a war of political maneuvers? I don’t know. Or will there be no war at all, will the world allow the Muslims to sweep in and take control without a fight? I don’t know that either. But the thought scares me to death.

Have we been so busy fighting among ourselves, “defending the faith,” dotting our “i’s” and crossing our “t’s” that we have allowed the real enemy to approach unhindered? Has the Christian community beat themselves senseless yet? Have we learned to fight against ourselves to the point that we can’t fight against the real enemy? Believe me, Satan’s hand is in this mess. He is the conductor of this orchestra. He can play religion with the best of us. If he played it with Jesus during the temptations in the desert, he will certainly play it now. He can turn neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother. Country against country, and religion against religion.

The world needs Jesus more than ever; to know who He is and what He can do. The world needs to know about His mercy and grace. The world needs to know about His salvation and His judgment. This planet is a ticking time bomb. Death and destruction is in the air. People are dying everywhere. Lost. Without hope. Without Jesus. ETERNALLY LOST. Maybe we should take that Great Commission thing just a little bit more seriously. Now. What do you think?


Wednesday, March 22

A better offer???

I was reading from the book of Job recently. You know, that is a very interesting book. In a lot of ways, too, because this is a guy that a lot of people, like myself, can relate to on a regular basis. He seems like a pretty normal kind of guy, in most ways, although he does seem to be pretty wealthy (by any standard). Going through life, doing his thing, happy as can be. Good family, good wife, good job, nice house, plenty of stuff to make one happy. Not a bad gig if I say so myself.

Then comes “the meeting.” You know, THE MEETING. God summons his angels and asks what they are up to and Satan is there too. God asks what Satan has been up to, and of course he tells it like it is. “Seeking people to DESTROY. Did you catch that? Standing before the throne and telling God that he is seeking souls to destroy. Whew, that is hard to take in when you really think about it. Then comes the clincher, God asks Satan if he has considered Job. Now, I ask you, what did Job do to deserve this??? He is down there on good ol’ planet earth, minding his own business, and up in the heavenly realms he has just become the center of attention. WHY???

You know the story, I won’t go into all of the details. But I constantly think about the “WHY” question. Why was Job called out? Why did God put Job on the line? Why did all of that have to happen to him? WHY? Now, a philosopher will give you lots of reasons, and most preachers too. And they all make a little bit of sense, I guess. But it all seems weird to me. And Job comes through it all, but not without a lot of questions himself. But he learns who God really is, and understands his relationship with Him. And he certainly learned a lot about Satan, his power, and his unending desire to DESTROY him. What if God had said, “Have you considered my servant (insert YOUR name here)…” And that, my friends, scares me to death.

Satan is out to kill us all. That is what he wants more than anything else in the world. He wants to destroy us, rip us away from God, from His grace, from His mercy. He wants to ruin us, stain us, take away our value. He wants to flush us down the toilet and spit on us. He wants us to spend eternity with him in the burning fires of hell and darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. That is what he wants alright, and he will do whatever it takes to do it.

He will lie to you. He will deceive you. He will flatter you. He will tempt you. He will make things that are horribly sinful seem appealing to you and will convince you it is OK to do it. He will make you abandon your senses and common sense, he will make you doubt your upbringing and your morals. He will do other things too. He will take away your self esteem, your will power. He will isolate you and make you feel unwanted and unloved. He will pour guilt upon you and make you think you are worthless. He will ride you to the ground and crush you like a bug. Or he will give you great power, lots of money, anything it takes to distract you from serving the One who really loves you and wants the best for you.

And the sad thing is that Satan is really good at what he does. He is really, really good. I have watched as many have fallen to his wily ways. I have watched people fall away from God, from His church, and wallow in stuff that they, at one time, knew to be wrong. I guess working with teenagers really makes it tough. You work with teens for 4, 5, sometimes 6 years. Teaching them, through scripture, through example, though service, the path that they need to take. Then, when it is time for them to go, stretch their wings, they are picked off with Satan’s fiery darts that we read about in Ephesians. They get wrapped up in so much garbage, so much mess, so much sin, and they are trapped. And Satan is as happy as a lost soul can be when it happens.

But, God is still God. He is still the Master and Commander. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the King and Savior. And He is the Judge. He is unchanging, He is true and faithful. He constantly seeks and calls, pleads and beckons. He wants all men to draw unto Him. And I hold out to hope. I hope that those, who were some of the most faithful, most fervent, most focused, will come back to the one love of their life. That they will see that through Christ all good things come, and that what the world has to offer is a cheap imitation of the real thing. That their relationship with God is real.

Life is hard and so are the consequences of our decisions. And it affects not only the ones who make the decisions, it affects all those around them too. THAT’S RIGHT, IT AFFECTS OTHERS. To abandon God, to turn your back on Him, after all He has done for you, is a reckless decision. It is selfish, it is insensitive, and heartless. But Satan will give you all of the resources you need to make it happen, and he will do it with a smile on his face. AFTER ALL, WHAT DOES SATAN HAVE TO LOOSE? HE HAS ALREADY LOST EVERYTHING. Maybe the question should be, “WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOOSE?” What are you waiting for? A better offer??? You’re kidding, right?


Saturday, March 11

Are you listening out there???

OK. I can‘t stand it any longer. I just have to write my thoughts on this. To all of those out there who read this blog, please allow me some time to vent here. Agree with me or not, I just want to say a few things that are on my mind. Everyone has opinions, ideas, view points, and I want to share mine right now.

I just finished reading the current Sports Illustrated and its article (excerpt) from the book, “ The Game of Shadows.” The book itself is scheduled to come out at the end of the month. The book goes into great detail describing the drug use of Barry Bonds, the powerful slugger for the San Francisco Giants. The drug use outlined in the article involves steroids and other growth hormones that can, and is, used by many athletes today to increase their muscle mass and performance capabilities to give them an edge on their competition. This article goes to great length to document its findings and to establish the legitimacy of the claims made by its two authors, both reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the past couple of years major league baseball (whom has kept its head in the sand on the problem of steroids and drug use), finally addressed the issue. Other sporting organizations have for years been testing athletes for illegal use of performance enhancing drugs. We have seen and read over and over again different athletes that have been caught cheating with steroids and watching their medals, awards, and records stripped from them. Now baseball, our national pastime, is involved. We watched as big name players went before congress under oath TO TELL THE TRUTH, denying the use of these drugs. Only to find out later that they lied, trying to hide the truth to the world, the dishonest way in which they played the game.

These drugs have horrible side effects. Deadly side effects. Athletes, both famous and unknown, have suffered the price for their use. Lyle Alzado, the great football player for Denver and Oakland, died in his early 40’s from steroid use. He admitted it before he died. Body builders, track stars, Olympic athletes, football players, weight lifters, you name it, have been and are now involved in their use. And the great cover-up continues. Denials and lies, and carefully chosen words are used when addressing the issue. And now we are focused on Barry Bonds, the man who is chasing one of the greatest records of all time, the title of Home Run King.

And Barry Bonds, one of the men who testified before congress under oath, is denying the accusations and using very carefully chosen words in his interviews. Reporters, news anchors, coaches and managers all mention that there is every indication that Barry Bonds is not telling the truth and that the evidence is overwhelming. Of course, Barry is in elite company. During the hearings several high profile players, many of which I truly admired, stated that they did not do anything wrong and that they would not talk about the past, only the present and future.

Now, I said all of that to get to the issue at hand. Sure, I am a baseball fan, and a sports fan all of the way. I love watching sports of every kind, that is why ESPN is my favorite channel. I know there are a lot of people just like me out there, who can’t get enough. We will watch anything considered a sport, ANYTHING! And I also know that there are those out there that could go days, even weeks (perhaps a life time for all I know) without watching a sporting event. But what I want to talk about is not really about sports, although it is found there. But it is also found at work, in relationships, in academic settings, you name it. IT IS CALLED LYING AND CHEATING.

We live in strange times. We live in a strange culture. Its true! Our world today is struggling over moral issues at every turn. And we are having a hard time deciding what we are going to do about it. The erosion of our moral fabric is so evident today that it is scary. Absolutely frightening. We are confronted with black and white issues of right and wrong, fair and unfair, good and bad. And we don’t know what to do about it. If you don’t believe me just watch your news channel and listen to what is being said. The way the media reports the news shows the dilemma that we are in today.

People, famous people, high profile people, are constantly in the news for lying and cheating. Martha Stuart, Ben Johnson (track runner), top executives from Enron, presidents (who can forget Clinton and Monica?), congressmen (Tom Delaney), I could go on for hours. Cheating on their taxes, cheating on their mates, cheating on anything and everything. And lying. Lying about what they did or did not do, lying about accepting gifts and donations. Lying about this affair or that affair. Choosing words very carefully. Its both amazing and sickening at the same time. High profile people, those in the public’s eye all of the time, doing things that are wrong and getting caught and then trying to get out of it. WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE THEY THINKING???

Do they think that they are above the law? Above reproach? That nobody’s watching? As we say in the south, “have they outgrown their britches?” Do they think that they will not get caught? Do they think that if they are that they can cover it up? Do they think they can talk their way out of it? Do they think that the public won’t care? Or is it because they just simply do not think at all???

Now, back to the problem at hand. Our culture today, this current generation, what do we think about all of this and how do we react to it? And how does all of this affect us? DOES IT AFFECT US? Is Barry Bonds, President Clinton, President Bush, Raphael Palmeiro (baseball player who denied before congress that he never used steroids and was caught last year, forcing his retirement), Martha Stuart, Pete Rose (baseball player with all time most hits, banished forever from the hall of fame because of his gambling addiction and his lying about it) and others, simply a reflection of our generation? Is lying and cheating so prevalent in our society today that this is just the tip of the iceberg or is this just isolated instances?

Lying and cheating has been around forever. Cover-ups and well chosen words too. But today we are living in an epidemic. Our morality has eroded to the point that lying and cheating is being confronted at every turn, from the highest and most famous, down to the nobodies and the average Joes. Cover-ups, well chosen words, and dishonesty is everywhere. People lying under oath, lying in courtrooms, in principle’s offices, in management offices. Lying to policemen, bosses, teachers, ministers, friends, and store clerks. It is everywhere. Moral or immoral, religious or not, good or bad, it is striking everywhere we turn.

And it is being demonstrated to our children. They see it at home, at school, they watch it on TV and in the movies. They hear it, read about it, and watch role models, family and friends do it. And children, teens, and others are redefining what cheating and lying even means. Is copying homework from another student wrong? Is it cheating? Not according to teens today! The VAST majority of teens do not see copying homework as cheating at all. Pressure to make good grades, to maintain high GPA’s, to get those coveted academic scholarships, has the best students cheating to make the grade. Competition to make the best grades, to win ball games, or to have and to hold, has caused people to do whatever it takes to achieve it. The “win at all cost” mentality has filtered into every aspect of our lives. Children are the mirror of our society today.

Catching people in the act of lying and cheating is one thing, but what are we going to do about it? Do we “re-define” it? Do we “ignore” it? Do we “confront” it? Do we shrug it off or do we get irate? What do we do? What CAN we do? Is it just part of life and do we need to just learn to accept it and go on and make the best of it??? That is where we are today? We are trying to decide what we need to do. Do we establish categories of lying and cheating? Do we draw lines in the sand and say this is acceptable but this is not? Do we establish “white” lies and “minor” lies and compare them to “big” lies? Shall we say that this kind of cheating is OK but this kind is not? And who is going to draw all of these lines and establish the measuring sticks? What will be the standard today? Tomorrow? Next year? 10 years? Me? You? Who??????????

Oh what a tangled web we weave. We cry outrage because President Bush “lied” to us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Who cares if Saddam Hussein killed thousands of innocent people. Martha Stuart cheats and lies about inside trading and goes to prison. We are outraged that she goes to prison and feel sorry for her. Barry Bonds takes steroids and human growth hormones to get the edge so that he can break Hank Aaron’s long standing (and fairly earned) home run record. Nobody seems to care. Much. But let two handicapped tennis athletes in wheel chairs get caught for using the same drugs and we suspend them! (No joke! Read Sports Illustrated February 22nd issue). Hello? Is anyone out there?

I can’t believe I am living to see all of this! I can’t believe we live in a society that is so messed up that we can become so judgmental and uncaring at the same time. I can’t believe that I live in a place where cheating and lying is so commonplace that we dismiss it and call it normal. We have got to come to grips on this. We have to establish the fact that there is right and wrong, fair and unfair, and that there are real consequences for the decisions that we make. If we don’t teach these values now we are going to reap the whirlwind in the future, and I am talking about the very near future. Think about the consequences of Iran lying about it nuclear activities?

And think about the moral aspect. Lying and cheating are sins, contrary to God and His holy nature. Lying and cheating are eternal decisions. Think about it. What do we have to loose? A lot. Both now and later. Much later. Stand up for what is right, teach what is right. There are absolutes, and God’s word addresses it. We can’t be cowards about this, there is too much at stake. And just because you or I have lied or cheated before doesn’t change the outcome. No matter how badly you have messed up, you can make it right. You can’t change the past, but you can allow the past to change the future.

We should be outraged about cheating and lying. Barry Bonds, are you listening? We should speak up and stand up for what is right. YES, IT IS A BIG DEAL. YES, WE DO CARE. YES, WE HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE. YES, THERE ARE consequences for our actions. May God help us now, more than ever, to be His ambassadors in this corrupt generation. You know, when you think about it, we really shouldn’t be all that surprised at all of this, the world is Satan’s playground, and he has polluted it with all of the evil that he can muster. But the false fascia Satan has put up has been stripped away and the ugliness of his demeanor has been revealed. The fight is on. The battle lines have been drawn. Where do you stand? Are you listening out there?


Wednesday, March 8

They are waiting for us

I just got back from Honduras a few days ago from what we call the scouting trip. Myself, along with 4 of my best amigos on the planet, Ben, Brett, AB, and Brian, spent 5 days racing across the Honduras countryside checking out different places to work this summer. Of course, I use the term “racing” loosely, if you have been to Honduras you know what I mean. If you can reach a top speed of 65 kilometers (about 45 miles an hour) you are driving at break neck speed down there because of the conditions of the roads. And the drivers. And the pedestrians crossing the roads. And the cows and pigs wandering down the roads. And the peddlers standing in the MIDDLE of the road trying to sell you their goods. It is almost like you are playing a video game on a really large screen, it just seems unreal to be honest.

And, driving in Honduras just wouldn’t be complete with the traffic signs, lights, and laws. All of which is completely meaningless it seems. Which, by the way, is completely foreign to American drivers, but given time, rubs off on you. I spent nearly a week riding around with my buddy Randy, who has been living in Tegucigalpa for several months now. He was insane before he ever got there, so I am not sure what term can be used to describe him now. Riding around with him has made the idea of riding roller coasters at theme parks seem like a waste of time and money. But he does get you to where you are going!

I also got to ride around with Jen Wright, whom it seems has taken to driving in Honduras well, she is right there with the best of them. And Katie, a very safe, courteous, and contentious driver. She uses her turn signals, seat belt, looks both ways, uses her mirrors, the whole 9 yards. Of course she was a sitting duck most of the time! Driving like an American in Honduras fits in just about as well as mixing oil with water. But, I have hope that Katie too will be able to develop a combined offensive/defensive driving style. We certainly did our part to encourage her while we were there!!!

Our scouting team was rounded out by Jen Arnold, who chose not to drive during our stay. Jen opted to just ride in the car with us and helped keep conversations going during the drives, keeping our minds occupied and distracted from all of the stuff happening on the roads. None the less, it is awesome to ride around town and see everything and watch a city of 3 million do its thing. You see expensive cars and SUV’s, lots of pickups, and every other car is a taxi, which is a foreign car, built in the early 70’s, painted white. Taxi car drivers are the worst, they never obey traffic lights and signs and are likely to stop at any given moment, right in the middle of a road, if they even THINK they might get a fare. Same goes for public transit buses, which are 1970 - 1980’s school buses.

It was a great trip. Blue skies and warm temperatures greeted us every day. The smell of diesel was in the air. New construction was everywhere. Signs of economic growth was everywhere. And it seemed everywhere we went there were people out and about shopping and selling. Stores were packed with customers, sidewalks bustled with activity. Cars filled the streets. Landscaping along the boulevards and streets. Light poles and billboards. Road crews sweeping the streets and picking up trash. In some ways, it seemed like a different city. It appeared as if Honduras was “growing up,” so to speak.

But, behind fresh concrete and shinny steel, you could still see the crumbling adobe bricks and the peeling paint. You could see beggars along the streets and by stores. You could see the tattered clothes of the venders along the streets. Honduras is showing signs of growth, showing signs of improvement, but in reality it is still very much a third world country. Coming from America and going to Honduras is still very much a culture shock. We are very much out of our comfort zones when we get there.

Traveling outside the city, to the edges of town, is where we focused most of our attention. Poor villages, most without power, water, and sewage, sprawl with people trying to survive and make a living. This is where we will concentrate our efforts this summer. Helping the poorest of the poor, trying to make a difference for people who are completely helpless. San Miguel, Nueve Oriental, Santa Ana, Valle de Angeles, Comayagua, and Chuloteca, to name a few. The need is great and I hope our teams are ready for the challenge.

We found several new places to work for this summer. A new children’s home in Valle de Angeles, run by a wonderful young married couple, has 17 adorable children that they have taken in and has committed to rearing them until the age of 21. We located hospitals that we have never visited before, and orphanages. Physical rehabilitation centers. Birthing centers. Small churches that are pleading for help and resources to help their ministries. New retreat locations for our end of the trip wind down were found. New contacts were made and old ones were reestablished. It was quite a scouting trip. It amazed me how much we got done in such a short amount of time.

Now the task is at hand, taking the notes and ideas and putting them into a working plan for the trips. Trying to match up tasks and activities with the talents that each group brings to the table. Trying to make sure we cover all of the bases and get all of the work done that we can do. I can assure you that God’s hand was very evident in the trip. We saw Him everywhere we went. Doors were opened right before our very eyes. I could write and write and write about all of the stories of things that happened on the trip. But the point is God is in charge and we were watching and listening. Now it is time to respond and do it.

As we departed, we flew over the city. As the sun reflected off of the tin roofs, I thought about our friends that live in Honduras, working everyday there. Randy; Melissa; Katrina; Alora; Karen; Jennifer; Katie; Joe, and Jen. Thanks for all of the help this past week, without you all being there, so much of what we do could not take place. To Tim; Mark; Gayle; Paul; Marc; and Tom, God bless your efforts this summer. To my co-leaders, Steve; Tom; Brian; Ken; Ben; Tim; Taft; Diane; Joel; Judy; Brett; Jeff; Patty; Linda; Margaret; John; and Big Ben, its game time. Lock and load, summer is just around the corner. Its time.

We are so blessed and honored to be going to Honduras this summer to serve as missionaries and ambassadors for God. We are fortunate to have the energy, talents, and financial abilities to go help the poor. Never take what you have for granted, never assume that there will be a next time. Make every moment count as you get ready for the trip. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of people in Honduras anxiously awaiting your arrival.