Our Mission Statement

Saturday, June 30

Greetings from Tegucigalpa

The first round of travelers arrived safely today (Friday) Diane Woods, your daughter is safe and sound. 7 of us flew into Tegucigalpa and experienced what might have been the best landing in the history of the airport. It was shockingly smooth and we had a LOT of runway left over when we came to a stop. Instead of an e-ticket roller coaster ride it was more like a kiddie ride. BUT, we are not complaining!!! Of course, the "welcome to Honduras" moments began as soon as we got here. First, Ryan Thompson is the first to claim lost baggage. His suitcase did not arrive and we are going back to the airport today to get it(hopefully). Since he is currently 9 feet tall (not really) no one has clothes that can fit him. So we are very hopeful that it will come.

Marc Tindall met us at the airport with good news that our container was released and we were to go straight to the new bodega to unload it. So, we did the "hurry up and wait" system that is so common down here. We got to the bodega (about a block from the old one.... and much nicer I must add....)and waited 4 HOURS before the customs officials finally got there. Concrete sidewalks served as beds and couches for us as we waited in the hot sun. Once they got there the unloading was done quickly. Ken Ellis' group from Atlanta (about 17) helped us unload the boxes and supplies along with 4 or 5 that Jen Arnold broght with her. Then we headed up to the Mission House to claim bunks and unpack out stuff.

The Mission House is undergoing major improvements to the campus. The entire upper part of the campus, by the road, has been torn down and new buildings are going up. That means no chapel, no storage room, no meeting room, and no dorm rooms up there right now. Villa Gracia's office has moved to the 2nd floor of the new dorm in the lobby area. It is going to make everything we do more of a challenge. But, we will adjust. Welcome to Honduras!

Last night we went out to eat at Pizza Hut. We were just about as tired as anyone here, but everyone wanted to have a hot meal. It was very good and we enjoyed just hanging out and chilling a little bit. We got back to the Mission House around 10:00 and called it a night. It is good to be back and to see many friends. Jen Arnold came and visited for quite a while and Marc Tindall and Janet Hines are here as well. We have already had a lot of laughs along the way. If this is any indication, it is going to be a good trip!!! Showers were in order when we got back (Tyler Steffy even had the Hondurans looking at him funny as he walked by....). Leslie Woods already wants to come back next year to enjoy all of the "smells" she has experienced so far!

Today (Saturday) we are going to the old warehouse (bodega) to finish moving the last of Torch / IRC's stuff out of there and taking it to the new location. I will be making airport runs all day today. 2 come in at 11:30 on Continental, 2 come in at 12:30 on American, and 2 come in at 5:00 on TACA. Our main team (about 40) come in on Sunday. We are lining up work projects today and getting some details worked out. If possible we are going to meet up with Ken Ellis' group this afternoon. They are taking the youth group from Los Pinos out to the mall today for dinner and a movie. We are going to have a combined devo tomorrow (Sunday) with them once everyone gets here.

Time to start running. After weeks and weeks of preparing, waiting, praying, and dreaming, the trip is here! Continue to pray for us as we work for the kingdom down here. May God's blessings be on us all!!!!


Wednesday, June 20

hear ye, hear ye

Wednesday, June 20. It has been hard to switch gears from Brazil to Honduras. So many thoughts and memories are racing through my head the past few days. I want to share one more story with you before I focus my writings on Honduras. The last day we were in Brazil was a Wednesday. We went to the orphanage and then headed over to the church building for Wednesday night bible study. Randy Short had told us that the members were going to be preparing a farewell dinner for us made up of typical Brazilian foods. I thought this was a really nice thing since most of the Brazilians are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination.

That evening after worship we were served a huge variety of breads, cake, and meat dishes that were made of corn. Although not exactly what we had been eating all week it was quite good. When everything was cleaned up and put away and the main group had left, we had McDonalds delivered to us. (There is a huge difference in culture on this point. For Brazilians, the big meal of the day is lunch and dinner is just a small meal where in the states dinner is the big meal.)

While we were eating Big Macs and quarter pounders with cheese Nayane shared with us something that really made an impact on us. The day before (Tuesday) we had been in the area of the church building delivering food for families that was really in need. The families heard that there was going to be a fellowship dinner on Wednesday and they were invited to come. Not only did they come, they brought food for the dinner. Food cooked from the gift box that we had given them the day before. They used part of the food that we gave them to give us. As Jim Casey would say, “Wow.” That is a memory that will long live in my mind. And, as Paul Harvey used to say, that is the rest of the story.

News update from Honduras. Nathan spoke with Tim Hines, who is in Honduras right now with Gayle Davidson and Ken Ellis’ groups. Tim said that Honduras is getting pounded with torrential rain and that widespread flooding is happening all over Honduras, especially in Tegucigalpa and the surrounding villages. Mudslides are imminent are prayer requests have been sent out. Some of you might remember the horrible problems we had just a few years ago out in San Miguel / Mololoa with mudslides. Please pray that the rain will stop and that damage will be minimal. Also pray for the Torch team that is down there right now and for the work they plan on doing for the next 2 weeks.

For us, we are less than 2 weeks away from heading down to Honduras. Those of us in Nashville have had our last group meeting and are now scrambling to get last minute supplies collected for the trip. WE NEED Polaroid cameras and film for the trip. please try to bring film with you; we can’t have too much. We are going to help some of the churches down there create pictorial directories for their buildings. We will also take photos of families to give away as well. We are also making an all call for more Pepto (chewables if possible) and children’s vitamins. Bring as much as you can.

God is moving among us and great things are happening. For those of us privileged to go on this trip, we have an incredible opportunity to serve God in ways we can only imagine right now. I hope you are excited, I know that I am. I am looking forward to seeing you all down there and working with you. For some, this is a grand family reunion, of sorts. For others, this is your first “rodeo,” and you are in for the ride of your life and you don’t even know it yet!!! Yes, the veterans love having rookies on the trip. For many reasons…

Thanks to all that are involved with the trip. There are hundreds of people that make Torch go and we couldn’t do it without all of you. I hope all of the team members have already said a lot of “thank you” to those who have helped make this year’s trip a reality. It will be here in a blink of an eye, hope you are ready! See you soon.

Wednesday, June 13

Brazil it was...

Tuesday we awoke to more rain. It rained all night and today the front of the property looked like a river flowing through it. It just seems damp all of the time. Unfortunately, the rain doesn’t cool down the temperature much at all. It is just a warm rain to go with the hot days down here. Not complaining, mind you, just stating the facts. Since we are limited with kitchen utensils and cooking gear, the ladies have to offer the same basic meals. Breakfast was scrambled eggs, cereal, and bread. Morning devo was led by Jorge Del Bosque, the summer intern from Texas. George is a wonderful guy and is a real fireball. He is 42 and has been battling colon cancer. He gave a testimonial of how God is working in his life and how he has been able to use his trials for good. To say he is focused and on fire is an understatement. He is completely fluent in Spanish and is picking up the language here quickly.

Today we had our food give away. We assembled 150 bags of food Monday night and the first give away was at 11:00 at the camp. 50 families came and had a Bible lesson before leaving with the food bags. After lunch the majority of the team loaded the bus to travel to 4 distribution sites to give out the rest of the food. Rain did not stop most of the families from getting out to receive the food. The team was gone for about 5 hours and then went to the mall for dinner at the food court.

A small crew of 7 stayed back to continue the painting and assembling projects. Since the church pews were finished the construction team began building picnic tables for the dinning hall. They build 4 new tables to go with the existing ones. There are now 12 tables in the dinning hall. The paint team continued working on 2 of the murals. The mural of David and Goliath has become a much bigger challenge that we expected. We have limited paints and some a water based and others oil based. Quite a challenge to say the least. We worked until 6:30 and then 4 of the crew went into town to eat while 3 of us decided to stay put. Devotionals tonight were held in our rooms.

Wednesday we saw the sun again. It was really hot and humid today. We had breakfast (we cleaned up all of the left overs) and had morning devotional. Today was a wrap up session and “pep rally” for the team. Some of the team members left today to go on to Salvador where they will continue working for another week. We cleaned camp, gathered linins, returned borrowed mattresses, and swept the place clean. A few of us finished up the murals before loading up the bus. The camp definitely looked a lot different when we left. The dinning hall was completely painted from top to bottom along with the picnic tables. We painted the center part of the outside of the building (all 3 floors) and painted a Torch Missions logo at the entry. The entry was painted along with the stairwell and part of the second floor as well. A flag of Brazil and the camp logo finished out the artwork.

We ate lunch at the School of the Bible ($2 for rice, beans, spaghetti, chicken, and drinks!) and then headed over to a nearby orphanage. Several of the 65 children were still in school but there were still about 30 children there to play with and to give out toys. We stayed there for over an hour before leaving to go to the church building. Tonight we are being fed by the members here and then spending the night. Most of us are leaving before dawn so we decided staying at the hotel was going to be a waste of money.

This is my last entry till we get back to the states. People are flying everywhere in the next few days. It has been a wonderful trip and one that I will not forget. Brazil is a fantastic place to work and visit and I hope several of you out there will consider going next year. Next year’s dates will be May 30 – June 14.

Just a couple of weeks, literally, and the first Honduras team will be leaving for Tegucigalpa. Hope you are excited, I know I am!!! Until later, May God continue to hold us in the palm of His hand.


Brazil update....loving it!

Sunday was a wonderful day here in Brazil. We had an early wake-up call since we had to leave the Bible camp at 7:30 am. Rod Myers and crew got up to fix a light breakfast (some chose to go the Pop Tart route) before we loaded the bus. We have a 26 passenger bus (with life support capability… aka air conditioning) that we have rented for the week along with a bus driver (for all of the Honduras readers out there, he does not resemble Loco in any way what so ever).

We traveled into Recife and went to the congregation that Randy Short works. The church has been in Recife since 1980 and since that time approximately 90 congregations are now in the northeastern part of Brazil. There are 18 just in Recife. Of course, in the greater Recife area there are about 4,000,000 people. The congregation we attended is located in Boa Viagem and meets in a beautifully remodeled house especially set up for church services and gatherings. The bilingual service was really cool. The Brazilian song leader had a wonderful voice and one of the men of the congregation preached. Randy Short taught one of the Bible classes in English (there are some members there learning English and were very happy that we were there to practice with during class).

After services we went to a local restaurant to eat. In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, Brazil has great food. We had fish, chicken, steak, rice, and bread for about $5.00 per person. After lunch we went to the School of the Bible to change clothes. Randy took us on an extensive tour of the city. We went to a couple of different places that overlooked the city for photos. We also had a group prayer to pray over the city. We saw many beautiful buildings and parks along the way. We also went to a hill (a mountain for all of the Florida people out there) where the Catholic Church has its greatest stronghold in South America. There must have been 25 cathedrals built on this hill. On this side of the river Catholicism is so strong that if anyone living in this area converts to Protestantism their house is burned down and the family is forced to move. Many of the buildings were very, very old and some were really beautiful. But it is sad to see religion used in such a way, especially when it preys upon the poor.

From there we went back into town to an area that was built up by the Jewish community. Because of persecution they were forced to leave (many came to Manhattan) and it was taken over by multiple groups of people. Today it is an amazing shopping area with all kinds of outdoor booths set up. Since this month Brazil is celebrating the Festival of John there were all kinds of special events going on. It reminded me of the state fair back home. Live bands were playing everywhere and the city is decorated with all kinds of banners, flags, and colorful flyers and décor. Amazing deals were found everywhere and we all concur that the ice crème down here is the best we have ever had.

We went to a Brazilian steak/ sushi house for dinner. It was an all you can eat extravaganza. Waiters came by literally every 5 minutes with all kinds of meat mounted on swords. Yes, we are toughing it down here. It literally became comical as we ate our food and eyeing the next waiter coming down the table to see what he had to offer! We ate till we could eat no more and settled up on the bill. From there we walked across the street and had a beach devotional. The beaches here are lit up at night and it is only about 40 yards from the 6 lane highway to the ocean. A far cry from Siesta Key but cool none the less. It was difficult to talk over the pounding surf and wind but I did the best I could. I spoke about the faith of Peter stepping out of the boat. The launching of faith requires getting out of the boat.

Today (Monday) we continued our renovation projects around camp. We were very busy today and spent the entire day at camp. After a morning breakfast of breads, fruits, scrambled eggs and cheeses, we had morning devotional. Ron Bontrager, an instructor at the Sunset School of Preaching, spoke. He spoke of being a living witness and things that are here only by the grace of God. He concluded by saying that we should be remembered for being too good for this world, not because of how good we are, but, because of how bad the world is.

Our work force was divided into many groups today. The faithful few, known as the Pew Crew, finally completed the task of assembling the new benches that will go in the chapel area. We had a landscaping crew that picked up trash and cut the grass. Now, I have to stop here for additional details. Here in Brazil, they have very small yards. Most lawns are cut with either a machete or a swing blade. Although we have both here, Randy “spoiled” us and went out and bought a mower. It’s electric. 12” cut (like in 1 foot). Randy bought an extension cord long enough to mow the grass 322 feet from the outlet!!!!!!!!!! It sounds like blender on the lowest setting. It takes 2 to operate it; 1 to mow and the other to keep the cord out of the way so it won’t be cut by this marvel of technology!). The front lawn was cut before lunch, which was good, because the BOTTOM fell out of the clouds today. Man, did it rain today. We were getting wet and we were sitting 25 feet from the windows!!!

Our paint crews were divided into 6 teams. We had the white team (white paint), the blue team, the flamingo team (I just can’t bear to call it pink), and the yellow team. There were also 3 teams painting murals today. I was working on one that is at the front entrance, Kyle Matey and Bev Bontranger worked on one inside the dinning hall entry, and one of the Brazilian ladies (her name is Maria but goes by Li – Leigh) was painting the logo of the camp near the cafeteria where I painted the Brazilian flag a couple of days ago. Were a painting machine today! We still have paint to do but we are really getting close to being finished. We still have to paint the picnic tables and the floor of the dinning hall (we have dripped and spilled so much paint this week that we felt obligated to paint the floor to cover it all up… the same is true for the tables….).

Tonight Tim Brumfield, another Sunset instructor, gave a powerful lesson about creation. He showed us a great video called, “The Watch Maker.” Awesome! He explained to us that we witness the miraculous everyday but because we see it so often we just don’t pay attention to it but that the world is without excuse to know that

God is the creator. After devo Randy gave us information about the camp history and some of the visions he has for the facility. Then we went to the dinning hall and formed an assembly line to put together about 150 food bags for the food distribution Tuesday.

Another awesome day working for God in His kingdom. Sadly, the trip is coming to an end soon. We are worn out and exhausted, but each night we go to bed with a smile on our faces knowing that we gave it up for God today. We hope your walk is going well too. Hopefully one more blog before we come home. Love to all.


Sunday, June 10

Brazil update...Wow!

Brazil is really an incredible place. It is absolutely beautiful down here. As Ken Haab would put it, Brazil is lush. We are at the tail end of rainy season and everything is in bloom and a beautiful green. The different plants and trees tell you that you are definitely in a tropical zone. Right now it is winter down here but you would never know it. It is very warm (90’s) and rainy during the day and a bit cooler (70’s) at night. Rod Myers noticed that the water drains opposite down here when he washed his hands! Last night we were in search of the Southern Cross constellation, but were unable to find it (you can only see it in the southern hemisphere). Since we have been here we have found a large variety of frogs, lizards, spiders (even tarantulas) to go along with our tree monkeys. We have photos of all to prove our tales too!!! We have also picked and ate several native fruits down here. I really question the first people that discovered that they were eatable; they must have been starving to death!!! Ugly as they are, they taste really good. Some are sweet while others are very tart.

The Bible camp is located outside of town and is in a small village. The people who live around here are very poor, and the roads and small markets remind me of Honduras. Most live in single room houses made of an adobe type brick. Some have plaster and white wash while others do not. The children here are so cute and friendly!!! They are clean and well groomed and it is obvious that they come from families that take care of them. Most are barefoot and the boys are constantly kicking soccer balls around. Imagine that!

They have really enjoyed the VBS this week. VBS started Thursday and today is the last day. We have constantly had between 60 and 80 children each day. We begin out VBS with some games and singing (Nayane and Francisco have done a wonderful job!!!). Then we have done a couple of my patented, slightly off the wall skits. Thursday we did a skit on the Good Samaritan (John Wallace). The Levite was played by Kyle Masey and the priest by George (AKA Jorge, Georgie) Bosche, one of the summer interns down here from Texas. The bandits were played by Kevin Cline and Scott Townsend (can we say stereotyped). Danny Bracher was the victim and was robbed right down to his pants and shirt (he had on shorts and a t-shirt in case you were worried).

Friday the skit was David and Goliath. Scott and Kevin combined to make a 9’ tall Goliath, draped in bed sheets and towels. He wielded a pvc pipe spear and a machete sword. A cooking pot made his helmet. King Saul and his mighty men (???) ran in fear at the sight of Goliath. The children screamed, 2 cried, and some laughed at the sight. But when Goliath made fun of David the children booed at him. When David killed Goliath (the fall revealed Kevin, causing much laughing and relief for the children) the kids cheered like Brazil beating Argentina in soccer!!!

Today we did a puppet show and showed a Vegi-tale video. They have been playing games all week (soccer, baseball, kickball, volleyball) and have had craft time. Kevin Cline brought coloring books of Bible stories in Portuguese. The kids have loved them and have created masterpieces worthy of a young Michelangelo. Snacks have included chips, popcorn, sandwiches, and drinks.

Wednesday afternoon we went to a children’s hospital in Recife. It was quite large, 6 stories tall, full of kids suffering from a wide range of serious diseases from Aids to cancer. We got special permission to go in after general visitation hours were over so that we could spend more time there. We stayed for about 3 hours giving out toys, stuffed animals, and candy. We divided into three groups and covered 2 floors. Jim and Irene Casey, from Sarasota, taught children how to say Jesus loves me in sign language. Jim also did a short magic show that brought a lot of smiles to the children and the parents. The hospital was very clean and well kept, very different from Hospital Esquela in Tegucigalpa.

We have been doing a lot of cosmetic work here at camp. I have headed up a painting team that has been working on the first floor of the main building at camp. We have finished the dinning hall and are now working on the front entry area. We have changed the look from a very drab and faded while to Flamingo peach, Ocean blue, and Sunshine yellow. Brian Steffy headed up the team that is doing the fine carpentry work. His crew is assembling wooden benches that look like church pews! They are gorgeous and very comfortable and sturdy. We have also done some landscaping projects but the rain has slowed that team down a lot.

We have been into town a couple of times so far. We went to a Brazilian steak house last night that was off the charts good. We are going to another one on Sunday. Otherwise we have ate at camp and have been working here.

Tomorrow we will go into town for church services at the congregation that Randy Short, the full time minister here, works. We are going to do some sight seeing and shopping as well and then, if weather permits, a sunset devo on the beach.

All is well here. Besides some homesickness and a couple of sore throats, we are doing OK. We are having a blast and can’t wait to see what the new day will bring. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we work down here. We miss you all!!!


Wednesday, June 6

We are here!

Wednesday, June 6

Greetings from Recife, Brazil!!! It hás been a crazy couple of days getting here to say the very least. Flying to another country is always a challenge, this trip tops them all so far. We had groups flying here from Lubbock, Abilene, Atlanta, Nashville, and Pittsburgh. Some connected in Sao Paulo, some Rio De Janerio, others Portaleza. All but one made it Tuesday pretty much as scheduled. 2 missed connections and were put on different planes (1 had to spend the night in a 5 star hotel provided by the airlines and arrived today). But finally we are all here and ready to go. We arrived at the Bible camp Tuesday evening, claimed bunks, and then went back into the city for dinner. We went to a mall and ate at the food court. Tonight we will eat at camp.

Although all of us are suffering from jet lag, we were up and going fairly early this morning. Rod Myers and crew were up early fixing scrambled eggs and assorted cereals. Country critters helped wake us up this morning including donkeys, turkeys, roosters, and other animals. Tree monkeys were spotted this morning as well. The camp is about an hour outside the city. Recife is a huge city (1,500,000) and shows lots of signs of being a very modern city. But once you reach the outskirts it looks amazingly like Honduras for those of you that have been there. Brian Steffy, John Wallace and I were comparing places here to Mololoa, San Miguel, etc.

Today we are going to a children´s hospital associated with St. Jude´s hospital in Memphis. We have loaded up our backpacks full of toys and crayons and Jim Casey is planning a big magic show for the kids. VBS starts Thursday and will run 3 days at the camp.

So long for now, more news and stories to come. Keep us in your prayers, we miss you all.