Tuesday, July 24
This summer was an amazing one indeed. Torch launched its first trip into Brazil. Our 2 Honduras teams did an amazing amount of work in Tegucigalpa and Choluteca. We overlapped with 2 other Torch teams that were in Honduras the same time we were there. We saw several other mission groups from other organizations and congregations while we were there. It seemed that a lot of good work was done in Honduras the month of July and I am glad that we were part of that work.
For some, the work we did was viewed as only a drop of water in a great big bucket. The need there is so great and the amount of work is overwhelming. We constantly ran out of time, money, and materials. So much more needs to be done. But, for others, the drop of water that we provided adds to the other drops of water that are being added day after day, month after month, and year after year. Those who have been going on torch trips for a long time are seeing changes and things are getting better. We must constantly remind ourselves that patience and perseverance is needed to achieve change. And with that thought we will continue on.
I want to personally that everyone that participated on the trips this summer. I saw Jesus in every one of you. The sacrifice, the commitment, the determination was evident in everything you did this summer. You did the big things, like building houses and conducting VBS classes, with great care and the drive to do them well. You did the small things, like packing food and being prompt, with equal care of detail. Because, as you well know, there really are no small things in mission work. Things that we might consider small to us are not small to God and His kingdom. It all adds up to service to Him that makes all things possible.
I want to especially that those who went on our trips and served as interpreters this year. Whether you spoke Portuguese or Spanish (or both), your talents in language skills were critical to all of the things we did this summer. I dream of a day that we all will be able to speak to those we are serving in their own language, and to that end we will continue to work (I know what you are thinking and all I can say is that my Spanish is better today than it was a year ago and I have a lot of Hondurans that told me!). We had more than a dozen interpreters that came on our trips this summer specifically to work in that role. Thank you for making time to be with us!
I want to thank all of the group leaders who came this year. You all did an outstanding job bringing top-notch workers with you to be on our teams. You provided outstanding leadership preparing your teams for the trip and mentoring and chaperoning your groups on the trips. You were great to work with and I consider all of you some of my best friends on the planet. Without you we would not be able to do so much of what we are able to on our trips. Keep up the great work that you are doing and keep the fire blazing within you to do mission work wherever you are, both home and abroad. You are making a difference.
I would like to thank all of the congregations that supported Torch this year. Your support allows people from around the United States to come together to work unified for a single great cause, teaching and showing the love of Jesus. Thank you for your financial support, your prayers, and your commitment to do mission work. The seeds that are planted today will reap a bountiful harvest in the future. Thank you for having compassion for those who are in such great need.
Thanks also to all of my veteran Torch members. We have a long list of people that have been coming on torch trips for many years. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to continue working in this program. Your experience, leadership, and knowledge allow our trips to go smoothly and allow us to be more productive in our outreach and benevolence programs. Thanks also for taking “rookies” under your wings and allowing them to learn from you. With you we do not have to reinvent the wheel year after year. And you have no idea how important that is…..
I would also like to that the “Segundo’s” who worked with me this year. Taking on the role of a leader on the trip is a big responsibility and you all did it well. You took the lead on many issues that allowed me to focus on other “behind the scenes” stuff, which allowed the trip to run even smoother than normal. Delegating has never been one of my strong points but I am learning that there are several people out there that are more than capable of doing jobs and handling responsibilities that I once did by myself. The weight that has been taken off of my shoulders feels great! And that goes for my interns this summer too, you were awesome!
I will be posting the results of our trips soon. It will take me some time to tabulate all of the things that we did, because it was a lot of stuff. Please continue checking the blogspot, and stay in touch. I know that a LOT of people have been reading the blog and I hope that you found it interesting and useful. As 2007 starts to wind down plans for 2008 are already in motion. Trip dates and details will also be coming very soon. It is never too early to begin making plans. And I promise to work hard to make our trips as productive and enjoyable as possible.
Thanks again, and until next time, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Saturday, July 21
Day 9. The last work day for the trip. Usually one that we hate to see coming because we know the trip is about to end. And, as always, it was true again today. With an exception. Today we might have done the coolest, neatest, most fun thing ever down here... we went to the giant water park here in Tegucigalpa.
Our morning was planned as a "sleep in" day. However, if you know this group, sleeping in means getting up at 6:30 instead of 6:00. For those of us who understand the concept of sleeping in, we tried valiantly. However, Marc Tindall's group did not know that we were having a sleep in day and had their morning devotional outside of the dorm by the baptistery. Now, don't get me wrong, waking up to 70 people singing devo songs is not a bad thing at all, it was actually very cool. So, our group was up and about by 8:00. We had a light breakfast of toast and cereal and then had morning devotional out by the overlook. The morning was beautiful and the view of the valley was inspirational. We found out that last night Nolen, one of our bus drivers and Marlin's (aka Loco) best friend, was baptized. Cisco and Marlin, along with Mrc Tindall, studied with him yesterday at Santa Ana suring some of our down time.
After devo we loaded a huge amount of food that was going out to Dadasko to supplement the food our last team took out there. We also had taken out 4 cases of toilet paper, tooth paste, and soap. With just a bit of supplementing Jorge and Rosa will be able to feed the children out there till Christmas. He told us that this food was such a blessing because they operate on such a tight budget that there are times they really do not know where the next meal is coming from.
Earlier in the month a group from Oregon came down and spent $18,000 to dig a new well for them. They now have a good source of sweet water to drink which eliminates the need to buy bottled water. It is great to know that they are taken care of now for a few months.
We loaded the buses at 11:00 to go out to Dadasko to pick up the kids for the greatest field trip of their lives. Jorge told us that in his wildest dreams that he never thought that they would ever get to go to Aqua Splash. Today, his wildest dreams came true. Our two buses were full of gringos and wide eyed children as we pulled into the parking lot. Earlier AB, Tyler, AK, and Rudy drove out to Casa de Esperanza and picked up 12 children and brought them to the park as well. So, at 1:30 pm 98 of us entered Aqua Splash, a water park that would compare to many in the U.S. The facility has a wave pool; a giant swimming pool; and HUGE children's pool (with 9 slides, water umbrellas, and a giant bucket that dumps water over a cleverly designed shed to splash victims below); and 2 separate speed slide towers with a total of 8 slides.
We never seen children have so much fun! We had our hands full trying to keep up with 45 kids as they conquered the park in short order. Our "lifeguards" were in the pools and slides making sure that everyone was safe and having fun. Other guests in the park stared in amazement as they watched very white skinned gringos care for Honduran children as if they were their own. It was quite a testimony as we did what we do best; love kids. But we are pretty sure that Rosa and Jorge, Dadasko's fabulous parents, had the most fun of all. Jorge did a quality control test on all of the slides to make sure they were in good working order for the kids. What a trooper, sacrificing like that for others. He had a grin from ear to ear and his flew down the slides!!!
After a couple of hours of non-stop fun some of the kids began slowing down and bundling up in towels and cuddling up in welcoming laps. Most of the kids used their sly little grins and smiles to get some snacks and drinks from the gringos. They had us wrapped around their little fingers and we knew it. And we loved it. So, after grape sodas and Doritos chips we went to the cafeteria for cheeseburgers, fries, and drinks. We had a very generous portion of food and had a great time with the kids. Some packed up food to take back to share with those who did not get to come on the trip. Wow, how amazing is that? These kids are incredible......
But, at 5:00, the tears began to flow as we had to say goodbye. You get attached to these kids and no matter how many times you come down here it is always hard to say goodbye. Now, the South Carolina group is prone to cry at the drop of a hat, and when they have a really good reason, they can all out cry their eyes out. So, with tear filled eyes, we waved goodbye with hopes that next year we will be able to see our precious little friends again. What a wonderful day it was, and for the record, it did not rain. Again, how cool is that?
Tonight we had dinner at the mission house. Our last meal was baked chicken in a mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes or noodles, with dinner rolls. After dinner our group drove down the mountain to the Kluge's house for desserts. What a spread! They went all out for us with cookies, brownies, fresh fruit, and more. Their house has an unbelievable view of the city from their back porch. It rivals the view from the Jesus statue. After dessert we had our final evening devotional. The singing, as always, we awesome. We did our traditional, "where did you see Jesus today?" with many comments about the events over the past couple of days. It seems like the group is really starting to open up with their thoughts. I am sure that most everyone on the trip wishes that we could stay just a few more days.
Tomorrow we will have church services at 8:00 and then we will load up the buses and head to the airport. Sara and AB leave tomorrow morning at 6:00 am for San Salvador. Please keep Sara's mother in your prayers. She was in the hospital while we were here but the surgery went well and she has been released. Sara is anxious to get home to see her mother. Then on Monday a handful of us will fly back to the states. Rudy is off to Costa Rica Monday to see his family. So, as we depart our separate ways, we leave knowing that we have a big family and that we serve an awesome God. We might live in different places but we know that our church family is everywhere. Praise God that we are one in the Spirit!
We hope that you have enjoyed the blogs. We will continue writing so stay tuned. Next year's trip dates will be posted very soon so that you can get your calendars marked and get your vacation days reserved. It is never too early to start planning your next trip with Torch Missions, the mountaintop experience.
From all of us at Torch Central, goodnight and adios!
Friday, July 20
If you have EVER been to Honduras you have heard the term, "Welcome to Honduras." And all of the Torch members know exactly what that term means. For those of you who have not been here before, you are about to learn for yourselves what this phrase means. This phrase can cover a huge variety of things as you will soon read about.
Today was full of unexpected events. In other words, if something could go wrong, it did go wrong. Today actually started out normal, at least until devo was finished, then everything went a little bit crazy. EVERYBODY went to
After devo we got the buses loaded up with supplies that we needed for the day, such as tools and food. Then at 9:00, 3 buses left, 1 was full and 1 was only half-way full, and we had over 50 people plus 200 bags of food on the third bus. We then called Elroy (all of our buses have names) to come back and get some of the people so they wouldn’t have to stand the whole way to
Once we finally got there, we waited for Noel (the preacher at
Meanwhile, those who were left at Casa de Esperanza played with all of the children around the village up by the clinic, located near the road, and the children from Casa de Esperanza. The plan to build bunk beds was delayed for another day because the lumber for the beds never showed up. (Welcome to
After the medical treatment we were able to leave. Meanwhile, the construction crew was still out in No Man’s Land finishing their house. They had a challenging tear down before they could build the new house. All of the family's belongings were taken out of the old house and placed near the corn field. While all of this was going on in
The first bus with the construction crew arrived just after 6, and the other bus arrived around 6:30, so it was a very late evening. After supper with mystery meat and rice, we hopped on the buses and headed to El Piccacho for devo. It’s always such a moving site at the Jesus statue. It’s breathtaking looking out over the city. We had over 130 people up there for devo, the singing was amazing!
Marc gave us a great message tonight and talked about second chances. He told us a story of a 10 year old boy named Leuven, who about 3 months ago was put in Casa de Esperanza by a judge, but Leuven was taken right off the streets, and when you live on the streets you have to be tough, and Leuven was a tough guy, so when he was at Casa, he was always beating up the rest of the children and Jen couldn’t have that, because it would put the children in the same situations as they were in. They had to give
About 3 weeks ago, a man from the Jimmy Hughes orphanage was at Casitas Kennedy visiting, and he gave Leuven a pair of shoes, some limpiras, and a gum wrapper with the words “
Please everyone pray that it doesn’t rain tomorrow so that we can have a blast at the water park with the kids from Didasko and Casa de Esperanza!! Adios from Torch Central!!! In Him
The Torch bloggers
Thursday, July 19
Today we awoke to find a few visitors at the Mission House, Carlos Toledo, the preacher from the Valley of Angels, and his family came by (the mission house is at least an hour from their house) to pick up the care packages for the family we met yesterday that was without food and clothing. To come out of your rooms and have his sweet children come running to give you a hug...well, it was an awesome way to start of our day.
We did not split into teams today although a few people left early to go help at the Manna Project. After devo we loaded the bus down with food to deliver to Nuevo Oriental. The food packing team had assembled about 450 bags of food the other day. We did a delivery to Mololoa with 1/3 of the food bags and today we took another third. Our final food distribution will take place tomorrow at Santa Ana.
Once we arrived in Nueve oriental we split into teams, one team took the "easy" trail while 3 other groups took the remaining trails. We also had a few people stay behind to occupy the children with coloring pages and bubbles. Everyone that went to Nueve that had not yet received "Mountain Goat" status is not officially a member. Rudy (one of our fearless translators) and part of his group scaled a mountain to deliver food to needy families (if you have never been here, mountains run right through Tegucigalpa. They resemble the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The Mission House is 4,600 feet above sea level). You can never have enough food in Nueve because so many people live in this village. Even with all the food we had on the bus it still wasn't enough. It was heart breaking to to have to tell families that you don't have any more food to give them. Hopefully Marc Tindall's group will be able to go back and deliver more food out there.
Then we went to hospital Escuela. We got to play with the kids there for about 2 hours, giving away toys, bubbles and praying with the families. This was our second visit to the hospital. It is always emotional to go there and to see the patients being treated. There are so many people there and the hospital is understaffed and under funded. Hospital Escuela is the largest hospital in Cental America. The hospital is very good to let us go and visit most wards when we get there. Even though other groups come you can tell that most of the children never have visitors. Many times children are by themselves because their mother or father had t0 go to work. So, to get a smile from the children make it all worth while.
We then went to the Peace Monument for lunch. After lunch and a brief history lesson from AB about the war between Honduras and El Salvador we had our picnic lunch. The view from the Peace Monument is beautiful. It overlooks the city and we can see parts of the city that we cannot see well from the top of El Hetillo. We were the only ones there so it was nice and peaceful.
After lunch we went to the blind school. Our appointment was for 2:30. For many of us the blind school is the highlight of the trip. The children suffer in various degrees of blindness. They are taught many subjects here at the school along with music lessons. These children are so loving and kind and they love having visitors. After playing with them and giving away toys, stuffed animals, and candy, we enjoyed a concert from their choir. The children can sing like angels! It is such a wonderful experience to hear them and to watch their expressions as they sing. They truly sing from the heart. After that we then sang a few songs to them. They also love hearing songs in English. It is always hard to leave and say goodbye because we know that some of the ones we know and met this year might not be here next summer when we return.
This afternoon 60 new Torch members rolled in. Marc Tindall's team flew in and had orientation this afternoon. An additional 27 come in on Friday. We will have 137 here until we leave this Sunday. Needless to say it is packed! It will be challenging to make meals work smoothly and to run two separate schedules, but I am sure it will work out just fine.
Once we returned home a few of the guys began a rousing game of soccer on the basketball court. It seems some people have more energy that they know what to do with. Before dinner we had the opportunity to shop with Mi Ezperanza. Janet Hines and company brought all kinds of goods made by Mi Esperanza to sell. Some people (Erin) couldn't seem to spend enough money. Both groups got to shop and buy things to take back home with them. We had a combined devo with Marc Tindall's group. The singing was awesome with all of the extra voices. After the devotional Janet gave us a presentation of Mi Esperanza. This program trains Honduran women to learn how to run and operate their own businesses and to educate themselves to be better parents. It has been in operation for over 5 years now and Janet shared a couple of stories of women who have turned their lives around through the program. They have big plans to expand in the near future which will give them the ability to help teach and train even more women.
Tomorrow we plan to have a small group for the Manna project and to send out our Loco Gringos back to Mololoa for more concrete duty. They are pumped about getting to go back for another round of dirt, sweat, and concrete. The rest of the group will go on to Santa Ana to build a house and make some bunk beds for the children's home and to do another huge food give away. Oh, and by the way, it did not rain today! Adios from Torch Central, stay tuned for tomorrow! more
these are some pictures of the Witte house that was built the other day.
p.s.- if you want to send emails to someone down here, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. i apologize for the link not working this trip. i have no idea what happened from last week to this week, but the link reset itself to send the emails to brandy barnett for some reason. and she's not down here. so if you have any emails you want sent to anyone here PLEASE email me. once again i apologize for this inconvenience. also we appreciate your comments but please if you're wanting to email someone, don't use commenting as your source of email. thanks!
Wednesday, July 18
had devo out at the rock. We then split into 4 teams: a food distribution and concrete team went to Mololoa, we also had our VBS and medical crew back in the valley.
We gave out 130 bags of food today in Mololoa, which is about a 3rd of what they packed up. It took us nearly 3 hours to break down all the food. We had 2 full deliveries of food to seperate and bag. The crew made work into fun as they bagged up beans, rice, sugat, coffee, flour, and other staples. Tonight at devo we discovered that there are a few mountain goats among us..Ray, Danny, and Julia were a few of the ones that were mentioned. They scaled steep inclines to get food up to houses that were located at the very tip of the mountains.
The concrete team..there are no words left to describe them. Their fearless leader was down with HTP today, they went to work without him today. Tom Beach has declared tomorrow an official day of rest for this team, but rest assured they will be hard at work again on Friday. We are pretty sure they like their new nickname, "The Loco Gringos!" Believe us when we say they have earned it!
When we arrived at the Valley today we were amazed at the number of people that had already gathered and were waiting. Their were 275 people waiting on us when we got there for medical treatment and for the VBS. After a quick prayer we got right to work.VBS began at 2 and was about Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave. After lots of singing and a skit we had pb&j's and lemonaid!! once all the children had been served we then offered these to the adults waiting in line. Right about this time the clouds let lose! (yep, more rain, just more of the same wet stuff we have been battling since we have been here...) Luckily we were able to allow the rest of the patients to come in side or on to the front porch.
All the while our medical team is working up a storm (sorry, I couldn't resist). While at the clinic we met a man who had 10 children. He and his family had walked 10 miles just to get here today. They have no house, no food, no clothes for their children. To make matters worse he was robbed of everything (even his clothes) early in the day before they traveled over to see us. The police knew where we were and helped get him to us. They spoke with some of our team members and with the preacher, Carlos Toledo, of the Church in the valley. At the end of the day we gave them any food we had left and the leftover lemonaid from VBS. We then gave them a ride back to the police station, which is where they are living at the moment. Once back at the mission house we prepared a few care boxes for them. Carlos is suppose to come up and get the supplies to give the family.
Evening devotional was later than usual so that the team could go to the grocery store to restock their lunch foods. After devotional the Palmetto group made some special presentations to the Manna Project. Randy and Melissa Kluge, along with Jen Arnold, was present to receive a beautiful plaque to honor Claudia Pinkston, who was unable to come this year. She has been a cornerstone of the team from SC and is battling health issues. The new daycare center that is under construction in Mololoa will have a library and a section of the library will be called "Claudia's Corner." The building will be completed by next summer and we look forward to Claudia being with us to see the finished work! Palmetto also gave the Manna Project team a check for $5,200.00 that was collected from the congregation to help with the feeding center. Melissa gave us a tearful reminder of what they money provides for these precious little children that they are working with here in Honduras.
Tomorrow we plan to do food distribution in Nueve Oriental, a visit to the hospital and also the blind school. Even though we are getting near the end of the trip we are not slowing down. Good night from Torch Central.
Tuesday, July 17
Today started off with an amazing breakfast of pancakes that almost everyone got up in time to enjoy and a devo lead by Jack Nichols on the overlook where he encouraged us to not waste a minute of the time we had here. There were 4 teams today a construction team, a medical and VBS team in the Valley of Angels. We also had a concrete team...surprising I know.
We loaded the buses and left at 9:00 sharp (actually it was 9:20, but that is about as sharp as you can get in Honduras). Once we arrived at the Valley of Angels and unloaded the bus the Medical team prepared everything for the patients that were already beginning to lineup. 10 people made up our outstanding medical crew which was in side the church building. While patients waited for medical treatment an adult bible study was conducted. A few members of the VBS team climbed a mountain (I mean this literally) to spread the news of about our free medical clinic and VBS. Once we returned to the church we began to entertain the children that were beginning to arrive. When the children finally got out of school we began VBS which was about Jesus healing the paralytic.
The concrete team was at Mololoa never ceases to amaze us. Today a dump truck deposited a truck load of huge rocks ranging in sizes of a watermelon and beach ball (strange analogy i know...but its the best we could come up with). above their work site. They then had to carry or in most cases roll these rocks down the mountain to their work site. The construction team built a house in honor of Tom Beach's mother in the Valley of the Angels. This house came with a million dollar view, if you had seen this site you would understand why this place is called the Valley of the Angels. Building a house in Honduras is never dull...even if the chainsaw always is. This summer we have had to preform CPR on our chainsaws more times than you could count. The family that received this house was a 20 year old mother with a 4 year old and a 2 year old child.
Tonight we had a relaxing night at the mission house. After dinner we had another awesome devo lead by Ed Nicholson. Tomorrow we have a full day planned for the VBS and Medical crew, food distribution, and of course....concrete.
Monday, July 16
Today was the first day since our group arrived that it did not rain (at least during the daytime, it rained tonight during evening devotional). We were finally able to have morning devo at the overlook! We had a powerful devo lead by Danny Mullins, he spoke to us about the children he has met and how they have ministered to him. We then split into 5 groups: one team went to finish a house in Mololoa, a concrete team, a small group to sort all of the medical supplies, a group worked with the Mana project in Mololoa and the rest of us went to the Special Needs Orphanage and then on to Didasko Orphanage.
The construction team did not get to finish the Witte House that we started on Saturday, so they left this morning to finish it with the help of the concrete team. After the dedication they joined us at Didasko Orphanage. The concrete team first helped finish the house and then worked on the foundation for the daycare in Mololoa. This group of "Loco Gringos" as we like to call them did a tremendous job busting HUGE boulders, carrying gravel up the mountain side, digging trenches and mixing concrete. Jack Nichols, a member of the concrete team, actually has been preparing to do concrete work. 6 months ago he made a decision to go to a gym and work out to become physically fit to prepare himself for this trip (please refer to loco gringos). This group continued to do this back breaking work all day in the sun and still managed to return home in a good mood with smiles on their faces (although they had a crazy look in their eye...).
Our medical team went to the bodega today to sort our medical supplies and make them ready for tomorrows clinic. They spent literally 2 hours breaking down all the medicine into personal doses and putting Spanish labels on everything. The rest of the group loaded their bags with toys and headed of to the Special Needs Orphanage where we blessed with the opportunity to spend a few hours with these wonderful children! We then headed to Didasko, which by the way is in the middle of no where!! When the children saw our buses they came running from all directions to greet us. We got to spend several hours playing with these amazing children. When we had to say our goodbyes the children stood at the gate until we could no longer see them. I don't believe there was a dry eye on the bus when we left.
Following a long day of work (or play) a group went to play indoor soccer. Marc Tindall's interns came with us and we also had some of the men who work for American Airlines come too. Several also went to watch and to cheer on the players at Victor Sport. We then returned to the mission house for devo. We sang a few songs and had a short message. Tonight was the first time we have been able to do the where did you see Jesus reflection time. Hopefully we will be able to do this more as the trip continues.
Tomorrow our plans include VBS in the Valley of Angels, a construction team, medical clinic, and believe it or not a concrete team returning to Mololoa. The pace continues to be fast and furious as we try to squeeze as much into the day as we can. We ask for prayers, especially for Mother Nature to be kind to us for the rest of the trip. Good night from Torch central.
Sunday, July 15
Today started off a little earlier than usual. We had breakfast at 7:00 and then we loaded the buses at 8:15 and headed off to the Valley of the Angels for church service. Our service was a bilingual service. Danny Thomas led the singing in English and Carlos Toledo (the local preacher) led the singing in Spanish. Jim Williams spoke to us during church service and Phillip Shockley translated. His lesson brought home the fact that we have brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and that we are all the same to God. We stand before him in poverty because we do not have anything without Him. AB interpreted the comments for the Lord's Supper and we had prayers in English and Spanish. It was a wonderful assembly and it was great to worship a God who hears all languages!
During the service a few of our girls helped with the children's class. We located some left over coloring pages, crayons, and craft supplies from yesterday, (that by some miracle had been left in the bus) and gave these supplies to the teachers for the children's class. Of course, not children's Bible class is done until they have cookies and juice! There were 20 children present and we had a great time with them.
Following our worship service we had the opportunity to spend lots of money in the Valley... we were only hindered slightly by the torrents of rain (did we mention that it is rainy season down here?). At 3:00 we went to the Hope Center which is a small children's home in the Valley. They have 16 children that are all lovingly cared and well provided for. All of the children could comprehend and speak English. It was refreshing to see Honduran children that were both healthy and happy. We had a blast playing with the kids and giving them a few toys and some candy. They are adorable and just loved all of the attention. While that was going on a few team members slipped out of the house and engaged playtime and give away time with s0me local children that live across the street. Some of the interns at the Hope Center go over there on a regular basis to minister to these children. They were also just adorable although it is evident that they are not having the same home life the Hope Center children are receiving. It is so sad to know that so many children here are living in homes where love, hope, and safety are missing.
We then journeyed to Santa Lucia for an amazing dinner at the Santa Lucia Hotel. We had a buffet of chicken, beef, and pork that was amazing. We had a great time at the meal and had enough food left over to send back with Jen Wright. Jen has a group here from Ohio this week and they drove out to join us for dinner and our devotional. We then proceeded to the oldest cathedral in the Western hemisphere (built in 1530) for devo. The singing was beautiful and very moving (those of you that have been here know that the acoustics in this place is unbelievable). After devo we came back to the mission house to rest up for tomorrow.
We have a busy day planned tomorrow. We plan on sending a team back out to Mololoa to finish the house and also a team to work on the foundation some more. We also will send a team out to work in the kitchen to feed the children. The rest of us will be going to the special needs orphanage and to Dadasko. We also will be playing soccer at Victor Sport as if that was not enough. Keep us in your prayers. God is doing amazing things down here! Dios te bendiga!
Hola! Today was our first day of “real” work with the
The construction sites were…well in less than perfect areas, both were on a side of a mountain, and both were very difficult/challenging to get to (Torchers will know that this was a typical building site). At first, only one site had wood so we had about 30 people working on one house at the beginning, which was good considering how difficult it was to get the wood there. The wood was dropped off on the road (path, trail, narrow driving area...) and we had to carry the lumber down the mountain side to the build site which was about 200 feet away. After we had dug out the post holes for that house, the wood came for the other house, so half the crew grabbed their supplies, and walked about 15 minutes up the hill to their site, which to the eye looked a little bit easier…HA…looks can be very deceiving! The site was closer to the road but was located about 25 feet below. After using our acrobatic skills to get down to the site we had to dig out additional dirt away from the side of the mountain to make enough room to build. The house build began very smoothly, but hey, it’s Honduras, that can’t last long, so of course it had to start raining and the wind had to start blowing (slightly less than gale force which was so fun to deal with on the side of a mountain...).
Then in the middle of the day (3 O’Clock) we stopped work and went to the church building. We had the official dedication of the new daycare to the Claypoole’s, which was amazing! The daycare will serve the women of the community so that they can go off to work and know that their children will be same and in a good environment. The Claypoole family made a sizable donation to the project and flew down for the dedication. Jen Arnold’s Sunday School class sung 6-7 songs in Spanish and in English for everyone. Her English class recited a verse from the Bible. Melissa Kluge gave a speech about all of the things that are being done in Mololoa and some of the mothers spoke about what the daycare would mean to them. After all of that, the cooks from the feeding center prepared a meal for everyone (they had been up since 5 AM preparing).
Meanwhile, the interns stayed behind and finished one of the houses, and when the rest of the crew came back we dedicated the house to the Dial family. The proud new owners of the house were very grateful that God had blessed them so greatly today, they now have a dry place to sleep. It was very heartbreaking to see the little boy helping us with the house telling his mom that he was cold. He was shaking so bad that he couldn’t move. It was a bit relieving though to know that tonight they now have a brand new house to keep them warm and dry. We do have to go back and finish the other house which is almost done. Weather and building conditions stopped us from finishing that one. We got a lot accomplished considering the circumstances today.
While the construction crew was hard at work, a group of girls went down to the soccer field armed with hundreds of coloring books, crayons, balloons, jump ropes, and lots of nail polish. It was a fun day playing with the kids and neither rain nor wind kept them away. We packed up our stuff and headed down the mountain around 6:00 to catch warm showers and a hot meal (chicken enchiladas!) The devo tonight was lead by Mr. Claypoole. He spoke about our influence on others not only in
Friday, July 13
The Palmetto church group from Columbia, South Carolina, arrived in Tegucigalpa today. The flight was an hour late getting here but that is pretty standard for this end of the world. And, believe it or not, all of their bags made it too. That was a thrill for me since I was totally prepared to go back to the airport Saturday to pick up lost luggage. Even though they were tired from the 11:00 pm departure the night before, they were excited to be back to do what they love to do.... serve God.
After a quick lunch we headed off to Hospital Esquela for a visit. We arrived around 4:00 so we only had a little over an hour to go in. We divided into 4 teams led by our fearless team of translators. We went to the burn unit and divided up to cover the children's ward. Lots of toys, stuffed animals, coloring books and bubbles were given away. Many stopped and prayed at bedsides for the children that were ill. Even though is was a short time it was well worth it.
From there we went to the grocery store to buy food to make lunches for the next couple of days. We arrived at the mission house around 6:00. We had our orientation and question/answer session and gave out room assignments. We had dinner and then had devo at 8:00. Danny Thomas spoke and read from Matthew 25 and focused on the point that everything we do is done in the name of Jesus and therefore nothing we do is trivial. Whether it is scooping beans into a zip-lock bag or nailing a board into place, it is all important.
Saturday we are going to be building 2 houses in Mololoa and will be working on the foundation for the daycare center that is being built. We are also having the official dedication at the site tomorrow with our special guests, the Claypools. We are very grateful for their generous spirit to help the Manna Project to get the funds needed to begin the daycare facility. Next summer it will be up and running and we will be able to see the fruits of our labor from this trip. Sunday we are going out to the Valley of Angels for worship and to pass out flyers for our VBS / medical team that will be out there next week. We are also going to be visiting a children's home located just outside the city. We will also have our devo at Santa Lucia. A group of 40 from Lebanon, Tennessee, and Auburn, Alabama, will be joining us.
It is going to be a great trip. We are excited and ready to roll. Keep us in your prayers, we have 1 sick already. After the last group, we have no idea what to expect! Until later, Dios te bendiga! Blessings to all,
Thursday, July 12
Following this exhausting day, we went to the Metromall saw a movie and did some shopping. Let me tell you...it was TOUGH having to watch a movie in English, in an air conditioned room with popcorn. Needless to say we will all be glad to get back to work tomorrow.
Buenas noches! (That means good night for those of you who don't speak Spanish)
Wednesday, July 11
Tuesday, July 10
Today was our first full day of complete relaxation in ten days. Some of us had a little bit of energy left though to do some activities throughout the day, but most of us slept until 1. For those of us who didn’t sleep until one. Breakfast with refried beans, eggs, and fried plantain was from 8-10, then we had a snack at 10:30. Talk about a lot of food!! The snack was a nice refreshment for those who were swimming or playing volleyball though. After spending hours at the beach, going through bottles of sunblock and still getting sunburnt, it was time for lunch; which was amazing! We had salad, rice, veggies, fish, chicken, and some type of plantain cake. After lunch most of us lounged around in the pool, the beach, the lounge area, or went back to sleep. Some of us tried out the fishing for $10…you’ll have to ask Tyler Hoffman how successful and fun that was. Also some of us had some fun with the volleyball in the pool, you can ask Randi, Erin, or Sara how much fun that was. At 3:00 some of us paid $10 to take a boat ride around the marina area for about 2 hrs. After they all got back a huge storm hit Bahia Del Sol and dinner was moved upstairs. Although we thought we were safe from the rain, the storm was so powerful that water was flooding under the door, and the workers had to sweep out all of the water. After the swamp was cleared out we had dinner, which consisted of: potato salad, guacamole, refried beans (once again of course), papusas, cole slaw, steak, and cake. It was very good!! After dinner, we had our final devo by Terry, it was very moving and he spoke about how we need to make a difference no matter what we’re doing, meaning that no matter where we are at, or how minor the difference may be we need to try and do our best to be a difference maker. After devo, we said our goodbyes to those who are leaving at some ridiculous times in the morning like 5 am!! And there were many pictures taken, and many tears cried.
This has been a really great trip and through God we accomplished a lot. Thank you all so much for all the prayers that were given on our behalf. Please pray for safe travel and that God will bless us all with the opportunity to see each other again.
Sunday, July 8
today started a little bit earlier than usual. breakfast was from 7-8, which we had some amazing ham & cheese omlets & french toast. After breakfast everyone loaded up on the busses and trucks, and we headed to Agua Agria for church at the church building that we had built last year and just the other day we put in a concrete floor for them. Worship today was unbelievably hot, for some it made focusing very difficult, not only was it 98 degrees with about 80% humidity, but there are no seats in the building so everyone was sitting or standing on the floor and there are only 2 windows and they’re both on the same side of the building so there was no breeze except what air could slip through the cracks in the walls. Timoteo led the singing in Spanish, and Ben Cooper led singing in English, on some songs the members sang a song in Spanish as we sang it in English, it was really awesome to hear! At the same time we were having worship we had a VBS where we again talked about Noah, down the road at the school so the kids were able to have their own worship service with joel and his vbs crew. We made an amazing ark today. it was made of old boxes, duct tape and we made it in less than 30 minutes. We sang in Spanish and of course in English. The children loved every minute of it. The lesson today was given by Colby Hill, he is such an amazing speaker! He gave a very good lesson today and really related it to those living in the village, making more of an impact on them.
After church, some of us went back to the hotel, some worked on the playground, and others played/watched soccer. The soccer game…well, let’s just say it wasn’t TORCH’s best performance, I believe the final score was something around 6 or 7 to nothing, so it was a very humbling experience. I don’t know whose idea it was to schedule a soccer game, on a rocky field, when it’s 98 degrees out, no shade, very little breeze, and we had worked our behinds off alllll week…but you know whoever did schedule it didn’t play. After getting humiliated by the locals in soccer, we carried our broken bodies and pride on to the bus and headed back to the hotel where we enjoyed and evening of relaxation, whether it was in the pool or the air conditioned rooms.
While most of us were either playing or watching soccer, Tricky Pat headed up a small crew to finish the playground. They worked really hard and almost finished it. It’s done enough that the kids can play on it now and that is awesome. This will give the kids in the community a place to play and hang out together. There are just a few odds and ends that Timoteo will do and it will be perfect!
The rest of the evening everyone relaxed, packed, and had our last meal and devo in
Overall today was a very productive day, and a perfect day to end the work part of our trip. Everyone is ready to slow down and relax a little bit before we head back to the states. Tomorrow morning we will be leaving choluteca at 6:30 am and we will hopefully arrive in
Saturday, July 7
Today started out with a healthy FREE breakfast consisting of pancakes, eggs, toast, and cereal. Followed by a devo next to the pool lead Jason Tennant. We then split up into our teams, we had five teams today. We had a tree planting team, a house team, playground team, medical team and food and clothing team.
A group of 8 went to
Today our house was built on a beautiful site that was almost completely level. Everything was going smooth, we had dug all the posts, gotten 3 walls up and then Travis “the brute” thought it would be fun to break the chainsaw handle…causing the construction to come to a halt. After an hour of doing nothing the chainsaw came back to us and we were able to continue construction. Except for the occasional or should I say frequent bending nail and splitting wood, the house went exceptionally smooth especially when Tricky and Wyatt came and helped us. The only drawback to this house was that we ran out of wood, so tomorrow after church we will take a few guys back and finish the last few boards (4 to be exact). The family that we built it for was very helpful and grateful that they now have a new house. The man had a crippled hand and many children, so they were very thankful that God had blessed them with a new roof over their heads.
The playground team accomplished a lot today, especially since they didn’t have any nails at first. Although Jason tried to destroy the tower, it is in one piece and is almost ready to have kids all over it. We will put on the finishing touches tomorrow after church!
The medical clinic saw many many patients today and passed out a ton of children’s vitamins and pepto bismol. ( anybody from the july 13th trip: please bring cough syrup, eyedrops, adult/senior vitamins & benidryl). Dr. Tom, Judy, & Anna did an amazing job today taking care of patients. The translators also were incredible today working with the clinic.
Last but not least our food and clothing team gave out food bags, clothing and also took pictures of the families that came through the lines. They did a wonderful job today, despite the trials of some families “stretching the true” about how many people are in their family and also repeatedly coming back in line. This team really did feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
Tomorrow we will be going to church in Ague Sagrea and possibly bringing in the largest attendance in
Friday, July 6
Today started extremely early. Our plan was to leave villa gracia by 6 am...well of course the busses weren't as anxious as we were to leave. we had to take the battery out of Elroy and start esperanza and then we were on our merry way to choluteca, or as I would like to call it, "the hottest place on earth!" so by 6:30 we fixed the bus and headed out with all 3 busses, both trucks, a lot of orange juice, and many many boxes of Dunkin Donuts; providing us with a sugary snack on our long, humid, wonderful journey to the middle of nowhere, Honduras. The scenery on the way there is breath-taking!...well at least for those who were looking at something other than the inside of their eyelids. The mountains here are like nothing I have ever seen before. It’s amazing that in a country that is so poverty-stricken, that God has blessed it with such beauty and amazement! Continuing on our journey, I think that the countryside lost a bit of its splendor when we started descending into the coffee cup of Satan. It was still beautiful, but having the windows down made it a bit uncomfortable with the intense heat. We were lucky though, today wasn’t as hot as it typically is here in choluteca, we only had a humidity of 70%, instead of the usual 90%, plus the temperature was down a little bit, which made it almost bearable.
Once in choluteca we met
The food teams did an awesome job bagging food today; they made a lot of bags to hand out to the community tomorrow. They also organized different supplies to hand out: clothing, shoes, toys, and medicine. After bagging all of the food and organizing they put it in the storage, to be packed in the bus tomorrow morning.
The painting crew was astounding today! They were only expected to finish one walls of the warehouse that was taken from the
The concrete/playground also exceeded their expectations for the day. When we arrived at Aguas Agria (I think that’s what it’s called), many men were already working on the concrete floor in the church. They had done 2/3 of it before we got there, so we didn’t have much to do. After they finished the floor, they did some little odds and ends to try and make the church a little nicer. This will be such a great thing for the members to have every time they come to worship. The playground crew got right to work when they arrived at their site. They playground will be right behind the school. Once again TORCH cannot just build a typical playground, we have to make the best playground possible with what we have, and I believe we will on this one. It will have 2 main towers and the one will be very high and have a look out tower on it. But for today we dug out holes and put our posts in, supporting them with concrete. Tomorrow we will begin the real construction of another amazing playground, designed by the one, the only, Terry Reeves. Ok well I don’t know if he’s the only one, but he did design another amazing playground.
After all of the groups completed or exceeded their tasks for the day, we all returned to the hotel. Some of us swam and cooled off for a while, some of us got to take advantage of the time by taking a nap and recuperating. We had dinner at 7, which by the way was paid for by the hotel. Unfortunately some of us had to wait a long time for food but we’re just thankful that God blessed us with a warm meal. After dinner we had devo on the 3rd floor balcony. The lesson was given by Brian Henegar, it was an excellent lesson, and he made some good points that we can apply to our everyday lives about being content, not only with what we have, but the situations that come about in our lives. We then split up into the groups that we are from, and had discussions about the trip and compared it with previous trips and what we have gained from it. Then it was time for bed because it is going to be an extremely long and exhausting day tomorrow. Buenos Noches everyone!!
We are staying at a different hotel this year. The largest, nicest (keep everything in perspective here...) hotel was booked up so we made reservations at Casa Real (The real house). We were holding our breath since Choluteca is not exactly a vacation get away city and does not have a lot of choices. We were both excited and relieved when we pulled up to a hotel that looks a lot like a nice Best Western back home. The rooms have AC and the hotel is only a couple of years old. Nice, but not fancy. It is going to work well for us this weekend.
We arrived at 9:30 and Chad Hedgepath met up with us. Chad works with Jarod Brown with Mission Lazarus, a wonderful mission program on this side of the country. Chad is from Nashville and has been on a lot of Torch trips. He and his wife have been here full time for 10 months. Everyone had packed lunches so we were ready to go to work as soon as we got here. We were back on the buses at 11:00 for work.
We divided into 3 teams today. 1 team stayed at the hotel and packed food for a massive food distribution for Saturday. They also sorted all of the supplies we brought for the clothing/shoes/toys/stuffed animals give away. The second team went with Chad to paint a newly aquired warehouse that is going to be used for a new congregation that is meeting in Choluteca. The third team went out to Agua agrias.
Once we arrived we divided into 2 groups. One group went to the church building that we built last year and worked there. The mixed concrete by hand and poured a floor for the church building. Many of the men of the village worked with us. They (about 100 men) began work at 4:00 this morning by repairing sections of the road that lead into the village and mixed concrete. 1,200 sf of concrete was poured today via shovels and wheel barrels. Can we say "Whew!" The other team went to the school and dug the post holes and placed the posts in place for the new playground that will be built Saturday (Tricky Pat also tried to catch a chicken... let's just say the chicken is still roaming freely this afternoon). After precise, laser guided measurements (OK, 2 tape measures and some guesswork) the posts were placed into the ground and concrete filled the holes. We also took a walk about to the house site for tomorrow. It was a "over the river and through the woods" experience.
Devo is at 7:00 tonight. Tomorrow the team kicks into high gear as we build a nouse, build the playground, conduct a medical clinic, do a clothing/shoe distribution, and plant trees for Mission Lazarus. Word had been sent out weeks ago and everyone within walking distance is coming tomorrow. And for those who might be curious, it is hot here. I am pretty sure the rubber on my tennis shoes melted right into the sidewalk today. And I am also pretty sure that women were cooking lunch on the sidewalks. Looked like they were frying up some meat and eggs........... yep, its pretty hot here.
We will write again soon. We are trying to figure out rooming assignments at the hotel. Just another one of those "Welcome to Honduras" moments. Sometimes you just have to laugh. Adios mi amigos y amigas. Cristo te ama!!!
Thursday, July 5
Today was our last day in Tegucigalpa. Our bus will leave at 6AM for Choluteca!! As I stated yesterday, everyday has been better than the last...today was no different. We met again at the overlook for morning devotional. It was cloudy today but you could still see the valley below us. It was cool today, at least at the beginning. Ross Vego, from Memphis, Tennessee, gave the morning lesson. He read several scriptures today from the Old Testament and gave us a lesson about the sluggard. He related to us that we work so hard down here but many times we don't back home. He encouraged us not to be lazy when we get back to the states and find ways to continue our ministry.
We all went to the Valley of Angels today and split into 2 main groups. Our first group was sent to re-build a TORCH house that was built several years ago. The house had lost part of its roof and needless to say was leaking. This house had a million dollar view! The house overlooked the deep valley that seperated one side of the mountain from the others. The woman that lived there has been praying for help and was thrilled to see her faith answered when we pulled up. The main part of the structure was in fair condition so repairs were made to the existing house and the new lumber served as an addition. a quick 4 hours later a wonderful house stood overlooking the valley and a very, very happy woman is sleeping tonight in a house with a beautiful wood floor and a roof that doesn't leak!
While this group of BuffTrucks worked...the second group spent a few hours shopping in the Valley of the Angels and did some sight seeing. This was the only day to go and buy for family, friends, and supporters back home. Even though all they wanted was post cards a variety of stuff was bought from the local craftsmen. Some spent a little and some went crazy, but for a couple of hours we all had some fun and had a bit of time to relax from the past few days of fast paced work.
We then headed back into Tegucigalpa and made out way to the Blind School. For those of us who have been here before, this is one of the high lights of the trip. 42 students attend this special school for those who have varied degrees of blindness. They are some of the most cheerful children you will ever meet and they love visitors!!! They dismissed classes when we arrived and they came out to the courtyard to greet us. Backpacks carried all kinds of toys, stuffed animals, bubbles, and candy. (I am not sure who was having more fun if you know what I mean...).
We were then treated to a wonderful concert inside in the common room where the children sang several songs to us. They are temendous singers and you can tell it is coming from the deepest part of their hearts. When they finished we had a chance to sing to them. We sang "there is a God," "The Greatest Command," "Jeus Love Me," and "Holy Ground." We thought we were finished but they had a request; "The Greatest Command." We have sang it for them before and they wanted to hear it again. To be honest, I am not sure if there were any dry eyes in our crowd. It was a GREAT afternoon.
We got back to the Mission House and sent a bus with work volunteers down to meet up with another crew at the bodega. We grabbed about 45 boxes of shoes, clothes, food, medicine, and playground equipment that we are going to take to Choluteca. After dinner we all packed up suitcases and brought them down to the big tree outside the big dorm. After devo we loaded up 3 buses with all of the luggage and the huge amount of food we are planning on giving away this weekend. Colby Hill, from Sarasota, Florida, was our speaker tonight. He is one of the best speakers you will ever hear. He talked about mercy instead of sacrifice. Oh, did I mention the singing was great? yeah, it was.
We leave at 6:00 am sharp (according to our fearless leaders) for Choluteca, the place Satan goes for a hot cup of coffee. But, we have our game faces on and we are ready. We are going to be doing a ton of stuff over there, including building another house, a playground, and putting in a concrete floor at the church building we built last year. We are also going to have a medical clinic, a VBS, and work with Mission Lazarus, a great ministry headed up by Jerod Brown. We are going to be painting a building that will be used for a new congregation forming in Choluteca and help plant trees for a harvesting program that they are doing there.
Goodnight from Teguc, we will try to update as soon as we can. Choluteca, here we come!
Wednesday, July 4
Greetings from Honduras!! We started our day off with a great devo lead by Ryan Thompson. He talked about his favorite holiday, Christmas, and compared receiving Christmas gifts to receiving the greatest gift of all, salvation. His main point is that salvation is a gift that you can choose to accept or not. This was his first ever devo talk and he did a GREAT job! Linda (LT), you would have been very proud! After devo we split into 2 groups for the day, a group of 17 loaded 250 food bags to Nueva Oriental which each contained rice, coffee, beans, sugar, corn meal, salt, and lard on to the bus for a food giveaway. When we reached Nueva Oriental we split into 4 smaller groups to cover the mountain. During one of the many treks up the mountain side, a group of 20 children joined us to help carry the food up the mountain. We seem to be a kid magnet... every where we go we attract children! This team then held a power packed VBS in Mololoa which was about Noah. We had a skit with Bud, from Memphis, as Noah. A few of our girls created an ark with leftover cardboard boxes and coloring pages it was a Masterpiece!! Following the songs and skits we had face painting, honey sandwiches, chips and LOTS of balloons and stickers. The church building was PACKED with kids from all over the mountainside.A group of 4 men went doorknocking to promote the VBS and to invite adults to come to the bible study. Colby Hill, from Sarasota, Florida, led the study with 15 women. Reports are the study went really well.
The other group went to the special needs childrens home where they enjoyed a baseball game. Kids were wheeled around in their wheel chairs as the went to bat. It was amazing and the kids loved it! Toys and stuffed animals were passed out with plenty of hugs and smiles. From there we went to Didasko where we donated a truck load of food. We also gave boxes of toys and clothing. Jorge, the director, told us that they will use the clothes for both their children at the home and to distribute to needy families in the area. The team also made minor repairs on a playground we built a few years ago. We also got the opportunity to play with some of the cutest kids you will ever meet! After emptying our backpacks of toys and snacks, some even gave their shoes to a child that they spent the day with. Many tears were shed while leaving.
We enjoyed a relaxing night at the mission house, a devo from "Tricky" Pat Gutherie with a 4th of July fiesta following devo. The refreshments added to the competitive card games and spoons that were being played in the cafeteria. It was a lot of fun.
Everyday has been better than the last. Please continue to lift us up in prayer. Tomorrow we are heading out for the Valley of Angels to build a house and to do some shopping. The blind school in on the schedule for the afternoon. Sounds like an exciting day! Adios!