Monday marked the end of the summer mission trips that are reported on this blogspot. For the past couple of days groups have traveled back to their hometowns to get back to the daily routines that they left behind to do mission work. The final travelers returned home Monday night as we flew into Nashville. The trip ended just about as it began, with lost luggage. Today I am awaiting a phone call from American Airlines on a bag that failed to reach Nashville from Miami. I guess this would be classified as a “welcome to the USA” moment. Oh well, it could have been worse.
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.