Tuesday, December 30
But all fell into place; we had a wonderful trip to Colorado to visit family, and got to see some beautiful scenery and a LOT of snow. We drove through the Sangre de Cristo mountain range around San Isabel to see a really neat and unusual castle (Bishop’s Castle) and also got to go to the Royal Gorge and walked across the highest suspension bridge in the world, over 1,000 feet above the canyon floor! Breath taking has a whole new meaning now. We were able to visit my grandmother who is 98 years old. Although she is not in great health her mind is still sharp as a tack. We even gave my 76 year old Dad the pleasure of beating all of us in 2 games of bowling (for the record, he does carry a 160 average).
The past couple of days have been nice, at least for me. We still have a few days off before school starts back and I have access to Internet again. Dad doesn’t have Internet. For that matter he doesn’t even have a computer at the house. Amazed? I was. What was life like before cell phones; the Weather Channel; I-Pods; blogs; cable; text messages; Blackberries; e-mails; and Internet??? How did we even survive? Who knows… it must have been tough and those of us old enough to remember don’t talk about it very much. But after 5 days of isolation I am back on line, in touch with the rest of the world.
Well, 2008 is in the history book. As Walter Cronkite, the famous news anchor would say, “That is the way it is.” He always ended is broadcast with those words. And that was the way it was. So, 2008 departs as 2009 opens its doors. And what awaits us in this New Year? Well, I guess it depends on whom you listen to on any given day. There is a lot on the radar screen. The economy; energy; global warming; a new president; the war; I could go on and on. You can hear one talking about all of the optimistic things to look forward to on one side and all of the negative things on the other. But one thing is for sure; the need for Christ has never been greater. People are hurting and people are lost. We as Christians need to arise to the challenge for the cause is great.
As the recession tightens its grip here in the U.S. the affects are being seen around the world. As much as we are hurting here in the States, you can only imagine how bad it is in other parts of the world. We saw it last summer in Honduras as inflation drove the cost of food, lumber, and tin higher and higher. It affected our trip and our budget and what we were able to do. And this summer it will be more of the same if not worse. As households tighten their budgets, so will businesses to congregations. This, no doubt, will have an effect on our trip this summer.
And we, as a mission team, must work even harder to secure funds to do our projects. Thousands of people in Honduras are literally living day to day. The Limperia today does not go as far as it did 6 months ago. Costs continue to rise and wages stay the same. It is in times like this that people cry out to God for help. And it is in times like this that God gives us the opportunity to answer His call. I challenge every one of us to reach down deep this year to go the extra mile to do what we can do to make our trip this summer one that will make a huge impact on those we will minister to in 2009. We need you and we need your resources more than ever.
The countdown for our trip begins January 1. Our theme for our trip this year comes from Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The work that we are going to do this summer has already been planned out by God. The people that we will meet and minister to as well. It is a divine appointment that has been scheduled on our behalf. I don’t know about you, but that pumps me up! It is exciting to know that God has been at work preparing our work for us! I can’t wait to see what God has planned for us this summer.
Even though we are earthen vessels made of clay, we are God’s workmanship. He has molded us and formed us to be who we are and has filled us with talents and abilities unique only to us. When we come together as a team He uses us in a special way that brings glory and honor to Him. So, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and begin our march. We have 6 months to get ready for something amazing. And you are part of the plan. Isn’t that cool?
I wish you a happy New Year and hope that 2009 will bring you joy and happiness and that God will challenge you in ways that will draw you even closer to Him!
Wednesday, November 26
I always release the Torch application during thanksgiving break and the time has come. Along with the application comes lots of news about the trip. For additional information please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . But, hopefully, this blog will cover most, if not all, of the information you might need.
After much thought and prayer, and consultation from some close friends and compadres, the information concerning the trip has been tweaked and adjusted and I am now ready to set some things in stone (not all things, this is of course, a trip to Honduras). So, get your pens and paper out, along with your daily planners, and get ready to request your time off because we are ready to roll.
This year’s trip dates will be Friday, June 26th – Monday, July 6th. The dates were adjusted to accommodate the flight schedule of Spirit airlines. Spirit Airlines flies in and out of San Pedro Sula on these dates. Since so many expressed an interest in saving money via the airfare, this is the route to take. However, seats will be limited and if you choose to fly Spirit, you MUST fly in and out on these dates for me to be able to provide transportation for you to Tegucigalpa. We will be chartering nice, luxury coaches this year (not the scat buses we used last year) to get us back and forth. You do still have the choice to fly directly into Tegucigalpa using American, Delta, Continental, or TACA. Regardless of airline choice, I will need your flight itineraries emailed to me so I will know when and where to pick you up.
The cost of the trip this year will be $595.00 per person (plus your airline ticket of course). The VAST majority of people that I talked to were in favor of modifying or even eliminating the retreat this year to save money and to increase the number of days that we can work. I applaud your decisions and reasoning for it. The fee will pay for the following: Lodging at the Mission House; 2 meals per day at the Mission House; bus rentals; bus drivers; supplemental travel insurance; Torch t-shirt; Torch journal; truck rentals; fuel; tool usage fee; Torch Administration fee; taxes and tips at the airports; exit fees; translator scholarships; special activities; Torch banquet; partial work fund contribution; and misc. expenses (parking, meals for the bus drivers, oil, coolant, minor bus repairs, etc). This will also pay for the bus ride for those who choose to fly Spirit Airlines.
Additional money is needed for the work fund. We are asking each person to contribute $100 to the work fund. If you want, you can add that to the cost of the trip (pay $695) or you can bring the money down separately. If you are heading up a group it would be much easier of you would bring your work fund money down with you (in cash of course) separately to help relieve the amount of money I will need to bring down with me.
Application, along with deposit ($250.00), is due March 31, 2009. However, spaces will be limited and I am expecting to have a full team this year so the sooner you send in your application / deposit the better. I plan on capping the team this year at 100. If this is your first trip with Torch Missions, remember that 2 letters of recommendation and an essay on why you want to participate on this trip are required. If you are a team leader, please make photocopies of all paperwork for your files and send me all originals. If you are applying as an individual, please send all paperwork directly to me. My address is 221 Oak Hill Drive, Lebanon, TN 37087.
There will be plenty of information to follow. Please feel free to contact me about anything as far as the trip is concerned. I am truly looking forward to working with all of you this year and I know that god is already at work to prepare the work for us to do when we arrive. Look forward to hearing from you!
President, Torch Missions Inc
Friday, October 24
I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.
How many women out there will eat at home tonight because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word "refrigeration" mean nothing to you?
How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched a show on television or read the newspaper?
I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, "How about going to lunch in a half hour?" She would hessitate and stammer, "I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, it looks like rain” And my personal favorite: "It's Monday." She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.
Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches... We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!
We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Stevie toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids through college. Life has a way of accelerating as we get older.
The days get shorter, and the list of promises we make to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a long list of "I'm going to," "I plan on," and "Someday I’ll get around to it."
When anyone calls my 'seize the moment' friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.
My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.
Now...go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to...not something on your SHOULD DO list. You can’t borrow from yesterday and you can’t redeem tomorrow. Live today as if it were your last and go to bed with a smile on your face. And if you are fortunate, you will awaken to do it all again tomorrow!
A good friend sent this email to me and I wanted to post it on the blog. Why? It is pretty obvious, don’t you think? I know SO MANY PEOPLE who don’t go on our trip to Honduras. “It is the wrong time of the year; it costs too much money; I have too much to do; it just isn’t a convenient time; I don’t have the vacation time; I have to take summer classes; the economy is going down the toilet; I don’t know anyone on the trip; I don’t speak Spanish; I need to loose some weight; I need to get in better shape; I’ll go next time…” Shall I continue? What is your “excuse?” What is your reason? Explain again why you aren’t going?
Think about it the next time you are passing up a Baskin Robins, there just might be an iceberg in your rear view mirror.
Sunday, October 5
Change. Boy, have we heard that a lot lately! We need change. Change we can believe in. Change now. Even in little bitty Lebanon, TN, one of the candidates for mayor has “It’s time for a change” on his signs. Change what? Change how? Change when? Change whom? And is change a good thing? I guess it is how you look at it.
We live in a society today where change occurs all of the time. If you don’t like something, get rid of it and get something else. Something new. Something exciting. Don’t like your cell phone? Get a new one. Don’t like your car? Trade it in on a new one. Don’t like your husband? Divorce him and get a new one. Don’t like your friend? Drop him and get a new one. Don’t like your church? Leave and find a new one. Change. It is easy. It is quick. But is it the best thing to do???
I have been working the past 6 months with the youth group at Western Hills as we have been searching for a new youth minister. Our former youth minister quit and the search committee has been prowling and searching for a replacement. One that will be a good fit for our congregation and for the kids. We have planned a fall retreat that will take place in a couple of weeks. We came up with the theme “change” and we are having some really cool shirts printed up for it. Solid black. White print, simple block font. On the back it says, “It is time for REAL change.” On the front it says, “J”, and under it, “The Christ.”
For you see, Jesus IS change. He is a life changer. He is a relationship changer. He is a church changer. He is a marriage changer. He is a world changer. He came to change this world and to throw it upside down. He came to shake things up. He came to change the way we do things and how we look at things. It is real change. It is life changing. It is a way to put us on the path that will help change the world. It is a change that others will see. It is change others will feel. It is change others will notice. It is change others will want. And it might be change that some will be afraid of when they see it (attacking Satan’s strong hold is a bold thing to do).
So, how about you? Are you ready for some change around here? If you are, it starts with you and the Man who is calling you. And me. Us. Are you ready? Change can be painful at times. Change can be radical too. Change can even be uncomfortable. It starts with 1 person. Then another. Then another. Slowly. Patiently. Convincingly. Then it becomes a following. Then a movement. Then a revolution.
The call has sounded. Are you in? You are either part of the change or part of the problem. Think about it.
Monday, September 22
80% of those who voted stated that flying into San Pedro is OK if it saves money. Of course, the cost of the trip changes each year and so does the cost of airline tickets. But I think it is evident that people want to be able to go on the trip as inexpensively as possible. Money is tight right now and most people want to get the most out of their money, which includes mission work.
Each year I evaluate the work that we have done, the cost of the projects and the amount of money we spend. I am constantly trying to find ways to shave money off of the cost of the projects that we do. I also look for new places to have retreat and get bids to compare so that when it comes time to make out the budget I can make the cost of the trip as accurate and affordable as possible. Some costs are set and fairly consistent, such as the fee to stay at the Mission House or the exit fees. Others change each year, such as the cost of bulk foods and the cost of diesel fuel. This is quite a challenge, especially when trying to release the cost of the trip earlier and earlier.
This year’s trip is projected to cost $700.00 per person PLUS the airline ticket. The $700.00 is based on last year’s costs and the projection of the 2009 projects. The $700.00 per person will pay for all of the following:
* Paper, stamps, envelopes, labels, photocopying, etc for the trip; binders, paper, photocopying, and ink for journals; Torch t-shirts; tips and fees at airports; bus rental fees in Honduras (3 or 4 buses); bus drivers (3 or 4); truck rentals in Honduras; fuel; lodging at the Mission House; Torch application and administration fees; supplemental travel insurance; tool usage and upkeep fee; 2 meals per day at the Mission House; scholarship money for Spanish translators; transportation (private coach) to our retreat; retreat lodging (hotel); retreat meals; approximately $75.00 per person for the work fund to buy bulk foods (rice, beans, coffee, sugar, flour, spaghetti noodles, etc), construction supplies (lumber, tin, hinges, nails, spikes, etc); VBS supplies (snacks, drink mix, games, etc); and the misc. fund (minor bus repairs, parking fees, oil, coolant, etc).
Of course additional money is needed for the work fund to supplement the projects we plan to do each year. Since the price of wood, tin, bulk foods, and fuel, vary from year to year; this affects how much we can do from year to year. The more money we have for the work fund the more projects we can do. Or, as we saw this past year, when costs go up the number of projects have to be reduced. Instead of adding additional money into the cost of the trip per person, most team leaders raise work fund money separately.
In order for us to reduce the cost of the trip we must shop wisely for airline tickets. Flight costs change nearly on a daily basis and can go up or down dramatically. Watching airfares on the Internet is something I do just about everyday. I check flights that go into Tegucigalpa (TACA, American, and Continental) and also check on flights into San Pedro Sula. Since so many expressed interests flying into San Pedro, it opens up 2 additional carriers, Spirit Air, and Delta, into the mix. More competition hopefully means better prices.
Since our group departs from a variety of places, team leaders will need to look at the different flight options and prices. My basic philosophy is that each person (or team) needs to arrive and depart on the same day. This makes my job a little bit easier as I try to make transportation arrangements. Carriers arrive at different times during the day so it is important to know when and where everyone is coming into Honduras. By allowing individuals and teams to make their own flight arrangements, it will help save money. How much depends on when the ticket is purchased, the specials that the carrier is running, and the destination arrival point.
One of the options I am looking at this year is flying Spirit Air. They fly into San Pedro and consistently beat American, TACA, Delta, and Continental on fares. For example, today (Monday, September 22) shows the following fares (flying out of Florida or Texas)
TACA from Miami to Tegucigalpa: $633.30
American from Miami to Tegucigalpa: $671.30
Delta from Miami to San Pedro: $754.55
Continental from Houston to Tegucigalpa: $1,442.00
Spirit Air from Ft. Lauderdale to San Pedro: $359.30
As you can see, Spirit is dramatically cheaper than the other carriers. The flight leaves Ft. Lauderdale at 11:25 pm so you have a lot of options and times to fly into the Ft. Lauderdale area (and could even work part of that day if you choose). You land at midnight, claim luggage, and clear customs by 2:00 am. We would load up on a private, AC coach and would arrive in Tegucigalpa around 7:00 am. We eat breakfast at the Mission House, unload our stuff, and we are off to our first workday by 10:00 am ON THE FIRST DAY WE ARRIVE and work a full day. Since we will be taking our retreat on the northeast coast of Honduras we would be flying out of San Pedro Sula. A short bus ride to the airport is all we have to do, just like last year.
By looking at this option we, as a team and as individuals, could save a lot of money on our airline tickets. Spirit also flies out of Atlanta. Those of us outside of Florida can fly out of Atlanta, or use any number of carriers, including Southwest Airlines, to get to Ft. Lauderdale. Of course, this is just an option and we need to look at all of the flight prices regularly to see what kind of specials is run. And, by the way, spirit has a travel club that you can join for $49.95 which gives you huge discounts (the prices I quoted above is a regular fare price). Ken Haab is a member of the discount club and he flew Spirit air round trip to Guatemala to see his daughter for less than $100 a year ago. So it is possible to travel to Honduras for even less than the price I quoted.
I would love to get some feedback from all of you about the idea. Email me at email@example.com and give me your thoughts. Look forward to hearing from you!
Thursday, September 4
So, how is life with all of you out there? My Labor Day began with a drive to Huntsville to meet Nathan and Karen (I seem to use their names together a lot these days…) for lunch at Logans (not Greenbrier BBQ, which those in the know realize what a shocker that is….) Then we headed back to Lebanon for a special get together at Coach Armstrong’s beautiful log cabin home. It sits on top of a tall hill that overlooks the Cumberland River and you can see the hills rolling for miles in any direction. I had the privilege of baptizing one of my soccer players in his pool. Jorden Camp, my nifty true lefty mid-field winger (who went on the Brazil trip this summer) asked me to baptize her this weekend. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful time with friends and family.
We begin September realizing that we are 3/4th of the way through 2008. Stores will be putting out Christmas stuff any day now (whatever happened to Thanksgiving?) to usher in the fall and winter months. For that matter, fall break is only 4 weeks away for Friendship Christian! And, as amazing as all of that might be, 2009 is just around the corner and things are on the move for next year’s trips to Honduras. Wasn’t it just a month or two ago that we got back from Honduras? It all seems like a blur to me now…..
So, for all of the overly organized, day timer carrying, schedule keeping people out there, I would like to post next year’s trip date for you. It is never too early to start planning for next year’s trip. Our trip dates will be Saturday, June 27 – Tuesday, July 7. The 11 day trip will is sure to fill up fast so make sure to get the dates marked and begin your scheduling. I have been contacted by 6 new groups from Florida, Alabama, and Kentucky.
I will have applications ready earlier than ever this year. Applications for 2009 will be ready by the end of September. The cost of the trip will be $700 per person PLUS your airline ticket. I will begin searching for flight information soon and will get the information out as soon as I have it. The Tegucigalpa airport is open again so we should be able to fly directly into the city next summer. Depending on where we have our end of trip retreat will determine if we fly round trip into Tegucigalpa or if we will be flying home from another city.
I hope you had a great summer and that you are looking forward to fall (I know that I am definitely looking forward for some cooler weather!). Keep in touch! I always enjoy hearing from you. And, if possible, email me any photos from this year’s trip. I am working on a slideshow presentation and would love to have some of your best photos. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . Take care and stay tuned, lots of information will be coming out soon. Blessings.
Wednesday, July 30
Its time for a wrap up for the trips this summer. I will try to make it brief because all of you know I could write pages on what actually took place on our trips this year. Many lives were touched this year on the trips and much seed was planted that will be harvested in the future. Hearts were changed, attitudes were adjusted, and many came back more focused on what God is doing in their lives. These things cannot be “totaled” like some of our projects, which is a shame, because in some ways these are the most important o all. Mission trips are life-changing experiences and to that we are all very grateful.
A team of 25 traveled to Recife this summer for 11 days in June. A metroplex of over 3 million, Recife is a major hub for commerce and shipping. Working with Randy Short and Danny Bratcher, the team focused on renovation of a bible camp that has been around for a while. The 3 story concrete structure received a lot of new paint as a section of the camp is being prepared to become a children’s home. The playground received a lot of tender loving care, paint, and repair, and a huge climbing tower was started. The team did a major food distribution to the poor along with a vacation Bible school at the Bible camp. Lots of service projects were also done and the team visited local hospitals and an orphanage. Additional work was done at one of the local church buildings too. Despite the daily tropical rain, a lot was done on the trip.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras (Reeves’ trip)
Even though the airport in Tegucigalpa was closed due to a plane mishap, it could not stop 100 of us going in and doing our thing. Re-routing to San Pedro Sula only added to the adventure. Staying at the newly remodeled Mission House, the team took little time to get started. Over the course of 9 days the construction team built 6 houses in Nueve Oriental and Mira Flores. The team also built the 3rd and final tower for the playground at the Good Shepherd Children’s Home in Zanmarano. 4 major food distributions took place that provided food for nearly 1,000 families. Food was also delivered to the Dadasko Orphanage where 25 precious children call home. We visited Hospital Esquela several times including 1 visit that lasted nearly 6 hours of real quality time. We visited the Special Needs Orphanage, the blind School, and also worked at Casa de Esperanza children’s home in Santa Ana. We worked in the feeding center at Mololoa and also helped build a set of stairs in the village where excessive erosion takes place. We went to feed the homeless at the city dump on 2 occasions, numbering about 250 people. We did a 3 day VBS at Dadasko. The first day we had about 65 kids and by the 3rd day we had nearly 200. Our medical team conducted a clinic at Dadasko and saw around 200+ patients who were able to get medical and dental treatments and assessments. Our pharmacy held on till the very end till the last person was seen. We also took about 75 children from Mololoa to have a KFC night where we fed them dinner and played with them on the giant playground. We attended church services at Los Pinos where we gave $500 to the contribution. We also took up a special contribution for Rosa, Jorge’s wife from Dadasko, who is going through some medic al problems. The special contribution was over $1,000.00. We did “Gatorade Blitzes” twice which simply means we went and bought Gatorade and traveled around town giving it away to the city street cleaning crews. We also helped unload a HUGE container that came in from Iron Mountain, Michigan, full of clothes that was collected and donated for give aways to the poor. Our team shipped FOUR (4) 40’ containers this year full of supplies that was collected from all over. 2 containers came from PA full of desks, chalkboards, and school equipment. Another container was full of paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, and all kinds of school and office supplies collected in Nashville. Harding Academy, from Memphis, collected supplies and made special “Christmas in July” boxes full of school supplies, toys, and fun stuff that was given to the 230 children that live at the Good shepherd Children’s Home. What a wonderful trip we had and I am sure I have left things out.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras (Palmetto team)
Tom Beach and company of 65+ did their first solo trip this year and what a trip they had. Conquering the transportation challenge from San Pedro to Tegucigalpa did not slow this team down a bit. The hit the ground running even though things did not run as smoothly as they had planned (they wore out the “welcome to Honduras” catch phrase). The team came well prepared and had a great mix of veterans and rookies. This team had the added benefit of having the supplies on the container that arrived late. Because of the container the Palmetto team was able to assemble and attach the new cyclone slide to the new tower at Good Shepherd. They also distributed the “Christmas in July” boxes that the Harding Academy team had made. They built 7 houses this year, mainly in Nueve Oriental. The team conducted 2 major food distributions, providing food for nearly 450 families. The team also provided a large amount of food to Dadasko Orphanage. They did 3 vacation Bible schools this year and the medical team did 3 clinics, seeing WELL over 500 people. The team set up a “free give away” store to distribute tons of clothes and shoes. The visited Hospital Esquela numerous times and also visited Good Shepherd Children’s Home, Dadasko Orphanage, and the Blind School. They also participated in the “Gatorade Blitz” and also did several service projects while there. They attended Los Pinos for church services and made a sizable contribution as well.
Other teams have also had a great summer. Over a dozen teams with 600+ have attended short-term trips this summer through Torch. Hopefully I will be able to report totals on all of the teams later in the year.
Again, thanks to all who made this summer possible. As you can see, those who were able to go on the trips did many, many things this summer. Start making plans for next year; it is never too early to start saving your money and vacation time. 2009 trip information will be ready to go in November. Until then, please keep in touch and continue checking the blog. It has been a pleasure working with all of you this summer. God bless and keep working for the kingdom!
Sunday, July 20
The Raleigh group left at 8 AM Eastern Time (6 AM here) for their 4 and 1/2 hour bus ride to San Pedro Sula and then home tonight. It was great to get to know all those guys and gals. Most of them who I spoke with indicated that they had learned a lot and that they were likely to make another trip, but only God can determine that.
The Palmetto group will be leaving at 9 to make our journey. We have had some fun times, some hard work, and some emotional experiences. Some have battled illness, others have been blessed with good health. All have stories to tell.
On Saturday, the some of both groups took a group of kids from the Didasko orphanage to the water-park. It was cooler than any of might have liked, but the kids had fun, and so did we. It is a joy to meet up with these kids a year later and see how they are doing. As expected, most have grown, some now too sophisticated (read that as "teenagers") to hang with the gringos, while the little ones still want you to be a part of their fun.
The Lexington and Tennessee groups joined us back here at Villa Gracias last night. They seem to have had an enjoyable time, too. One thing I particularly like about these trips is meeting fellow Christians from all over. So far there have been folks here from Texas, Tennessee, both Carolinas, Mississippi, Florida, Ohio, and I am certain someplace I forgot. Regardless of some of our personal opinions on "scriptural things" back home, here we are all united in Christ, in our efforts to serve in His name, and in our desire to bring Glory to God. How great is that?!
Before closing I need to thank, on behalf of our specific teams, our home churches for their great support of these efforts. We serve in the name of Jesus Christ. Many of you sacrifice financially or with your time, so that we can serve. Thank you! Once we are home we will post pictures of our trip and begin sharing our personal experiences.
I will not be able to make a post tonight, unless I can find a computer in San Pedro Sula. So, let us treat this as our last blog for this trip. May God grant us safety in our remaining travels.
God is good! All the time!---Timothy E.
Saturday, July 19
From the moment we landed in San Pedro Sula last Friday, the inherent beauty of God's creation overwhelmed my senses. We saw friendly welcoming smiles, bright laughing eyes, and lush countryside landscapes. I woke up daily to singing birds and brisk, cold mountain air, delicately fragranced by towering tropical fruit trees. It was delightful. Yet right alongside such breathtaking beauty, were substandard living conditions, deteriorated infrastructure and extreme poverty.
One of our first activities as a mission team was to share in the fellowship of the local Church of Christ in Los Pinos. They welcomed us to their Sunday morning worship service with open arms and loving hearts. The services were translated so everyone could understand the songs, messages and announcements. It was awesome to see the unity of the brethren; to see the barriers of different languages and cultures easily overcome by the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our hearts.
During the week our mission team participated in food distributions, house builds, medical clinics and VBS activities for the children. It was such a blessing to participate with my team members in sharing God's love with so many families in need. The people we met were so grateful and eager to show their appreciation. They were quite resourceful. At the build sites, they helped us carry wood, pick up nails and entertain the smaller children.
Our group tried to spend a lot of time with the Honduran children. In addition to the VBS events, God provided the opportunity for our team to visit the Good Shepherd orphanage and build a playground slide and swings. We were also blessed to visit a children's hospital, a school for the blind and sponsor a water-park visit for the orphaned children at Didasko. The children were so happy to see us and their joy was contagious. They loved to play games, to sing and color pictures for us. Compared to the children who live in the mountains with no running water or electricity, the children at the orphanage are are well-cared for: they have clean living conditions, eat healthy food and go to school.
A few of the men in our group ministered to the Hondurans who are currently living in the city dump. They took them food, water and blankets and also prayed with them. Even in these extreme conditions the people were encouraged and grateful for the help. Of course we were disappointed that we could not do more, and our hearts always broke when we handed out the last of our supplies. Still we were so blessed by the love of the Hondurans we met: their passion, joy, and deep gratitude. Participating in this mission effort has done so much in opening my eyes to "true need" and how truly blessed we are in the United States.
Our living quarters were quite a bit different than what most of us are used to at home. I shared a sleeping room with four other women and I will never forget their care, support and encouragement; or that of the whole team. It was the first trip for many and the veteran team members were quick to show us the ropes and how to be more efficient in our efforts. Every day was intense emotionally, mentally and physically; but God continually renewed our minds and refreshed our hearts with His presence. We had daily quiet time, morning and evening devotions. It was great getting to know the individuals on our team: each member uniquely skilled, talented and experienced. I was blessed by the sensitive leadership of the elder team members and energized by the unending enthusiasm of the younger team members. God opened my eyes to see Jesus so many times and in so many that I met during this trip: the Honduran people I encountered, my team members, the full time missionaries, staff and others who ministered to each of us and supported the mission.
God faithfully accepted our humbled hands and hearts, and blessed our efforts to bring glory to His name. One woman as she looked at the team completing her new home spoke volumes when she said "Christ's hands built her house."
It is strange ...I came to Honduras to serve and I was served. I came to give help and I was helped. I came to love and I was loved. I came to bless and I was blessed.
Yours in Christ,
July 17, 2008
Ponder this: You are the mother or father of 5 children. Though you work, you have little opportunity to get medical care or sufficient food. What would you be willing to do? How desperate would you be? If someone came to your neighborhood, how patient would you be about waiting in line? How would you feel if you got turned away?
VBS/Medical in Sector 8
Team one and two took a bus to Sector 8, whose Honduran name I can't remember. One of our teams had distributed food there earlier in the week. This time, we set up VBS and a medical clinic in an established Iglesia de Cristo. One building, where VBS took place was a wooden structure built by TORCH missions at one time. The other building was concrete block, and it was a building we were thankful to have during this trip.
VBS did their Fruit of the Spirit lessons and I saw lots of children running around with fruitloop necklaces. Some of our team also made balloon animals for any of the kids who wanted them. Keeping them busy and trying to teach these children a lesson from scripture is a real challenge.
On the medical side, well, it was our third one of the week and we began running low on some medicines about half way through. On one hand that is a good thing; it means we had seen a good many people. On the other hand, it made it difficult to turn so many away when we actually ran out of medicines that everyone seemed to be needing. We had plenty of hygiene bags, just not enough medicine. For a few minutes, with 70 or so still in line, it got a little tense. Those living in Sector 8 are a little more aggressive than those living in the Valley of Angels, and we were the first medical team/VBS team ever to visit. None of us think we were ever unsafe or in danger, yet a bit of tension was definitely in the air. Our solution to the tense moments: provide every family with hygiene bags, include some vitamins, and send them off.
After we locked all the windows, and got the VBS team inside the block building, we locked the door and waited for the crowd to disburse. And waited. And waited. And waited. Someone suggested that we pray about the crowd leaving and that we would be safe to do so. So a couple of people did that. AND then the skies opened up with a torrential down pour. People fled the streets!
When the vast majority of people had left, the rain stopped, and we loaded our trucks and walked down to the bus, in peace and safety. GOD IS GOOD!
Food Distribution/Hospital/Blind School
Team three did food distribution in their own rough area just outside Tegucigalpa. Here, as you would expect, the issue was running out of food before you run out of people. 100s of people came out of the hills to receive food. Far more than the team could provide. And like Sector 8, it got uncomfortable for a few minutes. People had their hopes dashed because they got to the area too late. How heartbreaking it is to look someone in the eye and have to tell them, "No mas."
After distribution, the team journeyed to the children's hospital for a couple of hours and on to another area of Tegucigalpa to spend some time at the blind school. The blind school is a great place that appears to take care of its students very well. The other thing that makes the blind school a great place to go, is that the children and young adults who are there want to entertain their visitors. This group can sing!
July 18, 2008
Two extremes took place today. In both scenes there are children and adults. In both scenes, there are Honduran souls looking for comfort. Yes, they need Jesus too, but no one can minister to the Spiritual needs unless the Physical needs are taken care of.
Down in the Dump
Eight members of our team went to the dump today. It is a highly emotional experience. Our team went to distribute sandwiches and water to the people who live at the dump. Yes, live there. They live in cardboard boxes, sorting through garbage looking for food. Some are abandoned children. Some residents are young men addicted to drugs; the drug of choice apparently being glue sniffing. Some residents are older people, their families having abandoned them. What an awful sight. The utter feeling of frustration about conditions in this country becomes overwhelming. Some might ask, "Where is God in all of this? Why does God allow such poverty and suffering?" I will let you ponder that. As citizens of the United States we often are not faced with struggling over the difficult questions. So, ponder.
Good Shepherd Orphanage
The remainder of our group journeyed to an orphanage about an hour outside Tegucigalpa. Here, we distributed Christmas in July packages and many of our toys and crayons, etc. We also built them a slide; one of those plastic models that cork-screw down. Most of us also gave our hearts away. It is a consequence of traveling here. Many a team member wanted to smuggle one of these kids home in their luggage.
Yet, I also realize that these kids were easy to love. This orphanage is run by a Christian group. It is clean, as are the kids. They are all well cared for, and extremely well behaved. Many are being educated; some have learned English rather well.
That is not to say that we don't fall in love with all the other children down here, but I have observed, and must confess for myself: it is harder to pick-up a child covered in dirt and lice. We have all done it; we have all paused at least once, and then picked up a child, regardless of their condition. What went through our minds? Did we struggle with our own weakness? Perhaps.
May God give us strength!
God is good! All the time!------Timothy E.
Thursday, July 17
I am not normally a very competitive person. I never played organized sports, and my coordination is not that good, so I generally cheer from the sidelines. Occasionally, when I am with a group that feels the need to compete on something, then it gets fun. Housebuilding as a competitive activity, however, is something that I think I could get into. It is filled with excitement, teasing, a little frustration, an occasional "selective borrowing" of the other team's equipment, lots of encouragement, and a whole lot of fun.
Yesterday, team one (the Holton House) and team two (the Harris house) ended up on build sites right next to each other. Very quickly the younger ones on the teams were suggesting that the other team would "eat their dust." So, for the next 6 hours we went at it: moving rocks, measuring and re-measuring of posts, sawing, hammering, and of course the trash talking. "Your wall is too short!" "You are wimps when it comes to laying a roof!" In the end, though I hate to admit it, team two got finished before team one. Shucks.
Meanwhile, while we were egging each other on, team three had an entirely different experience. The Children's Hospital is a tough environment. Many there suffer from kidney or liver failure, various cancers, and many other diseases. Conditions are not pleasant either. It is certainly not a typical hospital in the United States. To make things more difficult for the patients, often their parents must take them to the hospital, but because they can't afford to stay, they have to leave them for the duration of the treatment. How tough it must be to be alone. Those team members who went, however, learned so much about caring for others. What a privilege it is to ease pain, to ease loneliness, and to offer dignity to these children, some of whom will not live to see another year. Sharing some time, reading some books, playing a game or two, and blowing bubbles seem, on the surface, to be doing so little, but the smiles and the tears of departure say differently.
Making a difference, by acting like Jesus, is what it is all about!
God is good! All the time!----Timothy E.
Wednesday, July 16
Morning here at base camp is like morning back in the States. Everyone is groggy until they get their caffeine fix. Danny Mullins keeps trying to convert me into becoming a coffee drinker, but thus far I have resisted and continue with my one cup of hot tea. I will not convert to the "dark side."
Jim Williams gave the devo talk this morning. He really is gifted at getting to the heart of the matter. Jim especially wanted to encourage all of us after such a hard and emotional day before, and he reminded us that we are doing Jesus' work here in Honduras. It is always good to surround oneself with people who help keep you focused. After devo we split up into three teams. Team one and two went to build houses. Team three went back to the Valley of Angels area to conduct VBS/Medical.
Rednecks and Housebuilding
No, this is not a reference to a bunch of Rednecks from the States moving to Honduras and bringing with them all of the stereotypical "redneck things." My use of "redneck" really refers to the change in weather and the sudden reappearance of the sun, and, of course, sunburns. Since we arrived in Honduras last week, the weather has been very cool and rainy. This appears to be rather unusual since the last 4 trips have been more like what we had yesterday. The intense sun was made worse because we had another "Welcome to Honduras" moment, but let me get to that in a moment.
Team one, led by Chris Melton, completed the Traynham house that they had begun the day before. It only took them a couple of hours, so the Torch bus then transported the team over to where team two was building their house. OR, not.
It was team two's day to experience some frustration. We arrived at our destination, hiked up the hill, found our site, which of course was straight down the side of the hill. Literally, straight down. Boy what a view! Boy what a challenge! With no shade, we were completely exposed to the sun.
As usual, we set about trying to dig our post holes. We had many rocks to move, many more to chisel out of the ground so our posts would go to the right depth. Once the holes were dug, we sat and waited for our lumber. And waited. And waited. And baked. Sunscreen that had been liberally applied, was again, liberally applied. But the baking continued.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not complaining at all. I do have a point. For you see, though we came to serve the Honduran people, some of them served us. We were hot, and our water was going pretty quickly. Then, some clean water arrived, along with some soft drinks, provided by a local Honduran man. I don't know his motivation, but I do know that it is humbling to be served in such a fashion by the very people that we came to offer relief to. Gracias Senor.
The wood finally arrived, and so did the other team. Two hours had passed and it was now after 1 PM. Could we finish the house? Would we have to modify our plans for Wednesday and send a team back here? Let me just say, I think we looked like a hive of bees busily trying to repair our hive. Almost as soon as the wood was at the site, we were nailing it or placing it in the holes we had dug. Shouts of "Heads up!", "More nails!", and "Keep the wood moving!", could be heard all through the remainder of the afternoon. The great part? We finished the house by 5 pm! Mark Connell, Torch Missions on the ground guy, kept calling us awesome. Tired, but awesome.
Just before we left, we brought out the plaque and picture that tells the owner who sponsored the house. As it turns out, this was the Betty Simpson house. Seeing her picture made us all quite emotional. Joy mixed with sadness. Thanks to Paul and the rest of Betty's family for helping her memory live on and impact additional lives.
Fruitloops and Medical Missions
The VBS/Medical team journeyed back into the Valley of Angels today, and went to a remote community to take care of the locals. Why the remote community? Well, it is a story that is linked with last year.
Last year, the team conducted a medical clinic and there was one man, the father of 12, who journeyed from this remote community to get some help. On his way he was robbed. He had no money, so they took his clothes. On arriving in the City of Valley of Angels the mayor provided him with some clothing and sent him to the clinic.
Because of the kindness shown to him by our group, this man went back to his home, got a job, converted to Christ, started a church, and on our return this year asked us to come to his village. The power of God is truly amazing!
The team saw between 100 and 140 medical cases and conducted VBS with at least that many children. This is where the fruitloops come into the picture. Brenda Williams and her VBS team used fruitloops to teach the concept of the fruits of the Spirit to these children. Each child got a set number of fruitloops, a string and a tooth-pick to link all of their fruitloops together into a necklace. Amazingly, the children did not eat their creations. Instead they took them with them to show off to their parents, and, we hope, tell them what they learned about love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, etc.
Of course, those would be good things for us to continue to share with everyone, too.
God is good! All the time!-----Timothy E.
Tuesday, July 15
As we all know, sometimes things don't work out as we envision them. Ponder that a moment. Consider how you felt the last time something you had planned and invested time in, didn't quite turn out as you had hoped. Did you feel frustrated? Did you even get a little angry? What did you eventually do? Did you rally and adjust? Are you a better person because of what took place? Ponder that all for another moment and then consider......
Our house build team had one of those days. Everything started out right. The bus worked fine. They knew where they were going, Los Pinos. They even knew that they were building a house (to become known as the Traynham house) for a family whose own home had burned down. Sounds easy enough, right? Far from it!
Upon arriving in Los Pinos, the team met one "road block" after another. They sat on the bus for an hour and a half waiting for instructions and final directions. The wood used to build the house did not arrive until 1 PM, leaving only 4 hours to build a house that normally takes at least 6. Then of course there is the additional factor of the homeless family of 6. The father is handicapped, affected by Guillain-Barre Syndrome; thus a deep compassion fell upon the group to really get this family into their home. But it was not to be. It wasn't for a lack of trying, there just wasn't enough time. It is too dangerous to stay in Los Pinos much after 5 because very evil people come out about then. Can you imagine the frustration and heartache of our team? Do you think tempers flared a bit? This was a group of "getter done" personalities. But they couldn't.
Ever been hungry? No, I mean, HUNGRY. Many people here get by on only a couple of dollars per day. How do you feed a family if all you make is 2 or 3 dollars per day? Most might think food is cheaper here. That would be a false assumption. Food prices in Honduras have gone up like they have back in the states, yet wages have remained the same. Those in poverty get poorer, and have to prioritize, and sometimes that means less food or fewer meals. Malnutrition is rampant throughout Honduras.
Team two did food distribution today. I'm not sure I have ever seen a team work so well together. The food arrived at base camp and everyone pitched in, off-loading the truck, then setting up stations to distribute the big bags of food into little bags that they could then carry via truck and bus to the people who need it so desperately. Once 250 bags of food had been separated out, off the team went to Section 8. (Sounds like a place they keep UFOs if you ask me.) Section 8 is a particularly mountainous area (like everywhere else we seem to walk) and food distribution is not easy. Each bag weighs about 20 pounds or so, and because you carry at least two bags at a time that is an additional 40 pounds a person is trudging up the mountainside. (Did you know that Tegucigalpa's elevation is around 5200 feet? The air gets thin with extra weight to carry around!)
The response in Section 8 to our efforts was overwhelming. Kids came out of their homes; old women gathered around. Their eyes and faces lit up with gratefulness and joy. Yet, for all their gratefulness, these people taught a lesson or two themselves. They wanted several members of the team to stay and eat with them. Ponder that. Despite their overwhelming poverty, they wanted to share with those who had brought them food. How humbling. (Hayward later told me that he thinks he has had his magical Honduras moment. Well, brother, I can only tell you that it gets more magical.) Joy tempered by humbleness, that is what team two met today.
When you get sick, what do you do? Sometimes you head for a physician if you have been dealing with something for a little while. This is not always an option for our Honduran friends. Medical doctors are expensive here, and few and far between in the rural areas. How would you feel if you or your child could not get medical attention and perhaps faced life long complications because of that? Would you wonder where God is in all of your suffering?
The VBS and Medical Teams traveled to the Valley of Angels. What emotions did they deal with? Joy in helping physical needs; and joy in sharing the gospel story with so many children and adults waiting to get in to see our doctor and the team. 100+ individuals went through our clinic, many more sat through the VBS. Another emotion that this team experienced was excitement because they see they are making a difference and that tomorrow they will be journeying to another community, one that has never had a medical clinic. But I am going to save the rest of this story for tomorrow's blog, because I want you to be anticipating something great!
What is the dirtiest place you can think of? I don't mean dirty as in raunchy, I mean dirty as in filth. What if you had to live there? What if where you lived was also your grocery store, your bathroom, and the area in which your children played? What if you shared this place with buzzards and emaciated animals, all competing for the same rotten food?
Team four went to the Tegucigalpa Dump to experience first hand what takes place in a third world country. What they saw and experienced was overwhelming. Even now (I am writing this on the morning after) they are finding it hard to express. It will take time to process all of the emotions, and as they do, we will share more with you. Pray that their spirits will be at peace.
As you can see, it was an emotion packed day. Great lessons are learned through seeing people living in conditions that we normally don't experience. If nothing else, we should develop an undying gratitude to God for blessing us so much. Hopefully, though, we also take away from these experiences the knowledge that God expects us to do much to show our love and His for our neighbor. The big test will be, can we transfer this knowledge to our experiences back in the states? I pray that we can.
God is good! All the time!----Timothy E.
Monday, July 14
July 10th and 11th, 2008
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Well, Almost
The Palmetto team has taken several different routes to Honduras this year. We are also joined by the North Raleigh Church of Christ on this Torch Mission. To say it has been an adventure getting here is an understatement! Our major difficulty is that the Tegucigalpa International Airport has been closed to large planes since late May due to a plane crash. Thus, all groups coming to Villa Gracias (where we are all staying) have had to re-route to San Pedro Sula - 4 and 1/2 hours (by bus) to the northeast.
If only it was that easy! Just on Thursday and Friday, we encountered cancelled flights, mad dashes from Columbia to Atlanta, planes and trucks with mechanical problems, missed buses, harrowing bus rides, motion sickness and for those who left Columbia on Thursday night: a 27 hour trip. The term "Welcome to Honduras" had double meaning today!
Amazingly (or perhaps not, since God is good), we all arrived safely, and other than being tired, we all were in good spirits. No doubt it is because we have a charge to fulfill, and that seems to permeate this group. Pitch in, keep everyone going and busy, look for ways to encourage one another, and by nightfall you will be too tired to whine about anything!
July 12th, 2008
A First For Me: A Square House!
After a restful night's sleep (not quite long enough for the 13-19 year old crowd), we followed our usual routine of getting the rules: curfew, quiet time, don't drink the water, don't flush the TP, boys keep to your area and girls in the other. Troy Hudson did devo this morning and gave us all something to think about! [Just the way it should be!] He asked us to look at our hands and study them. He then pointed out a couple of things: our hands would not be the same by the end of the week and our hands were to be the hands of Jesus, helping those less fortunate and bringing a miracle to their lives. Quite lovely thoughts!
We broke into three different teams today. Team one stayed in Tegucigalpa, preparing for our medical missions and VBS. The goal is to provide medical services during two or possibly three days, and while people are waiting in line to see the physician or nurse their children will be educated about Jesus through our VBS efforts.
Teams two and three had a different task. Two house builds took place today; both houses were in Sierra Grande and were houses funded by either the HEART (Home-schooling association in the Irmo area) or the Radford Family. House building here is unlike building a home in the states. I equate a wooden house here to the old chicken coop we had on our farm when I was a kid. Houses are 16 by 20, built of green pine and the siding and floorboards are one and the same (tongue-in-groove). Building sites are already cleared; we just have to dig holes for the corner posts and supports, then square it up and start hammering.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it is, for people in the know. Most of us are amateurs, barely knowing which end of a hammer is the business end. And did you know that there are rocks just lurking under the surface, right in the spot you need to dig a two foot deep hole? Did I mention it likes to rain a lot here? Regardless, while I can't speak for the other house building team, the one I was on was incredible! (No, it is not because of me!) We started building around 11 and were done around 5. Our house was even square! Not bad for a bunch of amateurs!
Really, though, the important part was seeing the joy that this home brought to the new owner. She had been living next door in a rented house, but now she and her family have a home of their own, thus relieving their financial burden. As usual, before we left we talked about our purpose in Honduras and how we believe God has blessed us and called us to share the love of Christ with her and her family. We shared with her that she now had Christian brother's and sisters in South Carolina who knew her by name and face and would continue to pray for her and her Christian walk. Many tears were shed by her and us; pictures were taken and then the tools gathered for the bus ride home.
It is a great feeling to know that the Lord has blessed someone by using you to fulfill his plan! God is good! All the time!
July 13th, 2008
Church among the Angels
The North Raleigh team joined us last night having endured their own travel adventures. It will be great getting to know these wonderful people. How do I know that they are wonderful people? Simply because they are here and clearly want to serve. Welcome to Honduras! This brings our number to about 60. Wow!
Today being Sunday, our tradition is to find a local congregation with whom we can worship. So, after breakfast we headed for the Los Pinos Iglesia de Cristo. The trip there was a bit hair-raising to say the least. We traveled by buses to a dirt road on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. Then we drove up this mostly one lane, very muddy road, up the side of a mountain to the community of Los Pinos. The hair-raising part was the view. Boy was it gorgeous! Just don't look down, and boy did we all hope the bus didn't slip in the mud or get stuck!
The church at Los Pinos was quite lovely, and as expected they did things a little differently than we do in the USA. I was particularly impressed with their emphasis upon providing a time of re-committement before taking the Lord's Supper. Essentially, the man doing the service asked for people to "come forward to confess their sin" so that they could take communion with a clear conscience. After communion, Sean Brown gave a sermon on prayer and the need for all of us to work on our prayer life. Amen!
Los Pinos is like most every place else in and around Tegucigalpa. The poverty is overwhelming. People live in houses in various stages of decay. Sewage runs through the streets; there is no clean water. Regardless, these dear Christian people showed up at church wearing their best clothing, singing songs of praise to God, and enjoying the company of a bunch of gringos.
Mike Witte and I were particularly impressed with the prayer of one Honduran gentleman. In his prayer he thanked God for the numerous blessing that He had provided. I thought, "Numerous blessings? You have to be kidding me!" But then I realized, how much I still have to learn. In the states we tend to think of blessings in a material sense. I have no doubt that this gentleman, who has relatively nothing in comparison to most of us, was thinking of simple things like being alive, being healthy, having some food, having a family, having a home, and having the ability to share Christ with others. Humbling!
After church we headed down the mountain to spend some time at a local mall, eating lunch and otherwise looking around. From there we traveled to the Valley of Angels. This community, located about an hour north of Tegucigalpa, tends to be a day-trip tourist destination with lots of T-shirt shops and curiosity shops. Everything from pottery, dresses, carved boxes, and preserved frogs (yep, you read that correctly) can be purchased in the Valley of Angels. Think of it like Myrtle Beach, with out the ocean and the traffic.
Two or so hours later we went to dinner at the Santa Lucia Resort. That last word, "resort," is a misnomer. It is really a place that middle class Hondurans go to, to eat dinner, and perhaps rest for a day or two. Nothing fancy: no spa, no golf, no luxury. We ate dinner. It is a safe place to get a good idea of what Honduran cuisine is like.
At 7:30 we went into the town of Santa Lucia to hold our devo at the Catholic Church. This town, which the Spanish built around 1530, holds one of the oldest continually used Catholic Church buildings in the Western Hemisphere. The church was built in 1533. Though it has been remodeled, parts of it are original, with the roof being held together by wooden pins and not nails. We try to come here every year, because the experience is always so great. The singing is incredible and very uplifting. Devotional thoughts were given by yours truly. My talk was on "Remodeling" and how everyone, especially first timers, would have their hearts remodeled by the end of their 10 or so days here.
From Santa Lucia we returned to Tegucigalpa and our home base at Villa Gracias, arriving around 10. We had covered a lot of territory and had experienced great blessings through a day of worship! May we all be blessed by our experiences of this day, so that we may serve the remainder of the week, focused on Christ and the love he has for all.
God is good! All the time!----Timothy E.
Tuesday, July 8
Today was the last day of our retreat. There was so much going on between everyone that I hope that I can cover it all. Many of us enjoyed the beach, some laid out, some body surfed, and others just buried one another in the sand. Some went to the pool and played pool volleyball. Others in the pool enjoyed the slide, which was very fun. Also on the beach people played beach volleyball. Some people went horse back riding for like three hours. I will let Devin tell you all about that adventure!! Some were able to go golf, which is interesting to me, but they did. Some of the TORCH members slept, something that is very much needed. All in all the day was lovely!!
I got the chance to go horse back riding on the beach. I couldn't pass this up. I could never get this chance back in the states. There were three of us in my group. We walked, trotted, cantered, and galloped all up and down the beach for three hours straight. We rode through the water and we even found a couple of trails. By the time our three hours were up, we all were so sore, we could hardly walk over to have dinner.
Everybody had some type of adventure today. It was a beautiful day too. At devo, we were led in our thoughts by Terry Reeves!! Terry talked about the importance of taking what we have learned back with us. We can not physically bring Honduras back to the states, however, we can bring the love we have back. I hope and I pray that we can bring a piece of Honduras back home to all of you, so that you can all share in our joy. Even though our trip is over we must still pray for the people here. They need our thoughts, and our prayers.
Thank you all for reading the blog and praying for us. I hope that you were able to share in our happiness here. We will be home soon and I hope you are ready for us to "Bring it on Home"! It has been my pleasure to share the experiences of everyone with you guys. Thank you for your patients and the e-mails I received. If you want to leave any comments you know what to do (email@example.com)
Until next year,
These past couple of days have been adventurous! We didn’t have internet at the mission house the last day we were there so I have to tell you about two days, please be patient.
Sunday July 6, 2008
Today started out well! We all got up and had breakfast at 7. Worship was at the mission house today at 10 am. Steve Kemp (a.k.a. Sparky) led us in our thoughts. One of the main reasons we had our service at the mission house was because we were going to take up a special collection for the lady that helps run Didasko, Rosa. She was diagnosed with a tumor a while back, located right below the brain. The doctors in
After worship we loaded up to go to the
After dinner we went up to the mission house for an early night. We wanted to get back pretty early so everyone could pack their bags and have the buses loaded ready to leave by 5:45am Monday morning. And when we got to the mission house we did just that. Everyone is pretty excited to go to Tela for the retreat, but very sad to be leaving the people we have met while here. It is all bitter sweet!!
July 7, 2008
Today started out EARLY!!!!!!!!!! We loaded the TORCH buses to make the trip down the hill to meet up with our tour buses so we could go to Tela. We arrived at the bus station at about 6:45am, was on the bus by about 7:30am and on the road by like 8 am. It is about a 5 to 6 hour drive to Tela. We had a “quite” bus and a “load” bus! I was on the quite bus. I slept the entire way. On the other bus some slept when they could while others played little games. It was a long ride, but we all arrived safely.
When we arrived we had lunch and then went to sit by the pool to wait for our rooms. We finally all got our rooms by about 5pm. During this time many people spent time together playing pool volleyball, walking on the beach, or going down the water slid. It was so much fun watching everyone have a good time together. Many of which did not know one another when we first got to
We had dinner at 7pm. Ok I have to mention the food!!! The food is pretty amazing!! Some people are a little iffy about the dessert because of the texture, but I thought it was pretty good. I will post pictures of the food tonight, hopefully!! After dinner we had devo by the pool. Andy Polk talked to us about love!! It was a very good lesson. After devo we all spent more time growing closer to our brothers and sisters. We spent time together at the beach catching sand crabs, or taking pictures of the ginormous frogs!! Yes they are huge!!! Everyone was in there rooms by midnight.
I am sorry that the post are delayed. I will do better. Thank you for your prayers, but the trip is not over. We leave tomorrow, which is very sad for all of us. Some are ready to see there families, some do not want to leave there friends in
Here are a couple stories from some of the team members that were, accidentally, misplaced.
July 4th (God Bless
Today we went to Good Shepherd Orphanage to build a tower for the playground, which Ashley and Brittany were exclusively involved in. While the building was happening, Diana and other group members played with the precious kids to keep them occupied and away from the construction site. We were amazed at the amount of English the Honduran kids knew and at their joy and excitement throughout the day. They were very friendly and just happy to have someone there to love and comfort them. All in all, the day was a blessing to us, as we are sure it was for them. We were very blessed to ae this opportunity and are still receiving it’s blessings!
-Hilldale Church of Christ (
Today I went to build a house in Nueva Oriental. I have never been on the construction team and honestly wasn’t extremely excited about the whole thing, but I had heard so many good things. So, I decided to go! It seemed like it took forever to get started but once we did no one was going to stop. Everyone did their part to get the house on this land finished. Children, along with their mothers, watched, played and helped us. They knew this was not going to be their house but the unity among the community kept the people helping their neighbors. I saw Jesus through the eyes of so many today and after 5 hours of work a deserving woman received a beautiful house complete with a flower pot filled with flowers, steps to her doorway, and a breath taking view of the mountains. I understand why people love construction because I can point to a home and say that is something God gave me the ability to do today!
-Katie Hillis (
Day 7! What an amazing day. In
Monday, July 7
Brandy will be posting tonight so stay tuned!
Saturday, July 5
It began with breakfast at 7 am. We had ham and cheese omelets, toast, fruit, and coffee (for some). After breakfast we went to the chapel for devotional. Devin from Sarasota led us in our thoughts this morning. He talked about how we need to do everything to he best of our ability. After devo we loaded two buses with medical supplies and carnival materials then made the trip to Didasko.
Didasko is one of my most favorite places to go, well actually I guess all of them are my favorites. This was the last day we will be going to Didasko until we return next year. When we arrived we unloaded all of the things we brought for the orphanage and the patients for the medical clinic. The carnival and the clinic were open to all the village people in the area so we had a lot of people. I am not quite sure how many patients were seen today, but our team had their work cut out for them today. I want to give major kudos to our medical team. They did an incredible job, and also our translators. They were patient with the long process of the clinic. Our team stayed at Didasko until our supply were gone!! They were great!
The carnival was also a huge success. Every child (and child at heart) had a wonderful time. They got to kick the soccer ball at Tyler Steffy for hours, there were also some other guys involved in that station, but I'm not sure which ones they were (sorry guys). Taft threw the football around with some kids and then prayed with them, which was amazing! There was a small beauty shop set up for the girls to get their hair and nails done. The kids got loads of prizes. We threw some frisbees around with them too. There was a soccer game and basketball game. The children and adults were fed for lunch too. One of the last things we did was have a huge water balloon fight with the children. That was a lot of fun!!! Of course some of us didn't get water balloons thrown at us, instead we were held under the faucet or we had buckets of water tossed on us. It was all very fun though and the children loved it, which is most important.
I believe that this might have been the most fun day, but also the hardest. So many people were so touched by today. It is something that is so hard to walk away from. That is one of the reasons why I choose the title to be tough love. Tough love can be used in so many ways, but this love truly hurts. For me, this was the first time that I did not choose just one child to be with. I would be what people would call a floater. I went around today observing everyone else. I took pictures and played with all of the children. Most everyone had particular children they stayed with most of the day, so when it was time to leave they had a difficult time saying their goodbyes. It is so hard to leave places like Didasko, when you do not know what the future holds. The good thing is, God will take care of us all. If we do not get to see these children next year, we do know that we will meet again. Although, this was a tough day, we all pulled through it, and we were all very much blessed by the experience.
Once we had gotten back to the mission house we were able to clean up a bit before going to the mall to eat dinner. At the mall people choose different places to eat, of course we stayed in groups of five or more with an adult guy in each group. After we had spent a couple hours there eating, we came back up to the mission house for devo. Keith from Memphis led us in our thoughts tonight. He spoke about tough love. He mentioned how the ultimate tough love was Jesus when he took everything for us. He also talked about how God did not put us here to start the race, but to finish it. I think we can all get something from this lesson. The lessons here have been incredible, I mean WOW!! I have gotten so much out of the lessons, something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I hope you all at home, that have watching can agree with me on this.
I really appreciate all of you guys back home. Your thoughts and prayers are very much needed and appreciated. However, our mission is not complete yet! We should all continue to pray for all of God's work that is being done worldwide. Once again if you would like to leave any comments please feel free to e-mail them to me!! firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, July 4
July 3, 2008
Today began with a breakfast of English muffins, eggs, ham and cheese. Joel Davis spoke to us this morning and reminded us all that life is like a sporting event. We are a team. We have to remember that our actions affect everyone, we know the plan and we know what we have to do, but we need to learn how to do it when the pressure is on.
Today was a building day! I was on a construction team today of about 15 people. We had 2 groups at very close sites. Our sites were beautiful! They were on the side of a mountain over looking Tegucigalpa. My team had no trouble at all building out house. There were a few rocks in the way of making the post holes, but other than that our wood was already for us and our land was the perfect size. It only took us 4 hours or so to build our house.
The other group, however, had a little more difficult time. I don’t know all the details, but I do know it took them 3 more hours to build their house. None of their wood was at the site, there was not enough room, so the had to make room, ect. After we built our first house a group of us, along with another group pass out food in the area we were working at. It was amazing to see the children help pass out the food even though most even though some of them hadn’t eaten that day. God works in mysterious ways and these children were an example to follow. Even though they have little to nothing and cant understand a word I am saying they were able to show love to our group and be leaders for us to follow.
There was a woman at the site today who had two very “loving” and beautiful children. She hung out with our group for most of the day with a smile on her face that could light up the whole mountain side. Unable to understand her (like normal) she spoke to Monica and asked her when the food was coming. No one knew or had heard about anyone bringing food, so both Monica and I were very confused. Later that day a group of ours came with bags of food to hand out. The woman was over joyed and started crying. She told us that she had been praying for food all day because she and her husband are without work and they had no food for the day
It is unbelievable what Whitney and I have experienced this week. We were blessed to be a part of building a house for a family, who just the day before didn't have a home. Words just don't describe what you feel when you're experiencing life here in Honduras. I am proud that Whitney is here and experiencing loving and interacting with these children, I know this will have an impct on her future and the decisions she'll make as a Christian.
-Terri Barber (Nashville)
Today, I saw God's love in all the children! The children were happy even though they were living in horrible conditions, and without a home. I think that is a good example for us, because God says to be content with what you have and they are! It was great to leave there today knowing now they have a home.
-Whitney Barber (Nashville)
Today I was blessed with the opportunity to assist in constructing a house, or una casa! The village we were actually in already had a lot of houses that were built by other mission groups, so the community knew what we were there to do I was in a state of awe the whole time. I was amazed at how helpful the people were, even though they weren't building the house for themselves. building the house was really tiring work. Even though the wood was really heavy, the nails didn't always, go in straight, and the mud was pretty slippery, no one ever gave up! I even got the chance to go on the roof! It is so rewarding to see the family move into their new home, and how excited they are to have it. I am so happy I got to be a part of this experience.
-Jenny Mitchell (Memphis)
My experience at the the landfill today was very humbling. The people that live there have so much hope regardless of the intense circumstances they're in. Everything they have is a treasure, even the things that we take for grated like food, housing and even family. these people taught me that regardless of your circumstance God will always give you hope.
-Kaley Chaffee (Sarasota)
July 4, 2008
Today started out great. We all woke up, some a little later than others, and had breakfast. We had cereal, toast, and fruit. I had a lot of coffee as usual!!! After breakfast we all met in the chapel for morning devo. Justin Brown from the Woodland Hills congregation in Cordova, TN led us in our thoughts. He read from Psalm 139. He mentioned how we can't hide from God. Which is very true and something that a lot of people do not realize. After devo we divided into our groups. Group 1 went to the open market to buy food, then to the bodega to bag the food, then to Santa Ana to distribute the food. This group also got the chance to go to Casa de Esperanza to visit the children there. Group 2 went to Didasko to visit with the children there and did the Gatorade Blitz. Group 3 went to Good Shepard to play with the children there and to finish the playground. The fourth group went to build again in Nueva Oriental. The groups were suppose to leave by 9, but anyone that has ever been here knows that doesn't happen often! So we left about 9:45 instead.
Today our group went to Santa Ana to distribute food, but before we could we had to go purchase the food. Our group got to experience the open market. It could be compared to an open flea market or to a farmer's market. Anyway, we divided into groups and went on our way. My group bought onions...yay!! I'm not a big fan of onions, but it was for a good cause. We went booth to booth trying to find as many onions for the cheapest price. The only thing was in my group none of us spoke enough Spanish to really know what we were doing. Picture this Andy Polk, Emily Seward, and myself trying to barter with Spanish speaking people in our Spanglish. We could ask how much something was and when they would tell us we would look at each other trying to figure out what she had said. After a while we had bought about 900 onions, yes you read it right, 900. Once the groups had purchased all the food needed, we went to the bodega to separate it into bags. We made a total of 150 bags. Then we made the trip to Santa Ana. Once we arrived there we began to distribute the food. After a while we decided it would be best if 8 people stayed with the distributing and the rest went to Casa de Esperanza so we could speed things up a bit. I stayed with the distributing team. Ok, now this was an experience! We went down, or should I say up and down, this road that led to....good question. I'm not really sure where it led too. After we went so far, we decided to turn around and make our way back. Oh, did I mention that it started raining. Well, it did! As long as I have been coming to Honduras, there has never been a time when it did not rain in Santa Ana. Even though it rained, I still enjoyed handing out food. It is one of the greatest joys I have while I'm here. When we finished on the mountain, we went to Casa to meet the rest of the group. While there I got my finger nails painted many different colors, I might should say I got my fingers painted. Anyway, I was very much willing to let the little ones there paint my nails. They are so cute. Everyone had so much fun playing with the children. We even sang some songs, which they knew so they sang with us. It was so AMAZING!!! After we spent about 2 hours there we made our way back to the mission house for dinner.
-Brandy B (Memphis)
Today the construction crew went out to Nueva Oriental to build another home. They did an excellent job even though they did not have the best working conditions. The great thing is that another family has a new home that they can call home. I think you guys back home should know that Tyler Steffy has done a great job leading groups on houses, he has been patient and calm, even when things did not go perfectly. He is a trooper. Luckily he has had great teams to lead and some great partners to lead with him. As a group we have built five houses, I believe. Great job team!!
At Good Shepard today, which is a children's home, a team went to finish a playground there. About 8 participated in the finishing of the playground while the others made sure the kids stayed away from the site. Good Shepard is a great place, one of my favorite places. Ben led this group in constructing the play ground. Ben is another I would like to commend on an excellent job in leading construction teams, he is another great leader.
Once all the teams had finished with their projects, we all made it back to the mission house for supper. We had chicken, rice, salad, and a roll. It was great as usual!! At 8 we went to the chapel for devo. Ben Cooper led us in our thoughts.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah. Your the lifter of my head.
After a week of working n conditions that are believed to break even the hardest of hearts, I am amazed that the way God chose to pierce mine was through the simple message of a devo. I have never met Ben Cooper, and I doubt he knows my name, but the message he brought tonight concerning the way God takes us back no matter what is done that it holds true throughout the ages. While working in a foreign country, it's easy to forget about the fundamental concepts of the law of God. No matter how far I stray away from the Lord, no matter how much I betray his love, he will take me back. The fact that lessons like this are still being learned it good to know.
After devo we broke up and headed to our rooms to get anything we would like to give away, and anything that could be used in the medical clinic tomorrow. Then we went to bed for some much needed rest!!!!!!!
Thanks guys for being patient with the blogging thing!! I really enjoy doing the blog and I hope that it helps you guys back how understand what we are doing. Continue to pray for the group and the Hondurans. We will all be home soon. We love you all!!
Because of some inappropriate comments that have been left on the comment page I will no longer be allowing comments to be made. However, if you would like to e-mail me a comment feel free. My e-mail is email@example.com. Sorry for the inconvenience.