Our Mission Statement

Sunday, March 30

Honduras trip updates

According to our count down ticker we are less than 90 days to our 2008 mission trip to Honduras. Time is ticking and everyday we get closer and closer to that date that has been marked on the calendar for months. And even though it is about 3 months away, I can say that it will seem like a blink and the time to get on the airplane will be here. I know all of us have been starting our trip preparations and have been getting things ready.

Hopefully you have looked at flight information by now. I have talked to some group leaders that are locked in and ready to go. For the rest of us, it is just about time to bite the bullet and get the tickets purchased. Whether you are flying American, Continental, or TACA, I need flight confirmations from all of you so that I can get them into the
“Book of Much Importance.”

Deposits should already been in my possession. (Hint… that means some of you have not mailed in your deposits yet…) It will not be long before I will be sending in our deposits to Villa Gracia (Mission House), Torch Administration fees, and our deposit for our retreat to Tela. Without your deposits in hand I cannot make our required deposits. The longer you wait the longer I have to wait. Thanks to all of you that have been on time for your checks, I appreciate it! (Brett and Judy win for being the first to pay their deposits. Bravo to the Canadians!)

Our team continues to grow. 5 weeks ago our team had 63 people signed up for the trip. As of Sunday, March 30, 2008, we have 101. With this growth comes a lot of extra planning. Mega teams can get a lot done in a short amount of time but it takes a lot of resources to accomplish this and to keep everyone busy. It is very important that all group leaders focus on securing money for the work fund. I am thrilled to have such a large group because it shows the will and desire of the hearts of so many that want to go and work for the Lord. It is going to be an amazing trip.

We are very fortunate to have a great team of translators coming this year. To date we have 16 translators committed to work with us on our trip. Most of these translators have been with this team for several years and bring a wealth of experience and dedication to our mission team. Our translators will be working with our evangelism and medical teams, and will also work with the visitation teams when we go to the hospitals and children’s homes.

Our medical team continues to grow. We are excited that Dr. Tom Whitworth, from the Western Hills congregation in Nashville, has committed to return again this year. Nurse Angie Chaney, from Sarasota, will be with us again. Dr. Judy Mitchell (Montgomery, AL) and Dr. Anna Jane Maria Josefina Palmer Jimenez Alvarez Valdez (Dyersburg, TN…. It’s a long story…) are back again for wound care and physical therapy. We also have a nutritionist, Lisa Shepard (Nashville), and a dental hygienist, Terri Barber (Centerville, TN), with the team, as well as Steve Kemp, our athletic trainer.

Team members this year come from the following states: Alabama; Alaska; Connecticut; Florida; Kentucky; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; and Washington, and from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Brazil. The team is about 50% male and 50% female. The team is about 33% teenagers, 33% college/young professional, and 33% adult. The team is about 40% rookies and 60% veterans. It represents dozens of congregations, which blend together to make one fantastic team.

Although it is still too early to know all of the details, I can share with you a few things that have been set up for this year’s trip. As always, we will be building several houses. We have already had funds raised to build houses that will be dedication houses. We also plan on returning to the good Shepard Children’s Home to build the 3rd tower to complete the playground we started 2 summers ago. We plan on building 2 new classrooms for the school in Nueva Oriental and to outfit it with desks, chalkboards, and school supplies.

I have talked with Jorge and Maria at Dadasko and we have worked together to plan an evangelistic outreach in the Tamara area. We are organizing a 3 day VBS at the Dadasko home along with an adult Bible class. Jorge and Maria, along with the children of Dadasko, are going to door knock and invite the community to come to the VBS. Our medical team will be offering a free clinic at Dadasko for the community as well. We will conclude the events on Sunday with an outdoor worship assembly and dinner on the grounds. Veterans know what that means, “A Banquet for Jesus!”

We plan on doing at least 2-3 large food distributions in different areas as we go door to door. I hope to send workers to serve and cook at the Manna Project in Mololoa, and of course we plan on several visits to Hospital Esquela, and Hospital San Felipe. Trips to the Blind School, the Special Needs Orphanage, and Jovenes en Camino are also being planned.

Remember, our retreat plans have changed. We will be going to Tela for the retreat. Tela is on the northeast coast of Honduras, about 30 minutes east of San Pedro Sula. So, make sure you book your airline tickets into Tegucigalpa and out of San Pedro Sula. I will post information about the retreat soon.

The Mission House has completed the construction from last year and I can assure you the singing at the devotionals is going to rock the house. From the moment that we set foot on the ground until we leave I feel that this year will be the best trip ever (of course, I have said that 7 years in a row…. And meant it every time).

If this doesn’t get you excited, check your pulse and get to a doctor right away! Remember our theme, “Becoming all things to all men so that by all possible means we might win some.” We want to be Christ to those we come in contact with on our trip. Good luck on your fundraisers. Good luck on your preparations. Good luck on your supply collections. May God receive all of the glory we are going to do and may we praise Him for making all things possible.


Saturday, March 15

back home and back to work

Home again, home again, jiggery jog. I got home LATE Friday night after a great week of work in Honduras. And work it was. For those in the know, we did not make a single run to Dunkin’ Doughnuts, Cinnibon, or Baskin Robins. I know it is hard to believe, but I am just stating the facts. (We did, however, find time to go to El Corral for dinner 1 night.)

As I mentioned in my previous blog, our medical team was doing volunteer surgeries for children that were born with facial abnormalities. Parents brought their children from as far away as Miskitos, also known as the province of Gracias a Dios. This province is on the east coast of Honduras and is sparsely populated and vastly undeveloped. Traveling by prop plane and bus, they trekked their way to the hospital for the free treatment.

The doctors and nurses were absolutely awesome and compassionate. They worked as hard as any group I have ever seen. They wanted to be at the hospital everyday before 7:00 and they did not leave until after 7:00 each evening. I really do think they would have stayed longer if they could have kept the operating room open. The Honduran medical staff received training on the plastic surgery procedures and techniques that they had not seen before. All in all it was a fantastic experience for all. The newspaper ran 2 different stories about the doctors. The first was a ½ page article that appeared in Tuesday’s addition and the other was a full page on Thursday.

My plane was scheduled to leave at 11:30 on Friday. On my plane to Houston was Dr. Smythe Rich, who was the fist doctor to leave (the rest were leaving Saturday morning). Smythe was leaving a day early because his mother is extremely sick and was not expected to live through the weekend and he wanted to be there for the last moments. However, there was one little baby girl that had traveled all the way from Miskitos and Dr. Rich wanted her to receive the surgery to help repair her upper lip. So the medical team met and agreed to operate on the girl early Friday morning before Dr. Rich’s flight so that he could be there for it. What an amazing man.

While at Hospital Viera on Wednesday, Jen Wright saw us. She had brought a little girl in from Santa Ana that was in desperate need of medical attention. The little girl was 4 years old and only weighed 19 pounds. She had been abandoned by her mother and was living at the grandmother’s house. She was having seizures and was just lying in bed day after day. Her muscles had drawn her body up into a fetal position were unmovable. The doctors immediately put her on IV to try to restore some of her fluids. They are hopeful that after a few days of fluids and medicines that the physical therapists will be able to start working on the muscles. Unfortunately traumatic situations like this happen all too frequently and our prayers are with the little girl at this time.

Thursday was an amazing day for me. The day started with an early morning trip to the hospital to get the doctors up and going. They are part of the scene at the hospital now, roaming about like the own the place. They have made good friends with many of the doctors, nurses, and surgeons who work at the hospital. Things were running smoothly so at 9:00 we took a 6 block walk to Plaza Centro, with Congressman Rojas, for our first meeting of the day.

Tom Gilroy, Tim, and I met with what we would call in the States the “Ways and Means Committee.” There were 4 congressmen and 1 congresswoman at the meeting, all top ranking members of the Conservative Party. Our meeting was to discuss different ways and avenues in which the supplies from our containers could reach different groups of people in need in different areas of Honduras. The government has budgets set up to secure supplies and equipment but many times red tape or improper mismanagement occurs when dealing with vendors and organizations within Honduras. Our reputation of honesty and “no strings attached” policies has earned us great respect in this area and I foresee the possibility of having our relationship with the government strengthen our ministry opportunities in the near future.

Just a few hours later Tim and I had a lunch meeting with Juan Diego, who is the personal assistant to the mayor of Tegucigalpa, and Mario Zelaya Rojas, congressman and surgeon at Hospital Viera. During our meeting we discussed ways in which Torch / IRC could help assist the government in various ways such as securing medical equipment, school supplies, emergency transport like ambulances, etc. They were very excited about what we do and why we do it and offered ideas in which they could help us in return such as helping with expenses to get shipments into the country. It was “another power meeting," as Tim would put it. It is amazing that even during a time when the president and his cabinet are from the liberal party (which leans very much towards communism) that there are those within the government that can and want to help.

Thursday evening we were invited to dinner hosted my Dr. Rojas and his wife. He took the entire team, including Janet Hines, Mark and Lori Connell, and Marc and Terri Tindall, to a local steak house (I honestly do not remember the name of the restaurant, I had never been to it before). It was a great meal and several took advantage of photo opts with the congressman (rumor has it that he is considering a run for presidency down the road). To be honest, by the end of the day I was worn out from all of the meetings. Power meetings are physically and mentally draining. I was quite ready and relieved to get back to the hotel at 10:15 that evening to start packing.

So, another trip is under my belt. Lots were accomplished but so much more went undone. Mark Connell is heading up a team from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, starting this weekend. Marc Tindall has a group coming in just after that. The trips have begun and we are off to the races. For those coming on trips this year, I wish you God’s speed as you prepare. Always keep your eyes on Jesus and strive to walk in His ways in all that you do. With Him all things are possible.


Wednesday, March 12

spring break, Honduras style

Ahhhh, spring break. One of several reasons I went back into education. But, for Friendship Christian School, it gets even better. We are on the “year round” schedule, which means we go to school for 9 weeks then get TWO weeks off. 2 glorious weeks off. Makes you want to teach, doesn’t it?

So, what does one do for 2 weeks off? For me, I am lucky enough to be in Honduras the first week of my break. I came down with Tim Hines and Tom Gilroy to assist in a medical brigade and to do some prep work for the summer trip. Included with this group are Janet Hines, and Mark and Lori Connell. Yes, you read that right, Mark, Tim, and I are all in Honduras at the same time. It is kind of like Haley’s Comet, happens every 96 years or so.

It has been a busy week so far and we still have a lot to do. The medical team includes surgeons from California and South Carolina who specialize in plastic and reconstructive surgery. They are operating on children that were born with cleft lips and pallets. They plan on operating on 40 patients this week. Their day starts at 6:30 in the morning and ends at 7:00 at night. They are all wonderful people and are extremely talented at what they do.

During the evenings we have been showing them around town and going out to eat. Camperos and El Corral have made the rounds so far. I personally hope to squeeze La Cumbre in this week too, but I am trying not to be greedy! They are laid back so even a trip to Wendy’s would be good with them. Of course, I am like a fish out of water during evening dinner conversations since they are talking about medical stuff………. Not exactly my line of knowledge.

We went to a professional soccer match last night. It was my first time to be inside the national stadium. Matauga, one of the local teams here in Tegucigalpa, was playing a team from Mexico. The stadium was packed (probably 30,000) with soccer crazed fanatics. It was awesome. Of course, the final score was 0-0, so most Americans would think it was a boring game. But it was not at all. The match was well played and there was a lot of stuff going on inside the stadium too. Really cool stuff. I was only afraid for my life a couple of times during the whole match. Just kidding!

Today we met the mayor of Tegucigalpa and his wife at the hospital. They brought lunch to the surgeons and mixed and mingled with us. The mayor is a possible presidential candidate in the next election and Torch/IRC has a wonderful working relationship with him. As always, Tim is the front runner to make all of this happen. Not having a group to keep up with allows me to spend a lot of time with Tim and to see what he does. And he does a LOT! We also went out to Mololoa today to see the daycare facility construction and to take some photos. We got to see and visit with a lot of families and friends in the community too which was really cool.

Wednesday Tim, tom, and I are going to the congressional building to make a presentation before congress. We are meeting with the “Republican” party, known as the conservative party here. Later in the evening we have been invited to a reception at the home of one of the congress representatives. We also plan on going out to Santa Ana to see Janet Hines´property and to visit with Jen Wright and the kids.

I also had a chance to go up to Villa Gracia to see the completed construction from last summer. It is absolutely beautiful and will be a wonderful facility for our teams this summer. I am posting some photos for all of you to see. All I can say is that the singing this summer is going to ROCK!

I hope to post again before I leave. Continue to offer up your prayers to Honduras and the trip leaders as we get ready for the summer. God has given us a wonderful ministry and with that comes big responsibilities. Pray that we will truly make a difference this summer to all of those we come in contact and that those coming on the trips will be touched as well.

Until next time, God bless!