One week!!! One week from today we are on our way to Tegucigalpa, Honduras! I am pretty sure I am not the only one excited. I am getting emails and phone calls everyday from team members who just want to tell me how excited they are about the trip! I have been going to Honduras for a long time and I am pretty sure that I am sensing more excitement this year than any other trip. And that just makes me that much more excited!
It reminds me of my college days at Freed-Hardeman. I was sent out to go preach at a congregation just outside of Henderson (I believe it was the Oak Grove Church of Christ). I didn’t know it at the time but it was a predominately African-American congregation. I was nervous (I still get nervous, even today, when I speak in front of a group of people) and when I began preaching I heard a booming “Amen!” come from the crowd! It scared me senseless… but I regained my composure (sort of) and continued. I got another “Amen!” and a “Preach it!!!” from the crowd and as the crowd got more excited about my sermon the more passionately I began to preach. I don’t even remember what my topic was that day but I can tell you it was one of my best sermons!!!! Excitement generates more excitement. And the “Amen corner” is getting excited!
OK, I have more information for you. As I mentioned earlier, I am going to be posting information every day or two until we leave. Please check this daily and make sure you get this information!!! Even seasoned veterans make mistakes when it comes to the small things as we get ready for the trip.
Wednesday I gave you important information about your luggage. Just as a reminder, let me say it again, “KEEP UP WITH YOUR LUGGAGE CLAIM TICKETS!!!” There are 2 main reasons I keep mentioning this:
1. Honduras is not America! You can’t just walk up to the luggage carrousel, grab your bag, and walk out. The Honduran customs people will not let you leave with ANY bag unless you can prove it is yours! (You will be glad they do this when you realize that no one is going to steal your suitcase).
2. If your bag does not show up (AKA “welcome to Honduras”) we HAVE to have the baggage tickets to verify which bag is lost. Then, if we are really lucky, we will find the bag a day, or two, or three, or 6 weeks later (ask Brett and Judy Mitchell…. They know this routine really well…)
OK, now that I know we all understand the luggage information, let’s go over the flight information and entry procedures when you arrive in Tegucigalpa. If you are a rookie, this is very important. If you are a veteran, make sure you haven’t forgotten this information!
1. You need to check your flight information. Lots of times airlines will change flight information after you have bought your ticket. I am not sure why they do this, but they do. Especially departure times! Make sure you know the current departure time of your flight! Double check flight connections, arrival times, etc, so that you are not left in the dark on this.
2. Everyone needs to wear his or her Torch T-shirts on the flight down. It is not because we are trying to make a fashion statement on the plane or to cause everyone to look at us and admire our beautiful maroon colored mission shirts. It is so that we can identify team members! When you arrive at the airport you will recognize a team member by their Torch shirt, even if you do not know their name. Those that meet up with us at connection airports will be glad to see those shirts too. And it will make my job of gathering up all 95 of you when you arrive in Tegucigalpa. It is EASY to leave someone behind when they are not in their Torch shirt. And we don’t want to leave anyone behind…
3. Before you land in Honduras, the flight crew will pass out 2 different forms you will have to fill out before you get off of the plane. MAKE SURE TO HAVE A PEN WITH YOU WHEN YOU SIT DOWN IN YOUR ASSIGNED SEAT ON THE PLANE! You will have to have both forms with you when you go through the customs area at the airport. Most of it is simple and self-explanatory. Here are a couple of questions you need to know how to answer:
* Where will you be staying while in Honduras? Answer: VILLA GRACIAS Km 8 EL HATILLO, TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS, C.A.
* What is the purpose of your trip: Answer: TOURIST
If in doubt, ask someone nearby what to write down. The forms will be in Spanish and in English (if you are lucky). Once you have filled them out place the forms in your passport and keep your passport SAFELY put away until landing. Do not misplace your passport… put it in your backpack or in your front pocket!
Going through customs can be a bit intimidating. Just make sure you have your 2 forms filled out with your passport when it is your turn to go to the counter. They are going to speak to you in Spanish. Make sure to take your hat and sunglasses off so that they can see you. They are going to ask you to place one of your fingers into a fingerprint scanner and they will also take a digital photo of you. They do this to everyone so don’t panic. Very important: they will staple one of your forms into your passport. do not loose it! you need that form to get out of the country!!!
Once you have passed through customs you will go to the luggage area to claim bags. Claim your bags and set them with the rest of the luggage from your group. Once all bags are located (or identified as lost) everyone will proceed through the X-Ray scanner and through the final check point. Once the security personnel checks your bags with the baggage tickets they will allow you to pass through into the airport where the advance team will be waiting for you.
See? It wasn’t that hard, was it? OK, for the rookies, you might be scared to death by now. Don’t worry, it will be much easier than all of this sounded. And if it isn’t, at least you can say I told you so!!!
1 week and counting! Stay tuned; more information is coming on Saturday! Hasta luego