Our Mission Statement

Thursday, July 30

The path forward


By ROBERTO MICHELETTI (interim president of Honduras)

One of America’s most loyal Latin American allies—Honduras—has been in the midst of a constitutional crisis that threatens its democracy. Sadly, key undisputed facts regarding the crisis have often been ignored by America’s leaders, at least during the earliest days of the crisis.

In recent days, the rhetoric from allies of former President Manuel Zelaya has also dominated media reporting in the U.S. The worst distortion is the repetition of the false statement that Mr. Zelaya was removed from office by the military and for being a “reformer.” The truth is that he was removed by a democratically elected civilian government because the independent judicial and legislative branches of our government found that he had violated our laws and constitution.
Let’s review some fundamental facts that cannot be disputed:
• The Supreme Court, by a 15-0 vote, found that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally by proceeding with an unconstitutional “referendum,” and it ordered the Armed Forces to arrest him. The military executed the arrest order of the Supreme Court because it was the appropriate agency to do so under Honduran law.
• Eight of the 15 votes on the Supreme Court were cast by members of Mr. Zelaya’s own Liberal Party. Strange that the pro-Zelaya propagandists who talk about the rule of law forget to mention the unanimous Supreme Court decision with a majority from Mr. Zelaya’s own party. Thus, Mr. Zelaya’s arrest was at the instigation of Honduran’s constitutional and civilian authorities—not the military.
• The Honduran Congress voted overwhelmingly in support of removing Mr. Zelaya. The vote included a majority of members of Mr. Zelaya’s Liberal Party.
• Independent government and religious leaders and institutions—including the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Administrative Law Tribunal, the independent Human Rights Ombudsman, four-out-of-five political parties, the two major presidential candidates of the Liberal and National Parties, and Honduras’s Catholic Cardinal—all agreed that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally.
• The constitution expressly states in Article 239 that any president who seeks to amend the constitution and extend his term is automatically disqualified and is no longer president. There is no express provision for an impeachment process in the Honduran constitution. But the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision affirmed that Mr. Zelaya was attempting to extend his term with his illegal referendum. Thus, at the time of his arrest he was no longer—as a matter of law, as far as the Supreme Court was concerned—president of Honduras.
• Days before his arrest, Mr. Zelaya had his chief of staff illegally withdraw millions of dollars in cash from the Central Bank of Honduras.
• A day or so before his arrest, Mr. Zelaya led a violent mob to overrun an Air Force base to seize referendum ballots that had been shipped into Honduras by Hugo Ch├ívez’s Venezuelan government.
• I succeeded Mr. Zelaya under the Honduran constitution’s order of succession (our vice president had resigned before all of this began so that he could run for president). This is and has always been an entirely civilian government. The military was ordered by an entirely civilian Supreme Court to arrest Mr. Zelaya. His removal was ordered by an entirely civilian and elected Congress. To suggest that Mr. Zelaya was ousted by means of a military coup is demonstrably false.

Regarding the decision to expel Mr. Zelaya from the country the evening of June 28 without a trial, reasonable people can believe the situation could have been handled differently. But it is also necessary to understand the decision in the context of genuine fear of Mr. Zelaya’s proven willingness to violate the law and to engage in mob-led violence.

The way forward is to work with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. He is proposing ways to ensure that Mr. Zelaya complies with Honduras’s laws and its constitution and allows the people of Honduras to elect a new president in the regularly scheduled Nov. 29 elections (or perhaps earlier, if the date is moved up as President Arias has suggested and as Honduran law allows).

If all parties reach agreement to allow Mr. Zelaya to return to Honduras—a big “if”—we believe that he cannot be trusted to comply with the law and therefore it is our position that he must be prosecuted with full due process. President Arias’s proposal for a moratorium on prosecution of all parties may be considered, but our Supreme Court has indicated that such a proposal presents serious legal problems under our constitution.

Like America, our constitutional democracy has three co-equal and independent branches of government—a fact that Mr. Zelaya ignored when he openly defied the positions of both the Supreme Court and Congress. But we are ready to continue discussions once the Supreme Court, the attorney general and Congress analyze President Arias’s proposal. That proposal has been turned over to them so that they can review provisions that impact their legal authority. Once we know their legal positions we will proceed accordingly.

The Honduran people must have confidence that their Congress is a co-equal branch of government. They must be assured that the rule of law in Honduras applies to everyone, even their president, and that their Supreme Court’s orders will not be dismissed and swept aside by other nations as inconvenient obstacles.

Meanwhile, the other elements of the Arias proposal, especially the establishment of a Truth Commission to make findings of fact and international enforcement mechanisms to ensure Mr. Zelaya complies with the agreement, are worthy of serious consideration.

Mr. Zelaya’s irresponsible attempt on Friday afternoon to cross the border into Honduras before President Arias has obtained agreement from all parties—an attempt that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appropriately described as “reckless”—was just another example of why Mr. Zelaya cannot be trusted to keep his word.

Regardless of what happens, the worst thing the U.S. can do is to impose economic sanctions that would primarily hurt the poorest people in Honduras. Rather than impose sanctions, the U.S. should continue the wise policies of Mrs. Clinton. She is supporting President Arias’s efforts to mediate the issues. The goal is a peaceful solution that is consistent with Honduran law in a civil society where even the president is not above the law.

Mr. Micheletti, previously the president of the Honduran Congress, became president of Honduras upon the departure of Manuel Zelaya. He is a member of the Liberal Party, the same party as Mr. Zelaya.

Tuesday, July 21

A glass of water

Yesterday the first of many friends came rolling in for the big weekend. Nathan is getting married this weekend in Birmingham and friends and family from all over are coming in for the event. 2 of Nate’s “big sisters” from his Lipscomb dorm days came in; one from Washington state and one from Ohio. Summer Comfort (no, really, that IS her name) and Jen Wright are great friends and were in Margaret’s dorm at Lipscomb back in the day. When the two get together it is non-stop laughing and last night was no exception. We had 4 additional guests that came in which we were not expecting but were more than willing to have with us. They came with Jen Wright.

Gena Larios, who works with Torch / IRC in Honduras, her brother Carlos, and her mother and father, are in the states. They came when the unrest began and have been staying with friends in Ohio and West Virginia for the past couple of weeks. Gena used to work in the government under President Maduro and began working with us 3 years ago. Her mom is a dentist and her dad is a surgeon. It has been a great blessing to get to know the family better and to be hosts for such a wonderful family.

Last night we were all standing in the kitchen (not sure why, but that is where we decided to hang out) and Margaret offered refreshments. I had baked a cake (come on, guys can cook!) and we were asking if anyone wanted anything to drink. We were stocked up on diet Coke (if you know Margaret… enough said), Coke Zero, Coke, sweet tea, etc. Our Honduras friends simply wanted some water to drink (Weird, huh? Especially with sweet tea in the house). What happened next made me realize, once again, how much we take things for granted.

Margaret filled the glasses with ice and filled the glasses with water from the TAP. The Hondurans stared… glasses were handed out and the gringos began to drink. The Hondurans didn’t. At first. Drinking water from the tap. Drinking water from the TAP!!! In Honduras you could never do that and live. One glass from the tap and you are down for the count, doomed to a porcelain throne for hours upon hours screaming in agony and praying for relief. (Well, it does go something like that…..) Purified water from the tap. We drink it all of the time. We never think twice about it. And a well-educated and wealthy family from Honduras was amazed. Talking about taking things for granted.

Of course we spent a great deal of time talking about the political situation in Honduras. Most of us are well aware of what is going on, right? We are sympathetic to the cause, want the best for Honduras, and love the country and it’s people, right? Spend an evening listening to Hondurans talking about what is going on… and you realize right away that you are nothing more than an outsider looking in. There is no way we can relate with this event the way the people of Honduras are connecting with it. It was very obvious last night.

The depth of grief and anguish that they are going through touched me in a way I cannot explain. Not only that, but the things that they know that have happened that has not been reported amazed me as well. Since the new officials have been put into place, more and more is coming out down there as to what Mel has been doing behind the scenes. Officials are going over the books and records and the finances and are finding all kind of things that no one knew. A top secretary of the new government was killed this week (He was over the issuing of Identification cards, voting cards, etc) while he was going over the 500,000 names submitted for the vote on the changing of the constitution. Seems he was on to something and then suddenly died in the middle of the investigation. You won’t read about that in the news here…

So, for the time at least, Gena and her family will be in the United States, along with many other Hondurans, waiting to see what happens in this political game of cat and mouse. There is so much at stake, so much to win or lose. But as Mark and Lori Connell has said, the real losers in all of this are the poor of Honduras. It is during this time of the year that the most help comes in the form of mission teams. It is during this time of the year that so much is done… when hope becomes a reality. But because of politics, the poor suffer once again.

Please continue to pray for the leaders working on a solution to this crisis. Please pray that it will be found quickly so that family members can return home and missionaries can get back to their works. Please pray for peace and understanding and courage. For many of us, Honduras is not just a place in Central America, it is part of our lives and part of who we are… and there are many brothers and sisters in Christ who are family to all of us… and we miss them and hurt for them.

So, when you get that next glass of water to drink… remember how blessed you are!

TR

Tuesday, July 14

Dios bendice Honduras!

Last Friday about 25 hearty souls gathered at the Bi-Centennial Park in Nashville to march to the capitol for a peaceful protest of the way the world is reporting the events taking place in Honduras. It amazes me what a wide span is taken by the different news outlets covering the story. It also amazes me the views of the various political leaders around the world concerning the ousting of ex-president “Mel” Zelaya.

It is only after a couple of weeks that the facts have trickled into the news reports about what took place and why. Slowly, but surely, political stances are beginning to sway to the center and the world is becoming aware of all that has taken place in Honduras. But many still have strong biased opinions on the ousting of the president so we decided to make our voices heard last Friday.

Armed with a megaphone and several sheets of poster board, markers, and creativity and imagination, we walked from the park to the capitol building. No easy task, mind you, since we had to climb about 300 steps in a vertical climb that resembled the final assent to Mt. Everest. With no oxygen masks to be found, we gasped for air as we finally reached the steps of the capitol building. (Note: extreme exaggeration used in some of this article). With permit granted we assembled at the front of the capitol building to begin our quest of informing all those who passed by the true events taking place in Honduras.

The heat of the day was intense. The crowds were not. As a matter of fact, traffic on Friday was fairly light with just a few people walking the streets to get from point A to point B. That did not deter our band of mighty warriors and it did not dampen our spirits. With the loud siren blast from the megaphone (right when a State Trooper drove by no less) we announced to anyone that would listen that Honduras was fighting for Democracy. We had a blast and we made a statement.

I had several very interesting discussions with pedestrians passing by. Most were not aware of the events in Honduras even though it has been covered in the media. The vast majority said they kept up with the events for the first few days but quickly found newer and more pressing stories, like the death of hometown super star Steve McNair’s death. And quite honestly, if you have not been actively searching for news, you wouldn’t be able to find it. It has gone from front page to page 12 in a hurry.

Zelaya is not happy with the mediations that are going on right now. Even after just a few days (4) he is threatening to jump ship and handle the situation “his way” if an agreement is not reached this weekend. We need to continue to pray for Honduras and their current crisis and that the best for the country and its people is found. This crisis has kept literally thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of dollars from reaching those who really need it. Not to mention the missions of dollars being withheld by various banks and governments.

Sometimes you wonder if what you do makes a differnce. I can assure you it does. Word of our rally reached the Congress of Honduras. They sent us (Torch) an email expressing profound gratitude for what we did. They stated in the email that our efforts encouraged them and the stand that they have taken. With so many against what they have done, they are so glad to know that there are those of us who "get it." That, my friends, was worth the sweat and sunburns we earned that day. Viva Honduras!!!!

May democracy prevail and peace be restored soon. Dios bendice Honduras!

TR

Monday, July 6

peace march in Nashville for Honduras

There are peace marches taking place around the U.S. to show support to the Honduran congress and their decisions to oust the leftist president. Honduras is in the news but many, including myself, feel that there is a bias as to how the information is being presented. There is going to be a peace march in Nashville this Thursday at 1o:30 at the capitol building. Please come if you can. If you have been to Honduras, or support mission teams that go to Honduras, this march is for you. We need to stand up to let our elected officals know where we stand on the issues. Honduras went through a democratic process and removed a man who wanted to become a dictator.

Wear blue and white to support the interm president until the new elections are held!!!

Saturday, July 4

Just Video Clips!!!!

Hey all I promised some video clips so here you go!!!  Also for those that went on the trip I will be "borrowing" some pictures to put on the website so do not be surprised!!  Thank you all!!

This was one of the children who use to live at Casa de Esperanza but now lives with his parents and is doing well.  Isn't he adorable?   





These were some noise makers given to some of the children and they played us a song!!  It was Jesus loves me, I think?  Either way it was cute!!



Terry decided to go and buy pretty much every hotdog ever known to Honduras and it was probably a good thing he did!! I'm not sure He expected as many people to show up as did, but we had a lot to come which was AMAZING (my favorite word)!!!  So it was like feeding the 5000.

I hope you enjoy the few video clips!!  If I had more I would post them. I had some but they were acting funny when I put them on my computer so I'm not sure what the problem is.  Remember to pray for the Honduran people.  Love you all!!

Brandy B

Please please make sure to read Terry's post For July 4th It was great!!!!!!!!  Terry thank you for letting post these video clips and to everyone else thank you for reading/watching!!

Everyone is home safe and sound

A phone call from Tyler Steffy and an Email from Allen Burris and its official, the 2009 torch team has arrived home safely. On Monday, when news broke about all of the things taking place within the Honduran government and international reaction, we took on the daunting task of trying to find 98 airline tickets to get home early. Of course, there were several hundred other Americans trying to do the same thing. And over the course of 5 days we are all back, safe and sound, the weekend of our county’s birthday no less.

I was at Lipscomb University last night for an Acapella concert on the Allen mall, right in front of the bell tower. Great concert with about 2,000 in attendance. Paul Lewis and I debated the size of the crowd and I took it upon myself to make the call. I started off with 3,000 but decided I was exaggerating (I know, hard to believe), and backed it down to 2,000. Then, after the concert, we were treated to a magnificent fireworks show. This is the first time in 15 years for me to be in the states for the 4th of July and to see the fireworks brought tears to my eyes. (Again, hard to believe)

I was so proud to watch the fireworks and to watch the patriotic shows on TV today. Listening to the songs and watching all of the events made me realize, more than ever, what a very special place we live. So, happy 233rd birthday Uncle Sam! What a great day. To know and recognize the brave troops serving around the world to keep us safe is beyond my ability to express in words. I hope every one of us realizes how lucky we are and how blessed we are. God has indeed blessed us from sea to shining sea.

It also breaks my heart at the same time as I watch the news unfold about the events taking place in Honduras. I am shocked and stunned at the world’s attitude as a small country, practicing its democratic process, failed to back a government that is trying so hard to keep their democracy in tact in the mist of an ex president that wanted to become another leftist dictator in our hemisphere. The facts are overwhelming but it seems that many have turned a blind eye to facts and has embraced their emotions to reinstate a man who tried to break the laws of the land and then lies about it.

As Tom Beach, one of our board members, said in an email today, let us hope and pray that the turmoil in Honduras will be resolved quickly so that missionaries and mission teams can go back in to help the people of Honduras. There is so much to do but right now the best and most powerful thing we can do is pray. The fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)

In the next few days I will post the totals for the different projects we were able to accomplish during our short time in Honduras. God blessed us with good weather, a wonderful and secure place to live and work while we were there, and a team that has been nicknamed “The Dream Team.” There was such a unity of spirit and unity and purpose while we were there. The singing at devos was incredible and the way the team approached the daily work projects was just fantastic. I could not have asked for a better team than we had this year.

More to come so stay tuned. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!!!!


TR

Thursday, July 2

Last Day of Work

Today we said goodbye to most of the Benton, Kentucky group. After a short devotional lead by Aaron, we split into 2 groups. most of the team was on the construction crew, and about 6 or 8 people stayed at the mission house to pack stuff up to take to the bodega.

The construction crew had an awesome day today! the site was carved out of a rocky hillside. needless to say we had to dig a few holes for the posts out of the rock. Mark Connel and his boys helped us greatly in digging the holes and getting the house started. the only major obstacle we had was a large population of ants throughout the entire site. but we overcame the ants and were able to build the house in 3.5 hours. which is really really good time. afterwards, we went down to the road and handed out food, toys, clothing, and hygiene packs to the community and played with the kids for a while. we then loaded up the bus and truck and came back to the mission house and got here around 1:45 pm. we then helped the crew that packed up supplies here and loaded everything up and went to the bodega to put everything in storage. we unloaded and stored 1.5 buses in just over 2 hours. we were able to accomplish a lot today and God blessed us with a beautiful day to do it in.

tonight scott phillips lead some amazing singing and we had a short devotional lead by tyler steffy. tim hines and mark connel then talked to the group for a while about how much of an impact each member has and how much of an impact that we had even though our trip was cut short. it just shows what God can do with willing hearts. we are all leaving tomorrow with the exception of mark connel who will be flying out on saturday. i hope everyone is doing well and mark, tim, and terry will be keeping us all informed as to what the situation is in Honduras. please pray for this country and it's future. mark asked tonight if everyone could take an active role in supporting a democracy in honduras, so please call your congressman, or representatives, take part in marches in the states, or join groups or blogs that support a honduran democracy please. Thank you and God bless. TR will be taking over the blog from now on. Buenos Noches!

TS

Wednesday, July 1

keeping in touch

Just a short note from those of us that traveled home on Tuesday. Over half of our team left Tuesday to return to the states via 3 airlines; American, Continental, and Delta. Brian Steffy and Tim Hines went with us to the airport to assure we were able to check in without problems and to see us off. The early flight of American Airlines was delayed and left Tegucigalpa less than an hour before the second American Airlines light departed. Severe thunderstorms in Miami kept them from leaving on time. Continental and Delta left on schedule.

The Continental flight arrived in Houston on time and most of the team transferred to the early flight back to Nashville without any problems. Those of us on the second flight were delayed and arrived in Nashville nearly 3 ½ hours late. The connection flight on American from Miami to Nashville was also delayed and landed about 45 minutes late due to weather.

We were met at the airport by LOTS of family and friends to welcome us back home. It was a bittersweet moment since all of us left Honduras with heavy hearts. We were sad to leave Honduras knowing so much more could have been done and yet happy to see loved ones again that had been so worried about us. And of course all of us were thinking and praying for the
ones that were coming home in the days after us. Honduras has been all over the news and many, many people were worried about us. Thankfully those who have been reading the blogspot knew we were OK and filtered what they heard on the news with what we have been writing.

I spent no time in relaying to the parents and friends at the airport news about the trip and the REAL situation in Honduras. I am sure that everyone that came home will have their stories too and that it will not take long to know that we were safe and that the Honduran Congress did the right thing. It is so sad to think that the world sees former President Zelaya as a victim who needs to be put back into power. I am hopeful that on Thursday when the U.N. representatives comes in to Honduras that they will see what has been happening… a president who was setting himself up to become a dictator.
At least Sean Hannity gets it and I am glad he spoke about it Tuesday on his TV show.

Please continue praying for the remaining members of the team as they continue to work in Honduras. The amount of work that has been done during the brief time we have been there has been amazing (Brandy, did you catch that?). So far 5 houses have been built and well over 600 bags of food has been distributed. And, thanks to Brett, a section of road is now been rebuilt and stronger than ever! (Tyler, you can fill me in on all of the details when you get back….J)

Many thanks for all of the emails and Facebook postings of concern and support while we have been gone. I have spent most of today trying to respond to them all. I give Tim Hines and Mark Connell all the credit in the world for the great job that they have done keeping up with the news and making plans and arrangements for our group. Tim’s connections within the government of Honduras kept us a step ahead of everything as it developed.

Please keep our team in your prayers as the remaining members fly back home. And, please continue to pray for Honduras and its leaders as this political situation continues to unfold. God is good all of the time.


TR

The Day of the Late Rain

Today the Kittanning group left along with a few other people. We split into 2 groups today and had to get out of the Mission House early this morning. 1 crew lead by Mark Connell built a house today in just a few hours. Another crew lead by Brian Steffy and Brett Mitchell repaired a road all day. 

Today on the construction crew, it was much less muddy and slippery because there was not a river flowing through the site like yesterday. The team was amazing! we worked so fast that we had to wait for the tin truck to arrive. the house was done in about 5 hours. Everyone helped out. The "more mature" ladies did an excellent job on the floor and Erin and I even got on the roof, which was terrifying at first and then exhilarating. Maria, the woman that we were building the house for was very grateful and took every opportunity to hug everyone. the children were also very eager to help. most of the children were carrying loads twice as heavy as mine. the children were also very eager to get toys. Mark explained to the children that the toys were a gift from Jesus and to give thanks to God for them.

- Marah & Erin

Today on the road crew, we got to the site (where Brett got the truck stuck yesterday) and started digging the old drain pipe out (which broke yesterday). an old man took us down the mountain then to find the new pipe which was about 20 feet long, 2 feet in diameter, and 600 lbs. did i mention that he took us down a deer path to get there and expected our group of 4 girls and 7 guys to carry this pipe back up the 1.5 mile hill.... IMPOSSIBLE!! so Brett, Scott, and Carlos took off to find a new way while the rest of us hauled the pipe about .5 miles to a gate where the truck could then be attached to the pipe. Brian Steffy aka McGuyver, rigged up the pipe to the truck and rode on the pipe for about 2.5 hours to get the pipe 2 miles up the mountain. meanwhile, the rest of us were digging out the old pipe. many of the locals were helping us dig out the old pipe and clearing the way for the new one. after a long wait for the new pipe, it finally arrived and we hauled it the rest of the way to the site. once in place, we filled in the gaps with rocks, boulders, and mud. the old man was a bit of a perfectionist so we tried to meet his expectations...which at times was a little challenging moving 100 lb. boulders from one side of the pipe to the other. after everything was finished, we bought drinks for everyone who helped us today. we also passed out toys and toiletries to the families and played with the kids for a while, then headed back to the mission house. Mark had brought a man up from the Valley of Angels and he sold jerseys, hammocks, and other Honduran goods to the TORCHers who didn't get to do any shopping that are still here. Tim Hines lead singing tonight at devo and Allen Burris spoke. it was an amazing time of praise and the thunderstorm in the background just let us all know how awesome our God really is! 
God is good...All the time....and....All the time....God is good!!

Signing Off

T.S.