Most of you know that I have been a late night owl for years. Staying up has never been much of a problem for me. I developed this trademark skill at Freed-Hardeman while living in Benson Hall. Late night spades and Rook games along with lots of pranks and mischief developed my time clock to run late into the night. So, working as a dorm supervisor is right down my alley, so to speak. After all, curfew here at F-HU is 12:30 during the week and 1:00 on weekends. Once they guys are in the party gets going.
So, what do you do late at night when the Indians are quiet in their teepees (I guess that might be a politically incorrect illustration… oh well…)? Watch TV, write emails, read the news on the Internet. And this week I am going through BOXES of photos! So far I have sorted through 3 large boxes and about 900 photos. And most of them are from past Honduras trips and youth group. It seems that each sleeve of photos I pull out to look at the farther back in time I go. I will be sharing some of those photos in weeks to come. Oh my how some of us have changed over time!
What has really struck me about looking at the photos is how much Honduras has changed during this time period. Places that we work in today have grown up so much that looking at old photos makes you take a double take. Areas that look so barren in the photos back then are crowded bustling areas that we see today. Lots of photos caused me to look for several moments to try to figure out where the shot was taken. Many of the photos were taken in areas that we do not work (much) anymore. In most cases it is a safety issue that keeps us from going back or another group has adopted an area to work and we do not overlap our efforts. So as I post “retro” photos you will not only see faces you do not know (or haven’t seen for a long time) but different work sites too.
As we prepare for next year’s trips torch will continue to research areas to work. As more and more people move into the metro area seeking work new villages appear. Needs change. We try to adapt our team skills and personnel to minister in areas to our best potential. It can be quite challenging. Each year the make-up of our teams changes and we constantly adjust our plans as we prepare for the trip. Even right now I an in contact with several from all over the place discussing the possible make-up of the team this year.
Nathan and I are in communication going over budget numbers and projected numbers of people that might be coming. Indicators are showing that we are going to have a very large team this year. Large teams are great because it brings so much talent and energy to a trip. If a team is well organized and properly funded it can accomplish an amazing amount of work in a short period of time. It creates multiple opportunities each day to minister and to experience different aspects of a Torch trip.
As I have mentioned so many times before, Torch Missions is a multi-faceted ministry program. Those coming on a trip for the very first time have opportunities to do several different types of ministry as they find their “passion.” Veterans who have done the various projects not only know what they like to do they also know how to contribute to the team depending on what is needed that particular day. Ministry opportunities and projects vary from year to year but always try to utilize individual talent and meet needs that we encounter. Each year we actively seek volunteers, especially from the medical profession, to go with us on our trips, such as doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dentists, and eye doctors. Ministers, elders, youth ministers, teachers, electricians, and other professionals are also sought after for our trips.
Of course the backbone of the ministry is teens and young adults. Energy, excitement, strength, and desire along with intense zeal and passion to serve God and those in need are just a few of the things this group brings to the table on a trip. From the conception of Torch Missions, teaching and training teens and young adults about mission work in third world, Latin American cultures is the foundation upon which Torch has been built.
Way back in the 1980’s Steve Davison, who was the youth minister at the Vultee Church of Christ and Vice President at David Lipscomb University, and Miguel Agular, professor of Bible at Baxter Institute in Honduras, worked together to establish Torch Missions. The now familiar acronym, Training Of Redeemed Christians Heaven-bound, was conceived and the program was built upon the premise of training young people how to do mission work in developing, Hispanic countries. Honduras was chosen as the training site for several reasons including safety, need, and having the campus of Baxter as a base for operations.
In the earliest days of Torch, 20 years ago, a single team would arrive in Honduras and would set up shop at Baxter. The guys lived on campus in the dorms with the students who attended the school to be trained to become preachers. The girls lived off campus with church family members. I will talk about that more in future blogs. The Torch team was in Honduras about 3 - 3 1/2 weeks and would do a variety of projects. Included with the “hands on” training projects were daily classes that the team attended. These classes included Spanish classes (I did ever so well in that class!!!), culture class (to learn about the Latin culture), and Bible classes.
Teams stayed on campus nearly half the day in this setting and then half of the day out in the community doing service type projects or door knocking with the Baxter students. Interaction with the Baxter students was a very important part of our work in Honduras. For us, it was a chance to work with preaching students who served as interpreters for our team. For the students, it was a way to practice their English since they had to take 4 years of English classes. We all of our meals together at the Baxter cafeteria and also had combined devotionals in English and Spanish. We also got toexperience the "light out at 10:00" cerfew that the students lived by... along with the ice cold showers!
Since we had VERY little work fund money our projects mainly involved evangelism and visitation. Construction mainly centered on simple repair projects. We did a lot of painting and cleaning, along with a heavy dose of visitation to schools and orphanages that was within walking distance of campus. Walking was our main mode of transportation back then. When a project took us farther than walking distance we rode of public transit. It was very cheap (50 centavos… about 5 cents) and was CRAZY. Riding with the Hondurans on a packed bus cannot be described with words. Riding with chickens, men with machetes with 80 other people on a bus meant to hold 40 is describable. The smells and the sounds are not… and we will leave it at that! But it was crazy fun and quite the adventure. We would ride the bus and get off as close to a work site as possible and then hike it from there.
We have come a long way since then. Torch has changed dramatically over the years but it is still built upon the same foundation in which it was started; Training people and enabling people to do mission work in a developing, Latino culture. We may not offer Spanish and culture classes anymore (you can thank me for that later) nor do we use the Baxter campus (our teams outgrew their facility several years ago), but we do go into the communities in and around the city of Tegucigalpa ministering to their needs and spreading the good news about Jesus.
I hope you will enjoy the photos and the “history” lessons in the following weeks. 20 years is a long time to be involved in something. In some ways it is amazing that someone like me with gypsy-like tendencies could stay on a task for 20 years. I might have moved from place to place and worked at different jobs along the way, but one thing that I have carried with me everywhere I have gone is Torch Missions. It is something that touched my heart and changed my life. And like any good salesman would tell you, it is easy to sell something that you believe in.
And I believe in Torch Missions. If you don’t believe me, just spend a little bit of time around me. It doesn’t take very long before you will her all about it.