Our Mission Statement

Wednesday, June 30

Boxes Boxes Boxes

So as many of you know the advance team has now landed in Honduras and hit the ground running. A group of about 12 of us landed yesterday and about 15 more joined us today. It already feels like there's a lot of us and most of the group hasn't even left for the airport yet! We've already begun working by organizing the mountains of boxes that we shipped down for the trip. Our medical and hygiene supplies are already here at the mission house. We even had time today to visit Hospital Escuela for an hour or two after picking up the 15 of our group that came in today. If you're trying to imagine a Honduran hospital take the worst U. S. hospital you know of, remove the walls or curtains separating patient beds, forget about the hand washing protocols, and throw in about double the number of people you normally see and you start to get a feel for what it's like. The hardest part for me was the fact that there were simply too many people for us to give everyone something. We walked in loaded with beads, coloring pages, crayons, stuffed animals, tracts, etc. and we left with almost nothing. I still remember a little guy who was upset at me when I gave my last stuffed dog to the girl beside him. On the other hand it was amazing how open these people were about everything. Nowhere else can you have such in depth conversations with total strangers. Regardless I've had a taste of the country and I'm ready for more. Pray for us. We will be busy.
-Chris Wright

Monday, June 28

Here we go!

Monday, June 28th. This is the last blog before I write to you from Honduras! In just a few minutes we will be on our way to Memphis to spend the night at one of Margaret's sister's house and to get some rest before our flight. Tomorrow 12 advance team members will leave (4 from Memphis and 8 from Nashville) and begin the trip. The second wave lands on Wednesday with Nate and Karen, along with 13 others. 120 arrive on Thursday and 8 arrive on Saturday. We will pretty much be running an airport shuttle to and from the airport while we are there!

Let's go over departure procedures one more time... just want to make sure everyone is on the same page before you leave:

* Print your flight information. Take it with you to the airport.
* Check in on line. If you have an electronic ticket you can probably check in on line. Margaret and I did on Continental and it took about 10 minutes. Now all we have to do is show up, present our passports, and we are good to go.
* Make sure to wear your Torch t-shirt for the flight. It will be much easier to keep up with everyone that way and besides, we have cool t-shirts to wear!
* Arrive at least 2 hours before your departure time. Flights are sold out and it will take a while to check in (even if you checked in on line).
* Make sure your bags are color coded.
* Make sure each bag has a name tag.
* MAKE SURE YOU KEEP UP WITH YOUR BAGGAGE CLAIM NUMBER! When you arrive in Honduras you MUST have the luggage claim number,security will not allow you to leave the baggage area unless they match the luggage claim number you have with the one on the bag.

On the flight that will be arriving in Honduras, the flight crew will pass out 2 different forms that you will have to fill out before you land. The form I posted on this blog is not the actual form but it is similar. Here is information you will need to know so that you fill out the form properly (you might want to print this article or at least copy this part down):

* Have a pen with you, you will need one to fill out the form!
* The forms are in Spanish and English. Take your time filling them out. Write your name as it appears on your passport.
* Keep your passport handy and easy to get to, you will need it to fill out the form
* When you write down your birth date, make sure to write the DAY, then the month, then the year. (it is different than the way we usually do it)
* Destination: Tegucigalpa, Honduras
* Address you will be staying: Villa Gracias, El Hatillo, KM 8
* You are traveling as a TOURIST (don't mark anything else!)
* Your flight number will be on your boarding pass (American will be Flight #954; Continental #756; Delta is #551)
* If it asks for your occupation, give general description (student, minister, counselor, teacher, business woman, etc)

When you go through customs, have the 2 forms you filled out inside your passport. Speak to the customs officers in English, they probably speak English and if not, it will speed your way through since they will know you do not speak Spanish... (unless you speak Spanish of course). Once through the customs lines, you will enter the baggage area. We will gather all of the luggage in one area. Help if you can but don't worry too much about identifying your bag at first. We will be grabbing orange handled bags and stacking them off to the side. Once we have all of the bags find yours and go to the X-Ray machine. Once your bags have cleared you will go to another check point and the security guards will check your baggage claim numbers. Once you have cleared this area you will pass though a large classed wall into the main terminal.

The advance team will be waiting outside the classed wall wearing grey Torch shirts. They will help you with your luggage and show you where your bus is parked. Once your bag is loaded onto the truck or bus, go straight to the bus and wait there. We will have someone there to collect your $20 and giving you a packet of Limperias for your lunch and shopping. Once the roll call is checked and we know everyone is there that is riding that particular bus you will leave and go eat lunch at an American fast food restaurant and then go the the grocery store. Once everyone has bought their snacks and lunch foods the bus will head up the mountain to the Mission House. Once you arrive you will go the main chapel for rules and orientation.

Sounds easy, right? It will be if you follow the instructions. otherwise, it will be complete and utter chaos! If we are voting, I vote for neat and organized. Good luck, we look forward to seeing you in Honduras in just a couple of days! If in doubt, find a seasoned veteran flying on the same flight as you and ask away. It will help you feel more secure on the flight and it will make them feel important. It is a win / win for everyone. Take care and get ready, it is about to begin! Torch Missions 2010, reporting for duty!


Saturday, June 26

I guess you could call this the calm before the storm. Today we issued out the last of the 14 duffel bags we packed a few days ago full of the meds and last minute supplies going down to Honduras. Friday morning we drove over to Dr. Schwartz's office to pick up another couple of boxes of meds that came in that we have been expecting. We shipped those meds, along with other supplies, back to Nashville with Brandon Mann who was here this past week for soccer camp. And as crazy as it has been , we are still hoping that the children's chewable vitamins that we ordered might still arrive before we head down to Hondo. So, everyone flying out of Nashville on Thursday, make sure you have enough room in your suitcase or backpack for a large bottle of vitamins in case they come in! If they do Gayna and Jenny Taylor will be bringing them to the airport (80 pounds worth of vitamins) that will need to be distributed. It just doesn't get much crazier than this!

For the meteorologists out there, the tropical storm that was threatening to turn into a hurricane off the coast of Honduras has moved northwest and will be making landfall between Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The northeastern coast of Honduras did receive a lot of rain today but it looks as if Hondo will be spared the brunt of the storm. I for one was quite nervous since the advance team is to fly down on Tuesday. But as of now it looks like we will have clear sailing down the Teguc and begin the work. We have actually been in Honduras during a hurricane so nothing really surprises us much anymore, it is just part of the trip.

Joe Jones emailed me and told me that he went to Wal-Mart and bought a handy dandy vacuum system that sucks out all of the air in items like clothes that you are packing to take down to Honduras. He said it made quite a difference in the space he has in his bags and recommends it to anyone out there that might be struggling to figure out how to close and zip your suitcase! (Sorry, it doesn't help with shoes....) I know a lot of people are already packing for Honduras and I just want to remind everyone to be aware of the weight restrictions for luggage and to make sure you have your suitcase / bag handles color coded with the orange tape and the colored tape of your flight (red for American, Yellow for Continental, and blue for Delta).

When you arrive in Honduras make sure to have $20 that is easy to get to... we will have $20 packets of Limperias ready for you at the airport. The $20 exchange will give you enough money to buy lunch on Thursday and to go to the grocery store to buy lunch items and snacks for the first few days that you are in Teguc. Don't go crazy at the grocery store, you will only need to buy stuff for lunches for Friday and Saturday. We will be going out to eat on Sunday for lunch and dinner. You will have a chance to shop again on Sunday for the next week. Remember, the Torch banking system exchanges money in $20 packets... help make banking to be a simple and easy system. Also remember, EVERYONE will deposit their money, passports, and other valuable items (credit cards, driver's licenses, social security cards, etc) into the bank. We do not want to take a chance on any one's valuables being lost or stolen. Since we are dividing into 2 teams we will have an Alpha and Omega bank. The banks will be available every time you will need to have money.

Because of the size of our group and the way the rooms are designed at the Mission House, we ask you to be very gracious and understanding about rooming assignments. In most cases, the rooms will be at capacity and their will be VERY little room to store luggage and to spread out. This will only be a temporary situation since Tuesday, July 6th the first team will split off to go to Catacamas (about 45). Wednesday, July 7th the Choluteca team will depart (about 65) along with a small team that will be working in Santa Ana (7). That will leave about 40 at the Mission House and all of us will have some breathing room for the duration of the trip. If things begin to get to you just take a deep breath and sing The Greatest Command to yourself (just the soprano part... you can't sing all 4 parts at one time to yourself....).

I will post 1 more blog on Monday to go over last minute packing suggestions, reminders, etc. Hopefully you have received your Torch t-shirts to wear down on the flight, have bought your insect repellent with DEET, sunscreen, and the other items on the suggested packing list, and numerous other things that you have thought of that was not on anyone's list! I will actually pack my bags tomorrow (Sunday), a full 24 hours before I have too! I marked off the last "to do" off my list today (1st time in 20 years I can honestly say I have completed everything needed this far in advance) and am actually planning on getting sleep before I fly down on Tuesday (another first).

The time is near, the tasks are at hand. Months of plans and prayers are about to be put into action. We have 160 people ready to go and are excited and anxious to put the hand to the plow. The army of The One is about to deploy and hit the ground running. We are about to find out what 160 missionaries can do when they are focused, poised, and ready to work. Our mission is simple: live, work and breathe Matthew 25. We will give God the Father all of the glory and we will seek to be humble servants serving to be the hands and feet of Jesus for 11 days. We will work with each other and we will serve those whom the Lord has prepared for us to serve. We will lift each other up and we will not allow Satan to defeat us. Neither snow or rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. OK, that is the postal service's motto, but change a couple of words and it works for us too (besides, I am not sure they use this motto anymore....)! Neither rain, or heat, or mosquitoes, or gloom of day or night, nor mud or intense sun or lack of sleep will keep us from the swift and compassionate completion of our appointed work. And the Torch group said, Amen!


Thursday, June 24

Here ye, hear ye

I have received a lot of emails asking about shots, malaria pills, etc. the past several days. Maybe addressing the questions collectively will be easier. So, here we go.

First, I need to talk about a red alert the U.S. has put out on it's travel site. Honduras has issued an emergency alert for Dengue Fever. This is a virus that is carried by the striped Aedes aegypti mosquito and is common to tropical and subtropical regions (like Central America). It is a common ailment with the Wold Health Organization reporting over 50,000,000 cases a year. It is not contagious and can only be spread by mosquito bites, which happen during daylight hours since the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is a daytime bitter. It carries flu like symptoms with fever, rash, headache, and aching joints. It usually takes 3-15 days before one realizes they have the virus. There is no specific medical treatment or antibiotic for the virus, the typical treatment is rest with lots of fluids. There is currently 10,000 cases of Dengue Fever in Honduras, which is approximately less than 1% if the population. Since it is rainy season in Honduras their will be mosquitoes out and about.

It is very important that EVERYONE bring insect repellent with DEET. Wearing long sleeved t-shirts and pants will be encouraged. I know that this sounds threatening, but remember that Dengue Fever outbreaks happen every year in Honduras and all over the world. It usually infects people in low lying areas and those with weak immune systems that do not have insect repellent. By taking proper precautions we have a minimal risk of getting sick.

Malaria pills are not required for the trip. However, some people choose to bring the medicine which is perfectly OK. Malaria is also carried by mosquitoes and the symptoms of the 2 viruses are very similar. Malaria is carried by the Anopheles mosquito. Malaria pills will not prevent or treat Dengue Fever. If you have any doubts or questions, contact your doctor and make an appointment before you leave. Bringing and using insect repellent will be the key to working this trip. Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Tim and Mark reported Wednesday that our container arrived and was unloaded at the warehouse! This is very good news, especially since we loaded and sent out the container over 6 weeks ago. The advance team will sort and organize supplies when we arrive on Tuesday. By the time the main team arrives on Thursday we should be set and ready to roll. We will still have a ton of stuff to sort, pack, bag, label, and prep before we launch out full force on Friday. Our first 2 full days will be packed with projects. During the first 2 days we will build 7 houses, conduct a VBS and medical clinic, do a food distribution, and have a carnival for a children's home. Ever heard of the movie Fast and Furious? Ha! Nothing compared to what we are going to do!

I have the emergency contact information for the trip. PLEASE REMEMBER, THESE NUMBERS ARE FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY. To call Honduras, you have to dial the numbers exactly as they are written:

Tim Hines: 011-504-9892-7672
Mark Connell: 011-504-9858-5397
Lori Connell: 011-504-9858-6208
Villa Gracia (Mission House) 011-504-211-8210
Terry Reeves: reeves.tl@gmail.com
Nathan Reeves: ncreeves@gmail.com

I will be posting again this weekend. As the days wind down before our trip we want to make sure all of the last minute things are covered. the excitement is in the air, I am seeing it on Facebook postings and in the emails. I am getting phone calls and and visits too. And from the feedback I have received, the t-shirt design seems to be a hit. I believe it is one of the best looking t-shirts we have ever had on a trip. It certainly is a conversation starter! i wore mine to church Sunday night and had several come up trying to figure out what the letters were on the back. Once I explained it to them they were amazed that they did not figure it out themselves! So, I leave you with this one, RUE2B4HM?


Tuesday, June 22

more trip information

Today was another busy day here in Henderson, TN. Busy in the fact that I had tasks to do, but I was running at a slower pace today. It was kind of weird, actually, since the past 3 weeks I have been going at break neck speed. I had some shirts that needed to be embroidered today and the lady that does that for me lives out in the county, about 15 miles outside Henderson near Chickasaw State Park. I was driving my Mustang today and usually on the winding country roads I love zooming down the roads and hugging the curves in the road (I am pretty sure my Mustang enjoys it too, I am one with my car). Besides, I get their quicker. But today I took my time and enjoyed the drive and the scenery. I dropped off my shirts and was told they would be ready on Thursday. Perfect. Then it was off to Jackson to go to the Party Store to pick up clown wigs, clown noses, goofy sunglasses, for the Patch Adams project. I also found games for the carnival, stickers, toys, and all kinds of stuff. It was a very productive day.

A couple of days ago I posted a listing of things everyone needs to bring with them (forks, spoons, bowls, etc). We went to Wal-Mart yesterday and found white plastic bowls 4 for $1.00! We also found a 4 pack of metal forks for $1.00 and a 4 pack of metal spoons for $1.00! We got everything on the list for $10, so hopefully you guys will find similar deals too. For that matter, if you decide to buy some extra stuff, I am pretty sure it can be used! Also, I have heard that some of the team members are doing an "unofficial" drive to bring down soccer cleats to give away. If you have cleats, or know anyone that has good used ones to give away, feel free to join in. We are looking for smaller sizes.

Brandy Barnett reminded me to post a note about digital cameras. If you bring a digital camera make sure to bring your cable so that we will have to ability to down load photos onto our computers while we are down there. Brandy works with us on the communication team and posts articles and photos on this blog. Since we cannot be everywhere at the same time we will be relying on team members to get photos of work sites and activities to post on the blog. By the way, make sure you give family members, friends, classmates, church members, (pretty much anyone other than complete strangers) this blog address so that they will be able to keep up with the team while we are in Honduras! We will try to update the blog everyday to keep people back home informed.

For those of you that received packets from us, you should have found a note from Margaret with your name label. The name label goes on the outside of your passport ABOVE the word passport. This really helps us when we are sorting passports or passing them out (we don't have to open each passport to find the name). Margaret also asked me to remind team members with NEW passports to make sure you sign them before arriving at the airport!!!! Some of the passport copies that we have received do not have signatures. If you are with a group, your group leader probably has your label. If you do not have one, we will make one for you when we get to Honduras.

Several of you have asked about dress codes for the trip. Although we do not have an official dress code, we certainly have some parameters that we want everyone to go by while in Honduras. Shorts are allowed on the trip, but they must be long (near the knee) and loose (comfortable) fitting. Tank tops are not permitted (except in you dorm room). The same would be true for cut off t-shirts. (This is true for the guys and the girls). Sorry, the gun show has to be kept under wraps. Jeans and light weight pants are recommended, Christian t-shirts are encouraged. Rain jackets are highly recommended because it is rainy season and it will probably rain every day that we are there. Closed toe shoes are required at any work site or work project. Sandals and flip flops are restricted to the Mission House / hotel property.
Everyone will have the opportunity to swim near the end of the trip. Whether you do or not is totally up to you. If you choose to swim, the following guidelines must be applied: Girls must wear a modest 1 piece swim suit. If you bring a 2 piece suit, you must wear a dark t-shirt over it. If you wear a t-shirt (guy or girl), it CANNOT be made of cotton. All suits (guys and girls) and t-shirts must be synthetic material (An Under Armor type fabric). The pool filtration systems in Honduras must be sensitive because we are told every year not to wear cotton in the pools. So, no jean cut offs, cotton shorts, cotton t-shirts (even 50-50 material). Guys, no Speedo suits. (I just threw that in so that the girls wouldn't think that I was singling them out on the modesty issue).

Much more to come. Please do not hesitate if you have a question, especially if it is something you need clarified or something I have not covered. I am so looking forward to seeing you all in just a few days.


Sunday, June 20

Things to know when you are flying the friendly skies

This week you will receive by mail. or group leader, your Torch t-shirt and journal. Also, if you ordered a Torch water bottle you will receive that as well. You should also receive plastic tape that we will be using as identification bands for our luggage. Every piece of checked luggage should have an orange band of plastic tape which will identify the bag as a Torch missions bag. When we arrive in Tegucigalpa it will help find our baggage quickly among all of the other luggage that arrived with other passengers. It is VERY IMPORTANT that every bag have orange tape on the handle. Also, you will have another band of tape on your suitcase handle. If you fly American you will also have a RED band, YELLOW for Continental, and blue for Delta. This will help us sort the bags once we get to the Mission House. If you did not receive tape in your package don't worry, there will be people at the airport the day you depart to help you out. Just make sure your bags are color coded before you check the bags in. If you have any questions about checked luggage, weight limits, extra charges, etc, refer back to the March 1st article.

Just a kindly reminder that everyone going on the trip needs to go shopping for some things that we need for the trip. 1 box of gallon size zip lock storage bags; 1 box quart size zip lock storage bags; 1 bottle of baby shampoo; 1 bottle of de-tangler / cream rise; 8-12 bars of soap; 2 hard plastic soup bowls; 3 metal forks and 3 metal spoons. By farming this out to 150 people we can collect the needed supplies, spread out the wright of the items into 150 separate bags, and save save enough money from the work fund to do an extra food distribution or build an extra house. The June 14th blog has the recommended packing list in case you missed it.

I found a very good article the other day called "The 10 Commandments of Flying." I think all of us need to read it over, it has some great tips and advise. I could not have said it better myself!

1. Look like a pro at the security check-point: For goodness sakes, be ready for the X-Ray scanner before you get there! Have keys, loose change, cell phone, etc. stored in your backpack BEFORE you get to the table where the bins are located. Have your shoes off and your belt off.... they will make you take them off so go ahead and do it before you reach the table! Keep your passport and boarding pass in hand as you go through the scanner. Once your bag passes through the X-Ray machine, grab your bag, shoes, belt, and move away from the rollers and redress. The faster you go through the faster the rest of us get through.
2. Hurry up and wait? When the announcement is made that the plane is about to board, don't jump up and rush to the line to get on the plane. There is no prize for getting on the plane first. You will still be sitting in the same assigned seat whether you are the first or last to board the plane. Wait till your group is called, it makes boarding much smoother and less stressful. Besides, you look pretty stupid standing in the line when you could still be seating in the lounge chair finishing up your Dr. Pepper.
3. Learn to count! You are allowed ONE carry on baggage and ONE personal item, usually a purse, briefcase, etc. This does not mean 1 carry on, 1 personal item, 1 hoodie, 1 pillow, 1 shopping bag, 1 water bottle, 1 blanket, a sandwich and Diet Coke. Be courteous, especially if you are wearing one of those nifty mission t-shirts... people tend to notice you.
4. It is what it is! A "carry on" is just that... a bag that can be carried onto the plane. It should not be so big that you smash the passengers seated on the isle seat as you struggle down the isle to get to your seat. It also should not be so heavy that you have to enlist the help of body builders nearby to get the bag into the overhead compartment. If it is too heavy for YOU to lift, it is too heavy. Also, if your carry on bag has to be slammed, jammed, and shoved into the overhead bin, it is too big. Don't be "that person" that breaks these rules. People notice.
5. De-leverage. When you have to get up from your seat during the flight, don't grab the seat in front of you to pull yourself up. No one wants to suddenly get pulled backwards in their seat so use your hand rests to stand up! Yes, you can do it.
6. Look back Jack! If you get the urge to recline your seat, look back! No one likes to get a laptop shoved into their chest or a hot cup of coffee dumped into their lap because you reclined your seat into their personal space without any notice. Unexpected courtesy is always appreciated. Besides, it is only 3 or 4 inches for you... so take a peak before going back.
7. Not so loud. If you are traveling in a group, please remember you are not the only ones on the plane. People enjoy their space and they enjoy their peace and quiet. Keep your stories, jokes, and talking down so that everyone will enjoy the flight, and not be aggravated at you.
8. Be polite. Chances are there will be people sitting all around you. Stay seated as much as possible. Please ask to be excused if you have to ask someone to move for you to get out into the isle. Say please and thank you to the stewards or stewardesses when the serve you. It is the least you can do. Leave your grumpy pants at home... they are unbecoming on you.
9. Clean up after yourself! Flight attendants constantly walk by collecting trash during the flight. Throw your stuff away! Nobody wants to see trash stuffed into the pocket of the seat in front of you.
10. Get ready... get set.... wait. Just like there is no prize for being the first on the plane, there is not a prize for the first person to stand up once the plane is parked. The etiquette is quite simple: exit by rows. If you are on row 23, take a chill pill and wait your turn. If you want to be one of the first to get off a plane, cough up the extra money ahead of time and buy a first class ticket so that you can sit in the first 3 rows. After all, you still have to wait, and wait some more, for your luggage at the luggage carousel!

By doing these 10 things, you will not only fly like a pro you will not be remembered as the one that..... well, you fill in the blank. If you are going to make an impression, make a good one.

I will be posting emergency phone contact information, how to fill out the forms to enter Honduras, along with other important information in the next few days. For the advance team, 8 days and counting! For the main team, 10 days and counting. My check off list for Monday has 18 things on it... and Monday will be considered a slow day for me! This week will fly by and I just hope I have enough time, energy, strength, patience, and will power to make it though without a melt down. But the adrenaline is pumping and the excitement is building! And I need the U.S. to win their World Cup qualifier match on Wednesday!!!! Can I get an amen out there? It is going to be a great week. Talk to you again soon.


Thursday, June 17

I can't wait

Thursday, June 17th, 10:00 pm. Life is good.

* Meds ordered for the medical clinic came in Monday. Check.
* I got a phone call from Tim Hines from Honduras yesterday, our container is in Tegucigalpa and should be unloaded into the warehouse this weekend. Check.
* T-shirts arrived from Indiana today. Look GREAT. Check.
* Torch water bottles arrived. Look GREAT. Check.
* Picked up journals and song books from the printer in Jackson. Looks GREAT. Check.
* Tim ordered 2,000 Spanish Bibles. Check.
* Got a phone call from the other printer, Barnabas notes and Spanish songbooks are ready to pick up tomorrow. check.
* Send checks to Healing Hands International to pay for container; check to Barlow sports Jersey for t-shirts; check to Mid-South Solutions for water bottles; already paid for journals and songbooks; already paid for meds; already paid for dental clinic supplies. Check.
* Katie Wells, Katie Gooch, Brandon McKay (student here at Freed), Margaret and I sorted and boxed up all of the t-shirts, water bottles, and journals that are going to be mailed out Friday. Everyone should get their stuff early next week. Check. In other words, my "stressed out over my head" list is shrinking rapidly! I might even get a good night's sleep tonight.

Margaret is still collecting last minute paper work and confirming last payments. Her list is getting shorter but some of you are making life difficult for her. You just can't imagine what it is like trying to round up applications, rules sheets, Spanish release forms, photocopies of passports, photos, letters of recommendation, essays, and payments foe 160 people. And to make rooming assignments. You really don't know. If you did, you would have done all of this a long time ago and you would have made her life so much easier. Between the two of us... we are spent. Our batteries are low and the candle has been burned at both ends. But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and unless it is a freight train coming at us at 100 miles per hour, we are about to see the end. And at the end is where the trip begins. and for that we are very excited.

Katie Wells and Katie Gooch gave us a burst of energy that we needed! Once we get everything mailed out we have a week to just get ready for the trip. I am truly getting excited and Tim shared a lot of new ideas that our team might be able to do. New places and new faces that will make the trip refreshing and new, even for some of our long standing veterans. That makes me even more excited. I think we have a great trip planned and it will be such a joy and blessing to work in Honduras again.

I can't wait to see old friends and meet new ones. I Can't wait to see our buses and bus drivers. I can't wait to see the city; smell the diesel fumes; hearing the honking of car horns. I can't wait to look down from the Jesus statue and walk around the streets of the Valley of the Angels. I can't wait to sort beans and crank up the chainsaws and smell fresh cut wood. I can't wait to sing at evening devos with my eyes closed. I can't wait to take a shower with Honduran "hot water." I can't wait to eat beans and rice and eat fresh fruit for breakfast. I can't wait to wake up and be in the middle of a cloud passing by while we are up at the Mission House. I can't wait to stay up late talking to friends and waking up with the roosters crowing and the dogs barking. I can't wait to drink water from a bag and eat Gorditos. I can't wait to see the children with those big brown eyes. These are the things I am looking forward to. I can't wait!

13 days my friends. 13 days till we land in a very special place. If you are a first time rookie, you have to use your imagination to see what I am talking about right now. If you are a returning veteran, you have to use your imagination to SEE what I am talking about right now. It is all about perspective. Open my heart to what You know. So that I might stretch, so that I can grow. My feelings toss me to and fro. Open my heart to what You know. Open my eyes to what You see. To understand what I should be. My feelings get the best of me. Open my eyes to what You see. Open my ears to what You hear. So I can keep You very near. My feelings make it so unclear. Open my ears to what You hear.


Monday, June 14

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Has anyone out there noticed how fast the days are passing by, or is it just me? I keep getting e-mails from people saying that they can't wait for the trip and it can't get here fast enough, while I am sitting here trying to slow things down and squeezing every second out of the day! Margaret and I are averaging about 7 hours a day on Honduras stuff right now, not to mention all of the other stuff we do. Steve Kemp and I were talking the other day and have decided that we can't wait to get to Honduras to enjoy the slower pace down there! And anyone who has been down there can attest, the pace is not slow in Honduras!

As far as updates are concerned, I am happy, grateful, thrilled, pumped, and jubilant to tell you that the container is in Honduras! It arrived in port late last week and hopefully Mark Connell and Tim Hines are in the process of getting it to Tegucigalpa. Unless something goes terribly wrong, which it should not, our supplies will be in the warehouse waiting on us when we get there. I have pretty much marked it off of the "stressed out of my head" list. T-shirts are done and will be shipped to me Tuesday and should be in my hands Thursday. I spoke with the printers and everything is still on track to be done Thursday for me to pick up. Water bottles are supposed to arrive Thursday also. I ordered $6,000.00 of medicines for our clinic this year and the medicines have already arrived. This will be the best stocked pharmacy we will have ever had on a trip! I have talked with Mark Connell and all of our buses, vans, trucks, drivers, etc are set and ready to go.

So, Thursday will be a very busy day for us here. I am hoping to have some volunteers here Thursday afternoon to help sort, count, and box up t-shirts, journals, water bottles, etc. so that we can get them in the mail Friday. If all of that happens as planned, the vast majority of the "stressed out of my head" list will be crossed off and I will be a happy camper. Friday I also go to the bank to order my money. For large withdrawals, you have to order money a week in advance to make sure they have enough on hand to fill our need and to service the regular daily customers. I will then head over to Nashville this weekend for the last fund raiser Western Hills church is doing and attend Erin Mann and Eric Yow's wedding. Yes, this is the same Erin and Eric who will be with us on the trip this year! Talk about dedication!!! Will and Allison West, you might have started a trend.

HERE IS THE PACKING LIST FOR THE TRIP. Anything in BOLD is either required or highly recommended... everything else is just important.

Bible; toilet paper; Pepto Bismol; toothbrush; tooth paste; soap; hand-wipes; hand sanitizer; Imodium; shaving cream / razor; wash cloth; extra towel (towel is provided at the mission house and hotels); deodorant; Q-tips; insect repellent (Cactus Juice brand highly recommended); vitamins; PASSPORT; camera; film / memory cards; deck of cards, rain jacket; watch (water proof); work clothes (disposable); personal medicines; hammer; flip flops (for the shower); work shoes (2 pair of closed toed shoes); work gloves (disposable); laundry bag / large trash bag; flash light; alarm clock; duct tape; spending money ($100 - $150+); Hat; water bottles; sunscreen (psf 20+); paper / pencil / pen; backpack; Spanish / English dictionary; snack foods; Gatorade / Kool-Aid / Crystal Light; pocket knife; sunglasses; Sharpie; Band-aids

Besides the items listed on the packing list, we need everyone to spend a little bit of money and bring the following things with you for the trip. the items listed did not make it onto the container before it was shipped that we need for the different projects we will be doing. You will be able to get all of this stuff easily for under $20. Shop wisely, some of this stuff will be cheapest at the dollar stores instead of Wal-Mart:

1 box of gallon size zip lock storage bags; 1 box of quart size zip lock storage bags; 1 bottle of baby shampoo; 1 bottle of de-tangler / cream rinse for children; 8-12 bars of soap; 2 hard plastic soup bowls (white if possible); 3 metal forks and spoons.

The zip locks are for the food give aways and the hygiene packets that we will make and give away at the medical clinics. The shampoo and cream rinse will be for the girl's "make over" project called Daughters of the King. Our team of volunteers will be going into a village and do a "day spa" for the little girls in the village. We will wash hair, do fingernails, toe nails, give out costume jewelry, and give each girl a t-shirt that will say "I am a daughter of the King!" and a new pair of flip-flops. The soap and shampoo will also be given away in the hygiene packets. The bowls and silverware will be given to a feeding center (The Manna Project) that serves hot meals to 100-200 children a day. In other words, the money you spend for this stuff is going to make a huge difference in someone's life!

Now, that covers what you are supposed to pack. There are several things that you are asked not to bring on this trip. Everything we do is for a purpose, and we ask everyone to adhere to these requests. We are on a media fast during the trip. Things that distract you from the focus of this trip are discouraged. We want you to be focused on the trip and meeting and mixing with the team members while on the trip. Please do not bring the following:

Cell-phones (you can use your cell phone for an alarm clock ONLY); lap top computers; Walkmans; I-Pods; books or magazines; hand held electronic games; etc.

We will have computers set up at the Mission House for people to use from time to time to send e-mails back home. There will be sign-ups to use the computers and a time limit per person. Remember, there will be 160 of us on the trip. You will not be able to use the computer every day and the amount of time you have on the computer will be very limited. For those on the trip that must have access to the computer (college students taking on-line classes, adults who have to access the computer for work purposes, etc) we will have additional computers set up for you to use. In addition, we will have emergency phones that we can use to call the States if needed. Please remember, the blog will be updated daily and people back home will be able to keep up with us and read about the activities, projects, and ministries that take place.

Much more information will be coming as the trip grows ever closer. Please e-mail me if you have any questions or comments. If you are a group leader please make sure this information is passed on to your team. The count down has started. 16 days and counting! Mark Connell / Larry Sawyer's trip just finished up with their trip this past weekend. Tim Hines / Gayle Davidson's team arrived and is on the ground now. Things are rolling and great things are being done in the name of Jesus. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!


Tuesday, June 8

Mas agua por favor!

Last Thursday I decided to do a final fund raiser for the work fund. Jenny Lovell got me in touch with a company out of Memphis that does all kind of promo stuff. I found a nifty 32 oz aluminum water bottle and decided to make a push to sell some before the trip. Minimum order was 96 so I was a bit nervous about it. I sent out an email letting the team know about the bottle and promptly sold over 100 bottles in less than 24 hours! So I decided to order a few more if anyone is interested. I only have about 20 and they are $10 each. I am going to predict that they will go very quickly... so if you would like to get one email me soon.

The past week has been brutal trying to get everything done before deadlines. But, unless something goes terribly wrong, everything should be done on time. The t-shirts are ordered and should be getting inked this week! The journals are in print right now and will be done early next week! The Torch song books are in print and will be done this weekend. The Barnabas note cards are in print and will be done early next week. The Spanish coloring books are in print and will be done early next week. The water bottles have been ordered and will be silk screened this weekend and back to me next Thursday.

Sunday I met with Dr. Schwartz, who lives here in Henderson and teaches at Freed-Hardeman. He has a clinic in town and has been doing medical missions for years. We met after church services Sunday night and discussed medicines that I will need to order for the medical team this summer. This has been a challenge for me for the past several weeks as we have been trying different ways to get prescription meds for the trip. However, Dr. Schwartz not only can write scripts for the meds, he can order them at wholesale prices... saving us a LOT of money. Wednesday I will finalize the med order and it will be in about a week before we leave for Honduras. I am constantly in awe of how God works.

This weekend we had a mini reunion here at school when 2 of my roommates from Freed-Hardeman were here with their wives. We had a great time wandering the campus and talking about all of the changes that have taken place since we were here. Old buildings that are gone and the 8 new buildings that are here now. Since both are businessmen we had lengthy discussions about torch and how we can position ourselves for the "next step" in our vision of growth for the next several years. They shared great ideas and fresh insight to what Torch is doing and the way we can expand our resourcing and networking. Oh, and we ate some Jack's Creek BBQ too! If you have ever been here you know what I mean... if you haven't... so sorry for you!)

Margaret is almost done with the 3 way split assignments mid-way into our trip. About 45 will go to Catacamas July 6-9; 65 will go to Choluteca July 7-9; and about 50 will stay in Tegucigalpa. We are still pounding out details about what the 3 teams will be doing in their respective places, but finalizing rooming lists have to be made this week so that we can send the lists to the hotels that we will be staying at during this part of the trip. Margaret and I met with Tara (Ulmer) and Jerry Yale this evening. We discussed the work we are going to do in Catacamas and got a lot done towards that part of the trip. Tara lived in Catacamas for a year and will be the point person when we get there. I even chatted with Timeteo Estrada (in Spanish!) a few nights ago about plans for Choluteca. (thank the good Lord for Babble fish translator!!!).

So, with just 3 weeks to go, there is still a lot to be done. We are STILL missing paper work! Senor Margarita is not happy and when she is not happy.... well, you probably know the rest of that one, right? And we are waiting on a lot of money to come in. This week is the dead line for checks made out to Western hills Church of Christ. I cannot tell you how important it is to get your money in on time. It takes time for checks to be deposited. It takes more time for checks to clear and be released. It will take time to order the money so that we can withdraw cash from the bank (weird, right? I have to let the bank know a week in advance how much I am going to withdraw so that they will have enough on hand....) So I need to hear from all of you out there to find out what your plans are... we have heard from some but there are many more that we have not heard from as of now.

Next weekend I will be mailing out the t-shirts and journals (and water bottles if you ordered one). Margaret will be getting in touch with you if you are missing any paper work. Let us know if you have any questions, concerns, etc. My next posting will be the packing list and other trip information you will need. Can't wait to see everyone in Honduras, it will be here soon! Are you ready? I am. Make me a servant, Lord make me like You. For You are a servant, make me one too. Make me a servant, do what You must do... to make me a servant, Lord, make me like You.