Our Mission Statement

Saturday, February 26

A piggy back ride

Good news on the home front. I found out today that we are going to be able to piggy back supplies on a container this summer! Gayle Davidson, Torch team leader and awesome friend, will be shipping a container to Honduras sometime near the end of April / first of May and will be in Tegucigalpa in time for our trip this summer. The container will be loaded in Melbourne, Florida, which is even better news for the Tampa, Sarasota, and Islamorada teams. Those of us north of Florida will have to figure out a way to truck our stuff down to Melbourne in time for the loading. This is great news because now we can send stuff down and will not have to pay for an entire container, but chip in our fair share for Gayle's.

Right now our major focus for supply collection is hygiene products (tooth brushes, tooth paste, soap, etc), toys, stuffed animals, children's shoes and clothes, and over the counter meds like Tylenol, Advil, chewable vitamins, etc. Let me know if you come across anything interesting that you are offered, sometimes my motto, "If its free its for me!" can bring in some very interesting items. As you collect shoes and clothes, pay close attention to the condition of the donations and sort out things that are too worn, stained, or inappropriate. One of Torch's slogans is "NO JUNK FOR JESUS." We want to be able to give quality goods to the people of Honduras.

Airline tickets are definitely on the rise. If you have not bought your ticket yet I hope you are in the process of getting it done. I bought Margaret's ticket this week and the price went up $50 in 24 hours. With the situation in the Middle East right now there is no telling how expensive the tickets will get. As a reminder, please send me your flight information once you have bought your ticket(s), especially if you are going on the Honduras trip. Scheduling buses to be at the airport at the correct times will be important as flights arrive. It looks like we have people flying on all the carriers mentioned in the last blog so finding out how many are on each flight is the puzzle piece we are trying to find now.

Plans for the Costa Rica trip is getting more and more specific as the days advance. We have been in communication with Daniel Chavez, the preacher in Buenos Aires, several times. He now has Skype and we can talk to him on a more consistent basis now. You can't help but get excited listening to him as we discus the plans for the campaign there! Daniel is planning on doing radio and television advertisements for a month leading up to the mission team's arrival. Today we decided to add an additional day to the gospel meeting. We will now be doing a 5 day meeting to take advantage of the time that the Torch team, along with several of the ministers from other congregations throughout Costa Rica, are there working. Our goal is to try to canvas the entire city (about 45,000-60,000) while we are there. Besides the evening tent meeting, we will be doing a 4 day training seminar with a class on church growth for the men taught by Dr. Joe Roberts, a ladies class taught by Keffie Morrow, and a children's class. We will also be doing a 4 day VBS class too along with several service projects.

The Honduras plans are still a work in progress. We are still getting information in about potential work sites for this summer. Mark Connell, Tim Hines, and Marc Tindall have been discussing various work areas and researching needs and ways in which we night be able to help. Tim has found some new places to visit and of course places like Mololoa, Dadakso, the blind school, the special needs orphanage, and others are in the plans. We are gearing up for at least 1 major medical clinic this year, possibly 2. We do know that we will be working in Tegucigalpa and the surrounding area the entire trip this summer. Nathan's team is planning on working their entire trip in Choluteca at Agua Agria installing a hydro-electric system there along with other projects. They will take care of the clothing and shoe distribution there this year so we will be able to focus our energy in the capital city.

Stay tuned, I will be posting again soon. As February comes to a close we find ourselves that much closer to the summer months and our mission trips. For the Costa Rica team we are just barely 100 days away from the trip! Hasta luego, recuerde que servimos a Dios de la fuerza! Reinados de Dios!


Sunday, February 20

Flight information for this summer

Spring is in the air (unless you live above the Mason - Dixon Line... in that case I am not sure when you know when spring starts up there!) and the natives are growing restless. Here at F-HU, students have taken a liking to being outside, wearing flip flops, washing cars, and enjoying the sunshine. The countdown has begun for spring break and mid-term exams. Yep, its official, this year is clipping along at a pretty fast speed. We are a week away from March and it is time to start moving on to the next phase of our mission trip(s).

March is the deadline to officially withdraw from the trip. Anyone who has signed up to go on one of the mission trips can withdraw in March and still get a full refund of money that has been paid in for the trip. After March 31st down payments and deposits are made that are non-refundable. After March refunds are given based on what is left after deposits and down payments have been made. The closer we get to the trip the more money will have been paid for specifics such as lodging, insurance, etc. We certainly understand that things come up that are unexpected that might cause someone to miss the trip, but once money has been paid out we simply cannot get it back.

March is also the month most people begin buying their airline tickets. I know there is a large number of you that have already purchased airline tickets, which is great. For the rest of us, the time has come to start shopping in earnest for our tickets. I have been watching the websites closely and ticket prices have been going up and down (mostly up) and with the crisis in the Middle East right now, I do not expect ticket prices to come down any time soon. One thing is certain, there will be a limited number of seats available on the dates we will be traveling, and once those tickets have been purchased there will not be any more. Since we are not the only group traveling this summer, tickets are selling and selling pretty fast. Delaying your purchase increases the likelihood of losing out on a seat on the flight. Hopefully most, if not all, of you are ready to purchase tickets.

Airline carriers:
American Airlines:
Continental Airlines:
Delta airlines:
Spirit airlines:
TACA: http://www.taca.com/

Some departure / arrival city abbreviations:
Atlanta: ATL
Memphis: MEM
Nashville: BNA
Houston: IAH
Tampa: TPA
Miami: MIA
Orlando: ORL
Pittsburgh: PIT
San Jose, Costa Rica: SJO
Tegucigalpa: TGU
San Pedro Sula: SAP

If you are going on the Costa Rica trip, June 9th - June 19th, you have several flight options. Depending on your departure city, you will make a connection before you go down to San Jose. It is important that you arrive in San Jose before or around 12:00pm on the 9th. The following flights arrive during that time frame:
TACA flight #319 departs Miami at 6:45 am to San Salvador. You connect on TACA #321 which arrives in San Jose at 9:45 am.
Continental flight 1528 departs Houston at 9:10 am and arrives in San Jose at 11:50 am.
American flight #971 departs Miami at 10:10 am and arrives in San Jose at 10:55 am.
Spirit flight #755 departs Ft. Lauderdale at 10:48 am and arrives in San Jose at 11:40 am.
Delta flight #415 departs Atlanta at 9:50 am and arrives is San Jose at 11:55 am. Return flights vary so check the websites for choices leaving on June 19th.

If you are going on the trip to Honduras June 24th through July 4th, here are your flight options:
TACA flight #190 departs Miami at 5:10 am to San Salvador. Flight continues to Tegucigalpa and arrives at 9:32 am.
Continental flight #756 departs Houston at 9:05 am and arrives in Tegucigalpa at 11:10 am.
American Airlines flight #953 departs Miami at 11:15 am and arrives in Tegucigalpa at 11:35 am.
Delta flight #551 departs Atlanta 10:10 am and arrives in Tegucigalpa at 11:45 am. Return flights vary so check the websites for choices leaving on July 4th.

If you are staying in Honduras until July 11th, you will be flying home from San Pedro Sula. When you book your ticket you need to select the multi-city option on the website. You will fly into Tegucigalpa on one of the flights listed above, and then you will select a return flight from one of the following choices:
TACA flight #575 departing San Pedro Sula at 7:05 am to San Salvador. Connect on TACA #310 departing at 8:55 am arriving in Miami at 1:30 pm.
Continental flight #763 departing San Pedro Sula at 11:45 am arriving in Houston 3:30 pm.
American Airlines flight #944 departing San Pedro Sula at 7:10 am arriving in Miami at 11:35 am.
Delta flight #504 departing San Pedro Sula at 12:05 pm arriving in Atlanta at 5:20 pm.
Spirit flight#826 departing San Pedro Sula at 1:15 AM arriving in Ft. Lauderdale 5:39 am. Check connections to your final destination for flight options.

Check with airline websites and read checked baggage information closely. Also check to see about carry on bags. Every carrier has different policies and charges. Make sure you read information pertaining to international flights. Weight restrictions vary too so make sure you know all of the "fine print" details before you book. Once you have booked your flight please send me a copy of your flight information. I will need it to make arrangements for transportation once you arrive! Eso es muy importante!

Along with booking flights, March is when rule sheets, Spanish release forms (for anyone under the age of 18), photos (everyone needs to send me a passport type photo to attach to your application), and a photocopy of your passport is due. Email me if you need a copy of any of the forms mentioned. Once this is done all of the paper work that you are to turn in is completed. Your final due date is May 31st when the final payment of your balance is due.

This is a lot of information. I hope you will copy and paste this to make your flight search a bit easier. Please make sure anyone you know that is going on the trip is checking this blog and reading the information that is being posted. I know people are reading the blog everyday, unfortunately, I don't know who those people are and more importantly, the ones who are not reading it. Let me know if you have any questions, comments, deep thoughts, jokes, etc., I would love hearing from you! take care and I will be posting again soon. Reinados de Dios!


Tuesday, February 15

VBS information and more

This past weekend we braved the chills of west Tennessee for the intern retreat at Mid-South Youth Camp here in Henderson, Tennessee. It was cold Friday night but by Saturday it started warming up and the past couple of days has been magnificent! It was a good weekend and it was the first time that the entire group of interns met each other. As you can tell from my last blog, we have quite a group that will be with me this summer for the entire trip. They are talented, enthusiastic, and a lot of fun to be around. Although they are all very much different from each other in certain ways, they all have similar traits as well. And to set the record straight, I sort of exaggerated their bios... which I know many of you will find hard to believe. All of the rock comments were made up along with some of their hobbies, although Joe Jones insists that he does indeed like needlepoint and grape snow cones.

The things we talked about apply to everyone going on the trip so I want to share some of them with you.

One of the things I emphasized during the retreat was the need to be flexible. Ashley Stewart explained how important it is to stretch before workouts and to keep our muscles flexible, but I told her that was the wrong kind of flexible. (Just kidding, although we did have a discussion about stretching every morning during the trip) Schedules are going to change, plans are going to change, and work projects are going to change. That is just part of life on the mission field, especially in Central America. Weather, transportation, equipment problems, and other things go awry and sometimes we have to go to a plan B, or plan C, or even a plan D on a moment's notice. And sometimes we don't have plans B,C, or D! This drives most Americans crazy, especially if this is your first trip to Central America. As Dorothy would say, "We are not in Kansas anymore." Things are different in Central America and we need to be flexible and roll with it!

We also discussed staying focused during the trip. One of the things that can happen, especially on an extended trip, is losing focus. Everyday each person on the trip has 24 hours to use in whatever way they choose to use them. Whether it is 10 days or 32, all of us have a very finite number of days and hours to use during the trip. We will all spend a great deal of time, energy, and money to prepare for this trip. For some of us we will have spent months getting ready for this trip. Once we arrive, the clock starts ticking and the time goes by VERY quickly. Losing focus and wasting valuable time is one of the worst things you can do. Whether it be personality conflicts, dislike of the food we are eating for our meals, or the person on the bunk next to you that snores, or singing songs that you are not overly fond of, stay focused. Don't let anything steal away your time that you have dedicated to God for the work you are there to do.

One of our longest sessions this weekend had to do with our vacation Bible school lessons. Kim Fussell, from Memphis, Tennessee, will be in charge of writing the VBS lessons again this year. Since we will be using the VBS lessons in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras, we are putting even more work and emphasis on the VBS lessons. Each lesson will be capable of being taught by itself, or together as a series. The VBS theme this year is based off of the life of Paul. Kim will be writing 4 lessons for our teams to use this summer. The lessons will cover different aspects of Paul's life and will include:

* Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus
* Paul and Silas in jail / conversion of the Philippian jailer
* The shipwreck on the way to Rome
* Paul's sermon to King Agrippa ("Almost thou persuaded me to become a Christian")

Anyone that is interested in working with the VBS this year needs to bring props, costumes, etc, that can be used for these lessons. Many churches have a wealth of stuff that we might be able to use. Remember that props have to pack in suitecases so a 8' Roman spear probably is not going to pack very well!

We are going to be designing coloring book pages to go along with the Bible lessons. We will be in need of a LOT of crayons for VBS. If you have a chance, check with local restaurants in your area. Many times they have pre-packaged crayons that they give children. Last year Steve Kemp went to a Shoneys near his house and had 2 cases of crayons donated. We will also be giving out coloring pages and crayons at hospitals, schools, and orphanages, so the more the better! We have a terrific 50 page coloring book with Spanish Bible verses that was written and illustrated by a student at Freed-Hardeman University last year that we will be using again. We will have the coloring book printed up and we will assemble it and staple it once we are on the mission trip.

Continue your supply collections. Although I still do not know about shipping details, we are collecting the following items:

Tooth brushes
Tooth paste
Cotton balls
Band aides (all sizes)
Shampoo (especially baby shampoo)
Bar soap
Disposable razors
Children's vitamins (chewable)
Adult vitamins
Pencils, pens, and markers
Stuffed animals
Infant and children's shoes
Infant and childrn's clothes

As we have reached the midway point of February, we are now 114 days from the Costa Rica mission trip and 129 days from the Honduras mission trip. That might seem like a long time, but trust me when I say it is going to pass quickly and there is a lot to do before it is time to leave! Hasta luego mi amigos, Dios te bendiga! Reinados de Dios!


Thursday, February 10

rock on

A lot of us would love to do full time mission work, especially in Honduras. Many have asked why I have not done it yet... and to be honest there are several reasons. Probably the most obvious would be health reasons, since I am still not considered in remission yet from cancer. Being close to the proper medical centers needs to stay on my priority list in case I have to deal with any more treatments. Fortunately, my health has held and I have a great job that allows me to continue doing short term trips. And I love recruiting people to go on trips so it seems to be working out really well right now.

Working at Freed-Hardeman University has put me in a situation where I have more time than ever to go on short term trips. I plan to take advantage of that and this summer begins the adventure. This summer I will get the opportunity to go to Central America to spend 33 days doing mission work. It will start off in Costa Rica and will end in Honduras. Along with me I will have 14 people that will join me on the adventure. 11 are college students that will be serving as interns this summer. The other 3 are my "special" friends! All will have challenge of working for 33 days straight and putting up with me! Ask Margaret, she will tell you...

Brandy Barnett, a F-HU graduate in 2008 and a veteran of 10 Torch trips, will be our communication czar this summer. She is currently in grad school and has an awesome job at Region IV Mental health Commission that will allow her to have the time off this summer. Kennedy Cheatham is a high school junior and is from Hendersonville, TN. This will be her 2nd year to go to Central America. Along with Brandy and Kennedy Pat Guthrie, from Kittanning, Pennsylvania, will be with me. Pat, who goes by various nicknames, is a long term veteran of Torch and is retired. Pat is a construction guru and will be the tool czar this summer.

My college interns will have a variety of jobs and tasks this summer. If you are going on the Costa Rica or Honduras trip, you will get to know these interns very well. Paige Atkinson is a sophomore at Freed-Hardeman. She is from Centerville, TN, and is a nursing major with a minor in missions. This will be her first trip with Torch Missions. She has worked 2 summers in El Salvador with Latin American missions and has also done Stateside work in Arkansas with her social club, Phi Kappa Alpha. She loves to sing in the rain and has an awesome rock collection. Macy England is a sophomore social work major at Freed-Hardeman University. She is from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Macy has done several Stateside mission trips to Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, and West Virginia. This will be Macy's first trip with Torch Missions as well. Macy loves sports and being outdoors. She also enjoys admiring her roommate's awesome rock collection.

Tyler Gist is a sophomore non-traditional student at Lipscomb University. He told me he does not know what non-traditional means so I thought I would use it in his bio. He is from Lexington, SC. Tyler is majoring in Bible at Lipscomb with an emphasis in youth ministry with a minor in missions. Tyler has been on 8 Torch Missions trips. Tyler loves sports and plays baseball and softball, but his favorite is Ultimate Frisbee. He loves snow and being in the cold. Other hobbies include building Lincoln Log cabins and starting a rock collection like Paige. Leah Wright is from Gallatin, TN, and is a freshman at Freed-Hardeman. Leah is really smart and is in the honor college at F-HU with a double major in mathematics and secondary education. According to Leah, she wants to be a high school math teacher (go figure). She has been to Honduras on 2 Torch trips. She loves eating ice cream, talking, identifying and classifying rocks, and making things with duct tape. She also likes playing soccer and running over flags.

Jorden Camp (yes, that is the way she spells her name) is from Lebanon, Tennessee, but is originally from Texas. Jorden is a freshman at Freed-Hademan University and is majoring in nursing. Jorden has done Stateside mission work and has gone on 1 Torch trip to Recife, Brazil, and 1 trip to Honduras during spring break with Friendship Christian School. Jorden loves animals, especially horses and dogs. She is also loves playing soccer, spending money, and geo-caching. Andrew Allgood is a sophomore Bible major at Freed-Hademan. He is also studying physiology. Andrew is from Joelton, Tennessee. Andrew has participated in Stateside mission trips to Kentucky and Florida and has also been on Torch trips to Honduras. Playing sports and hanging out with friends are his favorite things to do, along with talking and reading books about rocks.

Kathryn Bettis is also a sophomore at Freed-Hardeman. She is a Child and Family Studies major and hopes to teach pre-K through 3rd grade. She is also minoring in Spanish and missions. She is from Clarksville, TN. She loves sports and has been on 1 Torch trip to Honduras in 2009. Besides the trip this summer she plans on going to the City of Children in Mexico this spring break with her social club Xi Chi Delta. Kathryn's hobbies include weaving fishing nets, yodeling, and star gazing. Another sophomore on the trip is Minor Perez. Minor is from Costa Rica and is working on a double major in Bible and Communications at Freed-Hardeman.. Minor has done extensive work with Latin American Missions and has been to Honduras once with Torch. He studied aviation and computer engineering in Costa Rica. He enjoys swimming, playing soccer, and getting up early to watch the sun rise. He doesn't like rocks.

Ashley Stewart is from Columbia, TN. She is a Harding University student but is currently going to school part time at Columbia State and working full time at the YMCA until she goes back to Searcy. She is majoring in Sports Therapy. She is the assistant coach for the YMCA swim team and works with about 50 children. She has done mission work in Arkansas and has been on 3 Torch trips to Honduras. She enjoys running and is training for a 5K this spring, drawing, and is a scrapbook junkie. Her favorite scrapbook was the one she did for Paige and her rock collection. Brandon Mann is a freshman at Freed-Hademan. He plays for the Lions soccer team and is an Exercise Science major. He was born in Florida and currently lives in Joelton, Tennessee. Brandon has been on 3 Honduras mission trips with Torch Missions and worked with the youth group at his mome congregation this past summer. Brandon enjoys hangin' with his boys and texting Brandy Barnett. He got to see Ashley's scrapbook of Paige's rock collection and in contemplating starting his own collection, however, he is not sure if he wants to dedicate the amount of time needed to have one as complete as her's.

Joe Jones, AKA Little Joe, finishes the list of interns. Joe is from Corinth, Mississippi, and is a junior at Freed-Hademan University. Joe recently changed majors from Graphic Design to Bible with an emphasis in youth ministry. Joe has served as the youth intern at the Foote Street congregation last year and is serving as the intern again this year. Joe has been on 1 trip to Honduras with Torch Missions and has also participated in Mission Mississippi on spring breaks. Joe likes long walks on the beach, gardening, and needlepoint. He also has a pet rock collection and likes to eat grape snow cones.

As you can see, I have quite a group of interns this summer. This weekend we will be at the Mid-South Youth Camp, here in Henderson, for a 2 day retreat. We will be discussing several different aspects of the 33 day trip, look at a lot of photos, and discuss the tentative schedule of each trip and details concerning the Vacation bible School. It is going to be a great weekend, especially if it wams up and the snow melts! With 8 snow storms this year, I have decided that I am offially done with snow. There are many reasons to live in the South, and I can assure you that smow is not one of them!

2011 marches on, spring break for F-HU is just a month away! And summer will be here before you know it and so will our trips. Stay tuned, more to come! Reinados de Dios!


Sunday, February 6


He was an only child of a wealthy CEO of a multi-million dollar company. He was a bit of an over achiever, focused, and driven. He was graduating from college after only 3 years with honors. For months he had his eyes on a nifty sports car that was in the show room of a local car dealership a few miles from campus. Although a bit pricey, he knew his father could afford it and it was the only thing he asked for when graduation day came. After all, he had breezed through college on scholarship and was graduating school without any school loans.

As graduation approached the son filled out his exit paper work, picked up his cap and gown, and sent out invitations. He had a great job lined up after he graduated and had already found an apartment. Living 8 hours away from home didn't seem like much and it was close to the mountains where he loved to go snow skiing.

Finally the big day arrived. The weather allowed for an outdoor graduation and his reception at his father's house was awesome. Finally after the guests left his father called him into his private study. His father told his son how incredibly proud he was of him and how much he loved him. He expressed his appreciation for his hard work and for his academic accomplishments. His father then gave him a gift box wrapped in very expensive wrapping paper. A perplexed and curious look fell upon the son's face as he took the box.

He carefully unwrapped the gift box to find a beautiful, leather-bound Bible with is name stamped on the cover in gold leaf print. The curious look on his face turned to disappointment and then to anger. "Are you kidding me? With all of your wealth this is what you give me for graduation? A BIBLE? This is not what I asked for and not what I expected!" The son tossed the Bible onto his father's desk and walked out of the room never to see his father again.

He moved to his new home, 8 hours away, and began his job. He did not write, email, or call his father. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. 2 years later he received a phone call from his father's administrative assistant. His father had been in a terrible car accident and was in the hospital. He was in critical condition. With tears in his eyes he jumped into his 10 year old car and raced home. He arrived at the hospital too late, his father passed away 2 hours before he arrived.

Tears streamed from his face as he sat in the room... alone. His mind replayed the last time he had seen or talked to his father. Oh how he wished he could go back in time. How could he have been so insensitive... so immature.

The next day he went to his father's office at work to gather his dad's belongings and to sign papers. The lawyer was there to go over everything with him. His father had left him everything... the house, the checking account, savings account, everything. Sitting on the corner of his father's desk was the Bible he had given him 2 years ago. Tears swelled up as he picked up the Bible. It was really nice. There was little doubt his father had taken a great deal of time picking it out. He opened it up for the first time and read the inscription his father had written: To my most beloved son to whom I am so proud, May this book provide light for you in your darkest days and guidance when the pathway seems so unclear. May this book give you wisdom when you need it most and inspiration when you need it. May it give you strength when you are weak and companionship when you feel alone. And most importantly, may it guide you home when your journey is completed. Love, Dad

The son sat in the office in silence. He stared at the Bible that he held in his hands. He then flipped through the pages when suddenly something fell from it to the carpet below. He reached down and picked up a small brown envelope that had fallen out of the back of the Bible. He opened the envelope to find a key in it with a piece of paper. It was the title to the sports car he had wanted with the words "PAID IN FULL" stamped on it.

How many times in your life have you missed a blessing because it came packaged differently than the way you expected it? How many times did you react to something, or somebody, in such a way that you found that you were way off base once you figured everything out? How many times have you wished you could go back and change the words that you said to someone, or change the way you acted? How many times have you blown it?

How many times have you missed God's blessings for the exact same reasons? Maybe it is time for us to tune in to God and what He is doing in our lives. Life's journey is filled with twists and turns. Some are gentle curves and and rolling hills and sometimes it might be a harsh, drastic turn of events. Don't wait for a "better moment" or a more opportune time. Don't allow something that has happened to you weigh you down like an anchor or harbor ill will that poisons your soul. Remember what James 4:14 says, life is like a vapor, it appears for a short time and then vanishes away. There is no guarentees for tomorrow, so live each day as if it is your last. Otherwise, something that should have brought you great happiness and joy might come and bring sorrow instead.