Margaret and I were able to get away for a few days and went south. Way south. Florida Keys south! We went down to visit with Ken and Sandi Haab who live on Islamorada. They are heading up a team of 17 from the area and we had a cookout Monday evening and did a Q&A session with them. One of my former youth groupies (I guess that is the term...) Katie Haab, aka KTV, lives there too (and is indeed related to the other Haabs mentioned). It was really fun to see here all grown up and a Lipscomb alumni. While we were there we went to a HUGE seafood festival on Sunday afternoon, deep sea fishing (yes Steve, I did catch some fish!), and ate at some great restaurants. We also got to spend a day with friends from Miami and play a round of golf (pretty good day, only lost 6 golf balls!). Most importantly we saw the sun, enjoyed some great weather, and got a little R&R.
As you might have noticed, I have added a countdown for the Costa Rica and the Honduras trips. Just under 12 weeks for the Buenos Aires and under 14 weeks for Tegucigalpa. For most, the time can't go by fast enough... for others (like me!) it is going by way fast. Wait, let me put some emphasis on that... WAYYYYYYYY FAST!!! Trying to keep up with 175 people is not an easy task, no matter how much time you have. I know I say this a lot but with time zipping by at such a rapid clip it seems I need more time than what I am allotted. But all in all things are progressing well.
85% of the Costa Rica team have purchased their airline tickets. 69% have turned in all of their paper work. 85% have paid their deposits. For the Honduras trip, 79%have purchased or have tickets bought or secured, 88% have turned in paper work, and 91% have paid their deposits. Good numbers for sure, and I am hoping that we will have 100% on all categories at the end of the month. March 31 is the deadline for all paper work, deposits, and airline flight bookings. Check with your team leader if you are not sure which percentage you are in! Trust me, they know...
We are 5 1/2 weeks away from the due date for supply collections. All supplies need to be sorted, boxed, labeled, and inventoried before we send everything over to the Melbourne church of Christ to be loaded on the container. I will be sending our specific information soon on specifics on how to sort, label, and inventory your supplies. Our shipping manifest must be very specific and very complete. Each box or item must be labeled and numbered. Those that have done this before know the routine well and it is a pain but a vital necessity to make sure our container goes through the Honduras customs agency without any hitches. The better we do our job on this end speeds up the process of getting our container out of Porta Cortez and on to Tegucigalpa.
Speaking of supplies, I need to get a estimate from everyone on what they have collected so far and quantities. I need to know what supplies need to be emphasized for a final push before we leave. Right now the most important single item we need is toothbrushes. Hopefully everyone has already talked to their family dentist to get them to pitch in with donations. If not, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Fred's, and Dollar Tree is your best bet to buy toothbrushes. Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart do not carry inexpensive toothbrushes like the other stores mentioned. Quantity is important, we need approximately 5,000 toothbrushes for our hygiene packets. We try to put 5 brushes in a packet with 1 family size tube of toothpaste (the math whizzes out there already figured out we need 1,000 tubes of toothpaste). Disposable razors are also high on the list.
Our order of pharmaceutical medicines just arrived here in Henderson today. This is great news since it arrived 3 weeks ahead of schedule! (Yes, scary thought) With the payment of the medicines, along with deposits that need to be sent out in the next 2 weeks for hotel reservations, our Torch funds will be nearly depleted. This is just a subtle reminder that if you have not sent your deposits in we need them! Everything has a purpose behind it.
I want to thank all of you that have been working so hard for the past several weeks, even months, getting things ready for the trips. It is not an easy task to get your team to turn in applications, get rules sheets and Spanish release forms notarized, and collect money. It certainly is not easy doing fund raisers (although some of the things I have heard about sound like a ton of fun!) and trying to get donations for the work fund. Collecting supplies can be a bit of a pain too. Oh, yeah, don't forget those essays and letters of recommendation. Just remember, everything is done for a reason. Sometimes the big picture just doesn't come into focus till later on... sort of like those 3-D movies! (OK, maybe not, but at the time is sounded like a good analogy)
But, remember the purpose behind all of the madness... there are literally thousands of people that are crying out for help and guidance, praying for relief and a helping hand... not knowing that God has formed a group of people from all over the place into a team that will do His good will in due time. You are a part of that team and a part of His plan. That should send chill bumps down your back. It should humble you. And it should pump you up! Man, you got to love this stuff! Think of how many people that you know and have talked to that wanted to go on this trip but can't for one reason or another. But you get to go! You get to participate! You are a part of God's team. Whether you are literally going on the trip or supporting the team with donations, funds, or supplies, a difference is going to be made in a few months.
March madness... it is not always about basketball. Sometimes it is just the craziness that happens as a group of God's people work to get ready to do something remarkable. I like it... I like it a lot. Hasta luego!