Our Mission Statement

Monday, May 30

It is almost time!

Today our nation celebrated Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who have found and those who died defending the rights, privileges, and freedoms we hold so important and what sets us apart from the other countries of the world. I frequently see bumper stickers and billboards which state "Freedom is not free." that is very, very true. Great prices have been paid in order that freedom might exist today not only here, but other places as well. I know most of you, like me, have family members that are or have served in the military and I am very proud of them. It is very humbling to know that others, people I do not even know, that are standing in the gap for me right now. To say thank you is but one way to show appreciation. Memorial Day is but one day to honor those to whom honor is due. I hope we never forget the price that has been paid for us because there is no way we can ever repay it. Thank you!

Spiritually, the same thing is true. Every Sunday is a memorial day in which we honor and remember Jesus who paid the ultimate price for our freedom from sin. This freedom too came at a huge price. Jesus willfully came and died to take our place and to take our sins to the grave with Him. To say thank you is but one way to show appreciation. To remember Him and to obey His commands and wishes is another. I hope that we never forget the price that was paid for us because there is no way we can ever repay it. Thank you!

The Costa Rica team is now just days (1 week) away from leaving!!! Things are in a frenzy around here as we are getting the last minute things done in preparation for departure. Tomorrow (Tuesday) boxes and packages are being mailed out all over the place to get t-shirts, journals, water bottles, and rain jackets to everyone before we leave. It has taken us hours of sorting and double checking everything before packing them up and sealing the boxes. Depending on how fast the mail travels everyone should have their stuff by this weekend.

I am going to the bank tomorrow to let them know that a big withdrawal is coming (big for me anyways... for banks it might not be that big of a deal...). The supplemental travel insurance HOPEFULLY will be taken care of tomorrow... I am still waiting on 1 application to arrive... I can't order until I have every one's applications so I can get the right information off of them. Once that is done all of the major things that are pressing will be just about complete and I will be able to get to bed and get some sleep. I feel like I am aging in dog years!

Now would be a good time to go over your packing list, locate your passport (you would be surprised how many people panic the night before they leave because they can't find their passports!), and start prepping for the trip. Now, I know for some of you that you are laughing right now, and that is OK. Believe it or not there are people that really do get ready for the trip days ahead of time and do not wait till the last minute. I of course am not one of them, but there are some out there! Please make sure you have contacted your insurance company and your bank to let them know you are going to be out of the country... they need to know. If you take prescription medicines, now would be a great time to make sure you have plenty of medicine before you leave.

I will be sending out emergency contact information very soon for you to leave at home in case someone needs to reach us during the trip. Please remember that phone calls back to the States is for emergency purposes but emails and fax will be available on limited basis. We will be posting information about the trip everyday on this blogspot so make sure everyone knows the blog address so that they can read the daily updates to see what we have been doing! Brandy Barnett and her assistants do a great job tracking the events of the day and posting photos too. Also remember that we are going to be on a media fast. Cell phones, I-Pads, computers, I-Pods, etc. will not be used on the trip. We want participants to focus on the mission trip and getting to know people on the trip and not retreating to ear buds to listen to music, texting on cell phones, or hoping on a computer to check Facebook.

More information coming soon. I can't believe it is almost here! Take care and I will talk to you again soon!


Thursday, May 26

It's here!

We just got home late Monday night from a week's vacation (yes, an actual vacation!) and a trip to Birmingham to visit with Nathan and Karen and to go to Karen's graduation from UAB optometry school. We now have our second doctor in the family (Judy Mitchell was our first when she got her Dr. of therapy from Belmont a couple of years ago). Karen and Nate are now off to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she will complete her residency at the V.A. Hospital. She begins July 1 for a year long program. I guess we will have to tough it out and go visit them while they are there!

This week almost seemed like Christmas here. I have been patiently waiting for all of the stuff to get here from the silk screen shop for the trip. Monday the main team t-shirts came in, 4 boxes in all. Of course I opened every one of them! The shirts look great! Tuesday a second set of shirts arrived. Wednesday the rain jackets AND water bottles came in!!! Did anyone hear me say, "Oh yeah!"? Everything looks really good, especially the water bottles. I was nervous since we had to go with another style but I am quite happy with them. Our living room is filled with all of this stuff and is in the process of being sorted into sizes so that we can begin putting together every one's orders. The last piece of the puzzle, the Torch journal, is almost done and should be going to print later today or Friday. Everything should be ready to go and in the mail no later than Tuesday of next week!

Payments and checks have been flooding my mailbox this week as well. REMEMBER, THIS WEEKEND IS THE DEADLINE IF YOU ARE MAILING A CHECK TO ME! Starting Tuesday (Monday is a Federal holiday) any outstanding payments or donations has to be in the form of cash. I will not have time to deposit checks and have them clear in time to withdraw the money for the trips.

The container is off and away! Gayle Davidson and crew from Melbourne loaded the 40' container and it was trucked to Port Everglades Tuesday and was loaded on a boat headed for Honduras. The projected arrival date for the container is June 2nd. Our team ended up with an amazing 450 boxes of supplies! Thank you so much for all of your hard work and effort to collect, sort, box, and label supplies. A very special thanks to those who traveled to Melbourne to delver the supplies. Steve Schneider, from Mobile, Alabama, receives the Road Warrior Award for his efforts! According to Gayle Davidson, Steve is worth of double honor for what he went through to get his supplies to her. Let's just say he went the extra mile and we will let him tell his story! Years from now it will reach legendary status.

The Costa Rica team is now exactly 2 weeks away from departure today! Last minute arrangements and plans are being worked on and should be completed this week. There is still a lot to do and I only have 24 hours in a day to work on them. I am going to bed late and getting up early (I guess I am conditioning myself for the trip sleep schedule too!) to get it all done. Lots of emails will be sent out in the next few days but hopefully most are reading this blog. The Honduras team is now less than a month away from leaving. Even though the Honduras team has a bit more time to get ready, it will be here before you know it. but for me everything has to be done in the next 10 days. And I have to tell you, I am excited!

In the next few days I will be posting all kinds of information from items to pack to take with you to travel suggestions to make the trip go a little bit smoother. A lot of you will need to do some things that will require a bit of time and work, but it will all make your trip better. So make sure to check the blog daily as updates are posted. Hasta luego!


Monday, May 16

Some days are like that, even in Australia

Have you ever read the book, "Alexander's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?" If you haven't, go out and get it and read it. If you have, you will totally understand why I am referencing the book in this blog.

As our trip rapidly approaches, we have experienced the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. In the book Alexander has a horrible day with a string of events that just doesn't go his way... at all. From not getting a pair of shoes he liked to "accidentally" calling Australia on his Dad's phone, he just had one of those days. The book puts humor to the fact that things don't always go as you wanted or hoped, and that you just have to accept the fact that some days are just like that... even in Australia, where Alexander wants to move to in the book. Well, let me share with you our version of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I have been working daily for the past 3 weeks on the art work for our t-shirts, rain jackets, and water bottles. Emails and art work has been going back and forth as I worked to polish and perfect what I wanted on all of the stuff. I received orders, sizes, colors, and things where just clipping along beautifully, until it was time to actually place the order and "run with it." This past Thursday, when I placed the order and finalized everything, I received an email from the print company that the water bottle we had picked out was out of stock and would not be available until September. They had searched and could not find a suitable replacement. Great news 3 weeks before we are supposed to leave. So 24 hours of searching and calling finally found a 32 ounce bottle similar to the one we wanted and the order was placed... now we are playing a waiting game to see if everything will come in by May 27th so I will have enough time to mail everything out to team leaders.

Over a week ago Daniel Chavez contacted Minor Perez and I asked for money so that he could go ahead and pay for some of the things that he needed do to get ready for our trip to Costa Rica. He needed money for the hotel in Buenos Aires, money for the bus rentals... money to buy food and to rent a house for a week for all of the extra workers coming in. He needed to pay for the TV and radio advertisements he did for the campaign, money to buy paint and brushes for the service projects. No problem. Minor and I calculated the amount, Daniel sent us his bank information, and I went to my bank to wire the money. No problem. I wired about $11,000 to Costa Rica that very day. The bank confirmed the wire went through and was in the National Bank of Costa Rica. The next day we receive information that Daniel could not withdraw the money because it was more than $10,000 and that his account had been frozen. The bank thought it looked a bit suspicious. It took almost a week before Daniel could convince the bank that we were a mission group and not drug runners!

Got an email from Steve Schneider from Mobile asking for contact information for Tim in New Orleans so he can make arrangements to take his boxes of supplies over to New Orleans to the container going out from there. I gave Steve Tim's email address and received a copy from Steve contacting Tim. I also received a copy of Tim's email response asking Steve to call him because there has been a change in plans. Tim is now taking all of my supplies, along with his, to Melbourne to ship out because only 1 container is now going instead of 2. Steve now has to take his stuff to Melbourne instead of New Orleans before the 20th so that it can make it on the container. I then receive an email from Gayle stating that Steve's truck broke down on the way to Melbourne and is having all kinds of trouble getting his stuff to her.

Ken Haab called me last night. He was contacted by American Airlines stating that anyone who purchased an airline ticket after February 1st cannot check 2 bags on the flight for free but will have to pay $30 for the 2nd bag. By the time I got off the phone with Ken I realized I wasn't even surprised, and that I must now just go ahead and change my name to Alexander. Maybe I could go by Alex, or even Al. However, anyone who helps me organize trips, and is a veteran to all of this knows that this happens all the time. It isn't even a trip without stuff like this happening. These are the bumps in the road, the hiccups along the way, that you deal with as you prepare for a trip like ours. After all, in the book Alexander gets upset over lots of things. He doesn't get a prize in his box of cereal, but he does get cereal. He doesn't get fancy tennis shoes, but he does get shoes. Alexander got what he needed, not necessarily what he wanted. And the same thing will be true for us as we get ready for this trip.

This doesn't mean we don't keep planning. It doesn't mean we don't try to plan the work and then work the plan. Quite the opposite. The only way to make a trip like ours run smoothly is to set due dates, plan schedules, and implement them. When a bump comes along, you deal with it and continue on your way. You adjust, fix, or solve the problem at hand and go on. I have used the analogy of a duck swimming on a pond. From the surface you see a duck swimming on the top of the water of the pond, gliding along with such beauty and grace. The duck looks so calm and he does everything with such little effort from your view point. What you don't see is what is going on under the water. Those little webbed feet are busy at work keeping the duck balanced and on course so that up top everything looks so smooth and perfect. Just know as you get ready to go on your trip, many people are busy at work getting everything done so that our trip will run as smoothly as possible.

So, we are coming down the home stretch. Remember, all money in the form of checks MUST, MUST, MUST be in my possession by May 28th (11 days from today!!!). Any money after that date has to be cash and cash cannot be sent in the mail. After May 28th any remaining balance has to be paid in cash in Costa Rica or Honduras, depending on which team you are on. Photocopies of passports are due now. We MUST have photocopies of ALL passports before we leave the country. Margaret will be giving me an updated list of things that are missing from everyone and I will be passing that information on ASAP. Time is beginning to run out and the stress level is rising. due dates are rapidly approaching and the pressure is on. Everyone has to do their part to make this trip go smoothly. Don't be the bump in the road or the hiccup that we have to deal with here. Do your part so that we can do ours.

Let me know if you have any questions. My excitement for the trips is blended with stress and concern but one thing is for sure, we are about 3 weeks away from launching out for Central America!!!!! Can you believe it? After all of this time we are just about there. The count down clocks on the blog says it all... ready or not, here we go! Hasta luego me amigos, Dios te bendiga!


Wednesday, May 4

Gear for sale

As our trips rapidly approach, some of you might already be starting to round up items from the packing list for your trip. 2 items on the list that are of importance is a rain jacket and a water bottle. Now, some of you might have old water bottles and jackets to take, which is great. Others might need to go out and buy these before the trip. I have a suggestion for you! We are having custom water bottles and rain jackets made for our trips this summer. Now, it is totally up to you, but you have a chance to buy some cool gear and let the profits of the sales go towards our work fund or you can save a couple of bucks and let the profits go to some store that does not have the people of Honduras and Costa Rica in mind.

The water bottle this year is very cool. It is a 32 ounce polyurethane bottle with a heavy duty screw on top with a pop up spout. Charcoal grey with Torch logo imprinted. These bottles retail in stores for $19 but we are selling ours for $12.

Rain jackets are water resistant with hood and draw string. The jacket folds up and is stored inside the front pouch pocket and can easily be stored in your backpack. It comes in 4 different colors! Red, Navy, black, and royal blue. Retails for $26 but we are selling ours for $22. Comes in sizes S-3X. Torch logo imprinted on left chest.

Orders must be placed by May 11th to give the supplier time to get the order ready. Contact me by email to place an order. Groups go through your group leader to place orders. Remember, profits will go into our work fund this summer to help assist in our projects! Hope to hear from you soon!