It has been less than 10 days since I posted the trip information for next summer's trips. The initial response has been amazing, if not overwhelming. Even though it is still only mid-August, many people are already setting up their schedules and requesting vacation time for next summer so that they will be able to participate on one of the trips. I constantly am amazed how God is using Torch Missions, an organization that began with 20 people back in 1988, today, and how many people it touches, both here and abroad. God truly does move in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.
Over the past week and a half, I have received dozens of emails and even a couple of phone calls to discuss next year's trips and to "reserve" places on the teams. I have met and talked with new youth groups, Christian schools, and congregations that are seeking information to get involved with Torch Missions next year. I am also well aware of the fact that it is still mid-August, and for many next summer's plans are not even on the horizon yet. The posting of the dates has started in motion plans that used to start after Thanksgiving or even Christmas break. I know it is hard for many to know what they can and will be doing next summer and may not be able to commit to any of the trips yet. However, I really am going to stand firm on capping the trips to bring the size of each team into a more realistic number that will make staging the trips easier for all involved. This does indeed put pressure on those who have gone on previous trips to commit earlier than usual to get your spot reserved.
The wear and tear of running mega teams is tough on me and those who have been faithfully helping with the trips over the years. Someone recently pointed out to me that I am not as young as I used to be! Can you believe that? In reality they said what I have been feeling the past couple of years... that statement is correct. In reality I have actually increased the number of days I am spending on mission trips over the past 5 years. Last year I was gone 34 days; this coming year I will be gone 41 days on 4 different trips. My current job at Freed-Hardeman has given me the freedom to do more trips and I am taking full advantage of it. However, being better organized and scheduling my time must be done well to compensate for the "getting older" thing. In other words, I am trying to replace the "shooting from the hips" and running with reckless abandon with organization, delegation, and planning. It is a tough transition (Some might even call it a maturing process... but I am not sure I would go that far!) but one that has to be made and one that will be for the better.
Why am I saying all of this? Well, it is pretty simple, really. I need those of you that are thinking about going on next year's trip to start planning, organizing, communicating, and moving towards getting signed up for a trip. I am excited to know that new faces and groups are going to be on this coming summer's trips, but I want the veterans and long time faithfuls to get signed up before the trips fill up. I am actively recruiting evangelists, translators, medical personnel, and other skilled workers for the trips. I predict that the 2012 trips will be full way before the end of the year. Once they are full waiting lists will begin like I did last summer. Last summer we had over 20 people that wanted to go on one of the trips but did not get to go because a spot did not open up for them. This year might be the same.
The Costa Rica trip has been expanded from 45 to 60 this year. The hotel we stayed at in Buenos Aires has a larger capacity that we thought so it gives us room to add more people. We currently have 20 spots already reserved, leaving 40 spaces. Although the 2 Honduras teams will be capped at 85 this summer, it gives me the ability to add 50 additional people (from 120 to 170 total). The 1st Honduras trip already has 40 spots reserved, leaving 45 spaces. The 2nd Honduras trip has 20 spaces reserved, leaving 65 spots. As you can see, in less than 10 days 80 spots have been reserved for 2012. I hope you are one of them or will be 1 of the 150 spots that are remaining.
I will be taking applications for interns for the Honduras trips this summer. Interns and extended trip team members will be in Honduras for approximately 24 days this summer. It will include arriving early (AKA the Advance Team) and will stay 2-3 days after the 2nd team leaves. The internship will be open for upper class high school students (11th and 12th graders), college students, young professionals and adults who can take off for the duration of the trip. More information about this in the next blog!
I am very excited about the opportunities that await for next year. I am excited about the theme and the different Bible lessons and VBS classes that can be planned around it. I even have the t-shirt design almost ready! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, ideas, suggestions, comments, etc., I would love to hear from you. Take care and get those day planners out and make your plans for 2012, we want you on the team!