Our Mission Statement

Wednesday, November 30

Who wins?

Every Tuesday night we have a devo in the dorm. Sometimes we bring guest speakers or have a faculty member speak, and sometimes one of the guys in the dorm takes a turn. Unlike some of the other dorms, we do not have a theme this year so the lessons cover a wide spectrum of topics. Some are 3 point sermonettes (as any good preacher would deliver), some are long, some are short. Some guys are polished speakers and others are a bit timid. For some, it might even be the first time they have ever given a lesson in front of a crowd. All are good, but every now and then one is given that really catches my attention. This week's devo was one of them.

The lesson was given by one of our freshmen, a Bible major, from Mississippi. His opening statement got everyone's attention, "This lesson is going to be short, sweet, and to the point." Now, I use that phrase all the time around the dorm, especially when I call meetings. (That is my way of saying to listen up because I am going to cover the items quickly and will not repeat myself. Most of my all dorm meetings last 10 minutes or less) They guys in devo grinned and shook their heads in approval. I even heard a few "Amens" from where I was sitting.

He told us that was proud of his heritage, Irish and Chickasaw (interesting combination I must say). He heard a Chickasaw parable when he was growing up that he shared with us. There was once an elderly warrior who sat with his grandson one evening by the fire. The warrior told his grandson that there lived within each person 2 wolves that fight with each other. One wolf was evil and was filled with hatred, anger, malice, jealousy, and pride. The other wolf was good, filled with love, peace, happiness, and kindness. the grandson looked at his grandfather and said, "Which one wins?" The old warrior replied, "The one that you feed, it is the one that will win."

A 5 minute talk that was short, sweet, and to the point. Who wins? Good question.


Wednesday, November 9

The meeting of the minds

This past week Tim Hines and I attended the "Marching Toward Independence Of The Honduran People" conference in Atlanta. Hosted by the Consulate General of Honduras, the 2 day conference was attended by dozens of NGOs (Non-government Organizations) that work in Honduras. Tim represented IRC and I reperesented TORCH Missions. Nearly all of the groups there were faith based groups that work all over Honduras. It was really impressive to meet the representatives of the groups and hear what they are doing. Some were small church groups that work only a couple of weeks per year in Honduras while others were large organizations that work year round. Many were medical groups operating clinics and health care centers while others specialized in argriculture and well digging and water purification systems.

The General Consulate of Honduras, Emelisa Callejas, comes from a very powerful and politically influential family in Honduras and now works as Consulate in Atlanta. Her passion is NGOs and she is dedicating her efforts in helping groups like us have a better and more productive work in Honduras. She invited several Honduran government officals to the meeting to do presentations and to have question / answer sessions. Representatives from the Secretaries of Argriculture, Defense, Interior, Education, and Finance were presesent.

The focus of all the presentations was to share the new 30 year vision Honduras has in place to help develop the country and assist the people of Honduras. The presentations were quite impressive and were the exact presentations that were used when the current president, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, met with the United States. Sharing this vision to NGOs is one of the top priorities of the government because they realize that literally millions of dollars in aid and supplies are donated to the country every year through non-profits and that thousands of volunteers come to work in Honduras. Through coordinated efforts between the Honduran government, NGOs, and other international agencies and countries, Honduras is trying to put a plan into place that will get them off the road of poverty and onto a road to prosperity.

Although IRC / TORCH Missions is just 2 of many players on the field, it became obvious that we were major players in this meeting of the minds. Compared to the other NGOs, we were in the top tier of organizations as far as the number of workers we brought into the country, the amount of goods we shipped in for donation, and the impact we were making in the areas in which we work. Senora Emelisa Callejas, the General Consulate, was very much aware of who were are and what we do. She specifically asked for a private meeting with Tim and I the morning before the conference began.

Even though the morning was a buzz at the Latin American Association building getting ready for the conference (which started at 2:00) Tim and I arrived at the building at 9:30 for a 10:00 appointment with Senora Callejas. She is a warm and charming lady and spoke excellent English (which was good for me!). We met for about 45 minutes in her office and was able to discuss in detail some of the problems and frustrations that we have experienced shipping containers, red tape in paperwork, fees and delays that we have experienced, and other issues that have dampened and slowed down our work in Honduras. She was very concerned that Tim was able to name specific Congressmen and Sentators in the Honduran government, all that she knew personally, that had promised help in various ways, that never fully materialized. She was quite aware of the frustatations found within government and showed great compassion towards the things NGOs were going through. Although she could not promise specifc results, she did promise to do all she could within her ralm of influence (which we believe is immense) in helping us in our work. BTW, we were the only ones that received a private meeting during the conference.

The conference allowed the NGOs a chance to voice concerns on many issues, all of which were common amoung all of our groups. Of the 3,500 NGO groups working in Honduras, only 150 are registered and officially recognized by the Honduran government at this time. Being part of a small number will certainly have its benefits in weeks and months to come. Tim and I are cautiously optimistic that the government is going to impliment rules, laws, and changes that will certainly help us. We are one step closer to having tax exempt status for all goods and services we purchase in Honduras. We also believe that containers will be passing though customs and ports much faster with less paper work and headaches. This is a good start for us and for all of the NGOs in general. Hopefully we will be having more meetings in the future and that our realm of connections will grow and become even more effective as we work in Honduras.

On another note, Tim and I will be traveling to Costa Rica soon, as early as March, to begin meetings with the government there. Last year's trip to Buenos Aires opened up doors of opportunity that are rarely given to Americans working there. If all goes as planned, we will be one of the first groups that will be allowed to bring in a medical brigade to work in Honduras from the States. Tim and I, along with Minor Perez and Daniel Chaves, will be meeting with local government leaders and possibly national leaders as well, to begin developing the protocols that will be needed for medical personnel to come and work in Costa Rica. I guess I will be going out and buying more dress clothes, since my typical shorts and t-shirt garb will not be exactly up to speed meeting with government officals! Oh if my high school teachers could see me now....

As we approach my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, I hope and pray that you will spend time in the next few days reflecting on all of the good things that God has done for you in your life. God continues to give us what we need, many times in abundance, and provides for us in ways we seldom even realize. We should be eternally grateful and thankful for the blessing we have, both physically and spiritually. We truly have been blessed and I consider all of you some of my greatest blessings of all. And the blessing of being able to work together in a great ministry like TORCH has blessed the lives of countless thousands with more to come. Do not allow the Christmas blitz to overlook a time we should pause and give thanks.


Tuesday, November 1


November 1st! Today is the "official" launch date for the 2012 mission trips. Even though a LOT of people have been working on their trips for a while (recruiting, reserving spaces, promoting, and all of that good stuff), today is the day the applications, Spanish release forms, rules sheets, and packing list is ready to go. I have emailed the forms out to dozens of people this morning to get the ball rolling. If you did not get an email from me this morning please contact me so that I can get the information to you ASAP.

Although the early bird reservations are not set in stone and the numbers will change, here is where we are at as of November 1st:

Costa Rica trip - May 26 - June 4: 60 spots reserved with 5 spots still remaining.
Honduras #1: June 28 - July 7: 74 spots reserved with 11 spots still remaining.
Honduras #2: July 7 - July 16: 65 spots reserved with 20 spots still remaining.

I am now recruiting Spanish translators and medical personnel for all 3 teams. Once these are in place the teams will be set and ready to go. I am still taking applications for interns for this summer. This is the last week to get applications, essay, and 3 letters of recommendation in for consideration. Intern selections will be made on November 18th.

The cost for any of the 3 trips this year will be $800.00 per person plus the cost of the airline ticket. All paperwork and $200.00 deposit are due on March 20th. However, anyone who turns in all paperwork and deposit by January 20th will have $50 waived from their final payment. Final payment is due June 1st for the Honduras teams, May 1st for the Costa rica team. By paying early we can make early payments of reservations which will allow us to get better deals. As always, flight information will be given out soon so that you can begin shopping for the best deal.

It is not too early to begin collecting supplies for the trip. Hygiene items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, bar soap, shampoo, etc. will be needed and there is no way we can collect to much. Toys, stuffed animals, crayons, and infant clothing and shoes are needed as well. Additional items will be posted later as we begin collecting specifics for each trip. I already have a 10'x10' storage unit full of supplies that have come in so far! Remember our motto when collecting supplies, "No Junk For Jesus!" Make sure used items are clean and in good condition. You can find amazing deals at yard sales and thrift stores.

Let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do to help. Remember to keep Tim and I in your prayers this week as we head to Atlanta. Hopefully many good things will come from our meetings and the conference. I will be writing again soon to let you know how it goes!