It is that time of the year when people are submitting requests for vacation time for next year and youth ministers are setting up summer calendars. Several have called and emailed asking for the summer dates for next year so after spending a lot of time staring at calendars trying to make everything fit, the 2013 dates are ready. As always, it looks good on paper! Hopefully this will all work out and work out well, and even more importantly I hope the dates will fit the schedules of all of those who wish to go on a trip this summer.
The first trip is a closed trip, meaning at this time I am not recruiting participants. Coach Jonathan Estes, the baseball coach for Freed-Hardeman University, is teaming up with TORCH to conduct a mission trip this summer to Panama June 2-11. As of now the trip is closed and is going to be offered only to the players, coaches, trainers, and immediate family of the players, along with a few interpreters. The team will be playing baseball in one of the baseball academies of Panama, working out with 17-21 year old players there and playing exhibition games at night. During the day we will be working with local congregations doing service projects and mission work.
BUENOS AIRES, COSTA RICA - JUNE 11-21. The trip to Costa Rica this year will again be in Buenos Aires working with Daniel Chaves and his family. Over the past 2 years of work there we have been able to do a lot of work and plan on building on what we have started. The trip will include door knocking; VBS classes at the local schools; devotionals; gospel meeting; men's Bible training seminar; women's Bible class; service projects; and medical brigade. The trip also includes a retreat in northern Costa Rica to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano. Along with sight seeing we will go to the Baldi Hot Springs Thermo Resort for a day. Cost of the trip is $820 per person plus airfare and spending money.
HONDURAS TRIP #1 - JUNE 22 - JULY 2. The first trip to Honduras will spend 1/2 of the time in Choluteca, working in the village of Agua Agria, with the local church. Timeteo Estrada is from here and will be working with us. Plans will include expanding the playground we started this past summer; additional construction projects; VBS, gospel meeting; work on the school buildings; and medical clinic. The second half of the trip will be in Tegucigalpa where the team will construct houses; distribute food, clothes, and shoes; visit Hospital Esquela, the Blind School, and Didasko; along with other service projects. Cost of this trip is $820 plus airfare and spending money.
HONDURAS TRIP #2 - JULY 4-14. The second trip to Honduras will work in and around Tegucigalpa (Mololoa, Nueve Oriental, Santa Ana, San Miguel, etc.). This trip will build houses; distribute food, clothing, and shoes; VBS; visit Hospital Esquela, Blind School, Special Needs Orphanage (Bencaleth); work at Didasko Orphange; The Manna Project Feeding Center; FEMOSA Day Care; providing lunch at the city dump; service projects; devotionals; and more. The cost of this trip is also $820 plus airfare and spending money.
There are openings for all 3 trips (Costa Rica, and Hondo #1 & Hondo #2). Applications are ready and can be mailed or emailed to you. As always, the money for the trip pays for the following: airport taxes, tips, and fees; all lodging (hotel rooms or retreat centers); Torch tee shirt; country exit fees; ground transportation (bus rentals, bus drivers, insurance, fuel, parking, etc); truck rentals (insurance, fuel); delivery fees (for lumber, food, etc); Torch journal; work fund (tools, equipment, lumber, tin, bulk foods, etc); most meals; supplemental travel health insurance; IRC administration fee; and misc. expenses (stamps, postage, envelopes, shipping, storage, etc).
The theme for this year's trips is "The Power of 1: Ephesians 4: 4-6 / 1 Body, 1 Spirit, 1 Calling, 1 Hope, 1 Lord, 1 Faith, 1 Baptism, 1 God! It is going to be a great year and I look forward to working with you.
Feel free to contact me for more information or to get materials sent to you. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Take care and God bless. One in Christ!
Thursday, July 19
And then there were 14….
Hello to you all back home!! I hope the main group made it to their homes safely!! I can’t speak for the others, but I miss you guys SOOOOOO much!! Yesterday, we sent the majority of the team back home to the states with 18 remaining.
The group of 18 met up with four individuals at Baxter institute and made our way to one of my favorite villages. We worked in the feeding center and visited the day care for a few hours the made our way to the La Tigra rainforest the deliver about 40 bags of food that had been leftover. At about 4 we gathered our things and loaded the buses to go eat at the best Steak House ever!!!!! We spent a good amount of time fellowshipping with one another and sharing some stories. After supper we said our good byes to four of the 18 and made our way to Janet Hines house in Santa Ana. The 14 remaining team members, 10 being interns, enjoyed a reflection time of the trip. We discussed different experiences that stood out the most to us. It was very touching hearing different stories that had special meaning to everyone. After a little time reflecting we made our way to bed.
Now the fun part of the story…. Terry has made special arrangements for the interns and has kept it a secret the entire trip. The interns have been so funny trying to figure out what the “special projects” are going to be. Terry, Margaret, Jenny and I have all put in false clues about the project. By the end of last night most of the interns were convinced they would be doing a poverty simulation. A few years ago I had the privilege to be a part of a team that did do one. It was probably the most humbling experience I have ever had, and I am thankful for the experience. This morning the interns had prepped themselves to be a part of a simulation, HAHA!! I’m actually really proud of them. They discussed, as a team, what items that would be most needed. Great teamwork!!! Instead, the team went to Mi Esperanza to be part of the worker’s community service hours. We had manicures and pedicures and our hair done. The interns were hysterical!! After we were finished, we went to the Mall for lunch!! We spent a couple hours there eating, while Margaret and Terry bought groceries for the remainder of the trip. At about we made our way back to Janet’s house to begin prepping for dinner. Tonight Terry grilled hamburgers for us tonight! Dinner was so yummy!! After dinner, we had devo. Terry led us in our thoughts tonight. He discussed the journals entries with us. He basically showed us why he writes the journals the way he does. The purpose is keep our focus on what is important. The journal topic that stood out to me was the one motivating the team to just do it. As Christians, we can become extremely tired and lack motivation. The important thing to remember is the reason we are here, and that is to share Jesus, even when we are wiped out!! This is a difficult task, but if I can do it here I know I can do it back home.
After Devo, Terry told us the plans for tomorrow. He was going to try and keep it a secret, but he didn’t. Tomorrow we will be spending some time together at a water park here in Teguc. The team will have the option to sleep in until about 9:00. I think they were happier with the sleeping in part, personally. So tomorrow will be a fun day for us to spend some time together. I am headed to bed now, but I will be back tomorrow!! Good night!! Love you all!!
Monday, July 16
Last day… The last day is always difficult, but fun!! It is a time we can spend a day together to fellowship and spend lots of money for good causes!! When the last day falls on a Sunday it is an even bigger treat!!
Today the team was able to sleep in until about 7:30. Terry preordered cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Everyone had to be ready and on the bus by 8:30 to leave for Los Pinos for worship!! One of the greatest things about the trips to Honduras is worshiping with the locals!! Worship began at about 10:00 this morning. Singing was AMAZING!!! Steve Schneider brought us our lesson this morning with Minor Perez interpreting. After an amazing service, the gringos loaded the buses and went to the Mi Esperanza store. This is a place that gives us the opportunity to give back to the women of Honduras. To give you a little information about Mi Esperanza, it is an organization started by Lori Connell and Janet Hines. The goal was to help empower the women of Honduras. Women here are not held to high standards, but this is a way that they can learn a trade and support themselves. To learn more and read about success stories please go to www.thewomenofmyhope.org
After spending some time shopping at Mi Esperanza, we loaded the buses and went to the Valley of Angels for lunch and more shopping. Many of us enjoyed Pupussas, a yummy yummy food!! After spending some time eating, we walked around and enjoyed the beauty of the Valley and spending more money!! After two hours of shopping we loaded the buses and made our way back to Teguc. for dinner. We were given the option to choose a variety of restaurants at the mall. The team spent about an hour and a half fellowshipping with one another.
At about 8:30 we made in back to the mission house to begin evening devo. Terry Reeves brought us a lesson and gave a brief wrap up of the trip. Terry incorporated the ideas from Steve’s lessons and encouraged us to continue the battle!! One thing that stood out to me, was Terry making the comment about us winning the battle but still being at war. The devil has been wounded, but will return to strike again. We must be prepared when he strikes, because he will strike again!! The unofficial wrap up is this:
· We had 4 worship services with the locals with a total of about 1,000 in attendance
· The medical team saw about 400+ patients
· The team gave out clothes to over 400 individuals and left the remaining clothing with the community leader
· We conducted two daughters of the king
· Built a playground
· Build 5 houses
· Visited Didasko, the Special Needs Orphanage, the Blind School, and the hospital.
· Gave out over 300 meals to those in the landfill
· Gave out about 250 bags of food.
· Made repairs at the Didasko orphanage.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!!
Tomorrow the team will head back to the states. I’m so sad that this is our last night together. There is a group of about 14 staying for a couple more days, but it is still very sad!! Thank you so very much for all of your prayers and kind messages!!! Please remember Honduras is your prayers!! Love you all!!
Sunday, July 15
We Gotta do better!!
Throughout the day I’ve had the lyrics to Human by Natalie Grant in my head so I wanted to share those lyrics with you all.
Every life has a choice
To rise up to fill the void
Every heart has a mission
And we are called to be human
We gotta do better than this 'cause we only got
One chance to make a difference
We gotta do better than this 'cause we only got
One life that we've been given
A little love, a little kindness
A little light in this time of darkness
It'll be what makes us different
It'll be what makes us human
I'm human, you're human, we are human
We are marked with His image
And we are scarred with indifference
Maybe now we should listen
Hear the cry of God's children
Coming to Honduras can be very challenging!! This year it seems like every devo has centered on not only our time here, but also what we take back home with us! Emphasis has been placed on our zeal! In Honduras, sharing Jesus seems so easy but we are all human and we are all marked in His image!! I cannot believe that today was our last day of workday!! I hate this part of the trip. One member of our team will be going back home tomorrow and I DO NOT WANT THIS PERSON TO LEAVE US!! Rodolfo will be going back to Costa Rica! He has done an amazing job working with us this trip. He has been patient and assisted in translating daily!! All of our translators are AMAZING!!! Rudy will be missed very much!! We love him very much and hope to see him soon!!
Ok…so let’s began… Today was an AMAZING day!! The team had breakfast this morning at the same time as usual. This morning we had ham and cheese omelets, potato wedges, and toast. At 8 we met for devo. Steve Schneider shared some encouraging words with us this morning. After devo we split into two construction teams and a visitation team.
The Construction teams did an amazing job today. The build sites this year has been fairly easy!! Usually we might have to move a mountain or two, or bust up several boulders, but this year we God was very good to us. One thing that is very important about construction is the importance of Teamwork!! This year our team has been fabulous. GOD IS GOOD!! Also, we have had some local Honduran teens working with us on the build sites!! If it were not for them, I’m sure we would not have been able to build as sufficiently as we have been!! A quick thanks to the Western Hills Church of Christ again for the house warming gifts, the families loved them!!
The visitation team went to the store to purchase as much Gatorade as possible for a Gatorade blitz. We then drove around Teguc. a little while doing the Gatorade blitz while we were waiting for the chicken to finish at KFC. I love doing the Gatorade blitz!! Basically, what we do is drive around the city looking for the street workers. When we spot one or twelve, we jump of the bus (when it is stopped of course) and give them Gatorade. The looks are what are priceless. They do not know what to think, but then their faces light up in thanks! After a while we went by KFC to get the chicken to take to Didasko. Our group had the privilege of spending the day at the children’s home with 25 beautiful kids!! We were able to serve them KFC for lunch, as well. After lunch we spent a good while playing with them all!! Then we set up for the daughters of the king. We had about 14 girls we worked with, washing hair, styling hair, washing feet, and painting toes and fingernails. Each girl also received a dress made by the Northside Church of Christ!! We were also able to wash the little boys hair and give them donated shirts and sandals. After we were finished, the group played with the children for a few hours. Jonathan Smith taught some of the children drumming patterns and had a mini band going!! A small group was able to meet with Jorge (the director) and toured the facility. He discussed the need of the orphanage and the struggles they have had. At about 3:45 we had to say our good byes. It is a very hard thing to do!! This orphanage has come to mean a lot to members of Terry’s team over the past year. The kids are wonderful, and Jorge and Rosa are amazing individuals. Please pray for this orphanage and those running it.
When we arrived back at the mission house it was time for supper. Tonight we had chicken, mashed potatoes, and veggies. I am really going to miss the food!!! At 8 we had our evening devo. Steve from brought us our lesson tonight. I have enjoyed Big Steve’s lessons so much. It has been such an encouragement and preparation for me. I cannot believe we only have one more day as a whole team in Honduras. This is the hardest part for me. I have enjoyed sharing all of the experiences with you guys, and I hope you have been able to take a piece of Honduras with you as well. Tomorrow we will be going to Los Pinos for worship then a day of shopping in the Valley of Angels. Please continue to remember the team in your prayers. We will be home soon, and I’m sure everyone will have many stories to share with you!! Thanks you so much!!
Love you guys!!
Saturday, July 14
Hey everyone!! I hope you are all doing fantastic. Today was another wonderful day God blessed us with. Team work was seen everyone where within our team and the locals.
Today began like the rest, with breakfast between 8 and 7 (PANCAKES!! and fruit!!), then devo at 8:00. Jonathan Smith led us in a few thoughts this morning to begin our day. After devo, we divided into three groups; construction1, construction 2, and visitation.
The Construction teams left out at about 9:30ish, give or take several minutes, and went to the grocery store to stock up on water, Gatorade, and something for lunch. At about 10:15 we made our way to the sites. Construction team number one was dropped off first. They unloaded the tools and hiked to the site. After they were off the bus, construction team number 2 was dropped off at there site and had to make a hike as well. The construction teams were AMAZING today!! I’ve heard several stories from team one about the build and the blessing of providing a family with a home. I was on team two, and had the honor of assisting in building a home for a husband and wife who had been injured in an accident. They have one little girl, who is just beautiful. After we completed the home, we gathered the family and prayed with them. Thanks to Western Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, TN, we were also able to provide them with a house warming box. In the box, there are several items from toys to pots and pans. Western Hills also provided the family with a Bible. When the father saw the Bible his expression was one that would move anyone’s heart. Out everything in the box, he picked the Bible up first and thanked the team. There are no words that can describe that feeling!! To God be the glory!!
The visitation team visited the Special Needs Orphanage and the Blind School. It is always difficult, emotionally, to visit orphanages here, but the these two are at the top for most difficult. The team had the honor of feeding the special needs individuals and spending quality time with them. Our physical therapist also worked with the high needs individuals. After a couple hours at the special needs orphanage, the team went to the Blind School to visit. Here they met with the children, and spent time giving goodies to them. After a while, they made there way into the dinning room to sing. First the group sang, then the children at the blind school sang. It is truly angelic to hear them sing. I think I might have some video, and if I do I will try to post it.
When both teams were finished with their task, they made their way back to the mission house for dinner. Tonight was, by far, THE BEST MEAL EVER!!!!! The kitchen staff made rice, beans, beef tips, homemade chips, the best pico de gico ever, and tortillas. Imagine the best meal you ever had….got it?....This was better!! I could probably write an entire blog just on the meal, HAHA!! Moving right along…. At 7 we loaded the buses to go to the Jesus Statue for devo. (Sorry I didn’t let you guys know we were going to the Jesus Statue, we will be streaming live tonight.) It is always a treat to visit the Jesus Statue and worship. From the Statue, we could see the city of Teguc. We spent a little time taking pictures, then we began worship with singing. Steve Johnson shared encouraging words about the importance of knowing and utilizing God’s word. After the lesson we took a few more pictures then made our way back to the mission house for the night.
Tomorrow is our last work day and I am not happy about it. Not only do I love spending time in Honduras, but I love sharing this time with this team!! Everyone has worked so hard this trip!! Please continue to pray for the team and the work. We look forward to seeing you all and share our individual stories. God bless you all!!
Love you all