What a summer in Honduras. I arrived on June 11th - a short week after Nicole's wedding and there was already a TORCH team working. The Mark Connell / Larry Sawyer group arrived about a week before me and they had already been very busy building, feeding, teaching, and - well, just being the hands and feet of Jesus. This team was a mix of folks from Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. This group was about 60 strong and didn't quit until it was time to go home. This is also the team that had been the "trainers" for three of the four men that I was blessed to work with for the summer - Bret Flannery & Andy Sawyer are from Louisville and cousin Stephen Sawyer is from Indiana. Bret just graduated from Lipscomb and Stephen and Andy are seniors at Harding. (My other work partner was Andy Hubright from Lipscomb). These guys are the best TORCH Builders that I have ever worked with! (my groups have built over 180 houses so - I've seen a lot of builders)
Anyway, the Connell/ Sawyer team built about 16 houses and packed out several tons of food. This team - as usual also worked right in the heart of the rainy season - so almost every day on the mountain- it rained - (drops as big as small cars) - and rained, and rained.
In the midst of the second week of the Connell/ Sawyer team, a group of 35 from Ohio - led by Donna (Dynamo) Brothers. This group of 100% first-timers worked nonstop for the 8 or so days that they were in Hondo. Donna - assisted by Jen Wright led this team in building more than 10 houses, delivering about 5 tons of food, teaching and loving 100's of kids, touching the lives of even more children at several of the area children's homes, and many other projects.
Right on the heels of the Brothers team, the combo groups of Gayle Davidson - Melbourne, FL & Mark Halbert of Tupelo, MS - This group of 100 came to work and work they did! There were multiple house building teams, medical teams, VBS groups, food distribution groups, and many great things were done in a bunch of comunities. Here are the numbers - there were 19 houses and 2 Sunday School Classrooms constructed, there were at least 5 days of medical clinics in many communities including - Santa Ana, San Migual, and others. More than 1000 people were treated for their medical needs by this team. This team also delivered about 18,000 pounds of food to really hungry people, they led 1000's of children in VBS, there were 100's of visits to children in hospitals, and the lives of both Honduran's and the mission team were changed forever.
As soon as the group from Florida/ Mississippi departed, we were blessed to have the team from the Campus Church in Atlanta. This small group was amazing in both their willingness to work and the love that they showed to the people of Honduras. Led by Kin & Donna Ellis, the 18 folks started their week by building a home for a young mother and her 8 day old baby. What a blessing to see this team work through the day in a total downpour to make sure that a baby could live in a warm dry place. This smaller team spent other days at children's homes, in Hospital Esquala, at the special needs orphanage, and working in communities where the needs are impossible to describe. Everywhere they went, they were a blessing to the people they met and they were blessed in return. This group delivered food to more than 4oo families and also helped two children's homes with food supplies.
Before the Ellis Team was on their way to Roatan, the first of the two Terry Reeves teams arrived. I was personally blessed by this first team because they arrived on the same day that I needed to finish closing out our old warehouse and moving it to our new warehouse. The Reeves group sent in an army of workers to help with this nasty-dirty-stinky project and we knocked it out in a short 4 hours. This team also rescued us by arriving just in time to unload a massive container - (it just happened that it was the Reeves container and it could be that the timing of the release from customs was arranged so that it had to be unloaded on the date that the Reeves team arrived....could be?) Anyway - the 60 folks from Terry's team arrived over a 3 day period and - once on the ground, they focused on work in children's homes, in hospitals, in food distribution, VBS, and in construction. This team built 5 houses, they distributed more than 20,000 pounds of food, blessed 1000's of kids - and all of this in only 6 days. The team was only in Tegucigalpa for this short time as they also planned work in Southern Honduras. Down south, the team worked in laying concrete in the floor of a new church building, in medical clinics, in building a massive playground for children at the new church, in VBS, and in touching and changing the lives of everyone that they came into contact with.
Terry Reeves - Part 2 arrived next. This team came from Columbia, SC and was about 45 strong. There is one part of this team that loves to dig footers and lay concrete and for 8 days, that is what they did. A new day care facility is being constructed in San Miguel and everyday at 7 AM a group of gringo's went to work mixing concrete (HONDO Style). It is painful to think about the sore muscles that were part of life for this group. While the concrete was being mixed and poured - the rest of the team was building houses, delivering food, treating the sick, teaching about Jesus, and serving others. This team built 4 houses, delivered over 20,000 pounds of food, held clinics that treated over 1000, and worked to change the lives of everyone that they met.
Toward the end of the work for Reeves II, my team from all over the country came in. We were blessed to be able to share meals, devotionals, and the mission house with the group from SC for about 3 days. The Tindall team was about 87 strong and came ready and loaded for work. We were sent out every day as builders, comforters (at Hospital Esquala), teachers - in VBS & evangelism, feeders (packing and distribution of food), and in many other ministries. The team had 2 to 4 people working and staying at Casa de Esperanza every day, there was at least 8 team members that dedicated their day to being Jesus for the kids at the hospital - every day. The builders finished 21 houses and continuing into the next team - finished the 24 that were the goal. (More houses from this team will be built in September when I am permanently in Hondo) There were 28 baptisms that resulted from the work done by the evangelism part of this team. More than 12,000 pounds of food was deliered to hungry families. Work was done in more than 6 different communities. Medical teams treated more than 1000 in the 5 days of clinics - many in places where people hadn't seen a doctor in years - if ever. Everyone on this team was a blessing and was blessed by the work that was accomplished.
The last group of the season arrived on July 28th - from the Lexington Church in South Carolina. The group of 18 was led by Tom Gilroy and all but one or two were first timers. It is always great to be with first timers in Honduras and to see them open their eyes to the needs of the "real world" ... to see their faces with they look into the eyes of the children and see Jesus looking back at them. It is amazing to see the tears flow from the eyes of the tough guys when they stand to pray with a family that has a new house - only because our God chose these "tough guys" to come to Honduras to be a part of an answered prayer. I like to take first timers to Hospital Esquala to see their reaction to the children that lie in the cancer ward or in the area of the hospital where the kids were found to be starving to death.
I saw all of this with the Lesington Team and I saw my friend Jesus in them and the way they reacted to the people and the needs that they came to serve. This team built 3 more houses and delivered more than 6,000 pounds of food to some really hungry people. They showed the compassion of Jesus, they touched lives and their own lives were touched in return. As a matter of fact, 2 members of the same family - Sasha & Demi Lane both saw Jesus very clearly and both confessed his name and were baptized. Pray for them as they begin their walk.
I would be remiss if I didn't also commend the Spring Break team from Belpre, Ohio - about 40 strong. This team built more than 10 houses and worked in many areas. Led by Jennifer Wright (director of Casa de Esperanza) the team fed, taught, loved, and blessed many many people from both Honduras and the Ohio.
The year has seen more than 475 TORCH Team members in Honduras. (Terry Reeves also led a team of 30+ to Brazil and several of his first group travelled to El Salvador.) Our teams this year have distributed more than 100,000 pounds of food, they have treated more than 3000 in medical clinics, they have built at least 95 houses and Sunday School classrooms for 2 different congregations, There have been 100's of visits made to childen in the hospial, children's homes were a part of every groups ministry, VBS happened almost every day of the summer, countless numbers of people studied the gospel and 28 people chose Jesus to be the Lord of their lives.
Our God is an AWESOME GOD!
It has been a great year in Honduras.