News flash. Don’t believe all the football polls. In my humble opinion, Clemson and Carolina both have good teams, but neither one is a top ten team..top twenty maybe. On any given game day, either team could beat anyone, or be beat by a Boston College or Vanderbilt.
Life goes on. This may come as a shock to us football fans, but there are much more important things in life than a football game. I know that it is blaspheme to say this in the south, but it is true. Maybe, just maybe, we could bring this passion that we have for sports and place it somewhere where it really matters. Following Jesus? Loving our fellow man? Helping the needy? Good night y’all. I will save the preaching for another day.

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Beach

Well, yesterday we made it to Puerto Rico and got settled into our hotel.  Beautiful to say the least.  This morning we began our trek to several areas where we use to live back in the 60’s and 70’s.  Some of the sights and sounds conjured up memories of things that happened over 40 years ago.

When we first moved to Puerto Rico, we lived in Guayama.  I was in Kindergarten.  Well, let me correct that last statement.  I was in Kindergarten for a few weeks.  I was a Kindergarten drop-out.  I hated school so much and my mom decided that Kindergarten was not essential.  (The truth be known she got tired of me crying and screaming on the way to school every day, so she pulled me out.)  Thank you mom!

All of us children, (Joyce, Lavoy and myself) remember the day we walked from our school to a public school up the street to get our booster shots.  It was our Via Dolorosa – the way of suffering!  It is amazing how much we remember a single event that left a scar on all of our arms…and obviously our memories.

But on to better memories.  Tomorrow we travel to Old San Juan and tour the old forts.  I am excited about that.  Well, got to get a good nights rest.  Another busy trip down memory lane tomorrow.

Well, the time has come.  I have not been back to Puerto Rico since I was in the 4th grade.  Let’s see…that must be 41 ago!  I am excited to go with family!  Joyce and Lavoy are older than me so they will serve as my memory refreshers.  Mom will share what it was like from a parent’s perspective,  Sherri and Daniel are along for the ride!  Sherri is going to love the beaches!  Daniel has never flown so I want to make sure I sit next to him on the plane tomorrow.  Well, it is after midnight and we have a full vacation ahead of us.  Got to get to bed and get ready to relive so memories and to make new ones.  Image

 

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May we never forget that freedom is never free…

Our last day in Orlando went great!  There is no way that I could capture in this blog all that happened today, so let me list a few highlights.  We began Wednesday morning by splitting our group into 2 teams.  One team went downtown Orlando to work in a rescue mission.  Jon Davis and Tam Odom led this team.  We did everything from make beds and clean rooms for homeless families, serve food in the dinning hall, hang out with the children when they came into the shelter after school, and share our faith.  It was incredible!  The staff at the mission said that we were the hardest working group that they had all year!

My team went back to Redeemer Church and handed out Easter postcards in a nearby subdivision for them.  We also washed and detailed cars/vans for single moms and other members of the church.  My favorite van that we cleaned was owned by a single mom who had 2 girls, one was 14 years old and in school and the other was in preschool.  They had been raising a sheep for a Future Farmers of America club at school, so the back of their van was full of hay!  We cleaned the van spotless and one of our students noticed that a break light was out on the van.  We ran to the local auto store to find a replacement bulb, and we fixed her light for her.  She was so appreciative.  She told me, “What a blessing!”

Scripture tells us, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27, NASB)  We did this and more during our trip to Orlando.  Our students represented our King well.  Saints were encouraged.  People heard the Gospel.  Widows and orphans were served.  This was a successful mission trip indeed!

I want to begin by apologizing for our Mission Trip posts going up late.  We are staying at a hotel that does not have WiFi, so this is really making it hard to for us to put up timely post.

Today was our “play day” on the mission trip.  We went to Disney Studios and had a great time.  The students said that they were amazed how much energy I had in the park.  They were getting tired and I was going strong!  For those who know me and my passion for all things Disney, this should not come as surprise.

While we laugh about my passion for Disney, I want our students to see a greater passion in me for serving the Lord and the people here in Orlando.  Tomorrow is our last day here and I pray that the Lord gives me strength to set the pace in that area as well.  I always want to be the first to serve and the last to leave whatever project we are working on.  I think that it is important to model for our students the joy and satisfaction that comes from serving God and the people that He loves.

Our last day here should be especially challenging and satisfying.  We are going to split our team into two groups.  One will be serving at an inner city mission feeding the homeless and helping needy families.  Our other group will be washing cars for single moms in the community, finishing some maintenance work, and handing out promotional material for the Easter Service at Redeemer Church.

I will give you an update tomorrow!

As we get ready for bed (it is 12:35 a.m. right now), I know that we are all going to be “cleaning” in our sleep!  We cleaned carpets, washed and waxed floors, built crosses for the church’s Easter service, scrubbed and cleaned the outside/front of the church building, cleaned out and repacked a large storage unit, washed/waxed and detailed 2 cars…and I think that about covers it!  Then, we had a little fun tonight by going to Downtown Disney.

Tomorrow we are going to a theme park to have some fun with the group (probably for about 13 hours)!  I challenged our students tonight during our meeting time to “party like it’s 1999” tomorrow in the park and on our last day here, Wednesday, “work like it was our last day on earth.”  By what I have seen from this group of students, I have every reason to believe that we will meet both challenges well!

Well, good night all.  It is almost 1 a.m. and a fun day awaits tomorrow (I guess really today).

We overcame the time change and made it to Redeemer Church on hour early this morning.  Our students enjoyed worshipping with the church and hearing Pastor Andrew share about what it means to be a “transformed church.”  He shared from 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 and mentioned that a transformed church is called to sacrifice, to share, and to serve.  Needless to say, this message really resonated with our students.

Really, that is what missions is all about!  We sacrifice time, energy, and resources to serve others.  We share kindness, possessions, and time with those who need it.  We serve selflessly, intentionally, and passionately.

After this morning’s worship service, we ate lunch, changed clothes, and went back to the church to begin the facility-wide cleaning project.  We unloaded closets and removed clutter.  We swept and mopped all of the tile floors.  We moved all of the chairs out of the sanctuary and vacuumed the entire building.  We even cleaned windows!  (I know what you are thinking parents…”I wish I could get my kids to do that at home!”)

Tomorrow, we are going to begin shampooing all of the carpet and stripping and re-sealing all of the tile floors.  We hope to finish the entire job by the end of the day.  On Wednesday, we are planning to go downtown Orlando and serve at a homeless shelter there.  Our students are excited about that as well.

That’s all for now.  It is getting near midnight and time for bed.  We will update everyone at the end of Monday!

Twenty two of us left Charleston Southern University this morning at a little past 9:00 a.m. to embark of the 2012 Spring Break Mission Trip to Orlando, Florida.  (Jon Davis is going to join us after he finishes preaching at his church tomorrow).  After driving through some rain and passing a few wrecks on the interstate, we arrived in Orlando and were greeted by Andrew Oates, pastor of Redeemer Church – www.redeemerorlando.com.  This is our second year of partnering with this new body of believers and we are looking forward to serving with them this week.

Since we were here last summer, Redeemer Church has been steadily growing.  Last year, we helped the church to renovate all of their Bible Study rooms.  We did an incredible amount of work in only 3 days.  This year, we are going to be doing more outreach projects in the community, so pray that God opens many doors for us to share His name.

Well, it is getting late and we are going to lose an hour of sleep tonight (daylight saving time ends).  So, it is time to go to bed.  We will update you tomorrow.  Have a great night.

No, I am not going to write about the great WW II Battle of the Bulge.  Instead, I want to talk briefly about my Battle of the Bulge…primarily around my waist!

One of the most depressing days of my life happened about 5 years ago when a cardiologist gave me the bad news. He said, “You are at the age now that no matter how hard you exercise, if you do not watch what you eat, you will put on weight.” Terrible news! All of my life, I have exercised like a madman and tried my best to stay very active. Why? So I could competed in Crossfit? Maybe in the World’s Strong Man competition? Possibly to maintain my athletic edge in the church league competitions! No, no, and no. It was for the simple reason that I could eat what I wanted to and not worry about putting on weight! Candy bars, ice cream, midnight snacks, soft drinks, chocolate…a sugar junkies HEAVEN!

But the news, the terrible news from my doctor was, “No more eating what you want.” So now my routine has changed. Well, not as much as it needs to. I still exercise like a mad man, but my eating has not slowed down enough. I am heavier than I have ever been and I am on medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. So now when people ask me, “What’s up?” I reply, “My blood pressure and weight!”

But I will not give up this fight! For it really is a fight for my life. So tomorrow morning, I will get up (Lord willing), eat a small bowl of cereal, and exercise for about 30-45 minutes. The Battle of the Bulge will rage on.

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