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Last Stop, Costa Rica

We packed into the van, our destination unknown. The sun had set a while ago, it was completely dark outside. We turned onto the dirt road and headed further into the rainforest. I wondered how much further it would be, we had been driving for a while. At some point the road had to end and as sure as the thought entered my mind, our bus came to a halt. 

I could faintly make out an old rundown shack out to the right. The darkness made it hard to see anything.  We walked towards it, or at least in the direction we thought it was, only to find a man blocking our path. 

He said a couple words in Spanish and then turned and walked away. We followed at a brisk pace and I immediately thought to myself, this is super sketchy. 

He walked very quickly. We did too, so as not to lose him in the darkness. We emerged onto the beach yet the darkness remained as the clouds hid the moonlight. The sound of crashing waves and crabs scampering across our feet only added to the eerie feeling inside of me. I jokingly thought to myself, this guy is probably leading us to our death. And while I was joking, a part of me realized it was a definite possibility. 

Here we were, following some random guy we just met in the woods. I still had yet to even see his face. He was walking us down the beach in complete darkness to who knows where. Probably leading us into a band of his goons. From then on out, I was definitely in super reactive defense mode.  If the wind so much as brushed my shoulder I was turned around ready to fight someone. Paranoia was setting in. 

Suddenly he stopped. I thought to myself, oh great this can’t be good. He said something in Spanish, and started walking very quickly in the direction we had just come.

What was he doing? We had just come from that way…? We literally walked like two miles in one direction and now he turned around to walk back. Was he wearing us out only to make us more vulnerable victims? I demanded some sort of explanation!

As if he read my mind, he turned around and said “Vamanos…Crocodiles!” 
“Wait…Crocodiles?!.. What??
On the beach? I didn’t sign up for this…
But when you hear the word crocodiles, you don’t stop and argue. You turn the other way and get moving. And thats exactly what I did!

What were we doing, you may ask? I had no idea
What did we sign up to do? Save the Turtles-(rescuing turtle eggs from harmful predators)
Was it what you expected? Not in the least bit, but all the same a very cool experience.

You see we signed up to “Save theTurtles” however this experience felt more like a beachside drug deal. Let’s just say I won’t ever start laughing again when someone mentions were saving turtles. 

Needless to say, it was indeed a turtle refuge program and we were indeed on a mission to save some turtle eggs. Unfortunately the crocodiles hindered our ability to pickup eggs, but we did get to see where all the eggs were buried and protected from damage until the right time. At no point were we really ever in danger(besides the possibility of walking into crocs) and I think everything seemed a little bit more extreme because of the heightened uneasiness from the darkness. And we were able to leave with a great story!

This is just one of the many great/funny stories from Costa Rica! We only have a few more days left, but the past couple of days have been really cool. We’ve had the chance to do street ministry, work with kids groups and help paint a church. Hopefully I’ll get another blog up about the rest of the stuff because I do have some good stories!

TC 

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Nice, France (pronounced more like niece) has been our home for the past 5 days and it is absolutely gorgeous. It is located in Southern France right off the Mediterranean. We are staying in a smaller town right outside of Niece called St. Paul (also where the church is located which makes sense because we’re staying in the church) Literally everything from the old architecture and narrow streets to the corner cafes is picture perfect. It is exactly what you would picture a small old French town to look like and add a bunch of tourists and you’ve go yourself St. Paul.

Like I said before, we are working with/staying at the International Baptist Church, which has two locations- one in St. Paul and the other in Nice. Over the past couple of days we’ve been helping out the church in really whatever ways they need us to help out. We’re kind of like the utility guys. So far we’ve helped clean out an older church members apartment (it was super dirty, and we are having to go back for second and third trips to finish a little bit of it), taught in bible study,  helped prepare for a VBS-type program, and helped with a basketball camp which is also going on. The summer months of July and August are some of the churches busiest times (outside of Christmas) and so I am glad we were able to ease a little bit of the strain and stress of having to prepare for all the activites.

Now, I know what many of you are probably thinking… how is it that you are going on a mission trip to Nice, France one of the most beautiful places in the world? You call that a mission trip?!? Where are the straw huts? Where are the starving children? Where is all the suffering? Where is the need? And I think many of us as a team struggled with this thought in transitioning from India and Africa, where there appeared to be such a great need for many of the simplest resources in life. Going from these places where five dollars could feed a family for a couple of days to a place where five dollars was used everyday on your afternoon snack.

It certainly wasn’t an easy transition, but one thing we quickly learned was that Nice is in great, great need. It really doesn’t look like it is, but the people here are starving. And the unfortunate thing is many of them don’t even realize it. You see, Nice, like much of France, is a spiritually dry place. I think the percentage of Protestant believers is something extremely low, like 2%. Most people here have been caught up in a materialistic bubble and don’t have any sort of motivation to get out of it. There are many many wealthy people who have big houses, nice cars, and live in a place that has great food, great culture, beautiful beaches, and great shopping. They seem to think that they have everything they need.

Yet they don’t seem to realize that the one thing they really need (Jesus) is the one thing they are all missing. And so that is what presents itself as a great challenge here in Nice. Trying to convince someone who thinks they have everything that they really have nothing. It’s very similar to America, and is very challenging to share the gospel. France is a spiritually dead place, and it require a lot of patience and perserverance in letting the Holy Spirit work through peoples hearts while we maintain obedient in sharing the good news of eternal life in Jesus.

France needs missionaries! Needs them badly. You don’t have to live in a straw hut and eat rice and beans for five months to call it a mission trip. Mission trips are not defined by our ability to suffer an uncomfortable and abnormal lifestyle but through our response to sharing the name of Jesus to places that need it. And that is exactly what France needs, people who are willing to come into this country and serve the Lord with loyalty and patience. In fact it might be one of the most difficult places to do ministry, not because your physical circumstances are stretched but because the people are so hard to reach. It will not be easy and it will be frustrating. But at the same time I believe that living with a purpose, especially one that is to make a difference in lives, is well worth the fight. There is a great need in France.

And so that is one of the reasons that I am so excited about our ability to help serve here in France, is because you know that what you are working for is so greatly needed. I can’t wait to see where God leads our group in the next couple of days. Hope to put up a picture blog of some stuff from India and Africa here soon. So stay tuned!

Thanks,

TC

So we finally arrived in Entebbe, Uganda a couple of days ago and boy was the weather nice. After having lived in 100 degree weather everyday with no A/C, it was such a relief to step outside and not instantly start sweating. After we landed we were greeted by our contact/host Natalie who works for the orphanage and who took us on a nice little 5 hour bus ride to a city called Mbale, which is where we are staying and where the orphanage is at.

Just to give you a little picture of Africa, we were driving on our way to Mbale. We had just passed the Nile river, which for some reason you can’t take picture of it which I thought was very weird, when out of no where our bus slams on the break. I looked ahead expecting to see another car in our path but of course I was wrong. There was a naked man just walking across the street, supposedly Natalie told us he was insane, which I probably could have guessed. But it definitely was an interesting and warm welcome to Africa.

We are staying with Natalie at her house and it is such a nice place. Just to have a shower and a western style toilet was enough to satisfy any of us in the group. So far with the weather and our place were staying, I’m absolutely loving Uganda. And it is not what I would picture when I think about Africa. It’s definitely not that dry, sahara grassland image I’ve always had in my head of Africa, but a very green lucious place. The city is in very high altitude so there are mountains and rolling hills all around us. Hopefully, I’ll have pictures of it up soon because it really is beautiful.

So although we are working with another orphanage this week, it is a very different experience than India. We have been helping out a lot more with behind the scenes type work-mainly painting. Most of the paint on the buildings have worn away so we’ve been repainting all the walls in each of the dormitories. The walls we’ve painted really do make the buildings look a lot brighter and nicer.

It is really cool because we are working with another team from America who just so happens to be from Texas. It truly is such a small world, and if anything I think that just adds to the argument that Texas is the greatest state in America. Just kidding of course, but kind of not really.

I am really excited about the next couple of days, and the opportunity for us to learn to serve and be obedient to God without necessarily receiving the immediate gratification that often times accompanies works of service. It is a true test of the heart and our motives behind everything when you do behind the scenes work, and I am excited at our opportunity to do so, and for God to teach us.

I just finished reading Wild at Heart, which is a great book for any guy to read and I feel like I am learning a lot about letting go of a lot of controls in life and living adventurously. It speaks a lot of truth about the nature of men and what the heart of man really looks like. I’ve learned a lot about myself not just through the book but through this entire journey already, and I am excited to continue on in applying these principles and continually learning more and more.

Thanks for all of you who have been praying for me and for this group, you’re prayers really are helpful and I know God has been blessing this trip because of all the support from friends and family, so thank you very much.

God is good!

TC

India part two

Hey,

I’m in currently in Agra, India right now (home of the Taj Mahal). We are taking a day off from working at the orphanage to go see the Taj Mahal real quick before we get on our flight to leave for Africa! I feel like I’m living a life of luxury because we have A/C in our hotel room and hot water… so nice!

If you didn’t know, the past week or so we had been working with an orphanage in New Delhi, and what an amazingly great experience it was. From the moment we got there, we’ve been hanging out with kids nonstop. And it has been such a blast, and such a blessing to be able to live life with them over the past couple of days.

To give you a little more of an idea of what lifes like, here’s what a typical day looked like:

5:30 Wake up (yes that’s 5:30 AM and no it wasn’t easy waking up that early)

Morning Prayer: they’re are three designated prayer times each day and this is usually the quickest one becauuse most kids are half asleep.

7:00 Breakfast- we had lots of eggs and lots of chipates (tortilla-like things)

9:00 Morning Games- Each day we would come up with some sort of team based games for the kids to play, usually it consisted of relays or races, usually simple games

12:30 Mid day prayer- Each prayer session involves singing praise songs, reciting scripture, and obviously praying

1:30 Lunch- Lots of starches..  lots of breads, rice, and more chipates

2:30 Hangout time (It’s usually so hot at this point in the middle of the afternoon that no one likes to do much outside in the heat that involves running.. so lots of chilling and talking

4:30 Afternoon Chores (Aka nap time or go sit in the shade)

5:30 Evening Prayer  – Same setup as the first two but this time our team would do skits, lead songs, and each of us was able to share our testimony to the kids

6:30 Help build the church- There is a new church building on the campus that they are setting up and literally all of us would form an assembly line to build walls, and fill in sand, and knock out bricks.

7:30 Futbol ( aka time for the Indian kids to embarass all the Americans)

8:30 Dinner

10:00  Group meeting ( This was the opportunity for us to meet with group and discuss events of the day.

WEll that is a typical day in the life of the oprhanange and I wish i could share more but the internet cafe I am in is literally closing in two minutes, so I had to make this one quick. I hope to get more blogs up in the near future, I have a whole lot more to say about India bnecause it has been a really cool experience. God did some cool things in the life of those orphans and in the life of us too!

Oh and we got to go to the waterpark! so thank you all so much for your support, the kids loved and it was such a special day for them. I have a lot of funny stories from it too!

Until next time,

TC

India!

Hello,

Right now I’m sitting in an Internet cafe in India, trying to send out a quick update of the past couple of days. And when I say internet cafe I really mean a small room with a couple of computers, I’m actually using the main guys laptop because they ran out of computers, so hopefully this works.

After finishing up in Hong Kong we flew to Malaysia, where we had like a 10 hour layover. So we quickly got some food and then found a place away from everything to try and catch some sleep before our next flight. I surprisingly slept very well! Early that next morning we boarded our flight and arrived in India a couple hours later, but because we lost some hours it was still early in the morning India time.

I think all of us had some preconceived notions about things we had heard about India whether it be super hot or dirty, so I was honestly very excited to actually get there and experience India for ourselves. When we left the airport I was bracing myself to be hit by a wall of extreme heat, but to my pleasant surprise it really wasn’t that bad. Apparently it was one of the cooler days when we arrived, you know probably around 93 degrees, so we really did luck out.

We all packed into a van and journeyed out to the orphanage, and boy was that an experience. First of all the driving was crazy, there is no structure in terms of lanes or anything. The occasional traffic light stopped and started traffic but everything else was out of control. I mean motorcycles driving all over the place, little buggie-cars speeding by, and animals all over the road. On our way here, we had to dodge  a herd of cattle in the middle of the road!

But anyways, we got to the orphanage and it has just been amazing ever since. There are about 40 kids right now because many of them are on a summer break and staying with other relatives for a part of the summer. But the kids that were there gave us the nicest greeting and immediately wanted us to come play. Many of the kids are young, between ages of 6-10, so we’ve been doing a lot of games, and piggy back rides.

The kids are starving for some sort of attention and for someone to come in to their lives and love on them, so it has been so cool to be able to step in and just be that friend for the week. We don’t have to do anything special to try and get their attention or to get them to have fun. They long for someone to just be there for them, and I am so excited for our team to be able to do that. We’ve got a lot of fun activities planned and games, so it surely will be  a fun time.

We really want to take the kids to a water park later on next week but unfortunately we don’t have enough money in our budget to do so right now. So we each decided to send out a little message on our blogs asking anyone who would want to donate a few extra dollars to help that cause. God will show himself to these kids either way, we just thought it would be a nice treat for these kids to do something like that because they don’t normally have that chance. It will cost around $600 total for all the kids(including the ones coming back from their summer break on monday night) to go. We realized that we can very well ask friends and family to pitch in bits and pieces to reach that goal. So if you would like to help, you can go to:

globaljourney.org       (click donate now) and then under then right “water park” under the purpose section

Thanks so much! Just want to let you all know what a great time these past two weeks have been and that God is going to be doing some amazing things in the weeks to come!

TC

Hong Kong is a tricky place, you see at first look it appears that everything for sale is extremely expensive (12 dollars for a gatorade at 7-11, what?!) but with a further look you realize that exchange rate is over 7 Hong Kong dollars per US dollar and you realize that all those once super expensive items for sale are now super cheap. An entire meal at McDonalds 30 HG dollars= $4 US= super cheap, and great deal. Hong Kong is great!

I know it’s only been a couple of days and there is still so much I have to discover about the city but it already seems like such a cool place. Everything is is built very high. There are buildings all over the place and every apartment complex is 30 stories high. We climbed to the top of the peak today and It was amazing seeing how many skyscrapers there were, it literally a concrete jungle. There are thousands of shops everywhere and people are constantly trying to sell us things (probably because we are Americans and stick out everywhere)!

This morning we had the opportunity to take books into China. Through prayer and God’s ultimate will, customs and Chinese inspection officers weren’t a problem. This is such a cool thing because many people will be able to use these books who are never able to have access to anything like this. It is truly special to know that you are being used in some way to make a difference in these peoples lives.

This entire process has been extremely exciting. Every trip we take is an adrenaline rush and is completely unpredictable and out of control. It seriously is a test of trust in God. The outcome of our trips is soley dependent on God’s will of the situation as I have learned quickly that there is no special formula to adopt to have a higher success rate of passing through. It truly is unpredictable and requires you to put faith in God’s plan for your trip.

There is defintely something special in knowing that you are doing something to further God’s kingdom. I believe for many of us we go from sermon to sermon trying to abstain from this or that in our own lives that we become completely absorbed with ourselves and forget that we are not doing anything to further God’s kingdom, this coming mostly from my own experience with this. And not that I’m trying to say you have to travel somewhere on a mission trip to further God’s kingdom but its often when we are put in such situations in which we are reminded ofthe importance of it.

It is truly a special thing, that is not just reserved for mission trips, or missionaries or pastors but all who are unashamed of the gospel with which we put our hope in.

Tonight we went up to the Peak which was at a very high point on Hong Kong Island which provided an amazing view of the city. We took a trolly cart up this steep hill until we got to the very top. At the top, there were shops, food, and outlooks with amazing views. It was very cool!

Here are afew pics of the trip so far.

TC

Arrived In Hong Kong

I wrote this yesterday, but didnt have time to finish it so I’m putting it up today. So just be aware that this is my writing from yesterday morning.

Man, the past couple of days have been quite the journey. We’ve been traveling for the past 36 hours and no one is quite sure what time it is or what time it feels like. We were in a zombie state for the last couple of hours lugging our stuff from plane to plane. But thankfully we have arrived in Hong Kong safe.

Right now I’m sitting in my bed on the 16th floor of our loft in Hong Kong(the view out the window is awesome), watching these old people doing yoga on the rooftop of another apartment below. Our loft is very nice tight fit. Luke and I are sharing a room and the girls are in the other room. I woke up this morning and had a pop tart only to find it crushed from all the traveling and found myself digging out the crumbs from the bottom of our toaster. Gotta love those pop tarts!

Yesterday we had a 7 hour layover in Beijing and everyone was so eager to get as far away from airplanes as we could. So we took a tour of Tinnamen square and then were able to tour an older Chinese neighborhood, which was so cool! We rode in rickshaws down alleyways and were completely immersed in exactly what you would expect of an older Chinese village, without the distractions of millions of other tourists. It was so cool.

Well, we are about to leave to go get debriefed on the events of today. But I’m really looking forward to updating you in the next couple of days!

TC

It’s Finally Here…

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve spent the past three days in New Braunfels training for this trip around the world. We’ve done a lot of team building exercises and Team bonding. In fact, we all floated the river on Friday afternoon and then had snow cones afterwards (I guess that was more team bonding than team building). It was great!

The past couple of days have been so cool in meeting all of our team members for the trip. I had already known Luke and Blake but it has been so fun getting to know Josh, Katherine, Sarah, and Paul. The friendships are already forming and it’s only been a couple of days. Most of the guys have already started challenges and dares, so I’ll be sharpening up on my farkleing skills along the trip! (Luke already suffered the pain of loss by chugging an old diet black cherry soda, it tasted like cough syrup). As you can tell, Sarah and Paul, our leaders, have done a great job of unifying us into a team as we prepare for the next twonths ahead.

I think we are all super excited to leave for Hong Kong tomorrow and are anxiously awaiting our long flight. I’m about to head to our farewell dinner at Rudy’s BBQ (a great last dinner) so I had to make this one quick, but look forward to a new blog post from Hong Kong in a couple of days.

Go Mavs!!!!!

TC

Today’s the Day

It is finally here, I am literally about to get in the car and head off to New Braunfels, TX for the first leg of this exciting journey. We will be doing training there for a couple of days and then on Monday we take a flight to Hong Kong!

I can’t wait to meet the rest of the group and get ready to embark on this journey!

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Phillipians 2:1-2

So excited,

TC

Support Update

It’s official, the $7000 needed has been raised for the trip! For all my friends and family out there who are reading this I just want to say thank you for supporting in this whole process. It means so much and I am so appreciative of your support. In my mind I was confident that God would provide the funds needed for the trip and it was a very cool to see it all come in from so many unexpected places.

At first, I felt a little weird asking friends for money. I guess my self dependent nature was kicking in or something but I just wasn’t very comfortable doing it.

And It wasn’t until talking to friends about it that I realized, that this was the most selfish outlook. That uncomfortability and uneasiness stemmed from me making this trip about me. I was taking this incredible opportunity for God to change lives and making it about a trip that I was going on. The support I was receiving was about helping me go on this trip. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s about the people we’ll be able to serve.

The truth is, family and friends, you are not supporting me in this process but you are supporting all those people who are in such great need around the world that we will have the fortunate chance to encounter. You are supporting this trip which will affect so many more lives than just my own. Thank you!

Our world is in such great need, and yet most of us are detached from these realities because we are so caught up in our own lives. Thank you for not being that way, thank you for recognizing that we are suppose to help those in need and for putting that into action. I will continue to update ya’ll so that you can remain in touch with the things that God is doing with your support. Thanks!