Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sent Packing

Last Friday and Saturday, Allen, Trish, and an industrious group of volunteers were sent packing! Packing backpacks, that is! The group converged on  Edgewater Alliance Church in Edgewater, Florida to fill about 800 backpacks for sponsored children, plus a slew of backpacks for children who do not yet have sponsors.

The group took over the church’s large lobby area to fill, label, and package each backpack. Sponsors with Manna 4 Lempira mailed in bags filled with toys and fun surprises. Courtney Christian from Jacksonville, Florida brought down 800 bags filled with the school supplies needed for each backpack and 800 bags filled with hygiene supplies for each one. Amanda Lane flew in from Massachusetts to lend two very helpful hands. And Kim Hall made the journey from Atlanta. Kim provided gift bags for any sponsored child whose sponsor didn’t provide one. Kim, Courtney, and Amanda brought friends and family with them to help, as well!

Volunteers paired the bags o’ fun with bags of school supplies and hygiene supplies, and also added additional notebooks, to fill each and every backpack. Besides the bags for sponsored children, between 200-300 backpacks were created for children still waiting for sponsors! Every single child with Manna 4 Lempira will receive a backpack, which has been filled to capacity.

As Allen said, “People stayed on it and kept their heads down. By 6:30, the job was done. The backpacks totally filled the rented Penske truck. Then, on Monday, we delivered them to the hangar where we store them, along with 500 backpacks from Atlanta!”

There are also a number of “starter bags”, which will be loaded onto the container. Those bags will supplement the boxes pastors’ families will receive through Gifts for Gracias. Let the shipping commence!

- posted by Christi

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Makings of a Fine, Country Song

It’s not very often that I talk to Allen or Trish and immediately think up a badly paraphrased country music song. In fact, up until today, it had never happened. But, now, I’m sitting here singing,
“On the road again! They just can’t wait to be on the road again. The life they love is haulin’ backpacks from their friends. Oh, they can’t wait to be on the road again!”

There should really be multiple verses to that little tune. There should be verses about speaking at churches, meeting up with friends, packing backpacks, and theoretically resting. But, alas, you’re going to have to come up with those lyrics yourself because my day is looking pretty full. Here’s some material to help you with your musical composition, though:

Allen said Trish has been “running around like a crazy person to meet up with as many friends as possible,” during her time in Maryland. Trish is a popular gal, and she only had a little more than a week to catch up with people, so it’s understandable her dance card would fill up quickly.

On Sunday, Trish went to the Sowers’ home church, while Allen headed off to a different church to speak. He was able to address both services and a Sunday school class. Allen and Trish were also able to speak at an AWANA program on their 2nd Wednesday in Maryland. Waylon and Willie, er, Allen and Trish, spent both of their Thursday evenings in Maryland packing up backpacks for the container.

From there, they left on Friday morning to meet up with some of those aforementioned friends in the Norfolk, Virginia area. They spoke at a church that Sunday before heading off for the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina in a rental car.

Riverdance B&B in North Carolina

The dynamic travelin’ duo is theoretically taking a couple of days to kick back and relax. Since discussing the contents of two blog posts was only one of about eight work related tasks on the agenda this morning, it’s not looking all that relaxing, though. They are getting to stay at a B&B in the mountains of North Carolina, at the Tennessee border. The owner of the B&B gives a discounted price to missionaries, so the opportunity was too good to pass up. They will also be taking a drive through the countryside for Trish to enjoy a sight she misses in Honduras--fall foliage!

This country music song in the making does not contain any pickup trucks, but the rental car will be driven to Atlanta, where it will be traded in for a Penske rental truck. So, there’s that. In Atlanta, they will be picking up 500 filled backpacks, 6000 notebooks, and the extra supplies sponsors who have already filled backpacks sent to Kim Hall.

Then, they will drive to Kingsland, Georgia to meet with a pastor about a possible future project with Sowers4Pastors. From there, they will go to Edgewater, Florida. At Edgewater Alliance Church, they will have a packing event on Friday night and Saturday. On Sunday, they will be speaking at Edgewater Alliance.

Please forward your finished verses to Trish. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the song.

- posted by Christi

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pomp and Circumstance, Honduran Style

Straighten up and look dignified! It’s time for some Pomp and Circumstance at Pastors’ Training School. Well, substitute Pomp and Circumstance for mariachi music, but you get the idea. It’s graduation time and we should all celebrate--Honduran style!

Russell slipped out of the ceremony for around two dozen 2nd year students to tell me about all the goings on. Russell’s father-in-law and two of his brothers-in-law provided the aforementioned mariachi music. There are no caps and gowns, but there are diplomas. There’s not a catered banquet, but they did have ice cream last night. And that’s a pretty sweet way to mark the occasion. Sweeter still, there’s a time to pray over each graduate.

While searching for something clever or moving to say about graduation, I stumbled across a list of the fifteen best graduation speeches of 2016. Some of the speakers whose quotes made the list include President Obama, Steven Spielberg, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the Broadway hit Hamilton. But my favorite quote from the list is from a speech given by tech gurus Richard and Mary Templeton at Southern Methodist University. Here’s the inspirational nugget:

“Small and steady steps can be quite big and spectacular. They move you to a bigger place.”

The pastors involved in training school have taken the small and steady steps. They have attended classes three days a month for the past eight months. They’ve taken time away from their families and congregations in order to better equip themselves for their roles as biblical leaders.

The star 2nd year students have mentored the 1st year students. They were also responsible for over half of the teaching for the 1st year class. Next year, around twenty 2nd year students will become 3rd year students. The star students will continue to serve as mentors for the class below them. The majority of this year’s 1st year students will come back next year, too. Clay Powell, who heads up the Pastors’ Training School effort is seeking to raise up students from this year’s 1st year class to serve as mentors for next year’s new students.

When the newly graduated 2nd year class leaves, the 1st year students will arrive. They will complete their final three days of classes for the year and will graduate on Friday, October 6th. It should be noted that twenty-seven of the twenty-eight first year students who started the year will receive diplomas. That’s a pretty impressive statistic for a voluntary educational program

Russell is quick to give credit where it is due. Four ministries are responsible for Pastors’ Training School. They are:

  • Seeds of Salvation
  • 61 Isaiah
  • New Beginnings, Honduras (though the missionary family had to leave for medical reasons earlier this year)
  • And, of course, Sowers4Pastors.

- posted by Christi

Monday, October 9, 2017

General Terms and Major Doings

A Private Phone Call

This is not Trish on the phone
(This is RJ - Russell Jr)
Each week, I get to have a phone call with a Sowers. It’s not always the same Sowers on the other side of the line, but every conversation starts with a quick overview of the blog topics for the week. This week, Trish was on the phone and she opened with, “We want a post, which talks in general terms about what’s going on and how we see the future of the ministry.”

Some General Terms

  • Russell is hard at work with ongoing ministries. Having taken on larger and larger roles in the Sowers4Pastors ministry, Russell is there making sure everything runs without interruption even though Allen and Trish are off on a North American adventure.

  • Since some donations have recently been made for this cause, Russell is spreading the word that we are accepting applications from pastors wishing to request assistance purchasing a motorcycle. Russell will then have the chance to sort through the applications and interview pastors who would benefit from having a motorcycle to use in ministering throughout the mountains of Western Honduras.

  • There are currently four church projects underway. That is huge, people!

  • Pastors’ Training School continues to take place the first week of every month.

  • Kids at the feeding centers are continuing to write letters to sponsors. Three guys working for the Sowers have started visiting each center almost every single week. Their visits help to build up enthusiasm among volunteers and keep the centers accountable in their operation.

  • The coffee farm is still a big deal, requiring a lot of man hours and oversight.

  • A bridge project, which was started in Las Crucitas late last year is back on the planned work schedule. Construction on the vehicle, cable bridge had to be put on hold several times, in order to host teams, etc… The bridge will require an approximate ten more days of work. Since it is currently the rainy season, construction will begin as soon as the swollen river recedes.

Also not Trish on the phone
(This is Abigail)
Major Doings

The Sowers always want to be sure people understand their regular ministries do not go on hold even when Allen and Trish are off gallivanting across the U.S. in a rental truck filled with backpacks. The beauty of this family run ministry is that Russell has received a lifetime of training to serve at the helm. This isn’t exactly a changing of the guard. It’s more of a seamless transition as each Sowers continues to focus on the tasks at hand. - posted by Christi

Monday, October 2, 2017

Who's Up For a Game of Musical Houses?

If you think Trivial Pursuit or chess are challenging games, you’ve obviously never tried to wrap your head around the game Russell is getting ready to play--Musical Houses. The music won’t really start for another year, but Russell is still preparing for one of the most complicated, short distance moves in history! It is, what my granny would have referred to as a “fruit basket turnover” as Russell and Iris prepare to move into a new house, Allen and Trish prepare to move into Russell and Iris’s current house, with Allen and Trish’s current home becomes storage space. Got it? If not, be thankful you don’t have to pull this off.

Once this year’s shipping containers arrive, their contents will be stored in the house which is currently under construction. That means any work Russell wants to accomplish before next March has to be completed before the end of November. That’s when the bounty of backpacks and other supplies should arrive from the States.

Now, this big construction push would be easier if this was the only thing going on in Russell’s life. But that is far from the case. November will be the middle of coffee harvest. The regular ministries are continuing. So, Russell is juggling his job as the Bob Villa of home owners with his career as a very busy missionary.

Russell’s father-in-law has finished all of the exterior doors. The windows are also completed. He is currently finishing the interior doors. Last week, security bars went up on all the windows. It’s important to have the house as secure as possible because of the aforementioned contents of shipping containers, which will be stored there.  

Currently, Russell and two other guys are hard at work laying ceramic tile in the new house. For the next month, two men will be laying tile on a full-time basis. The lofty goal is to have that job finished before the containers arrive.

As Russell explained the logistics of this move, my head almost started spinning. Essentially, they will need to pull off three simultaneous moves. If all goes well, the moves will take place before Allen returns home from his planned U.S. trip in the fall of 2018. I would love to adequately explain the process, but even I don’t understand the notes I took of Russell’s description of how everyone’s stuff is supposed to end up in the right place. I do know it will involve a fair amount of labeling and color coding boxes.

The good news is the houses are only a few hundred feet away from each other. That should make it easier in case Allen opens up his sock drawer to find it’s full of R.J.’s toys. Something tells me, the music may have to start and stop a few times before everyone’s belongings are in their new home! - posted by Christi

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Time to Raise the Roof

We’ve probably all seen movies or television shows where the parents go away and the teenage children throw a huge party and raise the roof. Well, when the missionary parents are away, the grown missionary son does not play. But he does give some serious consideration to raising a few roofs! Trish and Allen are still in the States and Russell is in Honduras taking care of business. In fact, he’s using this time to deal with things that usually get put on the back burner. Sometimes things are consciously put off until such a time as this. That’s the case with sorting through requests from churches seeking new roofs.

Why roofs?

Back in the day, Allen put a lot of consideration into how to best help indigenous churches without making them dependent on North American missionaries. He landed on the idea of building church roofs for two main reasons:

  1. Once you have walls and a roof, you have a place to worship out of the rain and sun, even if you don't have a floor or doors and windows!
  2. The roof is one of the most expensive parts of constructing a church building in the mountains of Honduras. Many times, the land is donated. The people are able to use mud to make the adobe blocks to form walls. But the roof . . . wood, clay tiles, or any other suitable roofing material can get very expensive very quickly. You might say the cost can go through the ceiling!

Going Through the Roofs

Russell estimates that, at any given time, Sowers4Pastors has between five and fifteen requests for new roofs. Currently, they have about ten such requests. He is working with Melvin and Danny to evaluate which projects to select.

They are hoping to put four roofs on four churches in the next month and a half. Danny is hitting the roads on his motorcycle to get pictures of prospective projects. Those pictures are helpful in considering which roofs to undertake. They are also something Allen can use when fundraising. As is so often the case, there are many worthy requests, but Sowers4Pastors is limited by their finances. Consider helping with the financial burden of assisting a church get a roof over its head. - posted by Christi

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Super Colossal Backpack Zealot

When Allen and Trish suggested I speak to Suzie Kelly about her role in the backpack project, I said, “Okie dokey,” but I didn’t know what to expect. A lot of people fill backpacks at this time of year. It’s sort of backpack season, you might say. But, for Suzie Kelly, every season is backpack season! This year, she is filling a whopping 800 backpacks!

Suzie was inspired to take her backpack involvement to the Super Colossal Backpack Zealot level one Sunday when she sat on a  back row of her church with her grandchildren. She sat at the back because her grandchildren are young and sometimes cry, requiring her to step out with them. But, from her vantage point, she could see pictures of all of the unsponsored children involved with Sowers4Pastors. She looked at her grandchildren who had so much. She looked back at the faces of Honduran children who had nothing. And she decided to do something.

The Barbie Doll Ministry

Last year, Suzie committed herself to what might possibly be one of the world’s first Barbie doll ministries. She discovered she could often find secondhand Barbies for a dollar and she set about purchasing the dolls and giving them makeovers. In what may be the most startling bit of news I’ve learned all week, Susie shared that you can run a Barbie through the washing machine to get it clean!

She doesn’t just clean them. She also combs out knotted hair and gives Barbie a new lease on life. She even provides wardrobe changes. When she finds affordable Barbie fashions, she will snatch them up. But she sews most of Barbie’s new dresses, herself. Previously, she purchased clothing from a woman selling on eBay. When that woman retired, Suzie carefully tore apart one of the dresses and used it as a pattern for her own Barbie line of clothing. Each doll is sent off with the clothing it is wearing, plus two other outfits!

Last year, Suzie packed a few backpacks. But she provided almost 1200 Barbie dolls! She’s a Barbie doll purist and does not use the more cheaply made dollar store variety. Why? She says you can’t do a thing with their hair! The woman could write a book on restoring ratty Barbie hair to its former glory!

Beyond Barbie

Baby dolls, baby bottles, handmade doll blankets, new and refurbished games, soccer balls, toy cars, dominoes, and sidewalk chalk also make their way into backpacks by Suzie. She is tireless about finding a bargain. The woman can tell you the best source for just about every toy! She’s currently “working with a guy in China to see what shipping would be for a big order of soccer balls.”

A System

Suzie divides the backpack supplies into four categories: Boys more than 9-yrs-old, Boys less than 10-yrs-old, Girls more than 9-yrs-old, and Girls less than 10-yrs-old. She even learned to write the information in Spanish to be sure each child receives a bag filled with appropriate items.

She fills separate baggies with the appropriate school supplies, hygiene items, toys, games, etc… Suzie cares about having everything just so. She wants Barbie’s clothes to be beautiful, her hair to be silky, the girls’ hair items to be good quality, the socks to fit, and even the notebooks to be the most attractive notebooks available. Her daughter helps her when she is visiting from medical school, but, by and large, Suzie is the one getting everything perfect for the kids to receive backpacks that have been lovingly filled.

Space, the Final Frontier

Without hesitation, Susie declared finding enough space to be her biggest challenge. She attends what she calls a “pretty good size church”, but it’s full. Her problem isn’t filling the backpacks; it’s storing them! She’ll be talking to Allen about the future of her involvement and hopes he’ll have some answers in regards to space. After all, he is dealing with a Super Colossal Backpack Zealot!

- posted by Christi

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Where in the World Are Allen and Trish Sowers?

Whenever Allen and Trish are traveling, it’s like trying to keep up with Waldo and Carmen Sandiego at the same time. Even when they share an itinerary, the rule of thumb is: Itineraries are subject to change! During our most recent phone call, Allen filled me in on some of the changes.

The duo has been driving for 8-9 hours a day in their rental truck filled with backpacks. It’s hard to make good time in a rental truck, so they essentially add an hour or two onto the projected drivetime. They left Topeka Kansas Wednesday morning and were near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania by sunset on Thursday!

Collecting and loading donations from friends in Indianapolis,
early Thursday morning

Allen recently talked with someone at a church in Ohio that wants him to visit their church. There was a slot that would work without altering the Sowers’ previous schedule, but that would have put them at the church on a weekday. When visiting a crowd at a church, it’s usually best to do it when the crowd is present, so . . . changes were made.

This Sunday, when the Ohio church wants Allen to visit, the Sowers were scheduled to be in Frederick Maryland. Allen and Trish were supposed to be at an event in Maryland the day before, to unload the backpacks and other donations from this trip, and load them into a shipping container which will be used for storage. Since Frederick is not actually in Ohio, that won’t work! Even Waldo and Carmen Sandiego cannot be in multiple places at the same time!

Jim and Denise Cofer are coming to the rescue. The Cofers have agreed to drive from their home in Maryland to meet up with the Sowers in Pittsburgh. There, they will swap vehicles. Allen and Trish will drive the Cofers’ car to Ohio. Jim Cofer, who has been added to the rental truck agreement, will drive the truck back to Maryland to be unloaded on schedule. Jim and Denise have a daughter who attends college in Pittsburgh, and this will give them an opportunity to pay her a quick visit.

Back in Maryland, the Cofers will oversee the packing event. If the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise (excuse me - sometimes the Southern just has to get out!), the storage trailer, which is supposed to arrive on Friday, will be ready for this event. Then all of the filled backpacks and other goodies will be loaded into the trailer.

Even though Allen and Trish are sorry to miss the packing event, the timing for having the Sowers in Ohio is ideal. The church was already planning to highlight Sowers4Pastors on that Sunday. Who better to highlight it than Allen and Trish?

In Other News

On September 17, Allen and Trish were at a church in Kansas. While there, a woman who heard Allen's presentation about the ministry felt prompted to donate her motorcycle to Sowers4Pastors. That alone is great news. But, as it happens, the donated motorcycle is a custom built 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900. Now, most of those words mean less than nothing to me, but Allen explained the motorcycle is worth a fair amount of money.

A man in Kansas is working on selling the motorcycle on the ministry’s behalf. The proceeds will be used to purchase multiple motorcycles for multiple pastors in Honduras. In fact, if the price is right, it’s highly possible that the donated motorcycle will bring in enough money to purchase six motorcycles in Honduras!

Stay tuned for the next installment of “Where in the World Are Allen and Trish Sowers?”. - posted by Christi

Monday, September 18, 2017

There's a plan . . . and then there's REALITY

This link is where you can read the plan for our trip . . . and below you can read how our trip has actually played out, so far. :)

Wednesday morning I was up at 3am, finishing a few things around the house and finalizing my packing, before our 5am departure. The 3-hour drive to the airport was uneventful.

At the check-in desk, however, I was informed that my flight's departure was going to be delayed an hour. I knew immediately that this meant I would miss my connecting flight to Colorado Springs, since my o
riginal schedule for the change of planes in Atlanta was already precariously short - cutting that an hour shorter would make it impossible for me to catch my next flight!

So, for about half an hour the gal at the desk worked to find me alternative flights. My two best options turned out to be flying into Colorado Springs the next day (with an overnight in Salt Lake City), or flying to Denver that evening, instead.

Denver was an option because
 Allen was flying to Denver on Wednesday, as well. The original plan was for him to arrive in Denver, rent a car, and drive to Colorado Springs to pick me up at the airport there. Then we would have had the time we needed to visit with friends in Colorado Springs, return the rental car, pick up the rental truck, do a bit of necessary shopping, and possibly even rest a bit before the next leg of our trip . . .

So, it's kind of amazing how much that one-hour delay in Honduras changed the rest of our
*     *     *     *     *     *     *
We changed my tickets for the flight to Denver. This gave me several additional hours in Atlanta, and meant that Allen would have to cool his heels for six hours in the Denver airport, waiting for me to catch up with him!

Because the regulations require passengers to check in at the San Pedro Sula airport three hours before departure, for international flights, the delay meant that I had four hours to wait. I settled in with my computer and a cold cut sub sandwich I bought in the duty-free area, and worked a bit during this time.

Eventually we boarded our flight (15 elderly people in wheelchairs? I have no idea what that was all about) and flew to Atlanta. Everything was fine until I got to the customs area, and the customs officer asked me, "Are you carrying any meat or cheese?"

Sigh. I only ate half of that sub sandwich back in the airport in San Pedro Sula. I'd put the rest into my bag, to eat later . . .  but I'd never finished it, and there it was, still in my bag.

I admitted to the sandwich, thinking it would be taken from me and thrown into the trash. But no. I was sent to stand off to the side and told to wait. My passport was enclosed in a special ziplock bag and handed off to my "escort." Happily, my escort was a sweet and helpful lady who took me to collect my luggage and then on to the area where "food and agriculture" problems are handled. She passed me along to the people there, who laughed at me when I explained my predicament.

Fortunately, international cold cut smuggling is not a punishable offense, and I was sent on my way, sans sandwich.

At this point, we need to take a moment to be thankful for that extended layover in Atlanta, which gave me sufficient time to tour the airport with my escort and still make my next flight!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

In the Atlanta airport, I purchased another cold cut sub (from Subway, this time), for my dinner. I made sure to finish this one, though, LOL.

The flight from Atlanta to Denver was uneventful, and soon I was at the baggage claim area at the Denver airport, with all of my luggage and no sign of Allen.

My Honduran cell phone doesn't work in the U.S., so I'd left that back in Honduras, and I had no way to contact anyone by phone. I hauled my laptop out of my bag and sent a Facebook message to Denise Cover, who, fortunately, I knew to be a bit of a night owl. It was about 10:15 in Denver at this point, so after midnight in Maryland!

Denise called Allen for me, and told him where I was. Finally reunited, we were able to move along to the next step - driving to a hotel and going to BED! I was exhausted when we were finally able to rest at around 12:30am . . . 21 1/2 hours after my day began!

                                                  *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Thursday morning we headed out to do some of the shopping, as there were things I would need as we traveled, which made more sense to purchase on this end than to transport. Then we made the drive to Colorado Springs, and picked up the truck we were renting. Allen had told me that he neede dme to drive the truck the short distance between Home Depot (where we picked it up) and the car rental return. I was more-or-less okay with this, until I saw the truck. It was HUGE!

There wasn't really any option, though, so I climbed aboard. The truck has an automatic transmission and gazillions of gears. As you start driving and increase speed, it is continually revving and shifting and revving and shifting - while the driver does nothing but push the gas pedal. It was pretty unsettling to me (as I'm now used to driving a manual transmission), as it sounded to me like there was something wrong with the engine - but we just kept driving along . . . very slowly, LOL.

This photo is a recreation - I did NOT look that happy while driving the truck. 
After going a pretty good part of the distance, Allen pulled off to the side of the highway, and I pulled in behind him. He came back to tell me why he'd stopped - the GPS was staying that we had arrived at our destination, but there were only empty fields on both sides of the road! Allen called the rental car place and sorted things out so that we could finish out trip.

I was SO RELIEVED to be able to turn the driving of the truck over to Allen, once we'd returned the rental car! I may drive the truck again at some point during this trip - on straight, flat stretches of highway - if needed, but if that isn't ever required of me I will NOT be disappointed! LOL

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

We drove the truck to my friend Lorri's house, where a dinner event was scheduled, which was sort-of in my honor. I got there barely in time - I was the second guest to arrive, LOL.

Allen had a chance to say "hi" and bring in my suitcases, then he was driving off in the truck again. He had to go and pick up the filled backpacks which were the real reason for our visit to Colorado Springs.

A few hours later he was back, and joined us for the rest of the fun evening. While I had a wonderful time, I found myself starting to nod off a bit earlier than I would have liked! After saying "goodbye" to everyone, Allen and I went straight to bed, exhausted again! (We aren't all that young anymore, LOL.)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Friday morning we were up first thing, as we knew we had a long day of driving ahead of us. We didn't leave right off, because we did want to spend some time with our hosts, which we hadn't had much time to do before this, and also because I'd been off the internet for a couple of days and there were some messages and emails which required our attention. 

We were on the road by 9 or so. While the road was mostly flat and straight, the day was windy, and Allen had to work pretty hard to keep the large truck (which was mostly empty at this point, and so was fairly light) from being blown around! It was a long hard day of driving, and once again we pretty much fell into bed upon arrival at our hotel.

Thank heaven Saturday was a day with nothing on the schedule until dinner time - and that was just a friendly gathering, not a ministry event!

I may have spent a loooooong time soaking in the bathtub on Saturday, and Allen visited the hotel hot tub, too. We're making the most of this opportunity to rest and recuperate before the next stretch of work, meetings and driving!

Thanks for reading my very long account of our travels thus far! 

 - posted by Trish

Grand North American Backpack Collection Tour of 2017

Allen and Trish are on the move and will be for the next ten days. Talking to Allen reminded me of listening to a meteorologist tracking Santa Claus’s path on Christmas Eve.

On the day we spoke, Allen was on the east coast, but was about to fly to Colorado. Trish was about to board a plane for Denver, Colorado, herself. The plan is for them to meet up and start the first leg of their journey in a rental car. The car will later be traded in for a rental truck to accommodate their precious cargo.
Denver Airport
The first stop will be to meet up with some of Trish’s (and my!) longtime online friends. You see, we first “met” in an online homeschooling forum. It’s not as weird as it sounds. I consider Trish to be a very dear friend and we’ve never set eyes on each other in person. Allen and Trish will even be staying in the home of one of these lovely, hospitable women.

After that, they will rent the aforementioned truck and begin picking up filled backpacks. On September 14, they will picking up more than 500 backpacks. Seventy of those are for sponsored kids and the rest will go to children who are not yet sponsored. They’ll toss those into the truck and head to Kansas!

Personalized backpacks, labeled for specific sponsored children

The first of the backpacks, loaded onto the truck in Colorado Springs.
Thanks Autumn and Monica, for heading this up!

In Derby, Kansas, they’ll be picking up 160 backpacks. They will be speaking at the Well Worship Center, in Derby, on Sunday the 17th. They will be also be meeting some supporters in Holton, Kansas, while they’re in that neck of the woods.

Backpacks filled by The Well Worship Center, Derby Kansas
From there, they are going to the Columbus, Ohio area. They are scheduled to pick up 200+ backpacks. Half of those are for sponsored kids, and the other half are for unsponsored children.

In the Pittsburgh area, they will be meeting sponsors who have packed some 200 backpacks. Then they’ll head east of Pittsburgh and enjoy some time with Annette Merlino. Miss Annette is the amazing dentist who makes an annual trek to Honduras with dental students to operate dental clinics.

Then, Allen and Trish will be heading back to Maryland, where they will have a big unloading party with the boxes of backpacks. They will label which church packed the backpacks. Keeping them separate allows them to give comparable bags to each child at a location. A bunch of people from Fredericktowne Baptist Church and Potomac Believers Fellowship will help pack the bounty of backpacks on Saturday the 23rd. Allen spoke there a few days prior to our conversation.

And that will complete the Grand North American Backpack Collection Tour of 2017 !
***Note from Trish - as might have been expected, the reality of this trip, so far, has not been exactly like the plan. The "Reality" version of the trip can be read in the next post, LOL*** - posted by Christi