Tag Archives: Gregg Stratton

CONNECT: Fun Times at the Men’s Retreat

-submitted by Travis Flora

This was my first year to attend a Men’s Retreat, not just at Holly Hill but anywhere. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect when Evan and I signed up to attend this year. Even though we’ve been attending Holly Hill for about a year and a half now, we still don’t know many people that well. So as I thought about attending the Men’s Retreat, I was both excited and also a little nervous. It’s one thing to be around people on Sundays and Wednesdays, but something different to spend a few days tucked away at a Bible camp with people you don’t know that well.

As Tom Owens wrote in a blog about the Men’s Retreat that was published a few weeks ago, the lessons were great. Gary Knuckles did a fantastic job leading us through lessons that encourage us to be both the salt and the light of the world. It’s amazing how much you can really learn and examine about yourself when there are no outside distractions, like work, home projects, television, internet, and even family.

Just as valuable to me, though, was the “free time.” This was a chance to see my brothers in Christ “cutting loose” and having fun. You get to learn a lot about people’s character when you strip away the formality of “church” and just hang out. We have a bunch of fun-loving guys! Besides the usual sitting around talking and swapping tales, there were board games, basketball and tetherball, and several took a few hours on Saturday to take a nature hike along the trails of a state park that was within walking distance of Spring Mill Bible Camp where we stayed. The lake and cave were pretty awesome, and we even got to learn a little about our frontier past by visiting a restored frontier village complete with working mill.

And then there was Four Square. I’d never heard much about Four Square before coming to Holly Hill and finding out it is a required activity, not just for the younger men who attended, but for some of the older guys, too. It was fun to watch the older guys (David Rogers, Nick, Bryan and Kenneth) gang up on the younger guys and laugh with unrestrained joy as yet another young man was sent to the back of the line after getting victimized by another David Rogers corner shot. As I said, you learn a lot about people in situations like this…

We’ve uploaded several photos on our Facebook page that show some of the fun things we enjoyed together, including Nick Gill’s special birthday cake. Be sure to check it out. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.217670474972490.54316.138387032900835&type=1

And we’re also including links to a few YouTube clips that show some of the fun we had, fellowshipping with one another and growing closer as men in service to Christ. If the videos don’t appear below, just follow this link to our Holly Hill church of Christ YouTube Channel. Also, thanks to Gregg Stratton for sharing his videos from the retreat. http://www.youtube.com/user/HollyHillCOC?feature=mhee

When it comes to retreats and camps and other similar activities, it’s not just about learning God’s word (although that’s certainly the main emphasis), but it’s also about CONNECTing with each other. I encourage all the men at Holly Hill to make plans to attend next year.

——————————————————————————————–

CONNECT is a weekly blog designed as a way for us to get to know each other better, build stronger relationships, and make us better equipped to edify one another. These blogs will highlight members of our congregation, either new converts, new members, or highlight other members to help us know each other better.


REACH: Aaron Stratton Already Looking Forward To Honduras 2012

-Submitted by Aaron Stratton

To me, the Honduras mission trip was a blessing to be able to see what Honduras is like and how different it is from home. When we were in the Honduras airport, it seemed American, because it had a McDonald’s. We even met another group from Kentucky in the airport. But as we went into Tegucigalpa, it quickly changed. We started seeing the bad side of the city;  the houses in ruin, the glass and barbed wired covered fences, and rough looking people.

From Tegucigalpa we drove for four hours to get to Mission Lazarus in Jayacayan, which is between Choluteca and San Marcos. Mission Lazarus looked like a camp on the very top of a mountain.  We stayed in cabins, ate at the posada, and they even had a gift shop. The food was good and the view from where we were was amazing. The first night we went to this lookout called Pride Rock, but to get on Pride Rock you had to jump to it because the rock was maybe a foot out from the cliff. We could see the whole valley below. And right over this ridge of mountains was the Nicaraguan border, which was maybe five miles away from where we were staying.

Sunday was very interesting because we went to the church in Limon where we would be working all week. The neighborhood where the church is located is very poor, most all of the houses were tiny crumbling concrete shacks, and everywhere you would see little kids just walking in the streets heading to church. The church was a big open building surrounded by the buildings where they had the school.  The church and school buildings were surrounded by a tall fence.  We were warmly greeted by the preacher, Ishmael, as well as the children that went to church there. We noticed that the congregation had many children that also went to school there.

The church service was very long and enthusiastic. There was lots of singing and the people there would clap their hands through every song and stand through every song, so there would be points when we would be standing up for 30 minutes to a hour singing. The lesson was translated to English by Cameron, a person from Mission Lazarus, so we could understand it.

After church we then went to the beach to have lunch. We ate fish, but the fish was whole so we had to eat around the skeleton of the fish. We then headed back to the ranch for the day.

Monday we went back to the church to deliver food bags and put on the VBS for the children. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go on the deliveries or participate in the VBS because I was sick. We’re not sure how I got sick, but I think it was the fish we ate Sunday because a few others in the group also got sick Monday.

Tuesday we went back to the church to deliver more food and have day two of VBS. I delivered food with my mom, Tony Crockett, and Erin the intern (also known as red shirt Sally). Delivering food was very different because we went into houses and saw how poor they were. They were concrete shacks surrounded by a fence sometimes with barbed wire, and inside were concrete rooms with curtains for doors and sometimes somebody did have a TV, but it wasn’t anything fancy. We would give them the food and then we would sing and they would sing in Spanish. And then either Tony or I would pray and then Alberto, a man from the church, would pray. I did get to participate in VBS Tuesday.  I played Aaron in the skits while Kurgan Quisenberry played Moses. It was a lot of fun getting to interact with children.  I probably played more soccer that week with the kids than I’ve played my whole life. The kids would just run and hug you and try to talk to you, even though we couldn’t understand anything they were saying, or play with you. And I’m pretty sure at some points some of the boys were making fun of me and my soccer skills, because I wasn’t very good at playing. After the VBS, we went back to the ranch for the night.

Wednesday we went and delivered food bags and had our last day of VBS. On food delivery that day we saw more of the community, we even went into some houses that were made of mud and sticks. We were all really sad Wednesday because it was our last day to see the kids at the school.  By Wednesday we all had our favorites, my favorite was a little girl named Amanda, Big D’s (Derrick Taylor) and Tim Lampley’s favorites were a little girl named Alejandra and her brother Kevin. And everybody’s favorites were these twins, David and Kevin, that were soccer stars. After we finished VBS we then prepared for the four-hour Gospel Meeting that night. We didn’t have enough time to go back to Mission Lazarus to eat, so we went to the Wendy’s in Choluteca. That was an experience because our translators had to order our food for us. After eating we went back to church for the Gospel Meeting.  The most interesting part was the skits that were done during the service.  Even not speaking Spanish, I was able to understand the meaning.  Afterwards, three people were baptized.  Then we said goodbye to everybody and went back to the ranch.

Thursday was probably the most fun day of the week for me. Our group went horseback riding on the ranch. It was my first time ever riding a horse. We were riding for an hour and we went on trails that went through rivers and went up to the carpentry shops. We got to see the kids make glasses from coke bottles, and a finished cabinet in the woodworking shop made out of “jungle wood”.  After we finished horseback riding, we got our things together and left for Tegucigalpa, where we stayed for the night so we could go to the airport easier the next day. Once we got to Tegucigalpa, the places and buildings started to look nicer. Our hotel we stayed at was a 5 star hotel, but was more like a 3 star to us. Once we got settled we went to the Chili’s across the street, which was just like an American Chili’s.  Some of the waiters even spoke some English. It was a great idea to go to Chili’s because it was something familiar to us and made us all more excited to go home.

The next day we headed to the airport where we then went on a three hour plane ride to Houston. Being in Houston was great, to hear people speak nothing but English and see American things. We then had a three hour layover to our next flight to Lexington. After a short flight delay, we got on our last plane ride of the day and headed home. We got into Lexington at 11:30 p.m. where we got our bags and went out to meet our friends and family.

Even after two weeks, the memories of Honduras are still fresh in my mind and I can’t wait to go back next year.  It was a great opportunity to see people that care more about God and living good Christian lives than in physical things.  It was also a blessing to see people, even little kids, excited and eager to learn about God.  They are tremendously blessed spiritually.  I think this should be a wake-up call to us, to ask ourselves what’s getting in the way of us wanting to learn about God and to teach people about God.  We need to think about this so that we may further develop our spiritual growth. 

————————————————————————————————————–

REACH is the focus of our midweek blog. Christ’s Great Commission is for His people to “go” into the world, spreading His gospel. This includes all aspects of the good news, both teaching the Word, as well as showing the benevolence toward others that Christ showed through His living example. These blogs will highlight opportunities at Holly Hill for us to REACH into the world around us and make a difference for Christ.


REACH: Becky Stratton Shares Honduras Memories & Photos

My thoughts and experiences from the recent mission trip to Honduras:  I will admit the trip was at times exhausting, but the passion that we saw in our fellow Christians in Honduras was enough for us to press on.  We spent hours in travel, not just in flight, but more in drive time.  The group of 13 traveled in three trucks, and we were often carrying additional passengers from Mission Lazarus or the Limon community.  It was an interesting experience, to say the least, winding up, down, and around the mountains, on sometimes very rocky roads. 

On Sunday morning, we were off to church at the Limon Church of Christ.  I think we were all a little nervous, but at the same time, we were very excited.  Although the building was not plush like our building at Holly Hill, the atmosphere was welcoming.  The people there were eager to have visitors, especially such a large group.  We spread out in different rows of seats and were instantly making friends of the young children.  Communication was fun and challenging.  The service there was much like what we experience each Sunday.   The singing and praise to God was a blessing to witness.  They have such enthusiasm and love, you can feel it.  We witnessed two baptisms at the end of services.  After church, we were hugged by most of the congregation and thanked for coming.  We went to try to encourage them, and yet we were the ones who felt blessed and encouraged. 

Becky and some of her new Honduran friends

After church, we went to eat at a restaurant at the beach.  Well, what can I say?  I ate fish and shrimp.  When I say fish, I mean it was the whole fish laying on the plate, teeth and all.  I was trying to be adventurous.  I learned my lesson, along with several others in the group.  Aaron Stratton, Tim Lampley, and Lyndsay Best were also sick.  After being sick all night, I awoke hoping to make it through the day without a decent toilet. As many of you have heard, I got dizzy and passed out, probably from dehydration.  Beth Crockett and Angela Best came to my rescue though, so it was not so bad.  No one wanted to miss the day’s plans, so we just refused to let it get us down.  I wasn’t there, but a group came back from food delivery and was buzzing about Tim passing out on someone’s front porch while he was praying.  He was all right, but talk about an interesting trip!  We laugh about it now!

A Honduras Fish Dinner Features The Whole Fish!

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we had food deliveries for 2-3 hours in the community of Limon.  We piled into trucks, with interns from Mission Lazarus who would do their best at interpreting, and took food to families in need.  Digna, the preacher’s wife, Alberto, and several ladies from church went with us as well.  We sang in English, and they sang in Spanish.  The guys (Aaron, Tony Crockett, Tim, Keaton Pearce, Kurgan Quissenberry, and Derrick “Big D” Taylor (better known as “De Grande”) took turns praying in English, and then Alberto or someone would pray in Spanish.  We had several songs which we sing (Thank you Lord, This is the Day) that they also sing, so we would often sing in English and Spanish.  Wow!!  We began learning parts of the songs in Spanish.  The people were so grateful for the food, and also for us traveling such a long distance to show God’s love.  As I heard Tony say to the interpreter several times, please tell them “they are blessing us”.   Yes, the housing is rough, mostly concrete blocks and some stick houses, with open windows, sometimes dirt floors, and cooking over wood.  The whole area is dirty, and the smells are bad.  Although they have little materially, these Christians are very spiritual and give glory to God for their blessings.

Digna with her husband, Ishmael, the preacher at the Limon congregation

After food deliveries, each day we had Vacation Bible School with the children at the school that is on the church grounds.  We had already met several children from church, but it didn’t take long and we were making so many friends.  The children were so loving and sweet.  They enjoy getting their picture made and would surround you to play and take their picture.

First day of VBS

 The VBS skits had to be changed a little, but the kids seemed to really enjoy it, especially when Moses parted the Red Sea, and then fell in on Pharaoh.  Ariel Lane, Tony and I were selected to read the parts for the skits in Spanish.  That was fun! Well, it was interesting, anyway!  We had crafts and various activities for the children to enjoy as well.   The guys really enjoyed playing soccer with the boys from the school.  We were a little worried because of the language barrier; however, we tried to learn as much as we could to communicate.  At the end of each day, when the kids were asked questions about the Bible story, it was exciting to see so many kids answering the questions.

The mural that David Rogers painted on the wall at the school in Limon

Wednesday night, after a quick dinner at Wendy’s in Choluteca, we went back to church in Limon for a four hour gospel meeting.  In one of the skits, they reenacted Christ being beaten and lead to the cross, then nailed and hung to die.  I think even David Rogers was impressed.  This is a church which believes in prayer and praise to God, so they pray often and joyously clap and sing.  Before, during and after church services, we were all literally surrounded by the children we had met during the week, all seeking love and attention.  Ishmael, the preacher, introduced us to the congregation, thanked us for coming, and thanked God for sending us and prayed for us.  We witnessed three more baptisms and then said our goodbyes with many hugs, thanks, and well wishes.   I’ll never forget it!

Several ladies of the church with Digna, the minister's wife, and Alberto, who went on food deliveries with us.

On Thursday morning, eight of us went horseback riding on the ranch, with a tour led by Cameron, the Project Director at Mission Lazarus.  Once again, WOW!  I actually managed a horse up and down hills, through the woods and brush, and through creeks.  I am so glad I didn’t change my mind about going.  We were all laughing and enjoying the adventure.  After the riding tour, we met Meredith, the RN and Director of Health, at the office for a walking tour of the grounds and heard more about the refugees living on the ranch.  The refugees are children, often siblings, who have been taken from parents by the government, like social services here. Mission Lazarus is given custody of the children.  The children are educated and given daily responsibilities on the ranch to help them develop a sense of self worth.  With so many Honduran children in need of homes, the mission is hoping to add more children. 

Horseback riding through the Honduras hills

Thursday afternoon we said goodbye to the interns and the ranch.  We were on our way to Tegucigalpa for the flight home on Friday.  This was an adventure in itself.  We had a caravan of four trucks driving four hours to the city.  Once again, we were winding around mountains, sometimes in the rain, with crazy driving.  To put it mildly, we were all relieved to finally get to the hotel.

Thanks to everyone who greeted us at the airport, even though the flight was delayed and we didn’t make it in until around 11:30pm!  We had a long day of travel and were all happy to be home.  We realize we are spoiled, but we were ready for the comforts of home.

I’ve left out so much, but I share my experience in hope that several of you will get excited and decide to go next year.  I pray that I will be blessed to go again next year, and that my husband, Gregg, and our oldest sons, Aaron and Jacob, will be able to go, too.  Spencer, Samuel and Savannah will have to wait a little longer.  God may also show my family a way for all of us to go together. 

Gracias a Dios (Thank God) y (and) Dios Le Bendiga (God Bless You)!

———————————————————————————————————————-

REACH is the focus of our midweek blog. Christ’s Great Commission is for His people to “go” into the world, spreading His gospel. This includes all aspects of the good news, both teaching the Word, as well as showing the benevolence toward others that Christ showed through His living example. These blogs will highlight opportunities at Holly Hill for us to REACH into the world around us and make a difference for Christ.


GROW: Strattons Looking Forward To Honduras

Becky Stratton and oldest son Aaron will be among our members going to Honduras July 23-29 to work with Mission Lazarus. Today, they share their thoughts on the upcoming trip.

From Becky:

As we anticipate the upcoming mission trip, we have already been very blessed.  We mailed out 200 letters from Aaron to various churches in Kentucky and southern Indiana regarding support for the trip.  As a result of that letter, we received a large portion of the funds we needed for the trip.  He is excited about visiting each of these churches and sharing information about our experiences.

The rest of the money came from our loving family, especially our loving family at Holly Hill.  We are humbled by the show of love and support that we have received from our church family at Holly Hill. Not only have we been blessed with the necessary funds to make the trip, we have been blessed by all of the encouragement and kind words.  Initially, I would not even consider going on the trip because of the financial obligation.  However, Gregg and I were encouraged to not let money be the issue.  Putting the financial burden aside, we made to decision that Aaron and I would go on the trip.  God has been on our side!

Now we are less than two weeks from departure and we have so many little things to do to prepare.  We look forward to the experience, and getting to know more about the others from Holly Hill who are going with us.  However, we are nervous as well, anxious about what we can expect.

Please pray for our safety and for God to work through us while we are there.

Thanks to everyone for all your support and love!

Becky

From Aaron:

As I think about my upcoming trip to Honduras with my mom, I can’t help but feel shocked. Shocked that after months of struggling to get to this point it’s going to actually happen. In only 2 weeks my mom and I will be in Honduras for a week. It’ll be a great experience for both of us, in the sense that it’ll bring us closer to God.

For months we have been trying to do everything we can to get money for this one week that will change our lives forever. I am, like my mom, a little scared to go on this trip after some things that we’ve heard, but it hasn’t stopped us from going on this trip.

When we leave in 2 weeks we ask that you pray for us, as well as the rest of the group, that it goes well and that we can do exactly what we are down there to do, help the people in the area and show them God.

Aaron