Fall Mission Trip 2011

Not all mission trips are completely enjoyable. The real truth is most are not! There usually are high and low points in every trip, and our September 26th through November 15th trip has been no exception. In many ways it has been a very difficult trip.

As we arrived here on the 29th of September, I had many goals set that would culminate in the church here in Mayaguez at least being ready for receiving their building occupancy permit.

If that will happen is still in doubt, but we have a good start on it so far. This has not been without a few frustrations however.

I, myself, have been part of the problem, as I am far from being in top working condition. The effects of my lung surgery are far from over. I'm a long ways from a full recovery. I still find it difficult to exert myself as much as I could before the operation. So, with the hot temperatures, the high humidity, and all the stairs and ladders we've had to climb, this trip has been terribly exhausting.

James Greever arrived a week after Sherilyn and I, and he was not in any better physical shape than I am in. The truth be told, he may be worse in some ways. His main problem is a very swollen knee that makes it hard for him to stand, stoop, or walk very far, or long. He is in some pain, and although he works as best he can, it is still difficult for him.

Fall Mission Trip 2011
Early Activities

Upon my arrival, I soon discovered there were some problems with the material I'd bought with which to do the fire alarm system. The conduit was gone, the boxes, couplings, connectors, support straps, wire, conduit bender, small electric drill, and driver were also among the missing.

Additionally, we discovered the lights for the outside entryway canopy were gone. It seem like every time we turned around, something I'd bought to install this trip was gone!

This was both very disheartening, and very expensive. Even though some of the supplies were used in the building by other crews, a lot was just taken. Theft is a big problem here in Puerto Rico. The cost to replace everything was pretty expensive, and the time it took to find all we needed, was even more costly to our schedule.

We worked on piping in the fire alarm system, and after a little over a week, we had all three floors piped,the second and third floor wire pulled and the smoke detectors installed. We also had the ground floor almost complete, with only three more smoke detectors to install, when we were told that we had to put in a class B Fire alarm system on the first floor.

This little change cost us a good weeks extra work because of obtaining the new fire alarm control box, heat detector, smoke detectors, pull stations, alarm horns, and strobe lights, as well as a fire rated wire. We also had to run quite a bit more conduit and even pipe through to the second floor, because the control panel had to be installed on the second floor.

The worst part of the change was we had to remove all of the wire we had already pulled, and the eight smoke detectors we'd already installed in the first floor, because the insulation voltages were not compatible.

In all, I figure we wasted $200 worth of wire, and had to buy 300 more feet of conduit, along with the couplings and connectors to install it.

Fall Mission Trip 2011
Completed Goals

As previously mentioned, when I first started planning this trip, we had certain goals that needed to be completed in order for the church to get their building occupancy permits.

The following items were on that list of goals, and have already been completed:

  • The air conditioning has been installed in the nursery.
  • The exhaust fans in the second floor bathrooms are finished.
  • The change from single phase temporary power, to three phase permanent power has been completed.
  • Although we had to wait four days, or more, for the last 500 foot coil of fire alarm cable, and one smoke detector, needed to complete the first floor, we have finished the fire alarm system, and it is working.

Fall Mission Trip 2011
Not on our Schedule

Every trip we make, we are asked to do things we had no idea we'd need to do ahead of time. Since we didn't know they were needed, they are never on our schedule. The following are the things that have fallen in that category this trip.
  • We have installed new lights in the first and second floor elevator shaft.
  • We installed four new four foot strip lights and two three way, and two four way controls for them, between the foyer and the elevator. This was required by the Fire Marshall
  • We were asked to add seven wall fans in the main auditorium. This meant taking down seven sconce lights, so we could use their circuits to power the new fans.
  • Additionally, we were asked to install two receptacles on the outside wall of the nursery,and one on the outside wall of the pastor's office, so they can be used to feed three pedestal fans.
  • Also at their request, we installed three lights in the canopy above the foyer entrance, and two on the posts. Three of these five lights were among the missing equipment when we arrived. So we had to re-purchase them before installing them. Needless to say, this stretched our schedule.
  • Finally, we were asked to install a time clock on the outside security lights. This was my original plan, but I was informed that they wanted them all on one photo cell. After a hurricane passed closed by and shorted it out, we now need to install a time clock. No one purchased one for me to install, so I ended up getting this as well. This project also required some more re-piping, as well. It is finished.

Fall Mission Trip 2011
Left to be Done

To begin with, lights need to be installed in the men's and women's bathrooms over the mirrors. This is not a job I plan to do, because we would have to cut the wall boxes in the concrete block walls above the mirrors. It is never a good situation working over a mirror.

Additionally, since the counters are already installed as well, it would make it very difficult for either James or me to do, because of the strain it would put on our backs.

So we plan to leave this job for someone younger, and lighter to accomplish.

Next, although we purchased carpet flanges for the platform, they can't be installed this trip because the carpet won't be laid until the week after we return to the States.

By the way, this was another change that cost more money. I originally installed eight duplex receptacle floor boxes in the platform. The plan was to use tile to cover the platform, so I bought eight tile covers for the boxes at thirty-five dollars each.

At that time, it included a place for the piano, the pulpit, and choir. But they decided they needed a baptistry as well, so the piano was moved in order that the baptistry could be installed where the piano would have been. This change took out one floor box.

Then when we arrived this trip, they had decided to change from tile to carpeting on the platform. Of course, this meant the tile covers wouldn't work. New carpet flanges were needed. They cost $52.60 each...

The good news was, we only needed seven of them.

I'm thankful that of all the items mentioned above, these are the only two we won't finish.

Fall Mission Trip 2011
Looking Forward

As I write, we are on our tenth trip to Puerto Rico. I have spent over ten months working on New Life Baptist Church alone. I realize that is a great deal of time, but trust me, there has been a great deal of work that needed to be done.

Nonetheless, at this point, the electrical part of this project, barring any major changes by the government, should be ready for their inauguration celebration, and then full time use, the first part of February.

However, the rest of project is not yet complete. I am well aware that Pastor Garcia and his wife Daly, as well as the members of this church will still need help in the future. The pastor estimates that another $10,000 to $14,000 will be needed for finishing details, before they can actually start using the building.

As you know, we don't usually ask for money, but we do want to invite you to make an eternal investment in this ministry, if you have the finances to do so.

We will happily put you in contact with Pastor Garcia, if the Lord leads you to be involved in finishing this building. I know any gift small, or great, will be gratefully accepted.

We will be packing up to leave shortly, for home. For now, I have done about all I can to help. There are a few other small electrical items to do, but they are minor, and can be done by anyone who has basic electrical skills.

So, I have no future plans to return here to work at this time, but if the need arises, and God allows, we would gladly come back.

Fall Mission Trip 2011
We are Grateful

Sherilyn and I would like to take this opportunity to thank so many people who have helped make our trips possible. We have been blessed in so many ways! It will take a very long time to mention them all, and even then, I will probably miss several, but I must try anyway.

James Greever, a true co-worker and friend, has been here five times with me, and without his help, input, and physical support, we wouldn't have been able to have completed this project. I truly wish to thank him for all he has done. He is a great example of the wonderfully gifted, and God serving people, living in the Appalachians of Virginia.

Next, I want to thank my father and mother-in-law. He is my Pastor, a tremendous example, and truly devoted to the Lord. We come from a small church, and I usually teach the adult Sunday School class. While I am away he teaches for me. Dad is well past retirement age. I will be sixty-five this December, and he is more than a few years past, yet he still has the desire to preach the Word. He has been helpful in every area of our ministry. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Additionally, we have a lot of family support, both through prayer, and financially, from brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law to other extended family.

Then we can't forget friends and neighbors, especially two, the Attos, in south Fort Meyers, Florida, and the McCowens, our next door neighbors, who have been truly faithful to help in so many ways--I can't even remember all of them.

But they are always there when you need help, and have given to us so freely. We've been provided places to stay while traveling, help to and from airports (sometimes as much as two hours away) and a provision of a place who keep our car while we're gone.

Finally, we are truly grateful for all those who have done the hundreds of things that allow us the opportunity to serve others, and for those who quietly and faithfully pray for us, whose names we could never mention, even if we knew them all...

We are continually in your debt, and we recognize you have an invaluable part in our ministry. Whether we mentioned you here or not, we love and appreciate each, and every, one of you. Thanks one and all.

Electrifying for Eternity,

Dennis & Sherilyn (Nutting) Thompson

Sending Church:
Central Baptist Church
2422 N. Thompson Drive
Sullivan, IN 47882

They accept tax deductible contributions for us.