Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Next Chapter

So after many meetings and even more prayer, Paul and Tipharah are moving down to join Team I-TEC!!! We are all very excited to have them join us down here and help us in our work.  I have already been told by several people that they are glad that I am finally getting some help which will help I-TEC tremendously.  Most of my friends and family however are not happy that I am taking their niece and nephew or grandchildren or friends from them.  As my dear mother told me, “You are taking my grandchildren from me, there is nothing you can do to get back in my good graces.”

Paul and Tipharah are going to be living in one of the ITEC Guest houses, partially because it is the only open house at the moment, but mostly because we need someone to keep it up.  I maintain it as best as I can, but really there is not anyone that lives there to look after it.  It generally is left to me or Ginny when guests come and since Steve’s accident, it has become too much for her.  So now Tipharah will be able to keep it up as a home and Paul and I can continue to make repairs and maintain it.  

Paul will also be helping me with my responsibilities at all of ITEC’s buildings as we continue to grow.  There are several houses and buildings that need repairs and maintenance as well as additions to the Maverick Shop and the main ITEC hangar.  I basically can only hold things together and make things livable but there are simply too many projects and responsibilities for me to keep up with on my own.  We are also taking on the responsibility of assembling the Dental Chairs that ITEC has developed.

The big challenge that we had to overcome was finances -- how to support Paul and his family.  God has blessed me with support that has been very consistent since August this year. There are several people that have been consistent since the beginning, I thank you very much!!  

So what we came up with is something called the Projects and Assembly fund.  We thought that it was funny because those are the first letters of mine and Paul’s names, for one, and also for a side job we did we wrote A and P Carpentry on the invoice we gave to the customer.  The Projects and Assembly fund is basically where our salary is going to come from. Between my existing support and the support of some people ITEC knows we have been able to come up with about 2/3 of the minimum Paul and I need to support ourselves.  We are exactly $800 a month short of the bare minimum.  To make up that last bit, we are taking on side projects outside of ITEC and also looking for donations. The hope is that further down the road we will be primarily working for ITEC and not having to look outside for work.  To do this, they have agreed to give a percentage of the dental chairs profit to our fund.

How can you help?  You can donate to ITEC online at and specify the Projects and Assembly fund. Or you can mail in a check to the address below with Projects and Assembly fund in the memo.  Either way, the money will make it to Paul’s and my fund.

Attn: Austin Park
10575 SW 147th Circle
Dunnellon, FL 34432

Thank you all so much for all of your support and prayers. Paul, Tipharah, and I are extremely grateful!! 

God Bless, and Merry Christmas


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Alabama and More

This is my second week back home after nearly 7 weeks of living in Alabama.  I was by a member of the ITEC board to come up and finish remodeling a house for him.  It was a favor to me to help me make some money and get out of debt; and a favor to him because the two people managing it before me were called back to their former jobs. The job was dragging out, so he asked ITEC if he could have me.

As it happened, a 2-week trip turned into 7-week trip and possibly heading back up for one more week of finishing the punch-out list after the painters are done.  It had been quite a long time away from ITEC. Not as long as my trip to Ecuador, but when you add up all the time between just these two trips, I’ve been away from home more than a quarter of the year.

It was definitely a blessing from God to give me that opportunity.  I was able to visit home in Tennessee, make some new friends in in Alabama, and get some great advice from my boss up there who is a huge part of supporting ITEC and is even on the ITEC board.  I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to make new relationships with men who are further along their walk with God than I am and are much wiser than me.  It was also really great to get the experience of managing my first professional construction job which I know I’ll need to know how to do.

I have returned home debt-free, my truck is fixed and I have my emergency fund back in place.  I am taking the Financial Peace University program with one of my best friends to try and learn how to be a better steward of the money that God has given me through all of you.

Another thing that is in the works and that I am hopeful of, is the possibility of having a partner to work with.  The story is long, but I will do my best to condense it.  

About a year ago, my brother-in-law, Paul, came down for a week to help me with the construction of a cyclorama wall for ITEC.  I had been working with ITEC for a year and was used to being a one-man-band.  I had forgotten how great it was to work with my best friend and brother.

We spent a week together building and having a blast doing it. It felt like old times, just like the thousands of projects we had worked on over the years, from the long hours, to the Irish music, to the hundreds of inside jokes we’ve built up over years of being friends.  

We finished the project according to plan, which gave us a few days to fish off the Skyway pier in the Tampa bay. Surely there is not better way to finish a job.

Paul left on Sunday morning about the same time I was leaving for church.  It was one of the hardest goodbyes I have ever had to make--even harder than when I left home to start working for ITEC.  We joked about him moving here as he got in his car and headed home.

I wasn’t really able to focus at church for a number of reasons, but near the forefront of my mind was Paul and all of the great times we had together during this past week and when we lived together in TN.  It was hard to imagine that he had to go home, not to mention that I missed my older sister, niece and nephew, and all my family for that matter.  

Later that afternoon, Paul game me a call. He was still a few hours from home.  Even after spending a whole week together, we still managed to talk to each other for 2 hours!  It was brought up in more seriousness the possibility of him and his family moving down.  In all honesty, it is something that we have never really stopped thinking about to this day.  It is brought up regularly, and we have made efforts here and there, but up till now, nothing has been able to come of it.  

Upon my return from ITEC, I was given quite a bit more responsibility, and even the guys at ITEC realized that I was probably not going to be able to keep everything going and do all that they wanted me to do by myself.  So they asked me if there was anyone I know that could help me.  Of course I did.  

At this point, we are still praying about it and asking God to make it clear that this is what he wants Paul to do.  It has a lot to do also with if ITEC is able to help make this happen financially.  We have so much going on.  But ultimately, it comes down to whether or not God wants it to happen.  We would move in a heartbeat, but we want God to be making this happen, not us.  

We would certainly appreciate your prayers as we strive to find out what God’s will is for us in the matter.  I also am so thankful to all of you for your support both spiritually and financially.  

God Bless,


Monday, September 3, 2012


A couple weeks ago I was a part of helping at a teen camp that our church does every year. Last year was my first time and apparently they liked me enough to help this year too.  I was part of the service team.  We mostly set up the activities for the kids to play as well as keep an eye on them during free time.  

The camp ground and cabins are some of the nicest I have ever been to.  There is a pretty nice game room, complete with Foosball, Pool, Air Hockey, and Ping pong.  There is a huge field for Soccer or Ultimate Frisbee, and behind that field is a huge mud pit. There is a lake to canoe and kayak in as well as goals for water polo.  There is a pool with a big slide, and another pool with a volley ball net. Then up the hill a little, behind the cabins is a pavilion with a basket ball court. Then you have a beach volley ball court and an octagon for dodge ball.  There are actually many more activities to do, that is just most of them.

I point all those out to firstly say that we have a bunch of fun but also to say that we have to keep an eye on a lot of stuff that is happening, on top of set up stuff in many of those places.  Camp was really great and I got to spend time with and meet many new people.  I know a lot of people from church, but many of the kids were not from my church and I loved getting to know them at meal times and during free time.

The camp theme this year was the armor of God.  We took the passage from Ephesians 6:10-18 and actually memorized a few verses a day till by the end of camp we had the whole passage memorized.  Each day, the kids were supposed to challenge the counselors and service team on the memorized verses.  If they win, they get 5,000 points for their team, if they lose, their team loses 2,000 points.  If you both get it right, you tie and nothing happens.  I was challenged by a friend of mine and we tied, and afterward I was telling my friend that she should have challenged me on today's verse instead of the day before's verse because I wasn’t confident with it yet.  Well, my mouth got me in trouble and a student heard me say that. She came up to me with another counselor and challenged me, and I lost.  As it happens, this camp was the girl's first camp ever, and her first exposure to God and the church in any way.  She is normally very shy and was an abused child.  The counselor who invited her came up to me and told me that, and I was so excited at my loss. I knew that there were some abused children there, but wasn’t sure who.  I am sure that her victory over me probably was a big part of making that camp something special for her, and of course, teaching me a lesson in humility.

This year, I walked away from camp not as filled up as I did last year, and it wasn’t until my first meeting with Neil (The man I do discipleship with) that I realized why.  Last year, I was one of the speakers.  I was given one of the morning sessions with the guys and afterward, I had a lot of the guys trying to hang out with me and I was able to invest in them throughout the 5 days that I was there.  This year, I was mostly in the background, and only actually had conversations with people at meal times.

This was quite a lesson for me to learn.  It has made me realize that I have to be intentional about making relationships with people and not wait for them to come after me. You have to invest the time to get to know them before you can speak into their lives.  They have to be important to you, and you have to give yourself, your time, and effort to forge the relationship.  It is in giving that we receive.

I had a conversation with Katelyn, my girlfriend, recently, and I was kind of getting tired of trying to hang out with some people. I felt like I tried for so long but nothing really came of it.  It was next to impossible to go deeper than surface stuff.  Plus in this group, I am on the outside.  Most of these people grew up together, went to school together, spent their free time with each other.  That is a hard circle to penetrate and become a part of. It takes time, and has to be important to me.  She encouraged me to continue trying and not to give up on them. I can learn from them, and they from me.  

I have taken Katelyn’s advice, and am working harder to spend time with them. She does have to prod me every now and then, true, but that is what she is there for, to help hold me accountable.

There is only one real need at the moment. I have a hospital bill for exactly $370 that came up on me out of no where. It was from a visit over a year and a half ago in Memphis, while I was up in TN for my mom’s wedding.  I was definitely surprised to see it.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  

Thanks so much for all of your support in both prayer and financial.  You make it possible for me to help Steve and ITEC accomplish what we do.

God bless,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Steve Comes Home

So, I have some exciting new this post.  Firstly, my medical test results are in the mail and hopefully will be in the hands of the FAA today (Friday).  So now I am playing the waiting game; the ball is in their field.  I am hopeful though, and anxious to hear back.  Thank you, all who helped me pay for my medical bills. You all took quite a chunk out of it for me, thanks so much!!

Neat story about the medical bill help, I was having a pretty rough morning, pretty overwhelmed with the financial bit of these medical tests.  When I got to ITEC, I saw that I had some mail from the day before with yet another bill.  The one thing that was going through my mind was the passage of scripture that I had been reading the day before in Matthew 6 where Christ tells us not to worry.  Particularly verse 33,
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  I continued thinking this and praying as I walked back out to my truck, then sort of forgot my worry while I was working.  Then, at lunch, I was told I had some more mail.  It was a letter from a good friend of ITEC’s and someone I got to spend a decent bit of time with last time he was here.  I did a lot of the orientation for his daughter and two other interns that went to Ecuador a couple of months ago.  He had read my blog and sent me some money to help with the medical needs. I just sat there and read his letter like 5 times and praying all the while. God is definitely looking out for me.

As for the second, Steve comes home tomorrow (Saturday)!!!  I have already built some ramps from his garage into his house and today my project is putting in a handrail for the step onto his front porch.  I saw him in Gainesville last weekend and he was doing really well.  His brother Phil was there too. Between the two of us, we have gotten his rehab stuff put together and made access to the house. 
Wednesday morning, all of ITEC showed up and made more room in the garage so that there would be room for him to get out of the car with his walker and make it to the ramps.

At my last visit, I could definitely tell Steve was ready to come home.  I think it has been 6 weeks!! He is definitely moving a lot better, the rehab is really helping him a lot. He was as sharp and picky as ever. I brought my measuring tape and not pad into the room because Jesse wanted me to see the handrails and ramps that they use in the exercise room for him and replicate them at the house. He had me measuring everything, including how much he could open and close his hands.  

When I left, he thanked me for coming and for prepping his house of this return and for all that I do at I-TEC, and ended by telling me that he loved me. I find it incredible that the man that is in pain and unable to care for himself is the one that is encouraging me. I'm the one trying to help him and do everything i can for him and yet he did more for me in that one statement than i can put into words. Is this one of those moments where you see God's strength in our weakness? Or perhaps it is one of those things that just seems reverse but is actually the way God wants it. Kind of like, in giving we receive, or to be the greatest of all you must become the least, to gain you must loose. Perhaps, it is all of the above. It's just another one of those times where things seem backwards to me, but on the second glance, it's correct. Hard to put into words what I'm saying. Just an observation of mine.

Anyway, that’s all for now, thanks again for all of your help.  I am continually grateful for your part in helping me do what I do.

God Bless,


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where Things Stand

So it has been a really long time since my last blog.  I found in my files that there is a blog that I wrote at the end of April but never posted it. Weird.  But here is a compilation of where things stand for me and ITEC.  

Recently, we had some friends of Steve and Ginny’s come from Mali, Africa to stay with us for a while. They are actually on the run because there has been an increase of persecution against Christians there lately and since he is a prominent pastor over there, there is a price on his head.  I am actually not allowed to put their names in writing, but you may have heard of them from Steve’s book “Walking His Trail”.  Steve met them in Timbuktu while he was there setting up a base for MAF in the 80’s.

They moved into the house that I have been living in since early August last year.  Some of you have actually stayed at that house while visiting me.  The 4 guys living with me and I moved to another house that is roughly 2 ½ miles away.  There is plenty of work to do on this new house, but I have been able to make some progress, even with all the things that have jumped in the way.

Elijah, my little brother came down for a couple of weeks and was a huge help.   I had a great time with him and everyone here loved him being here as well.  With his help, I was able to get twice as much done in half the time allowing us to get moved in sooner than I had hoped.

During the past couple of months ITEC has had several instances where people have been getting hurt.  Steve’s injury was the worst one, but he is recovering quickly.  If you have not been watching the videos that Brian has been posting on Facebook, I highly recommend you start.  Steve is one incredible guy!!!  It was certainly a blow to ITEC during that time of injuries.  I think that 6 people total had pretty serious injuries.  With the prayers of all the people all over the world, team ITEC was able to pull out of the attack, and we are continuing to work toward accomplishing what God has given us to do here.  

The couple that I mentioned earlier from Mali, Africa have a son who has been here for 8 years.  He came over here for schooling and he ended up finding a wife and is now married and has 3 kids.  I was asked by ITEC to take him on as my helper and teach him the stuff that I do.  It has been different teaching someone the things I know. But it certainly has been good.  It helps me find out exactly what I know and figure out why I do things a certain way.  It also has helped me with patience.  I am not known for my patience, as most of you reading this know, but I have been even more impatient than normal these past several months.  I’ve found myself becoming a hard man, more blunt than normal, to the point of being rude in most cases.  

Also, being the head of the house has been another place where I have been learning patience and humility.  I have 2 guys that work full time at ITEC, Daren and Robby, the two interns, Dustin, who is from Miami, Jimmy, who is from Texas, and an older gentleman who lives in his RV outside named Carl.  My house is used as a guest house, so we generally have quite a lot of traffic. I must say, you get to know some pretty awesome people being the host of a guest house.  
That’s pretty much it for now. I’ll try to be better about blogging more often so you guys are all aware of what is going on.  Thank you so much, Dossie Briggs, Ashima Joy, and Paul Hobbs for your donations to me this past month, it came at an incredible time!! I was literally out of money when that came to me, not kidding or exaggerating.  It was totally God!! Thank you so much.  Anyone that has given money to my mom for me that I do not know who you are, please forgive me,  I am extremely grateful for your support of me and ITEC.  

To the village as a whole, Steve asks about you often and is extremely grateful for your prayers and contributions to ITEC.  Here is a text message from him only days after his accident: “Please tell the folks in the Village thanks for praying for me and my family. I just have this deep seeded sense of anticipation for how God is going to use this.”  I do not know if that ever made it around to everyone. I forwarded it on to a few people in the village in hopes that it would make it to everyone.

Thanks again for all your support!!!

God Bless,


PS- since this blog was written, another thing has come up.  I have two remaining tests to do for the FAA in the process of getting my medical.  One is on Friday the 20th and the other is on Wednesday the 25th. Once those two things are finished, i send the results back to the FAA and we leave it to whatever God wants.  These tests are going to cost about $400, any help would be much appreciated. 

PPS- Here is the latest video on Steve's recovery.  He is such an amazing man.  His focus is in the right place. He is just very inspirational.

As always, I am extremely grateful for all of your support through finances ands prayer.  I could not do what i do without your help.  Thanks so much!!

God Bless,


Thursday, February 9, 2012


So in the four weeks since arriving here in Ecuador, a lot has happened. This could be a pretty long post, but we shall see.  Oh, where to begin….
            Well, I arrived in Quito on a Sunday evening and my first sight of Ecuador was a rainy one.  I found out later, we get an average of 35 ft of rain every year. My one bag took an eternity to get from baggage claim, I was standing there for just over an hour.  I met up with my friend, Galo, who I know from him being in the States working on airplanes with Jesse. After meeting his mom and brother we got in the van and headed to his sisters house where he had been staying over the weekend for a family reunion.  He ended up telling me that the flight number I had emailed him did not exist, but somehow he was at the Airport when I was, Someone must have been looking out for us.
            We left for Shell the next morning, a beautiful 4-hour drive through the mountains.  After several stops along the way for Galo to find a part for a car, we made it to Shell, my home for the next 3 months.
            Shell is a very small town on the edge of the Jungle.  The Airport is pretty much the length of the town but it goes a bit deeper.  Mountains covered with thick jungle surround Shell, and clouds often cover the tops. Out of the four weeks I have been here. There have been 3 days that it hasn’t rained.  The temperatures are perfect but the humidity is so high that I sweat more than I do in Florida.  Another downside to the humidity is that nothing dries if you just leave it hanging in your room, even with a fan on.
            The building I am here to finish is right on the airstrip and about a 2 minute walk from the MAF base which is right across the road from Nate Saint’s house.  It has a main building  that is two stories and is mostly office space.  The back part is a hanger that is used to work on planes and cars.  The car business is to try to make ITEC Ecuador self-supporting, but it is not working out very well.  We are working on shutting down that business.  The plane business is slowing down a bit too.  Saint Aviation use to work from there, building RV10’s but we just sold our last one.
            My job is to finish the second story of the main building before March 8th.  Here in Ecuador, their buildings are all made of concrete, even the ceilings. Sometimes the roofs are tin.  Thankfully, ITEC Ecuador has a tin roof.  That did present a slight challenge, but we managed.  So pretty much, the more I saw and realized I had to do, I was surprised, and unsure where to begin.  I have done construction for quite a while, but never in Ecuador. There are a lot of things to take into account living in a rainforest that I normally didn’t have to consider working in Memphis.  For instance, we had a leak on the exterior of the building and when I suggested we caulk it, I was informed that it was a bad idea.  It takes a long time to dry because of the high humidity.  Another thing is that because of all the rain, all the buildings are built in mud so there has to be more focus on the foundation.  That’s just to mention a few things.
            I was also under the impression that there was going to be another guy here that I would be working under who has done construction in Ecuador so he would be teaching me.  Upon my arrival, I found that the whole project is on me to finish before the group gets here from the states on March 8th.  So I basically realized that I have to build in a country I have never built in, with helpers who cannot understand me or I them, and I have a deadline to meet.  Bring it on.
            So construction started right away with me working on the ITEC building during the day and finishing the room I was going to be living in at Galo’s house.  I was shown which route to take when I walk to ITEC, and then on my walks I learned the general layout of Shell, where the HCJB Hospital is, the millions of bakeries, grocery stores, restaurants, and the like.  
            There is a river not far from the house they have created a slight dam to make a swimming area and small park.  Galo has a German Shepherd that he affectionately named Booger, and I take him for walks down there sometimes.  I went wading up and down that river one afternoon.  It is such a pretty river.
            The other thing that started right away was the learning of Spanish.  Immersion is quite a way to learn. It is both embarrassing, and challenging, but makes some hilarious stories.  Galo tells me to make trips into stores or bakeries to force me to try to speak and understand Spanish and to get use to hearing it in general.  Thankfully the people are somewhat used to seeing missionaries around here so they are generally kind and understanding. However, when they see you struggling and stumbling through your Spanish, or just using a word instead of a sentence, they have this knowing smile that makes you want to go crawl into a hole.
            Working with my helper, Carlos, has been educational too. You have both of us trying to explain things in each others language.  He knows less English than I do Spanish.  It takes several minutes before we get the idea of what we are saying, there is a lot of pointing, and body language. But we are getting better.  
            One day I had just finished running on Galo’s treadmill and it was slightly raining outside so I went outside and took my shirt off too cool off in the rain.  The guys that work the car business live on the bottom floor of the same house I do and they saw me and invited me in where they were watching TV all three of them saw all of my scars and were asking me what they were from.  Now, explaining my former heart problems is already difficult in English.  Add trying to explain with my lame vocabulary of Spanish.  Wow.  It was a long conversation.
            Then they were trying to ask me if I had eaten dinner yet.  When I said no, they asked me to go out to eat with them.  So we all went to eat at a Chinese place.  It was quite interesting.  I was trying to get fried rice with the meat and vegetables. So I was trying to explain that to them to order for me.  So you have an English guy trying to explain what he wants through and Ecuadorian, who is trying to explain that to a Chinese woman.  When my plate came back it was a huge pile of fried onions, peppers, and that kind of loveliness.
            I did end up going back this past week and managed to order the right stuff.  And when they asked if I wanted the big plate or the small I said big because I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and I was taking lunch late.  They brought out a plate with a mountain of friend rice on it.  If any of you have seen Game Plan and remember the scene when the little girl is looking at the huge plate of spaghetti, that is what my plate looked like, I am not joking.
            We have all the walls plastered, foam on the ceiling to help deaden the sound of the daily rain, and the tile in the bathrooms.  I am hoping that I will have a good bit of the drop ceiling finished before Galo gets back on the 13th and then I will finish installing the bathroom hardware.  I am hopeful that I will have this finished before Jimmy arrives with the team on March 8th.  I really appreciate all your prayers and support.  You are what make it possible for me to be here doing this for ITEC

God Bless,