March 6, 2015
Greg led devotions and titled it "Salt and Light" reading from Matthew 5:10-16, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
He spoke a bit about verse 13, referring to us as the salt of the earth. Salt preserves. We've been given the truth, and must preserve it. Salt heals. We live in a wounded world and have His healing word. Salt flavors. Live is bland without seasoning. In order for salt to have it's affect, it must come in contact with it's intended recipient. We must touch and interact with those in the world in whom we intend to affect.
Verse 14 states that we are the light of the world. Light makes things visible. Light dispels darkness. Light dominates over darkness. Light can eliminate fear (of failure, the future, death).
Our primary mission in life, as the salt and light of the world, is to reveal the King.
After devotions and breakfast we loaded up in a convoy of vehicles and headed toward the outskirts of town where the wildland/brush guys have been training. Doug arranged for an old junk-car to be delivered to the site, so we had our class demonstrations for both exercises conducted there. The brush guys picked out a couple crews, tooled them up, lit a fire and let them go. The Auto-X guys did the same and put two crews to work on a vehicle on its side. It was a good demo for both operations. We then cleared some more brush on the property, piled it high, and torched it off. It was a nice backdrop for the group photo. Training complete, we headed home.
After lunch and cleaning up a bit, we prepared for our closing ceremony. We had the top brass (Comandantes) from two of the three fire services that provide fire protection for Nicaragua in attendance. Lizard put together a slide show/video of our activities the past few days, which was a complete hit with the firefighters. They loved it (with standing ovations) and it was a great way to kick off the afternoon activities. John then spoke and gave a clear presentation of the gospel. At the close he led those in prayer who wanted to receive Jesus. When he asked those who had just now prayed to receive Christ to stand, all but about 6-8 stood - including all the VIPs in attendance.
Then the formality of calling out names and passing out certificates began. Everyone received their certificate, an FFC New Testament and pen, a Gospel of John, and an LAFD patch. All our tools were given to the comandante in charge for distribution as he deemed fit, and then several took turns at the podium to give their thanks. They gave us certificates, T-shirts, and a really nice medal thanking us for our service. There were multiple statements from VIPs and others reflecting their observations of us demonstrating our faith throughout the week, one specifically mentioning us teaching them to pray. Another commented that our message about God was even more important than teaching about rescue work. (I think he received a glimpse of eternity). There was much sincerity in their appreciation. At the conclusion many small group photos were taken, hugs given, and parting words made. It was a very good day!
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March 5, 2015
Sorry for the late blog. It's Friday night as I'm typing this. The accounts that follow happened Thursday. It's late because we were invited to dinner after our day of training to Commedante Jamie Delgado's home. He lives in Managua, which is about an hour drive, one way, from our training site, and we didn't return until almost midnight. So pretend this paragraph is at the end of the blog and it'll be in the proper sequence of events. We had the pleasure of meeting the Commedante on Monday night when he hosted the team to a great dinner at one of the nicest restaurants in Managua. The team has been praying for Jaime, as we call him, since Monday because we all felt prompted by the Spirit to do so. He is the head director of the "Assosacion de Bomberos", which is one of the three fire departments in Nicaragua, and the highest-ranking fire official we met. When we entered his compound, and yes it is a compound, (with several homes sprawling on about 6 to 8 acres) we understood why he insisted on treating us to dinner that Monday. He has a beautiful home and family. His wife Antoinette and daughter in-law Emma greeted us at the door, followed by his son Jaime (wife is Emma), daughter Mariana and youngest son Gabriel. He also has two other sons in Miami, both sons attending school there. Mariana was a ball of fire and quickly became the life of the party. She touched us all in a special way. Jaime is a very passionate man with great heart for the fire service and we struck up a great relationship, culminating in a profession for Christ when the gospel was shared today at the closing ceremony (oops gave away some details that belong on Dan's blog). Please keep him in your prayers that the seed would fall on rich soil. He makes frequent trips to the US and we're hoping to see him soon.
Ok, we're back to the normal sequence of events. Pastor Ken led devotions this morning and his topic was relationships. He used a marriage study as his basis, but its findings apply to all relationships. The University of Washington conducted the marriage study and it is the largest and most comprehensive study to date and took 40 years to conclude. It came up with four things (duped "horseman") that produce a destructive marriage. Pastor Ken was only able to cover the first "horseman" because of time constraints. You see our devotions are an hour long but 50 minutes of that hour is dedicated to prayer. We could have spent two hours on this first horseman because the findings were interesting and, I might add, convicting. It made me realize how blessed I am to be a part of a group of men that are so caring and passionate about their marriage that we could have gone all day on that subject. Thank you Greg for keeping us in check and moving us on to our special time of prayer, which we all know, is the most important part of our morning. The study showed that the couples who said positive things verses negative things at a 5:1 ratio (duped Masters) had a more successful marriage than the ones at a 1:1 ratio (positive/negative, duped Disasters), which had a more destructive marriage. The first horseman is "Criticism" and proved to be the most destructive. Criticism basically says that your personality is defective and the study showed the Disasters had a tendency to imbed a problem into their mate. Criticisms are generally non-specific and attack a person. In contrast they found that the Masters had more of a tendency to complain and not criticize. By complaining they were asking for their needs and were expressing their feelings in a nonjudgmental way. What is interesting is that all of the findings from the study can be verified by the truths in the Bible. All the great people in the bible never criticized God. Even when Satan approached God and said that Job would curse Him, he was wrong and never did. What he did do is complain, he expressed his feelings and asked God to meet his needs. When I look at my notes we could go on forever but in a nutshell, criticism is basically speaking without love and complaining is speaking the truth in love. I would encourage you to Google the "marriage 4 horseman" and look into this fascinating study for yourselves.
Today was our last day of training and we simply flip-flopped the groups we had yesterday so the wildland guys were cutting cars and visa versa. Speaking of wildland, it's hard for me to give a detailed account of how their day went because I'm involved with the auto X training. Since all the old guys are training the wildland, all they ever want to do when they get back is to eat and sleep and it's hard to get a decent report out of them. Here's exactly what I got from them, "Group was receptive, they did a good job, good crews, challenging.” Oh wait that's right, they have been ranting and raving for few days about some blind guy running into their stopped car. He must have been coming fast because none of them had the time to roll down their window and warn him of what was about to happen. How easily amused. On the auto X side we had another great day of training. The group was receptive, they did a good job, good crews, challenging. We didn't get any extra cars to cut on but we want to thank you for all the prayers. We improvised a bit by cutting a little on the car we were saving for Friday and were able to kill some extra time. We still ended an hour early but that gave one of the instructors a chance to share the gospel. God is good and faithful. There was a reason we didn't have an extra car to cut on.
Well after our training day we got cleaned up and prepared for a special dinner with..... oh wait, please see paragraph one.
Random thoughts and prayer requests:
Remember it's Friday night as I'm typing this, so prayer requests have been answered already. Can't give you any detail because it belongs to Dan's blog. In fact I'm doing my best trying to beat him as he sits next to me typing today's blog.
Great weather again, no rain and mid 90's.
The director and Commandant of BUSF, Commedante Perez gave his life to the Lord (Thursday) and since it's Friday right now and I can honestly say I'm witnessing a true conversion. There is definitely a special bond with the team that I can only attribute to the Holy Spirit. Tears have been shed!
Please pray a prayer of thankfulness and praise for a God of such faithfulness and power!
I've been tremendously blessed by this group of men, not only the team but also the many new friends in the Lord who have worked so hard to prepare for this special time in Nicaragua. We will miss them.
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March 4, 2015
The blogger yesterday did an awesome job! Thanks Jorge. (Don't worry, Greg probably won't read it until he gets home) I enjoy reading other's writings as they often interject their personality and humor (something I sometimes lack). I did want to add just one thing to what he wrote though, since he was writing the blog, while others went to the hospital last night.
Calvary Chapel Granada visits this hospital every month or so for the purpose of praying with patients, so they arranged a visit yesterday evening for us. There were about a dozen who went (firefighters and translators), so we split up in two groups to make the rounds in one hospital wing. Each room we visited had about 6-12 people (patients and visitors) in a large open room with no privacy curtains. We introduced ourselves, asked if we could pray for them, and without exception, all either gave approval or asked specifically for prayer. Some were prayed for individually, others as a group, and in at least a couple rooms, John ended up sharing the gospel. Twelve prayed to receive Jesus. In one of the rooms, after praying to receive Jesus, a cellphone rang and the ring-tone was someone singing "Hallelujah". What timing. John commented that multitudes of angels in heaven were singing the same song at that very moment because of those who had just prayed to receive Jesus.
This morning Chris led devotions and it was very special. He started off by saying that this was not only a devotion, but also a confession and prayer request. He covered four points, simple yet profound. He first read from Hebrews 10:17, "I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds." Therefore, My past can be forgiven. Next he read from Philippians 4:19, "And this same GOD, who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." Therefore, My present can be managed. And then from Hebrews 2:14, 15, "Because God's children are human beings - made of flesh and blood - the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who has the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying." Therefore, My future can be guaranteed. Lastly, Chris read from Titus 3:7, "Because of His grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Therefore, God's grace is all I need.
He ended his message by folding up his notes as if making a paper airplane, and tore off a chunk and said, "If this represents what I can achieve without God, and this (tearing off another piece of paper) represents what I will receive by doing things on my own, then this (opening up the folded pieces of torn-off paper) is what I have to look forward to." As he opened up the folded up chunks of discarded pieces of paper they formed the letters "H", "E", "L", "L". He concluded, "However, once these are cut out of my life, this is what I'm left with"...and he opened up the main piece of folded up paper and it formed the shape of a cross. Nice message and appropriate visual aide.
As he finished his message, he confessed that he had not been the Ephesians 5 husband that God desired and his marriage was struggling because of it. Similar, and other confessions and prayer requests followed, and time was spent in prayer.
Calvary Chapel Granada has been providing all our meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), AND all the meals for the 50 or so firefighters we are training. They prepare and dish up the meals and we act as servers. It's a good witness to the firefighters we are serving. The staff at Calvary has also been leading morning devotions for the firefighters.
For training today, we broke up into two different groups. Joe and company taught Wildland/Brush, while Chris and company taught Auto Extrication. The Wildland guys spent the morning in a classroom, and all afternoon out in field cutting line and practicing with some controlled burns. The Auto Extrication group spent the day in the side yard working on a couple cars and doing other heavy lifting work with the jacks. Junk cars are VERY scarce due to the severely depressed economy. Everything that can be salvaged, is sold for salvage, and whatever isn't, is sold for scrap metal. Throughout the day spiritual applications were applied by Joe to various brush operations, and both he and Jorge were able to share their testimonies with the groups they were instructing.
After dinner, Lizard played the Billy Graham movie about Cheyane. This has been re-done in Spanish and it had a very powerful effect with all the firefighters. John spoke briefly afterward saying that he would tell more about Cheyane on Friday at the close of training. Some Nicaraguan brothers came up afterward to share that they, too, were believers. Others were obviously impacted by the movie. God is surely tugging on their hearts.
Another group of us went to the same hospital tonight for visitation/prayer. They experienced the same warm welcome from the patients and their families and more patients prayed to receive Jesus as their Savior. It's amazing how many family members are at this hospital, visiting their sick relatives.
We need another car or two for Auto-X to train on. We also experienced a problem with the Milwaukee Fuel Sawzall, using the Diablo demolition blade. The saws keeps spitting the blades out. We used this same combo in Panama and never had this problem. Maybe The Lord doesn't want us using a blade with the Devil's name on it. Seriously. We are searching for a store to buy some Milwaukee blades. Pray we can find some, and we'll get rid of the Diablo.
We are invited to one of the big chief's house for dinner tomorrow night. He's a very influential man that needs The Lord. Pray for the right opportunity to share the Gospel with him.
Today was an injury-free day. Thanks, and pray for more of the same.
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March 3. 2015
Well to be honest, I’m not sure if this is day 2 or day 3. According to John, most of us were up more than 40 hours, when we went to bed last night. Of course that doesn’t count the catnaps the few of us got on the plane ride here. What I do know is that today was our first day of training and as always we started off our day with morning devotions. John White led the devotions, which he titled “Pray Believing”. John used many scriptures to encourage us to “abide in Jesus”, which in turn gives us the right to “pray according to His will”. His main scripture was Acts 12:1-16. It’s the story of James’ death and Peter’s arrest by King Herod. As you know Peter was heavily guarded at the entrance to the cell with four squads of four soldiers each (v-4) and was chained between two soldiers in the cell (v-6). Even though this looked like insurmountable odds, the scripture reads, “But the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (v-5) As you read on, you see that God honored those prayers and miraculously freed Peter (v-7-12) but when he reaches Mary’s house and knocks on the door nobody believes it is he. In fact, they fail to even open the door. Fortunately, Peter kept knocking, “And when they opened the door and saw him, there were astonished.” (v-16) John pointed out that sometimes we are guilty of the same thing. We pray without believing. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Using Ephesians 6, where it talks about putting on the whole armor of God (v-13-17), John points out in the very next verse, its says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests … (v-18). So the key is once you have the whole armor of God on, then pray. It not only completes the armor but it gives us the privilege to “pray believing.”
Our day, with approximately 45 paid and volunteer firefighters, started with our formal introductions and a video that Lizard put together many years ago, which outline the various outreaches FFC has done. The video really reminded us of God’s faithfulness and how He has touched so many lives throughout the world through this ministry. Now He has chosen Nicaragua and He has chosen this team. Please pray for the team. As always we believe God has chosen the perfect team but it’s only through your prayers and His faithfulness that we will be blessed with much fruit.
Our first order is always the rescue straps. All the students receive a 13 ft. nylon webbing with a carabiner and John Whites gives his personal training on the many uses of the rescue strap. This tool is a great way to break the ice and begin building relationships with the firefighters. This training took us right up to our lunchtime. Speaking of food, we have been so blessed by the local church and by a team from “Fields of Abundance mission” ministry. They have served us three awesome meals a day, but not only us, but also all the students included. What a blessing! This afternoon training consisted of “search and rescue” techniques and some basic “above ground” hose lays. We split the firefighters into two groups, which gives us a better opportunity to build those close relationships as well as providing us the opportunity to run them through each of the disciplines. The training went real well with no injuries to speak of, aside from a small two-acre grass fire, which took our fire engine away. All logistical matters went well. We wrapped up our training day with Pastor Ken Krikac, A Chaplain for the Orange County Fire Authority, giving the students a lesson on “Critical Incident Stress Management”. This is something very new to this part of the world but as we have learned something definitely needed. This was evident by some of the immediate responses from a few of the firefighters, which led to some informal to more formal discussions.
After dinner, most of the team had the opportunity to visit the local hospital. The team was able to spend time and pray with many of the patients in the hospital. Some prayed for their salvation and gained eternal healing! We finished our day with the normal “hot wash”, which I think we do just to make Greg feel like he’s doing something. Just kidding Greg. There’s a reason our Logistics are in order and why we are too! I think I’m dead…
I’ll leave you with some random thoughts and things to pray about, which is my way of saying I forget a lot of things and I’m not going back to plug them all in.
Weather has been awesome! Please pray for the same.
Continue to pray for the lawyer on the plane, the patients at the hospital, and two firefighters, all who have responded to the Gospel. Which reminds, me, we have a pastor from Calvary Chapel Rosarito, who is doing a 30-minute devotional with all the firefighters every morning before training begins. Forgive me for not having his name right now. The normal blogger will have it, I’m sure. Please keep these devotions in your prayers.
Pray for the continued relationships that are being formed. God is moving!
Pray for the continued cohesion of the team, which has been a huge blessing thus far!
Tomorrow we start with the auto extrication and wild land training. Please pray for the logistical needs and mainly the safely of the firefighters and the team.
Remember, “PRAY BELIEVING!!!!” God Bless!
<>7 - 12
March 2, 2015
The first day of a short-term mission is always the longest, no matter how you slice it, but we are all here in Granada, Nicaragua, and all is well. Our team of ten (John White, Greg Gibson, Joe Lindaman, Chris Martinez, Dan Rodriguez, Jorge Perez, Orlando Sanchez, Dan Elizarraras, Wade Little, and Ken Krikac) all met at LAX last night and took the 'red-eye' special switching planes once in Miami. We had a slight emergency while still at LAX. After we taxied out, and just prior to take-off, there was a medical emergency on board with a passenger experiencing a seizure. Several FFC members rose to the occasion, provided an initial patient assessment, and guided the captain and crew to abort take-off and get proper medical attention for this passenger. It looked like more than just a seizure and we met Rescue 51 back at the terminal to transfer the patient. But other than this slight delay, our flights were very smooth and all our gear made it safely to Managua.
We were greeted at the airport by a line-up of about 25 firefighters standing at attention and giving us a very warm welcome. We also met up with Doug McRoberts, a missionary who has been working with local churches in the area for the past nine years, and Cal Stubner, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Managua. The idea of a mission trip to firefighters in Nicaragua first began when Ken visited as part of his church group, but wanting to visit a couple fire stations and seek out opportunities for FFC to do some training. He and Cal tried to make this happen in Managua but as God closed some doors, and opened others, this training opportunity extended to Granada, where Doug (and Pastor Bert from Panama) have been working behind the scenes for the past year or so to make it happen.
It was about an hour drive from the Managua airport to the training site (where we will also be staying). A group from Madrid, Spain, built the site. Their name when translated sounds like "Firefighters Without Borders". I'm assuming it is some sort of government funded, volunteer group to assist other fire departments in developing nations. The site has all our logistical needs covered, such as classrooms, dorms, bathrooms, etc., and the local church is going to provide our meals.
They gave us a quick tour of the facility and we had lunch. We then had a meeting to plan out the week, began unpacking and getting the gear ready. Joe and a couple others on the team took a ride to town to buy some basic hand tools at a hardware store for the wildland/brush training. Some got a brief nap, and then the chiefs took us out to a really nice restaurant for dinner. Their hospitality and appreciation is overwhelming and we haven't even done anything yet.
This trip, and others like it, is not about the training. It’s about sharing the love of Jesus with those God brings our way. We go and God provides the contacts. And He already has. One of us changed seats on the plane with a young man so his family could sit together. He was curious about our FFC logo and started asking questions. Turns out he was an attorney, spiritually very open, brought up religious, but without security in Christ. Long and meaningful conversation ensued and he was explained the gospel, given an FFC tract and New Testament. He was very thankful for both the conversation and gift. After meeting with some of the firefighters here, John was talking with one of the fire chiefs and realized that he was from Stuttgart, Germany. His little daughter still lives there, for health reasons unable to come to Nicaragua. What an opportunity for Steffen, in Stuttgart, to connect with the ministry going on in Nicaragua.
Pray that our first day starts off well tomorrow. Organized an orderly, but mostly that we continue to connect with those to whom we are sent to minister. Pray that we get the cars needed to conduct Auto Extrication and permission to use some vacant fields for wildland/brush training/burns. Pray for more Divine Appointments and the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit. Pray for Steffen's connection in Stuttgart. Pray for Jimmy, the attorney with an open heart.
Front Row: Ken Krikac, Chris Martinez, Danny Elizarraras, Orlando Sanchez,Back Row:Joe Lindaman, Jorge Perez, Greg Gibson, Wade Little, Dan Rodriguez, and John White <>1 - 4