Thursday, Sept. 6th, 2012

9-6-12

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

Today is one of those days that takes you back to that moment when you first found yourself yearning to know the Lord. For some of us this comes about with an excitement that refreshes the spirit within us in a new way. For others it comes about like a weight that makes you feel small and in need of a covering. More about this in a bit.

Today started like most firefighters are accustomed… a loud bell coming way too early. Needless to say that the zeal for running in the morning from the first day has faded today and we all slept in. Just as Ross mentioned yesterday, today our morning started as it does in every fire station back at home. Some cooked, some cleaned, we all were excited about the day ahead. B team (Chad, John, Ross, Kevin, Mitch, Chris) had organized a couple great scenarios for the bomberos that would allow them to demonstrate how they would attack a car fire as well as a fire in a high rise building. This would give an opportunity for us to suggest techniques we use back in the states that have proven effective and for them to show us how they work in these situations with limited resources.

For the first scenario the bomberos were dispatched to a car fire. Our “car” was an excellent prop which included a few barrels, tires, and plenty of brush to burn. True to life the situation would turn out to be more difficult than it may sound as they were unable to stage their engine near the incident. This required them to work as a team to stretch a couple sections of 3 inch hose from the engine to near the scene where they then attached a gated wye and attack line. From here they were able to practice stream patterns for reach and protection while they got in place to put the fire out. The teams did a great job and after each round discussion allowed for learning for all.

The second scenario required the bomberos to work as a team to attack a fire in a high rise building. Unfortunately, there would be no standpipe access. This meant they would have to work together to stretch 3 inch hose in an effective manner to the designated floor, the roof 5 floors up in our scenario, and then deploy an attack line. They then attack the fire utilizing the proper stream patterns and then practiced ventilating smoke from the room through a window using what is called hydraulic ventilation. The teams did great with a few hiccups along the way which only served as learning opportunities for all.

This was our last day of training with this particular group of bomberos so at the end of the day we reflected on the days we had spent training together this week and prayed together as a group. We said our goodbyes and exchanged shirts with one another.

We headed back to the station to take some cold showers and rest for an hour before we went to dinner. We were invited to dinner with a family at their home. This family has a desire to serve their community by bringing missionaries into local churches to encourage the congregation. For most of us this was the first time we had been in a Guatemalan home. The hospitality that was shown to us was amazing and humbling. The grandmother and mother had prepared an incredible dinner complete with chicken, potatoes, beans, salad, and desert that left us all feeling full and thankful. In typical fire station fashion we jumped at the opportunity to clean a few dishes for those who had gone above and beyond to serve us. Of course this meant that we made a mess in the process, but not to worry, that too was cleaned up.

After dinner we then headed to the church, Iglesias de Dios. The church, held in a somewhat smaller building, held about 50 or 60 people who were already gathering prior to our arrival. We found our seats while they keyboardist and drummer began leading the church in worship. Some of the songs we recognized and although we were singing in English while they in Spanish, together we worshipped our Lord. Kevin said it perfectly when he reflected how it reminded him that all around the world we the church are worshipping the same God. It was awesome! We listened, we sang, we clapped, we clapped, and we clapped some more! After a few songs our host from dinner stood to introduce our group to the congregation and invited a few of the guys to give their testimony. Jim kicked it off by telling the people exactly how a bunch of firefighters from different cities came together because of Jesus to come to Guatemala and train the bomberos. Next, Kevin and Chad stood to give their testimonies. Praise the Lord for what He has done to draw those two men, and all of us, to Himself and save us through His grace by sending Jesus to die for our sins. Im excited to continue to hear the testimonies of the other guys on the trip. In a surprise stunt our host then invited Chris to tell the people what it is like to be a Christian firefighter. Chris did a great job on the spot explaining a little bit of the culture of the fire service, and how being a Christian in this environment can at times be challenging, but always a great opportunity to share the gospel. Lan was then invited to speak. Using Luke 15:11-16, the story of the prodigal son, he encouraged us as Christians saved by grace to exercise that same grace and hospitality with all those, saved or not, that we come across in life. This topic hit us all to the core as in our entire trip to Guatemala we have been served by such incredibly hospitable hosts. The pastor of the church then invited the congregation to pray for us and afterwards we were invited to the front to pray for the members of the church as they came forward. The entire congregation stepped forward. For the next 10 or 15 minutes we then prayed for people that we had never met, and really couldn’t communicate with. But they came forward faithfully trusting the Lord. And this brings me back to my initial paragraph.

This entire trip we have come across people in very different situations than we find at home. Everyday we meet firefighters that do the same job that we do back at home, and do it excitedly with much less. And tonight at this church a congregation gathered not because it was the norm in their environment, there were many outside of those doors, but because they believe and trust that the Lord will provide, and they want to know Him. And we were invited by God to be a part of that. So all of us tonight have a stirring in our hearts. It doesn’t matter whether it came in a boost of excitement, or conviction that moves men forward. The Lord is at work in our hearts. And it is great to be loved by God. Please pray with us.

Julian

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Julian Arriaga

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