Archive for the 2011 Trip Category


Posted in 2011 Trip on July 26, 2011 by clayrozell

Monday July 25


Waking up in Antiqua, getting to sleep a bit late (and in a double bed), followed by custom omelettes was a wonderful thing for the team after dorm life at the academy. It was a holiday for Antigua, so the day began with canon fire, fireworks, and a pretty big parade. We had scoped out the market Sunday afternoon and took off today to undertake our personal stimulus efforts for the Guatemalan economy. Taking our bucks and bartering skills, we had a great time buying (incredibly expensive) gifts for family, friends, and supporters.

Pepe and Javier were meeting us for lunch. Not having a lot of time, we stumbled into an outstanding little place and wore out some Mexican food a la Guatemala. There is a large, 696 acre coffee plantation in Antigua that also has a zip line! So Canyon Express sent a military style, Mercedes truck to pick us up. We drove to the plantation and then way up a stone road to the zip line, ascending to about 6500 feet. All of us were blown away by the experience. There were two separate “zips” we did, and they were legit! And, it was quite cool up there so we tried to hold onto that, knowing that we were soon headed back to the exhaust fan of North Texas.

Trucking back to the downtown area by late afternoon, we did some final walking around the square, getting regular sales pitches from young and old alike. We saw the beauty queen and were treated to another parade by the Bombaros of Antiqua before dark. We had a good last supper before heading back to our hotel for our final meeting to debrief. Neither time nor space permit even an insufficient recap, but the bottom line was: God Won!

To a man (and Vera too), this trip was far beyond us. Sure there was good preparation and superb leadership by Clay and Chase, the only lettermen from last year, but we were in one accord as to Who got the credit and glory for what happened. We talked about how gracious God was at every point: from the providential picking of the team, the fact that we never met together as a group until we left DFW, American Airlines (Shout-out here) shipping all of the donated gear and supplies for free, the Guatemalan authorities not charging us any taxes upon arrival for all that gear, having a group of firefighters together for a week in close quarters and no “situations” erupt, and on and on.

God granted tremendous favor by literally quadrupling the reach of the team from last year-from training 30 at station 69 last year-to over 120 this year representing, the whole country at the Academy. Some of them drove five hours to be there! Not only did we get to meet the Chief at the Central Station, but he and two of the top four firefighting officials in Guatemala spent time with us during the training. Pepe is the Chief of Personnel for both paid and volunteer (85%) bombaros and heads up training. We spent every day with him, and he came to Antiqua to spend the whole day with us Monday.

The relationships established last year were a segue to this year, and they continued to blossom and expand. The ongoing commitment of The Village Church to this country as well as the practical aspect of ministering to Firefighters to help them be better at what they do every day in service to their country makes this work so important. To those who have supported in prayer and in finances, we have heart-felt gratitude to our Lord for you. As a team, with 80% of us being trip rookies, God miraculously grafted our gifts together, meshed our minds, and cumulatively blew up our hearts for the firefighters, Casa de Libertad, the orphans at Fundaninos, and the people of Guatemala.

Pray for the country of Guatemala, for the Bombaros and the government. There are tremendous challenges in the midst of staggering contrasts: From the up and out at the “FloMo, Guatemala” Starbucks to the down and out with pull-carts and outdoor washaterias.  Particularly for the poor, we can’t imagine the lives they live each day. Intercede for and with them. Ask the Father what He would have you do. The Guatemala III trip is coming to a close, but the work entrusted to us and committed to by us as a church family continues. Muchas gracias for the privilege of representing you all.

Lan Leavell

Care and Connections Pastor, TVC, Denton

Chaplain, Denton Fire Department


Monday pictures

Posted in 2011 Trip on July 25, 2011 by clayrozell

hanging in antigua, we went as a team to ride a zipline, over 36 mph, 300 ft in the air for over 1,400 feet!  it was an awesome experience

Antigua pictures

Posted in 2011 Trip on July 25, 2011 by clayrozell

a few pictures of antigua.  a great way to relax and enjoy our surroundings before leaving in the morning.  kevin took this opportunity to stop, and literally, smell the roses.


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Day Seven, Sunday

Posted in 2011 Trip on July 25, 2011 by clayrozell

Sunday July 24

We started out the day by getting packed to leave the Academy.  Straitening our rooms to make them presentable to the in coming recruits that are going to use the rooms to bunk in while they do their training. I am still in awe as to how well we all get along with no bickering or complaining.

We grabbed some cereal and coffee and left the academy en route to Casa de Libertad. Upon arrival we had some more coffee and set up for training of some of the church staff for CPR and first aid. The class went very well. Javier said he would follow up with more extensive training with local firefighters from station 69. The staff was exited about that.

The service was next with a group from Virginia and California leading the service. Their band played and sang in Spanish and English and their leader gave the sermon in English with Spanish interpretation. The service ended with the chairs being moved for more room for the singing and all out dancing. It turned out to be a very good and uplifting service, praise the Lord!

Afterword, we went out to eat with Pastor Francisco and the combined group that lead the service. Chief Pepe came a little later to eat with us as he had to attend a funeral of one of his firefighters that died of cancer.

We drove to Antigua next. Antigua is a smaller town which caters to tourists. The streets are like cobblestone but are rocks instead of brick. This town was the original capital of Guatemala but in the 1600’s there was a flood and 300 years ago an earthquake which destroyed the city. After that they moved the capital to Guatemala City.

We scoped out the market and had a nice supper. We relaxed and recouped the rest of the evening.  The hotel is very  nice and we rested well.

Jim Blair- Farmer’s Branch FD

Day Six, Saturday

Posted in 2011 Trip on July 24, 2011 by clayrozell

July 23, 2011

Hola Nino’s and Nina’s! This is the extent of my Spanish speaking ability and it’s only because of a Saturday Night Live skit with Chris Farley acting as Matt Foley, the Spanish motivational speaker. If only I hadn’t dropped my Spanish class in college I wouldn’t have to rely on SNL for my espaniol education. Luckily for me, and the rest of us who only speak a few words of Spanish, a hug can overcome any language barrier. That is what yesterday (Saturday) was all about. I will get to Saturday after I wrap up what this week has meant to me.

I was on team “B” of our group. Our group was responsible for creating a life-like obstacle course for the RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) training. We tried to make the course as difficult as what we would go through in the States. The problem with that was we only had two days to come up with what we were going to do, find the products to complete our vision of the course, and then build it. Thankfully, our team was composed of guys with a lot of experience in the fire service to come up with the course and many years of carpentry to build it. We weren’t reinventing the wheel with anything on this course, but we made sure to make it challenging. The course came out better than we had envisioned it.

Only having two years in the fire service, it’s always been me who’s going through these obstacle courses while having a much more experienced firefighter push me through. I’ve never been on the other end of instructing and guiding firefighters through. This presented a challenge for me because I had to confront my own insecurities of feeling inadequate to instruct 10+ year veterans. In the States, guys would look at me and say, “who is this guy trying to tell us what he knows.” That was not the case at all here. These men and women looked to me for instruction when they were in a bind. They wanted me to tell them the best way to take on the task. Two things happened at this point: 1) I was blown away at their humble spirit and willingness to learn, and 2) it made me realize how blessed I’ve been to be placed where I am to learn from the best in the world and how often I don’t think on that fact. I’d love to explain more, but our trip leader is riding me like Zorro to get this blog done. So…on to Saturday.

Saturday was “supposed” to be a relaxing day due to our intense schedule the previous 4 days. We began the day on the roof of our compound talking about the week and what the Lord has been doing in us. It was a really special time listening to all the guys share their hearts. We then proceeded to Fundaninos orphanage to spend time with the children and help put up some barbwire along the fence line. This was also a time to see where The Village Church sends support.

As soon as we arrived at the orphanage, multiple children walked up and extending their arms asking to be held. As I stated earlier, the human touch breaks all language barriers. Most of these children couldn’t understand English, but all of them could understand your touch. Throughout our entire time there, some of these kids would just sit in your lap. These children yearned for that touch. To know that they are loved, to know they are going to be taken care of as long as you’re there, to know that you recognize them. What a picture of our need for Christ and what He provides to us!

One little girl named Sandra was my favorite. She was probably 3 years old, looked just like Dora The Explorer, and was my match for being sarcastic. Every time I would try to say a word in Spanish, she would repeat it back to me in a sarcastic voice showing me how wrong I was. After about an hour and a half of playing, Sandra fell asleep in my arms. It was a very sweet time for me until I had to wake her up because they said she would not have gone to sleep that night if she continued her nap. If I could have taken her home with me that day, I would have.

While some of us were playing with the children, some of our team fixed their barbwire fence and fixed their pool pump. As someone who is not gifted in fixing things, this was another example to me of how much the Lord had His hands in this trip. I couldn’t physically fix what they needed, but there were members of our team that could.

All-in-all, this was probably the most exhausting day, yet it was also the most fulfilling day of our trip for me. I pray that we always remember these children. They need hugs, the universal sign of love. More importantly though, they need to understand that the love of Christ surpasses anything that we can give. They need to know that although they might have been forgotten by some, they will never leave the thoughts of Christ. This is a fact that we should all remember.

Kevin Bailey
Carrollton Fire Dept.


Posted in 2011 Trip on July 24, 2011 by clayrozell

Spent the majority of the day yesterday at Fundininos, the orphanage supported by our church partner. What an amazing experience!


Posted in 2011 Trip on July 23, 2011 by clayrozell

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