On a recent trip to Guatemala, we were in the middle of co-hosting a medical clinic for the city of San Jose Pinula when I was asked to step outside. I went outside and both Chuck, Oscar and myself were asked to climb into the Toyota pickup truck with the Mayor of the city. The Mayor was a young man who looked to be in his early forties. He was accompanied by two armed personal guards that sat in the bed of the pickup truck and kept a watchful eye on us. The first thing I noticed as the mayor started the truck and drove away from the clinic was the Kevlar bulletproof jacket that was draped over the back of his driver’s seat. My guess is that it was not merely for decoration!
We drove into the countryside and passed through different areas of town as the Mayor pointed out to us all of the improvements he and his administration had underway. Dirt roads being paved with concrete, underground drainage systems being installed, community centers being built and medical clinics as well. As we toured from area to area, one thing I quickly realized was that everyone knew his vehicle. Evidently, he was quite popular with the villagers as he constantly waived and acknowledged people with a quick “toot” of his horn. However, I also learned that there was a faction of people who did not appreciate all of his efforts, hence the Kevlar.
Our tour finally brought us to a beautiful building that was currently under construction and was nearly completed. It was the sole fire station in San Jose Pinula. It was a beautiful two-story building with everything you might expect in a fire station…except a fire truck. They didn’t have a fire truck. After we toured the building, the Mayor politely asked if we knew of a way we could help him get a truck. Chuck and I looked at each other and chuckled and said, “we’ll try” knowing full well we had no connections or places to begin the search. The Mayor took us back to the clinic and we shook hands and finished our day in the clinic.
Upon returning back to the States days later, Chuck made a call to a Hope Ignited Board Member, Mark Whatley who is Mayor Pro Tem in Tyler, Texas to give him a run down on our trip. Chuck said, “Do you have any idea where I would be able to find a fire truck that someone wants to donate?” Mark said he didn’t but would make a call to the Tyler Fire Chief.
Hours later, Mark called Chuck to tell him that he had spoken with the Fire Chief and “it just so happened that the City of Tyler had just made the decision to retire one of their fire trucks.” Within three days of that phone call, the Legal Department had drafted a document that transferred the vehicle to Hope Ignited, the City Council has voted to transfer the vehicle and the Mayor had signed off on it. Three days!
On October 8th in Tyler, Texas at a ceremony in the Tyler Mayor’s office, the keys to the fire truck were presented to the Mayor of San Jose Pinula. Mark Whatley took it upon himself to have a decal designed and created and placed on the Fire Truck that proudly reads, The City of San Jose Pinula Fire Department! In addition, members of the Tyler Fire Department have “adopted” the new fire department in San Jose Pinula as a sister station and several members of the department will be traveling to Guatemala to meet, train and assist the Guatemalan fire fighters.
How cool is that? Who could have ever guessed that so much would come from a simple step of faith. We answer to a big God and at times, many times, we will be asked to do things that don’t make any sense. My hope is that we will recognize these opportunities as small tests of faith. If we move forward regardless of what logic, reason or other people say, amazing things often happen.