CA Fire Response

January 10, 2018

Written by HFI Reservist: Bobbie Bradley

image1From Oct. 23-29, 2017,  I was in Napa working at the Salvation Army (SA) Corp. office which became a distribution center handing out food boxes, toiletries, etc.  I was blessed to be able to pray for many families, even though the majority were Spanish-speaking. A gentle touch and prayer breaks through all language barriers. 

Then I was off to Santa Rosa to help there; the SA was working on their 2nd set of Corp officers and staff coming in from San Diego, Kansas, Chicago and Arizona. For the majority of the time, I assisted at a couple of shelters serving food and providing emotional and spiritual care (ESC). There were several ESC teams from SA serving at community sites. My last day there, I was able to go out to one of the sites to speak with the people impacted by the fires. 

I'd like to share two stories:  the first is my own personal story of trusting God in order to deploy; the second is a story from the field.

Two and one half years ago, I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. The cause remains unknown but I ended up with heart damage and a cardiac pacemaker/defibrillator. I also have Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.Long story made short, since that happened, I had lost all confidence in myself. Insecure that I could step up to do ESC physically, emotionally or spiritually.

In September, just as the night turns to day, my confidence returned. When the Las Vegas tragedy occurred, I stepped up to deploy. I sensed the Lord saying "not yet." So I prayed for Him to continue to prepare me...then Hope Force called out for help to assist the Salvation Army in Northern California. I asked "now Lord?" I knew if it was indeed the time, He would open the doors...and He did. Now, in order for me to deploy for two weeks meant that I would have to trust him to protect my health and provide me with all the strength and stamina I needed to get through...and He did!
Although physically exhausted at the end of each day, it was a good exhaustion. An answer to prayer and a deeper trust in Him.

"Hugh and a grateful community"

Hugh is a professional photographer. He lost everything in the fire except for a bell from a steam locomotive and a bronze cat sculpture. Hugh, as well as many of the community, came everyday -- sometimes several times a day -- just to tell their stories of the day of the fire and to connect. The SA community site became their source of strength. On the last day, many of the community came out to say thank you and say goodbye to their new friends. I sensed a sadness in the faces of the community, as well as the SA volunteers. These were the people who provided a listening ear, hugs and words of hope to a community that had experienced a horrific tragedy. That day, the NewTestament/Proverbs/Psalm Bibles we brought were disappearing into pockets and purses of those we served.

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to serve representing Hope Force and working, once again, alongside the Salvation Army.

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