My first year as an officer

Listen to this article

“Stormy Weather” might be the O’Briens’ theme song for their Flagstaff appointment.

By Michael O’Brien, Lt.

Wildfires, floods and tornados—little did I know what I was headed for in June 2010, when I, with my wife, Jillian (then six months pregnant) and our 1-year-old daughter, Brynn, walked across the stage in anticipation of our first appointment as newly commissioned officers in The Salvation Army.

What we knew about our assignment was minimal. We knew it was the home of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. We knew it was home to Lowell Observatory, discoverers of the once-planet Pluto. We knew it was a beautiful place to stop for Starbucks on the way to the Grand Canyon. What we didn’t know was what Flagstaff, Ariz., would have in store for us when we got there.

The week before we arrived, a 15,000-acre wildfire consumed Flagstaff. Thankfully, The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) team rushed into action, meeting the immediate need of those affected by the fire. Our little family arrived for our first day of officership thinking we had dodged the bullet and that the EDS work was behind us.

Not so.

Monsoons soon arrived, and freshly burned mountain areas created the perfect luge for debris that pushed residents out of their homes, destroying all property in its path.

Taking what little we knew about EDS, our team went to work doing what good we could for those people affected by the flooding. Jillian, largely pregnant, and little Brynn helped the other team members pass out lunch bags from the back of a truck to those hurriedly packing sandbags to protect their homes.

Flooding wasn’t the only natural disaster coming our way. Tornadoes touched down before we had finished wrapping up casework for those affected by the fire and floods. Fortunately, the damage was not widespread.

Following the fires, floods, tornadoes and the Christmas season was Flagstaff’s favorite weather system—snow—two feet in one day. While snow is not unusual for local Flagstaffians, this Southern California family was totally caught totally off guard by how much work snow entails.

Through it all our family has come to know, even more than before, that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46:1-3,7).

Seven months in and officership has already come with more trials than we ever could have imagined or expected—from natural disaster to deep spiritual need. With our focus on him and not our own shortcomings, God has proved himself over and over again to be faithful through every situation.

Commissioning 2011 – Spirit aflame!

Commissioning 2011 – Spirit aflame!

Spirit Aflame!

Henderson enrolls the Harmons

Henderson enrolls the Harmons

Come Join Our Army The Salvation Army Henderson (Nev

You May Also Like