PTSD & the Crap that comes with it.

 I used to love going to concerts and festivals. I loved the atmosphere, the buzz of people going here and there. The energy and the excitement in the air. The smell of food vendors cooking the laughter of friends reliving old memories. YEA… I loved these things.

I can remember when all that change for me. I went to pain in the grass at White River Amphitheater when I had just come back from deployment. The things that I had once enjoyed had now become overwhelming and frightening. The hustle and bustle of the crowd no longer exude excitement for me, but anxiety. I had once enjoyed the business and people and the chatter as they walked by but now that was replaced with a sense terror. A sense that I had to be on high alert watching every possible person because they could be a potential threat. Their movements their hands who they were talking with what they were saying it all became overwhelming. The smell of food vendors that I had once enjoyed and now been replaced with the smell of body odor and trash. The body odor, trash and Porta-Johns had always been there. But somehow I had never noticed them before. But the smells I think we’re the worst, they triggered memories of my deployment that had been seared into my brain. The memories would come back as a rush flooding through my mind and overwhelming my senses. I would feel almost in a daze as if I wasn’t quite in reality. Like I was on some obscure edge of reality looking in, coming in and out have a Consciousness I did not understand. The uneasiness gave way to anxiety and then panic, and I can remember leaving before the headliners even took the stage.

So some Ten Years Later here I am. Standing at the threshold of what I will be my first concert experience since the amphitheater. Some very good and well-meaning friends head got me and my wife tickets to the Willie Nelson concert. I love Willie Nelson I grew up listening to his music so I was conflicted about the evening. On the one hand I was excited to see Willie Nelson perform, a man who had only heard through the radio and had listen to my entire life. But on the other hand I felt panic. Would I be able to make it through the concert, what if I have a panic attack, would I embarrass myself and my wife in front of my friends? I thought perhaps I will just graciously accept the tickets and at the last minute back out come up with some reason why I couldn’t attend and apologize profusely. You see it’s just not the panic and anxiety that I was worried about. For me and my PTSD it betrays my body. I’ve learned to manage the anxiety so that it does not lead into a panic attack. Well for the most part anyway. But I still cannot fully control the way my body malfunctions. Anytime I’m under high stress or anxiety the diarrhea kicks in. It’s almost instantaneous. I know it is coming I can feel the shortness of breath the heart palpitations and I can breathe through a those. I can calm my mind and bring myself to a place I’m calm. Well for the most part anyway. But with a panic and anxiety I know but the diarrhea is coming.

As you can see I keep my truck well stocked with various remedies for such a problem. With all the overseas travel I have done I have had many opportunities to fine-tune the medications that I take to alleviate this problem. I had I even have prescription strength medication for serious bouts. I keep them on hand and at the ready never knowing when I may need them. Tonight would be no exception. I research the tickets that my friends had bought they were good seats. It was a private section with private bar private food and private restrooms. It was off to the side away from The Fray of the crowd. Large Lounge seats and an older crowd. I couldn’t have asked for a better seat for the concert. The anxiety I once fell at the gate as we entered quickly dissipated when I assessed the seating and the venue. It was an outdoor venue surrounded only by a 6-foot fence it would be easily scalable in an emergency. Two exits to my rear and one to my right. The main body of the crowd to my left and front. If there was an emergency I would be well out of the way of the oncoming crowd. All of these things I assessed at a moment’s notice. I was able to calm my mind and put myself at ease. That is except for my digestive tract. Within just a few minutes of being inside the venue I felt the call. I made my way to the private restrooms but there was already a line 10 people deep. I was thankful for the private section and private restrooms so I could only imagine what the rest rooms look like for the main menu. I popped 2 prescription strength pills to alleviate the issue, but it was already too late, my guts are already churning. I made my way to the grey little porta john trailer, rolling blue paluka, whatever you call it. They were more upscale then your standard porta-john but still had a cramp feel and overwhelming stench one would expect. As luck would have it the door install that I selected did not have a lock. You could tell that one had once been there and since been broken off. So there I was half panicked, bubble guts, fumbling around in the crampness of the porta-john attempting to use it all the while holding the door shut praying that no one would try to open it. As I sat there all I could do was laugh. Laugh so I wouldn’t cry. Why did I let myself get to this point? Why had I not just stayed home? Why am I still here? As the pressure in my stomach subsided and I left the cramped quarters are the porta-john I did feel some relief. But there was a twinge of worry. What if the pills didnt work fast enough and I ended up running to the bathroom all night.

Well the pills did work. And I didn’t end up using the restroom again that night. The concert was actually quite enjoyable I had fun with my wife and my friends I enjoy the evening and toward the end even got close enough to the stage to where I could see the wrinkles on old Willys face. I’m glad that I just sucked it up that I pushed forward and I didn’t allow my previous failures to dictate my future

Will I attend another concert? I dont know. But I will at least consider it. I can not limit myself based on my fears.

What I have learned while living with ptsd is that I have to push forward and challenge myself daily. If I am not advancing, then I am retreating. Marines never retreat, we never surrender.

Sgt Q -Out

Self doubt.

This is a problem I have had ever since returning from Iraq. I will worry and stress of every decision I make. It used to be a crippling issue for me. It would alway give way to a panic attack.

I never had this problem before the war. I was a go-getter. At 17 I joined the Marines. 5’5 and 125 lbs, and I joined the toughest military branch in the world. People would often look at me sideways when they found out that I had joined. It was a look of “are you sure thats a good idea.” I guess I never really noticed my small stature, but now as I look at my 16 year old son, who is the same size I was when i joined, I know why people looked at me funny. I often wonder how I made it. How I was able to join 1st Anglico, become a master parachutist and close combat instructor.

I had no fear, no worry. I never douted I could do it.nothing seemed impossible for me. People would stand around and talk about doing something, but I was the guy who just jumped in and started doing it. Im not sure why, I was always wired that way I guess.

I remember driving to Mainside with my Sgt. Sgt Wade. While we were there camelback was doing a demo for the now standard hydration packs we carry. They were doing a pushup competition and you could win a camelback if you placed in the top 3. There was a croud of Marines standing around watching 2 or 3 guys pumping out reps. All talking about the 2 or 3 guys participating. All talking about how they would do it different or how they could do more than the other guys but they werent going to try because they had already lifted for the day.. bla bla bla. I stood around for about a minute before joining the competition. It was simple, whoever could do the most pushups without quitting. You could rest, but only the front leaning rest. (Pushup position)

All said and done I did 217 consecutive pushups and won a camelback. I still have it today and take it sometimes on the missionfield.

Think about that. 217 pushups. How many of us could do 50, or even 20 right now? Looking back I even have a hard time believing I did it. I had no fear, I never douted I could do it, and win.

But all that changed when I came back from deployment. Anxiety, panic, nightmares. They slowly chipped away at my self confidence. I nolonger felt invincible. I began to question myself. Question every choice I made and run it over and over until I completely shut down. I dont know if you do the same thing, I dont know if you lost that fearless side of yourself, but if you did… getting it back will be a long arduous journey filled with highs and lows. I have never gained back that fearlessness. I am still afraid when I do most anything. Leading teams on the missionfield, presenting Operation Restore Hope or even going to a grocery store can and do often strike the fear chord in my heart. I will second guess myself. I lay awake in the early mornings worried I won’t be able to preform. Asking myself why am I doing all this? Why dont I just quit and walk away?

The fear of failure is a heavy burden.  Before Iraq there were no real consequences for failure. But in Iraq, failure meant death. This became all to real on deployment. I guess that is why I am now so afraid of it. ( this is a revelation I am making for the first time. It is strange to share it with you in its raw form. A thought that reveals a darker part of myself that I didnt know was there.)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.            2 Timothy 1:7

This is Paul writing to Timothy to encourage him as he went out to preach the gospel. He knew Timothy was afraid but he went anyway.
I still do things. I still accomplish goals, but I am almost always afraid when I do it. I used to think I was brave because I was fearless. Now I know true bravery is being afraid and moving forward anyway.

-Sgt Q

 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” from Psalm 91:1-16

Birthday reflection.


Tonight as I lay here I reflect o my life. Where I have come from and where I am going. What have I done with the last 36 years? Not much I am afraid. Others may think differently, but I know me best and I can tell you I have squandered my tallents and my time for the majority of my life.
It wasnt until the last year that I really started working diligently for the Lord. Im talking 100% all the time. “Everyday I am hustelin” Sure, over the past 7 years I have had racked up thousands of frequent flyer miles traveling to far off distant lands and serving Gods people thru the works of my hands. Sure I have effected the lives of those people for good all in the name of and in obedience to my God. Sure, I have givin up money and endured hardship.
But it was temporary, it was part time. I could fly in, be on mission for 2 weeks, make an impact and egress back to the good ole’ USA. It was gradifing. It was simple. It was easy. But thats because it was part time.

Now God has givin me a full time ministry. It is exausting, it is complex and it is hard. And thats because it is full time all the time. There is no end of shift. No clock out time. But the military had prepared me for this.

I knew that with this ministry there would opposition. I knew the enemy would come for me.
In the Marines we have a term, Skyline… or don’t skyline yourself.
What does this mean? When on patrol you never want to crest over the top of a mountain or hill. When you do this, your silhouette is easily noticed against the stark contrast of the sky behind you. We are taught to Patrol below the skyline this way the enemy cannot see you behind the mountain and even if you are on the front face of the mountain in front of the enemy it will still be difficult for them to pick you up among the varied Terrain and foliage. But the moment you crossed above the skyline you become an easy target.

The same can be said with our Christian walk if we choose to live a quiet unassuming life we walk below the skyline and for most people this is their chosen path. But for some of us, Bold in or faith and strong in our convictions, we choose to walk Atop The Mountain skylining ourself for the enemy to see. When we choose to do big and bold things for God we Skyline ourselves and should expect constant and Relentless attacks from the enemy. So the way I see it you have two choices walk below Skyline and avoid confrontation or Skyline yourself and prepare for battle.

If God is sending you somewhere its because there is a battle to be waged. Some of you have forgotten that.
I had forgotten that!
When we go on patrol we are looking for a fight. When we step out our door we are looking for a fight. But we donot war against flesh and blood.
1.God says go pray for that person but we are afraid of embarrassment.
2. A friend criticized you and now you want to retaliate because you are wounded.
3. That secret sin overpowers your will power and now you carry the shame of sin like it is a ball and chain.

These are just 3 examples of how the devil is attacking you. Will you fold up like lawnchair, or fight back? Dont let the fear cripple you.

Marines when you are told to liberate a village, do you say no… there may be an enemy there? You know the enemy is there thats why they are sending you.
It is the same. If God is calling you to go pray for someone its because there is an enemy there.
I dont know about you but i have never backed down from a fight in my life, and I’m not starting now.

I dont care about what I did in the last 36 years. I care about what i do in the next 36.

Today I saw the enemy face to face. I heard his words. He was meer feet from me and I let him pass unabated. The enemy dressed as an old man interjected into a meeting I was having in an attempt to undermine what I was saying. I was stunned for a moment as I clamed my flesh. My flesh that wanted to tear his from his bones. Who was this old fool who thought it was his place to intervene in our meeting? To enter uninvited and cast stones? I sternly told him to have a nice day as he passed.
At the time I did not see it for what it was. It was a blatant attack from the enemy during a meeting or reconciliation. I should have rebuked him for the devil he was and his attempt to sow seeds of dissension among the group.
Be on watch my fellow warriors. The enemy is all around us. Take care of the Council you keep and the advisors who bend your ear. If it does not line up with the bible, dismiss it.


Beauty and the Beast

This is not a love story.
It’s about the beauty of strangers and the beast that lives inside me.

Today I decided to take my family to Disneyland. Yeah… I know… some of you are holding your breath right now, and for good reason. PTSD and crowds don’t  mix well, but I was willing to try. Things started off rough before I even got into the park.


At the gate there was a TSA style check point. They searched everyone’s bags on a long table then sent you thru. I was ok with this part, it didnt seem to intrusive and the line went quickly. Just after that there was a second stop point where they make you empty your pockets and go thru a metal detector. This secondary check point seemed a bit more through and I could feel my anxiety start to build. As I empty my pockets I seemed a little perplexed at the level of security they had for the happiest place on earth. I emptied my pockets and an officer named Tom began to question me. I had in my pocket a small multi-tool that had a knife, screwdrivers and bottle opener. As you look at the contents of my pocket sitting in the tray, the multi-tool still covered in yellow paint from the weekends build, my cell phone, extra battery pack, camera from Kevin Mugi, miscellaneous change and dollar bills, car keys, and carabiners. I must have  looked like a small Sherpa with the contents of my pocket sitting piled in the dish. Tom asked why I had brought a knife with me. I didn’t know why and stammered for an answer, my anxiety now rushing into a full panic. I tried to explain the multitool was something I always carried and had just returned from a build in Mexico. “I always carry this Kershaw multitool. I use it almost daily. What is going on here I thought” as the line of questions began to make me feel uncomfortable. Tom must have sensed my anxiety as I stammered to tell him about the Kershaw. As I stumbled over my words I began to get angry. “A pocket knife … really? This is what they are concerned about! This is a safty issue, not that they strap you into a metal cage and shoot you down a hill at 30 mph… thats safe, but the Kershaw, now thats dangerous.”

I now began to ask the questions. Pointing out the obsurdity of their rules. During this time Tom remained calm and polite. He answered all of my questions in a professional nonconfrontinal manner. He completely put me at ease because he did not challenge my opinions on the matter, but instead reminded me that they do their best to provide a safe and fun environment for all guests. That these rules about knives and selfi sticks, glass and gun shaped toys were all designed to improve the overall Disney experience. He explained in detail the dangers of each banned item and never wavired in his polite and professional demeanor.
At the end I agreed to return to my car and drop of the Kershaw. As I walked back to the car I was reminded that Disneyland is a private park open to the public. They can put what ever rules up wanted and I had the choice to either follow them or not enter into the park.

As I made my way back to the check point, I looked for Tom. He waved me thru and I again emptied my pockets. As I did I thanked Tom and explained how difficult just coming here was for me and how my anxiety skyrocketed at the check point. I also told him that it was his polite and non-confrontainal attitude that was the key to me not just giving up and leaving the park. I really didnt want to disappoint my family by not going to the park with them. I asked if I could pray with them and thanked God they had handled the situation with such grace.


I walked away feeling confident. One of the other guards had told me that if I really appreciated Tom I should go tell a “Plad” about my experience and they would recognize Tom for a job well done. A Plad is like a customer service specialist/ supervisor from what I can tell. I made my way to City Hall and told one of the Plads (her name was Sam) about Tom. I told her about my anxiety and how ORH works to help veterans struggling with ptsd lead normal lives. I also told her that Tom should be teaching others how to interact with guests, because if he could defuse me while in the beginning of a panic attack he could defuse anyone. Sam then proceded to give me a disability pass that would allow me to go on the rides without standing in line. I would still have the same wait time as everyone else, but would not have to physically stand in line. This was such a blessing. There were these little green stations throughout the park where you could sign up for a ride and they would give you a time to be there so you could get on.
It was @ this first green station that wr met Channing. She was a bubbly young gal who was more than happy to assist us and give ride recommendations. We told her about our experience so far and how well we were treated. We saw her again later in the day and she helped us find all the Starwars attractions we were looking for. We found out her Dad was a veteran and we shared ORH with her then invited them both on one of our next trips.


Over all Disneyland was a 10 out of 10. I couldn’t have asked for anything else, and if I did I am sure that they would have accommodated me.

Thank you Tom, Sam and Channing, for making this a day to remember.

-Sgt Q

4 days out.

It is Sunday May 22. Four days until we deploy, and I am feeling it. Nervous anticipation, impending doom, total peace and complete turmoil. I have been on many missions before and led teams as well. But this one is different and yet still the same. This one is more personal for me. We are building in honor of my friend and fellow Marine Bryan Bertrand.  Six of his family members are joining us and so this ads an unpredictable element to the trip. Will I be able to lead effectively with this build so personal to me? Will I be able to honor Bryan’s in a way his family will understand and appreciate? These are questions I have no answer for. This team is also 2x the size of a normal team. The family, the camera crew, the team and my staff. This takes alot of logistics to put together and to top it off we have elected to teach classes our first day in country. These classes coincide with the book i have written, packed with lessons I have learned on the missionfield. 30 tickets, meals, billiting, tshirts, books, handouts, personalities. The normal team is 15 so this will be a true test of our infustructer and my ability to lead. Since leaving the military and batteling ptsd, I have lost alot of my self confidence. War does that to you. You start to second guess yourself. The people back home dont understand you so you isolate yourself even further. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store become overwhelming and you feel like more like a failure than a hero. It is easier to stay home and stop challenging yourself.

Why do I do it?
Why do I leave the comfort of my home?
Why do I stretch and set unrealistic goals?
Because this creates growth. This is how I test my metal. One of my previous blogs spoke about how you must put your metal in the fire to refine it. Today we will use another metaphor.
As I read the bible and now write this blog, I understand why Jesus spoke in parables. He wanted to teach them something new by giving them examples of something old in their daily life.

It is spring. Flowers are blooming grass is growing. New life is all around us. Some of us are planting gardens or flowers, or tending to our house plants.
I am sure at some point each one of you has done some gardening so these examples wont be lost on you.

The Garden
When I was young we always grew a garden. We would start by germinating the seeds. We would take a cloth or paper towel and fold it several times and put it on a small dish. We would then put the seeds in the folds of the paper towel and soak it with water. You then put the dish is a warm dark place and wait, checking each day to see if you needed to add more water and if the seeds had sprouted. Not all of them would. Some just wouldnt grow. Once they began to sprout we would plant them and wait. After a few days we could see them start to poke out of the ground. From years of gardening I know that as soon as the sprout came out of the ground its roots would begin to grow down and find  nutrients for the plant.


Now we can just leave the plant this way. We can just water it and it will grow. But if we want to super charge our plant. We add manure. By doing this it creates significant groth in the plant.
So what is manure?
It is processed organic material, manure is a natural choice as a garden soil enhancement. Farm animals are routinely fed the byproducts of plants either in the form of dried grain and meal or through the open grazing of live vegetation. Manure is thus not only the actual animal waste itself but a combination of waste and other organic substances such as straw bedding, liquid runoff, and spilled feed. Manure is a complete amendment in that it not only adds important nutrients, such as nitrogen, to the soil but also completely changes the soil’s structure.
As manure continues to decompose in the soil, microbes and bacteria absorb its nutrients, producing their own byproduct called humus, which attaches itself to soil particles. Humus separates the dense particles in clay soil, improving its drainage, and it fills the large spaces between dry sand particles, holding on to more water in the process. Manure supplies plants instantly with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients by warming the soil, which speeds up decomposition, and lowers the soil’s acidity level, or pH, less than chemical fertilizers. Manure also supplies energy to fungi and earthworms that help to further break down its components in the soil.
There are many benefits we see from adding manure to our gardens


Our seeds have been planted, our fertilizer add and we can start to see fruit fruit blossem. We could leave our plant this way and it will grow just fine. It will grow in all directions and bare fruit. But if we want a healthy plant, one that produces good  large fruit, then we must prune the branches and cut away the dead and dieing parts. This will redirect the energy to the remaining branches and fruit creating a more productive and health plant. Three benefits of pruning are:
1. Improves the overall appearance and structure of the tree, keeping it from developing broad or weak branches. Trimming prevents limbs from growing with weak crotches, or eventually crossing each other and competing for space in the crown.
2. Trimming your tree(s) will increase sun exposure and air circulation throughout the tree and underlying landscape, which will improve the tree’s health. Just be sure to watch out for signs of sunscald, which often affects leafless deciduous trees in the winter time.
3. Pruning fruit trees can actually improve the size and quantity of the crop.

Much like our own lives.
We are like the seed.
For us to grow, we must first experience darkness, isolation, heat and pressure. Water activates the seed to begin to struggle and change form. Just as the living water causes us to struggle againist our flesh and emerge in a new form. (2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.)
Just as the sprout gets its head above the dirt it sees a whole new world. The world had not changed but the perspective of the seed has changed. Just as our perspective changes when we accept Christ and live a God centered life.


Covered in crap!
The seed will grow just fine without fertilizer. It will grow and may even produce fruit. But when manure is added the plant struggles once again absorbing the good nutrients from the manure and growing stronger because of it. When manure is added more water is needed or the plant will burn and die. When we are faced with trials in our life, when we are neck deep in crap, look for the nutrients. It is because of the trial, the crap of life that we grow strong.But only if we add extra helping of the living water to our lives. Anyone who knows my story can tell you, I have been neck deep in crap on more than one occasion. But it has made me stronger because of my faith in God and not of my own strength. If we donot add an extra helping of God the the crap of life will burn us out and we can die.
(James 1:2-8
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.)


Pruning the tree.
As the plant matures parts of it get damaged or grow outside of where it should. With to many branches they all suffer and compete for valuable resources. We can see this in our lives. For us our branches are things we spend our time on. One branch for family, one for friends, one for kids, church,job, house work, fishing, hiking, serving, tv, movies, the club, facebook, and the list goes on and on. Each branch in your life is also competing for a valueable resource, your time. If you try to do to much, all areas of your life will suffer. Sometimes we need to prune out the things that are not healthy for our tree. What in your life is stealing resources. If you redirect that energy, what kind of fruit could you produce?


Each one of us produces fruit in our live. Is yours good or bad, small or large? When we produce fruit, donot let it rot on the tree. You must give it to others or it has all been for not. Each fruit you give away is a blessing you give to your fellow man. And in each piece of fruit… there is a seed.


In the Pit.


When I was in the Marines I liked to fight. This was nothing new. I had been fighting my whole life. I think I was 8 or 9 when I got in my first fight. It was at the bus stop. There was a new kid, fat kid who liked to push people around because he was bigger than all of us. He was a year younger but bigger than all of us. He thought it was funny to be a bully and push us down or pin us against the wall. He never hit us, but push us around or hold us down.
Now our bus stop was in front of a small cafe called the weekender. In the morning you would have a half dozen loggers and truck drivers getting their morning coffee and bite to eat. It was a small town and I knew most of the adults in the cafe. And if I didnt know them, odds are they knew my parents.
I think it was the 3rd day of being bullied that I had had enough. I knew he wouldnt stop unless someone made him. And today that someone would be me. I was nervous, not scared like the other kids that day, but nervous because I knew I would have to fight. I had never been in a fight before so I didn’t know what to expect.
As usual the bully walked up to the bus stop, a small covered area in front of the cafe that had a picnic table with an old coffe can half filled with sand and half filled with cigarette butts. He began his usual  routine and when he got to me he could tell things had changed. I wasnt standing there with my backpack on and my head down like everyone else. My backpack was on the table and I was looking him dead in the eyes. He paused for a moment, considering his options I figured, then shoved me. It was harder than before. I lost my footing and took a step back. (I would later learn this is what is ment by being “caught flat footed”) As I steped back with my right foot, I sprung forward and caught him with a hard right.  Well hard for an 8 year old anyway. I can still hear the sound of my fist smashing into his face, like the sound a fresh steak makes when you drop it on a counter. I think I was just as surprised as he was about what just happened. The look on his face was shock, dismay, disbelief, but it was quickly turning to anger. I knew I only had a split second to figure out what to do next. Fight, run, apologize and try to talk my way out of it? I chose fight. I knew if I waited another second I would lose the initiative and he could quickly over power me. I swung again and again, pummeling the fat-so. Now I could hear the other kids joining in yelling and cheering on the fight. They had all waited for this day, to see the bully get what was coming to him. I had worked him back against the wall, window to the right and door to the left, and kept punching. As I punched he began to wale and cry. Blubbering and screaming for me to stop. But I didn’t.
By now several of the locals had filed outside the cafe to watch. Standing there with their cigarettes and coffee they watched the bully beatdown. At one point one of the loggers told me that was enough and I stopped. If he hadn’t said anything I think I would have kept swinging until my arms fell off.

I hadn’t been scared until this point, but now I worried about how much trouble I would be in. I could hear the sound of the bus arriving behind me mixed with the heavy sobs of “el gordo.” The bus doors swung open and the bus driver asked what had happened. Before any of us could say anything the men from the cafe stepped in and told her that “gordo” here had been bulling everyone at the bus stop for the last few days, and today that ended. She looked down at him, the sobbing bloddy mess of a kid and said, “well did you learn something today?” He nodded his head that he did, still wimpering and sobbing as he boarded the bus.

Nothing happened after that. I never got in any trouble, and fatboy never picked on us again.

Become a Fighter                                       This was my first fight, and I learned a valuable lesson. That when you are faced with a bully. You fight. I toppled several bullies during my time in school so when I joined the Marines I was ready to fight. My unit saw that I liked to fight and to teach me a “lesson” they sent me to Close Combat Instructors Course. “So I could get my ass kicked every day” the XO had put it.

My first day they threw us in the pit. They called it the house of pain. It was a pit 10 feet by 10 feet by 8 feet high. It was lined with sandbags and smelled like sweat and blood. The floor was sand and stired up and stained from the battled waged before. 1 at a time we would enter the pit with an instructor. They would be geared up and ready for a brawl. You would have to gear up in the pit with them looking over you. The rest of the class would be above looking down. Waiting for their turn. This would be a fight unlike any I had before. I could not run, there was nowhere to go. I could not hide, there was nowhere to hide. I had to fight. That first day I got beat up pretty bad. But I showed up the next day. Others did not. You had the option to quit at anytime and go back to your unit and as the days progressed our class dwindled. Every couple of days they would put us in the pit and this is what broke most people. After a while you knew the ones who werent going to make it. They were the ones who quit fighting in the pit. They would just cover up and take the hits without swinging back. Those are the guys who wouldn’t be back the next day.

The pit was dark and small and stunk like battle… and you were alone with the enemy. You couldnt tap out, you couldnt run. You had to fight.

Isn’t that what ptsd feels like?

In a pit, alone with an enemy to which there is no escape.
Are you going to quit? Check out early? Or will you fight!

Some days you find yourself in The Pit, and on theses days you cannot run, there is no retreat. You must fight or you will die.

-Sgt Q

“Living with ptsd is a daily battle. Some days you win, some days you lose, but every day… you fight!”

Social Pressure.

The last few days have been full of stress and anxiety for me. We released the Operation Restore Hope fundraising campaign video and it took off like a rocket. We had over 20k people see the post and over 8.8k view the video in just 4 days. It was also reposted on twitter multiple times. It was exciting to watch happen, but the excitement quickly wore off as it became apparent that no donations were coming in. There was a buzz about ORH, people were sharing and resharing, but somehow I had failed to deliver the message in a compelling way. I sat back and watched as the numbers grew but the donations remained at $0. I had failed. My conversion rate was 0%. Yes I reached people but if there wasnt any conversion then did I really make a difference? An audience of 8.8 thousand people but I couldnt convert 1 into a donor. Everything I had worked so hard on had a sum total of 0 results. How disheartening. I went back to the drawing board. I had questions, I needed answers.
What went wrong?
Was the message not clear?
Was it to confusing?
Is there someone better as a spokesman for ORH?
How do I retool this thing to get results?

I have no answers.

60 days to raise 12k…. and I have no idea how to do it. Im exausted, confused, frustrated.
Why is this so hard?
Couldn’t God have picked someone better equipped for this mission?
Why me? I dont know what I am doing.

Ugghh If you are looking for a happy ending you wont find it here, because I havent found it yet. I am still in the midst of the chaos. But I know God is faithful. Pastor Matt just preached about this. *There is money in the box, and its been there the whole time.* So I cant stay here, in this place of discontentment. I must move forward. Keep marching to the goal.

Here is a lesson I learned early in my “social media career” I realized it last night. “I cant get obsessed over twitter numbers, checkin ours then comparing them to others.” -Andy Mineo
Now I dont care how many followers I have or video views…. but what I was consumed by my conversion rate. I tied my self worth to the amount of donations I raised. But I am sure God does not weigh me by the same standard. It is Gods mission after all, and I am just a lowly NCO. Bound  by my service to the Lord. He wouldnt bring me this far to leave me now. So I have to sit and wait for the Lord’s provision. It will come. It always comes. God is never late.

I must remember when I speak, no matter the size of the audience, I am speaking to an audience of one.


Malawi 2016


I have reservations everytime I get ready to push out on mission. I dont want to go. Im in a wierd place. Everytime, every mission. There is a fear inside me that that tells me to stay home and I question why I am doing this. I dont want to go. The travel is hard on me. The airplane. The time change. The heat. I fear most for my family. For those I leave behind… that I wont be there to protect them. All these fears consume me. I can not sleep. I lay curled in the fetal position trying to sleep.
Why do I go?
I go because someone has to go. I go because I am called.

Day 2. Johannesburg 0450 local time (gmt+2)
The airport was nice and clean,but hot and stuffy. We are staying the night here, the rest of the team arrived late last night and we fly out to Malawi at 9am.

I feel refreshed and not anxious. Thank you for all the prayers. There is another missionary here who arrived with us. I have worked with him many times before. He is a mountain of a man who bears my same name. He to is a builder for the Lord and a man who seeks after God. It is always great to work along side him.


My morning coffee and quiet time is valuable today, for once it is finished I will be tossed into the fray. A day filled with stress and chaos. Busy people struggling to get here and there, and forginers traveling to a land they do not fully understand. First the Airport then a long dusty drive to the Zomba where we will be staying. I havent been this far north in Africa before so I am not sure what to expect. But whatever is coming, the Lord has prepared me for and he prepared my way.

Day 3 Zomba, Malawi 1123 local time (gmt+2)
Sleep was light but restful. I was up by 0400, had coffee and bible study. I was in the book of James, big surprise right.

0530 gmt+2

This morning I find myself in James again. I can’t seem to get out of this book. The Lord has much to teach me here it seems.

James 4:2-3
2. You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and can not obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you donot ask.
3. You ask and donot recieve because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James draws a picture of our human nature. He shows how we sin in order to satisfy our fleshly desires. And when we can not satisfy our flesh our sin increases.
He then goes on to say that we do not have because we donot ask. Our true joy comes from the Lord and walking in His purpose for our lives. Joy, peace, happiness, meaning, hope and fulfillment all come from God thru our obedience.
The 3rd point here is that when we ask and do not receive it is because our motives are amiss, or not inline with Gods desires, but our own.

When we pray are our prayers God centered? Or self centered?
Are we asking God to rescue us from a calamity we created? Or are we asking God to help us from creating the calamity in the first place?

How do we pray?
When do we pray?
Why do we pray?
How do we pray for others?
Consider these questions carefully and search your own hearts.

I will leave you with this. It is one of the oldest prayers in the bible. It comes from Numbers 6:22-27. God teaches Moses & Aaron how to bless the people of Israel.
So if you pray for me, pray for me in this way:
24. “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25. The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.
26. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

-Sgt Q


We had our briefing today. What to expect, culture do’s and don’ts and a history of the ministry we are serving.
How do you change a culture?
We learn that we will be working in the villages. They have very primitive lifestyle. A subsistence way of life with farming and water gathering consuming most of their day. They build with a clay brick and thached or tin roof. The floors are dirt or concrete and the windows mostly dont have glass but metal bars. They are simple one or two room homes with hand made furniture. There is no electricity so there are no appliances. They cook outside on an open fire. They wash clothes and line dry. They do not have the modern conveniences we do. But they are happy. There is joy in their hearts.


We will be building a community center for them. A gathering place for bible study and worship.


The work on the site is going well. The first 4 feet of the 4 walls went up quickly. Now that we are using scaffolding. things have slowed quite a bit. We have moved on to other projects. Painting school buildings. The setting of this village is beautiful.


The backdrop is a beautiful mountain and blue sky stretching as far as the eye can see. It is amazing. The light breeze and large shade tree make the heat bearable. I played with the kids and they asked about my tattoos. I shared the story of each one. Everywhere I go the kids seemed to be fascinated with my ink. My tats have become a doorway into their world. A bridge that joins our two worlds. They always want to see them, touch them, ask questions about them. It is a unique way the Lord uses my past to build a bridge into my future.


The people here are hard workers. The women carry water in buckets to the jobsite. It is close to 1000 yards they walk to bring water for the job. They also spend the day stacking bricks so we can build. Some of the women are old well into their golden years but they still work right along side us. Others have small babies slung across their backs as they go about the day hauling bricks and water.


Most are wearing only sandles or no shoes at all. The heat beats down on us all day and by noon we are spent, but the locals keep working. They have become accustomed to the harsh environment and hard work. We Americans, we are soft. Our lilly white skin melts and cries under the suns rays. It turns our pale skin a bright red and we continually cover ourselves with sunblock to prevent the burn. Our bodies crumble under the stress of the hard labor coupled with the heat.

We Americans, we are soft.


We leave the site with the building 80% complete. The workers we have hiried will finish the project in the next couple of weeks. The team feels it is important to use local workers in the village for 3 reasons. It helps instill a sense of pride in the building because they helped create it. It also gives a boost to the economy by paying them to help us with construction. And lastly it sends a message to the greater community that Americans come to partner with them and not just give them things. All 3 are valuable in their own way.

I conclude this trip with several lessons on how I want to structure Operation Restore Hope and build my teams in the future. It has been a hard 2 weeks of refining my vision. New partnerships were made and old ones strengthened. I walk away from Malawi today, but the people shall forever remain in my heart.