How can such a big, all-knowing God be with everyone at all times and yet orchestrate and bless every detail of our individual lives? It’s a mind-blowing reality that whether we are home or in Europe the Holy Spirit shows Himself mighty often, in our eyes, in insignificant ways. If we could be honest with ourselves, there are circumstances in life that we would not choose, but I am continually reminded that “God works all things for our good and His glory”. Singers and Media students from a small university in Central, SC traveled to Europe and are seeing God work in miraculous ways.
The Operation Freedom’s Cadence (OFC) team previously visited Landstuhl Army Base in Landstuhl, Germany and Regional Medical Center along with Spangdahlem Air Force Base in Bitberg, Germany. Sunday morning, May 17th, 2015 we began our mission in Landstuhl. Upon our arrival the University Singers set up their equipment in preparation for the 11 o’clock chapel service. All who came were blessed by music and testimony and we were blessed by their hospitality. After the service we were treated to lunch at Bruno’s, an Italian Restaurant on base. We were privileged to meet and fellowship with military personnel and their families. Kaycee Blackwell and I met Chris, his wife Tammy and also U.S. Army Officer Monique, a woman who once served as a Drill Sergent. We loved hearing about their families and the different bases and jobs where they served and were sad that we had such a short time with them. Shortly after lunch we headed to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the largest hospital in Germany and cares for our troops and their families, Afghanis, Africom, and others. Our first bit of news at the hospital was that actor and comedian, George Lopez, was inside visiting with patients. As exciting as that was, nothing could compare to what we were about to experience. Only part of our large team was able to go inside but, thankfully, I was allowed to be the photographer and videographer inside.
First, we sang to a young soldier being treated for his pancreas and who appreciated the music and prayer by retired Navy Chaplain, Gary Carr. We then moved to another ward were we met a favorite of ours, April. We found out that April is from South Carolina, not too far from Southern Wesleyan University. She shared that her tour was over because of her medical condition and would be heading home soon. Reverend Gail Kerstetter asked if the University Singers could sing for her and she consented with a request for something peppy. The University Singers followed with, “When God Dips His Love in My Heart”. April clapped along and enjoyed the music and toward the end became emotional. She mentioned that she streams her church services online and hadn’t missed a Sunday yet. After, she expressed her appreciation for the special music. After sharing our thankfulness for her and her courage and sacrifice, we proceeded throughout the hospital and headed back to the bus. While at the hospital we met two people from right in our back yard and were encouraged to see God’s hand in the mission He has sent us on.
One of the most memorable moments happened after we left the hospital and were on the bus. Assistant Army Chaplain Sergent King rode with us to the entrance of the base and before leaving began to tell us of a recent mission he had been a part that which included sixty fallen heroes. He told us that those situations are the hardest part of his job. He then explained about the flags that are draped over the fallen soldiers between the battlefield and home. He informed us that there are about six or seven different flags that are draped over the caskets and the last flag is the flag presented to the family at the burial. The other flags, after use, are considered soiled and are properly disposed of. In his hand he held three cut-out stars from a “soiled” flag and presented them to retired Navy Chaplain Gary Carr and Reverends Bob and Gail Kerstetter. Chaplain Gary Carr shared his thoughts about receiving a star:
“More important than the star itself is the life it represents. Receiving that gift from Sergeant King was not only a great honor but also a humbling experience, because the joy of receiving the gift is only exceeded by the sadness of what that gift cost. One of our finest Americans gave his life for freedom.”
Although there are more stories to share from yesterday, I hope you can see the hand of God active and intimately involved in Operation Freedom’s Cadence. We consider OFC and honor and a privilege to be a part of The mission of our Commander and Chief Jesus Christ. Thank you for your prayer and support.