We arrived at Samaritan’s Purse base camp on Sunday, September 11th. We set up our sleeping quarters, got our badges and shirts. Changed in pj’s and as I left the room for our nightly devotions I collided with a Billy Graham Chaplain named Larissa Jones and we connected immediately. Little did I know at that time my life was about to change. Also, God provided two Chaplains as roommates. Over the week that followed our bond would strengthen. I was met every morning with a hug, when we returned from working and at our devotion time each night.
When God sets events in motion lives change and mine certainly did. The power of God within me started to work in ways I never saw coming. I no longer have a comfort zone to escape and hide in. God has awakened a boldness in me that only He can control. I have prayed publicly, spoken deeply with an insight only God can give. As the week continued the conversations with Larissa became more intense and deep. She not only was an encouragement but mentor. She was able to see deep into my heart and through God’s plan He used her to plant the seed in the next flower pot of God’s ‘Vaccaro garden’. When Larissa suggested that I should consider the opportunity to pursue becoming a Billy Graham Chaplain I was stunned. My first excuse was that I am not a pastor or minister. Not a requirement. The more she mentored, the more God was pulling, maybe pushing me in that direction of decision. By Thursday I was ready to make a decision and called home to talk with my awesome husband. He was quick to validate this direction change. Once I made that decision and lifted it up to my Lord and Savior, the heaviest burden that I had not noticed was lifted from my shoulders and I knew I was starting a new journey set before me by God.
I can never thank my God enough for sending Larissa crashing into my comfort zone, causing such a train wreck and then picking me back up to be lead in a completely different direction. I pray that the relationship with Larissa and Jack will continue to grow through Jesus Christ and as my mentors will continue to grow strong. The road ahead of becoming a Billy Graham Chaplain will not be easy and I will need accountability partners and God has graced and blessed me with Larissa and Jack as my mentors.
Hope has a new and different meaning to me now and I will always think of my time spent on the Louisiana Express…
H = Helping
O = Others
P = Pursue
E = Eternal Life
– Linda Vacarro