Better Safe Than Sorry!

By Rachel Greco

When Brian Rickard, the maritime operations and standards manager at JAARS, was 14, he went on a trip with Teen Missions International (TMI) to Honduras. There, his team ministered to a missionary pilot and his wife.

Near the end of his time in Honduras, while sitting beside a campfire, he looked up into the star-strung sky and felt particularly close to God. Brian asked the Lord to use him wherever and however he wanted to.

God is now doing just that, as Brian works here at JAARS in the Maritime Services department.

Brian recently returned to his roots when he helped conduct water-safety training for a group at TMI in Florida preparing to go to—Honduras! “It was really remarkable when I heard that we were going to be sending a team down to do some training at TMI in Florida. I [got] a chance to influence a generation [for the Lord].”

Forty-two years after training in Florida to serve in Honduras, Brian was going to help lead the training. He was joined by coworkers Tony Hinton and Olivia Curry.

In Honduras, the group of about 20 teens planned to use small boats to travel up and down a river to share the gospel. So the JAARS Maritime team provided as much water safety training as they could cram into one day. The JAARS team hadn’t yet trained people how to be safe in swiftly moving water, so they developed new material from Tony’s experiences as a whitewater-rafting guide and tested it on themselves.

Practicing water safety skills in the pool

As the training site, Florida offered no fast-flowing water, so the team had to figure out how to simulate a current in a pool. For one teen at a time, they tied a rope onto the participant’s life jacket and then pulled it from the pool side. “We would pull them through the water and then have them practice swimming across the ‘current,’” Brian explained.

The team taught techniques the teens could use to stay safe if they somehow found themselves out of the boat and in the water. The group learned the importance of facing downstream with their feet in front of them so that their legs would absorb the impact with anything the current might carry them into.

TMI students heading out for water safety training.

The participants also learned that, however tempting it might be to hold on to a tree lying across the water, they needed to avoid doing so. The tree probably would have branches below the surface, with water flowing rapidly through them, and that could trap a person.

TMI had a canoe that the JAARS team capsized in the pool so that the teens could practice how to get out from underneath it, and also how to do a sweep under the boat with their legs to feel if anybody else was trapped underneath it. They learned how to use the contents of a survival bag such as rope and signal mirrors.

Practicing water safety skills that they’ve been learning in the pool at the ocean in Honduras.

Thankfully, the group of teens didn’t need to use this training during their time in Honduras, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry! The last Saturday in Honduras, the leader of the mission team and a few teens passed on their training to some of the residents, who travel frequently by boat and don’t have the same kind of knowledge of how to be safe in an emergency.

Brian enjoyed returning to the place where he first felt called by God into missions, and he also loved serving others with the skills he has acquired: “It’s our purpose—JAARS Maritime Services—to provide safe water transportation [and training]. And there we were training people who were going to the mission field and using boats; it was very real to them.”

Consider using your unique skills at JAARS to ease burdens and reduce barriers so the gospel can continue to go forth! Check out opportunities here.