On File

Relevents: Giana McGuire

Giana McGuire talks about being adopted by Salvation Army officers, taking mission trips to Latin America, and the frightful experience that made her ask the Lord to receive her spirit.

Attending Youngstown State University has given me a glimpse of the real world. I heard a lot of differing views there about what people believe. Sometimes it was difficult to hear, but higher education is supposed to make us independent, challenge us, and teach us to accept opinions that may differ from our own. I also try to spend time with God in school, even when I am busy. It’s easy to get caught up in classes, work, and friends. But setting time aside with the Lord keeps me grounded through all those things.

We must always give our full attention to the people we serve. During a Salvation Army Hands On Mission trip in Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands, my team’s car was broken into. My money, supplies, and my cell phone (full of photos and notes I had taken in the past month) were stolen. This event brought us all closer as a team, but it also provided another unexpected advantage. I was now free from the distraction of constantly reading texts, taking selfies, or checking social media. As we fed the community, I had deeper, more attentive interactions with the people we were helping. I also saw members of other volunteer groups always glancing at their phones. I felt embarrassed for them; that could have been me.

Last January, my parents, nephew Trey, niece Gabrielle, and I took a trip to West Palm Beach, Fl. As we landed in Ft. Lauderdale, a TV newscast was saying that our airport was on lockdown. We were confused; everyone seemed to be walking around freely. We sat near a row of wheelchairs so my mother could rest, until an airport employee asked us to move. We moved a few yards and sat down again. Suddenly, three bullets hit the place where we sat minutes ago. There was a shooter in the airport. People were running and screaming in terror. My parents took my nephew, and I ran with Gabrielle, hiding in a bathroom stall with other people. My niece was horrified. I tried to calm her by saying I would stand in front of her, no matter what happened. I prayed to God for our protection, but if this was my last day, I asked him to receive my spirit. After waiting, I heard my father’s voice calling me. He had left his own hiding spot to search for Gabrielle and me. I could not believe how brave he was. He hid with us until the police said the ordeal was over, and we were instructed to walk out with our hands up.

At five years old, I attended the Salvation Army’s Cleveland Temple Corps for its arts and dance programs. I met then Captains (now Majors) Douglas and Stella McGuire. They got to know me and became aware of my difficult family situation. We became close, and on November 2009, they finalized the process to adopt me as their daughter. They had already raised children who were now adults, but decided to make a difference in one more life. They never let their work as pastors keep them from being devoted parents. They also continued to push me to pursue my love of dance, saying God had brought me to them through the arts.

I took my first mission trip to Shadow of His Wings Orphanage in Guatemala. For 12 days we worked with the children, cleaned storage rooms, made baskets of food and toiletries to give to families in the community, and even helped with the construction of sidewalks for the orphanage. Hearing these children’s stories and seeing them smile after the pain and poverty they had endured made me want to work in this type of ministry one day. I felt as if God wanted me to be there.

interview by Hugo Bravo