More coming. It's in progress. Many new ones have been added. Check it out!
For the record: These photos were taken by me, my family, or people I asked to take a photo with my equipment. The only exception is mentioned clearly.
These photos are also here for posterity. It is quite a legacy, and we are not finished yet. I am recording the past, but I don't live there. I am not retiring, BUT refiring in Jesus's Name. God is not finished with me! Far from it! I will hear on that day, "Well done you good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord!" This is the year of El Shaddai- the God who is more than enough! (Genesis 17:1)
Part of the congregation Sunday morning at Iglesia Fe es La Victoria, around 1984. We crammed about 2000 people in the auditoriums on any given Sunday morning by 1986. We were busting at the seams. The overflow auditorium had 450 seats plus 1550 in the main auditorium. That didn't include the couple of hundred children between nurseries and kid's church.
Practical podcasting set-up around 2015.
Some of our Bible school graduates. Circa 1984. That was not the entire group. Our Bible school ran from 1980 through 1988.
Here is a pic of graduates from 1982.
Notice all the moustaches on all the guys? It was a big thing among Latins. Puerto Rico had a lot of mustached men, but I was never one of them. My thinner upper lip never looked right with a moustache! Also, it is why I never was very good with the trumpet. I tried for a while but my thin lips would hurt. A friend of mine with big lips became a very good trumpet player, so I moved on to drums.
Ministering the power of God. 1981
The fire of God fell in this service and people were out under the power of God all over. Demons came out screaming in the back row. It was something. Some people were so drunk in the Holy Ghost that they were carried out, and others had to driven home. Circa 2005. It was fun!!
My dear dad Israel and I doing our sit down session of the Word and ministry of the Spirit for television in PR. 1980. Dad and I started TV ministry while we were at our church on Merritt Island, Florida. I'll write more about that church down below. That was some time around the mid 1970's. It's been a long time ago, so I remember the decade but not the exact year. A woman that called herself a prophetess began to say that the Lord had given her a dream that Florida was going to have a massive tsunami and that it would be destroyed completely by water. People that believed that nonsense began to sell their properties for little money. Many properties and businesses were almost given away, and thousands of deceived Christians moved out of the state. Dad and I got so angry at that lie from the devil that we went on TV with our own 1/2 hour program to come against that false prophecy. We taught the Scripture and consistently rebuked the tsunami lie, and we disparaged it publicly. That is how we started in TV ministry! I think we stayed for a number of months until we felt the tide had turned on the devil, and the date the false prophetess set for the disaster had passed. Of course, NOTHING happened, not even a bad hurricane. Whole groups of people were praying that God would bring it to pass so that the "prophetic" ministry of the woman that called herself a prophetess would not be damaged or seen as false. Can you imagine that? People praying for total devastation and the death of millions so a false prophecy would be proven as true? It was a showdown at OK corral, and the Word prevailed! We were criticized by many people for what we did, and condemned as being against the love of God. We were accused of not believing the prophetess and that we were cursed. No curses happened, and we were blessed! Real love for the people was shown in the intercession and in faith for Florida! We loved the people and the state by speaking the Word in LOVE AND IN TRUTH! Hey, Jesus loved the churches and rebuked them severely and commanded them to repent! We called on all those people that believed that false prophecy to repent. It was like John the Baptist, and many religious folks hated it! That poor woman was proven to be a false prophetess, and her ministry went down the drain. It is wrong to believe that the Lord is done with an area of the world during this time of the church. If He were actually finished with an area at this time, then it would be in opposition to the great commission to the church to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature with signs and wonders accompanying the Word. (See Mark 16:15-20; Acts 1:8.)
Here is a shot from our Sunday or Thursday services when they were broadcast all over Puerto Rico from Iglesia Fe es la Victoria, calle del Parque, Santurce. 1986
Published around 1989. Though the information in this book was solidly grounded in scholarship, it showed a deviation from my call and ministry to teach and preach the Word with demonstrations of the Holy Spirit and power. It marked the beginning of the decline of a mighty ministry.
One of two Sunday morning services at Fe es La Victoria church at the old building on the corner of Condado and Palmas streets, parada 18, Santurce, Puerto Rico. This was around 1983. We jammed about 600 people into these two services. When we moved into the theatre complex April of 1984 in Santurce, the first service we had over 1000 people in attendance. That year we went from that first 1000 to over 2000 people. By 1986, we were getting around 3 thousand different people a week in the three weekly services. That number was larger than I originally thought, but the numbers were confirmed by our accountant at the time from just the offering envelopes that came from the services each week. That is the way we counted attendance, and you know some people didn't give every week, so how many were actually in those three weekly services? We had caravans of people that would travel together to the services weekly, and even people would come from the mainland on a consistent basis.
Ministering through laying on of hands with a tangible anointing of the Holy Spirit. Powerful time in the Lord! In the late 1970's the Lord spoke to me about ministering with the laying on of hands consistently. I did, He showed up mightily, and many were healed and set free by God's power. To Him be the glory! I can't even think about it, write about it, or talk about it without the anointing coming on me and into my hands, often feeling like fire.
I preached at a Thanksgiving meal given for the workers and their families at a factory in McAllen, TX. I led the whole bunch in the prayer of salvation in Spanish. There were maybe 1200 or more people present that day. Don't hold me to that number. I don't have the exact numbers but it was a sizeable group of people. I was judging numbers based on my own past experience with groups pf people.. It was a factory with hundreds of employees, and they were all required to come to the Thanksgiving party and participate. They brought their spouses and kids. The owners of the company were believers, so they "compelled" them all to show up! They all said the sinner's prayer. I believe they all received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. While I was preaching, about half way through the message, suddenly some little kids started rushing up towards me. Parents had to scramble to get them to settle down. It was a sight to behold! They must have heard our Lord Jesus as He said, "Let the children come to me." It wasn't anything I was doing. It was obviously the Lord. We also prayed for the sick and the Lord Jesus manifested Himself as the healer and deliverer. PTL!
I travelled quite a bit to Israel in the 80's and served as assistant tour guide for Spanish speaking people. I also took students with a professor out of the University of Texas in 2 and 3 week historical and archaeological tours that students could get 3 credit hours from their universities.
The top picture is from Tel Qasile in Tel Aviv. These olive press millstones were from the archeological site there, but the other pieces used to put it together were made to show how it worked.
The second photo is of the storage facilities dug up at Masada from the time of Herod "the Great". What a history at Masada! So many things to tell, and not space to tell it here. In those days, we would climb up to the Masada plateau early in the morning to avoid the very hot sunshine at daylight. The guide would tell everybody, "Stay close to me and in single file. Only walk where I walk. I will keep you away from the edge and the drop off the mountain side down to your death. Walk only where you see my flashlight. Keep your eyes on me." He was not being humorous. The truth is that every season people hiking up that dark trail would fall to their deaths from that narrow path. That was the time of very few railings installed on the path to protect climbers. Masada is right next to the Dead Sea. If you waited for daylight the temperature would soar often to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (or more) in the shade, and there was NO shade!
The third photo is from the famed garden of Gethsemane. That particular olive tree may have been around during the time of Jesus, or at least that was the shpil (from Yiddish for "sales pitch" or "argument intending to persuade, but not necessarily true" or something like it) given for tourist consumption. It was definitely a very ancient olive tree.
The 1st photo:
I was privileged to participate some in the Tel Batash excavation. Tel Batash was probably the same city that Samson pulled the city gates off its hinges and took them up the hill. I was excavating when I came upon these broken pottery pieces from the 9th century BC. Underneath the pottery were the bones of what I later found out was a woman that died when the city was destroyed by fire. It was something amazing because it was the first human remains found until that time at the excavations. One of the young guys digging with me said it first as I was cleaning off a big bone with a brush, "Femur here! It's a femur!" We excavated the bones carefully for a while that day. We left them in situ. Later we were told to stop digging it up, and forensic professionals were brought in to finish excavating the bones. When I find the photo where the bones are clearly seen, I will post it. I have it somewhere!
Walking the ancient walls around the old city of Jerusalem.
Taking photos of the burial sites around the dead sea area called Qumran. Yes, that Qumran, where they found the treasure trove of ancient manuscripts of the Scripture and commentaries, I went a few times into the caves where they were found.
I found the pic I told you about the ancient woman's bones we found at Tel Batash. I look pretty good. I was buffed and growing a beard too!
No, I didn't start an exercise program in my adult years. My dad had me training with weights since I was in diapers! Yes, that's me doing the weight training and my dad was looking on at my form and correcting me. That was early, early training! These pictures are me and dad circa 1958 or so!
Preaching somewhere and whenever it was.
Laying hands on one of my triplets for healing.
Praying for someone's child for healing circa 2017 at a meeting in Orlando, Florida.
If my face looks grimaced in the pictures above, I was at peace and not in any pain or constipation. Haha! It was all intensity in the spirit! "The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]." James 5:16 AMPC
Preaching and teaching around 1980 or earlier.
The top photo of the black and white photos just above is of the first church I pastored on Merritt Island Florida. Do you see my beautiful Ludwig classic drum kit with Zildjian cymbals on the platform. Two flying, and two floors toms. It was a beautiful set. My dad bought it for me. At that time, I still played the drums. Dad built that church on Merritt Island with his own money. It was huge amount of work and money at the time, but it was a blessing. All the wood beams you see on the ceiling were especially made for our building and imported from Canada. It was a beautiful building, but the wood beam ceiling was spectacular. Before this building, we were meeting in a little house converted to a small church on the same 7 acre property. We could fit around 70 people jammed in that small building! This new sanctuary sat 550. I never saw it filled up except when Fredrick K. C. Price came for a 3-day seminar around 1975. He packed it out to overflowing. People came from everywhere. Jerry Savelle, Hilton Sutton, and Charles Capps also ministered at that church in the mid seventies. The youngest was brother Savelle at the time. Hugh Smith also ministered there. There were others, but I don't recall all their names offhand. The most I saw as pastor in attendance were about 350 people. Still pretty good for around 1977. Glory to God! Second photo was of the first church I pastored in Puerto Rico. Here we were receiving communion. The third photo goes back to circa 1978 or 1979.
Top left above is of the first church I pastored in Puerto Rico at the corner of Condado and Palmas Street, Parada 18, Santurce. The second photo top right is of my dad preaching circa 1975 in the new church building he built on Merritt Island, Florida. Below that photo is one of my mother working in the bookstore circa 1982 or so. Those white rectangular objects on the wall are ancient cassettes! We brought the first cassette recorded services to Puerto Rico. The machines on the back table were cassette reproduction equipment made by Wollensak. The best at the time! The pic doesn't show you that there were about 7 or eight machines (or more) in a row, and they were connected. Each "slave" machine reproduced 3 cassettes. We could reproduce about 21 or more copies of a message in about 3 minutes. In those days my messages were NEVER under an hour. We would have the day's teaching reproduced for the congregation the moment we were done in the service. They got the message hot off the press to take home! I think it was three dollars a cassette in those days, The most people paid was $5 when we were in the theatre complex. We would sell hundreds every week, and gave away many dozens as well! It was common for people to leave the services with their hands full of books and cassettes. Bottom right is a better picture of the platform (and my drum set) at the beautiful Merritt Island church. To the left of that pic is me ministering a Word from the Lord to that brother some time in the 2000's.
Top color photo was of me preaching under a VERY hot tent. I was sweating like a mule. The second photo is just for fun with my triplets. I was sunburned and I did not feel well at all, but my triplet boys always made me smile and laugh! My legs were roasted so this was not confortable, but there I was, laughing it away. It is very rare for me to get sunburned because I tan well without getting burned. On this day, I was well done! I was for far too long in the sun, and I know better, but that day the time I was "roasting" got away from me!
Original 1978 cover for my first Spanish language book, "Tres Dias y Noches en el Corazon de la Tierra". In English, "Three Days and Nights in the Heart of the Earth," was first published in 1977. These two book were sold out and had a fairly wide distribution. The English language book had the same cover but with English letters. Those books were 89 (English) and 132 (Spanish) pages respectively. That latest Spanish language version published in 2014, has near 300 pages! Maybe, the Lord taught me a thing or two over the years that were included in that version. Interestingly, there were a number of things that I don't have written on paper that came out in the podcast series "The Story of Our Great Redemption." If you haven't heard them, don't miss out. Be blessed!
I have written permission to use the above picture though copyrighted by the Israel Antiquities Authority. I hope they still honor that written letter from the 80's. As I was walking up Herodium in Israel, I found the above pure gold earring protruding from the earth wall. There had been a lot of rain, and the rain had washed down the earthen walls. I was blessed to find it. I dug it out and took it to the archaeological experts with my group. We had two with us that day. I showed them where I found it, and it was a sensational find. It was around 1987, and up until that time there was nothing made of gold found at Herodium, a fort, built by Herod the Great and then covered in dirt to make it a manmade mountain. Interesting is the fact that this became Herod's burial site, but it has never been found there. First century historian Josephus records (Josephus, Antiquities 17.197–199) that Herod was buried with some gold objects. I found the first evidence of any gold on Herodium! That is as far as I know, and I got that info from the Israel Antiquities Authority, and also from some renown archeologists. This was a solid gold earring, presumably from the time of Herod the Great.
Top photo was somebody catching my mother by surprise at our bookstore in the first building we had on Calle Condado and Palmas. This was probably circa 1982-1983. The bottom illustrates how badly I looked with a moustache! My baby upper lip was almost gone. My wife at the time convinced me it looked stupid, so off it went.
I often tell stories about my life. I began training in martial artist at 11 years old. Some think I make stuff up, copy other people, or exaggerate, but I have a lot of pictures to prove my stories. In this picture, I was already a black belt in Tae Kwon do and Karate, but it was a write up on the Aikido seminar being taught at a local university. During this time, I also practiced Judo, a little Hapkido, much traditional Jo, Bokken, and so on, and later Muso Shinden Ryu laido (swordsmanship) with a real katana for about a year.
I was very sorry to hear that Yoshimitsu Yamada (8th dan- on left side in the newspaper photo above) died January 15, 2023, up in his eighties. I don't know if Yamada sensei ever quit smoking, but he smoked like a chimney, and he drank a lot of wine! Yet, he was always one of the best seminar teachers around, and generally in a good mood. He was amazing to practice with. His techniques were precise, smooth, and fast. I only saw him angry once, and that was enough for me. I practiced as a black belt for some some months at his dojo in downtown Manhattan. Later, I moved to Firestone sensei's (5th dan) dojo in White Plains, NY. I would get out of work in Manhattan and take the train straight to White Plains. Firestone sensei was definitely one of the best practitioners I ever practiced with and learned from, way beyond being a 5th dan. I think he is a 6th Dan now.
The newspaper copy tells about Yamada sensei's 2nd seminar in Puerto Rico hosted by our dojo. There I was with Yamada Sensei, Alicea sensei (2nd dan at the time), and yours truly as one of my school's advanced students. I was going for my black belt in a few weeks in Miami, FL. I got my black belt back then, and Yamada Sensei signed my black belt certificate. Almost didn't happen because Alicea sensei and Yamada sensei had a huge and nasty falling out over fees to be paid for the seminar and school fees. My black belt certificate was held up for about three months because of it. Finally, Yamada sensei saw my predicament, and that I was innocent in the whole thing, and he signed off on my black belt.
Following are more martial arts photos.
Top: Me doing some Shotokan form or kata next to my pool at my home in Trujillo Alto, PR.
Middle: I am seated in seiza next to one of the original students of Morihei Ueshiba or O'sensei. He is the very well known, 9th Dan, Morihiro Saito sensei, the leader of the Iwama style of Aikido. I loved to train under him and later with his son Hitohiro. To me, Saito sensei was the best example of what Aikido was all about. I started to learn Jo and bokken techniques through his teachings. He was an awesome teacher (died in 2002).
Bottom: Matsuoka sensei, Stephen Seagal's fantastically talented uchi-deshi and long time student, a great teacher himself. This picture was taken at a seminar I went to led by Seagal sensei (Take Sensei) in Santa Barbara, California back around 1996 or so. That was when Segal sensei still had all his speed and prowess. He was incredibly smooth, fast, powerful, and very prolific in his teaching! There was NO question you were in the presence of a master practitioner and teacher. His techniques were astonishing in person. I'll post at some point pictures of the seminar if I find extra photos.
Top: I was actually teaching the black belt in the photo how to do the Nikyo technique. He was a jui-jitsu black belt and was pretty lost with the Aikido technique, so I was the teacher in the photo. I was already an advanced student.
Middle: I am in that photo somewhere with a hakama, but there were many black belts there that day. This was at a Saito sensei seminar in Colorado. I don't remember if this seminar was taught by Morihiro Saito sensei or by his son Hitohiro. I went to seminars with both. I remember Saito senior was in Colorado, and Hitohiro Saito (son) was also in Colorado, I think, but it may have been in Miami. I went to many seminars in those days.
I may find photos of the very big seminar in Caracas, Venezuela in the 90's. I went to numerous seminars during the decade of the 90's with Yamada, Kanai, Sugano, Saotome, Kurita, and numerous other very well known master teachers. Once, and I don't remember if it was in Venezuela or somewhere else in the USA that I first practiced in a few classes with the excellent but vicious Chiba sensei. All his students were wrapped in tape on their hands and toes. He was tough and no-nonsense. His uchi-deshi were practically mummified. Small joke! He would make them contort in every direction. It was hard to look at these guys. You could hear those students groan and moan in pain as He did the techniques on them. Frankly, he practiced what real Aikido could do to people if practiced correctly and with no holds barred. My hat is off to the uchi-deshi that suffered day in and out with Chiba sensei! I cringe a little just thinking about it.
My first teacher was similar in that respect to Chiba sensei. We practiced traditional Aikido, but it was like it was made for combat. My first Aikido instructor, Juan Alicea, was a former army _______ (I'll leave it unstated) and martial arts instructor for FBI, US Marshalls, Secret Service, DEA and other agencies like police officers and criminal investigators. One of the US Marshalls, one of the criminal investigators, and one police officer were my good friends. I also learned a lot from them.
It is super funny, but also stupid that some people argue all over the net about what they say is "unusable" Aikido techniques for self-defense. Tell that to all the people I knew personally that used Aikido all the time in their differing law enforcement work. There were also prison guards and bouncers that loved the techniques and had seen them control and take out the most difficult people they confronted. It all depended on HOW you did the techniques and how you were trained in them. If you were trained by some sissy teacher with no real world practice, then you are probably right. It won't work from the hands of weaklings with no focus or power. Practiced correctly it can be VERY effective. It is not hard to break bones, necks, legs, and to kill an opponent with Aikido techniques. Drop someone on their head on a concrete floor, and you figure out what would be the consequences. I practiced with a few men from branches of law enforcement over the years at the school in Puerto Rico, and wound up teaching individuals in some of those same services at my own school on St. Thomas USVI. Yes, I had my own martial arts school on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Bottom: I was privileged one day to practice with Hiroshi Ikeda sensei (7th dan at the time). What an experience! He was a good friend of the real life 7th dan Steven Seagal sensei. Ikeda Sensei is at the center, you know, the Japanese man. I was second from the right dressed in my black hakama, the traditional huge pants used by black belts. It is not a dress! All the other practitioners in this picture except one were from our school in Puerto Rico. It was a great seminar.
Maybe you know the guy at the center of this picture (yep, Steven Seagal sensei), me on the right in the cool leather jacket, on the left Alicea sensei, and the girl next to Alicea sensei became my girlfriend at the time. (I was single, so get off your high horse.) Next to me was Millan sensei also originally from our dojo. He was a special criminal investigator for the state police. He used Aikido techniques consistently in his law enforcement encounters with criminals. He took a number of them OUT. He was a good friend. Tough as nails, but a very friendly guy.
Seagal is a very tall man at 6' 5'', or is it 6' 6"? Either way he is up there in height. He spread his arms around most of us for this photo. It was gracious of him to give the folks from Puerto Rico this great photo op at his seminar in Santa Barbara, California around 1996 or so. His seminar was one of the best I ever attended. Take Sensei, thank you!
Note: I only know what I know about Steven Seagal from his seminars and his exceptional students. We never saw anything but utmost professionalism, and excellence in teaching and practice. Save for yourself any negative comments. They won't be received.
I lived on this boat for about a year on St. Thomas USVI. It was a CSY 37' sailboat, the Clover. The first photo is the sailboat being refurbished. The second is a small part of the salon and galley. It had very nice woodwork. Again, I have used sailing, boating, SCUBA diving examples in my teaching and preaching because I love all that stuff. I am an beach/ocean guy at heart. "I be frum the islands, mon" just not from the islands that talk like that! I like barefoot or sandals, the beach, diving, swimming, and plenty of sunshine. I hate shoes! They make my feet feel like they are suffocating even though they are a necessary evil at times during certain occasions. Toes need to breathe. I may change shoes for barefoot when I preach from now on! Well, it is a dream scenario. Not practical at churches, but maybe I'll start a barefoot preaching trend and become known as "the Barefoot preacher"! I forget who told me that, but it was funny and a pretty good idea. LOL!
Just for fun: Top right my mom on bow of our Cabin Cruiser in the 60's on our private dock. At the time, we lived on Sunset island #1 in Miami Beach, a very ritzy and exclusive place in the 60's. That house had video intercom with the front gate in the 60's. We could see at home who was going to come in on a small black and white TV. Pretty advanced for the 60's! That is my dad on the stern of the boat. Note the name of the boat. It was a combination of my name and my sister's name. Cool, huh?
The next photo is from my dad in the late 40's when he was stationed in Germany in the U.S. Army military police. Dad was very kind, and from 1970 on, a highly anointed man of God with a ministry of miracles that was truly shocking. But back then, this thin but very strong and tough guy was a good marksman. I remember him shooting three of four tires out of a car of nasty people that left his restaurant without paying. I was there and saw him do it. What an eye with what looked like a 38 special! He was a good shot. He taught me how to shoot a shotgun that nearly knocked off my shoulder and a rifle with a scope when we lived in the hills of North Carolina. Yes, the city people moved into the hills for three years. Many funny things happened there. That is for later.
The middle left photo is my mom with my grandmother on my dad's side of the family. She was from the Olivieri clan of Italians that came from Italy in the mid 1800's. She told me that her parents (or was it her grandparents?) spoke fluent Italian. Grandmother lived till she was around 106. I remember asking her how far back she remembered. One time, she told me of being in her mid twenties during the Spanish-American War of 1898! The picture of her and my mom was in Miami Beach during a summer dad brought her to live at our house for a few months. It was hard because "Tura" (as dad called her- Buenaventura was her name) was a tough old lady set in her ways, but we loved her, I think. My sister was terrified of her. Grandmother read her small New Testament daily for the first couple of hours of the day. She did it with small reading glasses with little magnification. She had good eyesight. Then came her outstanding daily cooking. She was the dessert queen of the south of Puerto Rico. She could make flan, "dulce de coco", and a bunch of other stuff that would knock your socks off! I never tasted any dessert she made that was mediocre! Top notch baby!
On the right is one of my own underwater photos. I began SCUBA diving in 1985 in Puerto Rico and was certified by NAUI. I still have my certification card.
Side note: Twice I met up with Fredrick K. C. Price in the Bahamas to go SCUBA diving with him. The first time we met there was by accident. We found ourselves on the same boat, on the same day, at the same time! No, not a coincidence. It was a real blessing to me. The next time we met there was planned. His wife stayed on the boat because she did not SCUBA dive, and brother Price and I would go enjoy the great underwater sights. One night, he treated us to lobster thermidor at a downtown restaurant. It was my first time trying it. It was really delicious. Here's to Coca Cola with a very specific amount of grenadine! He liked that flavor in his Coca Cola. It is a red non-alcoholic pomegranate juice. I never tried it, but he enjoyed it. It was funny to watch. Brother Price would tell the waiter what he wanted, and make them recite it back to him. They rarely got it right. He would kindly scold them. On his vacations on the Bahamas, that was his place for lobster thermidor. His only complaint was their inability to get his soda pop right!
I was an avid SCUBA diving photo hound most of the time. I have been SCUBA diving all over the Caribbean in Puerto Rico, US and British Virgin Islands, Caymans, and down island all the way to Dominica, Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire. I went diving in the Atlantic in Florida, in the Bahamas, and in the waters of other islands. Some diving was done in the gulf of Mexico and at Cancun and Isla de Mujeres, in the Mediterranean on the coast by Cesárea, Israel, and at the Red Sea near Eilat, also in Israel. My friends and diving buddies would spearfish or just go diving to look around, but I would take rolls and rolls of film with my big, orange, Nikonos, underwater, professional camera set up with a strobe. Unfortunately, I lost most of those awesome photos of sunken ships, walls, caves, archeological underwater remains, etc. I lost huge amounts of photos during hurricane Marilyn in the 90's. I had a few boxes of photos that got water logged in a closet that was inside a building. It ruined all the photos.
One of my favorite photos was of the area used in the Never Say Never James Bond movie. One scene has him in deep trouble when some sharks with remote brain controllers were after him in a sunken boat. What the movie did not show was that particular boat sat on the edge of "The Tongue of the Ocean", a 6000 foot drop, straight down! I dove through the boat and came out the bow, only to find there was nowhere to go except straight down the Tongue! It was amazing. If you looked down to the depths, it was pitch black after a few hundred feet. It was an amazing clear day with the visibility in the the hundreds of feet. I went back two or three times after that and never saw it that clear again. On this day, it was crystal clear water. I went down the wall about to 140 feet and then decompressed coming up. It was awesome. When you looked down into the depths of pitch darkness, you imagined that the world had turned upside down and you were staring into the night sky. Also you wondered if Jaws was going to come up out of the dark depths! No jaws, but I did see amazing and very long Barracuda, turtles, "grandma", as the locals called it, a manta ray of at least 22 feet across, and big fish, but oddly, no sharks! I didn't see even one little shark!
The bottom photo is again of my sailboat Clover out on the bay. PTL!
More of my own SCUBA photos.
Quickly: Top left, ministering to someone at the tiny church on Merritt Island.
Top right: Another photo from first church I pastored in Puerto Rico.
Underneath that, I am ministering in Puerto Rico.
Bottom left: Me at about 20 y/o. Shortly after I became a believer. In the background was our Revcon motorhome. We travelled all over the states in that thing. It was the best money could buy at the time. I am leaning a bit on one of mom and dad's Cadillacs. We were given permission to park on the property of the first church I attended in Tampa, a spirt-filled, former Baptist church! These people were wild and turned on to God in Holy Ghost fire. I was a drummer back then, and the church needed a drummer. I played the drums with the youth choir, and then with a 7 member band called Brethren. Of course, I also played the drums during church services. We travelled all over Florida and to other parts of the southeastern US with those groups of singers and musicians. We ministered to hundreds of young people (and older folks in the main services) and saw many come to the Lord, get delivered, and get touched by the power of God. Many were also baptized in the Holy Spirit. It was glorious. Our pastor at the time, had been in a Kathryn Kuhlman meeting, and the fire of God touched him when she laid hands on him, and it transformed that Baptist pastor into a mighty Holy Spirit-anointed pastor with a huge evangelistic streak and demonstrating many signs and wonders.
Bottom right: After I found the solid gold earring at Herodium, I showed it first to Dr. Roy Blizzard, JR. He was the host and tour guide in Israel. He was impressed, so we went on to show it to other experts in the field.
I decided to add a photo of the Young Gospel singers and and Brethren. Yes, it's me on the white Ludwig set, and my setup was for a lefty. It's weird because I am a lefty that does many many things better with my right hand. I wear my watch right handed, played a little guitar and trumpet with my right hand position. I open doors with my right hand, and the list goes on and on. Lefties usually turn their paper in a left angle, but I write with the paper straight up and down. So, I am an odd lefty, but I have great hope because God is left-handed. You didn't know that? How do I know He's left handed? Here is my contribution to theology today. God is left handed because Jesus is SEATED on His RIGHT hand! He's a lefty! Haha! Yes, it's a very old joke, but I like it.
Here are some more photos of ministry and others that are fun for me.
The top strip of small photos was from a ministry photo shoot. Some of the very photos I have left of that church I pastored on Calle del Parque close to parada 15, Santurce. Below that on the left is a photo of our house in the hills of North Carolina, about 30 miles into the mountains from Ashville, across the French Broad River. The city folks tied their hand at the country life, and it was hilarious. I truly think that our family was the original pattern for the funny and very old sitcom Green Acres. Tza Tza Gabor and Eddie Albert played the lead parts. Dad was the wealthy business man that wanted a country life. Mom was the feisty Puerto Rican woman. The only difference was that Tza Tza played a ditzy and clueless female persona that was only interested in the glamour and fashion of the city life. My mom dressed the best and had the best of everything from cars to homes, but mom was tough and VERY smart. So, dad bought 300 acres of the top of the mountain. Knoll Top Farm had a huge two story log house, a guest house, a caretaker house, and a big barn with the windmill and all! It had a few large fields, apple orchards, and dad had other things planted. We had cows, chickens, goats, horses, and even planted tobacco! Dad had imported two pure blood German Shepherds, a male and female. We wound up with 22 (or more) German Shepherds. Two were albinos with wine colored eyes, and one was pitch black. It was a real life farm, and we didn't have a clue how to run it. The neighbors tried to take advantage of us numerous times, but dad was a quick study and a very astute business man. After a while, dad began to beat the locals at their own game. Dad built via a few construction companies a complete second building attached to the main house. The building housed an almost Olympic sized pool with a large sauna, weight room, and areas to eat and hang out. When it was snowing outside, we would be in 75 degrees inside and in the heated pool! So many stories there, but I'll share them elsewhere.
The photo to the right is of my mother doing warmup squats with 135 lbs. at dad's gym in Ponce, Puerto Rico. She was able to do squats with 450 lbs. Pretty good for a woman that was barely 5 feet tall! That was circa 1958 or so.
The beautiful church dad built on Merritt Island looking toward the rear of the building. Back there was the sound booth, offices, and other facilities.
I included this last photo with my sister because it is one of the only photos of our house in the early sixties in San Jose, California. It was a very small town back then. This house was located on Dole Street, one that no longer exists, as far as I know. I remember vividly seeing at the house the first news reports on TV of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was a VERY sad day in America and at the Rodriguez house. We loved our president. I think that was the only Democrat president my parents ever voted for. That house is where I learned how to swim after dad threw me into the deep end and told me to swim! I learned as he helped me avoid drowning! It was swim or die. Interesting method. It paid off. I became like a fish in the process of time. I also busted the back of my head on a window sill, fell off a limb from the tree in the front yard, and almost killed myself. After that happened, dad had the tree cut down. From that house in California was my first experience in an RV. Dad turned a big Greyhound bus into a fully decked out little home on wheels, and we travelled all over in that thing. That was back in the early 1960's around 1963!
Knoll Top Farm in the 1960's: Our large log cabin house from two angles, garage, guest house, barn and windmill, and my dad's old gangster era Ford. We dressed the part on that day. The last photo is in front of the the guest house with my grandmother Josefina (Onofrina) and my grandfather Marcial.
top: Caesarea Maritima. I went SCUBA diving on that coast of the Mediterranean. A massive man-made sea-port was made off-shore for boats during the time of Jesus. There was a lot of evidence of the use of hydraulic concrete in use for the foundation. That my friend is basically a modern technique used in ancient times by the Romans. Interesting history on how hydraulic concrete was rediscovered. It was destroyed subsequently, and all the man-made port was destroyed. Underwater, there are some Roman columns, and some on top of each other. I took a lot of underwater photos but they were some of the ones that did not survive hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn that slammed Puerto Rico in the 80;s and 90's. Maybe, I will get the opportunity to go back and take photos again.
middle: In the Sinai desert, Bedouin tent. It was an unforgettable experience. We ate there BY FAITH! That is all I want to say about it. It was educational, but gross. Not much hygiene in the desert!
bottom: Yad Vashem- Holocaust Museum. Everybody came out visibly shaken, and many cried like babies. I only went in twice on my visits. The other times, I would let students go in by themselves. It was a gut wrenching experience.
top: I think this photo was from Mount Carmel looking down to the City of Haifa, Israel.
middle: Jerusalem as seen from the mount of Olives. You can see what is supposed to be the Temple Mount. I seriously doubt that because Mount Zion was further to the left in this picture. The Dome of the Rock is clearly visible. That area where the mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock) is found is NOT Mount Zion, where the original Temple built by Solomon and the one beautified and expanded by Herod the Great were built. Also, Jesus prophesied that not stone would be left standing of the Temple. (Matthew 24) That is NOT what you see today at the the supposed Temple Mount and the Western wall. There are a lot of stones and a massive wall still standing there! There is a large body of archaeological and textual proof found about the real location of the Temples of God in a very controversial, but well researched and documented, book by Dr. Ernest L. Martin: The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot. Yes, truth is often VERY controversial. The panorama in my photo is seen repeatedly in videos and photos. Many have taken a photo here, but this one is my own.
bottom: Inside the 5th century synagogue excavated in Capernaum. This synagogue was built using many stones and on the foundation of an earlier synagogue that goes back to the time of Jesus. Jesus preached at that synagogue, possibly many times. There are not many places in Israel where you can positively identify them as somewhere Jesus walked. This is one of them. Jesus taught and preached here, cast out demons, and healed the sick at this location!
top left: A funny photo first to the left. Some people swimming in the Dead Sea. It was VERY hot that day, upwards of 110 Fahrenheit. The mineral and salt content of this "sea" found at the lowest point on earth, doesn't allow the human body to sink. It is a weird experience in what looks like salt water, but is oily to the touch, and no fish live there. Whatever you do, don't splash it on your eyes or it will be a very painful experience. I had it happen! No fun! No only that, in those days there were no showers to wash off the Dead Sea water. You had to go to your hotel with that slippery mess, one that dried and became crusty on your swimwear. Many believe in the virtues of dipping in the Red Sea and think the minerals have healing properties. Ok that is great. For me, not so such. Other times, I went there with students, and I did not go in the "water". I am used to the Caribbean and Atlantic waters. Now, the Red Sea was really awesome with warm waters. The Mediterranean waters are cooler around Israel. I had to wear a full wetsuit to dive there.
top right: A meeting of the minds! All except me. I was a raw recruit in archaeology, though I wrote extensively on the archaeological digs at Tel Batash for my university. It was a 35 page term paper though they only required 10 pages or less! I don't remember what the conversation was about in the photo, but it had something to do with Tel Batash. The gentleman on the right with the hat was Indiana Jones,. No, not really. He was an archeology professor from some college in the states, but I don't recall his name. The man to his left is professor Amihai Mazar, chair of the department of Archaeology, or something important like that, at the Hebrew University at Jerusalem. Then it's the younger guy, me with the cool sunglasses and wearing the fashionable shorts, and then there is professor Roy Blizzard, Jr. in his famous army-green attire, at that time adjunct professor with the University of Texas at Austin. Those men were master scholars and I was an aspiring student of 1st century Judaism, Christianity, Hebrew language, history, and archaeology. There was someone else in the photo, but I can't see him or remember who it was.
By the way, all of these Israel photos were taken from 1985 to1990.
Below the photo with the scholars, is a photo I took of one of the many camel drivers for tourists overlooking the city from the mountains opposite the city of Jerusalem. I like horses, but camels are not my friends. I like camels only at a distance! I don't like their knack for spitting on people. They have very good aim! I helped many people negotiate prices with the camel owners, but I did not like riding one myself. Also, they stunk like crazy!
As a side note, I have never in my life been anywhere on land where riding the public bus was a horror show for smells. I have a great sense of smell that serves me well with spices and other things. Recently, I was stuffed up (rebuking and getting over a stupid little head-cold) and was asked to smell some very aromatic soaps. I couldn't smell a thing! Apologies to my friend. By the way, the smelling machinery is working good now.
Getting on a public bus was an exercise on how much stink you could tolerate! As soon as you got on the public transportation, and the bus got moving, arms would reach out to the rails to hold on. OMG! The stench would ooze from the underarms of many, especially the garbed Arabs and the Chasidic Jews in their black outfits! It would cloud your judgment, produce a nauseous effect, kill all apetite, and make you go to your room and try to get the smell off with a a very prolonged shower! You could smell the stench for hours. Needless to say, I chose to rent a car after that!
Below the camel photo is one from my hotel room balcony of Tel Aviv. See the shore line and the beach? I would go out there daily and do my running-jogging. I would go for about an hour or so.
Here are some other fun memories:
The first photo is from some fancy restaurant in Europe. If I took a wild guess, I think that it could be in France. This was circa 1968 or so. We were on an extended one-month American Express tour in Europe. Then, our tour guide became our private tour guide for another month and a half or so. She spoke 7 languages fluently. She was awesome and very kind and friendly. My parents not only paid for her tour guiding, but paid for all her expenses. We travelled Europe to every country. It was an awesome learning experience. My favorite steak was eaten at a restaurant in Switzerland. It was the best example of a a filet mignon I had for many years to come. Since then, I found a few very good ones, but the memory of that one restaurant in the Swiss Alps stuck to me. Wow! Switzerland was one of my favorite countries, and then there was Italy, land of my forefathers on my dad's side of the family, and then Spain, land of my ancestors from my mom's side of the family. Yes, those were my favorite 3 countries, though I really loved Monaco and the French Riviera.
The second photo tells you right on the photo. QE 2 West Indies Cruise 1968! The QE 2 was a beautiful and very fancy cruise ship in those days. I have a photo somewhere of me playing ping pong on the S. S. France cruise ship (around 1970) wearing long dress pants, and a shirt and tie! I remember when travelling by airplane was a special event, almost like going to church. One would dress in a suit to travel on an airplane in the 50's and 60's. I can only speak of the decades I remember. People have told me it was always that way from the beginning.
Quite different today, when the clothes are usually very loose fitting and more suited for outdoor activities or a sporting event! I am not complaining because wearing a full dress suit when the travel time is 10, 20 or 30 hours would be very difficult. So I am glad that dress codes were relaxed.
Cruise liners were that way too back then, requiring nice attire to very formal dress. If I remember right, one could not go into the dining room on those cruise liners without a full dress suit for men and very dressy outfits for the ladies. No shorts, flops, bathing suits, or other none dressy clothes allowed!
That is my sister and me on the right side of the photo. Further down are my dad and mother seated across from each other.
You ask how in the world did my dad manage his businesses in Puerto Rico when we travelled so often and lived in the states in a few VERY different locations? Dad had a team of managers overseeing his restaurants, and wound up with a manager that oversaw all the managers. All the products for his upwards of 15 restaurants were either imported or made in Puerto Rico, housed in his warehouse, and distributed daily. Towards the end of the 60's, dad started helping his restaurant managers to become restaurant owners, but the restaurant was to continue their operation as a franchise. They had to maintain the quality, and purchase their products from dad's warehouse. They followed the pattern in business he established closely, and all were successful. Dad would often travel back and forth, sometimes being gone for a week or two at a time for the businesses.
Dad learned much from an Italian restaurant owner named Mastro. Mastro had a large chain of restaurants in New York City. Dad secured permission to use his last name for his businesses in Puerto Rico, and dad named the Italian food restaurants, Mastro Pizza Palace. Dad was the first to bring New York style pizza to Puerto Rico. It became a huge hit, together with the fantastic lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread. and other great foods! It was a weekend favorite all over the island. It was a time of extraordinary growth. The lettering often seen on Pizza restaurants was my dad's creation. Unfortunately, he never copyrighted or registered the design and many have copied them over the years.
You can see, this type of multiplication miracle has been at work in my family for a long time, and it will happen again. We saw it in the 60's, in the 80,s, in the 2000's, and it will happen again. This year 2023 it starts once again for His glory and for His kingdom purposes!
Top left: Dad's first restaurant under the "Mastro Pizza Palace" next to the "salida de Caguas" shopping center area. Note the PIZZA letters and style. That was Dad's invention. Anywhere you see that lettering, just know my dad was the creative person behind that. This was an early 60's picture. later dad really made the place look very nice. To the left of that building, dad bought the property, and made his warehouse and offices.
Top right: Inside the house in the hills of North Carolina on the staircase. Beautiful woodwork! Picture under the restaurant is the barn on Knoll Top Farm, Dad added a whole area in the back that housed 300 chickens. Stories, stories, and more stories with all that. I will tell you sometime. The photo by the station wagon was from that same farm. We were headed to out country Baptist church or to the one we went to in Asheville. The one in the hills had their own hillbilly songs and preachers. It was a very strange church for us. We visited until my parents couldn't stand it anymore. I liked one of the young girls that sung. She would get up, pull the bubble gum out of her mouth, and sing, "DO Lord, oh Do Lord, Oh do remember me, oh Lordy...." That hillbilly accent was a fun one. Have you ever heard a Puerto Rican speak with a Hillbilly accent? When I would visit Puerto Rico during those days, my cousins and friends would laugh and make fun of me because I spoke at times like a hillbilly. It would slip out when I least expected it. Now, that is funny! A Puerto Rican with a Hillbilly accent!
Bottom left: Somewhere on the coast of Spain, I think.
Bottom right: Had just bought these clothes in Hawaii, and my sister and dad wanted a photo of their colorful Hawaiian outfits. I didn't like the flowery shirts, and guess what? I still don't. But my sister and dad thought they were great. Haha!
More ministry pictures. The anointing ministering to people is precious, powerful, and life changing. In the third picture where I have my back to the camera in my brown suit, notice the three guys to the left. No, they weren't the three amigos! The one in the dark shirt is a man that God uses mightily in a prophetic gift. It is startling sometimes. Very anointed brother that I have known since the late 70's. That night, I laid hands on him and the power of God hit him like a 2x4 and down he went forcefully to the floor. That is not unusual, but what I didn't tell you, that though that brother lost about 200 lbs. or so since that photo, that he weighed well over 350 pounds! A couple of skinny ushers tried to catch him and then realized they were in serious trouble because he was one big dude! Later one of them told me, "I thought he was going to crush me!" So both ushers did the only sensible thing. They let the big guy fall through their arms as they moved aside. OMG! He hit the floor very hard, like a ton of bricks! Thank God that while under the power of God, he was perfectly OK and no bruises! If it had been a normal fall, broken bones would have been the result, but because he was under the power of God, he said it felt like he fell into a bed of feathers. Wow!
The Bible says that the power of the Holy Spirit would be coming on all believers to produce a witness in our city, state, country, and even to the rest of the earth. (Acts 1:8) That power from on High came on the day of Pentecost after Jesus was raised from the dead. (Acts 2) Jesus also commissioned all believers to preach the gospel to every person with signs following. (Mark 16:15-20) We are to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded us. (Mat. 28:19, 20) EVERY believer has a responsibility to carry out these orders from the Head of the Church, Jesus THE Anointed One (Christ). I am doing a part to get the Word out to all the world. Of course, there are many other ways to get the Word out such as one on one witnessing, and through meetings, large and small. How can you get involved in getting the Gospel message out? Here is one way. Forward these teachings and recordings to your friends, family, and acquaintances. Be a blessing to someone else. Get them under the rich anointing of the Holy Spirit and the Word.