Then it was back to training! I mentioned in my last blog post that I had begun training for my first Super Spartan Race (www.spartanrace.com) that would take place on Saturday, 26 January. The race consists of an 8+ mile course with 25+ obstacles (climbing ropes and walls, crawling under barbed wire, carrying sand bags, etc.) through the hills of Temecula, CA. With only a few weeks remaining before the event, my training regimen went into overdrive. In the end, all of the extra time and energy paid off. I was able to team up with a Marine from Camp Pendleton at the beginning of the race, tackling the course together. Desiring to finish in under 3 hours, I was pleased to finish in 2:54:15. It was one of the greatest challenges and greatest experiences I've ever had. I can't wait for my next Spartan Race! Thank you to my lovely wife who took photos and cheered me on all the way.
A few weeks after the Spartan Race (I think it took me that long to recuperate!), I was very surprised to learn that I had been chosen to receive the El Centro Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Service Award. The award's ceremony took place on Friday, 08 February, as part of a fundraising dinner for the NAF El Centro Airshow. I was humbled and honored. Organizing community relations projects and serving alongside our Sailors is one of the great joys of being a Navy chaplain.
As these events transpired, they did so with the Navy's Blue Angels flying overhead. Beginning their training at NAF El Centro each January, their appearance in the skies is commonplace over the base. However, their flying is obviously far from commonplace. They are simply the best--both in the air and on the ground!
I am grateful to the several members of the Blue Angels' ground crew who volunteered their time to participate in our monthly COMREL in Niland, CA.
The Blue Angels' presence on base, of course, always means that the annual NAF El Centro Airshow is fast approaching. It was preceded again this year by the 3rd Annual Blue Angels 10k Fun Run/Walk. Tammy and I both participated this year. I was pleased to complete the race in 54:15, a personal best. Unfortunately, due to a leg injury, Tammy was forced to walk most of the way.
The NAF El Centro Airshow was better than ever this year. Held on Saturday, 16 March, the food, static displays, aerial acts, and other activities were very enjoyable. And the Blue Angels were simply amazing.
The fun continued the following weekend on Saturday, 23 March, at the Boutwell Shootout and Cookout. First Christian Church of El Centro invited our military members, both British and American, to join them for this annual event as a "thank you" to them for their service to our nation. Sixteen military members participated. Tammy and I joined in as well. We had great fun! As a Navy Chaplain at NAF El Centro, I am so very thankful for the ongoing partnerships we have with our local churches in the Imperial Valley. So much of our ministry success is due to their friendship and generosity.
Our ministry continues to go well. We consider ourselves greatly blessed to serve the people at NAF El Centro, both military and civilian. We will be sad to leave. In April 2013, my window opens to begin discussing with my detailer my next set of orders. Where will the next step in our adventure take us? We don't know yet. We'll let you know just as soon as we do!