Friday, November 25, 2011

Chaps First Summer...and Fall

Just like that my first summer (and fall!) as a Navy chaplain are behind me.  They say "time flies when you're having fun".  That's certainly true here!  The last few months have gone by very quickly...and I've found being a Navy chaplain to be a truly wonderful experience.

The work load the first few weeks at NAF El Centro began at a steady pace...but has turned into an all out sprint!  While every hour is very full, it is also very fulfilling.  Most of my time is divided into three categories--the chapel, COMRELs, and counseling.

Our small Protestant congregation has continued to grow steadily since our arrival.  We're working hard in developing a children's Sunday School that will serve our our families well.  We still have a long way to go, but we're moving in the right direction.  Our numbers nearly doubled over the past two months as the retirees have returned to base for the winter.  They are a delightful group and have been incredibly supportive of the ministry here.  We'll hate to see them leave come March/April, but will anticipate their return next year.

This summer I preached a series on the Psalms entitled "Tuning Our Hearts Toward God".  I'm currently preaching a series called "Christian Urban Legends," discussing the numerous myths that Christians sometimes believe.  Based off of the book 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe by Larry Osborne, we've discussed "Faith Fixes Everything," "Forgiving Means Forgetting," "Good Things Happen to Good/Godly People," "Everything Happens for a Reason," etc.  We'll begin a new series in the book of Luke come December.

In military lingo, a "COMREL" is a community relations event.  The Navy's motto is "A Global Force for Good" and we want to live up to that vision right here at NAF El Centro as we engage sailors in opportunities to serve our community.  My community/missions experience at VCL has certainly prepared me well for this role.  Many of our service hours are spent in support of the Imperial Valley Food Bank as we raise food donations, sort donations in the wharehouse, and deliver food to needy families.  We are also privileged to serve Seeley Elementary School through reading programs and physical labor for various projects and events throughout the year. Other opportunities have included support of the Treats for Troops program in October and serving Thanksgiving meals in November.

Counseling is ovbiously an import duty as a chaplain.  Whatever the issue might be, it is a privilege to be a listening ear and caring support for our sailors.

This first tour in my Navy chaplain career has offered a series of "firsts" for me--first Memorial Day, first Fourth of July, first Veteran's Day, etc.  Each holiday is all the more special when wearing our nation's uniform.  And the opportunity to attend and participate in local activities and events as a chaplain is a great honor.  I've also had the blessing of officiating my first wedding as a chaplain and attending my first Navy ball!

When not at work, Tammy and I have made every effort to get to know the area and visit as many sites as we can in and around the San Diego area.  We've been able to go to the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, San Diego Botanical Gardens, Sonny Bono Salton Sea Wildlife Refuge, SeaWorld, etc.  We've had such a great time together and hope to do more in the months to come.

I turned 40 years old this month.  Among other things, this new age bracket means I need to keep as physically fit as possible.  Toward this end my mornings begin at 0500 with Insanity.  I've recently completed it for the second time and still loving it.  This routine prepared me well for our PRT this month, netting 100 curl ups (2 min.), 85 push ups (2 min.) and 11:34 in the 1.5 mile run.  Physical activity is also available through the various sports activities on base, including softball, basketball, and flag football.  These sports are just as fun as they used to be--but the recovery time is much, much longer. :)

This Thanksgiving season, I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support.  This ministry would hardly seem possible without the encouragement of all of our family and friends.  I praise God for you all!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

El Centro or Bust!

I officially became a Navy chaplain on March 30, 2011.

After nine months of the application process and then another twelve weeks of training, I was no longer a civilian pastor.  I was a chaplain in the United States Navy!  My hopes, hard work, planning, and prayers had brought me to graduation.

It was one of the happiest and proudest days of my life and I was so glad that Tammy could be there to share it with me.  But after the ceremony, there was little time for reflection or relaxation.  In a few hours we were on a flight back to Chicago where we spent the next few days packing our remaining belongings (that hadn't been picked up by the movers already) and saying goodbye to friends.  Our final Sunday at Village Church of Lincolnshire was very special.  The support and encouragement of our church family has meant so much to the both of us.  Seeing them one last time was something I wouldn't miss.

After church, we jumped in the car to begin the 1900 mile trek to El Centro, CA.  Our journey was spectacularly uneventful as we made our way cross country passing through St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, and Phoenix.  Time was of the essence so no sightseeing this time, but we were able to stop and see friends--Caiti Nagy, Bob Hartman, and Bryce and Anita Morgan along the way.

While I didn't know exactly what to expect upon my arrival at NAF El Centro, I need not have worried.  Tammy and I were warmly welcomed by the command staff, base personnel, neighbors, and area pastors.  I am grateful to several individuals who have helped us get off to a good start.  We have been blessed by their wisdom, advice, and encouragement.


Ministry opportunities are plentiful.  Each week is filled with counseling sessions, staff meetings, sermon preparation/worship planning, workplace visits, and more.  Thus far, I've been asked to give the invocation at the monthly Navy League dinner and at the dedication of a new base fire engine.  I was also asked to share a few words and pray and the funeral of local veteran.  There will be many more invocation invites as Memorial Day observances are just around the corner.  Next week I will be visiting the local food bank and helping to deliver food to a nearby community.  With an unemployment rate of nearly 30%, the needs in the area are significant.

Our first chapel event since my arrival was a prayer breakfast on the National Day of Prayer.  Although we didn't have much time to plan and publicize, we had 27 adults and 4 children in attendance!

The chapel ministry is going well.  I plan, prepare, and facilitate the Protestant service each Sunday.  Attendance is small, but the possibility of growth is big as we consider the start of a children's ministry and a worship team.  The chapel facilities are very good, but we're looking for some improvements there as well.

My first preaching series as the base chaplain is "Geography of the Soul: Our Spiritual Journey with God".  In this series, we're "visiting" key locations in the Bible where God taught His people important spiritual lessons.  We're discovering that God is still taking His people to these same locations today--if not always physically then spiritually.  Our topics thus far have been "The Jordan River--A Barrier to Blessing," "The Wilderness--A Place of Testing," and "The Valley of Elah--Facing the Giants".

Our housing is on base and is more than adequate.  We have three bedrooms, an enclosed patio, and a very large kitchen.  All of our belongings are moved in and almost completely unpacked.  It not only looks like, but it's beginning to feel like home as well. :)

Although I technically didn't have to participate, I've already completed my first official PRT since my arrival at NAF El Centro.  I was very pleased with 100 sit ups, 79 push ups, and the 1.5 mile run in 11:27.  I have been working hard to keep my physical conditioning at its best.  I'm out of bed at 0500 four times per week to continue the workouts that the gunnery sergeant had us doing at chaplain school.  Tammy is even joining me three times per week!

While the El Centro community is small (population 35,000), we have no complaints.  With a mall, a Wal-mart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. we can make most of our needed purchases nearby.  What we miss most?  I'm guessing Chipotle.  However, we're trying some new cuisine in the meantime.  Eating at Pollo Loco isn't as "crazy" as it sounds.  And if that fails, a trip to Starbuck's seems to do the trick!  Anything that we can't find in El Centro, we can likely find in Yuma, AZ, about an hour away.

Tammy and I will be traveling to San Diego next month.  We have a friend's wedding that we will attend.  Soon afterwards the regional chaplain will be bringing us out to meet some of the other chaplains in the area and we'll stay to attend the EFCA National Conference.

More details in the weeks to come...

Monday, March 28, 2011

TEAMS (Tools, Empowerment, and Ministry Skills)

Last week was the third and final phase of our training at the Navy Chaplaincy School and Center.  TEAMS is all about placing the final touches on our instruction and experience before we graduate and depart for our various duty stations.

We were all grateful for the classes Reporting to Your Command and Your First Month.  The content here was very practical regarding details of how to make the transition during the first few days and weeks at our new command.  Other practical input came from our class on Wardroom and Social Etiquette.  The military has certain customs and expectations that we need to abide by in these areas.  Other classes focused on counseling and suicide prevention.  Much of our time as chaplains will be spent addressing these issues, necessitating further instruction and discussion. 

We also had the privilege of hearing from a few special guests.  First, we had a presentation from a chaplain at Motor Racing Organization (MRO) which provides chaplains to a variety of motor sports, including NASCAR.  Although there are distinctions between chaplaincy in the MRO and in the military, there are many similarities as well from which we could learn.  Second, we had a presentation from a representative from Military Ministries, a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ.  This organization works closely with military chaplains and provides many helpful resources to them without cost.  Third, we had a presentation from a representative from CREDO (Chaplain's Religious Enrichment Development Operation).  This is a ministry of the Chief of Chaplains and offers a variety of education and counseling programs to military personnel and their families for free (including transportation and lodging).

The final two days of TEAMS was spent at NS Mayport near Jacksonville, FL.  During our time there, we had the opportunity to hear from the chaplains that serve at this base.  That evening we attended a pre-deployment brief that was being given to sailors and their families, a brief that many of us will give often during our career.  Experiencing one first hand was very helpful.  We also were given a tour of a destroyer (USS Farragut) or a cruiser (USS Vicksburg), met some of the personnel on board, and then spent the night.  Those who have served aboard ship before tend to call the berthing spaces for enlisted personnel "coffins".  Now I know why!  Not a whole lot of room to move around.  We also had the opportunity to tour a nearby Coast Guard station and two of the ships stationed there.  All in all, this was an amazing and worthwhile experience, providing us the opportunity to envision life and ministry aboard ship. 

In some ways that last three months have gone by slowly and in other ways they have gone by very quickly.  As I graduate this week, I do so with mixed emotions.  I am excited about my future life and ministry as a Navy chaplain and look forward to the move to El Centro, CA.  The last twelve weeks have been difficult and challenging, but they are exactly what I had hoped for when making the decision to become a Navy chaplain.  I have no regrets.  I have seen God's hand in protecting and preserving me throughout this process, proving to me over and over again that His will and ways are perfect. 

I will greatly miss my fellow chaplains who I have trained with during this time.  This experience has brought us together as a brotherhood.  I have benefitted greatly from their friendship and encouragement along the way.  It has been a special class that God will use to minister in His name and for His glory in the years to come.  See you in the fleet!

Next stop... El Centro!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

RMTEX (Religious Ministry Team Expeditionary Exercise)

RMTEX is an important experience in the training of a Navy chaplain.  First, it serves as an introduction into life and ministry when serving with the Marine Corps--a real possibility (and privilege) that I will have at some point in my career.  We sleep how they sleep.  Eat what they eat.  (MREs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)  March how they march.  And train how they train.  You can't truly minister to a Marine until you've walked a mile (and then some!) in his boots.  

Second, it serves as a guage of our ability and willingness to serve in this kind of environment.  During the week our class was stretched physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our physical stamina and courage would be tested.  Our leadership and teamwork skills would be assessed.  Our perseverance under pressure would be measured.  Would I quit when the going got tough?  We would soon find out...

RMTEX officially began on Thursday and Friday of last week.  We had two days of classroom instruction on the Marine Corps.  Emphasis was placed on Marine Corps history--development, significant battles and leaders, etc.  Other topics included common phrases, saluting, uniforms, range of military operations, and land navigation. We were then given the weekend to gather and pack our gear, rest, and wait for what was coming next.

On Monday morning our class formed up in front of the Navy chaplain school house and we began a forced march ("run") with full packs to our base camp approximately 2 miles away--our new home for the next 4-5 days.

After setting up camp, we traded our large packs for our assault packs (school backpack size) and marched approximately 1.5 miles to the team obstacle course.  We were divided into groups and given a series of obstacles to complete together.  The purpose of this exercise was not to assess our physical ability and/or stamina (although this was involved to some degree) as much as our ability to think strategically, give leadership, and work together as a team.  While we were not graded on successfully completing each obstacle, our team did finish 4 out of 5 in the time limit allowed.

After our time at the team obstacle course, we marched back to our base camp where we had lessons on conducting field services and on conver and concealment.  Throughout the week a few of us had the opportunity to hold a field service for the group.  All of us had the opportunity to perfect our face painting techniques.

It was about this time that I realized I had injured my right knee/lower leg.  Whether it was from our forced march that morning or from the team obstacle course that afternoon, it was clear that something wasn't quite right.  More on that later. 

Soon it was time for hygiene and bed.  Throughout our time in the field, hygiene consisted of brushing our teath and baby wipes applied to key areas of our bodies.  There was no running water and certainly no showers.  Gratefully, we did have access to portable toilets.  Not exactly a flush toilet but much better than the alternative. 

Although sleeping quarters were tight with two men per tent, few of us had any problem falling asleep given the events of the day.  The only thing that interrupted our slumber was "fire watch".  Every hour through the night two person teams were on watch, ensuring the camp was safe and secure.  This was the procedure for each night we were out.  Everyone had at least one watch during RMTEX and some of us had two.  My watch was from 0200 to 0300 Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning we marched approximately 1 mile to the location for our Marine Corps combat fitness test.  While my knee/leg was still bothering me to some degree, I was well enough to participate.  There were three phases to this event (with a few minutes of recovery between each one)--a 1.5 mile run (in boots), an ammo can lift (2 minute time limit), and the obstacle course.  I was very pleased with my performance, completing the 1.5 mile run in 3:26, doing 93 ammo can lifts, and finishing the obstacle course in 4:10.  Although physically demanding, I loved every minute of it.

The obstacle course portion of this event involves some detailed explanation.  To view an example of Marines completing the course, please visit  It is exactly the same course that we used for RMTEX.

After the Marine Corps combat fitness test was over, we marched approximately 1 mile to Victory Tower (50 feet high), where each of us was required to successfully complete a series of maneuvers, including rappelling (2x), three rope walks, and a cargo net decent.  While my knee/leg had become very painful by this time, I felt that I could and should continue.  I was grateful to have been able to conquer Victory Tower.  In a side note--rappelling is a blast!!

At this location we were also given lessons on tactical formations.  As chaplains serving Marines, it is possible that we would find ourselves on a patrol with them.  It is essential, then, for us to know what they are doing and why they are doing it, both for our own safety and for the Marines around us.

After our time at Victory Tower, we began an approximate 2 mile march back to our base camp, utilizing the various formations we had just been taught.  Unfortunately, I was not permitted to participate in this march nor any of the other marches conducted over the next two days.  My knee/leg had become so painful that I was unable to walk without a considerable limp.  My concern now was whether or not I would be dropped from RMTEX.  The leadership assured me they would do all they could to ensure that this would not happen.  I am grateful that they allowed me to continue.
On Wednesday morning we marched (I rode) approximately 1/4of a mile to the confidence course.  Unlike the team obstacle course, this event focused on individual effort and was designed primarly to test one's physical strength, agility, and stamina.  While I was unable to participate in this event, it did give me the opportunity to take some photos.

After completing the confidence course, we made the short march back to our base camp for more instruction.  Our classes included enemy prisoners of war and combat lifesaving skills.

On Thursday morning we traveled by van to the land navigation site.  We divided into groups of 3-4 and worked together to find a series of four navigation points scattered throughout the area.  Today, instead of 3 MREs per person for the day, we were given just one--for our entire team.  It would be the only food we would have for the rest of RMTEX.  How long that might be we did not know--at least 16 hours. 

Thankfully, the pain in my leg had subsided enough at this point to allow me to participate in this exercise.  Here's one of the points my team found.  Sadly, it was the wrong one. :)

After completing this event, we traveled to yet another land navigation site.  Here we had further instruction on emergency medical combat evacuation and on tactical assault.

As evening approached, we began to make preparations for our night navigation exercise.  It was essentially the same event as earlier in the day but at a different location and without the benefit of daylight or flashlights of any kind.  Night navigation ended around midnight on Thursday.  What happened next is a secret that I will not share.

On Friday morning we were given our RMTEX written test covering all of the material we had learned in the last week.  An 80% was required to pass.  I was very happy with an 88%.

RMTEX was now officially over.  Just one more week before graduation...

Injury update:  While the pain in my knee/leg subsided by Thursday, it began to swell signficantly.  The swelling continued into Friday so I went to the base clinic to have it examined.  There was enough concern of a blood clot in my leg that I was transfered to a nearby hospital for further testing.  At this point a blood clot has been ruled out.  It is currently being treated as an infection.  Although I am much improved, there is still concern.  I would appreciate your prayers on my behalf.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Naval Chaplaincy School and Center

I graduated from Officer Development School on 4 February 2011.  All in all it went very well.  (Honestly, I think we were just glad to make it through the ceremony without anyone fainting or falling out.)  That moment was and will continue to be a very memorable day in my life.  It was almost exactly one year ago that I had decided to seriously pursue my passion to become a Navy Chaplain--and it was truly amazing to know that I was one step closer to it becoming a reality. 

Our ODS class held a reception the evening prior to our graduation ceremony.  Tammy, managing to get out of Chicago after a 20" snowfall that week, was able to come for both the reception (arriving just in time!) and the graduation.  She was also able to stay for the next two days and we did some sightseeing in Newport, RI, visiting some of the historic mansions in the area.

Sunday came all too quickly as we had to say goodbye once more.  She returned to Chicago and I went on to Columbia, SC, to continue my training at the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center located at Ft. Jackson.  The training at the school is divided into three components--the Basic Course (4 weeks), RMTEX 1 week), and TEAMS (2 weeks).  Today is actually the final day for the Basic Course and I can honestly say that I've enjoyed every moment.  The physical training (PT), classroom instruction, etc. have exceeded my expectations. 

We've received our physical training from a Marine gunnery sergeant.  Given that all of us in the class (20 students) will likely serve with the Marine Corps at one time or another (and some directly when they leave from here), it is imperative that we are pushed to meet the Marine Corps fitness standards and try to stay there once we've left here.  Our gunnery sergeant is a decorated veteran (IEDed twice!) and we have the greatest respect for him.  During our first two weeks, we had PT five days a week.  I've never been pushed this hard physically in all of my life--and I love it!  On the first of PT we took our first physical fitness test.  I was able to do 91 sit ups (2 minutes), 69 push ups (2 minutes) and run 1.5 miles in 12:31, a very similar result from my last physical fitness test ODS.  Now, four weeks later, we took another fitness test.  I was able to do 103 sit ups (2 minutes), 81 push ups (2 minutes), and run 1.5 miles in 12:03.  There is still plenty of room for improvement, but I'm grateful for the progress that I've made.

Our classroom instruction has been excellent.  Topics have included ethics, confidentiality, collateral duties, deployment ministry, chaplain corps history, religious accommodation, leadership, etc.  These courses have included two tests and three written (4 page) papers, and a number of other miscellaneous assignments and practical exercises.  The instructors and leaders here at the school are of the highest caliber both inside and outside the classroom.

RMTEX officially begins tomorrow morning!  We will have two days of instruction this week and then approximately five days out in the field next week.  Activities will include long hikes (with heavy packs!), the confidence course, endurance course, climbing tower, and night land navigation.  A written exam will be included as well.  We will be pushed physically, mentally, and emotionally.  But the one thing we cannot do is give up.  One concern we all have is for physical safety.  Others who have gone before us have gotten hurt and have had to drop out of the course and return at a later date.  No one wants that to happen.  Please pray for me and our team that we will be kept safe and that we will persevere together.

I look forward to giving an update of RMTEX when I return.  I'm sure I'll have some stories to share...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

One More Week...

The past two weeks at ODS have come and gone quickly.  And while much has changed much has stayed the same as well.

Our daily routine is all too familiar to us at this point--PT, classroom instruction, chow, uniform and room inspections, etc.  One day runs into the next, yet we continue to check off important milestones in our progress.  During the past two weeks, we've had yet another PT test.  I was pleased to have shown some improvement--100 sit ups (2 minutes), 63 push ups (2 minutes), and the 1.5 mile run in 12:38.  Our one and only academic test occurred as well, covering the class matierial we've been taught thus far.  I'm grateful for a 90%.  We've also had our last two room inspections and our dress blue uniform inspection which I was able to pass without much problem.

If anything has changed during the past two weeks, it has been the tone of our instructors.  As we approach our graduation, they have begun the transition of beginning to treat us as soon-to-be Naval officers rather than raw recruits.  The company has received more freedom and latitude and have been given more responsibility as well.  It has been a welcome change of pace. 

The last week has been difficult for me physically.  The training environment has been difficult on our health in general (lack of sleep, cold weather, close contact with others, etc.).  Several of us have succumbed to what we have affectionately dubbed the "Echo Virus," which comes with a very high fever, muscle pain, sore joints, and occasional vomitting.  I was SIQ (sick in quarters) for three days.  After getting back on my feet, I was down again with bronchitis which I'm battling currently.  I look forward to being healthy soon, especially as I look to make the transition to Ft. Jackson next week.

The next few days should go by quickly.  On Sunday morning/afternoon and on Monday morning I have been assigned to "colors," which means I get to help raise and lower the ensign (U.S. flag) at those times.  I certainly look forward to this experience.  I have always been moved by the playing of our national anthem and the sight of our flag, but the opportunity and privilege to salute in uniform is an amazing honor.

If our class schedule remains unchanged, we will have the opportunity to return to the pool for some combat/rescue swim training.  We should also have the opportunity to meet with Chaplain Crouterfield from Ft. Jackson.  The final hurdle will be our third PT test.  Much of the rest of our time will be spent in practicing for our graduation ceremony.  We have a lot of work to do to look sharp for Friday.  I can't wait.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Officer Develop School--Newport, RI

I reported to Officer Training Command Newport for Officer Development School (ODS) on Saturday, January 1, 2011.  It was almost one year ago that I began thinking and praying about becoming a military chaplain.  I am grateful to God for allowing this dream (and I trust it to be His dream as well!) to become a reality.

The first day or two were fairly relaxed allowing us the opportunity to get to know the rest of ODS 11030 (Echo Company).  There are 65 students in our current class, consisting of chaplains, nurses, dentists, physcial therapists, and nuclear instructors.  I am one of 19 chaplains in our class (17 Protestant, 1 Catholic, and 1 LDS).  I have been encouraged by their friendship and encouragement.  Many of us will be together at chaplain school at Ft. Jackson, SC, after our graduation from ODS at the beginning of February.

The first week of ODS was certainly challenging.  The physical demands of 18-20 hour days was certainly difficult to get used to.  I don't think I've ever been quite so tired in my life!  And as the days went on, the mental challenges began to present themselves as I was forced to acclimate more and more to a military culture.  My time, my preferences, and my thoughts are now no longer my own.  I guess I knew this would be the case, but the adjustment has been more challenging than I anticipated.  As an adult, I'm not used to being told what to eat (no sweets), how long to eat (15 minutes per meal), where to go, how to dress, etc.  When walking down the sidewalk, I can't get lost in my thoughts.  I have to be always on the alert.  If a senior officer walks or drives by, I have to be ready to salute him or her or face the consequences.  As our instructors have reminded us, the military PROTECTS democracy, it doesn't PRACTICE it!  It is my hope and desire to embrace all that I am learning here.  If I hope to minister to those serving in the military, I know I must identify with them in every way and embrace the same sacrifices that they themselves have made.  This is the heart of incarnational ministry.

I am grateful to have passed my first physical fitness test, involving sit ups, push ups, and a timed 1 1/2 mile run.  The PT test was particularly challenging in that we had our swim test and our blood drawn that morning.  I was able to do 78 sit ups (2 minutes), 57 push ups (2 minutes), and finish the run in 13:38, for an overall score of GOOD/MEDIUM".  I do hope to improve these scores in the weeks to come, especially my run time.  I was also able to pass my swim test as well as my first uniform and room inspection.  I praise God for the good health I have experienced thus far, including my foot which I injured prior to my arrival here.

A typical day at ODS begins with group PT, breakfast, classroom instruction, lunch, more classroom instruction, dinner, and then more instruction as required by our instructors.  Now that we are concluding our second week, we having more "free" time before taps (lights out), giving us more time for laundry, to complete classroom assignments, etc.  Classroom instruction has been both useful and interesting, including briefs on military pay and benefits, Navy customs and courtesies, Navy history and warfare, etc.  The information is both important and interesting.  I just wish I could stay awake in class long enough to pay attention! :)

This weekend we have three days of liberty (for MLK Day).  We are limited to the base only, but that's better than nothing.  As long as everyone behaves themselves this weekend, we can expect to have off base liberty next weekend (within 300 miles of the base).  Because I don't have a car here with me, I'm not sure whether I'll be able to actually get off base or not, but at least the option would be nice.

Currently, I'm sitting in the Liberty Center on base looking across the bay at the now decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga. Maybe one day I'll have the opportunity to serve the Lord aboard a modern carrier.  What an amazing experience and privilege that would be!  Only time will tell.  Right now, graduating from ODS must be my first priority.  Only three weeks to go...