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!
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!