Monday, December 24, 2012

Oh, We're Half Way There...Still Living On a Prayer

It's hard to believe that we're half way through our first tour here at NAF El Centro.  Eighteen months down and eighteen more months to go (give or take).  The time has gone by quickly.  It won't be long before we'll be making contact with our detailer to see where our next tour will take us.  

In the meantime, we're still living on a prayer, depending on God's grace each and every day to minister effectively to the sailors and their families we have the privilege of serving.

One of my chief duties during the months of July and August was leading our annual Feds Feed Families food drive on base.  The food drive this year went exceptionally well, raising over 21,000 lbs. of food for our local food pantry, a 400% increase over our 2011 grand total.  NAF El Centro may be one of the smallest bases in the Navy, but we are consistently able to come together in a big way to make a big difference for the families of the Imperial Valley.

November and December were extremely busy months last year.  Anticipating the same schedule this year, Tammy and I planned ahead and decided to take some vacation time in September and October while we had the time to do so.

Our first trip was to Los Angeles in September.  We took seven days to visit many of the exciting attractions the city has to offer, including the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Queen Mary, Disneyland, Hollywood, Universal Studios, the Getty Villa, and the Getty Museum.  An unexpected treat was the opportunity to see the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavor on its final historic flight over LA before going on permanent display at an area museum. On our last day in town, we were very grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with Michael and Ginny Hollar over brunch who we hadn't seen in several years.
Space Shuttle Endeavor
Getty Villa
Universal Studios

Our second trip was in October.  We took ten days to visit family and friends in Indiana and Illinois.  It was a blessing to attend both our college homecoming at Taylor University (our first in more than 15 years) and services at our former church, the Village Church of Lincolnshire. What an encouragement our immediate family and our spiritual family are to us!

This is how much I love the Fall weather in Indiana!!
We were very thankful for the rest and relaxation these trips provided.  Our Religious Ministry Team schedule was already in full gear upon our return.  From the end of October to the end of December we assisting in planning and leading twelve community relations events, working with organizations such as the Imperial Valley Food Bank, Treats for Troops, and Toys for Tots.  Serving in this capacity continues to be one of my favorite duties at a Navy chaplain at NAF El Centro.
Serving side-by-side with the Brits at the Imperial Valley Food Bank in November 2012

NAF El Centro sailors serving in Niland, CA, in November 2012
Several additional highlights took place in September, October, and November as well...
First, Tammy and I participated in several fun events on base, including '70's Night, '80's Night, and our annual Navy Ball, celebrating the birthday of the United States Navy.
'80's Night
Navy Ball 2012
'70's Night
Second, Tammy and I were able to take a day trip to the San Diego Safari Park.  If you ever have the chance to go, we would highly recommend it.  We had a wonderful time!
Third, our Religious Ministry Team had the opportunity to host a special guest speaker, Mr. Nick Vujicic.  As the Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the base, it is my responsibility to ensure that sailors receive annual training on this important and relevant topic.  Mr. Vujicic, born without arms and legs, is an internationally known speaker who offers a message of hope and resiliency.  As a Christian evangelist, he preaches to many through his Life Without Limbs ministry(  He also offers non-religious motivational talks through his Attitude is Altitude organization (, encouraging many young men and women in our military, high schools, etc..  To have someone like Mr. Vujicic agree to speak to our sailors was indeed an honor and a privilege.  I am grateful to God for arranging the details for this event.  It made a significant positive impact on the lives our our sailors.  To watch part of Mr. Vujicic's presentation at NAF El Centro, please visit,0,569081.story
Nick Vujicic with NAF El Centro CO, XO, and CDCMC
Finally, Tammy and I attended the Navy Chaplain's Ball in November, honoring the birthday of the United States Navy Chaplain Corps.  Held in San Diego, the distance made it difficult for us to participate, but we are so glad that we did.  Serving in a remote location like NAF El Centro, it is encouraging interact with my colleagues in ministry whenever we get the opportunity to do so.
Tammy continues her significant involvement on base.  Due to the departure of other volunteers, her role at the base thrift store has increased.  And she recently began working as a volunteer leader with the local Girl Scout troop.
In my free time, I continue to be involved with a variety of sports.  We have concluded volleyball and flag football season.  Basketball season begins soon.  While I find my involvement personally enjoyable and fulfilling, sports remains a wonderful way for me to continue to connect with our sailors who might not participate in chapel services or community relations activities.
In an effort to stay as physically fit as possible, I've recently registered for a Super Spartan race ( scheduled for Saturday, 26 January, 2013.  The race is eight miles with 25+ obstacles that include climbing ropes and walls, carrying rocks, barbed wire crawls in the mud, etc.  I have no expectation of finishing first.  Crossing the finish line will be victory enough! 
God bless you one and all.  May you have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!