Showing posts with label chaplaincy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chaplaincy. Show all posts

Monday, April 4, 2022

Vacation and Life Plans - General Update

Northern Lights, taken while visiting Alaska Oct-Nov 2021

Like I said in my I’m trying to get back into blogging more regularly. Something that has been on my mind for a while now is what I have planned for life after the military. Well, I know one thing … I do NOT want to stay in some kind of military-related job after retiring from the military. I joke all the time that I want all my clearances and certifications to expire at twenty years and never do anything military intelligence-related ever again after these years of service. I don’t hate what I do, but I’ve been looking for something of more significance in my life and in the lives of those I interact with. I want to do something more ministry-focused. I don’t know for sure what that will look like and I already do some ministry stuff, but I want to make that my main career, not a side-gig. Michelle (my wife in case you didn’t know) and I have been looking into what we want to do once I retire from the military. Our current plan goes something like this: retire from the military (4.5 years from now), shop around Michigan/Kentucky/West Virginia and maybe Ohio for 15+ acres of land to buy, buy that land and start building a farm/house/homestead, find a part-time or full-time ministry job like pastor for me. Of course, all of that is subject to change. If I finish my seminary degree and can be a military chaplain and I love that work, I might stay longer than twenty years in the military. If we can find an already established small farm/homestead, we’ll buy and renovate rather than buying and building a new house. Our goal is not really 100% self-sufficiency; we just want a nice-sized farm that provides much of our needs. I’ve also considered trying to run a small resort someday and that is still on the table. Essentially, we’d tag it on to the end of that plan and once our little farm is established we’d build a few cabins on the property and post them on AirBnB or have our own website or both. How involved we get with that is totally up in the air. We could make the resort our primary business (hosting camps/retreats for churches, business groups, etc.) or we could just have that as a feature of the farm where all we do is keep the rooms clean for the next set of visitors. We actually visited a camp not unlike what we are thinking of, yesterday after visiting with my parents. It’s called Higher Ground Camp. It is so small and obscure I literally cannot find a website for the camp, that link is to the Google Maps entry for the camp. The photos on Zillow/Realtor.com look lovely, but when we drove around it yesterday it certainly didn’t look as nice as the photos! Also, it was (sorta) on the market for $2.2M!? It’s not worth anywhere near that amount! I was talking with Michelle after our visit and on the drive back to her family’s house (where we stay when visiting family in Ohio). We talked about possibly working some kind of camp like that after I retire as well. The pastor who performed our wedding ceremony, his wife was a director of a camp in Bellefontaine, Ohio. I think that would be a good ministry for our family. I could lead the educational aspects of the camp and be the maintenance guy, Michelle could lead the other activities of the camp. And, if our boys want to be involved with the ministry, they could fit right in with whatever activities their talents lend them to. These are the kinds of things I’ve been thinking about while on vacation/visiting family in Ohio. We have already looked at some properties for sale down in Kentucky and got an idea of where we do NOT want to live. It was annoying because finding the actual properties that were for sale was virtually impossible; they weren’t marked. But, we were able to scope out the region/counties and see that we didn’t like the other properties in the area and ruled out some areas of Kentucky. We also drove up through rural, southern Ohio and love that area, but properties in Ohio are generally over-priced and mostly out of our budget. I would like to check out some areas in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan because I loved visiting Michigan all throughout my youth and think it would make a great place to build such a homestead/farm/resort/camp. Michelle used to work at a Boy Scout camp up in Michigan, so clearly that is an opportunity, though I think our camp wouldn’t be reserved for just Boy Scouts, but rather be open to churches and various other activities. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us! Until then, I’m going to keep plugging away at that seminary degree and working in military intelligence. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Getting Back into Blogging

Night-time American Village, Okinawa, Japan 35mm film
Well, it's only been almost two years since my last post! I think it's time to get this blogging going again. I used to love blogging. I don't know what happened! So much has happened in the past few years! My last post was back in July 2020, written mostly when I was deployed. One of the biggest changes in my life that I haven't written about before has been the introduction of penpalling. I found a penpal-finding Facebook page. It is a page dedicated to just posting something like: "I'm ____ and I'm looking for a penpal that is ...". In fact, the rules are written such that those are the only kinds of things you're permitted to post. Every once in a while there's a generic post about penpalling, not just looking for penpals. Well, I started writing a couple strangers and my parents. It's been a wonderful experience. Essentially, it's like having a couple new friends from all over the country. Unfortunately, because of various delays it seems like most of my penpals have dropped out of the penpalling hobby. One of them has stuck through the delays (while I was deployed I didn't write much), and I'm glad he has. I think hand-writing letters is a fun pastime that has died off. It makes me sad that people don't put pen to paper much anymore. I don't think it'll matter, but I'd love to think that my letters and my journals might matter to someone someday. I'm reading the book A Severe Mercy and it entails some letters back and forth between the author, Sheldon Vanauken, and C.S. Lewis. I will almost certainly never achieve the level of C.S. Lewis, but I'd like to think that someone might like what I have to say and want to keep them and maybe share them with someone someday. Well, for that to ever happen, I have to actually write things! So, here I am, writing. Hopefully I can keep it up more this time. I only wrote five entries in 2020 and only one in 2019!

One piece of news that I do really think I want to share in this mini update. I sat with our unit's representative chaplain. He works with multiple units but he comes to our squadron three days a week. Well, today I had a chance to sit down with the chaplain and chat. Our chat reaffirmed that I want to finish my seminary degree and become a military (preferably an Air Force chaplain). I did find out an interesting piece of information today. Chaplains, when they gain their commission incur a four-year commitment. That's fine with me. And, if I really like the position I'll want to stay. If I stay over twenty years active duty I'll earn a better retirement. The chaplain I chatted with started his role as chaplain after he had served twenty years. The upside here is that if it doesn't work out for me to become a chaplain I will be able to retire. Hopefully, it's God's plan that I become a chaplain. I feel like that's what I'm called to do. I've wanted this for several years and I enjoy teaching and preaching. I just need to finish my degree and get some experience and then I'll apply.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Future of My Career

Sorry I'm so flaky on posting. I doubt I have any "regular" readers, so I doubt anyone actually missed my entries, but I apologize nonetheless. I have made some career plans recently that may be taking me in a totally different direction than I thought I'd go for a LONG time.

First, a little background. If you know me in person or have followed me on social media or this blog for a long time you'll know that I'm currently serving as a linguist in the US Air Force (USAF). Technically the name for my job is "Airborne Cryptologic Language Analyst" but that's a mouthful. Linguist is simpler ... though technically incorrect as I'm not really a student of language as the term "linguist" means. Regardless, I digress. I've been an enlisted military linguist for going on eleven and a half years at the time of this writing. I've often joked that I would have signed a twenty-year contract when I first enlisted. At the time I was certain that I wanted to be a linguist and that I wanted to retire from the military. However, I've recently completely changed my mind. I've thought about this before. I've looked into various commissioned officer programs. I first tried to just get my bachelor's degree so I could apply for Officer Training School. When deploying to the Middle East derailed my educational goals, I sought for another option. I tried to get in an application for the Airman Education and Commissioning Program (AECP) (formerly called the "bootstrap" program). This route to commissioning, at first, wasn't available to me. I am a Korean linguist and as such the AECP wasn't open to me. Chinese was on the language degree lists when I first looked into the AECP, but it wasn't until I was nearing the age cutoff that Korean was added to the list. I never completed my application because the bureaucratic nonsense that is commissioning programs got in the way, and I passed the age waiver (sort of, I deployed and moved overseas, both of which interfered). About that time I gave up on my dreams of commissioning. Though I looked into other programs (the nursing program and chaplaincy program both came up), I didn't think I could make all the requirements for them.

However, three major things just recently changed my mind. First off, my position at my unit has steadily and inexorably gotten worse and worse. I feel like I have been passed over for multiple positions. I've sort of been shafted by being placed in (and somewhat in charge of) one of the toughest offices in the unit. These things and some others have really struck me hard because I'm a very hard worker. I think nothing of staying late, working weekends and holidays, and I intentionally shield my subordinates from the most trying parts of the job. I work in the scheduling office (over the last year) and as just an example, this past Christmas I worked my tail off. I went in on Christmas eve, Christmas day, the day after, and the day after that. We were supposed to get a four-day weekend (Monday and Tuesday were "down days," basically free leave days for holidays). So, on a four-day weekend for the holiday, I worked every day. Now, I didn't go in all day each day. I went in only a couple hours on Christmas eve, about five hours on Christmas day and only a couple hours the two following days. Regardless, I didn't get a holiday at all really. I had to go in and make multiple phone calls for schedule changes all weekend. I did this voluntarily because I didn't want my subordinates to lose their holiday. Basically, I'm saying I work my butt off, but it doesn't matter, I've been passed over for upgraded positions and marked down on my performance report. One quick addendum since I first wrote this piece. I have just recently been selected for an upgrade position. I start training this year in August. Though I've asked for this upgrade, I doubt very much that this change in position will effect my career plans in any way.

Secondly, my good friend recently punched his ticket and went for this. His daring willingness to serve God has inspired me. He got out, he had served as an enlisted member for about twelve years (I'll be at about fourteen when I reach the end of my enlistment), and he got out and is now attending Liberty University Seminary full-time. He plans on finishing his M.Div. degree and applying for chaplaincy in the USAF. I want to follow his footsteps (though I'm thinking of going to Denver Seminary).

Thirdly, and this one is the oddest one, I ran into a vociferous liberal chaplain. He spoke of being proud that he was the only (military) chaplain on Okinawa that would perform same-sex marriage ceremonies or counsel same-sex couples on marital issues. Two things in our conversation really spurred me on to this career change. One is that Bible-believing chaplains need to be strong in the military if only to respond to people like that liberal chaplain I met. Not unlike CS Lewis' comments about philosophy: "Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered." I feel that one can substitute "chaplains" for "philosophy." Secondly, and this was huge(!), I found out that one can complete one's ministry experience preparation simultaneously with one's seminary attendance. One of the most important prerequisites for becoming a military chaplain is two years of practical ministry experience. When I first looked into military chaplaincy I considered the way closed to me because I didn't think I would be able to support my family while getting that experience. I was worried that if I tried to become a chaplain I'd have to find some way to support my family for about four years without a job (two in seminary and two getting ministry experience). Armed with this knowledge I now know I only have to do two years "unemployed" or "minimally employed" while getting the requisite credentials.

So, here's the plan ... I'm planning on finishing out my current enlistment (separation date: Aug 2020). Immediately upon separating I'm planning on enrolling in seminary (where is still up in the air). While in seminary I'm going to seek part-time ministry at a church. As soon as I finish my M.Div. degree and have the requisite two years of ministry experience I am planning on getting ordained (sponsored) and rejoin the USAF as a chaplain. From the time I rejoin, I will only have to serve about six years and I'll be eligible for retirement from the military, and I plan on doing so. After that, I'm not sure. Maybe working as a chaplain will fit me so well that I keep going until the military kicks me out for being too old ... I don't know. I've been told by several people that I'd make a good chaplain. And, based on some of the above description of what's going on with my current job, I'm immensely more excited about a career as a chaplain than I've been about being a linguist since when I was in language school.

Is this God's will for my life? Well, I'm not certain. I think so, and as I said I've been encouraged by multiple people that it is. However, my wife has proposed a kind of fleece (as the story of Gideon setting out the fleece to test God's will/message). Basically, it goes like this. IF at the end of this overseas assignment (March 2019) I get an assignment to the language institute in Monterey, CA (DLI), I'll take that as God's saying, "stay where you are." I've wanted to teach at DLI since I attended from 2006-2008. If God wants me to stay a linguist, He'll open up that path for me to continue in this job. If I get the assignment to teach at DLI, I'll, more than likely, stay as an enlisted military linguist until 2026 when I retire. Again, after that, I have no idea what I want to do. That's too far in the future to really make plans. Given all this I think "chaplain Sam" or "chaplain Ronicker" has a good ring to it, doesn't it? We'll see.