Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Marine Corps Ball 2014 - Alpha Company

It is my honor and privilege to open up the Marine Corps Ball with the invocation.
It sets the tone, the intention for the night.
It can empower, motivate and inspire us to reach higher.

Below are the words I shared with my beloved Alpha company.


If you would join me in prayer:

Source of Strength,

You have given me the gift of a special heart - a warrior's heart.
I see danger and do not turn away.
I hear the sound of gunfire and maintain my composure.
Because you have a special place in Your heart for the devil dog.
Because my scars are sacred, earned defending the defenseless in the desert, in the water and in the air.
I heard Your call to make the world a better place, to stand up for those who can not, to bring peace where chaos rules.
I came running from hometown USA.
I left my family, friends, a different future for You.
Because Your call for freedom and justice and peace are my battle cry.
I know that You are with me every step of the way - from training, to outside the wire, to garrison to the unknown.
I know that you expect me to be my best, every minute of every day - because people rely on me and I can not let them or You down.
Thank you, God, for this heart that beats in my chest and being a part of a 239 year old tradition of honor, courage and commitment.
I am the Marine Corps.

Semper Fidelis,


me and my RPs

Seek (inner) Peace and Pursue It

In Jewish prayer books, after studying a piece of Torah, there is liturgy that says that we should be like Aaron the Priest: loving peace, pursue peace, love God's creations, and bringing ourselves closer to God.

Peace can mean many things.

This time, it is about finding inner peace.

Spending time with close friends and hiking through the northern most tip of Okinawa helped me find peace.

Okuma, the Air Force resort on island:

 Daiserizan (mountain with amazing rock formations)

The northern tip of Okinawa

The Okinawa bird, does not fly and protects the island

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Suicide Attempts and Taking the Win

This past week, I had my first suicidal ideation as a chaplain.

Without giving too much detail, the Marine barricaded himself in his bathroom, armed. 

A few hours later, he was escorted out, in custody with no injuries and no shots fired. 

It took me all day to process what I was a part of.
As an EMT, my job was to wait until I was called. 

During the Incident, my job WAS to f Ocus on the family and Support Them, even WHEN I knew nothing That WAS going on. Simply Being Present, WHEN there WAS nothing to say. Holding the Spouses hand, as she WAS Questioned by NCIS, or finding people to take care her children. 

After all is said and done, he is safe and getting the care he needs and the family will being to pick up the pieces from this and I will be there - as much or as little as they need me to be.

At the end of the day, as a mentor of mine said when putting all of this into a context I could understand, you take this as a win. Because there are going to be times when you do everything right, and you will lose.

Take the win, get some sleep and start the next day fresh.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Being A Part of Okinawan History - Tug of War

The largest Tug of War in the world happens everin Naha (on route 58)

[Thanks for the picture, Aimee.]

Everyone is invited to participate. The ceremony is meant to bring good luck to the island for the next year.

As East and West, we first work together to bring the two sides together, where a pin that weighs 365 kilos is inserted between the two.

This rope is huge! It is about 2.5 feet tall.

These gentlemen are our team leaders. They direct us and tell us when to pull. ("Roh Shoy")

Before the Tug of War begins, there is a battle of the flags. Both East and West have six.

Each side is represented by a different Ryukyu king. Notice that he is carried on a platform.

And that when he leaves, he does not turn his back on his enemy.

After 30 minutes, everyone were declared winners.

After the battle was over, everyone took pieces of the rope home as good luck.

 It is taking all of these cranes to remove the rope. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Taipei/Typhoon Fongwong

I took the recent 96 to Taipei. The timing could not have been more perfect. A super typhoon hit while I was away. 

I have discovered that part of my self-care is getting away from the island and having the ability to turn off my phone. 

There were temples everywhere. 
I was used to seeing Buddhist temples, but we ran into some Confucian temples as well. 


Taipei 101 reminded me of the Empire State Building, with its high end stores and an observatory on the top floor. It is purposefully in the shape of a bamboo.

Taipei is known for its night markets. There was food to eat, jade to buy, clothes and souvenirs.

This is the entrance to the Shinlin night market. It was outdoor and HUGE. You just keep walking and turning and there are more streets... When heading back to the subway station, that's when you realize how big this night market is.

I visited Dr. Sun Ya Tzen Memorial Park and Museum. His memorial reminds me of the Lincoln Memorial...

Except that there are two guards posted 24 hours a day. Every hour, they switch between the Army, Navy and Air Force. They drill with their riles with the bayonets attached and it was impressive to watch.

I have never seen art carved out of coral, until now.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Life's Balances

I try to balance work and recovery.
I really do!

I have failed in that I bought scuba gear and did not use them until a year later.

But the sunset that night, surrounded by friends reminds me that my soul requires nourishment and scuba diving brought me such peace that I had forgotten.

And catching a neighborhood festival that evening was only a bonus!

My Gunny

There are many Staff NCOs (non-commissioned officers, high ranking enlisted personnel) who I hold dear to me, who I trust and can speak with honestly and whose opinions and guidance I take seriously.

GySgt Shelton is one of them. She is the career planner and thank God for her.

We joke that they cry in my office and her office. And it is not surprising when, after they have cried, we send the Marine to the other one's office.

I could not be luckier to have a partner like her down the p-way (hallway).

And she's shorter than I am!