Tuesday, February 8th. It’s been 2 months 23 days since I stepped aboard Camp Lejeune as the Battalion Chaplain for 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (shortened I am now a member of 3/6, pronounced three-six).
Tuefelhunden – Devil Dogs. 3/6 earned its nickname and the Marine Corp by extension because of action that 3/6 took part in the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918. The heritage is long and proud; these are war-fighters and rough men. They are individually proud, and corporately filled with the honor of those who have worn the uniform before them. Our Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) strikes me as a man who was born into this life, and indeed the Marines do talk about the day they joined the Corp as their birthday. Not everyone is here for the same reasons though, there are some who seek a career, but others are simply passing though for various reasons, each their own and each as diverse as the men who wear the uniform.
As I test the waters and find myself slowly adjusting to this new culture I’m learning to strip away the superficial things of church and hold on to the essential of Christ-likeness. The fields are truly white. I’m challenged in virtually every part of my spirit to sift out the preferences and cling to the foundations of who I am in Christ. I’m quickly growing attached to these men that make up 3/6. The language is foul, the days are long, the danger is imminent and I’m hooked. On a daily basis I hear conversation that would cause a mother to roll over in her grave followed by a cursory “Sorry Chaps.”
What have I done:
- Gas Chamber (The funny thing is it was so cold outside that the day we did it most of us were more thankful to be in a room full of noxious fumes then outside in the fresh air.)
- Slept outside in 9 degree weather (You know its cold when you wake up with frost on your face)
- Spent 10 days in the field with no shower (God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt. Wonder if that applies to stench?)
- Counseled over 50 unique cases in 3 months; from the simple to the speechless.
- Officiated for the marriage of my wife’s sister -Clearly the hi-light of my first few months here.
- Shared my faith while wearing a flak jacket ( bulletproof vest)and kevlar helmet (Which is quite surreal if you think about it.)
- Sat in 2 hours of traffic every day for the past 3 months (That’s about 120 hrs over the past 2 ½ months.)
- Ate 250 meals, some out of bags (Mashed potatoes is better hot – Powdered eggs in a bag are not actually eggs)
- Slept far less then I’d like too.
What I am doing: Finally updating a blog that I should have updated 2 months ago.
What I will be doing:
- Spending another 15 days in a tent sometime soon.
- Enjoying a nice summer at 29 Palms (I’m told it can get warm.)
- And sometime this July I’ll be heading to Afghanistan – “The Sandbox” as its referred to here, for seven months.
I’m reminded as I write, that the plans of God are often not our own at first, most of the past few months have not been what I envisioned them to be. I’m surprised almost daily and yet I’m at peace, because I think as we submit to His will we find that slowly with much patience God is changing our plans to come in line with His own.
I stumble more then I run, still I endure; not for any noble pursuit or desire to shake the foundation of the world. No I endure, simply because I must; because in enduring I find His pleasure upon me. And in His pleasure is found peace, and a measure of Joy.
I find a theme echoing across my life in this season, and to any who would lend an ear I state as simply as I can:
Live for an audience of One.
In His Grips