Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ouch! and Does anyone know how this works?

Well the second week is done and now there are only three more to go. My Senior Chief has really backed off this last week, but we all have a sneaky suspicion that he is coming back with a vengeance next week. Plus we all know at some time we have to go to the sand pit (what looks to be an old sand volleyball court that the Canadian Geese have been making use of). We owe our Senior Chief 210 8 count body builders for calling him "sir" 21 times since we have been here. It is hard to not say sir with someone who has authority over you yelling in your face or asking you a question, especially if you grew up in the south. But we have to learn that even if we are younger than alot of enlisted sailors we are still officers, and officers don't call enlisted people sir, especially chief's because "they work for a living" or at least that is what they say.

Ok so over a two day period last week I got 9 immunization shots. I don't really mind shots but after 9 it REALLY starts to hurt. My shoulder is still throbbing in pain, but now I should be immune to everything.

One part about ODS that is interesting is that every other student here is going directly from ODS to their ultimate duty station to begin work, except for the chaplains. Chaplains leave ODS and go to the other side of the base here in Newport and attend the Navy Chaplain School, which is a 7 week program if you are going to active duty. The crazy thing is that even though there are about 25 chaplains and chaplain candidates in my ODS class none of use have any idea about the details of Chaplain School. When can we report? Can we just go over the same day we graduate from ODS? Where are we staying? Do we get BAH or Per Diem? Do we get the full Per Diem rate, if we get it? Is Chaplain School like ODS? Does the Gunny yell at us all the time and "drop us"? None of us who are about to go through this have been given any information. We have all been reduced to talking about that guy we know who went through the school a year ago or two years ago, but all our second hand knowledge seems to be conflicting, so what is right? I guess this is the beginning of my military life, no one is going to give you the information you need you have to go from office to office, from call to call to get what you need.

It has been an interesting experience to talk to the other chaplains who are here and get their perspective on things. We are all under the "Christian" classification, but their are alot of traditions and theologies represented. I am eternally grateful for the grace I have received through the cross and that God has given me a desire to do nothing but exult Him through His word. Providentially I have a Father who has always directed me in that way and continues to do so even when we disagree on certain things. I have a loving and caring wife who is never afraid to challenge me and will let me know if I get away from the foundation of the Word, and I have wonderful friends who have driven me to deep thinking and hard work when it comes to taking the truth of scripture and preaching it in a clear, passionate way. (yes, especially you Chris....and Mike, Josh, Joe, Brian, and Zach)

I love you all.
God Bless
Joshua Earls

Romans 8:31-34
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Navy bearing

So one thing that the Chiefs keep yelling at us about is keeping our military bearing. For those of you who have no idea what that means, it is the idea that while in uniform you should especially conduct yourselves as Naval officers, no joking around, loud talking, talking in formation, wearing your uniform however you want, and so on. At first the constant reminding of my Navy bearing was a little annoying but I am beginning to see the necessity for it. As a Chaplain I will need to be a person who is approachable and easily talked too, but I also need to understand and keep military bearing in order to show that I am a Naval officer. I think that if I can keep those two in equal balance I might, by God's grace have a chance at being a good chaplain.

I also noticed that I haven't put down what a normal day is for me at ODS (officer development school), so here it is.
1) Reveille (wake up) at 0415
2) On the line (outside my door in PT gear) at 0445
3) March out to the PT field by 0500
4) PT for about 45 minuted and then on to chow at 0600
5) Chow last 15 minutes (no talking, of course) and then back to the house (our rooms)
6) Class starts at 0730 or 0800 depending on what day. (classes consist of military law, officer regulations, officer misconduct, ranks and structure, Naval warfare, and so on)
7) We will stay in class until chow at 1100
8) We might go back to class for the rest of the day at 1200 or we might have other things that must be done, like today we are all going to medical and getting 9, yes 9immunization shots
9) Back to the house around 1630 or 1700 and quickly get ready for chow
10) Chow at 1700 (again 15 minutes, no talking please)
11) 1730 back to the house to have LCPO time. This is time with our company Senior Chief. He will show us how uniforms are properly worn, or how marching is properly done, and a whole lot of other things.
12) By 2100 I am in bed, after I have snuck in a phone call to my wife (no cell phones allowed during the week) *Oh yeah no sleep, or interrupted sleep if you have duty. I had duty last night from 2345 to 245*

And that is a day in the life of LTJG Josh Earls Chaplain at ODS.

God Bless
Joshua Earls

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Beginning of Week 2

Ok, first to explain the picture below. We just got our uniforms this past Saturday and we have been wearing them for about 2 days now. As you can see I still look a bit sluggish in the Khaki uniform but I am getting it together. Also the picture was taken with the camera on my phone so the quality is bad.
Now on to my weekend. Well thank God for national holidays. Since it is memorial day on Monday our Senior Chief and all the staff wanted the weekend off, so even though it was our first weekend here we got three days off to our selves. When I say three days off don't misunderstand me and think that I am roaming around Newport at my own free will. We are allowed to go to three buildings on the base and we are to be studying for an exam that we have coming up on Wed. of this upcoming week. Apparently 80% of the students who come through ODS fail it the first time so who knows how it will go.
I went to church this morning on base, I actually went to mass with some Catholic chaplains and then stayed for the Protestant service as well. The preaching wasn't the best but it was a great feeling to be amongst a body of believers worshiping our God and King. During the service I really felt, through the Holy Spirit, that I was united with the body of Christ. I know that while I was worshiping in Newport, RI my wife was lifting her heart in Grand Rapids, MI, my friends were doing the same in Lynchburg, VA, and my parents were worshiping in Merced, CA. I know that no matter where the Lord takes me, even if it is away from my loving family for a short time, that we will always be united through Christ. He will be the true bond that holds us all together, and in Him we will all have a common heart and passion.
I thank you for your prayers as I have been going through the first part of the chaplaincy process. The days are long and I don't like being away from my wife and daughter, but hearts and lives are on the line: may God grant us strength to gather His crop.

God Bless
Joshua Earls

LTJG Earls (chaplain)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Navy Training

Ok, so I am blogging this during a break in my NKO (Navy Knowledge Online) training class. I have only been at ODS (Officer Development School) for three days. Sometimes it feels like three years and at other times it feels like three minutes.

I am so tired. I can never get enough rest to wake up at 0345 to the sound of my Senior Chief yelling at us. Marching is a little more difficult than I thought especially trying to remember all the responses we as a company are supposed to yell back to our drill leaders commands. Uniforms are given out and inspected on Sat. I don't think that I have ever polished shoes.

I am confident that once we all get into the grove of things that it will all get a bit easier and the time will consistently go by. I am just thankful I'm not with the OCS boys. The eat next to us everyday I still haven't decided if it is scary or funny.

I thank God for this opportunity and pray that he would give me the strength to be a reflection of His glory here at ODS and not just get through the program. Alot of my fellow students here need to see and feel the majestic glory of God.

God Bless
Joshua Earls

P.S. the swim qual. was fun, it was a chance to relax and get away from the craziness.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

First Day

Well today was my first day at ODS. I arrived last night around 10pm and soon found myself alone in my room unable to sleep because of the constant noise from outside(a storm was blowing) and because I could not stop thinking about my wife and baby. It was the first time in a long time that I felt alone.
Tomorrow is an admin day then Tues. 0400 it hits the fan.

During my time of feeling alone I thougt of my wonderful Annie alot and my beautiful Isabella. I also thought of all the great friends God has blessed me with. Josh thank you for the prayer, Mike thanks for the talk and Joe thanks for the time.

God Bless
Josh Earls

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Am I abandoning my family?

This question is not meant to be taken too seriously.  Of course I am not abandoning my family.  The facts of the situation are 1) that I have been ordered to go to Newport, RI for the next three months in order to complete my initial chaplain training, 2) I must do this training in order to become a Navy chaplain, and 3) my wife is completely supportive of my desire to go into the Navy as a chaplain, so I am not abandoning my family.  
With all that said though a part of my heart still feels as if I am leaving my family in order to go do something that I have dreamed of for the last 6 years.  The thought keeps running through my head that right now my 6 month old daughter Isabella is laughing, a little, and smiling, a little, and beginning to make more and more facial and body expressions, but by the time I see her next she will be much bigger than she is now, she will have a greater variety of noises and expressions, and I will have missed her going through steps of maturation.  I won't be there to cheer her on, to make funny faces at her, to tell her over and over that I love her, and to kiss her head and put her to sleep at night.  This is when I feel as if I am abandoning my family.  
But, and this is a big but.  I, and Annie, are confident that the desire we have for ministry in the Navy as a chaplain and a chaplain's wife has been given to us by God.  We are dedicated to the idea that we must go through and experience what every sailor goes through and experiences in order to effectively minister to them.  We are not out for the easy or convenient life, but a life that is meaningful and focused on the eternal.  Yes Christ calls us to come and follow Him, but He is very clear that life dedicated to His work will be difficult and at many times painful. (Mat. 10:34-39)
With grace upon grace Christ does not leave us in our fearful despair though, in Mark 10:28-30, Christ promises that whatever we have suffered or left for Him or the gospel, He will repay us a hundred times as much and in the life to come, eternal life.  What will we receive as a payment that is a hundred times greater than anything we have suffered or lost, it is Christ Himself and the eternal enjoyment of Him.  
Dear God give Annie and I a heart for you and the strength to focuses on you more and more throughout our time apart.

God Bless
Joshua Earls