I Have Controls!

Displaying Fitted to Fly.jpgNavy Chaplain, Roy Fondren, is currently assigned to the Naval Flight Training facility at Naval Air Station, Whiting Field.  To enable him to identify with both flight students and instructor pilots, he’s been placed in “Student Pilot” status.  Though fun and exciting, pilot training has its risky “moments.”  Following is a weekly devotional that comes out of one Roy’s recent training experiences”

Good morning Leaders.

Last week I had my first dance with the T-57B and I was MIND BLOWN with both excitement and nervousness!  ENS Heneveld and LT Ryan Ross (HT-18) were the SNA/IP Team I spent time with during the Brief, Pre-checks and Hot Seat.  During the Brief, I was taking copious notes and asking clarifying questions of some of the confusing language much like I did during Hebrew class.  I ended up picking up some foundational knowledge of the scheme of maneuver and functional operations of the helicopter and I was JUICED!!  I left the Brief excited and repeating Ditty’s such as “Tower, this is 187 and we are at Min Fuel,” “The TRIM is the magnetic brake that…” “Twist Grip full open not to exceed 40” and so forth!  I knew I’d get a chance to participate in the X with some Landing and Hovering but it was with complete humility that I even entered into the cockpit because I knew I was COMPLETELY depended upon Ross to keep my life safe and complete the mission.  He talked me through the Instrument Panel and EP’s before heading to Spencer where he demonstrated the pedals, collective, and cyclic before incrementally relinquishing them to me in the same order.  I lifted off and landed a few times pretty well which manifested a slight rise in confidence.  Then I was told to hover…  It took all of two seconds of trying to hover before there was too much left pedal, too much forward cyclic and too much collective compensation which resulted in the helicopter IMMEDIATEDLY doing the Funky Chicken.   :/

It was at that exact moment that I heard a voice say “I Have Controls” as the Helicopter began to spin out of control!  I instantaneously surrendered controls, fear-filled yet thankful I had a proven Pilot FULLY capable of controlling and restoring the situation!  LT Ross took charge, steadied the bird and my heart, and calmly talked me through where things went awry as he masterfully reset our course!  That moment revealed a practical and relatable truth with regards to our lives.  As free willed people, we have the ability to participate in our own lives by taking the controls and [doing our best] not to crash and complete the mission of life before us.  Or, we can participate in life by [placing our FULL trust in] God as our soul’s Instructor Pilot, as He successfully navigates our lives into the fullness of His will for us.   And rather than relinquishing controls [when] our lives begin to spin chaotically, we should daily seek to find and forever enjoy the confidence and peace experienced, when God has control of our lives’ as the Divinely proven IP!

Is there an aspect of your life that’s spinning out of control or not a smooth as you’d like it? Is God saying “I Have Controls?”  Is there a need for you to surrender your own will for the restoring instruction of His for your life? I pray that this week and forever more, as we participate in the plans and purposes of life God has for us; moment by moment we do so wholeheartedly trusting and allowing Him to guide our lives into His perfect will…not just when our efforts result in chaos.

Blessings and Respect, thank you for your service and early Happy Veteran’s Day!

Chaplain Fondren
LT/USN

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will guide your path.”  Prov 3:5-6 “Heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the man who listens to me…” Prob 8:33-34a

Chaplain Fondren’s experience in flight training is a cogent reminder that chaplains face risky situations, daily.  Whether in the air, on land, or on or under the sea; whether visiting sick patients in hospitals and ERs, on “ride alongs” with law enforcement personnel, in prisons, jails, or on long dusty trails with veterans “walking off the war,” your chaplains expose themselves to a measure of risk each and every day.  Without faith and courage in the Lord who has the “controls” of life, they cannot perform their ministries.  Pray for that balance of courage and wisdom that is needed to carry out their respective ministries.

If you sense the Lord’s leading into ministry that is sometimes “on the edge,” contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@CBAmerica.org, or click the link to the CBAmerica, brochure entitled, “Endorsement: What Is It? What’s It’s Not.  How Long It Takes.”

Displaying CHC Fondren_Student.Aviator. Status. NAS.Whting.jpg

Holy Smoke, Batman!

HolyGreetings, from Bahrain!

Well, we have completed our first month of deployment here in Bahrain. For me it has been a slow start since I have to wait to learn the rhythm of the Squadron before I can adjust to serve the Marines and Sailors effectively and efficiently. We have been busy though setting up our office spaces and implementing our services of ministry opportunities and relationship building activities. I am not conducting any religious services during our time here because there is a Chaplain that is assigned to the base whose role is to provide services so we fall into his Sunday service as well as weekly Bible Studies.

I have started the Holy Smokes Fellowship which is a weekly cigar smoke to allow Marines to get away from the business of deployment and sit back, relax and enjoy time building relationships with other Marines and myself. We have a steady group of about seven Marines that are coming each week to that and we hope to continue to grow but are excited about the seven that are coming.

We have, in our office space, a care package corner where we have shelves full of hygiene, snacks and other entertainment items (books, magazines, movies) for the Marines to take and use. We also have a coffee mess for them to use. These things are great because it allows me the opportunity to see the Marines and interact with them when they come into the office.

We have started doing some cultural tours around the island of Bahrain. We are visiting different sites to allow the Marines to get to know the location and culture of where we are in the world. It is a very different place than what we are used to. It is enjoyable time to get off base and take the Marines to these locations and help them to see something that is new. On the first trip we went to the Bahrain Fort, the Souq (Market), and the King’s Camel

This month was Halloween so the Religious Program Specialist, two other Marines and I conducted a reverse trick-or-treat. A reverse trick-or-treat is where we dress up in costumes and bring candy to the Marines. It was awesome to see the smiles and the laughing because of how ridiculous we looked; but it was worth it.

We have a good schedule out here and it allows for some free time in the evenings to do whatever we need to. I have been doing really well with going to the gym 2 times a day for most of the first month and have lost about 12 lbs. already and plan to lose more as we continue. I have also had the time to get some reading in and have already read a couple of books and keep on reading. The food is good here which means I have to pay attention because it could be contrary to my goal to lose weight! We also have good internet connections in our rooms so I have the ability to skype and email my family regularly so that has been a joy to get to see my family.

The family is doing well in Indiana, staying with my wife’s mom. It is starting to get colder but they are using every moment they can, while the temperature is good, to play outside and go to the zoo. Everyone is getting bigger, especially Avery who is 10 months now. Liz sends me lots of pictures and sends me care packages with letters and art from kids so I can enjoy their many talents. They have even sent me some Lego sets so I can have fun as well!

Thank you for your continued support of love and prayers. Keep them coming. Below I have made a few lists of prayer requests and also items that can be sent in care packages if you desire to send some.

Prayer Requests

  • Safety of our Marines standing post and traveling
  • Safety of Families back home
  • Relationships that are struggling
  • Opportunities to tell Marines about Christ/ encourage them in their faith

 

Care Package Needs

  • Hygiene items – liquid soap, shaving cream, razors, foot powder, tooth brushes, tooth paste, mouth wash, hand sanitizers, lotion, shower shoes, sun screen.
  • Food – snacks, candy bars, drink mixes, coffee supplies (Sugars, creamers, NO coffee)
  • Entertainment – Books, movies, CDs, board games, musical instruments, thank you cards.
  • Holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year decorations. Cards to Marines and blank cards for them to send home.

 

Send items to:

Chaplain Boon, Nathan
SPMAGTF MWSS 372 (Bravo Co)
Unit 10189
FPO AP 96610-0189

Smoke Batman

 

Ministering to Suffering Children and Parents

nationwide-childrens-logoOne of the most difficult things for adults to endure is the suffering of children.  Over the years, while standing at bedside, I have heard many parents exclaim through tears, “If only I could take my child’s pain, I would.  I can’t bear to watch her suffering so.”   Chaplain David Kuntz’ daily ministry involves the suffering of children and their parents.  He is a staff chaplain at Nationwide Children’s Hospital; a primary pediatric hospital in Columbus, Ohio, with more than 1,170 medical staff members and nearly 10,000 total employees.

Imagine walking down a hospital corridor, and a public affairs specialist calls you over for an “on-the-spot” interview.  The journalist says, “For the record, would you share a little bit about why you like being a chaplain?”  To read David’s response, follow this link to his interview in Nationwide Children’s Hospital “Employee News Update.”

I invite you to join me in praying for “Reverend David,” as he ministers non-stop to children, parents, and other loved ones, as well as to the 10,000 employees of that amazing hospital.  Pray that he would have open eyes, ears, and heart to discern the spiritual needs of each one he encounters.   Pray that each one will eventually open their hearts to Jesus.

Pray also for David as he has applied for commissioning as an Army Reserve chaplain.  The review board meets the first week of November.  I believe David will make an effective reserve military chaplain.  Join me in praying that the members of the chaplains board will agree.

Chaplain Andy Meverden
Director of Chaplaincy
CBAmerica.org

For more information about CBAmerica Chaplaincy and what’s involved in seeking endorsement, contact Chaplain Andy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

David
Reverend David

 

Veterans Day, Every Day: Visiting Colorado State Veterans Homes

Andy and MyraBy Chaplain, (Colonel) Andy Meverden, US Army, Retired*
October 22, 2015

Once a month, my wife and I help out with Bingo at the Colorado State Veterans Home on the old Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center grounds.  The once imposing multi-story, stone, Fitzsimmons Army Hospital is now dwarfed by the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, the infamous over-budget VA Hospital, and dozens of other structures of this emerging “Medical City.”   Except for a newly built Army Reserve Readiness Center, most vestiges of Fitzsimmons’ storied military past, are, as we say, “history.”  But in a small section of “Fitz” is a living national treasure; a place where old Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Merchant Marines, and their spouses come to “fade away.”

My perspective is unique.  For eight consecutive years, while serving as Command Chaplain for the Colorado National Guard, under Air Force Major General, H. Michael Edwards (Call sign: “Farmer”), the Adjutant General of the State of Colorado, I had the privilege of visiting all five of Colorado’s State Veterans Homes annually; in Florence, Walsenburg, Home Lake, Craig and the one in Denver at Fitzsimmons.  And almost always, weather permitting, we flew in by Blackhawk helicopter.  Our two-ship mission, loaded with Colorado Generals, State leaders, Army and Air staff, and me as chaplain, flew from Denver each year to visit some of Colorado’s senior Great Americans.

Imagine approaching at 150 knots, descending from cruising altitude to about 300 feet above the Veterans facility, residents and staff gathered outside, waving and clapping, as we circled overhead.  After landing in a nearby field, 10-20 passengers “assault” the gathered residents, greeting, and catching up since last visit.  The staff looks on as uniformed personnel and other civilians work their way through those able to be outside, mostly in wheel chairs.  After a time, the Facility Director invites us in for a “visit.”  I usually pushed a wheelchair-bound Veteran inside.

Over the years, I’ve met Veterans from WW2, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, and their widows.  Some were missing limbs.  Many bald heads bore telltale scares.  Some could not speak.  Others told stories of service in the Pacific; its jungle-covered islands, and the sands of Iwo Jima, Tarawa, Tinian, Saipan, Okinawa, Guam, and the frozen Aleutians.  I heard harrowing sea stories from Sailors, Submariners and Naval Aviators.  Others spoke of Europe, fighting across North Africa, Sicily, Anzio, or up through Italy or Southern France. Some told of the horrors of Normandy, D-Day, D+1, D+2, and the fight across France into Belgium, the Battle of the Bulge, and eventually Germany. I was surprised by the number of aviators, pilots, crewmembers, gunners and bombardiers.  Some were shot down; most of these captured and imprisoned.  Others spoke of the cold snowy mountains of the Korean peninsula, and how they fought unprepared with leftover equipment from WW2 in “Task Force Smith.”  I heard of the horrors and heroism in the jungles of Vietnam.  Some were officers, most were enlisted.  All were great Americans who shaped our history and maintained our freedom.  And I was privileged to hear their stories first-hand. These annual visits became a highlight of my chaplaincy.

As the years passed, we would return and reconnect with the resident Veterans.  Many wanted to see “the General” who would spend time with everyone who wanted to see him; even those who didn’t know he was a “General.”  The nursing staff would often take me to the rooms of residents unable to get out of bed.  There I would kneel at bedside, visit, and offer a word of comfort or prayer.  Too often on a visit, we’d ask about a particular resident, and get the sad news of their passing.  We missed seeing them, sometimes by only a few weeks or days.  That was a sad part of our visits, yet we were thankful we got to know them while they were still alive.

Typically flying to two or three Veterans Homes each day, we were “herded” by the Deputy Director of Military and Veterans Affairs, USAF Retired Chief Master Sergeant, Mickey Hunt, and Legislative Liaison, Greg Dorman.  Occasionally, I was the last one to board the waiting helicopters, but usually it was “the General” holding up departure.   Both sons of WW2 Veterans, Maj Gen Edwards and I held the sacrifice of our parents’ generation in high esteem.  We treated these Veterans and spouses like we would want our fathers and mothers treated – according to “The Golden Rule.”  Often, while walking back, “The General” and I would share stories of those we had visited: “Did you meet that Army Air Corps pilot that was shot down over Germany?”  “Yeah, and did you meet the Veteran with 17 children?”

In September of 2014, I made my last aerial visits to all five Colorado Veterans Homes.  I asked two successor chaplains to come along.  On this last visit, I decided to take my time and let the other chaplains circulate.  I sat with fewer Veterans, asked more questions and listened more patiently.  Each story was precious.   Our last stop was Fitzsimmons.  Due to the new taller buildings adjacent to the facility, our skilled, combat-proven Army Guard pilots executed safe, yet technical approaches and landings onto the grassy field between the facility and tree-lined golf course across the street.  After the visit, with angelic skill, we flew straight up 100 feet before making our signature “victory lap” while waving to the Veterans, widows, and staff below.  As I waved good-bye, a tear ran down my cheek.  It would be my last “air assault” of a Veterans’ home.

Last Wednesday, I accompanied my wife, Myra, who is the volunteer chaplain for the Rocky Mountain Submarine Veterans group.  She joined them several years ago as an associate member, and a few years later, they elected her their chaplain.  Last year I joined, as her “RP” (Religious Program Specialist – the Navy term for a chaplain assistant).  My main job is to drive her, and protect her from Sailors – just kidding!  Whenever I can, I like to help with Bingo.  I got to call the numbers once, but usually I help the residents who can’t hear or see very well.  I always come away blessed.

Today, I helped a 94 year old WW2 infantryman named Harry play Bingo.  He couldn’t hear the caller, so I touched the numbers and let him mark his card.  Sometimes I moved the card a little closer so he could reach it; just far enough so he’d have to stretch a little.  During the session, I asked him a few questions about his military service.  He struggled to tell me how he served under Patton and came ashore on the 2nd or 3rd wave into Normandy. When I thanked him for his service, he said, “I didn’t do much.” Yeah, right. He just helped save the world from fascist domination!  May God bless your remaining days on earth, until the Lord welcomes you into Heaven.

I’m thankful that God’s plan for my post-military career allows me time to visit Colorado’s State Veterans Homes!  I think it will make it easier for me, when my time comes to fade away.

____________________

*Chaplain Meverden currently serves as Director of Chaplaincy for CBAmerica, an association of 1200 churches across the US, that endorses 200+ chaplains in the Military, Bureau of Prisons, Veterans Health Administration, and Civil Air Patrol, as well as civilian hospitals, hospices, law enforcement agencies, State prisons, rescue missions, Veterans groups, motor sports and wounded warrior outreach.  His 26 years of Army Guard and Reserve chaplaincy prepared him for this undertaking, as did his visits to the Colorado State Veterans Homes.  Chaplain Andy’s wife, Myra, is a volunteer chaplain with the Rocky Mountain Submarine Veterans.  She was endorsed by CBAmerica in 2012.