Navy Chaplain Reflects on First Year with the Marines

By Chaplain Donald Nelson,
US Navy, 29 Palms Marine Corps Training Base

Hello from 29 Palms, California!

Over the past year I have served my first duty station as a Navy chaplain in Combat Logistics Battalion 7 (CLB7) at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twenty-Nine Palms, California.

Life in the desert can be challenging at times because of the distance from city life. The challenges are the extreme heat, being off the grid and far from urban amenities. The desert does have its perks, such as great hiking, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and the best nighttime view of the stars.

Training is the lifeblood of a Logistics Battalion. We are often in a supporting role to other units who come to train at our base. Serving and connecting with Marines and Sailors happens in a variety of ways; whether that be in the field or through “deck plate” (i.e. workplace) ministry.

Those relationships have strengthened my resiliency and challenged me physically.  Spiritually, God has been working on me and allowing me to experience the joys of serving the Marines and Sailors who God has placed in my path.  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (1 John 3:16).  I often remember this text when a challenge presents itself.  My RP (Religious Program Specialist/Navy Chaplain Assistant) often says, “this is good training.”  I have often borrowed this quote from him.

In trials and in times of celebrations I have been trying to cultivate a heart of gratitude.  This has helped me stay motivated.  Thanking God for those things we take for granted keeps me dependent on him, and my attitude upbeat. Marines and Sailors need a voice of encouragement.  As John Maxwell says, “Encouragement is oxygen for the Soul.”  This has been the greatest blessing; to add encouragement to the Marines and Sailors I support.

I pray God will continue to make me  a source of support and blessing to CLB7.  Pray for me, my Marines, and Sailors to grow in unity as a Battalion, and to be resiliently strong as we face the challenges that God puts in our path.

Praying with David, “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!”

Donald Nelson
Battalion Chaplain USN
August 2018

 

Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy adds: “The Navy provides chaplains for the Navy, Marine Corps, and US Coast Guard; thus a Navy chaplain potentially can serve tours in all three branches of the “sea services,” each with their own unique culture. Donald Nelson is the newest of sixteen CBAmerica Navy chaplains.  Join me in thanking God for a productive first year, remembering his prayer concerns shared above.”

For more stories by and about CBAmerica’s 195 chaplains, military and civilian, visit our website at www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. For information on chaplain endorsement, contact me at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

 

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