Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In the Navy

At the invitation of a friend, I recently went to Norfolk, VA, home of the world's largest naval base.

My friend is a Navy Chaplain (they call him "Chaps") who both loves what he does and is outstanding at what he does (two things which seem to routinely go together, by the way).

Some things I observed worth noting for those of us working in church-world:
  • There is an insane amount of preparation for a mission. In fact, there is as much activity on ships and on base before the mission as during the mission. The Chaplain said often going out to sea is relaxing compared to the pace of life when on shore.
  • Everyone knows what they are to do. Everyone's role is specific and very clearly outlined.
  • There is a constant flow of communication. They meet every day to coordinate who is doing what when and why. Interestingly, the officers each had two computers. One for regular email and the other for "secret" email. I wonder what the secrets are? Recipes for Navy Beans? Directions to the nearest Old Navy?
  • No duty is too small. We walked by several sailors doing dumpster duty. An aircraft carrier had just come into port and the sailors were disembarking and getting rid of their trash. With 5,000 souls on board, making sure the trash got into the right dumpster was pretty important.
  • Not sure if they were sorting it to recycle it, but it looked that way. Not a very fun duty though...
  • Taking care of what you've got. Whether it was a 25 year old ship being cleaned, shined, buffed and or the bodies of the sailors (people were running everywhere on base), they took care of their resources. While there, the Chaplain and I lifted weights (@ 0630) and went for a run (@ 1300), all of it "on the clock." Pastors could learn a lot from that.

An aircraft carrier--just massive. Pictures don't do it justice. The deck alone is 3.5 acres.

Chaps from behind and here (on the right) with the Quartermaster (the guy in charge of the maps). What you don't see just to the left is a screen with a little red sticker indicating that whatever is on the monitor is "SECRET." I tried to take a picture of it (it only had directions to the nearest Old Navy), but they both threatened to shoot me.
Cooler heads prevailed and I lived to blog another day.

The first picture is one of the ships my friend serves as a Chaplain, the USS Mason

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