30 June 2011

“Beast” Day 4 – West Point

I was formally introduced to the TAC in my company today. They're a great group of cadets - mostly third-year Cadets leading the NCs (we call the 3rd year cadets "cows").
I also met w/ CH Kumai, got some great pointers on where and how to minister at West Point, and set up a meeting time twice a week (Tue/Thur) to keep him updated on how things are going.

The CC team took a tour of the Cadet Chapel, and then the West Point cemetery in the late morning. See the photos I took - one of Anna Warner's marker, as well as GEN Custer's.
Some history about the Cadet Chapel:
It was completed in 1910, but beginning of 1910(through 1976), each graduating class would donated a pane of stained glass for the windows. The price ($300 for the pane) never changed from the distributor as the years went on (which was a ministry in itself on their behalf). Can you imagine the cost of those windows now?! This church boasts the largest church pipe organ in the WORLD as well!

Visiting the barracks in the evening will become a routine for some of us I think. There is a small slot of white space before taps, where we can talk to the NCs before they go to bed. We have also been using this time to check in with the cadet counselor, and the rest of the TAC as well.

So the CCs here will be functioning like a BN CH during this practicum. I learned today that there are 10 Chaplains on post. We also have a civilian brigade/installation chaplain as well (Father Wood). Each has a specific role and duty on post.

29 June 2011

“Beast” Day 3 – West Point

The morning couldn’t come soon enough! I was stoked to continue my in-processing, to get to know my fellow CCs better, and to get out there and meet the New Cadets (NCs). We met in the morning, and took an informal tour of parts of West Point. We started at the Cadet Chapel (see video and pictures below).
We toured some of the campus, including the newer West Point library (my favorite building on campus besides the Cadet Chapel).
We also were able to eat inside the mess hall for lunch. You wouldn't normally think much of a mess hall, but this one was full of history, rich in stories, and absolutely beautiful. Each mural, stained glass window, and flag has a story to tell.
Because there are nine CCs and 8 companies of New Cadets, each one of us was assigned a company, with on CC acting as a floater between the New Cadets, Camp Buckner (with the Yearlings), and Air Assault School possibly. I was assigned to the Alpha Company. We're the 1st Cavalry (First Team!). I don't want to be biased here...but we are definitely high speed! We were also all assigned a supervisory chaplain. I report to CH Kumai, one of the Catholic chaplains on post. CH Berghaus remains our overarching supervisory chaplain for all meetings, events, and services however.

In the evening, some of us attending a suicide briefing, given by CH Bergaus to the NCs. We passed out information, and was able to witness another tool/presentation that chaplains use for this awareness briefing. This was one of the better suicide prevention briefings that I've seen so far IMHO. I'll have to add this to my collection.
Looking forward to another big day tomorrow!

28 June 2011

“Beast” Day 2 – West Point

It was another day of in-processing. We met up at the Chaplain's Office, met some of the staff and other chaplains, and had a long meeting as to what our roles will look like here at West Point. We will finalize all details tomorrow.

In the evening, CH (COL) Durham (our USMA Chaplain) gave a religious accommodation briefing to the NCs in Robinson Auditorium. We passed out religious preference cards, in order to better facilitate the needs of our 1,200 NCs. The NCs were able to see the CCs there (us), so this was our first real interaction with them. I can't wait to be formally introduced to my company.
I'm really enjoying my time here, though I do miss my family. All of the Chaplain Candidates here are married, and all but one of us have kids as well, so it's great that we can all relate to each other when it comes to family life.

Trying to roll

27 June 2011


Here are a few videos to help you better understand what these New Cadets (NCs) will be doing here.

“Beast” Day 1 – West Point

Morning arrived! I was eager to report for duty. My orders stated to report at 1300 (1pm), so I had the morning to relax, find breakfast, and get situated. I didn’t take any pictures today because I was so busy getting acquainted here, and totally forgot to take my camera with. I was told that West Point was a small campus. That may be compared to JBLM or Ft. Jackson, but this campus is big enough IMHO. It’s easy to get turned around on the roads here. The PX was recently moved quite a distance (about 2 miles) from quarters, so it took some orienteering to locate that as well. Fortunately, fuel here is cheaper than most of NY. I think it’s at 3.81, and 5 cents off that with the military credit card.
Well, 1300 rolled around, and I made my way to the Chaplain’s office. Before driving over, I met LT Scott Hurst, another CC assigned here for 30 days (there will be nine of us total). I remembered him from CH-BOLC last summer, so it was great to see him again. He was one of two CCs who flew here, so since he didn’t have a car, I took him over to the office as well.
We arrived, only to discover that the office was LOCKED! Fortunately, we met up with more of our CH-BOLC friends, LTs Don and Kyndalin Mooney (married couple). They both have over 20 years of prior service, so it was an honor to be teamed up with them this summer as well. The rest of the CCs began trickling in as we waited there…wondering what to do next! We discovered that there was another Chaplain office a couple blocks away, but two of the other CCs (Matt and C.J.) said no one was there either. (We discovered later that there is yet another Chaplain office in addition to these two – a Catholic office, but that’s beside the point!)
We stood around, saluting many Cadets in the process, until we decided to report back the following day in the morning. We weren’t able to reach any of our POCs by phone either. We exchanged numbers and went our separate ways, exploring the West Point campus and its beauty and history.
Some of us grabbed lunch at Grant Hall, while CJ and I went back to check the 2nd Chaplain office that he had visited before. We ended up running into a Chaplain’s Assistant, who told us that our POC Chaplain was conducting services at the Cadet Chapel, and that we should report there. This Monday turned out to be a busy/hectic day for most of the staff on post. This is the first day of "Beast" (or CBT - Cadet Basic Training), the first day being known as “R” day. Today is when the New Cadets arrive and report in the AM, while many of their parents wait until evening, when the New Cadets march on the field (known as the “Plain”) and take their oath to begin their process as New Cadets. It’s amazing to see what the Cadre can do with these young men and women in one day!
So, the CCs regrouped, ate some free food (subs in the Chaplain fridge), and headed over to the Cadet Chapel via the Chaplain van! We were introduced to the USMA (United States Military Academy) Chaplain’s wife (Mrs. Durham), and were invited in to their house. Their home is actually attached to the old Cadet Chapel! Many buildings here are made from granite here btw! It’s beautiful!
The time finally came when we were introduced to our Chaplain Supervisor, CH (MAJ) Berghaus. We had introductions, some casual small talk, a brief outline of the week, and then decided to report back tomorrow morning, where we would begin the in-processing. Five of us CCs are stationed here on post, one CC stationed at the West Point quarters just off post, another CC at a Holiday Inn a few miles off post, while the Mooney’s have a (very nice) hotel about 30 minutes from post! I for one am currently glad I’m on post, and easily accessible to any needs that may arise. On the other hand, going from the breakfast this morning, I’m pretty sure the CCs off post will have a better free meal every AM! I guess there’s always a give and take! I’m sure looking forward to tomorrow!

26 June 2011

Driving to West Point (part 2)

Today, I attended Mass with the Hocevar’s in downtown Cleveland. It was a treat to be introduced to a very historical and godly church in the heart of the city. After Mass, the Hocevar’s took me to lunch at Frank Sterle’s (my great-grandmother’s Slovenian maiden name)! The food was FANTASTIC!

If that wasn’t good enough, I had LEFTOVERS to take with me on the second leg of the road trip to West Point! I was so blessed to have this opportunity to spend with my friends on my journey to West Point! This brings me back on track: after lunch, I had to say goodbye to my dear friends.
To my delightful surprise, Barb packed me dinner in my portable cooler. Included inside was fruit, leftovers from lunch, and…wait for it…a LOAF of POTICA! I <3 you guys! I will be cherishing this loaf (for as long as I can make it last)! The drive to West Point, NY was smooth, with no problems. The A/C in my car is broken…but that’s no problem for me. It’s more of an issue for Lauren and Tirzah on long car rides. I arrived to West Point around 10:30pm. The post was incredibly dark and lacking street illumination. I couldn't see much at all while driving around. I finally found an entrance to Post, asked for directions to my quarters, and proceeded with caution, since my headlights were the only source of light. After driving for what seemed like forever, I found an MP (military police) officer and asked for further directions. He escorted me to my quarters (thank God), but then realized that I had to check-in to my quarters in a building OFF-POST first! So he gladly escorted me there as well. Praise God for a friendly escort! It was pretty easy after that. I was able to plug everything into my GPS so I wouldn’t get lost again. I’m looking forward to my first day on duty in the morning! Oh…I was warned about bears on post. Apparently a bear cub or two was spotted just the day before near my quarters! Sweet! I wonder what other wildlife I’ll see here?!

Meet Mr. Mushroom

Swinging at the park

25 June 2011

Driving to West Point (part 1)

The time has come for me to journey to West Point, NY to assist in a program called “The Beast.” This program is designed for New Cadets at West Point. The goal is at least two-fold: to filter out the uncommitted students, and to also develop and train our young men and women into professional and capable leaders of the United States Army. My job as a Chaplain Candidate is to provide spiritual support where possible, and to develop my own skills as a shepherd and guide. My orders are for 30 days, beginning this coming Monday. Oh yes – and I’ll be driving there – 14 hours one way!
Because of the long drive, I decided to take my time getting there, using the weekend as my buffer. I have some friends in Cleveland who was part of the RVL Israel team in the fall of 2009. The Hocevar family was extremely kind and generous to offer me a place to stay on my way to NY.
I left at 5:30am today, hoping to arrive around the lunch hour in Cleveland, OH, where my friends live. The traffic was extremely light at this time of day (being a Saturday morning), so I had no problems getting there. The tolls were insane however! I think I paid over $25! Praise God that the Army reimburses me at the end.
I arrived to the Hocevar’s just around lunch time. It was SO great to see my friends again! It was about 18 months since I had last seen them (on our Israel trip). David is around my age, and he works for his parents (John and Barb) at their insurance company. I guess technically he works for his dad, but Barb definitely plays a major role in the business as well :)

So I arrived to their beautiful home, and was greeted with the smell of steaks and chicken on the grill! David was the chef today, and boy was that a tasty dinner!
Next up for the day was a short drive over to a Slovenian celebration, to celebrate 20 years of Slovenian Statehood (independence from Yugoslavia) and 50 years of the Slovenska Pristava here in Cleveland. Little did I realize how much Slovenian blood I myself carry! It was truly an honor to witness this historic occasion of my cultural background. The Pristava here is beautiful! Click here for a link to their website! Some of the visitors to this party included:
the minister for Slovenes Abroad, Slovenian Ambassador to the United States, Slovenian Consul General, and the United States Ambassador to Slovenia! Click here for a PDF with my photo in it, as well as a better description of the event that took place!! I’m sitting next to my buddy David on the third page (look for the yellow arrow pointing).

So that was a wonderful afternoon/evening spent with my fellow Slovenian friends and family :)
After mingling for a while and attending the festivities, we went back home for the evening. Barb and David took me to the office, where we watched RVL’s latest DVDs on Israel! It sure brought make memories and brought everything back to life again! It was like having a mini-Bible study/Faith Lesson again together! I should also mention that the office is amazing! The landscaping and exterior/interior was all designed by John himself! Great work!

Feeding my Slovenian Hunger

For sure watch this first video! Amazing huh?!

13 June 2011

More MN

Tirzah did well on her third roundtrip travel to MN on the greyhound. We spent Friday evening with Lauren's family and her grandparents who are visiting from Georgia. On Saturday, Tirzah got to meet a baby boy her age. Jack and Tirzah sure were interested in one another. They held hands while staring into each other's eyes. We had a great time at Zeb and Sam's wedding Saturday evening. The lovely ceremony and reception were held on a little farm in Stillwater. The wedding pie was amazing! Late into the night, we hung out with Jon and Katie Brown and Lydia and Charles in Andover. Tirzah enjoyed attending college sunday school at Meadow Creek where she was, literally, passed around and took a good nap with Grandma. We went out to lunch and then shared pictures/videos with the McLellan family before going back home. Another wonderful trip to MN!

03 June 2011


Micah went skydiving yesterday at Skydive Midwest. No pictures (sorry), but it was a beautiful day to jump! He went with his buddy (and also co-worker) Tyrome ("The Falcon").

Yep - it was pretty amazing! The weather was warm, we ate at Chick-Fil-A, and the jump was a breeze! Thank you Groupon for the great deal! Can't wait to do that again!
- M+L

"Gonna Take a Walk Outside Today.

Gonna see what we can find today"