Today I received orders for my first active duty Chaplain tour. Praise God! It’s a three-year billet at Commander Fleet Activities Chinhae, South Korea. I’m ordered to detach from NAS Whidbey Island sometime in August and attach to COMFLEACT CHINHAE sometime in September.
We’re thrilled to be going to Korea! Both the Detailer and the Chaplain in Korea that I’m relieving told me this is an O-4 billet (one rank above me) and an overseas tour, which are both good things. They said it’s a duel-hat billet with high-visibility because not only will I be the Command Chaplain there at the base in Chinhae, but as the only US Navy Chaplain in the entire country of Korea, I’ll also be on the Admiral’s staff as the Region Chaplain. Not bad! They said I’ll be ministering to the US Navy ships and flight crews coming in and out of Korea during their deployments, as well as organizing community relations projects. COMRELs are projects that US Navy sailors do around the country to develop stronger ties between the government/people of the US and Korea. I will also be working closely with the Korean Navy Chaplains, and the US Army and Air Force Chaplains in the country. Everyone I’ve talked to and sought advice from has said this is a great billet, so for now I have to take their word for it.
So now we once again begin running around like chickens with our heads cut off. All five of us will need to go through a screening process to ensure we’re medically okay to live overseas for the next three years. We’ll need to get everyone passports and I will need to start turning over and checking out of my command here. We also need to begin packing up our house. You won’t believe this, but the Navy won’t ship our belongings to Korea – they provide fully furnished houses over there to save on shipping costs – which means that yes, we’re going to have to put all our stuff back in storage here in the US! Ha! (For those of you keeping track at home, that will mean in a 5 year period from 2012 to 2017 we will have had our stuff out of storage for a total of 5 months!) We will also have to store one of our cars since the Navy will only ship one vehicle to Korea. Please pray that the Navy will store our belongings in a weather-proof location!
I know there will be much more to report on as we transition from here to Chinhae, so we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop. In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking about coming up and visiting us on beautiful Whidbey Island, you only have a couple more weeks before we’re gone!
-Zak (and family)