Hawaii 2010

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Conversations with Muslims

The Arizona Memorial was in our thoughts last week. One of the most moving afternoons of my life to see that place.

Each new experience I enter into, no matter how late in life, adds to my understanding and appreciation of humanity in all her complexity.

This week I shared a room with a misfit gang of Muslims worshippers, led by a volunteer chaplain, in their worship routines. Later this leader shared his own conversion from Roman Catholicism to embrace his ethnic roots and the Muslim faith.  He teaches peace and rejects the violence of the modern terrorists, and understand how hard it is for us outside his faith tradition to be trusting.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Joy and Fruit of Trimming Back

The pool is pretty but the water temp is 50 degrees, not swimming weather!!!

So, with a retirement budget, although we bought a resort to enjoy, and we are, we also cut back on what felt like outrageous expenses, like Dish Network.  It was up to more that 140 a month without any movie channels.

So we bought the new cool flat panel antennas that bring in over 30 HD channels, and another 30 plus from Sling TV. Over the last seven months of retirement we found ourselves watching less and enjoying everyday life of reading and talking more. We have to make an effort to switch to the internet channels and decide if we want to watch a movie or something special on HDTV.

Bottom line, I am less hooked on Channel surfing and even sports than ever before. I feel free.

With a pool and the very hot summer we were kind of stunned at our electricity bills this summer, so this fall and winter we are cutting back by allowing the house to chill down, using a small heater to warm up the bathroom, lots of covers for sleeping, and maybe a half hour when we are home cutting the chill off the home. Our bills are now really low and we get such a kick pretending we are being real tough.

Now that we are both back at work, we have no plans to return to those expense, but will enjoy saving for special dining experiences and really splurge filled vacations.

If you come visit we promise not to make you suffer with us.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Living in a different world

I am not free to share what goes on in my new ministry. Suffice it to say that each day is very interesting and full of unexpected conversations and routines to be learned.

The role of a Chaplain is unique in this setting in that so many people value the role you play, and respect you even if they have no interest in spiritual things.

Like my former life, I am working on Christmas again when Christmas hits of Sunday.

Speaking of that, I still remember the solemn Sunday Christmas when we heard about the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 that took so many lives in a manner of hours. I was so affected by the video captures of so many vacations that turned into nightmares in a moment. In a way it set me off on a deeper search into the meaning of suffering in human life.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Back to Work

Shannon and Gampa, several happy Christmases ago.

I have completed my orientation and begin my new work tomorrow. I am now an employee of CoreCivic, serving as the second full time Chaplain at the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy.

CoreCivic is a private Corporation that runs a 2000 man Correctional Facility 40 miles south of Sun Lakes, a lovely quiet drive that is not hard to make twice a day at all for a person motivated to work. They have facilities in 11 states and are the largest private rehabilitation company in the country formerly names Corrections Corporation of American, now CoreCivic to reflect a large move into leasing facilities back to states and running many new re-entry homes for those freed to return to the outside world.

I am on the Program staff and we have our own building that looks a lot like your High School Corridor with Classrooms, Computer training Room and Library. I am in the Chapel with a nice corner office where all the Religious Services and Bible Studies are held.

Next door I have teachers with strong Christian faith helping the men get their GEDs and for all, get an Arizona academic equivalency in English, Math and general studies. I will organize the various services run each week, respond to requests for Christian materials and provide counseling in my chapel and in the various housing pods. Next week I work with the present Chaplain before he moves to a new office and chapel in the expansion of the facility. He has been at it a while and will show me all I need to learn. I am also surrounded with lots of friendly, eager young men and women thankful for well paying jobs in Corrections, and a great seasoned staff that is like a big family.

The Private prison provides a place far more humane that most State run facilities, with AC and a staff well trained in keeping everyone safe while they pay for the crimes they committed with time.
I will not sugar coat the fact that some of the inmates have serious problems and violent pasts. My job begins with treating each of them with dignity and representing the Lord in my day to day movement throughout the facility, in the visitation rooms with families, and times when I bear hard news to those inside about something that has happened in their families.

There is also training in gardening, electrical work, construction, to give these younger offenders a chance for a better future. Years ago I took Prison Fellowship training and helped in a similar prison in Florence and always felt an interest in this type of work. Grateful that there is no age discrimination in this workplace that that they recognized my skills in relating to people and promoting personal faith in a tough place.

Laura is getting very busy as a sought after substitute and next week will teach full time for a quarter for a maternity leave. Our alarm clock is back in business.

I feel good about this decision and pray my health and strength will be adequate for the tasks ahead. The Company gives a very generous paid time off policy with each month you gain days of vacation, so maybe another trip to the Big Island will be in store for next summer or fall.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A new direction

Christmas 2010, how quickly kids grow up. Ben is 11 and Shannon is 17 today.

Talking to a man in his 80's who said he retired at 58 and never looked back, still commuting back and forth from AZ to Wisconsin and his inherited Green Bay Packers Season tickets. I did not know their was a 40,000 person waiting list for the season tickets.

Talked to a man in his mid 80s, who talked about how hard owning his own small business was and how he managed to lose so much money during the last decade of his working life,....and he is still working in the same business and loves it.

Talked to a man in his mid 70s, who never retired from ministry, and now comes to work early to be home for his ailing wife suffering from dementia.

Been wrestling with this for a long time, but I am just not ready to retire and sit around playing golf and relaxing. It just does not fulfill me.  I feel like I have so much to offer from my life of study and experience.

More to follow.