Army Chaplains' Blog

Archive for October 2010

I have just submitted a review on the Blog to my Chain of Command and I would like to thank those of you who read, comment and general support the work of Army Chaplains…
To let you know, the Blog is going to continue, but to ensure you gain a wider perspective of the life of Army Chaplains, we are bringing some more Chaplains on board…so wait out!

It’s been great to blog over the past few months but one of the difficulties I have sometimes is writing in proper English rather than in ‘Army Speak’. It’s incredible how quickly you adopt the ‘speak’ of those around you. I remember back in Germany, my Husband suggested we went to German Language classes together. I have to confess, my reply was; ‘You learn German, I need to learn Army Speak’. I’d like to say that it didn’t take long to pick it up, but of course as with any culture it changes and develops all the time!

As well as Slang, there are so many Acronyms and they seem to change daily!! One week you are running a PFT (Physical Fitness Test) and then it becomes a PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment). Trouble is, calling it an Assessment rather than a Test doesn’t seem to make it any easier!!

Every rank becomes a series of random letters; RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) is maybe an easy one but RCMO? (Regimental Careers Management Officer) RAWO? (Regimental Accountant Warrant Officer) LAD (Light Aid Detachment) and even when you know what the letters stand for, it doesn’t mean life is any clearer! LAD, for example, belong to the REME, any clearer? Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Amongst other things they mend vehicles.

And then when it comes to remembering things they all become special phrases, E.g we teach Values and Standards and thus to aid the soldiers memories: SOLID C is: Self-less commitment; Respect of Others, Loyalty, Integrity, Discipline, Courage…and then of course there are our soldiers, each with their own Army Speak along with their own accents dialects and regional phrases.

E.G. Answers to asking soldiers how they are getting on in the beginning made no sense at all! Occasionally I heard the phrase; ‘happy days’ (good) but more often the reply was; ‘living the dream…’ – which is life’s not that great but kinda of ok ! Every once in a while I get ‘gleaming’ but that’s saved for just after pay day and leave around the corner!

So let’s put your minds to the test, if a soldier said the following to you, would you know what they meant; For Example; ‘I’m on womble duty outside the block but all I want is to monge’. Answer: ‘I’m picking up litter outside of the place where I live but I’d rather be resting and not doing much.’ Some phrases such as ‘Clip Order’ continue not to make much sense but you learn the meaning and end up using it yourself. ‘Being in Clip’ is they are in a bad way, probably injured from a run or something!

So to finish, how about this one; ‘You lunatic, you’re an admin vortex, but manup, there’s a brew over there, so fill you boots’. Answers not on a postcard but as a comment…Answer next blog!!

Last week I had the privilege of leading a Pre-Deployment Service for those who may be deploying to Afghanistan shortly. They have all been training hard and it has been good to see them working with such dedication. After sharing lunch with them (best chip sandwich in a while), and giving out mince pies and other Christmas goodies (after all they may be in Afghanistan by then), they settled on the bank. The service I did for St Georges Day had included ‘a Rap’ and many of them had challenged me to do another one, so as well as a talk, a reading, prayers and time for reflection, they received a Rap on the Prodigal Son. It all seemed to go down well and afterwards when they were offered New Testaments, Booklets and Haribo, interestingly they took the Haribo last! Many of them also kept the service books I had given out and all seemed to put the laminated Lords Prayer and Special Payer for the Fusiliers in their top pocket. Apart from it beginning to rain as soon as I opened my mouth, it all went well…what is it with the rain and me on exercise!!

As I left and looked back in my rear mirror, they were all gearing up to practise their patrols…Training continued…Meanwhile I spent more time with God with them in my hearts, remembering of course all of our soldiers currently deployed, those who have returned, and the families of those who are grieving. You may remember I used to share this Blog with Revd AFW – he has now deployed to Afghanistan and is doing well. More updates when I get them! Also…there should also be someone else contributing to this Blog soon, so if you’re bored of my babblings, there will be fresh spirit shortly!

Meanwhile, today I have been all over the Plain with 1RRF as they continue to provide valuable training for others soon to deploy. They have been playing the demanding role of the Taliban, Insurgents and Civ Pop as other units come and train. It was great to see them in action and when they had a break from being a Sniper, a fruit seller, an insurgent, and the like, although they were cold and tired they were still up for a chat and some Haribo! I even found some who in a serial were acting as Prisoners and the injured and they were very pleased to see a friendly face with sweets in hand!

Today like any other day, I continued to be amazed amongst our general chat, at how many questions I can be asked in the course of a few minutes. E.G. today alone: How do I go about getting a Wedding Blessing? I’m a Rastafarian, can I grow my hair? How do I get the paternity I am due? Can I have a transfer? I have failed my CDT but I don’t want to leave the army. How do I get my child baptised? Can I be in the Christmas Nativity? And then there are all the texts, but I won’t bore you…Here’s hoping it doesn’t rain for the rest of the week, when I continue to catch up with the guys!

Taking my husband to the Land Combat Power Demonstration day for Civilians was a grave mistake. I left him alone for two minutes and with my back turned, a Colour Sgt and Sgt Major had convinced him to buy a Chocolate fountain, several cakes and ‘brews’! I had been saying no to this same said fountain for over a year!! In fact it was a year ago I joined 1RRF and within the first hour I had someone trying to convince me to buy the same choccie fountain!! At least I suppose it was in aid of charity I guess.

In amongst fleecing my husband, 1RRF did a fantastic job demonstrating to hundreds of Civvies and Army Personnel the kit the Infantry use. We were joined by the Engineers, Army Air Corps and Logistics and it was great to see different elements of the British Army working together. We were also able to use the opportunity to raise hundreds of pounds for SAFFA, ABF and the Fallen Fusiliers Society.

Once again I was so proud to be with the Fusiliers. Anything they do is done with pride. Everything was smart, all the guys were polite, helpful and enthusiastic about the kit they were demonstrating. Of course what the visitors didn’t see was the week before, all the training and practising for such an event, nor would they perhaps think of the soldiers leaving camp at 0530 to be ready for such a time and not leaving until late, some having to guard the kit over night! Those in the Warriors did 18 demonstrations in 3 days and I didn’t envy our soldiers knees, what with all that racing around, jumping out the vehicles and the like! For those on the stands it was also pretty cold being stood around for so long and they had to spend along time smiling, being polite and answering the same questions again and again!

For me of course it was a great time to catch up with our soldiers. There was lots of waiting around, so lots of opportunity for me to give out some Haribo and to have a natter! As well as having a chat, a laugh, recruiting volunteers for the Carol Service I also got several Baptism requests out of it, spoke to some about deeper relationship issues, spoke to another about a Blessing of his marriage and tried to get to the bottom of why a few of our guys have gone AWOL!

JN8:12 being on the side of one of the Rifle sights even gave me an opportunity to talk about Jesus being the ‘light of life’. So all in all a fantastic week…of course normal jogging also continued during this week, so there were also Harvest Festivals, Mess Meetings, time on the ranges with those soon to deploy, Admin and a social with 2RRF who happened to be over from Germany.

Last week was full and varied but a constant thread was working with others. At the SAAFA Big Brew working with the Welfare team and many wives, money was raised, cakes were enjoyed, coffee was drank and time with soldiers, wives and children was had.
I spent time during the week with different Padres on different projects such as some Prayer Boards for Salisbury Cathedral, was in discussions with the Alpha for the Forces Co-Ordinator, bumped into SASRA Nick during his rounds in our guard room and I am in a Bible Study with our Salvation Army Officers. It’s great to work with different Christians who work in the Garrison such as SASRA and the Salvation Army. SASRA Nick spends a lot of time in our detention centre, around the block, in Guard rooms talking to soldiers and the Salvation Army Officers running the Red Shield do sterling work selling their mega breakfasts and serving our soldiers with food all over camp!

I was able to spend time discussing the possibility of running Wedding preparation Classes with a local Vicar and caught up with a different one over a Harvest Festival. It is also great to have time roughly once a month to visit other churches to talk about a ministry I love. They are lovely opportunities of raising awareness of the Army and our role within it, but it is always so encouraging to share in prayer and to be in touch with Parish churches. Next Sunday I am speaking at a Service in Uplyme, then Bournemouth, Pilton and various other places. I say all this because once again it shows the variety of our role and how we continue to work with our sending church as well as keeping in touch with Parish life. But don’t get me wrong, my heart is still firmly with our soldiers.

And I’m looking forward to whole week with them out in the field as they demonstrate our weapons to Senior members of the Army, Schools, Guests and International Visitors on the Land Combat Power Demonstration. Once again they have been training hard and are working long hours but as always the Fusiliers seem to do it all with incredible pride. I look forward to learning even more about the Army this week and maybe I’ll even get another go in a Warrior. We’re even taking ‘The Big Brew’ into the field at the LCPD, so we should be raising even more money for Charity! The weather looks as though it should be good, so hopefully I’ll spend a week in the field without getting wet which would certainly be a first…

I survived! First a conference with AWESOME (Ordained Anglican Evangelical Women), and by the way I am a WOMAN! I know my photo isn’t flattering but someone recently was surprised to meet me in person as they thought the blog was written by a man!! And then I survived Training with my Anglican Chaplains. I had hoped in my last blog that I would have a good week with my heavenly Father and actually I did.

The conferences were very different, not least queues for the ladies toilets and lots of high female singing to start with and the latter part of the week there was no queue for the ladies (there are only 2 women out of 70ish Anglican Chaplains) and the singing and saying of Prayer was a lot deeper in tone!

The AWESOME conference (currently 135 members and contacts), in the Forest of Dean went well as we prayed, spent time with the Bible, worshipped and considered issues relevant to us. A former lecturer of mine Rev Jackie Searle spoke on; ‘Realising Our God Given Potential’. It was great to be around like minded people and I enjoyed being able to speak enthusiastically about my role as an Army Chaplain. Hopefully we may even see some of them on an Acquaint Visit one day or even as part of the RAChD.

One interested woman was concerned that you have to have short hair – after all mine is cropped – so I reassured her that long hair tied up is fine! There was also a concern over fitness, so although I said it is important, the Army is aware we are often more mature as we join and takes this into account. Other women were just interested in the role or in the Army itself as many of them knew people in Service. We had some powerful and encouraging times of prayer where I was able to share intercessions for our Armed Services.

So from one extreme to another, I went from just women to pretty much just men (and Mandy) as I joined my fellow Anglican Chaplains at Shrivenham. But God my Father was the same. We had times of Prayer, Worship, Study and Training as we focused on; ‘Spirituality and our roles in the Army.’ There was lots to learn, ponder and pray through. It was great to catch up with fellow Chaplains (especially those from overseas) who we don’t often see, to hear from those recently returned from Operations and to pray for those recently deployed. We were encouraged to hear of many people associated with the Army considering Vocations such as Readership and Ordained Ministry…

…and then I spent hours stuck in traffic, what with the M4 being closed, but that’s for another blog. So all in all a good week of being with God and Ordained people, but you know what? I missed the guys, the soldiers, so today I have had a great day catching up with them. It was lovely that some of them had even noticed I hadn’t been around for a week. Off now to a Wives meeting to organise the SAAFA Big Brew – more next Blog.