John Miyahara


So I have been really bad about keeping this up. There have been so many things going on, that the times has just flown by… Thus, I’ll try to recount some of the things I’ve been experiencing.

In October I visited Pascagoula and Gulport Mississippi, and New Orleans, LA a few weeks later. There was so much devostation that I couldn’t belive that I was in the U.S.

I have previously been to New Orleans twice, but it was hard to believe that I was in the same city. I was able to see both Dillard and Xavier Universities, both neighborhoods surrounding the schools were beyond recognition. The neighborhood around Dillard had curfews, Army National Guard, and sanitation stations where people can use the bathroom, brush their teeth and wash up since most of the city still has no power, sewage or water. It was surreal.

In Pascagoula and Gulfport, the homes and businesses on the waterfront were totally wiped out. I was talking to one man in Gulfport who lives about a mile away from the water. He told me that he was lucky because he only had four feet of water in his house, a mile away from the water front!

Also in Pasacagoula, I was able to visit St. John’s Espicopal Church, through a friend of mine, Rev. Natasha Brubaker, an Episcopal Priest from Richmond, VA. St. John’s is hosting people from around the country to help local residents demolish and rebuild homes.

Through Natasha, I was able to make a connection with this community and hook them up with Anne Cole, Joyce Bylander, Michael Cameron and Eric Funk at Dickinson. Now, this coming January 3rd, 25 students from the College are coming down to Pascagoula for a 10 service trip. This is way cool!!!

I have been working at NASP (Naval Air Station Pensacola) for over a week now, and I am getting into the groove of my new job.

The early Methodist ministers were called “circuit riders” as they rode a circuit of churces in their charge. My first pastoral appointment I had a two-point charge where I was responsible for two churches. Here, I also have a two point charge as I go to and from my two offices on a daily basis. Thus, I am constantly reminded of John Wesley (theo founder of Methodism) and my church’s roots in circuit ministry.

NAS Pensacola is a large station which is basically a small city within itself. The chaplain’s office has many chaplians who are assigned to different units and commands. Though I am technically part of the command chaplain’s staff, my main task is to work with TFNF (task force navy family) through FFSC (fleet and family support center).

After hurrincae Katrina hit, 44,000 navy and civilian workers for the navy and their families were displaced in the gulf region. My FFSC is responsible for a region that tracked about 18,000 of the 44,000. Displaced persons from the hurricane got onto a navy website and entered their personal information to get referrals for various services. Some of the immediate services included moving to a safe haven, how to get basic living supplies after your home has been destroyed, getting new or temporary housing, making insurance claims, getting in touch with FEMA, the Red Cross, etc. One of the services offered has to do with critical stress management and people needing pastoral care or professional counseling for stress and shock due to the hurricane. These are the pepole assigned to me to contact.

The staff at NAS Pensacola FFSC are amazing people. Most of them are civilian workers for the navy. FFSC offers services like individual and family counseling, classes on how to get a job, transition into civilain live, first time father’s classes, parenting skills, and a multitude of other helpful services. After Katrina hit, staff members had to put aside their regular duties and work on helping displaced people who were coming to NASP either temporarily or permanently. FFSC staff have been working 12 hours a day for seven days a week for almost seven weeks. Thus, the staff is getting tired and I noticed this the moment I arrived last week.

Another thing that hit me was hurrincae Ivan devostated Pensacola on 16 September 2004, a little over a year ago. As I drive around Pensacola, much of the devostation from hurricane Ivan is still apparent. Many house have “blue roofs” where a blue, plastic sheets are a temporary cover, and are seen all over the area. Many structures are are still wrecked and abandoned from last year, or you see many piles of debris of building that have been demolished, but the rubble has not been hauled away. It is hard to tell at night if many businesses are open because their signs are still broken and not replaced.

Pensacola has gone through a lot not only with Katrina this year, but still feeling the effects of Ivan from last year. Nonetheless, the natives of this area love living here for the most part will ride ouut storms for as long as they are able.

If you’d like to know more about Task Force Navy Family, please go to www.navy.mil and click on the TFNF botton on the right-hand side of the screen.

02 October 2005-Carlisle, PA

In the navy when a ship pulls out of port and is ready to go to sea, the command “anchors aweigh” is given so the ship can depart. My departure date with the navy is coming suddenly and it will come without haste as that command was recently issued to me…

Last Thursday I was in the Office of the US Navy Chief of Chaplains at the Pentagon doing a drill day for my new boss, the Deputy Chief of Chaplains, to whom I serve as his flag aid. I got the official word from the navy that I will be deployed for six months to support Task Force Navy Family which will provide support for hurricane victims in the gulf region.

I have no idea about the specifics at this point. I know that I will be leaving this coming Thursday or Friday. I know that I’ll be based at Naval Air Station Pensacola (www.naspensacola.navy.mil). That is about all I know. I just know that I am going. There is a lot to do before I leave. I have to get someone to take care of my house, I have to take care of a million things at Dickinson, I have to make arrangements for things that are now “urgent.”

People ask me how I fell right now and my feelings are mixed. I was almost called to active duty in Afghanistan two years ago, but could not go due to not having taken a training course (which I subsequently completed in the summer 2004). I knew this would happen eventually with so many reservists being sent around the world for various military operations. For those who know me, this is the best assignment that I could hope for, especially as working with humanitarian relief efforts in our own county is essential at this point and an effort that I am passionate about serving.

On the other hand, my heart is saddened as I will miss the bulk of the school year at Dickinson. My return date is around the end of March. My student groups have had several retreats this year and the work they are planning is exciting, but I won’t be there to share in it. (Check out all of the great things happening in the Office of Religious Life & Community Services at www.dickinson.edu/departments/commserv) Most of all, I will miss the bulk of the year with great senior students who are so awesome in their service and personhood. We have grown together tremendously in the past three years, and I’ll miss year four.

Additionally, there are many things that I have to put aside for the next six months. I will miss my great house! I have to take a leave of absence from my doctoral program. And if timing isn’t everything, I was supposed to leave today to go to Hawaii for a week of vacation with my mom, dad and sister Jane! CRAP!

Anyway, I am reminded that we are all “called” to do unexpected things in life…

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