And just like that, another year is wrapped up! 2021 was a year of firsts for us. The Advance Team launched, the first cadet team made their debut, there were segments of training and multiple deployments. Truth be told, 2021 held lots of hard work and many successful firsts, for which we are grateful!
Over Christmas, the Cadets and members of the Advance Team were scattered in different directions enjoying a much-deserved Christmas break. Training resumed again on January 3rd.
Here’s a little recap of what both the cadets and the Advance Team were busy with leading up to Christmas break.
Following their deployment in September and October, the cadets launched into a six-week, classroom setting training at Camp Andrews in Lancaster, PA.
Six Week Classroom Training
This training segment heavily focused on academics. The cadets spent hours each day in the classroom and doing homework. Combining bookwork with an ongoing rigorous physical fitness and endurance program, it was an intense segment of learning for the cadets.
Their days started early, with many of them running or exercising by 5:30 am. After breakfast, the cadets gathered in the chapel that served as classroom to begin a full day of classes.
These classes addressed many different aspects, but focused ultimately on personal spiritual growth and how to “Lead yourself — be worth following.”
Here’s a quick overview of the classes:
- The Whole Person: Spirit, Soul, and Body class equipped cadets with a biblical understanding of themselves. Cadets walked away from this class better prepared to walk in wholeness spiritually, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Classes on Christian character helped the cadets become leaders who are worth following, encouraging them in their journey toward becoming more like Jesus.
- In cross-cultural studies, cadets learned to approach all new cultures with humble curiosity and a desire to engage with and learn from the people they serve. Cadets also dove into Spanish 101 so lethy could experience firsthand both the challenges and rewards of studying a new language.
- The Gifts and Callings class helped cadets identify both their spiritual gifts and natural aptitudes. They then explored how they could use those strengths in Kingdom work, while also learning how to recognize and encourage gifts of others.
- The Learning Gaps class involved extensive testing to help identify areas of academic weakness. Based on testing results, a personalized plan of study may be developed for each cadet as needed.
Most of the classes also included Bible memorization and extensive writing assignments.
Although the schedule was full, the cadets still enjoyed relaxing with each other and the teachers in their free time.
“They have bonded as a team, and it’s been an inspiration to see how they encourage, challenge, and support each other,”
Andrew Weaver, one of their instructors, explained.
“When one of the cadets got sick, his teammates rallied around and prayed for him, served him, and waited on him hand and foot. If the workload becomes overwhelming or anyone is struggling with an assignment, he can count on help and encouragement from the rest of the cadets…
They also provide accountability, rushing to find a cadet who is in danger of arriving to class even one minute late and hustling him into the classroom.”
THE ADVANCE TEAM:
The Advance team completed multiple trainings in November and December including Boat operator training, ICS-300, Information Security, Interrogations, Advanced Search and Rescue, and also a class on operating safely in crisis areas.
They have really enjoyed being able to learn from their instructors, who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in their field. Over the past month, they have had the privilege of having some of the same instructors they had back at the beginning of their training, and in their own words,
“It’s been so fun continuing those relationships, and picking right back up where we left off.”
A favorite training from the past two months has been the boat operator class. The team trained in West Virginia at the New River Gorge, where they learned how to navigate around obstacles in slow and fast-moving water, and how to pick victims out of the water and get them on a boat.
“Every morning I would wake up dreading the cold and the water, but by the end of the day, I was exhausted in the best way possible. One of the exercises I didn’t do so great at was backing the boat. We were supposed to back the boat in a figure-eight pattern. This was possibly the most frustrating exercise of my whole time with Chazak!”
The Advance Team was also deployed to Haiti for three weeks in October and November. While in Haiti, their time was spent visiting clinics, sorting medical supplies, hanging out with college students, widening a taxi-way, and developing a layout for a small village. There time was challenging considering the political and social crisis the country is currently facing.
“The second week we were there, our backhoe guy ran out of fuel, so we couldn’t do any more land clearing, the college students weren’t having classes, and we couldn’t go anywhere because of the roadblocks. Every night we would climb up to the roof and stargaze. Sometimes the students who lived on the compound would come up and hang out as well. This was one of the highlights of Haiti.”
The team is excited for January. The schedule includes a Land of Promise Seminar, a cabin retreat, a day of search and rescue scenarios, and possibly time in Vermont doing surface ice training.
One of the members of the Advance team shared her personal experience…
“God has been speaking to me about the way I view my level of intelligence over the past few months. I’ve found myself in classes, doing things I would have never dreamed of, things that, to be quite honest, I’m not very good at. And just dealing with those lies that I’m not smart enough to be here,”
“Tests are challenging. Physical skills are challenging. Coordination is challenging. But, amidst these challenges, I have felt God come through for me over and over again. It has given me yet another reason to trust God in the things that I cannot do with my own strength or mind. It gives me the courage to keep pressing forward in faith. I don’t know if I will ever not be scared of failure, especially in this next five months of training, but I do know He will provide and make a way for those who rely on Him and lean on Him.”
PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAYER
- Pray for both the cadets and Advance team to have mental clarity in their trainings
- Pray they would continue to see God in new ways over the next few months
We’re grateful for your continued interest and support in the work and vision of Chazak. As we wrap up 2021 and charge into this next year, we’re excited at the work God is doing in this world.
Please join us in prayer as we work together to fulfill His commission to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.