Friday, July 02, 2004

Rick's Bio: Nov 1, 2008

Our Lives Are Dynamic, So Our Biographies Are Forever Changing

That's why I did my bio as a blog. It is something that will constantly be changing and as a result it will never be complete.

I was born in Altadena, California and grew up in Santa Barbara, Glendale, and La Crescenta, California. Southern California was a great place to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s. My parents raised me in the church and I have never known a time that I did not love Jesus from the bottom of my heart. I didn't have a dramatic conversion experience like the Apostle Paul's, I just remember growing up loving Jesus from day one.

I was a stellar (not!) student in High School and somehow managed to graduate. I wasn't exactly college material and I guess I just wasn't interested in school while I was a teenager. The next two years were filled with an intensifying desire to serve the Lord, and resulted in a year of indepth discipleship work with Mike Derr in The Band of Men at First Baptist Church of La Crescenta, and a couple of years working for a friend, Dr Larry Ward, at a faith based international relief and development agency called Food For the Hungry.

I came to the realization that I could never do the things I wanted to do in life without a college education. So I started at the local community college, Glendale College. During Christmas Break of my first year at Glendale College my High School sweetheart Marilyn and I got married. We've been married since 1977 and it just keeps getting better and better.

After finishing Glendale College I continued on at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). At UCLA I was in way over my head. I spent a couple of years stumbling through UCLA and somehow graduated with a BA.

The low point of my time at UCLA was my Junior year. My Mom had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for 13 years and was diagnosed with a rare form of Lung Cancer on Thanksgiving Day of 1980. 3 Weeks later on December 10th she passed away. She was the glue that kept our family together and we have lived a fragmented life since her passing.

I graduated from UCLA and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. After about a year at Navigator training in Sacramento and survival school in Spokane I headed off to Little Rock Air Force Base to learn to fly the C-130 Hercules. The "Herk" was great, but my next assignment at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, was horrible. We liked the Carolina mountains, the beach, and the flying was awesome, but living in the town of Fayetteville (about an hour drive south of Raleigh) was miserable. Marilyn and I used this as an opportunity to go back to school, so she completed her BA at Methodist College in Fayetteville and I completed an MBA from Webster University. We stayed in North Carolina for 5 years, hated every minute of it, and then thankfully it was time to move on again. North Carolina was a beautiful state and the people are wonderful people, but the town we lived in was a military town that we didn't enjoy.

We moved from a horrible assignment at Pope to a great assignment at Mather Air Force Base, California. Mather was on the east edge of Sacramento which is my favorite place to live so far. At Mather I was an Instructor Navigator at Specialized Undergraduate Navigator Training. I flew the T-43 flying navigation classroom. We lived in the Sierra Foothills in the small town of Placerville. It was an incredible 3 years and life was fun again!

After Mather we headed back to the east coast. After living in North Carolina we didn't want to live on the east coast any longer, but we decided to give the Air Force one more assignment and moved to Dover, Delaware, which turned out to be another great place to live. At Dover Air Force Base I flew the C-5 Galaxy, the world's largest aircraft. We fell in love with Dover and didn't want to leave 4 years later. Our two children were born there, and Delaware's rural lifestyle and the friends we met will always keep a soft spot in our heart for Dover.

In 1995 We left Dover and headed to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, located in a suburb of St Louis, Missouri. At Scott I took a non-flying staff assignment. We stayed 5 years and didn't want to leave. While we were at Scott AFB I finished up a Master of Arts Degree in Geographic Information Systems from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and began my PhD work in American Studies at Saint Louis University.

Then the Air Force realized that although I had flown all over the world, I had never lived overseas and decided it was time for us to move overseas. No one in our family wanted to leave St Louis, so the Air Force sent me on an assignment to Korea so that I would only be separated from my family for a year. It was a very long year being away from those you love the most. I was stationed at Osan Air Base, South Korea, about 35 miles from Seoul. It was a bitter/sweet assignment. Osan was a wonderful place and professionally I grew more in Korea than any other assignment I have had before, but it was terrible being separated from my family for a year.

My year at Osan was spent working, making daily phone calls home (it is cheaper to call the US from Korea than itis to make a state to state phone call here), and serving the Lord at Mission Baptist Church, in SongTan, Korea and as a part of the worship team at the Base Chapel on Osan Air Base. I was able to lead the Thursday night Contemporary Worship service at Mission Baptist. The service had about 40 Korean and American brothers and sisters attend, and it was a great experience to lead the worship service and to meet lots of American and Korean brothers and sisters in the Lord. I made an effort to not hang out with American GI's but to hang out with Korean brothers and sisters in Christ and actively participate in their culture. I came away with a deep love of Asian culture, particularly Korean food! I kept myself busy and the time flew by quickly, at least for me. I don't think Marilyn would agree it was quick.

After Osan I came back to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois again, was reunited with my family and co-workers and worked for another year and a half until I retired in 2003. After retirement I took a job as a Department of Defense technology consultant working on base. I started my own company, called Vertical Geosolutions, Inc. and still work for the Air Force today as a consultant.

Before I left for Korea I had felt God calling me to work with college students and young adults . Our church, First Baptist Church of O'Fallon is a big Southern Baptist Church that didn't have a ministry targeted to College Students. We started the College and Career ministry on Easter Sunday of 2002 and have been going strong ever since. In 2002 I also felt the Lord's calling to expand the ministry to McKendree University students and the result is The Gate. I am impressed with the spiritual maturity of our core of students and their desire to know the Lord deeper. I don't know if I have helped them grow or not, but watching them do peer ministry has had a deep impact on me.

This January The Gate will take on a new role as a satellite site for FBC O'Fallon. We will begin Sunday services on January 13, 2008. We will host a video-taped sermon from FBC O'Fallon and we will provide live music and a Campus Pastor. I am excited at the possibilities that the Lord has presented us and look forward to seeing where the Lord leads.

I am still working on my PhD dissertation which is titled: A Consuming View: The Northern California Cultural Landscape As Viewed Through John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. I plan to complete it sometime in early 2008, but my life is far from complete. That's is as far as my bio goes today. I know it is way too long, but the Lord has blessed me with a long life so far.