The last 16 weeks have been the most insane roller coaster of events but praise the Lord for His faithfulness because Matthew has graduated from IBOLC!
Seriously, what a stud. I lucked out.
IBOLC, or Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course, is the first step in a long line of schools that any aspiring Infantry Officer must complete in order to officially become a part of this elite group. The 16 week course is designed to train these soon-to-be infantry officers every thing there is to know about effectively leading their men and also preparing them for what lies ahead at Ranger School. Matthew has had to endure everything from early morning physical training to practicing Operations Orders to long 12 mile rucks in the middle of the night. He has gotten used to having bugs and creepy crawlers as bedtime friends, 5 miles runs as a warm up, and 90F weather with 100% humidity as a “nice day”. IBOLC has indeed pushed Matthew past what he thought his limits were and has proven that it is not for the faint of heart.
There were quite a lot of officers at this graduation and I have never seen so many military men in uniform in one place! Without a doubt, the most organized graduation I’ve ever seen and after hearing so much about different people in IBOLC, it was nuts to see the whole company together. What’s a company, you say?? A company consists of everyone in Matt’s class, which is about 120 guys, and then each company is broken up into 3 platoons. This is a picture of Matt with his platoon!
It should be pretty easy to find him but in case you’re having a hard time, he’s the only Asian one in this photo. In the middle. Yup, right there.
Then, each platoon is broken up into 4 squads, which consist of about 10 guys, and that is the group you spend most of your time with, whether it’s conducting missions, working on projects, or just waiting around for hours on end. Matthew was able to get really close with some of the guys in his squad and had opportunities to share the Gospel with them as well as bring them out to church.
It has by no means been a straight line to the finish but because of all the insanity and uncertainties, God receives all the more glory. There were times where we’d be on the phone with no clue how he was going to make it through the week or how he was going to be able to physically accomplish a task that proved too daunting but God remained faithful to Matthew. When he was able to finally get through it, we both knew that it wasn’t because of his own strength but only by the strength of the Lord.
In fact, here’s a snazzy little video to give you a sneak peak at what it was like to be in IBOLC! Matthew had to go through all that and much more so you can imagine how tough it is. Look out for Matthew right around 2:55…..
One of the coolest things, I think, is how God has been able to use Matthew to be a good light and witness to his fellow officers as they brave through difficulties together. As I’ve shared before, Matt’s entire purpose of going into the military is to be a missionary in a field that is very hard to reach. Sharing his faith with people who have never even heard the Gospel and quite frankly, don’t want to hear it has allowed him to see the reality and gravity of salvation. It has forced him to ask himself – Is it really necessary for me to share this Gospel with these guys? – and God has continually reminded him YES. Nothing matters more. It has been a constant encouragement for me to view the environment that God has put me in (although much more calm and far less intense) as a missions field and a battleground of spiritual warfare where opportunities to share of God’s love are endless.
So What’s Next?
Lovely question. As always, we think of this more as a “If Life Went The Way We Dreamed” answer, but the general gist is 2 months of Ranger School, 1-1.5 months of specialty training, and then off to Fort Drum, New York! The reality of it though could be more like 3 or 4 months of Ranger School with some breaks in between but we really won’t know until it happens.
For now, Matthew is scheduled to leave for Ranger School on September 7th and unfortunately, that’s about all the concrete details I can give you.
I’ll post another blog soon detailing what Ranger School actually looks like as well as major prayer requests for Matthew so be on the look out for that! In the mean time, Matt still has about a week until he leaves so please call him, text him, email him, and pray for him!
Congrats again, Mr. Second Lieutenant Yang! You deserve it and I couldn’t be more proud of you 🙂
Over and Out,