Through the four years of my education at Central Catholic High School a few things were repetitiously ingrained in my brain:
- The sun shines inside you and me.
- Always leave enough room for the Holy Spirit while dancing
- You represent CCHS when you are in uniform, no matter where you are, so do us proud.
While working as a recruiter at Marshall, the same mantra was in place. I represented Marshall to students who may have never even heard of it, so I needed to make Marshall proud.
Now in Afghanistan, I represent so many things. I represent the USO. Even when in a PX buying laundry detergent, someone will say, hey USO girl. I represent WV. Countless soldiers have told me they have never been to WV, and they’ll ask what’s it like. When I go to big social functions, a different nation’s DFAC (dining facility) or to the French compound I represent the entire United States! It’s sometimes exhausting to constantly feel “on.”
That’s why I’m so glad to have some genuine friends here. That way I can belt out any song that pops in my head, or horribly imitate Shakira’s dance moves with some mangled gyrations, or wear bunny ears for no reason all with lots of laughter and little judgement.
In other news, I am SUPER excited to be going to Uganda at the end of this month to see Natalie Committee! When Natalie first told me she wanted to go to Uganda I was so excited for her! I told her I’d come visit, but at the time I thought, yeah I have no money to do that. I’m so happy that I’ve been blessed to now be able to visit and see the work she’s been doing. When Natalie was gearing up to go to Uganda and I was first going through my interview process for this position, my sister Gretchen was in India, and I was bursting at the seams to tell someone who would think what I was doing was sane! Natalie was my go to gal.
I’m also looking forward to experiencing a new culture, possibly going on a safari and just playing with kids. It’s kind of odd here to never see a kid, never hear a cry or giggle while at the restaurant or at the PX. Most times I don’t realize it, but then after I call Ang or Erin and hear the chattering of kids in the background, I remember. I’ve babysat all my life, then was a live-in nanny for Christian and Faith, and proceeded to live a block down the street from them for the past 2 years. I miss chasing them, laughing with them, and hearing their crazy stories.
Three and half months in and it’s still super hard to say goodbye to people. Since we are a large base, troops that are redeploying (going home) or just getting here before going downrange (out to FOBs or COPs) are usually stuck here for a week or two. They usually don’t have missions to go on, so they are free most of the day. Some will volunteer at the center.
So just imagine getting a new coworker, work directly beside them at a shared desk for 10 hours a day for 2 weeks straight, train them, develop a repertoire where you know what tasks they prefer and which you prefer, eat meals with them, joke together, talk about family, friends, and your favorite things, maybe even experience a bonding experience like a fire alarm (or rocket attack) where you have to stand outside in the cold for a half hour. Now say goodbye and probably never see them again…EVER. It’s a little jarring. I always wonder who will stay in my life and who will slowly inevitably fade away. What’s the quote? Even though they may stay for only a moment they can leave an impression on you that lasts a lifetime.