Friday, April 1, 2011

Thank you for serving

My best friend is in Afghanistan.  It is only for 10 days.  Jess travels a lot for her job. (Yes, my bff's name is Jess.  So original, huh?!)  I am accustomed to her jetting off to Serbia, Nicaragua, Mozambique and other obscure places that many of us would not choose as a vacation destination.  Normally, we talk on the phone before she goes and I look forward to the stories and the souvenirs she brings back.  This time she stopped by my parents' house before heading to the airport.  The three of us were waiting by the front door to give her hugs, kisses, and to say our "See ya laters!" Not goodbye.  I am terrible at goodbye. This time it was different.  This time she was going to "hang out with the chickens" in a warzone.

{"Hanging out with the chickens" is how my family and I jokingly refer to Jess's job.  She does wonderful work educating and training third world countries on food safety.  She probably never sees a chicken.  It just started as a joke and has stuck!}

She is excited for the experience.  I am thrilled that she is getting to serve our country in this capacity.  But, I do pray everyday that she comes home safely....I look forward to that day.

Everyday, I work alongside people who have served or are preparing to serve our country in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Some are military; others are civilians who voluntarily deploy.  Curious me eagerly awaits every detail when they get back from their deployments.  My eyes and ears open wide when Jim laments about how he got violently ill from a parasite.  Or when Mack recalls that food was often left out too long and not properly sanitized so many in the camp came down with food poisoning.  Hopefully, Jess will help rectify this problem while she is over there.  Claudette leaned over my cube and bravely recalled the ground attack she experienced.  Not everyone made it into the bunker, but thank goodness nobody was hurt.  On Wednesday, I overheard Leslie communicating with Roger, the guy she is replacing in Afghanistan in a few short months.  Roger warned Leslie to bring a sleeping bag and a flashlight.  Why?  Always check your bedsheets before you decide to retire for the night.  The scorpions, snakes and BIG spiders like to cuddle with you!!

{When I was younger my grandparents used to call me "Killer Jessica".  I would run around my parents' screened in porch with a rolled up piece of newspaper, swatting at all of the bugs I could find.  I doubt this technique would work well on the creatures in the desert.}

Deploying and/or serving our country is a sacrifice.  My colleagues and Jess are not on the front lines.  They have experienced some hardship coupled with some very intriguing stories.  The blessing is they come back to tell the stories.  Some do not return; some return having sacrificed not only their time but their bodies too.  Jess is only over in Afghanistan for 10 days.  That is chump change compared to what military families experience.  This short stint of having her in a foreign, far away, dangerous land has further confirmed the fact that I could not be a military wife.  I owe a debt of gratitude to those who serve and their families, though.

Say a prayer for all of those serving our country overseas.  Thank those who risk their lives to keep us safe.  Say a prayer for America.

Jess is accumulating a lot of frequent flier miles right now.  Maybe she'll want to take a vacation with me when she gets back!  With or without a little jaunt away from DC, our reunion will be sweet.

Hurry home, Jess!  I miss you.

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