Part of military life (especially since 2001) is leaving the ones that you love, but no matter how many times you do it, for training or deployment, it sucks!
I am currently at Camp Dwyer in southern Afghanistan and I will be here for the foreseeable future (OPSEC and all). This deployment could not be any more different than my previous deployment. In 2010 I spent time on USS Winston S. Churchill and USS Oscar Austin (part of the USS Harry S Truman Strike Group). We sailed from Norfolk Va, to Portsmouth England, to off the horn of Africa, to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, to Canes France on the way home, and then finally back into Norfolk. All in all I was gone 7 months spending 19 days on land.
This time I Flew from March Airbase (in SoCal) to Alaska to Afghanistan. I took 3 1/2 weeks to get to our deployment position on my Navy deployment, this time it took 1 1/2 days. There has been a little over a year between my deployments and things couldn't be more different. I wear a different uniform now, which has caused alot of people to ask my wife "Is your husband in the Marines now?" (the answer is no as I am a US Navy chaplain serving with Marines). I have been exposed to the idea of working out mid day in boots and uts (meaning in your uniform minus the blouse and cover. I never did this once in my 2 years with the surface Navy). Everyone here has their weapons (or multiple weapons) on them at all times. They have them at chow, they have them in counseling sessions, they have them in church services, and out here there are rounds in those weapons. It's hard to get used to the idea that that 18 year old, and that 18 year old, and that 18 year old all have 30 rounds in their M16. Finally, here I leave my room in the morning and walk about a 1/4 of a mile to my office. When it is time to each I leave my office and walk about 1/4 mile to the chow hall. When I was on the ship I had to run on the aft missile deck for exercise with 57 laps equalling 1 mile. It's a whole different world out here, but some things are still the same.
I still miss my little girl! It's painful to hear about Bella having new experiences and using new words, while missing all of it. It's hard to have the thoughts "when I get back I'm gonna do this, or this, or that" only to remember "oh yeah that's a long way away."
But as I type this I remember the words that I read earlier today in Philippians 4 to "rejoice in the Lord always and again I will say rejoice." How I have been blessed by God to have the opportunity to minister to the young men and women of our military. To show them the love of Christ and to be used by God to develop in them a love for Him and His glorious Word.
My wife and I talk alot about the cost of being a Chaplain and we always come to the same conclusion; it's painful, and sometimes it sucks, but it's worth it. What a great thing to be called to.
Thanks baby for being my wife and showing me what it means to have a heart that is dedicated to God and seeks to rejoice in Him.