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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

JOY JOY JOY, We came to Georgia for Ranger Graduation!!

Sometimes I wonder if we have that mark of Cain that is mysteriously mentioned in Genesis, that people see and then bless us in spite of our failings.  One of our friends and supporters generously bought us tickets to come to Caleb's Ranger Graduation.  Our colleagues gave us their blessing to miss a week.  A person we have not yet even met offered us an AirBnB to stay in, with my mom, sister, Jack, Julia, and one of their friends from Duke, only a few miles away from the Army base.  Our family drove umpteen miles and hours to be here.  And everyone kept it a surprise.  So that Thursday, at 2 in the morning, we pulled into Fort Benning.  A few hours later we were waiting with the other families by the gate where the soon-to-graduate soldiers would be released.  Caleb was expecting a room mate to meet him; when he saw us we all cried, hugged, laughed, and rejoiced.  That is a moment, and a week, we will long remember.

Friday morning dawned cloudy, as we gathered in outdoor stands to watch a thrilling demonstration of Ranger training (including helicopters dropping people on land and water, zip lines, rappels, explosions, hand-to-hand combat, squad formations, and even a bit of slapstick humor thrown in).  There were flags and music and speeches and then each new Ranger dissolved into the crowd of families to have their tab pinned on by someone significant to them.  A final re-formation, and they were done! After three months of minimal sleep, minimal food, constant stress, physical strain, psychological mind games, simulated combat, noise, darkness, cold, wet . . . they were free.  We had a celebratory lunch, champagne toasts and grilled meat and the beginning of four days of rehabilitation.

From Friday evening to Tuesday night, we drove about 2000 miles.  Yikes.  Up to West Virginia to our farm, where Luke, who had missed the graduation, was able to meet us for 36 hours off of his surgery rotation.  Hikes, swimming in the river, wild flowers, spring breeze, warm hugs at church, more grilling, firing the pizza oven, cakes, food, food, food, and rest.  Then we drove back to Durham to hang out with Julia and Jack one more time, in the middle of their exam week, again blessed by friends who gave us dinner and a place to stay.  Then a brief stop in Charlotte to connect with my family again, and back to Fort Benning, to the same kindness of the Air BnB cottage and sunshine and a pause to breathe.  Caleb starts his 3-week Airborne course on Friday and we leave that day to fly back to Kenya.
Please thank God with us, for allowing Caleb to pass through the deep waters and emerge resilient.  For letting us hug him in person.  For unfolding the perfect long weekend of many great meals to cook, naps and slow nights, the surround of Spring, sun, music, people who love him.  Hours to listen and talk.  Except for rather many car miles and never getting all four kids at the same time, I can't imagine a better post-Ranger recovery time.

Meanwhile we're still doing phone calls and emails with our teams, working on documents, corresponding and counseling and rooting from afar.  It's never easy to have our hearts in multiple places, but for this week we are thankful to focus in America on our favorite people in the whole universe.  Grateful for this week, and ready to turn back to the work ahead.


aunty.em said...

Crying tears of joy reading this! So happy you could be together for such a celebration as Ranger Graduation!

Phyllis Masso said...

Wow. God really blessed you big time. I'm so happy for you.

Jill said...

I'm thrilled for all of you!!! Congratulations to Caleb!!

Wendy Gray said...

No, you don't have the mark of Cain. You're blessed children of God, and he extends blessings to you via your family in Christ as a tangible expression of His love! This post made me cry. So glad for you guys that you could be there, and especially for Caleb, that he could receive rest and food -- emotional, physical, and spiritual -- in the safety and warmth of his family. I'm sure that meant the world to him... and all of you. What a sweet story! Love you guys always.

Melody Beck said...

Unbelievable,so happy for you all

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John clinton said...

Aww. We are really proud of you guys. You go through a lot for the sake of this country. There are other information provided in this army bases in Georgia website.