I guess the best way to describe the events of the year would be to go all the way back to the beginning; back to January 2010. Happy New Year! 2009 is over and now there is a whole new year full of optimism and opportunity. As of January I still had not landed a full-time teaching job; however, I have good feeling that this will be my year and the future job that I know I'll love is waiting for me. In the meantime, I'm working for my Alma Mater as a custodian, sweeping, mopping, and cleaning the Student Union at nights. This job, while not ideal, worked out well for my family, because we have a newborn at home. My wife can work during the day, while I'm home with the baby and visa versa in the evening. While I'm working as a custodial engineer, I am vigorously searching for the illusive Social Studies position. I continue to work and determine that I'll stay here until God opens another door for me and my family, but I would have never guessed where that door would come from.
I found out earlier this year, around March, that I would be deploying to a country that I had never heard of, probably because nothing of any significance to world events had ever come from it. If you've heard of this country before learning of it's government rebellion earlier this year, then you must be more in tuned with world affairs than most Americans. Well, I found out I would be going overseas in August to spend six months at the Transit Center in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, which is were I am currently writing this blog. As one could imagine, this news was a bit of a shock to my wife, since that means I'll be missing our daughters first steps, first words, first birthday, and 'real' first Christmas. I say 'real' because she was only a month and a half old for her true first Christmas. This news meant I was done working as a custodian in May, because I would be gearing up with pre-deployment training in June.
For the next few months before I had to prepare to deploy, I spent every moment with my infant daughter, playing with her and teaching her has best as her tiny mind could understand. Those months before I left were, without a doubt, the best months of my life so far.
As I said previously, 2010 was a year filled with many firsts. Among the many firsts, was flying solo across the country from St. Louis, Missouri to Las Vegas, Nevada. I had never flown alone and I had never been to Las Vegas. I was sent there for a week training course of the Tactical Automated Security System I would be using while deployed. I had been selected by my unit that I would be one of the TASS operators while deployed. This was also the first time I had been away from my daughter for more than a few hours. I thought of the time away as a precursor to the six months I would be away in Kyrgyzstan.
The summer of 2010 was full of training and time away from my family. We spent some time down at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri training with the heavy weapons and qualifying with our M4's and M9's. From there, we went to Fort Dix, New Jersey to spend 17 long, hot days doing battle drills and enduring through mind-numbing PowerPoint classes. When we returned to St. Louis we still had a few weeks before we were scheduled to leave, so fortunately we given the time to spend with our families. It was during this time that my wife told me she was pregnant again with our second child. We didn't know it at the time, but it would grow to be our son! She went to the doctor to discover that her due date would be a mere week or so before I am scheduled to come back.
After arriving in Kyrgyzstan, we quickly got settled into what would be home for the next six months. It took me about five days to adjust to the jet lag. Kyrgyzstan is 12 hours ahead of the Central Standard Time zone back in the states, therefore it took a few days before I was sleeping the entire night. We quickly learned the base and our jobs and easily slipped into a routine. Our schedule rotated on a 3 and 1 work cycle. We worked three days for 12 hour shifts, then we had the day off. This work rotation made the weeks and the months fly by so quickly that before I knew it it had been a month, Halloween, Grace's birthday, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, and now it's already New Year's eve!
While I've been overseas, I have missed quite a bit in regards to my daughter's growth and development; however, it has been bearable because of the technologies in the world today. Namely Skype and Apple's iPod Facetime feature. These technologies in particular have allowed me to see Grace as she grows bigger and bigger everyday. I've also gotten to see my wife as she progresses in her pregnancy.
As I reflect on 2010, I realize that, while I may not have noticed it at the time, I have done a lot of maturing, physically, mentally, and spiritually. While overseas, I have had the opportunity to get my mind, body, and soul in shape. I have had the time to exercise, read multiple books, and spend time with my creator. Therefore, while at first the news that I would be deploying seemed unfortunate, I can now see that in the eyes of God it has been a blessing. I hope and pray that as we begin yet another year, that God would continue to bless me and my family.
He knows our needs and he provides as He sees fit and I know that 2011 will be another year filled with blessings in disguise. While I don't know what the Lord has planned for me and my family, I have faith to know that He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. I pray that God will bless you as 2010 comes to a close and that you will continue to trust and lean on Him throughout 2011.