Tuesday, July 16, 2013

School Days...Sweet Relief

         Soon after Matt returned from his second deployment, we gladly PCSed to Ft. Gordon, Georgia – home of the signal corps.  This is where Matt would attend the FA 24 school and the Signal Career Course.  Yes, he is an Infantry officer, but just prior to his 2nd deployment he realized he would rather try another aspect of the Army instead of the command-staff rotation of an Infantry officer.  FA 24 is the Functional Area for Telecommunications Systems Engineers.  Before this, I had never heard of a Functional Area despite my 20+ years experience with the Army (as a Brat and Spouse).  In case you, too, don’t know what it is, it’s a technical field in which you can choose to apply, provided it fits within your educational background.  Matt was a computer science major at West Point (aka genius!) so this fit perfectly.  Going to school for a year also meant no deployment, no field time, no TDY.  I was one happy girl when Matt told me he was accepted to the program!

         The move was stressful, however, as he didn’t get orders until 2 weeks before we had to move, and I was teaching right up until the day the movers came.  As you probably know, without orders, you can’t get a packing date.  When we finally did get them, they could only give us 1 day when we, in fact, needed 2.  This resulted in stolen property and damage to some of our household goods.  But you learn to not get too attached to your stuff while in the Army…

            Once we got to Ft. Gordon, we were really hoping a house on post would be available.  Sadly, it was not and would not be for several months.  Since we were only there a year, we wanted to get settled quickly.  We began looking for houses to rent while staying in a hotel with our dog.  Not so fun…

            Thankfully, despite my agonizing and tortured hours of worrying, we found a beautiful home to rent in a neighborhood not far from post that was within our BAH and accepted dogs.  We found having a dog severely limited our choices, but we wouldn’t give up our sweet Calvin for anything.  And we ended up getting what we wanted, even if it took a week (I know, not as long as some of you have waited, but however long you have to spend without your stuff is not a picnic.)

The beautiful house we rented
            I find that I don’t do well being “homeless.”  I don’t enjoy living in a hotel for more than a few days.  I especially don’t enjoy the house hunting ordeal, which is why I so often live on post when I can.  But I digress…

            Once we moved into our house, we immediately began looking for a church.  We knew we only had a year in Augusta so we wanted to get plugged in right away.  We looked online and began visiting around.  We attended a large Baptist church for several weeks, and I joined a women’s Bible study that was to last just a few weeks.  It was there that I met a sweet woman who told me about her church and invited me to come check it out.  Matt and I decided to try out their Wednesday night service which actually consisted of several different Bible studies.  When we got to the church, this sweet woman I had met a few weeks prior arrived at just the same time, showed us all around, and made several introductions in the Young Married’s class.  The teacher was an older southern gentleman and his sweet wife assisted.  They embraced us wholeheartedly, and Matt and I instantly fell in love with the class.  We had not had anything quite like that before, and it was very refreshing.  The next Sunday was Easter so we decided to attend the service, and from that point on, we made it our home church.

Our fun-loving Young Married's Class at a Christmas party
            Since we knew we were only going to be in Augusta for a year, I had decided not to teach but was hungry to do some other ministry as I had been able to do at our church before.  I started going to PWOC but didn’t really feel a calling to serve there.  However, I began to notice that our church had several military families in attendance, and many lived far away from post and thus did not go to PWOC.  After praying and talking to Matt, I was inspired to start a very casual military wives Bible study for the women at our church.  You see, Ft. Gordon is a unique post because 1) the town does not exist solely because of the base, and 2) all of the branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) can be assigned there for various reasons.  Knowing this meant that this Bible study would most likely not look like anything we did at Ft. Stewart, but it didn’t mean there shouldn’t be a Bible study for these wives.

            So Matt and I invited the pastor and his wife over to our house one evening for dessert.  We wanted to talk to them about serving opportunities in the church.  They were such dear people and were very eager to better serve the military families within the congregation.

            It took several months to finally get the Bible study going.  (And I must admit I was not very patient in the process because I knew I had such a short timeline before I moved again).  But as I am still learning, God’s timing is perfect and yet often looks nothing like mine.  It’s a very hard lesson for me…apparently.

Military Wives' Bible Study
            Nevertheless, we began a Monday mid-morning casual Bible study at Chick-Fil-A where children could play in the jungle gym and women could share prayer requests and read and discuss the book of Matthew.  The Lord brought amazing women to this group of all ages and backgrounds from retirees to newbies and all of us in between.  I would not have gotten to know these women had we done the study, and to this day, I am thankful for their friendship and what they taught me during that time.  Here I thought I was going to get so much out of “serving the Lord” when in reality, He brought me the bigger blessing as I learned from these women.  I am so thankful that in spite of my plans, God changes it up so that I am always surprised by the encouragement and enrichment He brings through others.

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