Shortly after our meal we began logistics training on what was planned for the arrival of the families and these days ahead. Of course, well made plans are seldom executed with accuracy. All of us learned lessons in flexibility, patience, and going with the flow as best as we were able.
Aside from the practical "do's" and "don'ts" the Chaplain spoke from the heart on how critical the time we are sharing with these families really is. Deployed twice to Iraq during some of the worst battlefield casualties, he related his own experience of loss. His wife's father passed away, he was in Iraq; his father-in-law's funeral was held, he was in Iraq; and his daughter celebrated her third birthday, he was in Iraq. All common occurrences in day to day family life, and yet - he sacrificed, they sacrificed, willingly.
He was not telling these events to evoke our sympathy, he was merely sharing how each and everyone of the soldiers, their wives, AND their children are giving up, missing out yet going on - to serve OUR country and fight for OUR freedom.
We sat humbled, contemplating the cost. He shared he was with his battalion (not his family) over Christmas. One of the men in his company asked if he could find him a guitar. Astonished to learn this soldier had any musical talent at all (never came up in conversation), he assured him he would find one.
During the evening service as they celebrated the birth of our Savior, the soldier picked up the guitar and played "What Child is This?" As it turned out, the Marine had been classically trained, but had not played in years. The Chaplain, with tears glazing his eyes even today, said "Marines don't cry. But that night well... we might have gotten sand or something in our eyes that caused them to water a bit."
On December 26th, the Marine went out on patrol. His vehicle hit an IED (improvised explosive devise) his right arm was blown off.
"Haste, haste to bring Him laud.."
It is hard to know just what we can offer, what we can "do" for them or their families that will mean anything. And yet - no labor of love (or for love) is in vain. God promises to honor our efforts even one's that seem as insignificant as finding a guitar for a soldier to offer a (last) song up to His King.
The families arrived through the thunderstorms that were raging all around the South Carolina coast. They were weary, but by dinner and the rock concert that followed they we're ready to roll! Their serious demeanor dropped, as "Tina" (another one of my disordered personalities) had the wives shaking percussion instruments and the Marines dancing in a Conga Line through the dining room. Their children arrived (to enjoy the closing ice cream social) and with dropped mouths at the antics of their parents - soon joined in jamming and jigging up for a scoop of frozen bliss.
Unconventional, no doubt, but don't forget - we are not given weapons of earthly kind. We are given weapons designed to bring down strongholds and principalities of darkness!
"On your feet now, applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter." Psalm 100:2 The Message
Burning calories, and dancing like King David (except for the under clothes part)!
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