The Family

The Family

Saturday, May 16, 2015

It Was the Most Amazing, Hardest Three Years of My Life.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This has long been one of my favorite Bible versus, it comforts me to know that in every situation that God has a plan for me, even if I can’t see it or even want to see it.

My time in Guam was both amazing and a struggle at the same time.  I have been telling people it was the most amazing, hardest three years of  my life. 

Let me start with the people of Guam, the real people of Guam, not the ones you find inside the confinements of the base gates.  The people of Guam are warm, welcoming, and incredible.  We were blessed enough to meet some people that have become like family, people I would be honored to have in my life forever.  They are dedicated, loving, kind, and so very sincere.  Their hospitality and love of life has given me a new appreciation and love for my fellow man and the desire to connect with people on a more basic and real level.

My football/baseball/rugby/paddling sideline brothers and sisters have become my friends for life, not simply because our children will most likely be life long friends, but because they are people I truly like and admire.  They were my family, my carpool buddies, my fellow sideline critics, and in most cases those I spent some well deserved time at the end of a long week decompressing and laughing with.  We fed, mended, scolded, inspired, took photos of, did laundry for, parented, and cheered an amazing group of Guam High Panthers.  They gave me the gift of laughter and friendship, and re-enforced my belief that it takes a village to raise a child. I also had to learn to say good-bye to these amazing people, as they PCS’d to other commands.  To build strong bonds and relationships only to have them move away at times often seems physically draining.  It was the most amazing, hardest three years of my life.

Chicago blessed me with amazing friends, who gifted me with their support, camaraderie, love, and laughter.  This group of people was my support system, the ones who knew things about my life that I wasn’t able to share with the rest of the world because of OPSEC.  They identified with the loneliness of deployments, late nights, and missions.  We filled our time with pedicures, painting, movies, 5K’s, and enough pinterest ideas to put Martha Stewart to shame.  And of course there is the one piece of advice passed on to me by my dear friend Erin T, the CO’s wife, “No matter how they act, NEVER let them see you react in a way that will hinder you from walking away with your head held high and your dignity in tact.”   Then there were others who caused me to have to use Erin’s very wise and sage advice.  These people also taught me that it doesn’t matter if they know who I am, it only matters that I know who I am.  They also taught me that you have in your power to eliminate negativity in your life simply by not entertaining it, but walking away from it. This group of people taught me that I need to be selective in whom I share myself with and that not everyone does or needs to appreciate what I bring to the table and I should not be offended by their attitudes, but rather save what I have for those who are ready for my gift, and who really want it. It was the most amazing, hardest three years of my life.

There was another special group of people who taught me additional valuable lessons.  This group of people cannot be named or identified, because I simply wouldn’t know where to begin.  This small pocket of people, were quite possible the most ungrateful, unhappy group of people I may have ever encountered.  This group complained about everything from the front gate, to crosswalks, to speed limits, opportunities offered on base, or opportunities not offered on base. I am not sure if this happens on other small bases, but this is the first time I have encountered such a clump of grump!  They made life uncomfortable for everyone on base and caused divisions and tension in many instances over simply childish things.  These people taught me to be grateful for those people who work so hard for our families, supporting them and providing services on base.  It was the most amazing, hardest three years of my life.

My job began as a struggle, and ended amazing.  Our branch of the base organization was being run by someone who had no experience in running a federal entity and in other areas of the world would have been fired for their gross violations of every EEO law in place.  I struggled to work in an environment that I knew was corrupt and in violation of my rights and the rights of those around me.  I often woke up on Monday mornings crying, dreading having to work under such conditions for another five days.  The poor morale of the organization and the fear in the employees eyes were a tangible thing, they could be felt, smelled, and tasted.  A year and a half into it we received our freedom when the individual quit.  It was like the curtain of darkness had been lifted and we were new people.  The spirit of healing began to work its miracles as we collaborated, laughed and moved forward.  I was blessed enough to be selected for the position that the negative individual had vacated and given the opportunity to spearhead the healing and turn around of such an amazing team.  We accomplished more in that year in a half than had been accomplished in the more than ten years prior. The freedom and healing also allowed healthy relationships and bonds to form among the staff, and the people I left behind at CYP Guam will always have a piece of my heart. I was also blessed at that time with an amazing boss and an amazing group of fellow department heads, which made coming to work fun and enjoyable, even on our craziest days. It was the most amazing, hardest three years of my life.

Chicago blessed us with a very successful tour and allowed us many opportunities to celebrate.  Two Battle E’s, Master Chief, Command Master Chief, numerous highly successful missions, numerous dependent cruises, opportunities to travel, opportunities to meet leadership from other nations, a special relationship with the wonderful members of the 721 Club, and an overall an amazing crew and command.  Those amazing opportunities came with a price, just with any other leadership role.  I learned not to be offended when people took my husbands decisions personally, and said unfavorable things, I learned that not everyone wants to be close to you because they have a sincere interest in sustaining a relationship with you, but rather what a relationship with you will benefit them.  I learned that it is truly lonely at the top, and there are very few people you can talk to.  However, these hard lessons I learned birthed a deeper fellowship with the Lord, the only one I had to talk to at times and contentment with myself.  It was the most amazing, hardest three years of my life.

Coming from Hawaii you would think that Island Time would be something I would be used to.  On Guam Island Time is Hawaii Time slowed down, stopped, and then started again. At first it was very painful for this girl from the east coast to slow it down that fast.  The maximum speed limit on the island is 35 MPH.  Yes you read that correct 35 MPH.  Imagine attempting to drive only 35 MPH for three years.  Checking out at the store takes longer, walking in the mall takes longer, ordering and being served at a restaurant takes longer, and I swear that the traffic lights take longer!  Getting items shipped to Guam meant shopping for items you needed six months in advance because that’s how long it takes to ship certain items. Over the course of the three years we were there it taught me to slow down and appreciate life, it taught me how to relax and make time for the things that matter. It was the most amazing, hardest three years of my life.

I have said it before and I will most likely say it again.  I would not have chosen to go to Guam, but given the choice again, I would do it all over again.  It was not an easy tour, but it was amazing and it did teach me many valuable life lessons and blessed me with an amazing group of people who I will always hold near and dear to my heart.

It was the most amazing, hardest three years of my life.