Over the course of just a few days, my Chaplaincy adventure went international. I knew before I reported to my new unit that I was to deploy to Europe to link up with them. I just didn’t know how quickly it would happen. Within a few days of signing in to the Rear Detachment of the unit at Fort Stewart, I was on a plane headed to Germany. This was eventful for a number of reasons. It was my first trip outside of North America. My first trip to an area where English is not the native language. My first deployment with the Army.
Amid the excitement and nerves of making my first international trip was also mixed the sadness of leaving my family behind. This was especially tough because we had just had a new baby a few weeks prior.
But from the time I said goodbye to the time I got to Poland by way of a two day stop in Germany, I hardly had time to stop and think. Chances are, if you stay tuned in to the news, you’ve heard about this huge multinational military exercise called Anakonda. That’s what I jumped into. I got here a few days after the exercise started so it has been an adventure finding my footing and getting integrated into the new unit.
With the challenges have already come some unique opportunities. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a number of Swedish medical personnel who took part in a large mass casualty exercise. I’ve visited with a couple of Polish linguists who are embedded with our medical personnel to assist in providing care to Poles who can’t speak English. I also got to take part in the mass casualty exercise and get some practice providing religious support in that hectic and challenging environment. I encountered the language barrier first hand when I came across several simulated Polish casualties and had to work to overcome the language to help give them support.
These first ten days or so have come and gone so quickly that I’ve had a hard time keeping the days straight. I’ve learned a lot, experienced a lot, and still have so much more to learn about this new organization and the people in it. Please pray for a fruitful ministry, strong relationships to develop, and for these soldiers who are separated from their families and homes.