After a morning of Nuclear, Biohazard, and Chemical (NBC) Warfare training, this is a picture of Kyle Fischer (Fish, as we all call him) and me. I promise that I actually DID the training. Fish looks like he has been rolling around in charcoal, and I look relatively normal. I am only sorry we didn't get any pictures of us wearing our gas masks. Fish is very proud of this picture which is not surprising given his personality. On any given day, he is ready for anything, strapped down with multiple knives and blades just in case "something" comes up. Next time I head to my storage unit for gear retrieval, he is coming along. He also happens to be a great shot, which bodes well for me.
For the next year, Fish, who is a 19-year-old cowboy from Iowa, and I will be sharing an office. I have no doubt on many days I will be ready to abandon my any commitment I have to Christian non-violence (he will likely feel the same way), but I know I am lucky to have a chaplain's assistant who is as dedicated and faithful as Fish. He is one of the youngest soldiers on the whole post, but has more motivation that most. No doubt, many of my stories will involve Fish, since he and I will be basically joined at the hip for the next 365 days. I keep telling him all the ways to keep me stress-free and happy, but I know, since he is basically a younger brother to me, he will probably end up using that personal intel against me.
We have about a week left before we leave. It's definitely a sprint to get everything done... For now, though, it is the weekend. No one is planning beyond sunday, but trying to enjoy every bit of this free time. Denial is often a helpful coping mechanism. And, so, for the next few days, we will all go on with our lives as if nothing is about to happen. Yet, we have all been feeling ourselves being drawn together and prepared for our mission. Every morning when I first wake up, I figure out is how many weeks we have left. Now, we are down to days. The amazing thing is that the closer the day is, the more we feed on each other's excitement. Even in the dread of separation from family and friends or just the luxuries of life at home like driving a car or drinking coffee from a favorite coffee mug, there is an energy which pulses through our offices and hallways. And, as one soldier said today, "We have to get there before we can all come home again." Well said.