This week continued the enjoyment of living in a quiet home! I stayed at the Bennetts the whole week, while waiting for Brian to come and for us to move into our new place in Palo Alto. Unfortunately though, staying up in Pleasanton meant riding the bus down to the office. Normally Monday mornings aren’t that bad, but I guess due to the start of school it was awful. It took over 1.5 hours to get to the office. Glad I only had to do it twice that week, but still, that felt like a lot! Thankfully, since I’m still not working a full schedule yet, I was able to just rest on the bus, as I’ve found it’s just really bad ergonomically for my body to be working crunched up (even though there are tables). I was worried about getting “car sick” since I hadn’t been in awhile, but thankfully did okay since I wasn’t reading or doing much work on the bus.
Had some interesting ups and downs throughout the week with work, and got to meet some new cat friends with my cat sitting job (and Mom got to go with me too and the cats loved her). It’s been fun to visit other people’s houses, and has also given me a good place to work remotely while not having an official home for the week. The Bennetts returned from their trip, so I got to spend some time with them, which was great. Brian and I had talked about how we want to be hospitable and generous, like the ways we saw people building community in GTMO, and staying with the Bennetts again reminded me of the amazing ways that Christians bring friends who may be different from them in to their lives and care for them in a deep familial way.
Our crate was delivered this week! Feels like all of the pieces are starting to come back together. Brian packed up on his side in Cuba, and said goodbye to the beach 😢 So sad. We really enjoyed our time in Cuba.
Brian arrived on Saturday, after a 2 day journey from Cuba. It’s great to have my family all back in the same place! We had lots of fun with my mom and Brian’s parents visiting the same weekend that Brian and the cats came back, and it was fun to be all together. We moved, so it was helpful to have people here to help bring a few boxes into the room that we’re renting in Palo Alto. It’s a great house and area; feeling so blessed, even though we don’t have the whole space to ourselves. Our cats love the backyard, and although we are trying to figure out how to sleep without them jumping on the bed and all over in the middle of the night (they always have slept in a separate room), I am so happy that they are back.
Brian had a little bit of an adventure getting the cats back from Cuba, but thankfully my mom met him in Jacksonville and they brought them back together, without any eventful happenings. The cats did very well traveling, but were happy to come out and stretch their legs at the hotel (as you can see in the picture of Jado laying with his arms straight out!)
We wanted to share some of Brian’s thoughts in planning to leave Guantanamo Bay, and the reflection of the experiences he’s had while being there:
It’s nice to have space, be in a small town where you can run into people you know everywhere, not have to waste time commuting or driving places. Life is simple. Either the Nex has it, or it doesn’t. No need to try to find the best price or look through different stores. If they don’t have what you need, you make do. It makes things so much more simple.
At the same time, I know I must leave. Life goes on, and my time here is done. There are new places and new adventures to explore, new skills to learn and experiences to cherish. Without closing this door, there are countless others that would never open. For everything there is a season, and I’m glad to be leaving this season while it’s still something I cherish. When I look back on this time, I know I will recognize it as the season that changed my life.I grew into my own professionally while here. It gave Amanda and me time to work on our marriage with so many fewer distractions. We got our cats and learned the military culture.
I think it also taught a lot about community. The 1100 service was pretty unique. It brought together a lot of different people who may not normally all attend the same service. Since it was the only protestant service on base, though, we all became the same congregation. The Chaplain was a great chaplain that helped foster that community. Amanda put a lot of work into building the community too, and you could really feel the difference from everyone uniting together. We met a lot of good people here that I’m going to miss.
This place really does feel like we are all in it together. The community comes together to solve problems for each other, with little asked in return. Everyone needs something at some point during their time here, so everyone is willing to share what they have and help out when they can, because next time it will be them asking.
I feel sad and a sense of many emotions. It’s partially knowing that I will never come back here, and it’s a beautiful place. I think nearly all of it is because I’ll have to say goodbye to so many good people – and I likely will never see any of them again. Rationally I know that is a part of life. I’ve had a lot of good memories here. I’ll cherish the time I’ve had working with my team and growing together in our skills. I’ll cherish the time playing with the worship team and enjoying those weekends together. I’ll cherish learning from the wisdom of those who have come before me. And I’ll cherish the time of just being a friend and hanging out with so many people.
To a lesser extent, I’ll miss the solitude and beauty of this place. I’ll miss having a private beach where there’s nothing to hear but the sound of the waves. The plentiful time to reflect and think on life while enjoying the beauty of creation and without distraction. I also just don’t like change. I get comfortable in what I know, and I learn how to enjoy the places I’m at. Change will cause me to reestablish equilibrium and learn new routine and find the new ways to enjoy my life. I know that I’ll be okay once I get there, but the journey is rough at times.
It was helpful to have the trip back there last month and to Idaho. It was a helpful reminder that life can be wonderful anywhere we go. Every place has it’s beauty to it if you just look. There are good people all over the world if you try to find them. Moving on simply means I get to meet more good people, experience more beauty of creation, and enjoy life in more abundant ways. Now I have more memories to cherish and a more expansive network of friends all over the country (and even the world!).
Note: One photo in the collage is of an iguana in the grocery store (in the outside section). We will miss those little guys. They’re the squirrels of GTMO.
Although there’s not a video of the cats from this week, I enjoyed being back at Valley Community Church in Pleasanton and hearing all of the voices singing so loudly! I feel like at most churches you normally just hear the band, but this week everyone was singing so loud, it was great. Such a perfect message too, about changing the world by loving those who are closest around us in our lives to show them the love of Christ.