Now I know what you’re thinking – and no – I’m not writing this from my living room in North Carolina. No, for me, home is FOB Marjah, Afghanistan – at least for the next 5 or so months. And it’s good to be back here where I belong for this season of my life. I greatly appreciate all the prayers that got me home to be with my family during the farewell of my father as he stepped into eternity. I loved seeing my mom and sisters and spending some welcomed time with my wife and kids. The time was short but good. The joy of the Lord continues to be my family’s strength through the days ahead.
I posted last that I would write a somewhat reflective post on my father’s passing and the meaning his life had on me and I think after some reflection a whole post isn’t necessarily what God has put on my heart and so I leave it to this simple line surrounded by much lighter fare.
My father died as he lived, more focused on the next world then on this one. He’s home.
Speaking of home, my own journey to my home away from home was interesting, boring, fast, slow and everything in between. The standard travel along commercial line back to Doha, Qatar was un-eventful and even at times pleasant though to anyone who has travelled for 24 hours straight with that many people around you the need for a shower, a shave and the great desire to brush teeth trumps everything. Not to mention airline food has a unique position of being both gourmet and junk all rolled into one. On one flight I had couscous with a yogurt sauce which sounds very high class except it came in a container that looked like it had been made in the 80s.
Really, couscous and yogurt… on a flight?
Give me a PB and J made last week and I’m good – honest. And what person at what level decided that people buying the cheapest ticket possible needed imitation French cuisines. So I left Jacksonville at 2pm and arrived in Doha (+7hrs) at 11pm on Sunday. By the time I checked into the Air force Base terminal in Al Udeid it was 2am Monday. I was informed there was a flight headed to Kandahar around 6am and I could wait and see if they had a seat for me.
As an aside when you are Emergency leave you get first crack at everything. Coming back to theater I was what is referred to as SPACE-A (space available) and was essentially at the bottom of the food chain, which is quite fine because there are other people that need to move much quicker then me, it just makes for a lot of waiting. So I keep my eyes open until 6am and – yup – flight was full with the next possible flight at 9pm. Well I knew there was no way in a million years I could go another 15hrs without some shut eye so I went and found some berthing and slept the day away, and the night, and most of the next day, and the next night. I didn’t miss my flight; remember I’m SPACE-A, I have no flight – just a chance at a flight.
It was odd, I started feeling guilty for sleeping and not trying harder to get back to my unit – even though I was informed by more then one individual that there was nothing more to do. I have this love/hate relationship with sleep. I love to sleep and hate appearing lazy – go figure. So the whole time I’m waiting for a flight I’m praying and God is saying as gently as He can – “Philip – I got this.” Now normally when someone tells you they “got this” that’s trouble and you should turn tail and run or look for some other way – But when it’s the Ancient of Days, well trust that He’s got it.
And sure enough I got a flight Wednesday that was straight though to Camp Bastion (where I needed to be ultimately before I transferred to rotary wing – Helicopter) . The interesting thing here is if I had taken an earlier flight I probably would still be stuck in Kandahar waiting for a flight to Bastion as I write this – instead of typing at my desk.
Trust God – He’s got this.
Not only did God provide a straight flight, He so inclined the flight crew to let me ride in the cockpit of a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III for the whole trip. For those of us that are not pilots, this truly was the trip of a lifetime. Take off and the landing was a bit eye opening – not to mention the casual almost cavalier attitude of the pilots who treat the mysterious ways of piloting as an everyday occurrence. They were not the above the average man professionals – but two dudes, and I use that term definitively that happened to also be pilots. In short it was a cool ride. And the view through 4 foot windows was – lets just say as tired as I was, I was wide awake.
So Thursday morning (+8.5hrs EST) at 2am I arrived at Camp Bastion the British counterpart to Camp Leatherneck and there was no-one to meet me, not that I expected it. But still flying into a strange terminal with no idea where to go or what to do at 2am was kind of sketchy. Exhausted I did the best thing I could, I crashed on the closest bench for a few hour and slowly by the grace of God (mainly because I was still half asleep) made my way across the base to the rotary wing terminal just in time….
…to wait for 10 hours for a 4pm flight that I might get a spot on head to of all places FOB Marjah – a flight which rarely ever happens. See I told you God said “I got this” and He really did. Who are we to doubt Him?
Anyway that was yesterday and I’m home. Home not because it’s where I sleep or where my loved ones are. No I’m home because even as I write this I’ve realized something, the old adage, home is where the heart is, is more true then we understand. My heart is pursuing His will, and for me His will is here.
So I’m Home.
And one day, as my father knows better then I, His will for me will be eternity – and then at long last I will be good and truly home…
In His Grips