Eye-opening Africa deployment taught us both life lessons about hope

In 2010, the Air Force tasked the Good Chaplain to deploy to Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. I was so excited for him. What a terrific opportunity to work with people in dire need of help.

The deployment ended up being good for both of us. The Good Chaplain visited several countries in Eastern Africa and met with dignitaries and impoverished people alike. I got to experience life independently without another human being in the house with me.

The Good Chaplain arrived in Djibouti on November 11, 2010. We celebrated Thanksgiving on November 6 since he would be gone for the actual holiday. I imposed myself on my BFF and his family for Thanksgiving, but they didn’t seem to mind. Meanwhile, the Good Chaplain served Thanksgiving dinner to the troops for about two hours.

“It was fun to do chaplain things versus office things,” he said.

Generally, we would both serve at the base dining hall for a few hours and then get together with friends to share a meal on Thanksgiving Day. However, it was a different sort of holiday for both of us.

This deployment was quite different from the first time the Good Chaplain was gone for a holiday. That time he was gone for Christmas, we were in Alaska, and I threw myself one heck of a pity party. That was my most challenging deployment. And to think I got upset when he was gone on Mother’s Day during his Air Force Reserve years. That was nothing.

As he prepared to leave, I instructed the Good Chaplain to make sure he bought gifts from local women who sold their goods to earn a living. And he listened. While not all the presents he brought back were from women, many of them were made by local artisans and beautifully made at that.

This beautiful hand-carved trunk was one of the gifts the Good Chaplain brought back from Africa

We both learned lessons from that deployment. I learned how strong and independent I could be living all by myself. The Good Chaplain saw how faithful, hopeful, and generous people who had nothing (at least in our eyes) were in a part of the world which struggled with extreme poverty, drought, and warfare for many centuries.

Until next time,

Vicki

Victoria Terrinoni is the author of “Where You Go, I Will Go: Lessons From a Military Spouse,” available here or by clicking the Shop tab above. Watch for her new book on the Good Chaplain’s Africa deployment coming out in the fall!

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