Sunday, January 11, 2004

Professional Amputation

I'm losing my right arm! Well, kind of. Tomorrow my Chaplain's Assistant, SGT Lanier, is leaving. He is transitioning back to the United States after 15 months in Korea and will be stationed in Texas. This is what the Army is made of and what makes it a unique social institution. As we move from place to place we say goodbye to old friends and immediately begin to make new ones. Relationship building in the military moves in hyperdrive. There is no time to wait around for just the right neighbors or just the right co-workers. If you wait too long, they're gone before you have a chance to meet them and you'll spend your life feeling very lonely.

Over the past 6 months, SGT Lanier and I have worked well together and I have grown to appreciate him as a soldier, a confidante, and a friend. We would spend many mornings sipping coffee and talking about home, family, food, Korea, and anything else that came to mind. We bounced ideas and strategies for ministry off one another and developed plans and procedures to make things run smoother. And when it came down to doing ministry, he was my right arm. I would not have been nearly as effective a minister were he not here, because while I was preaching and shaking hands and counseling, he was preparing and counting and ensuring that the next event was ready to go. He has been one step ahead of me every where I have gone and when I arrived there, I looked like a genius because of his work. What more could I ask for.

I have no idea what my next assistant will be like. Over time we'll sip coffee and talk of home and build a relationship. I do know this, however, if he is half the NCO that SGT Lanier has been during the past 6 months, I am in great shape.