When we are waiting to find out about our assignments, we practice a lot of patience. Not because we are patient people, or because we are great at being patient, but just because we don’t have a choice. I try to do everything I can to distract myself from what’s coming up. I know that any day my husband could get an email, and I’ll have to run to his office to find out where we will be moving next.
For some jobs in the military, there are only specific places and bases you can work, but as a chaplain, my husband can be used at just about any base. So, our options are nearly unlimited. It makes it difficult to narrow down where we might be going. We thought we had an advantage this time because we know more about PCS'ing (Permanent Change of Station) this time than we ever have before. It turns out that our “knowledge” didn’t really have any effect on it at all.
Our oldest son, Price, turned 13 years old on Wednesday, so it was a pretty momentous day at our house. We have a tradition where we go out to dinner as a family on the actual birthday of each family member, but he didn’t want to go out on his birthday because it was the same night as the monthly dorm dinner here on base. The chapel sponsors it, and it is a time for the dorm residents to get some home-cooked food and hang out with other members of the squadron. Our son loves to go and run around and play, so he wanted to spend his birthday at the dorm dinner. I didn’t want to go, so Chyna (my husband's niece who is living with us) and I went to meet some friends for our weekly dinner out at a nearby Venta (small community restaurant). Ron took the boys and they headed out.
The day had been pretty normal up until then. I went with a friend to Costco in Sevilla, and then did normal everyday things. have recently started getting my friend’s kids from school each day and doing homework with them. They are moving next week back to the states, so this gives them a chance to get everything accomplished before they move, and it eliminates some of the homework issues because it’s easier to do homework with someone who isn’t your parent!
So, our family was in two different places. Everyone was singing Happy Birthday to Price at the dorm dinner, and Chyna and I were enjoying time with friends at the Venta. Ron checked his phone, like he’s been doing every 10 minutes since January, and he had an email with our assignment. He didn’t look at it before calling me.
I answer the phone at the Venta, and he asked if Chyna and I were done eating. I knew immediately what was going on, so we jumped up and left. Thankfully we were finished eating, so I paid and we drove the eight minutes back to base excitedly talking about where we were going. his is the first-time Chyna has been with us while we waited for an assignment, so it’s all brand new to her. We went to the chapel to meet Ron and the boys and we all gathered around to see the assignment. He opened the email and everyone leaned in to see. It said Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.
There are a couple of things that went through my mind immediately. First, I saw Ellsworth and thought Elmondorf. That is in Alaska, and I was freaking out for a split second before I saw SD after Ellsworth. I am sure that Alaska is a great place and really beautiful, but y’all, I’m from Arkansas and the idea of being surrounded by that much snow freaks me out. Bringing me to the only downside of this new assignment. I have never driven on snowy roads. I haven’t ever lived anywhere that had snow except Colorado Springs (our first assignment), and I had little babies so I just stayed home anytime it snowed. This time I can’t do that because I have older kids and they want to be involved in stuff. After my initial panic of thinking it was Alaska, I was just stunned. I really thought that we had gone through the list of openings for his job and put all of those places on our “wish list”. The kids wanted to know basic questions, like how far it was from Arkansas (18 hours), and how far it was from Maryland (23 hours). We started googling where it was in South Dakota as we began to call our parents. After telling them and then starting the process of telling all our friends, it began to sink in that I was going to have to learn how to deal with snow. I could ignore it and hide from it in Colorado, but that won’t be an option in South Dakota.
Now that it’s been a couple of days, my initial surprise has worn off and all the research I’ve done has made me more excited than scared. The children have all been looking for things they’re interested in doing and finding lots of options there to keep them busy. The most pressing unknowns right now is where we will live and what Ron’s job will look like. While we wait to hear about the job and the future of the assignment there, I’ve just been doing some South Dakota research. The main things I’ve learned so far.
- The state capital is Pierre (pronounced peer). Apparently the pronunciation part is a huge deal, and since I’ve grown up with people mispronouncing Arkansas (are-kansas), then I will do my best to always pronounce it correctly.
- We will learn so much history about the expansion of our country that I can’t even fathom all of it right now. I am a history nerd of all kinds, so I am the most excited about this prospect. I will probably be super annoying to all the people around me as I continue to research the history of the area and the part our country’s expansion has played in the area.
- Everyone loves to be helpful and tell you what they know about an area, so the two most consistent things we hear are about the wind and the cold. We will just have to wait and see how accurate these warnings are. I’m not really looking forward to finding out.
As we learn about this move and this new area, I will look back at my 10 pros and cons of moving in the military and remember number 10. No matter where we are, if we are together then we are home.