May 27, 2007 God's hand.

It was meant to be my first full tour. Leaving Wednesday before dawn, returning home Tuesday in time to sleep in my own bed. Instead I was delayed by a stomach bug.

Finally heading up part way into my tour I was relieved: Not terrified as expected. Sunday morning, 0400h, facing forward on highway 44. The weather had turned cooler recently. Spoiling the end of a pre-long-weekend run of pleasant spring/summer warmth.

Often in the past year I’ve had to miss church for school. This particular morning, this particular drive…I had it all. The sun rose beside the vacant passenger seat. The clean dawn light bringing with it the mystery of the day that lay ahead. The morning fog, the sole treat of an otherwise unpleasant change in weather. It reminded me of our own winter breath, as if God had tried to cover the meadows, and trees with a warm and loving blanket. The sweet home scent of ‘new’ in meadows wafting through the vents.

The road was my own. Spring in full force, every shade of green one could imagine and not a speck of brown to be found. Even that gross lime-like green, the one nobody ever wanted to use in the massive box of crayons that came with its own sharpener, looked heavenly. The backdrop a promise of rain. The blanket of fog the most forgiving artistic technique, even I couldn’t be worried about what would be waiting at the end: As if I was witnessing a living set of every story I had ever read.

The unofficial, unintentional tradition at my service is to have the student cook or paint something. I cooked: Pancakes...A few hundred at that. It was EMS week, and we kicked it off with a pancake breakfast. I’m waiting to get a copy of the picture that shows how well we all worked together as a team!

I confess though, getting behind the grill was a strategic maneuver because it was cold, I didn’t have my jacket with me, and I was in short sleeves. To me, the grill meant heat, to them, I was just a keener.

The event, which lasted 6 hours, was a great icebreaker with everyone. Not only did I secure recommendations for a backup career at IHOP, I managed to wiggle my way in with everyone just a little bit more: Inside jokes and all. Even if it meant getting labeled as “four sausage Heidi” in the process. And all of this helped alleviate the homesickness that was consuming all my motivation. Leaving me with the simple sense of panic - I have no clue what I’m doing!

My first call came that same day, a medivac transfer to the city. The expectations of me were simple: straight-forward assessment and history. I think IHAS prepared me well for this, because afterward I got plenty of positive feedback. It didn’t hurt that I got a successful IV on my first try.

I still have jitters. I still have doubts. But at least my toes got wet this tour. Next one…I hope I find the courage to step it up a few notches and regardless of how I fair, that I at least give it a solid try.

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