Back from China and Starting Sophomore Year

Greetings Friends and Family,

Sorry, I know its been a while since I sent out an update. First there were the four weeks of break, during which I never intended to write anything since I was doing nothing more exciting than working and exercising. Then this past Sunday I didn’t really get around to it, oh well. But now you get to hear about my adventures, so sit back, grab some popcorn (or don’t actually, it is very bad for you, pick up some carrots and apple slices instead), and enjoy the show.

My break was very relaxing in that I didn’t do school for four weeks (though I actually really missed it), and very un-relaxing in that I was just as busy as I always am, just in different ways. I spent most of my time working, organizing my stuff, putting things away, cleaning, and getting ready to go back to college (paperwork, paying tuition, getting books, supplies, etc.). The first weekend was my older sister, Sarah’s, wedding. It was down on Lookout Mountain in Georgia. The wedding was wonderful, my sister is very happy, and I got very sick. I think it was the crayfish. I have been developing an aversion to eating things that live in the water. I got sick after eating shellfish last spring and I had some crayfish at the reception. That night I could not sleep and early the next morning I threw up so much I fainted. But enough of my troubles (I lived, don’t worry about it), I had a wonderful weekend all things considered and I am very happy for my sister.

The second weekend my little sister, Serena, and I went camping in Red River Gorge. We were joined all day Saturday by our cousin John Graham, who is in his 60s, extremely fit, and out-hiked us both. He was also very familiar with the Gorge and helped us find and hike some very interesting, less well known trails. We had a great time and he camped out with us Saturday night. Sunday we split up and Serena and I hiked alone. It was beautiful and very relaxing. It was very nice to have some time alone with my sister, and the scenery was just absolutely gorgeous. I’m sure Serena would tell you a different story, something about her wanting to plop down and die she was so tired, but ignore her. She did just fine and enjoyed the scenery, if not the hiking.

The next weekend Serena and I took Mom to the airport to go up to New York and join Dad for a week-long workshop on how to build straw bale houses (we are building a straw bale house). So that whole week us two “kids” (16 and 19 years old) were on our own *evil grin*. Actually we were very good and took care of everything. If anything naughty went on while Mom and Dad were gone it was Serena doing too much drawing and reading and not enough school. That Monday was Labor day and I took the day off to relax (meaning I read books all day).

My second to last weekend I went with some friends from my Tae-Kwon-Do school to watch a martial arts tournament in Louisville. It was me, two other girls, and a guy. Us girls had a great time watching the contestants and making jokes about them to each other. I know it seems mean, but some of the things they do are so silly. We view marital arts as a very serious business that is meant to teach you how to defend yourself in any circumstance, but a lot of what people do at tournaments are just performances–very flashy, loud things that are often (but not always) impractical. You usually get points the louder you are and this one girl did something that looked like a gymnastics routine (lots of jumps and flips) and won first place because of it.

My last weekend I was just really busy getting ready for school. Now, before I go on I need to break some news and explain myself. I have joined Navy ROTC (reserve officer training core) at my college, the Ohio State University. I am a college program marine option which means that I am not yet on scholarship and if I get commissioned after I graduate I will be an officer in the U.S Marine Corps. Some of you will be surprised by this, some of you won’t. For those who are surprised and feel like this is a very abrupt change of direction for me, it is not. I have wanted to be in the military for a long time, somewhere around five years. I have not done it up to this point because I was not sure it was what God wanted me to do. I knew I wanted to do it but I did not know if God wanted me to do it. This past summer while I was in China I thought and prayed about it a lot and my father, a friend of ours in the military, and I talked about it extensively. This is something I feel called by God to do. I am not positive he wants me to do it, I do not presume to know the mind of God, but I believe it is what he wants for me. What I am doing now is trying out a year and then my father and I will talk about it more before I make a commitment to do the other two years and graduate to take on a commission.

So now that you understand my decision, I can continue. Sept 15-19 was Freshman Orientation for NROTC recruits. It was similar to a mini boot camp, but the point wasn’t to beat us into the ground, but to distill in us disciple and impress on us the importance of what we were doing. We were yelled at a lot, though they didn’t cuss at all. We also yelled a lot, since whenever we replied to any order or question we had to yell out everything (Aye sir, Yes sir, etc). My voice got hoarse. We also did a lot of drilling (which is amazingly fun, but definitely hard), some briefs (which is the navy term for a lecture or little presentation), and more drill. We had a knowledge packet we had to memorize (had a test on it on Friday), and we also spent a lot of time getting issued everything we needed, trying it on, getting it fitted, etc. so that on Friday we could have a uniform inspection. The whole week I went to bed around 11pm and got up at 5 am, sometimes at 4:30. Good thing I’m an morning person.

I thought the week was sooo much fun. Hard definitely, but for anyone who has ever been around me, they know that I have the most fun when I’m overcoming a challenge, so I loved everything. I even liked being yelled at, mostly because it made me pay attention and strive for excellence. Also, though, our platoon guide (the equivalent of a DI in boot camp) who did almost all the yelling was this very short and cute little guy named Nienaber (pronounced Knee Neighbor) who walked around like he owned everything. It was so funny when he yelled, and I got in big trouble a few times for not being able to hide my smile when I saw him on tiptoes, stretching up to yell in some tall guy’s face. Come to think of it, the platoon guides for all the platoons (there was Foxtrot 1, 2, and 3, I was in Fox 2) were really short guys. But anyway. It was fun. Other people did not think so, and we had six dropouts total from the freshman class of 49. They say that by the time our class are seniors, there will only be about 20-25 left.

The week was also a little scary since there were all these things I didn’t understand and it was very intimating to try and ask a superior since they spent all their time yelling at us and we weren’t even allowed to look at them during freshman O. Graduation was great though. I think our platoon did fairly well on the drill and inspection (Fox 2 was the most pathetic of the three platoons at the beginning of the week, we had some pretty sorry people in it and the most dropouts, but we finished about even with the other two platoons). At graduation I was awarded the Honor Freshman award for my platoon, much to my surprise (there was an Honor Freshman award and a Most Improved award for each platoon, I was Honor Freshman for Fox 2). We also got our cover pins (cover is the navy term for hat, and we got gold anchors to pin on our covers) as well as our class coin.

After that things have gone pretty fast. In NROTC, after Freshman O everything is different. The freshman are now people, they don’t yell at us any more (unless we screw up), and we can look at people and I’m finally getting to know everyone’s face, name, and rank. Wednesday I started classes, and it was pretty bad because I have 8 and 1/2 hours of classes on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were much better. I do, not surprisingly, have a lot of homework, and more reading than I’ve had before. But I really like my classes, they are very interesting. I’m taking: Networking in China and America, Chem. 101, Introduction to Geology, Arabic 104, and Introduction to Naval Science (terms, customs, mission, history, ranks, etc. of the Navy).

Please pray for me, mostly that I would wisely manage my time to get everything done I need to (homework mostly), but also for self control in my physical fitness. I can no longer just eat whatever and however much I want, and I am exercising 6 days a week, so it is frustrating sometimes. Especially since last year, a big thing that helped me study as much as I needed to was munching on snacks while I studied. I can’t do that anymore.
Also please pray for my roommates. One is a Christian and one is not yet. They are both from Asia. We all need God’s strength to get through our school as well self control to set school aside to spend time with HIm. Thank you all and I hope you have a great week.

In Him who saved us,

One Response to “Back from China and Starting Sophomore Year”

  1. Dad says:

    I love it! You really give a feel for what is happening in this post; it is long, but well worth it.

    You didn’t mention running up the parking lot levels the first day. You were the only girl left after 7 floors, right? And some of the guys dropped out too? 😉

    Will pray hard for studying and self control. Drinking tea helps me concentrate, so if you have nothing– that’s hard (since you don’t like tea, etc.)

    We’re so proud of you!

    (how many times do I get to say that per post??)

    Love, Da

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