Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Letters from Bootcamp

It has finally happened. After a couple of weeks of silence and uncertainty and wondering "What the heck is Shannon doing, and just how traumatized is she right now??" the letters have started rolling in. Whew.

Have you ever heard of the idea that you need to be completely broken down to be built back up again as a better, stronger person than you were before? I think that's probably the best way to describe the first week(s) of bootcamp. It's a total shock from the comforts of home to a totally new reality, and purposefully so. Obviously I am not talking from experience, only from what other people have told me. Trust me, I am not Marine material, haha.

No one was expecting Shannon's first letter home to be daisies and rainbows. But it's still hard to finally get that letter and read it for yourself. Shannon's first words weren't super comforting, especially to my poor mother who is a terrible worry wart, anyway. (Love ya, mom!)

She was tired and she was hungry. Shannon was miserable from lack of a shower, and the extreme humidity of July in South Carolina was/is nothing short of oppressing. While Shannon was having no problems at all following orders and performing tasks set before her, the same could not be said for the rest of her platoon. In her words, the platoon she was put in "sucked." Haha. According to her, none of the drill sergeants liked her at all, because they never had anything to yell at her about. I don't want to share every detail of personal letters, but hearing someone you love say that all they want to do every day is breakdown and cry...that is hard to swallow. Yes, it was a letter to be expected, but a tough one nonetheless. Every time we would step out into the heat, eat a meal, take a shower...we couldn't help but think about the struggles that Shannon was experiencing right then.

We started writing letters back immediately, but before ours could even reach her, more were coming in from Shannon. And what a difference a few days can make. :) My awesome. Yes, I said it.

She wrote back with some really incredible news. My baby sister was given the leadership position over 70+ girls in her platoon as a Lay Reader. What is a Lay Reader? In Shannon's words, "Basically, if the girls are broken I am supposed to help them out spiritually. Which is totally awesome!"

Shannon will be working with the chaplains as someone who can counsel and help other struggling young girls in her platoon. The Lay Reader also leads prayer for their platoon, among other things. This is a job that requires a recommendation and has to be approved by her leaders, which means that obviously they have seen something in Shannon that makes her stand out. By taking this position, she is automatically held to a higher standard than the rest of her comrades, but it is a job she is excited to take. "I am loving every minute of it! :)" I can't even express how proud I am of her!

From the beginning Shannon mentioned that many other girls had commented on how "together" and confident she was. She had already established herself as someone that others looked up to, which makes me even MORE proud of her. And to add to it, there was more good news.

"I have bruises and bug bites everywhere, but they actually let us shower for real (kind of ) today!" - Haha, I bet she felt like a new woman.

"My platoon is getting pretty good at drill with our rifles. :) AND we learned how to stab people with them today!" :D Ha!

The fact that she is in blistering hellish heat and still signing her letters with hearts and smiley faces let's me know that she's surviving and in a good place right now. Or at least, as good as it gets! :)

Still, she is begging and pleading for letters and pictures from home. "I need all of the motivation and reassurance from back home that I can get!" So please, if you think of her, drop Shannon a postcard, send her a letter, take a picture of yourself and hold up a sign that says, "Hello!" haha. ANYTHING.

PO BOX 16425
PARRIS ISLAND, SC 29905-6445

On training day 4 Shannon IT'd twice in a row, meaning that she did something wrong and she had "intensive training" for it. In other words, she was punished. I had to google "IT'd" to make sure I knew what it meant, and the gist is that it's some really grueling exercises for about 90 seconds while someone is yelling in your face. You know, typical Marine stuff. What struck me about it was how little Shannon actually dwelled on that in her letter, and part of me can't help but think she didn't mind it that much, baha. That's Shannon. :)

I can't wait to receive more letters from my sister and hear all about how God is using her with the new leadership position she has been given. Seriously, what an awesome opportunity. You know, there were a lot of setbacks for her leading up to this point. Shannon didn't end up leaving when she was supposed to because of various issues outside of her control. So many disappointments and obstacles stood in her way. She could have ended up in a completely different platoon with an entirely different set of girls if she had gone on her original date.

Given recent events, I can't help but think there was a reason she is with this particular group. Someone, or several someones, are going to be counseled by her, and it's Shannon's job to share the love of God with them. I don't believe in coincidences. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a reason that Shannon is where she is right now, at the time she is there, and with the people she is with. I am thankful that while bootcamp feels nothing short of "hell on earth" that God is still very much with her, guiding and directing her. No screaming drill sergeants, no blankets of humidity, and no amount of hunger and exhaustion stands between her and Him. He hears and answers prayers everywhere. Praise God for that!

I hope that whatever Shannon is doing right now, she is totally rocking it and making the most of the time she is given. Her enthusiasm has been catching. And goodness me, after her last few letters, I hope my mama is sleeping a little better at night! ;)

Thank you for all of the kind words of support you have already given to my sister. I know most of you don't even know her at all, which makes it even more incredible to have your encouragement. What a great group of friends we have. Hope you all have a wonderful day!


Heather said...

Wow...sure sounds like everyone has something to be proud of in that girl! I hope she is settling in more and having a "better" time!!

sblind2 said...

I teared up though this whole post!! Brody and I will work on letters this weekend!!

Cassie said...

go shannon!!

Sara Simpson said...

I was crying too!! What a strong girl. Lots of thoughts &
prayers for her!!


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