Kim Henderson: Off to training

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, September 30th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here’s WORLD Radio’s Kim Henderson on what there’s just too little of.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: Here’s what happens when you send your son off to Marine boot camp. First, you learn it’s not boot camp. It’s recruit training.

Next, you get up really early and watch him swear in at the enlistment station. That’s also where an officer explains that your son (and you, by relation) have entered a new culture – the military one. 

Right after that, you head to the airport and sit with your son for three hours. No bags to check. Per a sheet of strict instructions, he’s packing light—just a driver’s license, social security card, address book, New Testament, and 20 dollars cash.

So you offer to buy him anything he wants, including a white chocolate mocha. Days later you notice your husband has secured the receipt from that purchase to a position of immortality on his dresser. He’s the same guy who prays over your son and the other fresh-faced recruits just before they board Delta Flight 24-78. 

As you’re waving your final goodbyes, a security guy tells you that it’s best to “leave them at the curb.” You don’t bother to tell him, as knowledgeable as he may be in such matters, that you’ve never been much good at curb-dropping. 

At that point you go home and begin to wait for The Call. It comes near midnight, and it’s a scripted message, as expected, with chaos in the background. It’s shouted at such a high decibel level that your husband must hold it away from his ear. But it’s your son’s voice, and he’s 663.4 miles away, so you’re thankful. In the extreme.

For the next two weeks you wait for The Letter. In the meantime, you wash less laundry, cook less food, and set one less plate at the dinner table.

One Sunday when you’re pulling the pot roast from the oven, you get a call from a lady who’s unpacking from a trip to Ireland. Seems she sat next to your son on his flight to Marineland. Yeah, she just happens to be the widow of Jack Lucas, the youngest Marine in history to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Finally, on a scorcher of a Monday, after buying fewer groceries than you ever have, you pull up to the mailbox and there, tucked beside a furniture store flyer is not only The Letter, but two.

The reading is harder than you thought it would be. Because you want to hear about push-ups, not a live-virus pill. You want to hear about the food (it’s fine) and the haircut (he got it).  But there’s something between the lines you sense . . . especially when he asks for prayers because he writes, “It’s hard to be a light in such darkness.”

Just after the request for 85 protein bars (has to be enough for the whole platoon), he writes one last line.

“The world needs Christ so bad.”

And that’s what happens (well, can happen) when you send your son off to boot camp. Uh—I mean recruit training.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “Kim Henderson: Off to training

  1. Julie K says:

    Very similar to sending our daughter except that she’s over 2,000 miles from home because all female recruits go to SC. We’ll be at graduation this week and hug for the first time in 13 weeks (over 14 for me because I wasn’t home for over a week prior to her departure). I’ve learned so much in that time and my heart is about to burst with pride and love for her!

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