On the drive down, my friend Meighan was telling me about one of the questions she had to answer for her law school application: Describe a day from your life you would want to live over again. What a question! I immediately thought of a few I am thankful I would not have to relive, but then I began to consider what day I would choose. There were many moments that made the list, but as Saturday went on, I began to say to myself, 'This is a day I would I relive."
We spent the day doing crafts and talking with soldiers and their families, hearing the stories of their injuries, finding out about home, playing with their children. We had the privilege of praying with many, as they face many uncertainties about the recovery process.
This year, Operation Joy was granted access to the inpatient hospital. Three of us were able to go visit soldiers in their rooms. The group allowed me to be one of the three -- what a blessing it was to be in this facility. Both personally and professionally. We were able to spend a long time with a twenty year old man who received skin grafting to his entire left leg. He was waiting to find out if the graft took, so that his leg would not need to be amputated. This young man demonstrated an incredibly positive outlook on his situation. He was honest with us about his fears related to the rehab process, but overall, he was cheery, optimistic, and full of laughter. When we presented him with a Christmas tree and explained its meaning, he said, "This is the most beautiful thing I've been given." We were able to spend some time praying with him and his mom. It was a time of mutual blessing.
I prayed with the wife of a soldier who is very sick and they are facing so many unknowns in terms of his health. We were able to serve them on such a deep level. We provided a few minutes or hours of distraction from the reality that the life these men and women knew was stripped from them in an instant -- all the while protecting our freedom (of which most of them consider "just part of my job, ma'am.").
We gave them Christmas trees, they gave us perspective. My heart is full of thanks and gratitude to the members of our armed forces, and to their families, for the sacrifices they have made on our behalf.