I had just passed my 18th birthday, had my high school diploma and only two stripes on the left arm of my clean, new Navy white uniform. But I was working hard toward my next stripe on a cruise aboard the USS Bowers out of Charleston Navy base.
The uniform was clean and neat but I was green as a gourd. Wouldn’t have admitted it at the time but I feel secure in that admission now.
But not even 53 years can mellow an old sailor enough to dim the memories nor shrink the tingle of excitement that tickled my spine. My duty station in the pilot house when I first heard the order announced from the bridge: “Now Single Up All Lines”. It is always the final command given in preparation to make passage to some exotic port over what poets call the ‘bounding main”.
Now. That’s the word. “Now” the entire mighty vessel stood poised and ready to “Throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor” as Mark Twain put it.
And that’s what it looks like around our house as Franz, Kristie, Jennifer, Jacob and Matthew enter the last week before leaving for Papua New Guinea. They have packed, re-packed and repeated the cycle too many times to count already. And I predict that this process will continue until next Tuesday (August31) when they board the plane in Pensacola. “Catch the trade winds in their sails..” to paraphrase old man Twain, and resume their missionary ministry on that beautiful island nation in the South Pacific.
They are young and excited and ready to go! “Explore. Dream. Discover”, Twain challenged.
But, there are a couple of old folks who must stay behind this time. I know for a fact that they need your empathizing prayer as much as the young’uns.