You’ve seen them- the commercials, the YouTube videos, Facebook posts- of the soldiers surprising their families, finally home after deployment. I admit, I can’t watch them. I cry uncontrollably. I have to change the channel, leave the room, plug my ears. It’s too much.
I’ve thought long and hard about why this is, I’m not sure there is an answer or if there is there are those much more scientific than I to tell you, but here’s what I do know.
About a year ago we laid on hands and commissioned Captain Troy Modisette of the Army for deployment. We also commissioned and laid on hands of his family- Debbie, Adam (now 17) and Alyssia (12). The Modisettes have been part of our church for a long time, are very active and beloved. Thankfully Troy was being deployed to a fairly peaceful post in Kuwait, but that did not make it any easier on him or his family. Anyone who has experienced or walked a family through deployment knows, there are hardly words to express the sadness and feelings of loss from everyday life.
I admit I did not know Troy well before his deployment, I had met him several times and he worked with our children and youth to send packages to soldiers at Christmas. I admit, though, we did have a special bond, one confirmed when he gave me one of his Beef Enchilada MREs (his favorite). Debbie and I, have become very close. I am thankful, although I could have done a lot more, that she took me seriously when I told her I was there for her and her children. I thought and prayed for all of them everyday of this last year.
We knew Troy’s deployment was ending soon, we knew that it could be anytime, but no later than March. Just knowing that made things a little (stress: a little) easier emotionally on his family, after Christmas we all began to witness the fog begin to clear, a little. Thankfully Troy arrived home on Saturday. He surprised Adam at a tennis match and Alyssia at a restaurant. The stories, photos, and yes, video is beautiful. I cried, they capture feelings of pure joy and relief.
But the surprises weren’t over yet.
I was looking for Debbie in her Sunday School class last Sunday morning because I had a question to ask her. It was a holiday weekend and she wasn’t there, no biggie I guess (what, people take a day off… what?). Second service started and we were in the middle of announcements when the large doors of the church opened.
I saw Adam and Debbie and Alyssia. Then I saw a man in fatigues. I was shocked to say the least. The congregation’s eyes were forward so I managed to get out, “welcome home soldier!” I will never forget the look on Adam’s face as he knew he had “gotten me”. As they made their way forward (they always sit up front!) I tried to move on but couldn’t. I left the lectern, ran down the aisle and hugged them. The congregation clapped and cheered, I cried. (and am crying now just thinking about it).
As I reflect on the beauty of the moment I wonder if that family knows what they were saying to me and more importantly the church community when they included us in the surprise of welcoming Troy home. Some people don’t always understand why a church community is important, but Sunday morning the Modisettes witnessed that the love of God and the prayers of the community make us family. A family of God.
We care for one another, we love each other, and we hold each other dearly through pain, sorrow, and pure- overwhelming- ecstatic joy. Troy left his family in the care of our community and we answered the call- for him, his troop, and his family. For a year we have prayed for this family to be reunited. Any and all problems will not disappear or melt away, there is still a journey ahead and I will continue to hold them in prayer. But for now, I give great thanks and praise for answered prayers.