Wednesday, June 27, 2012

World's Most Amazing Opportunity

I have written before about the absolutely unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I was given in December 2010 of donating my stem cells for a recipient who was a random match.

A few weeks ago I finally was able to fill out a form with my contact information for the family of the patient to reach me, if they so desire.

This morning I received the most amazing email I have and will ever receive in my entire life. The mother of the little girl I donated to contacted me! Penelope was 3 when I donated and she is now happy and healthy and about to turn 5 on Friday! If this isn't the most amazing thing one could ever be a part of in their life I just don't know what it. I'll keep you all posted about how my relationship with the family unfolds, I hope to meet them while I'm in the states!

I can't wait until then send pictures, you all know how I am with kids.

And the best part is, Penelope's mom described her as mischievous and strong willed. Is that not EXACTLY how one would describe me?? Especially when I was 5. Simply amazing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

rolling with the punches..

Man, it's been a crazy month.

There has been a bit of escalation here lately on both of the borders, Egypt an Gaza, but...knock on wood...things seem to be cooling off. I had a very short weekend last weekend as I was called back early and now I am going to be staying on base this weekend (my regular weekend) and the next (supposed to be my weekend off) because of a lack of people.  The up side is that afterward I will...knock on flying to the states!! Don't get too excited as nothing is ever certain with the army until I am legitimately on the plane, but if all goes according to plan I'm requesting them to get me a ticket from July 12th to August 10th. Let's cross our fingers they approve me for the army-purchased ticket, which I'm supposed to receive once during my service, cause that's the only thing that will make this trip a reality.

biggest news update: I can call cell phones/land lines in the states unlimited and for FREE from my cell phone now! I switched to the best cell phone plan possible, and I can't wait to start calling you all and catching up!!!

I'll try to post more updates soon, I just haven't been home in weeks and won't really be for the next few weeks. Bare with me, it's the unpredictable life as a soldier...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Meat and Potatoes

Yesterday I ate steak for the first time in (I'm guessing) 15 or so years! I actually don't have any recollection of eating steak but I know I HAVE eaten it at least once growing up at home. I don't have any photo documentation but I did have 3 bites. It actually didn't taste bad, I can even say I marginally enjoyed the taste, but the texture and the idea are still too much for me. It won't be a regular occurrence, but I'm glad I did it.

That's all, I thought it was blog worthy...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mini Photo Recap

Al and Mom at Brioche, an adorable restaurant in Nahariya that Al and I frequented last year.

Segway tour on the Jerusalem Haas Promenade!

pretending to be tough getting my new rank, Corporal, from my officer and commander

Israeli Independence Day cookout on base! B'te avon!

Taking a break from work to play on the longest foot bridge in Israel.

Mom and Al on our mini hike at Evan Sappir in Jerusalem

I Think These People Are Crazy...

A few weeks ago I finally finished my 5ish months of job training! A bit of a recap for those who are confused, when I enlisted I had basic training for just under a month, afterward I had my foreign relations course for a month and a half, then I arrived at my base at the beginning of December and I have been in different levels of job training ever since.  I passed my last tests and simulations two weeks ago, which means I am now a responsible for shifts in the ops room, or a 'shift leader' I suppose one could call it. Sometimes I am the only one on shift and sometimes I am with one or two others who are still training, so I am responsible for what they do or what happens during the shift.  It’s great when everything is going well, an easy day or a slow shift, but it is a lot of responsibility if something (knock on wood) goes wrong.

Over 10 months ago I enlisted to the army and had no idea how I would finish basic training with the lack of Hebrew language skills I possessed. Just about 7 months ago I started my course and did not see much hope in ever passing the tests and finishing, again because of the difficulty with the language and the extreme amount of information they were throwing at us in such a short period of time. My first two tests I got a 44 and 48, when passing was an 80. It seemed impossible but, to my surprise, by the end of the 6 weeks I received an 80 and an 84 and finished with a final score of 90 something. When I received my job assignment I honestly thought that was it. I thought, "I know I've passed these two major training periods which I didn't think I could pass but this JOB is so out of my REACH! Are they CRAZY?! They think I can sit in the Ops room/war room and take care of border security, dealing with our forces and the Egyptians, and try my best to avoid some war breaking out on the border? I don't even speak this language!" And I was right, I certainly didn't have the language skills. I've done many things in my life where I thought, "Well, this is going to be really hard, but of course I'll succeed if I just try hard enough." For the first time in my life, when I enlisted in the IDF I legitimately started thinking, "This is ACTUALLY impossible." How the heck am I supposed to manage to learn and master material if I don't understand the language they're giving me the information in. How can I receive reports and pass them on to my commanders and the Egyptians then back again to our forces if I don't know how to say 70% of the words I need.

Who would have thought, you know, when you're given responsibility and simply expected to succeed,  sometimes you actually Whether it means learning 50 new vocabulary words a day, every day, or spending every spare second learning everything I could about my job, working 17/18 hour days and refraining from speaking a word of English for two weeks straight on base just to learn Hebrew as fast as possible...I did, and am, actually doing it. The first few months were, I can confidently say, some of the hardest few months I could have ever imagined. I ended too many days in tears because I was so mentally exhausted and upset with my lack of progress (yea, I know, it doesn't happen over night). I saw where I needed to get to and I was not sure I could get there. Looking back now at how many things I didn't know when I got to my base, and how much more I can do now, with confidence, it's actually amazing.

I have learned an unbelievable amount about myself and my limits in the past 10 months. It is not something I am unaware of, growing up playing sports (special shout out to track), running a marathon and multiple half's, I am acutely aware of my (lack of) physical limits, but this was totally different. No class in college and not even working in social work (although I would say those 6 months in that job were a very, very, very, close second) can compare to what I have experienced, and learned.

I still have so far to go, but who would have known that I could not only finish my training but also take on the responsibility of other new soldiers. Oh, and I cant forget the million reports and documents, (60 slide powerpoints, for example) that we have to do weekly or monthly that were "impossible" for me at the beginning and now I can complete with little assistance.

There is no such thing as impossible, even the word itself says "I'm Possible." So true.