The First 90 Days of Officership – Week One
By: Lieutenant Chelsea Fleeman
It all happened so fast. After an exhausting week of banquets, rehearsals, and sacred meetings, my “730” days of training were officially over. A new count began – a count that doesn’t have a definite end date. June 5th was day 730 of my cadet journey, but it was day 1 of my officer journey. The question lingered in the air: now what?
Now was the time to split up as a session and get our hands dirty. We were going out individually, but as we were reminded many times, not alone.
We had been prepared for the first 90 days of officership. Well, as prepared as anyone can be. We were given checklists and pamphlets and a wealth of shared knowledge. Still, there were things I was not prepared for.
For instance, I was not prepared to return to a corps where I’d already served. That was quite a shock, and a very happy surprise.
I also was not prepared for the sheer amount of energy it takes to move somewhere. It isn’t just the physical aspect – the 21 boxes, 5 suitcases, and 10 miscellaneous other items that have to be carried to a second story apartment – but it’s also the mental and emotional exhaustion that comes with transition.
Leaving behind everything you’ve known for 730 days is hard. Though my time at the Evangeline Booth College was challenging, it was even worse saying goodbye to the 100+ people that had become like family to me. They aren’t here with me now and I’ll admit that I had to grieve over the loss of their daily presence.
Then there are so many things you have to do to get established in a new place. I knew this before I got here, but I couldn’t fathom how exhausting it all would be. From setting up my apartment to changing my driver’s license to setting up appointments with various doctors, I’ve found myself completely worn down. But at the same time I’m a little proud of myself for how much I accomplished without any meltdowns or excessive calls to my parents.
Finally, and most importantly, I was not prepared for how warmly I would be embraced at my appointment. As I mentioned, I did serve here for six weeks during Christmas, but there has been a lot of change since then – new employees, new congregation members, even a new thrift store! Yet despite all the changes in the corps, and in me, I have felt an outpouring of love, and it’s been overwhelming.
I feel blessed, and I feel excited. This is the very beginning of my ministry, and I can’t wait to see how God will use my time in Panama City. Right now I’m just praying to be as much of a blessing to the people here as they’ve been to me.