Nov 5, 2006

Christians from Colorado

All this talk in the news here in the US about a certain Reverend from Colorado has jogged my memory about a little chapter that happened many years ago...(the ONLY connections are the Christian and Colorado connections)

When I was still in my cadet days in the Israeli navy, I was starved. Starved for good food. Starved for sleep. Starved for adult friendship. Starved for English. I was miserable for most of my training on the naval base in Haifa. I won't go into details, but I was feeling a little out of place where everyone was at least 3 years younger than me (I as also the only one with a college degree). My Hebrew was still shaky and I was drowning in lectures about naval operations, IDF acronyms and jargon that made my head hurt. Not everyone was bad company, but there were enough bad apples in my course that it made waking up a dreaded thing.

I should note that that this was before I discovered that I was chronically seasick...that came months later when I graduated and made it to the ships.

Anyways, I took refuge whenever I could in Education Building. There was a library there and no one ever came to visit there. I could find some solitude there in between KP duty, guard duty, clean-up duty, helipad duty, lectures, getting chewed out by our ever enraged instructors (the bad apples were always getting us in trouble). The officer in charge of the Education department was named Efrat. She was somehow different that the other soldiers, instructors, or officers. She spoke to me and listened to me and treated me like the person I was: a person of more advanced education and maturity than my peers with a language handicap. (As a side note, she gave me a copy of Alice in Wonderland when I graduated my course...I lost track of her while I was still in the ships...she was discharged at the end of her service and went on a trip around the world...but I wish I knew where she was because she's the kind of person you want you want to keep as a friend over the long run.)

One day, I got pulled from my studies on radio call signs or something or other and I was sent to the Education Building. Efrat told me that she had cleared it with my instructors that I would get a chance to meet a group of Americans that were visiting the base. Apparently, there is a Christian theatre group in Denver that arranges a mini-USO-esque touring drama troupe each year and for the previous few years they had come to the naval training base in Haifa. Efrat wanted me to talk to them in English. It would be a chance to chat with some Americans and to tell them what it was like in their language....

This was a treat for me from Efrat to a) get away from my misery, b) get to represent the navy to outsiders c) help out Efrat and d) get away from my misery.

The talk went okay...I was spending as much as 3 weeks at a time on the naval base and it felt weird to be speaking in English there... They asked many questions and I answered the best I could. That really appreciated my talking with them and told me that it added so much to their visit that they could actually communicate with someone. (The Israeli navy was not filled with a whole lot of English-speakers.)

They asked specifically of Efrat that I be allowed to come to their troupe's performance and that I get a front row seat. I thanked them and went back to my classroom.

Later that day, I was told that the course was not one of the ones that would get a chance to see the performance because SOMEONE has to be doing guard duty when the performance was going on. I mentioned to the instructor about the request and Efrat's promise to arrange things...apparently, things were not meant to be. I was probably walking a patrol or in a lookout tower when the show was on. This was also probably because of the bad apples...our little group of cadets was always getting the crappy jobs due to the shenanigans of those apples.

Later, Efrat called me to her office again--it is HIGHLY unusual for the education officer to summon anyone--and she apologized for not being able to pull me out of guard duty for the show. The troupe had left, bu they told her they was sad that I didn't see them perform. As a consolation, they left a present: a Denver Broncos Superbowl shirt. I had no idea that the Broncos had even been in the Superbowl, but it still meant a great deal to me. The shirt is an extra-large and sometimes Elana has used it as a nightshirt, but whenever I see it, I remember those nice Christians from Denver.

1 comment:

* meish * said...

wow! i never knew you were in the israeli navy. and about that certain reverend - well, talk about bad apples!