Chris has now completed three out of five weeks of the second and final portion of Chaplain Candidate training for the Air Force. This past week was a busy one for him, with heavy ministry involvement and obligations, from speaking engagements to preaching a sermon this Sunday.
When I landed we stopped by the base quickly and then went to lunch at a wonderful Peruvian restaurant called Pollitos con Pappas. It was excellent. My favorite thing was a Papas Rellenas, basically a fried stuffed potato. It was precisely as good as it sounds, perhaps better, and then some fried Yuca as well.
After lunch we took a tram up to the top of Sandia Peak, I think currently the third longest tram in the world, and the tram that goes the farthest distance as far as height is concerned. The elevation was over 10,000 feet and the rock formations were absolutely breathtaking.
After leaving Sandia Mountains we went to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. The information is powerful and sobering, with history going back to the WWII era. There was a copy of a letter from Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt outlining his concerns with the development of nuclear weaponry, including that it appeared Germans were concocting their own experiments. It was apparently not a matter of great concern for Hitler who was more concerned with the short-term, close-range victories and was not as far-sighted. A lot of the testing took place in New Mexico and something I found fascinating was the level of discretion around the project. The town that cropped up was fairly secretive; babies born in the town even had "P.O. Box 1663" listed as their place of birth on their birth certificate rather than a city name.
While the encasement for the nuclear bombs was rather large, around 10 feet in length, at the same time the size is not all that large considering the dropped of just two bombs led to the immediate deaths of over 200,000 people, and many more after death toll from radiation poisoning is taken into account.
For dinner we celebrated our anniversary with a great seafood dinner at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. YUM. I had excellent stuffed crab and a shrimp gumbo, and really just overate. Kind of a common theme on this trip.
The next day, already Sunday, was the day for Chris to preach. I had an experience that is one that I only hear about. I had sat down in a pew, three or four rows from the front, by myself because Chris sits on stage the entire time. I am by no means a tiny person, but I also don't take up all that much space. Anyway, someone approaches me and was going to (I assumed) say Hi. Instead, she said to me, "Would you mind moving? There are some people that come in that normally sit here." WOW! This happens? In real life? I have heard the stories, but there it was. It broke my heart. Not because I was upset about moving, I wasn't particularly attached to the pew seat I had chosen. But I kept thinking to myself, "If I had been a guest, and that was the first time I had set foot in that church, I would not be returning and I likely wouldn't have stayed to hear the (most excellent) sermon." Christian: hospitality and reaching the lost is more important than your pew seat.
Chris preached an excellent sermon about the theology of work. I always enjoy watching him speak. And it was an encouraging message because sometimes the work that I do is not the work that I want to do. We have other ideas for how we think we would or could be better used, but the thing is, where we are is where God wants us to be and where he is using us. We joined the deputy wing chaplain and his wife for lunch; it is easy to see how God has blessed Chris with the people he is surrounded by at this base, especially this particular chaplain. I can easily see this gentleman turning into a great mentor down the road, and his wife was a benefit and a blessing to me in just the short period of time that I knew her.
Later in the afternoon was the Katie-focused part of the trip. Chris took me to Old Town Albuquerque, full of local shopping. We spent a couple of hours there and Chris let me pick out an anniversary gift; a beautiful Bear ring (will post pictures later). They did not have it made in my size so it is being made (handcrafted!) and will arrive within six weeks. I'm very excited to see it. We had a delicious dinner at Taco Cabana - a cute fast-food type Mexican restaurant with a salsa bar and incredible fresh tortillas. I was in the mood for ice cream afterwards (because my mouth met a rather warm jalapeno) so we found a Frost nearby. I was thrilled - I love Frost! It was surprisingly hard to get to and after several "recalculating"s by the GPS (poor Siri) we finally made it! They are quite lovely.
This morning Chris had to do one quick thing for work but then was given off the rest of the day. Prior to his stopping in to work we went to a local coffee and crepe shop (Breve) and did some devotional reading before continuing on the rest of the day. We went to the petroglyphs and enjoyed viewing some of the art and the history behind it. Beautiful drawings. Most of the knowledge about what the pictures contain is just conjecture but it was fun to read about and see the historic drawings.
Lunch was at Thai Vegan, which is exactly the kind of restaurant that it sounds like. The food was also incredible. I am amazed at all the great food in Albuquerque - there seemed to be lots of it.
God was watching over us even as we left. There was a major accident on the road to the airport minutes after we arrived there; Chris said it was backed up for miles on his way home. I am so glad for the opportunity I had to come here and excited for Chris as he completes this second training. We can't wait to have him home but I am so grateful for what he is doing here. I pray God continues to use him for the remainder of the time - two weeks from today!
|table of elements in a granite floor|
|"fat man" and "little boy" (A-bomb) replicas|
|Picture of a stopped watch and burned hazy outlines from Japan|
|"Before" and "After" from a-bomb dropping|
|Christopher preaching :)|
|Vegan cashew tofu dish. Yum.|