Time is starting to move much quicker for Brent these days. For the first few months, it passed at less than a snail's pace. Since the beginning of the year though, he's had more patients to see each day (4-5 rather than 0-1).
Just before Christmas he was called to be the 2nd counselor in the branch presidency. He was never set apart for that calling however, because the District President is stationed in Kabul and doesn't make it to Khandahar too often. It's so interesting to see how the church operates in such a setting. He was actually interviewed and called via email. The former branch president is redeploying soon (returning home) and so Brent has now been set apart as the new branch president.
I was so grateful to hear of Brent's calling, because he is the type of person who is not happy when he doesn't have work to do. He's enjoying the branch and getting to know the members. His main concern right now is finding all of the "anonymous" members in his area. Just last week he found out that the NCOIC of his clinic (non-commissioned officer in charge - sort of like an office manager) is a member of the church! He still counts down by half-days, feeling good when another morning is over and he's that much closer to being home.
He's also keeping busy by studying for his upcoming OS Residency and he's gotten a group of guys doing "P90X" each day (a super-intense workout program). His closest friend is named Brad. Brad is a physical therapist who works in the same clinic and stays in the same tent as Brent. They get along well because they share the same values. Brent often says that he's never heard such filth before in his life as he does out there. Brad is a Catholic with a family back home and they like to talk about their families and religion/faith together.
When Brent first arrived at Khandahar in the first week of October, he was told that they would be moving into "modular" housing very soon. Modular housing consists of a room made from a shipping container with a window and power. They even have internet connections. The rooms have heat and air conditioning, and he would only have one roommate. Well, after five months he is still in a tent with 30+ other soldiers. They are giving the modular housing to those who are just now arriving. So as he is trying to sleep, other soldiers are playing xbox together, eating, etc. Alarms go off at all different times of the night, because the soldiers are all on different schedules. I would never survive! He's looking forward to coming home to a "real" bathroom (rather than an outhouse) and a shower with hot water.
We're hoping that we'll soon have his return date. The tactical people are leaning toward sending him home with the first wave of returning soldiers in May, so that he can be there to get their dental work done. Many of them are being transferred to other bases and need to be medically ready before they move. The others have only 90 days once they return to be back up to "code". Brent says that he'll believe he's returning home only once he's on the airplane.
His favorite days are Friday and Saturday, as those are the days that he gets to work in "Role 3" (Oral Surgery at the hospital - with real bathrooms!). He's gotten to observe, assist in, and even perform a few surgeries. He gets super excited about any surgical procedure - like a little boy at FAO Schwartz. It's fun to hear him happy and excited every once in a while.
He are a few pictures that he emailed this week: