6,588 days and counting

by Major Jenny Ortman

I knew there were things about officership I would enjoy and other things that perhaps I wouldn’t. For instance, I knew I would enjoy camp, youth programs and interacting with people, but looking back I might have been hoping for something like vacation Bible school every day. While there have been days like that, there definitely have been times when this was not the case. However, I have been surprised more often than not by the things I didn’t think I would enjoy becoming real sources of joy in my ministry.

Driving a van to pick up and drop off people was definitely a task I thought I would delegate. I do not particularly enjoy driving, and the logistics are a lot for my directionally-challenged nature. Yet, driving the van turned out to be one of my most cherished sources of ministry.

I recall much singing, laughing and fun, especially when I got lost! I also remember just listening a lot—really hearing—what the people in my corps were facing at home or in school. It gave me plenty to pray about.

I will never forget the day I brought a girl home after camp to discover that during her week away her family had completely fallen apart. Her dad was moving out, and her older siblings were taking sides in their parents’ arguments. Through the next year my van route kept following her from place to place whenever she was evicted, couch surfing with friends or sometimes staying with her mom and sometimes with her dad at more addresses than I can count.

I will never forget talking with the mom in the driveway one night after dropping the daughter off. She ached with feeling like a failure. I started to purposefully drop her daughter off last, and these conversations became more frequent. The mom came to worship on Sundays occasionally but was working too much to come regularly. Our conversations at drop-off became her church, and I was blessed to be her pastor.

I am in a different kind of appointment now. I rarely drive anywhere because my apartment is only three floors away from my office at the College for Officer Training. But I am still very involved in getting people started on their journey, now day one of their 730 days as a cadet until I drop them off on day one of their officership. I am enjoying these days, now 6,588 beyond my own 730 experience.

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