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Tuesday 13 Jan
Ottawa, Canada

Setting off...

So I've heard the question on more than one occasion, how do you prepare for a year away from your family?  How do you prepare for a mission that hasn't been done before in a country you've never been to and can't pretend to know?

Well there are certain qualities I've found so far that you need to possess, such as:

  • Patience

OK, those of you that know me know that you can pretty much scrap that one.  It's not my strong suit.  But it's because of the next criteria that I survived my lack of patience so far...

 

  • Tenacity

That's a polite way of saying stubbornness.  And yes, I can hear those of you that know me well, and not so well, that I have plenty of this criteria.  Apparently I stood in line twice to get my dose of tenacity, despite the lines...or maybe there was no line as it was for the impatient people who didn't want to stand in line to get patience... 

There are a lot of ups and downs in preparing for a deployment.  In the case of this one, it started with the request from Justice Rapid Response to send 3 specific police officers to Cambodia to help out the ECCC.  Sounds simple enough.  It's never that simple.  It went to DFATD (aka Foreign Affairs) from there it went to the RCMP, who manage international deployments on behalf of all Canadian Police Officers. There was a lot of back and forth, discussions, meetings, hemming and hawing and then several weeks of waiting for DFATD to decide whether or not to approve it.  The request came in September.  The official approval came the 2nd week of December.  For a January deployment.  Which leads me to the next criteria...

 

  • PhD in Google

Ah, now this is my true strong suit.  A piece of technology is never far from my fingertips and often more than one piece at a time.  I googled three ways to Sunday to look for the special kit and equipment that we needed and to find websites that would have the items in stock and could ship either to Ottawa, or in most cases, to our New York state postal address.  Best picks were Columbia sportswear in USA and Amazon.com.  Both of which required....

 

  • Credit Cards

A not just one.  A deployment is expensive.  Not just to get yourself ready to go to some far away place, but also to get your family and household ready to be without you for a year.  Some of the items you buy are reimbursed but large majority of what you buy, is not reimbursed.  It comes down to what do you need/want to ensure that you will be comfortable while you're away?  I know, for example, that I am going to struggle with the intense heat and humidity, so making sure I have clothes that will be comfortable and keep me cool is essential.  But ordering on line has its ups and downs and not all the items I ordered were successes.  Which brings us to...

 

  • A sense of humour

You have to have this or else you'll go crazy.  So when the "red" crocs I ordered on line from the USA, because I have such huge feet, arrived and they were "pink", I had to resist the urge to send them back [those who know me know I hate pink] because there was no time to order a new pair.  I know that the pink crocs will likely  go well with the Hello Kitty pink rain poncho I will have to buy in the monsoon season here, and there will be laughter.  I also know that my hair will be so frizzy in the humidity that you will see it from outer space...and there will be more laughter.  I know that I am likely to get sick on more than one occasion that causes me to sleep on the toilet, but you have to laugh and say "whoo hoo 5 lbs gone" and move on.  And notably....

 

  • A fantastic support network

We are so fortunate, blessed really, to live in a neighbourhood and community of individuals and families that truly support one another.  I've often referred to our town as "Mayberry", that fictional community of yore  but it really exists.  From the teachers and day care workers at Allashua's school, offering to allow FaceTime during school hours if needed, to the extra hugs and attention they are giving her in my absence; the friends and neighbours offering to help Shawn out whenever needed, especially the unexpected and generous assistance to look after Allashua when there is no day care and Shawn has to work; the family support of family close by and far away; Shawn's work being open minded and supportive.  The list goes on... It has been truly humbling beyond words.  Which leads me to...

 

  • A theme for the mission

For us it seems to be "Let it go".  There is so much that you have to let go of...the control of your house (yes, sorry Shawn I controlled the house, not you...haha), control of your work at your office, control of freely making decisions that are now out of your control because you belong to the mission.  My niece, Samantha, wrote a fantastic parody of the song "Let it go" that hit home for me as well (if you know her, ask her for it).  In the first few days of being here the theme has been slightly modified to:

"Let it Go - And re-adjust your expectations"

 

I can't promise that this blog will be interesting or funny....it may be dull, and at times sad, or even just boring, but it  will be real, very real, and it's going to be a hell of a ride over the next 12 months.

 

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A Year Without Winter - Flip-flopping through Cambodia

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