Flag Day ceremony yields exciting news
My wife Andrea and I, along with my dad Howard, made the eastern trek to observe the Flag Day ceremony at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington Virginia on February 12, where our son David learned where his first two-year stint will be. A separate class of 30 learned their destinations first, as they projected a country’s flag on the wall and announced the name of the country and post city followed by the name of the candidate heading there. Dave’s class of 93 was next, and they progressed through 85 names before we heard the wonderful words, “Armenia-Yerevan-David Johnson”. This post was at the top of his preferred options list after he spent over two years there from 2006-2008 in the Peace Corps, and he is absolutely thrilled to be returning with his equally excited wife and their precious daughter Sofia (who was named after the daughter of Dave’s Peace Corps host family). We enjoyed watching the excitement as the candidates learned of their assignment, and it was amazing to see what strong bonds had been formed in just one month of training together thus far. Dave has made some close friends that we had the chance to meet and even play racquetball with a few.
The kids will be in Arlington through early November when they’ll head to Yerevan, and he will be learning the difficult Farsi language as he will be dealing not only with the relevant issues affecting U.S. citizens in Armenia but he will also deal with similar duties involving Iran as the U.S. does not have an embassy there. We watched as Dave had an extended video chat with his Armenian family and watched the tears roll down the mother’s face when he announced his plans. It will be an amazing start to what promises to be a rewarding career, and we look forward to making plans for another Armenian visit after we traveled there in September 2007. Dave is one of 292 Foreign Service hires this year from a field of 30,000 applicants, and we are extremely proud of him as he realizes this dream.
Andrea stayed on for another week to watch Sofia and attend Dave’s commissioning ceremony on the 19th, while Dad and I had an eventful trip home on the 14th. We boarded our flight destined for Chicago on time for our 1:40 p.m. departure, only to have the pilot come on announcing a 30-minute delay due to snow in Chicago. We pulled away from the gate after that, only to hear his dreaded voice again telling us that it would be an additional 45 minutes. We later learned of a complete ground stoppage in Chicago, and they had us deplane and board another plane. We eventually left 3-1/2 hours late and arrived in the snow. The drive home was equally adventurous, and the two weary guys finally made it home at 10:30 p.m.
A few of my favorite things
Our recent trip out east confirmed my beliefs on two things that I have come to appreciate. The first is flying on Southwest Airlines – two bags fly free, their personnel are friendly and accommodating, and making reservations is simple and efficient. The other thing that I had previously experienced, but for which I now have a much greater respect, is traveling via Uber cars. Andrea and I both downloaded the app on our smartphones, and it couldn’t be easier to use. When you open the app, you can pinpoint your departure location exactly via GPS, enter your destination, select the type of vehicle (standard car, larger vehicle, or SUV), and it will give you a fare estimate. When you confirm, you get a picture of the driver, vehicle type and license plate number so you know exactly who to expect. It tells arrival time and shows a map highlighting progress. When done, you get a receipt on your phone and a chance to rate the driver. I’ve probably taken my last cab ride as it is MUCH cheaper and simpler, and all of the drivers and vehicles were very nice.
Trip interest remains strong
Our July 22 Cubs/Brewers trip is now full and we’re taking names for a standby list, so give us a call if interested. We do have 5 seats open for our June 6-8 Shipshewana Amish Country trip after a cancellation, and you can get all the details at www.stephensoncfb.org or by calling the Farm Bureau office at (815) 232-3186. All of our trip details can be found on our website, and we encourage you to act quickly as most trips fill up quickly.
More scholarship opportunities
The Pearl City Elevator is offering up to three $500 scholarships through its “Agriculture First” program to graduating seniors in 2016 pursuing a two-year or four year degree in livestock production, crop production, or a closely related ag field. Application forms can be downloaded at www.pce-coops.com or picked up at Pearl City Elevator, McConnell Coop, Dakota Coop, Baileyville Coop, Warren Coop or Alliance Nutrition or Alliance Commodities in Lena. A school official must complete the lower portion of the form, and applications must be postmarked by March 4. Call Ed Schau at (800) 851-8584 for details.
Mark your calendar!
The Conservation & Agricultural Partners (CAP) Foundation invites you to join us for a great evening fundraiser to support CAP’s efforts with Ag-in-the-Classroom in Stephenson County. We are pleased to be hosting a “Prep/Freeze/Cook” night at the Farm Bureau on Monday March 14 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., during which participants can pay a set price and assemble 10 different meals (serving 5 people each) that you can take home, stick in the freezer, and pull out for easy preparation when desired. The flyer with complete details is on the SCFB website at www.stephensoncfb.org or can be picked up at the FB office. Call the FB office at (815) 232-3186 for more info or to sign up!
Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau