The disappointment of not being in Turkey, were soon replaced by the excitement of preparing for a visit to the Land of Fire, Azerbaijan!
We completed our application forms to join Operation Mobilization in South Africa. This was seventeen years after our first attempt to join OM in 1995! This time, we were invited to do initiation training at the training base in Pretoria. Because of our tight timeline, our training was fast tracked, and we were accepted as staff at the end of November 2012.
Within three months after the door to Turkey closed, we were on an airplane to Baku, the capitol of Azerbaijan to see if we will be a good fit as team leaders in the Caucasus.
We were met by the Area Leader for the Western and Central Asia region. The purpose for our visit was to meet as many of the team in Azerbaijan, but also for him to interview us and make a recommendation about our suitability as field leaders. It was a whirlwind visit and we even spent 7 hours in an Azeri Taxi travelling to one of the towns 300 km away, where some of the team members lived. This gave the area leader more than enough time to listen and observe as he interviewed us.
Although we could not meet all our new team members, we were able to meet most of them in person during the short visit. They were very friendly and seemed very accepting of us. They were all familiar with South Africans because the previous field leaders were South Africans too. It was clear that the departure of the pervious team leaders left a void and that it was time to fill that position as soon as possible. The team needed direction and care and they were hopeful that we will be joining them soon in that capacity.
Baku, next to the Caspian Sea, was modern and made a good impression on us. The countryside was beautiful and with a variety of landscapes and vistas. In the four short days, we experienced a taste of the Azeri cuisine and speech, reminding us of the shared heritage with Turkey. They had indeed a lot in common and we were excited to learn more in the future.
We left with hearts full of excitement and very aware of the weight of the responsibility awaiting us, should the position be offered to us.