Orderly room!!





In the month of September, 1985, I left home for military service; I had prayed and I was still praying to God: ‘My life is in your hands, thy will be done!’. Particularly there was a passage of the Word of God which encouraged me very much, that passage says: “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).

So I left for Merano (a city located in the region of Alto Adige, which is in the north of Italy) where I was assigned to the Italian Alpine troops.

From the beginning I said frankly to my fellow soldiers that I would tell them how the Lord had changed my life and that I was no longer a sinner, I was in the light. I wanted them to know these things from the beginning for we would pass 12 months together. I spoke to many young people, to some officers, as well to non-commissioned officers, and to a roman catholic priest (the one in charge of the Catholic activities in the Barracks of Merano). In other words, I spread the Good News. I told them how the Lord saved me from hell; some listened to me, but many others scoffed at me.

I attended a training course at Merano for a month and I was assigned the task whose military code was 61/C, that is, gunner’s mate (the gun or piece is the howitzer, which is a big cannon which needs about 10 people to move it from its place, and to fire it ….). If there was a task which I did not want to receive, it was just that task, for the gunner’s mate does all sort of things in the barracks: fatigues of barracks, fatigues of kitchen, and all sorts of services included the one called ‘Powder magazine’ (a service of guard which lasts several days in a powder magazine, and if it happens during winter – as it happened to me – in Alto Adige is very cold.

After a month of training course I was detached to the barracks of Elvas of Bressanone, near Austria. That place was called ‘the eagles’ aerie’. Therefore I was a soldier in the Italian Alpine troops – mountain artillery, but I had the last task, the worst, for I had only the Italian middle school (junior high school) leaving certificate, what could I expect to do? Obviously, I could not expect to go to work in the orderly room!! There in Elvas I attended another training course according to the task I had received. I was ready, 10 months of hard work were awaiting me (anyway I was still praying), but when I was about to begin that task, I was called unexpectedly to the regimental office (where all the offices were located). I still remember that day, it will never leave my mind. The quartermaster of my battery looked for me, he found me and told me that I was wanted in the regimental office, and I asked him: ‘What happened?’ and he said to me: ‘Perhaps, there is a job for you in the office!’

Oh, dear brothers, I was astonished. I went with him and before entering into the office I checked my boots, my uniform, all things had to be in order; I came into the office and there was the second-lieutenant, who was in command of my battery: there were other soldiers who were seated at the tables, there were typewriters, officers and non-commissioned officers, and I was amazed to see what was happening. Indeed as the Psalmist says: ‘We were like them that dream” (Psalm 126:1). Alleluia!

The second-lieutenant said to me: ‘You are an intelligent person (because I spoke about the Lord), you are wasted in doing the gunner’s mate, then he asked me some questions. He asked me if I was able to typewrite (during my first and only year at the secondary school – for afterward I retired from school – I had learned to typewrite), if I was able to make calculations (I had been a fruiterer and I was quick at figures, but I was not able to calculate the percentages and so I asked my fellow soldiers, who were more educated than me, to help me).

I was taken on for a trial period (15 days). It was a responsible job, I had to prepare the ‘decade’ (that’s the name of the pay that the soldiers received each month). In that kind of office there were only persons who had secondary school leaving certificates, for there were accountants, qualified technicians …. There was a job vacancy in that office and they gave me that job. However, I was still on probation; anyway when on that day I came out of the regimental office I wanted to trumpet the news and to jump for I was very happy …

During that period of probation I looked at myself, at the work I had to do; sincerely I thought that I would not pass the trial, that job was not for me: my colleagues were good at making calculations, at calculating the percentages, they were good at typewriting …. I was not equal to the task. However I was still saying to God, ‘Thy will be done’.

My probation term was coming to an end, I had learned to do what was absolutely necessary and something happened. Here is what happened.

I was in the office, together with other two colleagues, both of them were before me (‘nonni’ that is ‘grandfathers’) and they taught me to work; do you know what one of them did? Since he lived in Bolzano, in order to get home earlier, he did not wait for the exact time when the soldiers could go out of the barracks but he climbed over the boundary wall. When the captain came to know the fact, he sent him away from the office where he worked together with me. So I was left only with the other colleagues; we were two and my colleague had to go on leave for he had not gone home for a long time. Of course, you have already understood how the things ended. Well, the marshal decided that I had to remain in the office, and I had to carry out the work with the things I had learnt.

Sometimes the lieutenant-colonel rebuked me for I did not understand certain things, I was not able to do them, nevertheless I remained in that office for 10 months.

My joy was great, all were amazed because I went to work into that office even though I had not a secondary school leaving certificate; and they said that I had been recommended by someone. You can imagine what unbelievers say when such things happen to us who are believers. But I said to them that I had trusted in the Lord, and the Lord had acted on my behalf.

Brothers, I praise and glorify God for He hears the needy, He answers the prayers of His people, He is God.

God has done great things for us and we are filled with joy. Amen.


Illuminato Butindaro