Monday, October 24, 2005

Itinerant Ministry

Yesterday was a highly productive day. SGT Lee and I coordinated travel to FOB (Forward Operating Base) Danger: the outgoing division headquarters about ten miles south in the center of Tikrit. As the roads tend to be the most dangerous places in Iraq, providing religious support often requires serious risks. My leadership are careful when assessing the risk, and they have not hesitated to cancel my trips. Whether the commander, his staff, or the soldiers who make up the gun truck crews of his security detail who escort us to our various missions--we are consistently supported. There are times when I think to myself that holding a worship service or visiting troubled soldiers is just not worth the risk of getting out on the road. Those thoughts quickly fade when I get to my destination and interact with soldiers; our presence helps reassure them that what they are doing is also worth their risk and effort.

SGT Wells, SGT Otto, and SPC Brown were the crew SGT Lee and I drove with yesterday; altogether, five trucks were part of the convoy. Although they each have their specialized fields, such as intelligence analyst, mechanic, military police, etc., each brings his own expertise to the team as it moves around the battle field. (The picture above, from the inside of our gun truck, is of SGT Wells and SPC Brown.) I can't go into any of the details here--but suffice it to say, they are well-trained and have the best possible equipment for the mission. At Danger we met with the Division and deputy Division chaplains (pictured here with me)--who joined us in attending the LDS service on the FOB. The FOB is covered with various palaces used by Saddam during his reign. (In this other picture, SGT Lee and I are standing in front of the ornately decorated front door to the palace; it must be between 12 and 15 feet high.)

Once we got back to FOB Speicher, we joined the soldiers in the tent chapel at the CSH "cash"(Combat Surgical Hospital) for LDS services. We had between 25 and 30 soldiers attend: half of them getting ready to go home after a year in theater, and half of them just arriving. Many of those coming into theater have been here before. The more time passes, the more I am amazed at the support soldiers receive from family and friends. I have often thought of the sacrifices of comfort and safety made by my father, uncles, and grandfathers in their respective terms of service and combat deployments. However, I failed to consider the sacrifices of those praying and waiting for their safe return. As we begin to return home, I hope we will remember the support we've received. I hope we will consider that we are home--in part--because of the soldiers who have relieved us, and that their families will then be supporting them.

I should mention that the division and league championship series in Major League Baseball (and let's not forget college football) has been fueling many soldiers in our final months. Because of the particular outcome, I doubt anyone on FOB Speicher is more excited about it than I. As you surely know, the Chicago White Sox made it to the World Series for the first time in 46 years, and haven't won in 88 years! Well, we are now up 2-0, and it seems like a dream. My family always enjoyed going to see the White Sox play when we lived in Chicago. I am sure there are some Cub fans sitting in our seats right now. With the next two games in Houston, it will be very exciting to see how this plays out. My wife and son are having as much fun following along; we're making the most of not being able to enjoy it together. Go Sox!

1 comment:

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