Saturday, November 24, 2007

Worshiping with Chaos

Until recently, Chaos--our Charlie Company--has been attached to a Marine battalion. They recently left the city of Ramadi to relocate to a site on Lake Tharthar--JSS Zeimer (Named for PV2 Matthew Zeimer, of our battalion, who was killed-in-action in February of this year). I am posting a picture of one platoon's living space--typical of the others. Like the sites I've mentioned previously, this site is also quite remote. Unlike these other sites, it is located on a former resort Saddam Hussain reserved for his personal use. Since the war, the place has fallen into ruin. All of the trees have been chopped down for firewood, making it look like the rest of the terrain throughout the country--dry and barren. However, the lake--60 miles long--feeds a river and lagoon that, purportedly was Saddam's favorite fishing spot. I'm guessing the river continues to feed into the Euphrates--where we live.

When Sergeant Tremain and I arrived at JSS Zeimer this past week, Captain Phil Messer (Charlie Company Commander) suggested we walk down to the water to hold worship service. The walk down to the reservoir was peaceful, and I was caught off guard by its beauty--powerfully contrasted by the lifeless desert surrounding us. SFC Hubert, who's recently been pursuing a relationship with God, led us in our epistle reading (He's pictured here). As it was the week of Thanksgiving, my message addressed the role gratitude plays in one's humility before God. It can be difficult to be thankful for one's blessings--as abundant as they might be--when one is serving a fifteen-month combat tour away from family, friends, and the comforts of our culture. However, this beautiful setting served as a fine sermon illustration: blessings abound, the question is whether we will choose to acknowledge them?

After the service we walked up to the reservoir and visited with the Iraqi Soldiers; some of them were fishing or trolling with a huge three-pronged hook. Captain Messer and some of the other guys are waiting on their fishing poles to arrive from home. They joke that they'll arrive about the time they receive orders to relocate.

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