Sunday, December 02, 2007

Settling in at Hawas

Now that the guys up at Hawas are getting settled in, there is a noticeable sense of contentment. Soldiers' morale is often linked to a sense of predictability. Because of the success on the battlefield and in diplomacy, more and more we are moving out of the city and to more remote areas where insurgents are seeking for safe haven. As we do, we are turning over more and more of the city to Iraqi Army and police. In turn, this results in moving from one base and setting up another more often than was expected. These Soldiers are riflemen--Infantry--so they take it in stride. Hawas remains rather austere. However, the showers and hard structures make life more comfortable. Most guys make it back here to Camp Blue Diamond about once every two weeks for laundry, internet and phones.

The MPBs (plywood houses) have an airconditioner/heater in each unit. The guys are crammed in 10 or 11 to a unit, sleeping three high on bunk beds they've made for themselves. Although more cramped than the tents, they are able to keep out a lot of the dust and maintain a comfortable temperature. Sure it gets a little musky, but these are also easier to air out and keep ventilated; this is critical for fighting colds and flu.

We have slowly been issued some of the new combat vehicles called MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protectant vehicle, is what I think it stands for--pronounced "m-wrap"--there is no end to acronyms in the military). There are several types of MRAPs. I'm including pictures of two of the more common types we see. Placed between the uparmored humvees or 1114 guntrucks we normally travel in, the differences are quite apparent.

SGT Goudy, SGT Dewalt, and SPC "Blair" are three individuals who regualrly attended worship and bible studies back at Camp Blue Diamond and whose leadership helps keep things running smoothly in my absence. I am including a few pictures of us worshiping together in the make-shift chapel classroom we use up in Hawas. My friendship with them (and others I've come to know largely in worship and study) is a blessing that helps fortify me in times of struggle. It is always a joy to see them. My circulation on the battlefield often makes me wonder if my and SGT Tremain's experiences aren't somewhat like the Apostle Paul and Barnabas/Timothy's as they traveled among the various churches in Asia. It pleases me see them doing so well.

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