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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just another day

Have you ever seen that episode of The Simpson's where there is a contaminated lake that everyone in town ignores? Well this lake actually produces crazy three-eyed fish and other monstrosities. Where am I going with this? We have a lake like this. Only ours is in between the chow hall and the sidewalk. Every time I walk to breakfast, lunch or dinner I pass it...gag a little and continue on. I almost stepped in it the other day because it was 104 degrees and blowing sand so hard I literally could not keep my eyes open...even with sunglasses on! Close call.

I haven't been traveling much these days which has been good...but somewhat boring. The 9 to 5 used to be something I wanted. However, these days I find that getting out and talking with people is what I love the most. I love waking up and not knowing where the day will go. In that respect, Iraq is never know what will happen.

On a good note, I have been seeing my girls and growing hero more often. I have working Skype in my room now. At first it was somewhat unreliable, but it seems to be more steady now. I am so proud of all of them. They are true amazon women. lol! They do it all without me and make it look easy. I am truly blessed.

I received a harmonica in a care package from the Kennedy clan in Lubbock. Jeff and Sally knew just what I needed. I have been giving it the college try, but it turns out playing the harmonica is hard! I play guitar by ear, so reading music is beyond me right now. I have traveled around the world, learned foreign languages, spoken with politicians, generals and insurgents...but this harmonica is going to be the end of me.

Elections just passed here in Iraq. Everyone is on edge awaiting the results. Not unlike the U.S. There are talks of a recount already... remember Florida anyone? We will see what this new regime ushers in for this country. We will cut back gradually this year as you all know. However, I will not be cut back anytime soon. Although the President has put his foot down about leaving soon, we still have a lot of work to do over here. All of you should know that we have made a significant difference over here. Know that no matter what reason we came over here, we are definitely leaving it better than before. People have hope here now. They will have to work for it, but at least they have a choice now. Continue to pray for the U.S. troops and civilians here. Afghanistan is in the headlines, but Iraq is far from over. Stay behind us...all the way to the end.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

There's Never Enoug. h

There really isn't is there? Time I mean of course! I am working 12-15 hour days with little to no time off over here and the scary thing is I don't want more time off, I want more hours in the day so I can get it all finished! I have been so busy which has helped time to fly by. I received my first and second care packages since I wrote last. My girls sent me a great box with posters for my room (hand made of course!) a dvd player and some sweet cards and snacks. They really know how to make it better over here for me. Now my walls are bright and cheery instead of plain old white. It's the little things you know? In this care package they also sent me my lighted shower mirror. I know, I know...a little crazy right?! However, not a week after I received it I used it! Not because I remembered to take it with me for my long walk to the shower, but because when I arrived at the shower trailer there was no electricity. It was pitch black, so I walked back and grabbed the only thing a man's man would...a lighted shower mirror! It worked perfectly and I actually got to take a shower by myself because I am sure no one else thought to bring their lighted shower mirrors! I also received a great care package from my friend Brian's family. They sent me macaroni and cheese snacks along with some beef jerky and a magazine. It was really thoughtful of them considering I have never actually met any of them before.

Since writing last I have traveled around southern Iraq fairly extensively. I took a week and headed out to see what there was to see. I rode on several helicopters. Some had good pilots and some had monkeys flying I think. There was a girl who lost her lunch on one ride just before I had to get on. She came off, helmet in hand and looking worse for the wear. It was a bumpy ride, but I held in there! There really isn't much to see here...from the ground or the air. Lots of sand and dust blowing around here lately. Makes for some muddy gum chewing you know?! I have been trying to relieve some stress by going to the gym when I can afford to take the time. It's tough with so much to do though.

Good news for me! I finally have skype and internet in my room! I have been able to see my girls a few times and have seen Lindsay rather frequently lately. She looks so beautiful carrying my son doesn't she?! Eight more weeks and he'll be here! I can't wait! Come on Mason! We're waitin' on ya! God is so good to us isn't he? I thank Him every day for His blessings and ask Him to watch over my family while I'm away. (Although I know He does when I'm there anyways!)

Well, I had better get back to work here. Thank you all for your support and love. Look in and call my girls when you can! They need it more than me!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

La troisieme semaine...

The third week...and all's well. I have moved into my permanent CHU here in Iraq. I was supposed to get a room alone, but I have a roommate now. Unexpected, but not all bad. It happens to be one of my good friends. We divided up the already small room into two smaller halves. They are about the size of a saltine cracker I suppose...but we are managing.

Last night I went to sleep around 2330hrs...or 11 o'clock for those civilians tuning in tonight. Anyways, around 1:30 in the morning there is a rumbling, ear blowing sound. BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!!!! Anti rocket gunfire. It was so loud! I woke up with my heart pounding out of my chest! I listened closely for the sound of sirens signaling us to grab our gear and head to the bunkers. No slowly and reluctantly I fall back asleep. BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!!!!!! Again I throw myself up in bed and can almost SEE my heart pounding through my t-shirt! My roommate Joe is not alarmed...I don't hear him stirring so I stay still...really still just listening for the sirens. No sirens. I awoke the next morning only to discover that this was just a test fire that the base had conducted. Why they decided to do it at night I'll probably never know. The problem was that no one knew about the test! Sweet dreams everyone!

I still haven't got my guitar from the containers we shipped over before we deployed. I am a little down without it. I probably could use some stress relief at this point and would love to play a few tunes. Oh well, the Army motto is: "Hurry up and wait" after all.

Thank you all for your prayers and emails. I appreciate them all!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A week full of Mondays...

Well faithul followers, it has been a little past a week since we last met. Since our last encounter I have traveled thousands of miles to a little paradise the Army likes to call "Southwest Asia". Quaint little place full of foreigners, sand, flies, random smells and bland chow hall food. The silver lining in all of this is that the weather is actually perfect...around 70 degrees daily here. the part where the silver lining gets ripped from it's cloud and stomped on is in about six months when this number will almost double.

Kuwait was a nice place to transition from the garrison life I enjoyed in Kansas to the 24 hour military one I will lead for the forseeable future. It had sand, bland chow food and foreign workers with the dirtiest of glances. Personable people, just have some unlikeable employment choices...we would all be a little disgruntled too I think. They did have a movie theatre, internet cafe and starbucks, so no one really complained much while we were there. We were there for about four days training up on what to do if our truck flips over and making sure we can still shoot our guns. We finally got a flight on a plane and were ready to get out of there and get settled in up north. The bad part was we had been up all day and we were scheduled to fly all night, in body armor, with guns and bags in hand...can't exactly put your neck pillow on and doze off now can ya? Long night...long, long night.

When we arrived here we were met by our co-workers and whisked away in buses to our transient home for the next week or two: a long, foam covered, bay tent with the most foul smelling bathroom you have ever smelled...but it is the only one I have ever seen that was inside the actual tent! This was a nice surprise, but not something I will enjoy when I move to my permanent CHU. A friend gave me some carpets, a television and a refrigerator for my room...I love good friends like makes all the difference don't you think? So I should move into my new room in a couple of days and have internet pumped into it in a week or so. I can't wait to see my girls! I miss them so much and am lost without them.

My work days have been ranging from 12-18 hours for now. Hopefully when we finally take over responsibility and make some much needed changes my work day will shorten significantly...hopefully.

We have a USO here. This is a place where soldiers can go to unwind after work. They have books, games, tv and movies. They also offer free drinks and computer access as well. If you ever have extra cash and want to give to something that soldiers really need and use...give to USO. Look it up on the internet, they are in every airport possible, use volunteers almost exclusively and really care about us. Snif, snif.

I have taken photos of where I have been so far, but it will be another week or so until I can get them on here...I am CHU bound though!

I love you all and thank you for your prayers and thoughts as always.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Into the breach once more...

So as the hour approaches swiftly, Lindsay and I have spent countless hours together. We have watched several movies during the past couple of weeks and discussed our future to immense lengths. We actually looked at houses in Alabama the other day just to see where we might live if we move there in a couple of years as planned. I told her that the difference between our relationship and others is that we dream and hope almost everyday together. We have laughed and cried about my leaving so our hopes and dreams are really important to us, now more than ever. The girls are taking it pretty good considering. I took Bekah out to eat the other night. We had soups and sandwiches...her choice of course. We brought Lindsay a to-go order back...she was really appreciative and said it was very thoughtful. (good brownie points!)

I have packed...and packed...and packed...and packed. I have rolled up all my socks, t-shirts, and underwear into tiny little balls so I could have enough room in my four bags I can take with me. They each weigh about 65 lbs. each...the worst part about this is that at some point I will have to carry (drag actually) those heavy bags across the rock and gravel on the way to my room (CHU is the official local term, but I have no idea what it stands for).

I should leave Friday night and fly through Maryland, Virginia or New York on my way to the tiny country of Kuwait. I will spend about 3 weeks there and then head north to my home away from home for the next year. The weather in Iraq is 68 on average right now with the temperature in the 50's at night. However, I do anticipate the weather to get hotter and hotter the longer I am there.

This will be my 5th deployment overall since I first enlisted in the Army back in 2000. This will be close to the longest absence we have endured and the first one in Iraq. Please call Lindsay and the girls often so they can feel often the love I know each one of you reading this has for them.

I will try to keep this updated at least once a week when I get into my permanent CHU. This should be sometime near the end of January. I appreciate you thoughts and prayers, as always, and hope to hear from all of you very soon.