Monday, April 30, 2007


(click to enlarge)
Photo Courtesy of US Army

I was playing a hunch this morning, so I checked the Stat Counter for this blog. The number of hits and new visitors has more than tripled in the last 10 days; especially since Sunday. And the hits all seem to be coming from the same area of Atlanta. Hmmm, who could they possibly be?

So, to all the folks who will be my new church family - welcome! I cannot even begin to express the excitement I feel about coming to serve the Lord with you. I have known of your ministry since I was in seminary from 1983-1986. It is with great gratitude to Christ and the bishop that I come to share in the incredible ministry you have built.

I know that we are really not supposed to have contact with one another until the official announcement on 20 May, but I also know that the word is out. So, feel free to email me at Also please know that I have the greatest love and respect for Robin, and will not overstep my bounds or usurp his authority - he is still your pastor, and I know and honor that.

Until we meet face to face, please know that you are in my prayers daily.

God Bless,


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Charlie Med

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that one of our missions here is Medevac. Our FSMT's (Forward Support Medevac and Taxi) are located throughout Iraq, which gives me a chance to travel and see folks who I consider true heroes. One of our Medevac companies is located here on Anaconda. A previous post talks about the study "Quest for Authentic Manhood" that I am leading there.

While I was visiting there a while ago one of the Soldiers asked if I could come out and serve communion. Because of the nature of their mission it is difficult for some of them to make it to chapel services at Freedom Chapel. I told her I would do her one better - that if she would round the folks up I would provide a worship service there each Sunday afternoon. So, for the past month, I have been going out to Charlie Company and leading a service and serving communion.

Photo courtesy of US Army

The tree in the background is a "Holiday Tree". It started as a Christmas Tree, then it was a New Year's Tree. In February it was a Valentine's Day Tree, then in March it was a St. Patrick's Day Tree (it's green, right?). I guess in April it was an Earth Day Tree and in May it will be a Mother's Day Tree. That's my Chaplain Assistant assisting me with communion.

Photo Courtesy of US Army

Pictured above is the Charlie Company Commander. He is a great guy and has become a good friend; one of those folks I plan on staying connected with after the deployment. He has been an active participant in our services going back to our six months at Ft. Hood and is also a part of our Manhood study. He's the kind of Commander I would go to war with anytime.

This service is quite intimate. We meet in the coffee shop they have set up. The worshipers sit on couches while I sit on a bar stool. We usually start the services whenever I feel the Spirit move, or whenever I finish my cup of coffee! It's just a nice, relaxed, worshipful atmosphere for all of us.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Going, Going, Gone!

After quite a while on the market, we finally sold our home! I have some fond memories of cooking on my smoker, listening to some music from the two in-ground speakers, and listening to the birds at our five bird feeders in the back yard.

And although I spent less time there, I do remember a few thunderstorms I watched with candles blowing in the wind on the great rocking chair front porch.

My wife was a real trooper in getting a lot of stuff packed up, dealing with our realtor and friend, and attending the closing. The house sold to a young couple getting married in a few weeks. I hope they will make some great memories here.

In three months or so it will be on to the next chapter in our life! And yes, I do know where I will be living and what congregation I will be serving. I'll let you know more about it and post some pictures after the official announcement is made.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Travels and Travails

Photo courtesy of US Army
I recently spent a week traveling around southern Iraq visiting Soldiers, as I do as regularly as my schedule allows. This time I was joned by a member of our Brigade's Public Affairs Office who is doing a piece on the "Traveling Unit Ministry Team".

The first part of our journey started in the typical way that all travel starts here - early in the morning with all kinds of changes. We arrived several hours before "wheels up" only to learn that our time had been changed to several hours later. We grumbled a bit, thinking about the extra sleep we could have had, and dreading the five hours we were now going to have to wait. Then the pilots came, and lo and behold, we were the only passengers! Suddenly things changed and we were leaving in 30 minutes. We added a stop to the journey, picked up two new passengers, and then found out that one of them had a son who had been killed back in the US in a motorcycle accident. Well, that certainly took precedence over what we were doing, so we returned to Balad in order to get him on his way home. We finally made it to Tallil eight hours after we showed in Balad - all this for what should have been a 90 minute flight!

We were to fly from Tallil to Al Kut the next day. But what is that old saying? "Man plans, God laughs." That night we had 60 mph winds with gusts to 70 mph. Visibility was reduced to zero as the dust swirled, and we spent an extra day in Tallil.

The next day we flew to Al Kut where we had the opportunity to meet with some of our medics and find out what they were experiencing. They took us to the makeshift hospital there, and we met the Polish docs who work there. The staff showed us some pictures and video of a skin graft they had done on a young Iraqi boy who had been badly burnt. Later in the day we caught a Medevac bird for Diwaniyah.

As soon as we landed and the blades stopped turning, I ran into the Soldier you see pictured above. She had emailed me several months before, and I had made a trip to Diwo to see her. She wanted to tell me that the issues we discussed had worked out well. It's rare to have someone report back how things turn out, especially when they live in a hard to get place. It made the trip worthwhile just to hear she was doing well.

Not long after this picture was taken the base was attacked. We spent a while hunkered down in a bunker, and the rest of the night listening to the sounds of rockets and mortars. They have been hit pretty hard lately, which is why we wanted to make sure to make it to Diwo.

We flew out of Diwo the next day on a Medevac mission. Again we were diverted and a short flight turned into three hours. The day after that we grabbed a Sherpa back to Balad and "normal" life.

I'm pretty sure these will be the kinds of things I will miss about this place.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


I was sitting outside HHC Supply with SGT Bianca Figueroa this afternoon. We were waxing philosophic about time. Bianca is a Cuban apostate Catholic with all the attitude that implies. So, of course, I think she's great. There were a few observations we made about doing time here in Iraq.

1. The days are long but the weeks are short. It is not unusual for me to leave my hootch around 0530 or 0600. It is rare I make it back before 2100. The days are filled with meetings, seeing Soldiers, visiting offices and work places, and the myriad of other duties that go with being a Brigade Chaplain. So, the days are long. But, tomorrow is Sunday. And it just seems like yesterday was Sunday! Believe it or not, I have now been in-country for 32 weeks. The weeks fly past.

2. The second observation is that we feel we have lost a year. Bianca was talking with someone about going camping last summer. The other Soldier reminded her that we were at Ft. Hood all last summer preparing for deployment and that she had actually gone camping the summer of 2005. That is a familiar feeling. We think about last Easter and imagine ourselves at home, but we weren't. We have missed Easter, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Father's Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. When we get home you will constantly be correcting us when we say, "When we did thus and so last year".

The best news is that time is continuing to march forward. Everyone here knows that one of my favorite sayings is "one day closer to home". I say it every day, and it's good news!