[author’s note: from our time on deployment.]
June 20, 2010
You know, sandstorms aren’t as clean and neat as they look on television. Picture Moses, aka Charlton Heston, in The Ten Commandments; sure, he didn’t look so good but the sand looked pure and drifted into beautiful dunes. Our first two days here at Camp Buehring, Kuwait were marred by sandstorms. There was nothing clean or pure or neat about them. A sandstorm is essentially at least a forty mph wind blowing dirt, sand, rocks and whatever else it can blow into the various orifices of the unprotected human body. You learn to wear goggles and cover your nose and mouth with anything handy. I actually saw a man covering his mouth and nose with a plastic bag; we pray that he never has children and if he keeps up that behavior he may meet Jesus fairly soon anyway.
On the bright side the sandstorm kept the temperature down below 130 degrees. On the not so bright, the locals gave us directions based on where everything was, e.g., dining facility, PX (the military Walmart), chapel, etc., based on the “square water tower.” The problem was that during a sandstorm you can’t see 100 feet in front of you let alone a distant water tower. After two days the weather cleared up, the wind died down and the temp was a balmy 130 degrees plus. It is a dry heat, but so is the heat of your oven and it can cook anything. The facilities (older folks please explain this term to the younger folks) are outdoors and consist of small plastic buildings called “porta johns.” If you think the weather is hot outside, you ought to try the atmosphere inside the porta john. After a few experiences in one of those, I’ll never again complain about the cold commode seats in the rectory during winter.
It may seem that I’m complaining; I am not. Our tent is air conditioned and there is plenty of cold water to drink in all the tents. The chapel is small but has a real flushing facility. The food is abundant with good variety so I’m eating only two meals a day (don’t feel sorry for me, I have ice cream at every meal). Many Soldiers were first here in 2003, the invasion of Iraq. There was no air conditioning, no cold water, no facilities of any kind and packaged meals that were barely edible. They survived. Think of the people of Haiti after the earthquake, families facing the terminal illness of loved one, missionaries in danger of death because they profess the Gospel and all those who suffer from oppression in the world. My cross certainly is not large at all. Perhaps we should all look and our crosses and see them as they truly are—quite small.
Next week we move to Balad Iraq, our home for the next ten months.