[Note: The date should have been April 9, 2010, but his wife was a bit slow in getting the post from the email to the blog...Sorry!]
The desert is an interesting place in general and one I think I would enjoy living in for a season. Granted it would be slightly different from my current circumstances (my living room is a 8’x4’ tent, which also serves as my bedroom, great heating and AC depending on the current temp outside) but, nonetheless, as I’ve stated previously, the scenery is gorgeous. That’s not to say the desert doesn’t have its mood swings, it does. Point in fact; on Monday it was 90, today it’s 38.
One week in the field down, four to go. It’s been an eventful week for 3/6 with a few hiccups along the way, as well as some awesome training. We are, for those not yet aware, at 29 Palms deep in the Mohave Desert taking part in the grandest war-game of them all: EMV (Enhanced Mohave Viper); a series of training events designed to both test and prepare a battalion on the verge of deployment. It is the last main evolution 3/6 will take part in before our push into Afghanistan in early June.
Life can move at a snail’s pace and at the speed of light out here depending on the day. I heard once that war is boring. I’m beginning to understand the validity of that statement now. Tuesday I sat at a firm base (a fort – sort of) for the entire day with 2 cooks, a 1stSgt and my RP until a convoy could take us to the rest of the company we were attached to at the time. The trucks pulled up at 6pm, 12 hours of me time is a bit much for anyone, especially with no books, electricity, etc., basically nothing to do but wait. On the other hand, Wednesday I got to watch 3 platoons do a live fire range (shooting real bullets). The first platoon started at 0730 and it was 1400 (2:00) when the last one wrapped up, for me that time period elapsed in what seemed like 30 minutes. Time itself seems to be a fickle thing out here.
Crazy firsts for me:
- Shaved in 38 degree weather with cold water – you know, just for the fun of it.
- Slept on gravel – not as comfortable as it sounds
- Slept with a hat and gloves on – didn’t help, still cold
- Carved a toothpick out of a 2×4 – serious Tuesday was that slow.
- Prepared the Lord’s supper on a rock – this was really the highlight of my week.
On a more spiritual note, I’ve had four field services this week with total attendance being a good 50 Marines and Sailors. More than I hoped for considering all the training they are engaged in. I’m finding the men are seeking me out looking for that piece/peace of God in the midst of wrapping their minds around the gravity of what this training is preparing them for.
The young men new to the battalion are experiencing a kind of wake-up call as IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) comprised of powder are exploding underfoot covering them in a grey ash driving home the point that the next time it could be real. The Coyotes (the technical term for trainer, I believe) are great at what they do, some of the actors in this grand farce are so realistic that the Marines, at the time, forget the guy missing a leg is not actually dying but just an amputee that is acting the part, covered in the kind of makeup you see in Hollywood.
Which brings me back to my point: people need the Lord. Nowhere is it more clear to me than on the verge of this war my Marines are headed to that they are seeking hope from any source they can find it. And the beauty of it all is God has so designed this thing called chaplaincy in a nation that seems to be at war with God that the very thing we try to marginalized is the very thing these guys crave the most – a God who is real.
A presence in the midst.
Granted 50 out of 1500 is not much, but the light is there: and out of 12 Christ touched the nations. I may, at times, be seen as a conduit to a good luck charm. God is considered nothing more than a lucky rabbit’s foot by some, but after all don’t we at times even as Christians treat Him the same way? I find encouragement in the fact that even the ones not in attendance at services understand the power of the Creator.
He is drawing a people to Himself and it’s incredible to see it happening in this place and across these circumstances. I pray it continues and I play the part He has for me faithfully.
In His Grips,