Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Old Man Has Turned 44 (Quoted by Luke)

Janae asked me if I was going to write something about me for my birthday. Well what can I say without sounding boastful? Since I found that task to be daunting, I decided to let the members of my family say something about me instead.

Here’s what Janae had to say about me. “He’s the most wonderful husband in the world. He works really hard for his family and loves us very much. His Mom told me several years ago to be sure and tell her when he finally grows up. I still haven’t been able to tell her that because he has yet to grow up. That’s why the boys and the youth enjoy him so much. He tries really hard to do what’s right and set a good example for his sons. Even though my Dad paid him to marry me I’m glad I did! Kidding!! For 20 years he’s been a wonderful husband and for 18 years has been a great dad. That’s one thing I knew about him is that he would be a great dad and he is. I miss him terribly and love him even more. Thanks to everyone who sent him a card.”

Here’s what Seth said. “I like the fact that my Dad is gone because I get to drive my (his) car every day. OK, I don’t really like him being gone and I wish he were here instead. He’s always been a great Dad and friend. He’s been a good example to me especially as I prepare for my mission. I wish he would get home before I leave. I can’t wait to buy BYU football tickets next fall so he and I can go to a few of the games together. I love my Dad a lot. Happy Birthday Dad!”

Luke said, “I hate it when my Dad gives me kisses. (I think he really likes it.) I’m glad that I’m finally taller than he is. He’s been a great Dad and I miss him a lot. Now he really is an old man! Oh yea, I love my Dad and Happy Birthday.”

Braxton got in his two cents worth, “My dad is crazy. He thinks Spanish is better than French but he’s wrong. I really miss him and wish he would come home soon. I love my Dad and hope that the old man has a nice birthday.”

So there you have it, thoughts from my family on my birthday.

So how was my birthday? It was actually a good day. I splurged at breakfast and had eggs, sausage, a biscuit and orange juice. I usually just eat Special K with Red Berries so that was a treat. I was on the convoy that went to BAF (Bagram Air Field) to take Merrill up there so he could go on pass. (Batman finally got to get out and came with me, WonderWoman and Superman on the trip.) While there I had a Calzone for lunch and then a 30 minute back rub. It was great. I had just about fallen asleep when I felt the phone in my pocket start to vibrate. It startled me just a little and tickled even more. Anyway, I knew it was Wais calling to see where I was and sure enough, after my massage I checked my phone and it was him. He came with us and has a wonderful knack of calling me at the most inopportune moments.

Anyway, after we got back, I went and worked out then came back to my room to open the gifts Janae and the boys had sent and read all the cards I got. I’m going to include a list of names of those who took the time to write but know how much I appreciated the thoughtfulness and time you spent in writing and sending me the card. Of course thanks needs to go to Janae for letting you know about my birthday and starting the card campaign. She has taken such good care of me while I’m here. Actually she has always taken great care of me and constantly spoils me. She’s great. I then called home and read scriptures with Janae and the boys and talked to Janae for a while. That was great. I then helped Wais with the translation of some documents. Then I started on this entry. After I’m done here I’m going to watch the Best of Designing Women Janae sent me while I eat chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream. OK, it’s actually an Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chocolate chip muffin but it’s actually better than cake. And the chow hall actually had ice cream tonight in those individual little cups. Lucky me.

So that’s been my birthday. It’s actually been a pretty good day.

Right before we left on our convoy this morning, Aaron ran over to where I was sitting in my humvee and gave me a big hug and wished me Happy Birthday. Of course it was nothing more than a brotherly hug. Nothing more.

I rode back with Aaron. The back roads were incredibly muddy and they presented somewhat of a challenge to Aaron. Superman had to make an appearance to give him some encouragement and support.

After we got back from BAF we went to fuel up the vehicles. Next to the fueling point are a couple of old SCUD missles. Aaron talked to the ANA guards and they let us climb up on them and have our picture taken. I was sitting up there and Aaron climbed up behind me. I was a little surprised when he grabbed me around the waist, hence the look on my face in the picture. Once again, all in brotherly love!! Keep your minds clean the rest of you rabble!!

The SuperHeros also got their pictures taken with the scuds as well. They told me that they remember the days when they single handedly knocked down several that had been directed at some of our top secret targets. It was quite the moment hearing them tell the stories!! It was amazing!!

So what did I get for my birthday? Well Janae and the boys sent me two seasons of X-Files, one of my favorite shows, a Husky beanie baby to remind me of my puppy back home, and some on-the-go lemonade mix. Janae sent me the balloons as well. She's so festive! Janae left a comment and reminded me of the most important things about my gifts. They were wrapped in cat paper? Can you believe the nerve of them. She said that when she saw it on sale she coulsn't resist. So yes, exept for one, I had to endure cute, little kitten and cat wrapping paper. What a sense of humor this woman that I married has!!
Aaron presented me with two gifts his parents had sent me. Here are a couple of pictures of what they sent. Can you tell that when you squeeze the ball the cockroaches appear? How about when you squeeze the skull, maggots and blood ooze out. Pretty gross huh? I’m sure my boys will love them! They must have read my blog page about my love of bugs. Thanks you guys!!

Well it’s late, I want to eat my cake and ice cream so I’m going to finish. Let me just say that I’m so grateful to all of you who have shown such love and support, not only to me but especially to my family. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. It makes being away a little bit easier. I can’t wait to get home and thank you in person.

I love you guys!!

Oh, and here’s the list of all you who sent me cards. If you sent me one and your name is not on the list then I apologize. It either hasn’t arrived yet or it’s on my closet and I didn’t pull it off when I made the list. Sorry.

Don & Pat
Bill & Mardene
Mike & Elaine
Don & Sandi, Family
Ron & Joan
Dr. Craig
Janae, Seth, Luke, Braxton
Bob & Marilyn
John & Kristen
Kent & Cyd
Loy & Emily
Dalin & Memorie and family
Donna & Lyman
Nephi & Leona
Chuck & Merleen
Russell & Melissa
Dave & Cindy
Michael & Cheryl
Dave & Norma
Bill & Kris
Helmet & Gail
VarDee & Linda
Than & Lana
Brent & Emily
Jeff & Laurie
The Purcell’s
Jim & the City
The Salter's
Phill & Elaine
John & Carol
Craig & Liz
James & Natalie
The Tuck’s
Ron & Kris
Andy & Cory
JB & Julie
Dave & Pam
Ron & Pam
Got a few more cards from,
Anita & Peter
Elizabeth and Rick
Clark and Kathy
DeAnna and Olin
David & Michelle and Family
The cards keep coming:
John & Sarah
David & Tere
Mark & Lisa Vaugh
Merrill & Gene
My office back home

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mini-Me or at Least a Mini-Tank

This mini-tank sits outside the 3rd Brigade Headquarters. Merrill and I weren't sure if it's a real tank of just a model. If it was truly a working tank it was only designed for a very small man - Mini-Me!

The Giggles or Let's Hope the Lord has a Sense of Humor

Ever get yourself into one of those situations where you start laughing and you can’t stop. And just when you think you’ve regained your composure someone or something starts the fit of giggles off again. And to make it worse, you get the giggles in places where it’s not quite appropriate? We did. And by we I mean, me, Aaron, Merrill, Jonas, Larry, and Steve.

Jonas was leading the music tonight as I was conducting and couldn’t. He chose one of his favorites, Page 7 in our book, I have no idea what it is in yours but it’s entitled Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow. It’s not one that I know very well. I know we’ve sang it before but for some reason tonight it was not meant to be. Jonas gave us a starting note and it went downhill from there.

He started singing and because no one really knew the song we struggled to follow. I was trying to read the notes but not doing very well. When we got to the second stanza of this two stanza song, I went down and he went up and we burst out laughing. I don’t remember what it was exactly that spelled the destruction of this song but we all burst out laughing at the same time.

We were all laughing while Jonas looked for another song to sing. We settled on How Gentle God’s Commands. But since we all had the giggles we struggled though the song. I snickered a couple of times and I know others did as well.

Well we made it through the Sacrament Song, barely. Again, I felt the giggles simmering just below the surface but I did my best to restrain myself.

Aaron and Larry officiated and I passed. When I stood up to pick up the tray, I looked down in the tray and they started. There were only six of us there tonight and guess how many pieces of bread were in the tray? Six. Yes, six large pieces of bread. You’ve never send such big pieces of bread in a tray and they were broken evenly. Nobody was going to be cheated out of a piece of bread tonight.

When I passed Jonas his piece of bread he picked it up, held it out in front of him like a dead rat and had this expression on his face that suggested the same thought. I lost it then but struggled to maintain some semblance of dignity. When I next passed the tray to Steve and Aaron they both began laughing. Oh it was painful.

When I returned to the table and passed to Aaron and Larry, they both took a piece of bread. Of course Larry was giggling. One thing to know about Larry, when you get him tickled it’s hard to get him to stop. Well it didn’t just end there.

Aaron took his piece of bread and instead of putting the whole thing in his mouth, he took a bite out of this gigantic piece of bread. Larry really lost it then. After a moment’s hesitation Aaron put the whole thing in his mouth and feverishly began to chew.
I was chewing on my piece of very dry bread thinking that I was actually having to chew a piece of Sacrament bread and thought I’d never had that experience before. The experience of trying to chew up a piece of dry bread before I had to pass the water. Believe me, it was one of the weirdest thoughts I’ve had in a long time in church.

So as I’m trying to chew my piece of bread, Aaron is trying to finish his so he can say the prayer on the water. Of course Larry is not helping the situation. He’s standing there chortling and not doing a very good job of controlling himself.

Then there was Jonas, Merrill and Steve sitting behind me. I can hear one of them laughing.

And then there’s Aaron. Now imagine the poor man kneeling there. Chewing on this monstrous piece of dry bread. Kneeling, trying to prepare himself to offer the prayer on the water. Can he do it? What do you think?

Nah, he started but with Larry and the rest of us giggling he lost it.

Strike one.

He tried to pick up where he left off and gets out a few more words before losing it once again. I’m still laughing thinking about it.

Strike two.

I can’t remember if he started again where he left off or if he started over. All I know is it took him several tries before he was finally able to get enough composure to get through the prayer. Even then I could tell he was struggling.

Well it was a Sacrament service that we all won’t soon forget. After our meeting we all laughed at the situation. Aaron explained why he only took a bite of the piece of bread. He said that he knew he had to offer the prayer on the water and he didn’t think he could eat the whole piece of bread in time to offer the prayer. But, he was faced with the dilemma of taking a bite of the piece of bread and then what to do with the piece of Sacrament bread with the bite taken out of it? Can you put it back on the tray? Is that a breach of some Church protocol? Can you get your membership card taken away for putting a piece of used bread back on the tray? He decided not to risk it.

As he was chewing, he realized that the bread was dry and he wasn’t going to make it so he lost it. Of course he said that Larry’s giggling didn’t help and I can attest to that fact. I felt sorry for him and was so grateful that I was only the one passing and not having to pray.

I’m so glad that the Lord has a sense of humor as tonight he needed it. It was a meeting that we won’t soon forget and one I’m sure we’ll laugh about for a very long time.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

We Have a New BYU Student in our House

I got an e-mail from Janae this morning telling me that Seth had received a letter from Janae telling me that Seth had received a letter from BYU but since he wasn’t home she didn’t know what it said.

I got another e-mail, after he had gotten home, announcing the exciting news that he had been accepted into BYU for the fall semester!! I was so thrilled with the news. He has been working so hard for so many years to get to this point in his life that it was an answer to a prayer to get the news. He’s now the third generation of Church/Durfee to attend BYU. My parents both graduated from the “Y” as did Janae’s parents. Seth’s parents both graduated from this fine institution so now we’re sending the next one.

I can’t believe that we’re old enough to have a son in college. I was telling Seth in a letter that I wrote him today that I can distinctly remember my parents at this age and while I didn’t think they were exactly old, I don’t remember them being as young as I feel. Of course my elbows and knees and other body parts don’t feel particularly young but that’s beside the point.

In any event, I digress, this was supposed to be about Seth. So Seth, congratulations on your tremendous accomplishment. Mom and I are so proud of you. You’re well on your way to becoming a rich dentist who will support his parents in their old age in the style to which they deserve!!
After drafting this post, I discovered this picture. This is my dignified, University-bound son. Doesn't he make a father proud?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thanks, Aspen Elementary!!

The students at Aspen Elementary, under the direction of librarian Nancy Christiansen, wrote hundreds of letters, made cards and drew pictures and sent them to me to share with the Soldiers and Marines here. Of course they did all this last November for Veteran’s Day but it’s taken me this long to do anything about it. Typical me.

In any event, I wanted to thank her for having the children and teachers write us at the holidays. It was such a treat to receive what they sent. I passed the letters, cards and pictures out to the Soldiers and Marines here at Camp Blackhorse and they were enjoyed by everyone.

I wish we could have written back to each one but we don’t have the time so on behalf of everyone, here’s a collective “Thank You!!”

Miracles Do Happen

Those of us here constantly worry about our wives and our children back home. They are in our prayers and in our thoughts. When things happen that test and challenge them, it’s hard on us as we can’t be there to “solve” the problem or even just be there to lend a shoulder to cry on. So when we, I hear about how the Lord blesses my wife and family with large and small miracles, it humbles me to know that He is looking out for them.

I meant to post this two weeks ago but have been in a writing slump. Pictures are easy but drafting anything of value to anyone or of interest has been a challenge. Janae told me of another incident that happened recently that reminded me that He truly is watching out for my wife and sons. It made me realize that I needed to get these posted so that not only would I write about them, save them to my hard drive for future reference, but to let you all know that the Lord is hearing your prayers on their behalf.

This first incident occurred two weeks ago when Janae and Luke took several boxes of humanitarian supplies from his Eagle Scout project to the post office to be mailed.

So here, in her own words, is what happened…

We had a little bit of a scare at the post office I put the zip lock bag in my coat pocket that had the cash for mailing the humanitarian supplies. I thought I had put my wallet in the other pocket. When we got up to mail the packages I couldn't find my wallet.

I had Luke go back out to the car and look in the car. He couldn't find it. I had him look around the car. He couldn't find it. I had him call Seth and see if I had left it at home. Seth couldn't find it. I had the money in my zip lock bag, so I knew I could pay for the mailing, but I did not want to lose my wallet. I didn't have the time to cancel everything and get a new license, etc. The military ID's etc. are all in there.

Well, as I continued to pray inside while they were weighing the packages, etc., a lady walked up to me and said, "Are you Janae Church?" When I turned to say yes I saw that she had my wallet. She had found it in the snow outside the post office. [She] looked inside at the name and picture and came inside and found the person that looked like the picture. Then she said, "You don't look as old as your birthday!"

What an answer to my prayers. After thanking her over and over, I began giving silent prayers of thanks. I'm so grateful that an honest person found it. It must have been knocked out of my pocket while carrying the boxes in. That's why I should always take my purse. Of course, Luke is never going to let me forget about this and I'm sure he will tell everyone about how his old mom lost her wallet. I don't think I'll take my blood pressure right now. I'm sure it's a little high. Another small miracle. Actually, I think it's a big miracle. A lost wallet is horrible.

Just recently Janae prepared a gift basket for one of Luke’s teachers at school for Teacher Appreciation Day. Here’s the story, again, in her own words…

At the junior high back to school night I signed up to do a teacher appreciation basket for Mrs. History Teacher. She is the history teacher that was so good and Luke did so well in her class.

A couple of weeks after signing up I was in Xpedex and they had reams of paper on sale. I had the thought, "Buy the pink paper to use for the basket." So, fortunately I did. I'm not sure why I felt I should buy the pink paper, but I did.

So, I decided to do the basket with a pink theme. I bought some pink note cards and made some flower pens with pink flowers. I had some pink bath salt, pink tic-tacs and pink gum. Then I bought some Valentine peanut butter kisses, so they are pink; Mrs. History Teacher likes peanut butter candy things. Then I put in a pink FUZE drink. Anyway, everything was pink.

Today after teaching morning kindergarten I went to the junior high to put all these things in a basket for her. I had some pink ribbon that I was going to use to tie a cute bow on the basket, but the basket they gave me already had a bow on it and it had pink in it, so I just left that bow on.

After I filled the basket, they asked which teacher it was for. When I said Mrs. History Teacher, they asked me if it was okay if she didn't get it for a few days. I guess they ask that just to make certain there's not something in it that might spoil. I said that was fine and asked if she was out sick or something. They said that last week she found out that there was a baby for her and her husband to adopt and that's why she was gone.

She's been teaching school for 8+ years, so I think she's 30 something, so that's so exciting that she finally is going to have a baby. Anyway, I then asked if she was adopting a boy or a girl. It is a girl. WOW! That's why I was supposed to do a pink themed basket. Pretty cool! That's my exciting story of the day.

These are just two examples of how the Lord watches out and takes care of our families back home. What a testimony builder, but more importantly, what a comfort that is to a soldier who is thousands of miles away, to know that his family is being taken care of. Truly, the Lord’s tender mercies at work.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Here in Afghanistan the people have the custom of putting henna in their hair, in their beards, on their finger nails, on the palms of their hands, all in the name of beauty. It gives the hair, fingernails and skin a reddish tint, depending on how much you use.

I've seen a few soldiers with it in their hair and on their hands but have never been in a position to take any pictures. At the humanitarian visit there was this Afghan National Police officer there with it in his hair. I snapped a few photographs of him so you could get an idea of what it looks like.

When women get married, Wais tells me that they paint these really intricate patterns on the palms of their hands. The henna stains the hands and the patterns stay for several weeks after. He says that if they're done well, they can be quite beautiful.

I've seen a few soldiers with red fingernails. If you didn't know what it was you'd think it was a reddish/orange fingernail polish. And if you didn't know that it was cultrually acceptable here you'd think it was weird (OK it still looks weird) but it's one of those things unique to their culture.

Anyway, just a small cultural lesson for everyone.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Real Super Hero

I’ve been reading this last week about a man who truly could be considered a Super Hero. For those of you who have been following the exploits of Superman, Wonder Woman and soon to be seen, Batman, you know I’ve been having fun taking my action figures with me on various missions. Well, as we all know, they’re fictional characters no matter how much we would like to believe otherwise. But there are those men and women who have lived who are truly “super” men and “wonder” women.

Captain Moroni was just such a man. For my non-LDS readers, I’d be happy to send you the book, or arrange to send you the book that talks about Captain Moroni and his story.

Captain Moroni was a great military leader. Last week I read these words written about him, “Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” It was also said that he was a “strong and mighty man” “a man of perfect understanding” a “man who did not delight in bloodshed” a “man whose soul did joy in liberty and the freedom of his country.”

As I was reading about him last week I thought about the men with whom I serve and how each, in their own way are like Captain Moroni. And I wondered if I were like him in some small way. I’d like to think that I am. Certainly I don’t cause “the very powers of hell” to shake but I’m trying.

And then it happened. One of the Lord’s tender mercies for which I am so grateful and so indebted to Him for sending to me. I got a box from my wife.

In the box were lots of thoughtful, fun, fattening things that she had sent me. But in it was something from one of the families in my ward. A true Super Hero.

Lisa Radmall has been reading my blog and saw the pictures I’d posted of Superman. She had recently listened to a BYU Education Week talk by John Bytheway on the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. I know what talk she was referring to since we had listened to part of that talk in a church meeting right after we got here but I was never able to hear the whole thing. I was excited to see that she included a copy of the talk! She said when she listened to the talk she thought of me and the other men who are here serving.

She shared with me the story of Captain Moroni raising the Title of Liberty and the parallels between that conflict and the one I’m currently engaged in. And she gave me my new Super Hero. Captain Moroni.

Some might say it was coincidence that I’d get Captain Moroni the same week that I had just read about him but I don’t think so. I think the Lord knew exactly what He was doing and for that I’m grateful.

As I held Captain Moroni and his Title of Liberty in my hand, after reading her letter, I felt a tremendous sense of gratitude to Lisa for taking the time to send him to me. I was thankful to the Lord for inspiring her to remind me what a true hero is. Not someone who can leap over tall buildings in a single bound or stop bullets with her bracelets, but someone who loves the Lord, who does his best every day to serve his country, his family and his God.

So Lisa, thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. Captain Moroni will have a place of honor in my “hall” of Super Heroes.


The cat, who shall remain nameless, got his own entry yesterday. In looking back over the past entries on this page, I couldn't find one to my puppy Thor. So here it is.

About 7 years ago we adopted a beautiful, ice-blue-eyed baby. He was received into our home with open arms and great love. From the very first day, he was a perfect angel. He only ate one bowl of cream cheese. He only stole off the table one one gallon jug of corn oil, gnawed off the top and lapped it all up (yes, he was, pardon the pun, sicker than a dog). He only ate several sticks of butter. He only dug up a few holes in the back yard. But other than that, he’s been an angel.

The story of his adoption is quite fortuitous, for him that is. It was a Wednesday, maybe a Thursday. OK, it was a Wednesday. I was on my way to Park City for a conference. I had to get fuel for the City vehicle I was driving. (I’m a City Prosecutor for those of you just joining us.) The fuel pumps are near the animal shelter. For some reason that day I felt impressed to stop in and see who the latest “guests” were at the shelter. Since I prosecute the animal control cases I know all the officers. I told them I was there to take a look and they sent me in the back.

As soon as I opened the door, the dogs started jumping up in their cages barking. The noise was almost deafening. They were all up on their hind legs barking, except one. Him. He just sat there looking at me. My first impression was “what a beautiful dog.” My second impression was one of interest at why he wouldn’t be up barking at me. I made my way around the room looking at all the dogs and finally ended up in front of his cage. He still hadn’t uttered a “word” and still sat there looking at me. What struck me then were his eyes. I hope you can tell how beautiful they are from the picture. They’re even more beautiful in person. I wanted to see what he’d do if I stuck out my hand so I did. Maybe that wasn’t too smart but I did. He just licked my hand. I was in love.

I walked back out into the office and asked about the husky in pen number 7. I was told that he’d been picked up two weeks previously and that his owner had never come in to pick him up. I couldn’t believe it. Who wouldn’t want to come get such a beautiful dog? I was then told that he was scheduled to be put down the next day. The City’s policy is to put down any dog not collected after two weeks. I was then told that there was someone from an animal rescue group that was coming back the next afternoon to possibly rescue him.

I told the officer that I was interested in him as well but needed to talk with my wonderful, beautiful, kind, loving wife about him. They said they could hold off on the procedure for a day but that I’d have to come back first thing in the morning in case the other person came in to rescue him.

That night as we were sitting on the deck having dinner I asked Janae what she would do if I brought home a dog (I remember now, I did write about this as Janae posted her response to my question – oh well, I’m into this now so you’ll just have to read it twice.) and she said that I’d be sleeping with the dog if I brought one home. I then told her about this beautiful dog I’d seen and assured her that she wouldn’t have to take care of him, that I’d do it all (famous last words). With all my charm she couldn’t resist.

And with that, we became adoptive parents. I went in the next day and completed the paperwork. I took him to the vet and got a clean bill of health and after a little minor procedure, he came home to stay.

Because he’s such a cool looking dog, I had to come up with a really cool name. That took a while. Fortunately a friend at work suggested his name. As soon as I heard it I knew that was it. Thor. God of Thunder. That’s my puppy. Even thought he’s all grown up now and is actually an old man in dog years, he’s still my puppy.

He’s been great! Unlike the cat, he loves me. Unlike the cat, he comes when I call him. Unlike the cat, he doesn’t scratch the furniture. He does shed, but not very much (OK, that’s not quite true.) OK, he sheds a lot. In fact, as I mentioned at Christmas, I received a bag of his hair as a gift.

But we all love him!!

I know if he were writing this, he’d thank me for saving him. He’d say how much he misses me. He’d say that I’m the greatest friend he ever had.

He’d also say thanks to Janae for feeding him and changing his water. He’d say thanks to Janae and Luke and Seth and Braxton for taking him on the occasional walk. (Hint, hint.) He’d say that he loves them just as much as he loves me.
(He'd also say to those Atkinson girls, that he's the nicest puppy in the world and they shouldn't be afraid of him!!)

Three Lives

Janae sent me the following article, author unknown, entitled "Three Lives." I loved it. It said what I was feeling, sort of thinking and after I read it, knew I wanted to share with you.

At the time of Sadam's execution I started a blog entry but I couldn't finish it. I didn't want to give him any more "press" so I never finished it. This however is different. It really says who and what he was.

I hope you enjoy it.


Did you happen to notice the picture God painted for us a few days ago as we watched the events of the day unfold on news stations around the world. The portrait of three men's lives shown clearly through the events of their deaths. One a wise man, one a foolish man, and one a wicked man.

Three men captured the world's attention by their lives and their deaths. Their funerals spoke volumes about the course of life they had chosen to pursue during the few short years God had granted to them. Yesterday, God opened the Book of Proverbs and showed the world the truths contained in His sacred Word.

All three men, President Ford, James Brown, and Sadam Hussein made choices in their destiny. Today they have all three stood in front of their Creator, the God of this universe, with those choices unveiled and judged.

God allowed us to see three men yesterday.

President Gerald Ford, a man whose faith in God and service to his country was eulogized by many speakers during the solemn and dignified ceremonies which marked his passing. A man of character and integrity, not perfect but made righteous through his faith in Jesus Christ. It was in this righteousness he lived out his life as a servant to his fellowman and his country. Great men and dignitaries attended his funeral. All coming to pay respect and honor to a man most deserving.

James Brown also was eulogized in a funeral ceremony befitting his life choices. There was blaring rock music, gyrating bodies, costumes, and great sensual displays of revelry to portray the contribution this man had given through his life to his fellowman. He lived a life of drugs, alcohol, immorality and rock music. He was heralded as the father of Rap music and the inspiration of Michael Jackson's greatness. His funeral, with all of its theatrics, was befitting the excess of waste his life portrayed.

Then we had the gruesome hanging of Sadam Hussein. His death as gory as his life. A brutal murderer and dictator, hung by his neck and secreted away in the middle of the night to an unmarked grave. Thousands of Iraqis celebrated his death for through his life he had brought untold misery and death to many. A man so wicked that it seemed the world breathed a collective sigh of relief at the pronouncement of his death.

Three men, three men who left their mark on the entire world, three famous men. All three have now stood before their Creator to answer for the choices they made in their life as you and I will someday.

There is only one choice and Gerald Ford's life exemplifies the nobility of choosing to walk in harmony with The Creator through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Redeemer.

James Brown chose to walk in the flesh. His life's work glorified the flesh and his death magnified the flesh.

Sadam Hussein choose evil. He was a narcissistic megalomaniac. His life glorified evil and his death was gruesome.

This all played out in one day. God painted a great picture for mankind to see. I pray people got His message.

(Author Unknown)

Terp Chow

About 3-4 times a week we eat at the interpreter chow hall. The food is actually quite delicious. Here's a photo spread of the experience.

The chow hall is in a B-Hut. I don't know that the "B" stands for, but that's it in the background.

Here are the cooks preparing today's meal. Today was beans in a delicious sauce, lamb, rice, vegetables and oranges for dessert.

Here's the vegetable trays being prepared. They consistenly have sliced cabbage as a bed for sliced radishes, white radishes, red onions, jalepeno's and cold french fries (they're actually really good.) Merrill slices up everything on the veggiee tray and puts it on his rice. By the time Wais and I are done eating (and I've already sliced my stuff), Merrill still hasn't finished preparing his feast.

There's Wais in the middle and Merrill in the far back corner with his back to us.

Here's what's on the table. The vegetable trays, the rice dish (it has julienned carrots and raisins in it - it's delicious!) naan (flat bread), in this photo the meat is in a separate dish but it's usually buried under the rice, sodas and oranges. Some days there is a separate bowl of some vegetable; usually cauliflower, sometimes steamed spinach, potatoes, beans. Other than the spinach, it's all quite good. They've been putting yogurt on the table and while I ate it once (in the ANA chow hall), I was told that it was prepared from tap water so I avoid that from now on.

Merrill, CPT Steve Curtis and me in the far corner "breaking bread" together. As always, the food was excellent.

I forgot to mention, this is the same kind of food we eat in the ANA chow hall. The only problem there, the quality is not as good. The rice is plain, not that that's bad, but the carrots and raisins give it a really flavorful and colorful appeal and that is absent in the ANA chow hall. The meat is similar but of lesser quality. No veggie tray but you will get hot vegetables. Same naan - I love the naan. Everything is served family style so many a spoon is being dipped into the plates, the same plate that you dip your spoon into. Afghan custom is to have one washcloth on the table for everyone to wipe their hands on, use as a napkin. I usually avoid that little custom. Something about too many hands. Both tables will also have pictures of tap water - avoid the tap water, and one community glass. However there's a big difference.

If you're late to the terp chow hall, you still get your very own plates of food. If you're late to the ANA chow hall, the server will take half-eaten plates and scrape what's on the plates on to one plate and hand it to you. Yum!!!

Remember the community wash cloth. Well we usually ignore it but everyone uses it in the ANA chow hall, in fact it gets passed around and everyone wipes their hands, faces, etc. on it. When it comes to me I gingerly pass it on.

Oh last thing, they don't really use forks or knives much. It's all about the large spoon. They'll use a fork or knife to cut things but the meat is usually tender enough that you can use the edge of the spoon to cut up the meat. The knife is typically used to peel an extremely overripe apple or orange. The fork, if there is one, is used to scoop food onto your spoon. I've become a spoon man after eating there. You get alot more food in a spoon than you do on a fork.