Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone from Kandahar, Afghanistan!  Since I am 12.5 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time, while you all are sleeping, or up really late (or really early, however you see it), I get to celebrate Christmas before everyone back home!  Christmas eve and Christmas day was just another day for us around here honestly.  The only resemblance of it being Christmas around here are the decorations around.  It's hard to feel connected into the season without being around my family.
Even though I am in Afghanistan, what a wonderful day today is though!  We celebrate today the remembrance of Jesus Christ's birth!

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." -Isaiah 9:6

God coming down humbling Himself taking on the body of a man.  Fulfilling Scripture, the prophecies of His coming.  Ultimately dying on the cross in my place saving me from my sin and death - the only way for forgiveness of sin.  What an amazingly beautiful gift!
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas day.  I wish I could be home with Barby and Violet, my family celebrating today.  Soon I will get my R&R leave to come home.  A week from today it will be the New Year too!

Merry Christmas!

Here are some photos from today (some from during this week too):

Opening some gifts Christmas day.

In the morning on Christmas. A Christmas tree, thanks to the Romanians, outside & near our office. I don't know where they got an evergreen tree.

Christmas dinner

Me during the day on Christmas

The day on Christmas. If you look above that tent in the distance, near that power pole, and at the edge of the ridge in the distance, you can see a chinook helicopter coming in.  This road gets really muddy after it rains BTW.

Sunset on Christmas.

Opening a gift on Christmas eve. This was really wrapped with many many layers.

We put together a simple party/hang out for us that help in the chapel worship band Wednesday night. This is the spread of treats and food. A lot of this came from care packages that were sent to us. We like to share to help eat a lot of the goodies we got. Just mine alone took up the left corner of this table and that small little table to the left!

Some of us in the chapel worship band frosting the Christmas sugar cookies thanks to the 'Allen Girls'.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Afghanistan Photo Contest, Billy Ray Cyrus, & the British Cafe'

In September, when I was in Bagram, I heard about a photo contest for photos of Bagram and around Afghanistan.  AAFES, Nikon, and Exchange new car sales sponsored the contest.  It had 7 different categories: on duty, off duty, aerial, macro, people, action, and ground ops (a couple were added during the contest).  Winners got digital cameras, t-shirts, and gift cards.  It ran from September until December 15th, a few days ago.  Since it started I've been submitting a number of photos that I've taken while here.  The judging happened this last week and the final results were in.  It turns out one of my photos got First Place!  It was one of my macro shots (macro category).  I personally thought it was going to be the 'Razor's Edge' photo I took of the razor wire, but to my surprise it ended up being my picture of the 'Big Bee' that I came upon one day hanging from our gator.  Below is my winning photo for the macro category.

Here is the link to the winning photos from the photo contest:
And this is the link to see all the photos that were submitted for the contest, including the different categories:

Last week, on Wednesday December 16th, we had a Holiday Variety Show put on by the USO.  Billy Ray Cyrus, Dave Attell, Nick Bollettieri, & Anna Kournikova were the special guests who came to see us.  That evening they put a simple show on for us.  Dave Attell mc'd the evening with his comedy, Anna just came to support, Nick gave us a motivational message, and Billy (with a couple other guitars and singers) played 'unplugged' on acoustic for us some old country songs with some twang, including Aiky Breaky Heart!

Me and Billy Ray Cyrus

Me with Anna Kournikova

Me with Nick Bollettieri

Me and Dave Attell

I'm not sure if I put a photo of this place up before, but this is the British Cafe'.  It's like a Starbucks for us out here how nice it is decorated inside.  It's a warm and inviting place - a good place to get away and escape for a few hours.  Tom, Chen, me and others who play in the chapel 'next' worship band meet here about every Monday night for coffee, and the newly added cigars and guitars.  After hanging out here it almost seems like we aren't in a war oppressed area like Afghanistan.

This week is!  Soon it will be the New Year too, which means I go on leave not too far afterwards!  Time seems to be moving by quicker for us, and that is good.

Until later, cheers and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December Update

Since Thanksgiving I've took a few good pictures to share.  I've got some pictures of scenery from around here, some of decorations for Christmas, pictures of me with some friends, our unit picture, and some shots from an event the British sponsored that went on yesterday night December 12th.

It is interesting being here through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.  I would have never thought that I would be away from my family during the holidays, let alone being in a war zone.  A lot of people have gotten into the spirit and really decorated their office or building.  I think we are all trying to make the best of our situation here.  We've also got a good number of packages from different organizations wanting to support us from home.  This is really nice.  A couple people in our unit have friends and businesses back home that have sent care packages for each of us in the unit.  I am very grateful for those that do what they can to support us over here, and our families back home.

The first picture below is of Tom (on left), Chen (on right), and me.  Air Force, Navy, and Army all represented here.  We all play on the worship team for the contemporary chapel here on KAF.  We also play for the monthly worship concert and prayer event that started a couple months ago called 'Ignite' (based on Acts 2).  Tom is from Alaska and Chen is from Texas, originally NY.  Tom has been leading the worship team here also.  We hang out together usually every Monday night at the British cafe' over coffee.  This picture is from Monday this last week and we had cigars, coffee, and jammed together outside.

Chen (chief) jamming on the guitar.

Clouds over the boardwalk

View from South Park, Harvest Falcon DFAC area

This is what the rain left over, standing water and mud...

Nice sunset

Christmas decorations in the MWR

Letters to the troops from supporters, posted up in the MWR

My work area and desk in our small 'closet' office.

Our office decorated

Friday I got a box in the mail from the Thompson Cigar Company.  I opened it to find it FULL of cigars, and many that look to be nice at that!  This was a cool surprise to get donated a giant supply of decent cigars.  Thanks Thompson Cigar!

This is a picture of most all of the 804th on December 11th out at ECP4

Our humvee, 'Jingle'.  I guess we could say it's "Jingle all the way" during this season! (see the bottom right windshield)

Me and Chen with the guitars we got from Guitar Gallery. Thanks again Guitar Gallery!

These are a few photos from the event the British sponsored last night.  Charlie Boorman and Ross Noble.  Charlie Boorman travels on these bikes with Ewan McGregor.  Unfortunately, Ewan wasn't there.

These gals opened up the event dancing in their leather outfits with metal plates around their waists doing these grinder displays with sparks to the music playing over the system. Crazy English.

Ross Noble on left & Charlie Boorman in the middle.

You can see all of these photos and more in my Picasa Web Album located here

Until later, cheers and Merry Christmas!