Sunday, January 24, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is my 28th Birthday!  Of course, I would rather be home with my family and friends celebrating it there instead of here in Afghanistan.  However, only about 5 more days to go and I will be in the process of heading back home for R&R to be with my family!

I was reading some of 1 Corinthians today and these verses stood out to me in light of my birthday, chapter 1 verses 26-31:

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.  But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that just as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."

It is by God's grace and mercy that I am here to celebrate another wonderful year of life.  More importantly, that I am able to continue to grow closer to Him with the Holy Spirit working me through my salvation.  I fear God's judgement, because I am a wretched sinner, and have to give an account for my family and my sins and actions.  Only through Jesus' blood am I confident in His forgiveness and grace.

While separated over here I am learning a lot more about trust and faith.  God is also teaching me more in humility through the people and circumstances I deal with over here.

A good friend directed me to this familiar verse in Philippians chapter 1 verses 3-6:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.  For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.      

What an interesting year this last one has been.  I now embark on the next new year.  The first half of which is going to be anything from the ordinary back home since that is about how much time I have left in this deployment.

Here is a picture of me today, on my birthday, with the 'It's My Birthday' ribbon on that my mom sent me.

Yesterday, as I was walking back from my office to my room, I noticed a giant rainbow from the NE.  It had rained not too long before I had left.  I felt some of the final rain drops as the rain clouds were just about past, and you could see them sweeping by in the distance with more rain.  This is the first rainbow I've seen over here.  I am always reminded of what God did as a covenant promise in the sign of a rainbow in the story of Noah written in Genesis 9.  It's a beautiful sign.

Left side of the rainbow

Right side of the rainbow.

I couldn't capture the whole thing since I didn't have far or wide enough of an angle to get it all on one shot, but it was a complete rainbow left to right.

Smoking my birthday celebratory cigar

Friday, January 22, 2010

One Week To Go!

Only one week from today to go until I begin the process to start R&R/leave, and to no better place than home! I really cannot wait to be home with my bride and baby girl for 15 precious days.  It is going to be a nice break.

Some of the people in my unit that have already gone and come back tell of their experience traveling back home that a VFW chapter in Texas provides a very warm welcome reception once they arrived in Dallas at the gate and in the terminal.  That will be an interesting experience.  The airlines were generous to our people also by upgrading them to First Class.  The one thing that is a for sure consensus from the people who have already gone and come back is that it is a long ride there and back.  That First Class flight from Dallas to home probably feels great after flying government until Europe and then commercial to the US.  We'll see what my experience is and I may write about it.

After I get back from R&R I will only have about 4 months left until my unit and I come home for good!  

This Sunday, the 24th, is my 28th birthday!  It is going to probably feel like another day being over here.  A good birthday present is that not too many days after my birthday I get to come home to see my family.  I did get a package from my mom and a special one from Barby with some wonderful birthday gifts in it!  Not just gifts from her, but from many of you - friends and family - back home contributing.  Thank you very much!

Many of you may have noticed this in some of the pictures of me.  One of my goals to take advantage of while over here was to lose Barby's baby weight, about 30 lbs.  It was also my baby weight ;).  In the Fall of 2008 I weighed about 220, at least I found that recorded on a weigh-in sheet in my Army records.  When I was at Ft. Dix in August I weighed in at 213.  By this last November I was in the 190s.  I'm officially at about 190 now!  I'm pretty close to the weight I was at when Barby and I got married in 2006.  I've lost over 20 lbs since Ft. Dix, and just about that 30 lbs since the Fall of 2008!  I feel great that I was able to do that and get better fit and healthier during this tour so far.  It was one thing I could do to make the best out of this deployment.

I'll leave this post with a few photos of TGI Fridays that just got completed this week.  In fact, they are opening it for service tonight.  For my birthday this weekend some of us in the unit are hoping to go there for lunch sometime and check it out.  We don't have much else to do around here!  I'll get some pictures of the food and it busy during operating hours if we go.  It is going to be busy these next few days of it first opening, for sure.  All of us are still perplexed how a TGI Fridays got over here.

The front entrance, right off the boardwalk

Another view of front with the other sign

These signs are all lit up at night

This is right as you come inside and looking to the left. Notice the bar ready to be setup for all the booze.  However, instead of booze it is stacked full of just mixes for their virgin blended smoothies.  No booze here...

          More pictures of the inside. It really looks like one from back home inside. This will be the nicest spot in Kandahar for awhile.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!  Goodbye 2009, hello 2010!  This means the end of my time over here in Afghanistan and the beginning of me being back home for good is getting closer.  January is our half-way point.  In about 27 days I go on R&R leave also!  It can't come soon enough...

For New Year's Eve I planned a big party for our unit plus other friends we invited.  We had a small ceremony for promotion and reenlistment, and then a lot of food, music, karaoke, smoking cigars, and having fun bringing in the New Year!

A funny thing happened with our food that night.  I had ordered a lot of food from this one dining facility that is more American called Harvest Falcon.  A guy with a thick accent from the UK (sounds Scottish) is the manager.  I ordered the BBQ menu, which provided BBQ ribs, hot dogs, hot wings, salad, dessert, drinks, etc. not a bad setup.  So, all food is suppose to leave the DFACs "cooked," even BBQs now.  They failed to mention that meant cooked but chilled.  We had picked up all the food, brought it back, set everything out, and were pulling the trays out of the hot pack box that holds all the cooked meat about ready to dig in and enjoy dinner when I realized, as I was handling the trays, that they were all ice cold along with the meat!  We were given fully cooked chilled meat.  What an important detail to forget to mention to us.  We then scrambled to figure out how to heat the meat up.  While our new acting commander ran to the PX to find BBQ briquettes, I searched around the compound we were in for a BBQ. Thankfully, there was one nearby and I grabbed some of our guys to carry if over.  Soon after moving the BBQ the briquettes arrived.  Next was figuring out how to light them.  Use JP8, diesel, gasoline, or is there lighter fluid somewhere?  It just so happens that hand sanitizer gel is flammable, and kinda worked for lighting the coals.  Thankfully, I found another BBQ that had some matchlight briquettes in it which allowed us to properly light the coals.  About 2 hours later after figuring out all the meat was cold we had found a BBQ, got coals, started it, and got all the meat cooked!  And the ribs, hot dogs, and hot wings were really good.

I hope you had a good New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  Happy New Year from Kandahar, Afghanistan!  May God bless you this New Year.


Here are some pictures from New Year's Eve:

Setting up

Part of the spread of food

Salinas reenlistment

Baker having fun being dj with his ipod

Cigars that night thanks to Thompson Cigar


This is interesting- there is a TGI Fridays being built here in Kandahar on the boardwalk!  We all noticed it just this week.  I wonder if they are going to serve any of their mixed drinks?...That would be nice, but probably not. Who would have thought a TGI Fridays would be built over here?

Earlier in the week there was a thunder storm with rain and hail.  These are a couple shots of the hail that day:

Out front of our office building

Hail on the ground.