Within a few days I will be heading back home. First I have to stop at Kuwait and then we are going back to Fort Bliss.
This was a great deployment. It had a lot of challenges. I had to do a lot of counseling and dealing with other soldier issues and soldiers in crisis. This was also a great educational experience for me. What would I do different? I think I need to offer classes on finance and on relationship issues for single soldiers and for married soldiers. I was given great material in chaplain school but I wasn't able to use it this time. I was able to form great relationships. Many of the soldiers here love me. The Ugandans love me to-and expect me to go to Uganda and preach an evangelistic crusade there!
How I feel
I am weary from being on deployment for a long time. I have been busy preparing for this deployment since the fall of 2008 and I have been on duty since May 2009. I feel mentally and emotionally drained.
What I am going to do now
I think the first thing I need to do is rest, relax and unwind. I will need to visit family and catch up with "normal" life. Soon after I get back I need to go to Chicago to promote my books on Aramaic to the Assyrian community there.
Life in a Day
Youtube had a "Life in a Day" project in which people all around the world we asked to submit material from July 24th, 2010 documenting their life during that day so that Kevin Macdonald and Ridley Scott can use that material to make a movie about one day in the life of planet earth. I decided that it would be great for me to participate in that experiment. I filmed my day and submitted some video clips from it and posted them on youtube. You can see my "Life in a Day" videos at www.youtube.com/aramaic12.
Assyrian Martyrs Day
On August 7, 1933, over 300 Assyrian refugees were fired on with machine guns by the Iraqi government. The officers who carried out this massacre were given commendations. Assyrians remember this date every year as "Assyrian Martyrs Day." The Assyrians are the indigenous Aramaic Christians of Iraq.
I am going to try to get into a doctoral program, probably with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I do have a few research projects I am working on, including one on Moses and the Exodus.
Remember my Books
Remember the books I have available:
My books: The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic, Mary of Magdala, Treasures of the Language of Jesus, Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth, Christ the Man and the upcoming The Hammer of God. From www.amazon.com.
My Comics: The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People, Chronicles: Facts from the Bible, and "The Hammer of God" series. From www.comixpress.com.
Thank you and Prayer Requests:
I want to thank everyone for their supports and their prayers during this deployment. Please continue to hold us up in your prayers. Continue to pray for all our soldiers and for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Words of Christ
Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I don't give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be distressed or intimidated." (John 14:27-31) Jesus gives us a genuine and eternal peace-something the world canno0t offer us. Jesus also tells us do not let your heart be distressed or intimidated! The devil is out there-but he is a defeated foe and we have greater power than he. Lastly, we must follow Christ's example and obey the Lord.
What Chaplains do
What is the chaplaincy about? It is about sharing the love of God and showing human compassion. I have counseled many soldiers with a wide range of issues-anger issues, marital issues and many other problems. I notified and provided comfort to several soldiers who suffered the loss of a loved one and endured many other tragedies. I have intervened with suicidal soldiers on several instances. Often I was awoken in the middle of the night to assist a soldier in crisis. Many soldiers have come to me in my office. But I was determined that rather than have soldiers come to me, I would go to them. I visited my wounded soldiers in the CSH. During the most oppressive heat I visited my soldiers at the ECPs, guard towers and guard points-even going "outside the wire" to do so. I also visited my soldiers who were on duty during the late hours of the night. I went on missions with my soldiers and visited my soldiers who were in downtown Baghdad. I looked out for distressed soldiers and interceded to help those in need. I provided religious coverage for my Eastern Orthodox, Jewish and Islamic soldiers. I was determined that all my soldiers would see me and know who I was. I was also a chaplain to our Ugandan soldiers and our interpreters. Of course, I would also let my soldiers know about our religious services. Sometimes I would get the response, "Thanks, Chaplain, but I am not religious." I often respond by saying, "That's okay-I just want you to know that I am always here for you." I know my imperfections. In spite of myself, I know I have done good here and have made a difference in the lives of many soldiers. There are many chaplains out there who are better chaplains than me-and we all play a vital role. I came on this deployment for several reasons, but principally because I love soldiers. I believe in what America is doing in Iraq and I believe God spoke to my heart-and told me that it was his will for me to minister here.