Greetings from Kuwait
Dear sisters and brothers at New Joy,
Greetings to you in the midst of Vacation Bible School week! May your ministry of hospitality and community, of learning and playing, of singing and proclaiming the Gospel be a blessing to you, to our VBS families, and to the broader community.
It's been a while since I've written, and for that I apologize. I've been overseas for just about two months. As many of you know, shortly after I arrived in Kuwait I came home on Emergency Family Leave upon my father's death. His death was not entirely unexpected, as he had struggled with health for years, and had taken ill the same day in February that I got called up to active duty service. I do appreciate your prayers, your asking me about my father, and your care throughout his health ordeals over these past few years. Thank you.
What's it like in Kuwait? In a word, hot. Currently our high temperatures reach into the low 120s, and our overnight lows bottom out at about 90 degrees. What they say is true - it's a dry heat, and that makes these temperatures much more bearable than if we had the Indiana humidity to contend with. But still, we do our best to avoid being outside in the direct sun at the hottest parts of the day.
I'm running outside pretty much every morning with a small number of Soldiers who agree with me that running in the desert in the hottest part of the summer is a good idea. Each Wednesday before the weekly 5K race on post I lead a small group in prayer, for which I wrote the following benediction:
As Mary Magdalene ran from the tomb
to proclaim the resurrection (John 20:2),
as the prodigal father ran to the son
with overflowing love (Luke 16:20),
and as the Lord runs after
the lost and neglected sheep (Ezekiel 34:16),
may you run the race set before you,
looking always to Jesus,
the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:1).
And may God who is Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit,
bless you now and forever.
I also offered the invocation for the big Memorial Day 5K run here, and will be doing so at future special event 5K races.
My job as chaplain is to provide religious support to all Soldiers, and to advise the command on issues of religion, ethics, morals, morale, and unit climate. This is lived out through a lot of one-on-one caregiving, particularly for Soldiers who find themselves in an unexpected crisis or emergency (a trauma back home; onset of emotional distress; relationship struggles; etc.). I meet with Soldiers in their work area, in my office, a hot shipping container or a bunker, or we'll simply walk and talk.
I am one of the chaplains who lead the weekly Traditional Protestant service here. Our post offers Sunday Traditional Protestant, Gospel, Roman Catholic, Mormon, and Contemporary services. We also have scheduled prayer times and gatherings for Jewish, Muslim, and Pagan Soldiers at other times during the week.
There's not much downtime here. I tend to get about day off each week, but even that is a bit flexible as situations come up that require my attention almost every day. Still, there are some recreational events including weightlifting competitions, a movie theater, darts tournaments, excursions off post to local cultural sites, and even a visit by some DC Comics actors, writers, and the Batmobile!
Thank you for the Gatorade powder and other gifts that have arrived over the past few weeks. It's such a joy to receive these, and share with our Soldiers. While it might be a bit hot right now for some football and frisbee, when we first arrived here Soldiers were playing outside every night. Once the temperature drops a few degrees we'll be outside playing again each evening with the gifts you sent. Thank you!
I love what I'm doing here, and am grateful for the trust that both the church and the Army has put in me to carry out this important work. But I admit, I dearly miss you and standing before you each week "at the foot of the cross and the opening to the empty grave, to give God our praise and receive God's many blessings." I look forward to a joyful reunion next year.
If you have any questions, comments, or requests of me while I'm over here, let me know. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. My next note to the congregation can include responses to your questions. I'm not checking the email@example.com email address while I'm deployed, so if you've sent me messages there I haven't received them!
Our God showers us with blessings, and his promise of love, grace, and mercy never ends. May God's blessings and promise sustain you this season and always.