Well, we have finally arrived to our final destination. We left Camp Buerhing, Kuwait at 0330 on Friday and made it to Camp Ali Al Salam about an hour and a half later. We were suppose to catch a C-17 jet out of the country at 0845, but we were delayed for 16 hours. We finally made it to our plane and found that we were on a C-130, which is a propeller plane. It was an extremely tight fit but we made it into Balad, Iraq about 3 hours later.
We arrived to our sleeping quarters and were pleasantly surprised to find that the unit, that we are replacing, had already moved out of the rooms and they were available for us to move into. We have the enlisted in three man rooms, and the officers are in single rooms. It is like being in a college dorm again. I will put a picture of my room up for you to view.
The clinic appears to be well equipped for what we do. I will meet my counterpart tomorrow, his name is Major Jarvis. He is the current OIC and I will be assuming his duties as soon as our transition is complete. We could all sense the relief of the unit that we are replacing. They have been here for 15 months and they are eager to get home to their families.
The weather here in Balad is a little cooler than Kuwait, but it is still very hot. Dust and sand is everywhere. I was cleaning my room and it seemed that as soon as I wiped the grime off of the furniture it was immediately replaced with a fresh pile of dust. But I felt better making the effort.
I checked out the chapel services here and found that there are 5 protestant services on Sunday. So, that will make it much more convenient for us to get to church. Our clinic is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, so we often times have a difficult time trying to get to church if only one service is offered.
I am very excited about getting started. I have prayed, so much, for God to use this year as a ministering opportunity and I am praying that the Lord gives me the wisdom and courage to be an effective Witness for Him. I found it a little ironic last night as we arrived into country. As soon as we arrived at the airport, we were ushered off of the plane and into a room where we were given a couple of briefings. The first briefing covered safety and security. We are at a base that is frequently attacked with mortars and random gunfire, so very specific instructions were given as to what we should do, during an attack. The second briefing covered the do's and don'ts of living in Iraq. The first don't was the prohibition of distributing religious material. We are prohibited from discussing our faith, passing out pamphlets, or engaging in any religious activity away from the base. Any and all religious activities have to be confined to the Post Chapels. Now, these rules are in place more for our safety than anything and they are good rules, but I found it strange that I had just been praying for Witnessing opportunities when I was on the plane and one of the first briefings we have is about how it is prohibited to discuss our faith.
Well, I will close the blog for now as I still have some unpacking to do and will have to get prepared for tomorrow. I will post more regularly from here on out, assuming we can maintain adequate internet service.
I want you to know that I am praying for all of you and I hope that the Lord blesses you with a desire to serve Him.