A quick note.
Firstly, I hope you are all well. Secondly, I will be leaving here on the 26th to head home for leave. I am excited. I look forward to going around to see you guys. Karis has a birthday coming up so we are going to have a birthday party for her and of course, a sleep over. Entertaining a household full of ten year old girls is kind of like being caught in a tornado. Stuff flies through the air, landing willy nilly everywhere. Sometimes you have to wrap your hands around your head and duck and cover. Then when the storm passes you have to get out and assess the damage. Maybe I should upgrade my home owners insurance. :o)
On the 9th, I believe, Beef and Boards in Indy is presenting the play 'Treasure Island.' So, we are going to take Karis and a friend to that. So, I am excited to be able to be home for her birthday. I missed Thanksgiving and Christmas this year so I am eager to be there for her special day. I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming. She has a sensitive heart and she loves the Lord. What more can a father desire in a daughter.
As far as activities here, Andy will be back on the 20th and Mike should be back around Wednesday of this week. Bryan has a mission that he has to go on for three or four days, please pray that he returns safely. I am sure he will do fine. He is a veteran of the Somalia conflict and so he is on top of things.
Later this month, we will be having another medical conference with Iraqi physicians. In January, we led a conference for them. This time they will lead the conference for us. It will be interesting to learn the protocols that they use in their practices.
We have had several sand storms over the last two weeks. Sand lingers in the air like fog and the day becomes orange as the sun filters through the dust. The other day it actually rained during the middle of a sand storm. The droplets of water mixed with the floating sand and as a result it was raining mud. Our uniforms were covered in little drops of mud. These limited visibility days are also an opportunity for our enemies to launch attacks on our base. I believe everyday that we have had a sand storm, we have been mortared or received a rocket attack.
The sand storms here are not exactly what you think they are. What happens is that sand is blown around many miles away from us. The result is that a large cloud of dust will float lazily over our base and simply hang around in the air. The dust is so fine that it actually floats in the air. Ther is no wind involved like in the movies. It is more like a heavy fog, except instead of water mist, it is sand. It can play havoc on our atopic troops who are prone to allergic antigens.
The mood here is good. I am so proud of our medics. Many of them have come so far since our arrival. We have done so much teaching and mentoring of these soldiers and they have sucked up the knowledge like a sponge. I remember when I couldn't get enough of medical information. I wanted to do everything and I looked for anyone to teach us something new. We have a saying in medicine that goes: 'See one, do one, teach one.' Basically a soldier observes a procedure, then performs the procedure under supervision and then teach that procedure to other troops. Most of our soldiers are at the point of teaching others. We have invited medics from a unit in Washington, State over to have our medics teach them the skills needed to run a clinic. The Washington medics are glad to learn new things and our medics are eager to show them. I have said this before but it is worth repeating. Medicine is not ours to keep but ours to give away. Our soldiers are giving back to their profession. I love seeing that.
Dr. Sami who is an Iraqi/American came by today to share good news with us. He is a practicing physician in San Diego and he came back to Iraq where he was raised to try and build a stable health care system. He says that the State Dept. will be setting up a multi-service clinic in Balad where doctors and health care providers from around the world can come and volunteer their time in two week rotations. What a wonderful opportunity for our profession to give to those who have the greatest need. Short term missionary work has such an impact on the local population. I was in Haiti a few years ago with my brother in law and I worked in a small clinic and provided care to local villagers. These poor people were so grateful to receive care for their children and family. They would walk miles through rough terrain and wait for 2-3 days just to be seen in the clinic. The people here are in similar situations. They simply want to have a normal life and take care of their family. I pray that Dr. Sami's program goes well. He has such a passion for this mission and he is a blessing to us and to his fellow country men and women.
Well, that is a quick update. I hope you are all doing well. I can't wait to see you guys when I get home and I pray that you are all well.