Tag Archives: military

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Dead Camels

5 Sep

“When you find yourself in need of spiritual nourishment, it is in the opportunities to serve others that you will find the abundance you seek.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being
On May 25th of this year, I met the most delightful man. “I picked him up at the airport.” Little joke.. that’s what he told his wife. I was on my way to Chicago and had a couple hours before my flight. There were dozens of military personnel scattered about, and I tried to shake hands and thank as many of them as I could for their service. That’s when I met Chaplain Jim, waiting for a flight home to see his family for a few days before deployment. I bought him a “nutritious” McDonalds breakfast and we talked for over an hour.

Chaplain Jim and I have been corresponding. He is in Kuwait, serving his country and The Lord. I thought I’d share his words of wisdom with all of you.


Dead Camels
I didn’t spend a lot of time in Kuwait my first two deployments, but enough to have some significant memories seared into my brain. My first time here was in December, 2004, and I distinctly remember the ride from Camp New York where we were staying in to Arifjan where I am now, to consult with the sr. Chaplain here. That first ride in, it seemed like we were driving on the moon, with the ONLY sign of life or human habitation being the road, heading off to the horizon with NOTHING in sight. Then we finally saw the first tree-lonely, all by itself in the distance off to the right. It seemed like forever before we saw that first tree, but it was probably more like 20 minutes driving through nothingness until we hit that first sign of life.

This time around, in the summer of 2013, I do that same ride pretty frequently. The desert is still the same, yet it’s not. Where it had looked like a moonscape, now there are fences, there are Beduin camps that we see, never up close, and never close to each other, but there are quite a few scattered around. There’s trash-mostly plastic bags caught in the fences, occasionally a pile of tires to mark an otherwise indistinguishable route to a camp, sometimes a toilet in the sand, but most remarkable are the dead camels and sheep. I have no idea how these camels and sheep survive out there-well, obviously not all do, but we usually see a lot more LIVE camels than dead ones, but the dead ones are usually right by the road-road kill perhaps?

The difference is dramatic across the almost ten years’ difference between my first and current stays here-and as strange as it may sound, the dead camels are a remarkable sign of life and normalcy. Ten years ago, the desert was the biggest barrier between the instability of Hussein in Iraq, and the fallout that followed. NO ONE wanted to live out there anywhere NEAR Hussein! Now, that there are dead camels, trash, toilets and tires and Beduins in the desert, indicates a new comfort level, a “new normal” as we like to say. The dead critters wouldn’t be there, had they not already been ALIVE and grazing through the sand in a new sense of stability.

Sometimes signs of growth and life can be disguised-like in a dead camel. But IF we are working on growing ourselves and growing our families in our spiritual lives, we will be able to find the fruit of that growth if we look for it. If we don’t find fruit of our spiritual growth-maybe that means we’re not being intentional about nurturing that growth!

Keep on growing!
Rev. Jim-“on assignment” for Family Matters in Kuwait

Chaplain (Major) James R. Lewis
371st Sustainment Brigade
Brigade Chaplain
Thank you, Chaplain Jim.

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Anchors Aweigh!

3 Jul

As we look forward to freedom, the shining city on the hill and the best days of America lying ahead, it is the men and women in uniform who protect, defend and make us proud to whom we should look and give thanks every night.
Robin Hayes (brainyquote.com)

This is a very appropriate quote for our upcoming Fourth of July celebrations. Why in the world do they call it Independence Day? How ironic that we celebrate being independent, but actually, we are very dependent on our men an women in uniform who insure we retain our freedom and liberties. I vote that we rename it Dependence Day or TYFYS Day, Thank You For Your Service Day. OK, all those in favor, raise your hand.

The last place in the world I expected to see a couple of military uniforms was at my local Starbucks. Not that they don’t drink coffee, it’s because, I don’t drink coffee, and not a big fan of Starbucks also.(No offense to my “Starstruck caffeine-a-maniac friends.) It just so happened, I was meeting my friend, Julia, after Zumba class yesterday, and that was a convenient location. We were catching up and discussing our writing adventures or lack there of. As we said our goodbyes, I noticed two gentlemen in black-grey camouflage uniforms seated across from me. It wasn’t the typical green camo that I was familiar with.

Well, if you know me, I had to go over and shake their hands and thank them for their service. Then I noticed the U.S. Navy on the pocket. Ah, they were Navy guys. So, I plopped myself down and chatted with the delightful young sailors. Turns out that they were currently assigned to the recruiting station up on Route 380 in McKinney. The gentleman on my left had the word Pass on his shirt, and the other had Muldanado on his. I turned to my right and said, “I guess you didn’t get a PASS.” I asked the poor young man named Pass, who probably has endured that joke a million times, “I bet you never heard that one before, did ya?” He smiled and agreed, “Oh no, that’s a new one!”

We talked a while. I learned about their wives and families and where they were from. How cool is that? You meet the most interesting people by just sharing a kind word or a friendly hello. As I was leaving, I asked them what plans they had for the Fourth of July, and they said they were going to be in the parade on the Square. I told them that I’d see them there. I’d be the one waving and yelling, “Hey Jeff! Hey Manny!…ANCHORS AWEIGH!!!”

Jeff Pass…I asked him where he was from, he said, “All over. My dad was in the Navy and we moved around a lot.”

Manny Muldanado… Manny and his family are from the Dallas area. He’s pleased to be stationed around family right now.