Thursday February 5, 2009: I will begin this thread just before I fly because of a couple of things I want to report. This past month there was a lady who began coming to our Bible Study who is genuinely searching for the truth. She is married to a Catholic currently coming from the Southern Baptist (1848) denomination. She has had a great many questions so I encouraged her to come on Wed nights to a presentation I was giving the past two weeks. She was at the past two events with her husband and I think it has been very fruitful. Especially last night which will be my last before I fly to Iraq. There were tears of joy as it was a special evening. May God continue to shower grace upon her and her family!
I also have three Soldiers in my platoon that are seeking full conversion into the Catholic Church. This will be interesting as our deployment unfolds. Last deployment, more than 20% of my platoon converted to the Catholic Faith. What a blessing this was! This deployment may bring good fruit as well! We do have a priest in our Brigade that will be there for our support. I plan to use the Steven Ray series "The Footprint's of God" for bible study again. Steve, your awesome Brother! I will also focus on many conversion stories such as Steve Ray, Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Tim Staples, and many more. I will also have several Christian concerts such as Third Day, Petra, Stryper, and John Michael Talbot. Your prayers and support are very important. We are a team effort here and your words of encouragement, counsel, friendship, love mean so much to me. God bless you and I hope that many of you will be blessed in this particular journey!
Friday February 13, 2009: This morning I was sitting across from a Soldier who I had never met before. I struck up a conversation with him by encouraging him to go to Mass and get involved in the Church. It turns out that he was baptized but not confirmed in the Church. He opened up to me that his wife was wanting him to get right with God through the Church. It meant something to him that a stranger would speak to him as I did. I told him the importance of going to Mass, moving forward in his faith and getting confirmed. I also told him the importance of going to confession. I don't know if he will actually take heed what I encouraged him to do, but I hope that he will take up that challenge.
I am thankful for the prayers of this board knowing that God is awesome and will give us the things we need to accomplish His will! I know that I personally need all the help I can get! As long as He puts it in my heart to evangelize, that is what I am going to do. Knowing that I have an outstanding wife (Gigi) and great support that helps me a great deal.
I will take all that is sent to me and set up a place in what we will use as a church and the Soldiers will benefit from peoples good will. This board is awesome. We have not moved forward yet, and people here are wanting to send religious items for the troops. We are a team!!! God bless you all!
Just a quick note about two Soldiers who converted in April 07 here in Iraq, they both told me that their girl friends have also converted as well. One of them is out of the Army and getting back to civilian life. The other one is ready to participate in the Rosary Patrol as his girlfriend bought him a new rosary that was specifically made for him from Rome. I'm excited just to see it!!! Until now, we have all been in a million places at once training for what is to come! The belly of the whale!!!
Saturday February 14, 2009: I went to Mass last night and found one of my Soldiers seeking to become Catholic. What a great blessing to see as this shows he is truly interested. Kind of made my evening. Yesterday, jet-lag hit me like a stone and after I completed missions, I hit my bunk as it was curtains. Another Soldier got me for supper! I think I'm OK, but I was really tired. I want to send a big "I love you" to Gigi as today is St. Valentines day. I believe he was actually a Priest and martyr. Can anybody tell me about him?
Sunday February 15, 2009: Just taking a look at the spiritual journey of some of my Soldiers, I can report that 9 or 10 of them are interested in becoming Catholic. Maybe more! We are going to be spread out over several locations so this will be a challenge. Some of them if not all may have to wait until we return to Fort Hood. Please keep them in your prayers!
Friday February 20, 2009: The past few days we have been conducting intense training preparing us to move forward. Please keep us in your prayers as it looks like we are being assigned a mission still dangerous within the theater of operations. It is true that violence is way down, but they are sending us into the "belly of the whale".
I had the opportunity to talk to a Chaplain finding out he was from Latin America. He was tempted to press on me as his family is Catholic, but he is a first generation apostate. We talked for over an hour and I had a good time. He wasn't expecting me to be able to explain and defend the Catholic Faith. He was totally engrossed in the Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS) heresy. I rocked him on Apostolic Succession giving biblical reference, Peter's elevation, Sacraments, we ended up covering quite a bit. After the discussions our Battalion PA was impressed that I could go at it with a chaplain like that. I told him that St. Paul told us to contend for the faith, I'm not afraid to do so.
23 February is interesting because this is the day that Davy Crockett entered the Alamo. I hope that this day is not symbolic for us!!! God bless!
I was speaking to the Chaplain's Assistant today and he told me of a certain Army Chaplain that ran into the Catholic Defender yesterday. It was awesome to hear that I had an impact on the good fellow. He was talking to a group that included some of our Scouts and they all understood him to be referring to me.
Monday March 9,2009: I am back in the heart of Iraq! Today we had an Iraqi National suffering from burns came to the Aid Station for treatment. These people still have little hope for health care from their own resources. She will be OK, but only because of our help. These people are very thankful for the hope we give them. It's sad that people of good will can't seem to get together to help these people. I also had the chance to speak with a fallen away Catholic and I think they are interested in coming back. At least they are calling home to tell their parents the good news!!!!
Wednesday March 11, 2009: Yes, it definitely feels like Iraq! Last night while during our regular scheduled Platoon Sergeant meeting (outdoors under the stars) there were some nearby mortars and gunfire that caused everyone to head for cover. Everyone but yours truly! After a few moments the others came back to resume our meeting. I later found out that some civilians were injured in the attack but no military (thank the Lord for that)! Thank you for your prayers as that acts like a force field protecting us.
Wednesday March 25,2009: Just today, a family came to see me with a 7 month old boy, a 12 year old boy, and a 7 year old girl. There were two moms, both of them married to the same man. They were dressed in those black robes with there hair covered. I spoke to them through an interpreter. The 12 year old boy was quick to shake my hand but the little girl was very shy. They were here for the little 7 month old who needs special help and so we were seeking what we can do. I was able to give them some backpacks with school items like paper and pencils and when I escorted them off the base, the little girl gave me a great big smile and shook my hand! That was kind of neat!
I don't think their culture would fit in with me. I think Gigi would shoot me if I came home with a sister for her!!! Just kidding love!!! I am a one woman man and I am very thankful for Gigi, she is God's greatest gift to me!!!
We had a 12 year old girl come to the Battalion Aid Station (BAS) yesterday who was so happy to share with us her learning of English! This leads to some more ideas that pertain to educational supplies, paper, pencils, crayons, these things would also work well.
Today, I taught a new Soldier how to pray the rosary! A new member of the Rosary Patrol!!!
Sunday March 29, 2009: I ran into a new Soldier today who is interested in learning the rosary! It was a very awesome exchange as he was excited to join the Rosary Patrol!
We will have a Catholic Priest here to offer Mass on Good Friday! That is awesome news as we can receive the Lord in the Eucharist. It's great conducting the Liturgy of the Word service, but it is only a substitute in the absence of a priest.
This morning I invited one of our Assyrian Catholics to read the first reading. It was cool as he was happy to participate. I also had a Coptic Catholic helping out as well!
Jeremiah is speaking about Covenant and that God is setting up a new Covenant in which the law would be placed in the heart of His people. I am so thankful for the gift of this new and everlasting Covenant that we can renew it by receiving the Eucharist!
Monday March 30, 2009: I had an Iraq interpreter this morning tell me that I look like I'm 35 years old. That kind of made my day! We had a young Iraqi who had been shot in the leg nearly 8 months ago and we saw him this morning. He is concerned that he still might lose his leg. The Iraqi Ministry of Health is really in need of interior reform.
Thursday April 2, 2009: Today, I am going to the Land of Ur! This is where Abraham was from! Steve Ray is wanting to come here to do his DVD on Abraham. I hope he is able to do it! I wouldn't recommend April due to some of the days in it. The 4th of April is an anniversary of a battle that took place here not long ago. The 9th of April is the anniversary of Saddam Hussain's capital punishment. With this you know the crazies will be out in full swing.
Thursday April 4, 2009: Today was an interesting day, at one point I was surrounded by Iraqi Army Soldiers trying to take a picture with me. It was OK but I was by myself for most of it. Today is the anniversary of a battle that took place in Sadr City in 2004. It happened that my unit was involved in it. Some of you might recall Cindy Shehan, the liberal activist whose son died in that battle. The concern was that some would attempt to hit us but thank God it didn't happen. I was outside the wire today for about 6 hours.
I checked our medical layout at another small Joint Security Station (JSS) and my Medics are doing great. I had the chance to speak with a couple of Soldiers about the faith and that was very fruitful. One of them said they look to become Catholic while the other was excited for the opportunity to learn. I took them from Adam and Eve to Pope Benedict XVI!!
Wednesday April 8, 2009: It is a public event, I ask for your prayers as there will be what is billed as a 1,000,000 man demonstration/march through Sadr City. I ask for prayer that it remains peaceful and that there be no violence. I think it has something to do with the anniversary of Saddam Hussain's death.
The 9th of April was interesting because this was the day there was suppose to be a million man march against U.S. presence. There were concerns of frontal attacks on the JSS, we were the #1 target. Thank God it didn't happen as there were about 500 marchers. It fizzled and turned out to be peaceful. For all of you who joined me in prayer, it rained on the event!!! I loved it!
Sunday April 12, 2009: I have another Soldier who I met that has been away from the Church for about 5 years. I spoke with him for about an hour. He came to the Liturgy of the Word today! He will join us at the rosary tomorrow! This week we had over 20 rosaries dedicated and several more at the Liturgy of the Word and Bible Study. This coming Tuesday will be the second chapter of "Moses",Salvation from Slavery.
Tonight, a Soldier came to me and asked me how to pray the rosary. I gave him some items that some of you have sent me to hand out. He expects to join us tomorrow! God bless!!!
Monday April 13, 2009: I've got a Soldier who is looking to make his first Confession in 5 years when Father visits us next!!! He prayed the rosary with us today enlisting officially in the Rosary Patrol! I also have a native Iraqi who is Muslim that is seeking to become Catholic! He plans to participate with us praying the rosary as well! This opportunity fell in my lap today and I am so thankful. If I had the opportunity, I think I could reach many more of them! We will go one person at a time.
If there are something like 17,000,000 fallen away Catholics in the United States, as a group, that would be the second largest group in the U.S. That's larger than the largest Protestant Denomination, the Southern Baptist. Think of this, if 1% of those who have fallen would return with a simple invitation, that would be something near 200,000 people! Let's do it, one person at a time. Jesus would leave the 99 to seek after the one lost. Once found, there is a huge party in heaven! The Angels rejoice!
I call this, "Operation Restore the Vineyard"!
I showed the Movie, "The Passion of the Christ" with several people present who had not seen it. In fact, in the beginning, some of them didn't act to enthused about it. One guy was up there visiting and I was hoping he would leave because he was a distraction to those I wanted to see it. Something kind of changed though when he started to pay some attention and I think he got more out of it!!! Everyone paid close attention as the movie went on. A couple of them I had just taught the rosary the past two weeks and I pointed out the Sorrowful mysteries to them so now they have something to meditate on!
Wednesday April 15, 2009: Thank you for your words of encouragement, I have another story to relate to all of you following this thread. One of the Soldiers that is learning about the Catholic Faith and praying the daily rosary, told me today that he has been talking to his Father about his plans to learn the Catholic Faith. The Father was very happy because of this and the two have been getting much closer. The Father is now planning to go to Mass with his Son when we get back! Isn't that cool!
What God gives out is not junk, it's not a piece of dirt painted gold it is gold all the way through! That is a well known statement and it is so true! God is so good!
Thursday April 16, 2009: I have to tell you, Last night we had a CLIP (supply trucks bringing washed clothes, supplies) that usually run almost until 02:00 in the morning. We have all hands on deck putting everything where it goes. This morning I was ready to tap out when the alarm clock went off at 04:45. That is when I get up to pray the rosary with my night shift. They came and got me so I was able to muster some energy and get up. I certainly know that scripture where it says, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". The good thing is that they are now hooked into praying the rosary and look forward in doing it.
The past couple of days we have had some attacks from the enemy but fortunately no casualties. Please keep up the prayers!! God bless!
These times and events are very meaningful and important to me. Going back and reading though these examples brings back the feeling that I had during those times.