Friday May 18, 2007: Thanks for the prayers!!! It doesn't rain much here in May, yet during this major operation we have been conducting, it has rained everyday. That has kept the heat down and we have had no heat injuries. We have had contact with the enemy, but have not lost a man as we continue to do mopping up operations.
Thank you for your prayers. I've been out there where the enemy has been running from us. This has been a highly successful mission!!!
Saturday May 19, 2007: Today, I was on patrol when an IED went off hitting the vehicle in front of us. A large explosion, lots of dirt flying in the air, and a crater left in the middle of the street. I grabbed my aid bag and ran to the vehicle that was hit as two other vehicles supplied cover for me. I had two casualties, one unconsciousness, the other had multiple wounds due to shrapnel. I checked their emergency issues and treated their wounds and had them medovaced to higher at the major Cash. They are both going to make it, I got there in time to prevent them from bleeding to death. Thank you for your prayers, these were not catastrophic and I was able to prevent them from going into shock. It has been a long day, I missed the explosion by one vehicle.
Sunday May 20, 2007: I have another soldier coming to me wanting to know how they can get Confirmed in the Church! I'll have them start this Saturday with everyone else. It is a real blessing to see this, they were very excited to know that I could help them. "Operation Restore The Vineyard" is doing well here! It's kind of an all year thing!
Monday May 21, 2007: I am suppose to have 47 soldiers to make up our Platoon, yet I've been working with about 25. It has been extremely tight and tough trying to manage all the missions. It's round the clock! It is much tougher getting on here because of all that is going on.
I figure that each Saturday night and Sunday morning I walk about 10 miles to bible study and Mass. That is helping me keep in shape. It's kind of a cool way to pray the rosary as I walk through the area.
It is going by day by day, always fires to put out and always emergencies to tackle. I am holding up fairly well, my faith sustains me, my Wife loves me, and I have a lot of prayer my way. I am so thankful for that.
Tuesday May 22, 2007: God bless you all and thank you so much!!! Tonight, Toby Kieth was here for a concert. I wanted to go, almost did, but I had several people asking about the bible study. I went ahead with the bible study. I'm glad that I did as I had three new soldiers come in. One of them is wanting to be confirmed. That's two in three days that I've ran into that want to be confirmed. This one tonight has a marriage issue and will need an annulment. I told her to hang tough, that the Archdiocese of the Military will look into this matter through our priest. I gave her great encouragement and feel that we were all there for her tonight. God works in mysterious ways!!!
Wednesday May 23, 2007: Just had four mortars just hit nearby. Some days we hear and see more than others. I'm thankful that they are not great at it, I still think that having them hit so close and in close proximity someday they might get lucky. I was at the dining hall this week when the warning came across the PA system, "in coming, in coming" then a boom. "Troublesome Waters, I'm fearing no more".
Saturday May 26, 2007: This last Tuesday evening and Saturday evening Bible studies had something unique take place. This week I had at each study a female soldier come for the first time wanting to be confirmed in the Catholic Faith, both had been out side the Church for a while, both are in unlawful marriages, both have husbands living away from where they are. Both husbands are needing annulments and both have already begun the process. It is just weird how I would get two people in the same week with identical situations like that. Cool beans!!!
Monday May 28, 2007: wow, Liveby, what do you say? Are you in for an adventure? An artistic adventure? I'm looking to have a drawing made of the recent action that took place. I'm running with an aid bag in my left hand and my weapon (M4) in my right hand, full battle rattle. Leaving the vehicle running towards the hit vehicle to assess the wounded. That coupled with helicopters flying overhead, tanks setting up perimeters on both sides of the convoy, and HUMMVE's (1114's) pulling up to provide protection. I can't help but think that would make a great drawing.
Friday June 1, 2007: This morning I was speaking with a soldier at Sick Call who was wearing a rosary around his neck, one of those kind that is made out of string. The Medic who was tending the situation was listening and had been an agnostic for a long time. I have had many discussions with him and so I like to challenge him when the opportunity presents itself.
Today was a bit different, my medic was actually speaking about the Orthodox and the Catholic. He had been doing some study and told us that he was now thinking of following either the Catholic or Orthodox. Now, as you can see, that drew me deeply into the conversation. He was really looking at both groups. I gave the importance of St. Peter and the linage. It was awesome. The other guy wearing the rosary is coming to our bible study on Tuesday!!!!
Sunday Jun 03, 2007: Last night at the bible study, it went real well, we discussed the Trinity, looking at both Old and New Testament scriptures. We looked at the Nicene Creed and the Council of Nicea. This lasted almost 2 1/2 hours and time just flew by, everyone had a good time.
Walking back to our PAD, it's about a 2 mile maybe 2 1/2 mile walk, I'll never forget the gunfire, the rockets, the sounds of battle hitting all around us. It is something else to walk out and hear this. Occasionally, a bullet might whiz over head and you can hear it coming toward you as it zips right on by. I'd be praying the rosary and so my thoughts would be centered on those dying at that moment.
Several of the local civilians have been taking arms against the enemy and literally fighting them on their streets. We have seen a significant rise of wounded coming in at the TMC. We have had a few deaths too. Please keep them in prayer.
Gigi informs me that in New York, there was another plot uncovered that intended to blow up things there. Thank God that this was thwarted. May God bless America, our land of the Free and home of the Brave. I pray that I can walk down any street in America and not worry about hearing the battles I hear in this place.
Monday June 4, 2007: I had the chance to speak with an ex-Catholic yesterday and spoke to him the importance of the Mass, the truth, and the Faith. It was an opportunity to reach out to a lamb caught in the bushes. I can't say that he enjoyed being freed from the thickets, but I felt good about it. I guess it's cool to be a witness-or as opposed to being the witnessee.
Today, I had the chance to speak with our Medic on Evolution, the Inquisition, the Rosary, and a host of other topics. It's been a good day!
Tuesday July 3, 2007: I spoke with one of my students today who was received into the Catholic Church this past Easter Vigil and he informed me that his family were catching interest in the Faith. He has a young teenager who is asking questions about it and wanting to go to Mass. That is real exciting to me. I hope that we can truly begin to have an effect to reach many who have left the faith in Brazil and Ireland to Pentecostals. "Restore the Vineyard", let's do it!!!
Thursday July 5, 2007: Thanks my brother, glad that the 4th was celebrated with alot of festive tradition. You guys sure help make this operation worth it to me.
Last night we had a rocket hit close to where I conduct the Saturday evening bible studies. I walk to this place every weekend for Mass and the studies. There were some casualties, please keep them in your prayers.
My first week back it has been interesting as we continue to complete each mission. My medics have participated in more than 3200 patrols saving many lives and ensuring the best care possible. I've conducted between 60-90 patrols myself just because we are so short.
I've been keeping tough with the guys who became Catholic this past Easter Vigil, they are all doing fine, missions aside, they are hanging tough. We got to keep the fire burning!!!
Sunday July 8, 2007: Thank you all for your kind comments! It does mean a lot, you guys rock!! Your standing on the Rock and your name is on the Roll! That is real Rock and Roll at it's best!
Last night, I grabbed my computer, speakers, plugins, DVD's, and computer bag along with my trusty M-4 rifle, and walked up to the Division Chapel. Last night went real well, I covered the Mass using Dr. Scott Hahn's DVD "The Lamb's Supper". That is a great lesson in and of itself. I also shared conversion stories of Tim Staples and Stephen Ray. It was very interesting and everyone got a lot out of it. Fr. was there for part of it and I know he got a lot from Scott Hahn. That is a powerful presentation if you get the chance to see it.
Afterwards, one of the guys took me across the street and showed me where the rocket hit. It was really between the Chapel and the MWR Tent. It left a small crater, but it was close to where people hang out. You never know when it comes as they are striving to find ways to get around and fire them. Mostly from populated areas. The enemy we are fighting are evil, insane monsters. All you have to do is look into the mind of the guy who put a curse on Siggy. That is typical!
The internet here is really slow, it takes a long time to raise this thread up, it's even tough to write Gigi as many of my communications do not get through. It's like there is a rat playing with the Iraqi connections. Something we have to contend with. Other than that, we are doing fine.
I lead a rosary at noon Monday through Friday at Warrior Chapel (when I'm able) which is really cool. I use the new CD set produces by Dana and Fr. Kevin Scallon. It is great cause I use the sound system and have it fairly loud. The Chaplains are getting use to it!!!! They got me back yesterday though as they locked me in the Chapel during lunch. I was trapped inside the Chapel (another explosion that hit near by) hope it was in the wasteland! I better run to check it out! God bless!
We had some injured come in from a suicide bomber, I gave them each a holy card and a St. George medal. They will be OK as they had burns and minor lacerations. We did lose one soldier, please pray for him. This happened today, Fr. offered Mass for him and all those who have been killed in action.
I picked up another Catholic who wants to be confirmed. He told me that when he was 12 years old, his parents left the Catholic Church for Protestantism but he wanted to return back to the Church. He will begin this coming Saturday. Please keep his parents in prayer that they might see the true light of Christ and return home. Maybe their son might make them think about it. I will certainly strive for that.
While at Mass today, there was another explosion, but it wasn't that close to us, you could still feel it though. We have seen fewer IED's but it seems like there have been more rockets. Hopefully, they are running out of ammunition. If we keep them from coming into the country and find where they hide these things, we will continue to see a decrease.
Monday July 9, 2007: Thank God for His peace that surpasses all understanding. It has been a brutal week, yet I feel blessed. It is hard to describe what all this means but it is a grace of God. We just have to keep the right frame of mind and keep hope for each other. I know I draw my strength from the Lord. That is first and foremost, then I have so much in my wife and family. That gives me so much! And again, great brothers and sisters here on this board, what an awesome gift to have. I tell soldiers of your support and prayers for them and that means a lot to them, some of them I give religious items to which they love to get. Every time I give a medal out, they bust our their dog tags because that is where it is going.
The New York Times has sent a writer and a photographer who arrived here today. I got the chance to speak with them (informal of course) and let them know we appreciate their support in the press. I tried to be complimentary to them. I guess I'll be looking to check out the New York Times when they get back.
The Chaplain, who is Mormon, asked me today about the Anointing of the Sick, if that is OK for the dead. He was speaking to the situation of a Catholic that might be killed in an attack, would the priest still do the anointing. The anointing is for the living, if a priest decided to do it for a dead person, it would be probably more for the family or those around. The individual is already gone. I still pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for them, if I find out about it after they died, there is not a whole lot we can do at that point, but still offer the devotion for the soul. No prayer is wasted.
2 Corinthians 6:2 say, "Now is the acceptable day of salvation, now is the time", that is why we should strive to be ready daily cause we do not know the day or the hour when the Lord will call you home. Many will raise up this very day not knowing this is the day. I hope they are ready, as I hope that I am. We live by His grace, and hopefully, like St. Paul, I can say that I fought the good fight.
Tuesday July 10, 2007: I know that I am back here in Iraq, especially with the gunfire at night, and the mortar shells and rockets going off. Today there was a huge mushroom cloud due to an explosion that was somewhere outside the gate. It was like burning tires or something.
We had no casualties come in which is great, hopefully the bad guys are being ran out of town. That's what is going to have to happen is that the Iraq people are going to have to take a stand for themselves.
Getting ready for tonight's bible study, something interesting happened yesterday, I was speaking to St. Joseph's Communications out of California cause they had some DVD's I wanted to get. There is a former Marine who is out there looking for someone who has been doing the kind of things that I have been doing. He's using CD's and things to hand out. He might be interested in us. We will see. I think they liked this Website, it is awesome, you guys all rock. May God be with you all!!!