Photo 1: I don’t think that’s how you properly salute, but oh well haha. We have to wear the body armor sometimes when we travel from one base to another on military aircraft here in Afghanistan.
I have written a letter to my family and friends, but I decided that I should share it with all of you as well:
First off, I am sorry that I can never write less than an essay and that my emails are always so long! But please bear with me and my imperfections with this one.
I wanted to write to all of you seeing as this last week has been quite incredible for me. Right now I am writing this to you as blasting winds full of dust attack my face and my eyes (I’m outside to have some time to myself). I am currently in Afghanistan, and as I don’t know when I will ever be here again I would like to take the time to write to you under interesting circumstances.
What am I doing here? I was invited by a man named Dan Clark. He is a world renown speaker who is the main contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. He has spoken many, many times to the troops all over the world. We are joined by a professional impersonator/comedian named Jason Hewlett (he’s hilarious), and my voice trainer Dean Kaelin (accompanying me on the piano and guitar, and performing himself a number) to do a military tour. It is a tour with the focus to inspire and give an uplifting message to the troops as we entertain.
July 8th we left for the Middle East. We began in the country of Bahrain– a country I had never even heard of before. Afterwards we went to Kuwait. It was amazing to see how empty it is here terrain-wise: sand, sun, dust, and desert. However, due to oil and gas these are very wealthy countries. We visited an Islamic mosque and I was amazed to see that they believe in prophets, and even believe in Jesus Christ… As a prophet of God; not as the Only Begotten, yet they believe that He will come again. It is Ramadan here which is the month of fasting, where they cannot eat or drink from sunrise until sunset. We cannot eat or drink in front of them, and have to keep long-sleeve shirts and pants when in public Muslim-eye to not offend their traditions.
Anyway, this is a military tour, not a desert tourist trip. I wanted to express my love for these military men and women. Here in Afghanistan– along with in Iraq–they are in combat and there are attacks going on. I was surprised at the friendships and the respect the local people have with and for the troops, as the reason why we have been in these countries is to protect these people from opposing groups who seek for power and are extremists and terrorists trying to overtake the countries. We are now making transitions to let the Afghan military take charge of defending their own country so that they may strengthen their own sense of duty and value those rights and liberties more by taking the lead themselves.
We have met so many fathers who have yet to meet their newborn babies in person; they are out in this blazing heat of 100-140 degrees day to day (and wow it feels like a hair-dryer blowing in your face!). We have seen and felt their appreciation for us being here as we “come out of our way” to meet with them, perform for them, and let them know we love them — it is the LEAST we can do!! It is amazing to have them come up and say, “you don’t know how much this means to us. Thank you for coming to see us and break the routine. You bring a piece of home.”
These are people who learn what the word “duty” means. They literally put their lives on the line with rockets being shot at the bases, mines exploding their and civilians’ paths, and suicide bombers coming at them. It is real, but they do it because of their duty to our families and to our country, and to their duty to protecting countries and people who cannot do it alone. How grateful I am for their dedication and for them being awakened to their duty.
I hope the next time you see one of these service men and women, you think of their commitment that they have to this duty: to protecting our amazing and beautiful country where we have freedom, and working to help others have freedom as well. We take what we have for granted– whether- we go to the air-conditioned malls, or sit at our peaceful homes bored. Let us think twice about our liberty that we have in this promised land, and how God has truly blessed us. During this trip we are also getting to do some special faith-based events that we call firesides. It has been a wonderful bonus to the trip.
We have one more week of shows, and I will try and give you another (shorter) update as we come to a close.
I hope you are all well!
P.S. I’ve attached some photos.
Photo 2: This is a mortar with some army men that is setup to shoot back quickly at locations where incoming attacks come from.
Photo 3: These army men use those giant explosion-protected vehicles in the back to search for mines. They basically go through explosions many times so that it doesn’t happen to other military troops and civilians in normal cars or walking.
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Dan Clark shares video!