Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Serving those who serve (Part II)

I am now at the half way point of my deployment to Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan. It has really been an adventure. In my last article I spoke about the need to be faithful in Mass attendance even when it is difficult to understand the priest. I'm going to take this article in a different direction.

Many times, as we face things in life that are inconvenient or difficult, we are quick to complain. Man life is sometimes rough. Over here at Manas, we are sleeping in 8 x 12 rooms. If you are a junior enlisted, you get to share your room. We have to walk down the hall to the latrine or showers. The food at the Dining Facility is not like it is off the stove at home, and we have to walk a couple of blocks to get there. Our TV selection is limited. We get some variety from the Armed Forces Network (AFN). On the "news" channel we get a mish-mash of news programing from the various networks throughout the day -- CNN for a bit then FOX then MSNBC. You get the idea. It is easy to think that this is roughing it. Oh, the cross that we bear. For a lot of you reading this, all of a sudden what you are facing at home does not seem so bad.

When the troops come through on their way from Afghanistan to head home, things are put even more into perspective. Many of them are sleeping in tents, or spend some nights without any shelter as they are out on patrol. Showers? Try keeping yourself clean with baby wipes. They are eating MRE's (meals, ready to eat) which may or may not be hot, depending upon time and if they have the small heaters to heat the meals. If they are lucky, someone has a radio and they can listen to the AFN radio programing, mostly hip hop type music. All of a sudden, what we are facing at Manas seems almost like paradise.
As you face the challenges for living life, it is important to remember those who are in greater need. Jesus reminded his disciples that they would have to pick up their cross daily to follow him. Those crosses seem heavy at times. I'm willing to bet that most of us, if we were to attempt to change our cross for a lighter one, would find that our cross is not so heavy. We need to pray for the courage to carry our own crosses in life. We need to pray for those who have a heavy load to bear. When our cross seems heavy, we need to remember that Jesus said for us to take his yoke upon our shoulders and he would give us rest. It's all a matter of perspective.
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