Deployment: Week 25-27

How crazy is it to think that there aren't too terribly many of these posts left?
I know at least two people who are very happy about that fact:

A couple of weeks ago, Zach sent me the link to a YouTube video uploaded by the Marine Corps. It features the Marines of 1/9 (Zach's unit) as well as soldiers in the Afghanistan National Army (ANA). While Zach's not in the video, he knows some guys who are, and it was really neat to see his current area of the world :)

I know, I know -- 11 minutes is insanely long for a YouTube video. I took some screenshots so you can get the gist.

I had a lot of thoughts while watching the video. I particularly loved the dog running around from 3:50-4:50 (& I love how they put him on a makeshift leash as soon as they hear gunfire), and I loved getting to see the Afghanistan children at 4:05. I also really liked the part where the Marines and ANA are crossing the little bridge at 5:08 & you can distinctly hear both languages being spoken -- it sounds really cool!

After watching the entire thing, I told Zach:
"Don't hate me for saying this, because I realize that you've been there for over six months & you've seen absolutely nothing but sand & dirt & can't wait to come back home & you have every right to not think this, but... it looks almost beautiful. Not beautiful in the way that the Parkway is beautiful here in the fall. Not beautiful in the way that Center Field at Camp Bethel is beautiful early in the morning after it rains. But beautiful in the way that, well, I guess in the way that only a desert can be beautiful. I can't really describe it, but... it just looks really pretty."

To my surprise, he agreed with me!
"No, it is! I definitely know what you mean. There are obviously a lot of areas that have been affected by the war, and there's a lot of rebuilding that needs to take place, but Afghanistan is still a beautiful country."
I like people who can find a little bit of beauty in everything :)

The Marine Corps website is actually doing a 4-part series of articles that goes along with this video entitled "Victory in Nawa." The first three installments can be read here, here, and here.

Other fun facts worth mentioning:
  • Zach is starting to pick up on "Pashto" -- the language spoken in southern Afghanistan. While Zach has about a dozen words & phrases under his belt, I can only say "sabr woka tishnaab," which is what you say when you're telling someone that they must wait to go to the bathroom. I mean, if you're only going to learn one phrase, that's definitely the one to go with. Useful life knowledge, no doubt.
  • I lied -- I know two other words! In Afghanistan, "yah" means "no," and "wo" means "yes." Pretty counterintuitive -- Zach has some funny instances where he's instinctively said "yah" and then realized that he actually disagreed instead of agreed. Whoops!

There's no way I could begin to do justice to some of the stories Zach has told me over the past few weeks: stories of the Afghanistan detainees. Perhaps I'll get him to write another paragraph or so, because he really does tells them so much better. Their commitment to their Muslim faith is truly inspirational. They're currently being detained -- some may be terrorists and some may not be -- yet they're in such high spirits. They constantly say, "Insha'Allah" (ooo, I know FOUR words/phrases) which means "God willing" or "If it's God's will."

That amazes me. These men are being detained knowing that there's a chance they could be turned over to the Afghanistan government at any moment. But regardless of if they are set free or die at the hands of the Afghanistan government, they are at peace with whatever happens because they genuinely believe it is "God's will" for their life.

They pray five times a day, as is the Muslim custom. When they're not praying, they're asking Zach if it's time for them to pray... even if they just asked five minutes earlier. Zach says that each prayer can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours! Sometimes, they sit and read the Qur'an. Or sing in Arabic from the Qur'an. And they don't do it as a form of, "Oh, God, my life is so hard, so I'm going to be super devout because I need you to fix everything & get me out of here." Because let's be honest, I think a lot of Christians (myself included) have a tendency to do that when things aren't going so well. But for them, the singing & praying & Qur'an reading happens with such intensity all the time -- good or bad.

Definitely makes me think.

• • • • •

Please continue to keep Zach in your prayers -- he's done such an outstanding job throughout this entire deployment, but he's definitely ready to be home. While there's not too much time left...

...there's still just enough time remaining to make it seem like an eternity. Perhaps taking a few moments to send him a bit of extra encouragement (on here or via Facebook) would make things better... ;)

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