Monday, March 15, 2010

Enjoying Fort Polk

My team and I have completed our first full week here at Fort Polk, and couldn't ask for a much better situation. Each day I keep looking over my shoulder or wondering if it is all but a dream for the treatment that we are receiving here at Fort Polk. Before coming down here I heard nothing but negative reports from others and their experiences, I was prepared for the worst. For the most part our barracks our nice, we are living 5 men to a room, the showers are hot, the air conditioning works. Concerning our rooms the worse part for me is that I have been forced to have a top bunk, and at night the air conditioning has been too cold. After already been through two deployments, the most pleasing aspect of my time here at Fort Polk has been not having to deal with 'First Army' as our trainers. Even though we are going through deployment training in many respects it almost feels like a gentlemen's course. We have yet to be burdened with mindless or pointless taskings as I've experienced in the past. We have Sundays free, we are allowed to put on civilian clothes during our free-time after work or on the weekends. Most surprising of all, and once again I am almost afraid the mention this for fear that someone will find out and put a stop to it, but are also allowed to drink. Being able to have a beer was one of the last things I was expecting to be able to do when coming down here for mobilization training.

This past week our training was all spent in the classroom. Our mornings we focused on learning 'Dari', one of the main languages spoken in Afghanistan. Like any language, it is a real challenge to try and learn. Basically all we focused on was were words and phrases that might be used during an introduction, or a possible emergency. I might get to the point where I have learned to speak and understand 100 to 200 words or so. Being able to actually read and write their language would be something entirely different. Their written language looks like a combination of the letters L, I, V, O, and W and some dots or squiggles tossed in. What was really funny for me and my classmates while attempting to learn this language was how my brain wanted to toss in words from other languages. I haven't studied Spanish since I was in High School, yet my mind slip in Spanish words when I couldn't think of the correct Dari word.

After lunch we focused on cultural aspects of Afghanistan on the muslim world. Our first three days we had a speaker who worked grew up in Afghanistan, and worked as a translator. Much of Monday he spent explain the Islamic faith. I had heard before that Muslims worship the same God of Abraham that I worship, and that is supposed to be a religion of peace. However try as I might I still have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that so many of the "terrorists" of the world follow the Islamic Faith. Part of the instructors claim is that many of the suicide bombers or terrorists are unable to read or write and have received bad teaching from corrupt Imams. I will concede that is a possibility for some of the terrorists out there, however all the 19 hijackers that hit the world trade center were well educated men. Something had to have perverted their minds. I know that there are crazies from the Christian faith, however it will take some work to remove or change my paradigm about the Muslim faith. I look forward to getting to Afghanistan, working with the Afghanis and hopefully having my opinion(s) changed.

This past week I finished reading the book Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. A book that I would highly recommend. It details Navy Seal Luttrell and his three other Seal teammates fight in Afghanistan, and Petty Officer Luttrell was the only one to survive a horrific battle. From that battle Navy LT. Michael Murphy was post-humously awarded the Medal of Honor. I have started reading the book Unmerited Favor by Joseph Prince, given to me by a friend from Church. I am a few chapters in thus far, and am thankful for the God's gift of the book through my friend. The book reminds of God's Grace, that I know I sometimes overlook or forget.

Yesterday I celebrated the 35th anniversary of my coming kicking and screaming into this world. A month ago I thought it would be a miserable day stuck on Fort Polk to try and celebrate my birthday. Much to my surprise it turned out to be a pretty good day. Had to put the uniform on and attend a class on avoiding becoming a POW. In the evening though our team went out to a local restaurant called Catfish Junction for some dinner, drinks, and fellowship. For my meal I got 5 pounds of boiled craw-fish, with the help of the guys sitting next me I was able to make it through all 5 lbs. Many of the guys that I am working with I can sense that I going to become lifelong friends, as I really had a good time sharing some drinks with them last night.

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