Sunday, February 06, 2005

Like a Shield

It has been raining on and off, and yesterday we even had moments of tiny hail--we knew something was different because our tin-roof at the garage gave off a new tone from the precipitation. At least the rain usually happens at night, leaving days to dry up a little. But today I walked home from church in a steady drizzle. Sure glad I had a cowboy hat (thanks Selena!) to keep the top part of me dry. This place turns to soupy puddles of miry clay with enough rain, it doesn’t soak in. Although the weeds and grass are having a go at it, I think this place would be almost a paradise if there was any significant vegetation at all. During the Winter, temps are cool but nice in the Sun. At night the stars are so clear. When the dust and heat returns in the Summer, this all will change. But if you could get a forest or something over here, it would be really nice.

Through testimonies in our meeting I heard again what has to be scientific proof of prayer. A mortar landed here, must have been the day right before the election since it has been otherwise quiet for a month!! Two soldiers injured. But they went back and looked at the damage of the living quarters. One hole went right through a bed where a soldier and just gotten up and left. Another soldier and just shifted a position and where he had been a piece of shrapnel went by.

My great friend, whom I call Nephi, returned from Mosul. His convoy was squeezed near a Taxi with the hood opened up under an overpass. Sure enough, the Taxi was a IED (improvised Explosive device). The timing wasn’t perfect and it went off in gap between two convoy vehicles. (They space themselves for this reason) When they went back, there were two exploded shells and 5 unexploded shells in the bomb. Some were very large shells. Had they all gone off, it would have been a different story.

But a guy from church is in a position in the military where he gets a lot of emails and communications from the states. He is told over and over about people and groups of people praying for the soldiers. The stories I have told you are echoed by thousands of similar reports, so much so that the soldier I call Nephi tells me the guys in his platoon are recognizing that there has to be a God. Total non-believers say they have seen too many narrow misses to not realize there is a protection upon them.

So I put two and two together. Thousands of prayers uttered on their behalf, thousands of “coincidences” which are not coincidences, of safety. At the shop we had a HumVee come in for replacement armor after being hit by an IED. The armored turret we installed had two baseball size holes through it. Those are the big pieces that are near impossible to stop. I projected the trajectory based on other holes in the rear and I remarked that it was good the gunner was not in the turret when they were hit, because at least one would have gone right though him. The driver reported that the gunner had just bent down to pick up something that had dropped when the bomb went off. Prayers are working.

You know, science has even done experiments with prayer and the conclusion was positive; they work. They don’t know how, but they do. I mean, who doesn’t know how except for science. But you won’t see this reported by the press who claims to be open-minded and interested in diverse information. Nevertheless, it is as real and prevalent as fast-food restaurants in America, I would say, only more healthy!

As I said, Mosul is a real hot spot now, many fire-fights and our chartered air-liner will not go there. The good news is that the locals are turning in so many tips on the bad-guys and the info is good that surely damage is being done in a good way. Most of the violence is directed against the Iraqi people and they are starting to fight back.

In one neighborhood, I read this in the news, the insurgents promised a blood bath if the people voted. The people voted. The insurgents came back to make good on their promise. I’m sorry to sound a positive note about apparent vigilantianism, but the townsfolk killed five, wounded/captured the other eight, and set the bad-guy’s vehicle on fire and destroyed it. Terrorism just isn’t what it used to be around here.

So remember, if you hear about some killed in a road-side bomb here, that is the exception. Perhaps a hundred of those bombs go off every week in Iraq, but the armor and the power of prayer are providing far more non-casualties. One more. Carasco came back with Nephi from Mosul today, they are being sent home after their stretched year of service. Carasco, the first LDS baptized in Kirkuk a month ago, and for that time was in brigade that seemed to attract attacks everywhere they went. They survived it all, he had felt rounds go right by him many times and even had is hand burned from a strafe (bullet as it went by).

It was good to see them again and know that they made it through and are on their way home! On their behalf and mine, thanks again for all the prayers. Ernie

P.S. In the first pic, you can see the holes in the back from the shrapnel of an IED, including several different sizes that tore through the back and a small one through the bumper. Up in the turret's armor you see two rusty holes. They have been hammered back shut and an additional piece of armor installed behind it, but you can see where the two pieces went through and how one was dead-on center for the gunner--if he had not just ducked down inside.
Second pic, the hat that keeps me dry

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