Upon my return from Germany, the euphoria of a fun trip carried me through a few days, smiles galore. Several Germans said my Deutsch was excellent, and one sweet girl asked if I was from Austria. Wow, my German must have really improved since my mission. Maybe that minor in German at Utah State….But then things dragged a bit as work and life weren’t quite as fun anymore. Now, I think, things have returned to normal. Making me even happier is the chance to bring some news to you.
American soldiers have overseen and helped build/rebuild over 600 schools in Iraq already. Similar work is going on in other areas of infrastructure as I have mentioned before, but that is one stat I specifically heard reported. So much good is being done here.
Here in Kirkuk, the soldiers continue to meet with local leadership to train in government and also train the Iraqi security forces the techniques to remove and clear bad guys from buildings they may have taken control of, for example. They are becoming better equipped and prepared to take care of themselves and are conducting many of the raids now, only backed up by the Coalition and American forces.
One of the young soldiers doing such things is in my church group and brought me some pictures in return for showing him pictures from my glorious trip to Germany. He both meets with some local leadership in a big city near Kirkuk and helps out with Operation Crayon. Operation Crayon brings school supplies and, as you will see in the pictures, candy to the school kids. Obviously a capitalist propaganda tool meant to win the hearts of the next generation of Iraqis. I like it!!!
Brother Scown, as I will call him, has a boyish face and matching enthusiasm for his work among the Iraqis. He really likes being here and thinks it’s a great opportunity and there is a good work to do here. I like that too. I wish you could see one of the videos he shot of a school girl singing a solo. Someday I will figure out how to make such things available to you. So the children line up like soldiers and some then sing solos and they all sing (more like SHOUT! Or chant) their national anthem. Then I think the candy is passed out.
It is getting quieter and safer here all the time. You have not heard anything from Fallujah since it was cleaned out, have you? Remember how hot is used to be there and all the reports you used to get of the violence? That gives you an idea of how things are shaping up here.
Oh, one more thing about the Iraqis that come here on base. They LOVE my skateboard!! Doesn’t matter if they are driving a cement truck, sewage truck, or working on construction. Sometimes I will wave to them when they drive by and they will quickly smile and hold up a hand in return when I am on foot. But when they see me cruising, they honk the horn and their faces break wide open in smiles and they wave like crazy or give both thumbs up. Get your hands back the wheel! And then I think, these people are all-right.
Anyway, here are the pics:
Pic 1 Iraqi’s share many values with our mormon principles. Conservative clothing styles even a mormon wedding could be proud of, as you can see.
Pic 2 But if you don’t, this shop owner looks ready to mete out proper consequences!
Pic 3 Meeting and eating with a “stud” police chief and some other city officers
Pic 4 Bringing supplies to school in Operation Crayon