Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Sun sets on my career

I can't believe my career in Iraq is drawing to a close. I have come to admire, respect, and love, yes, LOVE the American forces. They are everything I had hoped they would be and more. It has been an honor to live and work amongst them while they faithfully fulfill their duties to God, country, and their fellowman. From the basic infantryman up through the ranks and yes, even to our Chief Commander, we are in good shape. And so are the people of Iraq. Can you imagine them being in better hands?

I understand how imbedded reporters move from skeptics to fans, much to the horror of their compatriots. I understand why children swarm to meet soldiers. I understand why they are both feared and revered everywhere in the world. They come in all kinds, from conservative and quiet to wild and crazy heathens. But seemingly rooted in their cells is honor, duty, and the spirit of freedom. That is why even the most basic soldier can be sent out to do anything from fight to lead to direct to train the people of Iraq. By virtue of being born into liberty, we by instinct know what is foreign to Iraqis and teach them how to become a thriving democracy.

As for me, I gave my 30-days notice a few weeks back. (I am on month-to-month contract now that my initial year contract was fulfilled) When I leave here March 6th, I will have worked here 18 months. I have loved it. I have learned so much. It has been blessing after blessing. It is a sorrow/joy thing to leave. Sad that this chapter in my experiences is closing, glad to hob-knob among loved friends and family again. And the beach and snowboarding won't hurt either. Glad to look to see what the next chapter in my life will hold.

I hope to return, but for now, I can't believe my time here is done. I want to thank all of you for being interested in my stories and pictures, for sharing your thoughts and prayers, and for passing some good news along to others and back to me. It has meant so much to me! Wow, just hate to see it end. I will post a few more stories and photos if I can, but maybe check back every couple of months for a link to "Return to Iraq" or some such future blog? Talk to you soon...


Karyn said...

I will always be changed by the experiences you've shared so openly here, by your beautiful written and visual journey over the last year and half.
I'm happy for those who love you though, to be able to have you in their midst again, and for you, to be among them and to once again partake of the things you left behind so willingly to serve God and your fellow men and women.
I selfishly hope you do continue to blog the next chapter of your life, as I can only imagine what our Lord has in store for you next!
Much love, peace, joy and safety as journey on.

whackywheelers said...

Ditto with what Karyn said . . . You have shown me a side of war that I know I would have never gotten from the news. I will truly miss your entries and the pictures are beautiful!

We love you and will miss your adventures over seas and we hope that you continue to let us share a part of your life.

I feel selfish in wanting you to stay because I have learned so much myself. But, I'm sure your family and friends are looking forward to your return.

May Heavenly Father's choicest blessings be upon you.

Thanks again . . . The Wheelers

Ernest said...

Thank you, ladies, you have been very kind. Can you imagine an adventure to top this? I can't, but the Lord always seems to surpass expectations. If anything interesting enough happens, I'll post a link here...the most important battle continues for you, though, on the homefront. It is my turn to cheer you. Go get 'em!

SRA said...

I'm glad you had such a positive experience in Iraq. You know my feelings on the situation there are quite dissimilar to yours, but I still appreciate what you said here. We will be glad to have you back home in one piece, though, and hope you stay around for at least awhile.


Ernest said...

I understand. Thank you so much for being able to appreciate the good and the common things even where we part paths on some others. That is admirable strength of character and a gift to me.

I think you are an awesome sister and I appreciate some of the challenges you face and also the faith and hope you use to bless others. A pleasure to have "met" you.

Mo Mommy said...

Isn't it obvious that many of us have come to know and love you here? We are emotionally invested man! You can't just leave us hanging....Perhaps a new blog as you embark on your next great adventure?
Our little family is happy that you are returning safely. If you're ever in our neck of the woods, we have a divinely comfortable couch with a spot for you. ;)

Ernest said...

That is so sweet! But be careful, I might take you up on the couch deal someday...that is a common M.O. for me. We'll just have to wait and see if I come upon anything as exciting as this was...lotsa love to you and yours and God blessk you and yours for your hard work, mommy!

Karen said...

Hi there Ernie,
I have been reading your blog since you sent me the link months ago(I'm sure you don't remember which is perfectly fine). But I need to tell you what a difference it has made reading it. You have a way with words and taking pictures that makes me feel like I can understand more the work that is going on in Iraq and all of the help and sacrifice you and others(soldiers and Iraqi's) make. And it is also a reminder that it's not completely awful over there! There are smiles and laughter and comradery(sp?). Anyhow, thank you so much. Have a safe flight home. :O)

Ernest said...

Oh Contraire! Is the invite to visit when I'm in the neighborhood still open? ;-) Nice to hear from you, my beautiful friend and thanks for your kind words as well. It is an honor for me if it indeed had that effect upon you. Hope all is well in your town, and thanks for what you did to train the soldiers!