My cousin Jonathan (the one in the back) is a United States Marine Helicopter Pilot (My other cousin, Jason, standing in front is in the Marine Reserves). On July 13th he send out a mass email informing all of us that he and his squad were being deployed to Afghanistan. This is his first deployment away from his family. He has been stationed on the base in Hawaii for the past two years and his wife and two children went with him, but now he is on his way to Afghanistan.
He is a strong Christian man and the lay minister to his squad. Here is the email I received on Sunday morning before I went to church:
I appreciate all of your prayers so far because I have definitely felt them. It has been a very long trip so far. We have crossed 16 time zones (yes, instead of flying the other way and crossing 8 time zones) and I spent over 27 hours on a plane over a few days. It was especially exhausting because lucky me got to sit in the middle seat and had two guys on each side from Baltimore to here. Currently, I am sitting in Kyrgyzistan (yeah, I couldn't find it on a map either until yesterday) at the Transient Base for armed forces going into Afghanistan. I will not be here very much longer, but it was nice to sleep in a bed instead of watching the sun come up three times on a plane over four days.
The best part of the trip so far has been feeling God's presence. The base has a chapel and I went to the contemporary worship service this morning. Most of you will probably read this after your own Sunday morning worship service, but I will tell you that I would not trade the experience I had this morning for any service. It was a simple yet powerful reminder of the sovereignty and the size of the God that we serve. Even at the foothills of the Himalayas at a remote base in the middle of Asia, I felt the powerful presence of God from the first note that we sang. God is so much bigger than our home church. He is so much bigger than the community and the country we live in. He is so much bigger than this war and He is so much bigger than the universe that we live in. I am fairly certain that I have spoken those very same words so many times, but today I really felt those words in a powerful new way.
As you can probably guess, it gets fairly hot in the area that I will be flying so I wear a camouflage bandanna underneath my flight helmet that was given to me years ago. On that bandanna I have Psalm 91 and I wanted to share one of those verses that already has brought me comfort.
9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Stay in your fight and I will stay in mine.
Please pray for Jonathan and his squad! I love my family very much and pray for their safety daily.