Sunday, February 24, 2008

Day in the Groundhog

I wanted to go through and discuss what a ‘normal’ day is like – including the special days, like Friday – which they call “NATO” Friday – or ____ Off Friday – since Friday is the Muslim version of our Sunday – what they consider a holy day. Most folks either don’t work at all on Fridays or work only half days. Of course, the war continues – but I think that’s obvious. :) Now, we don’t get days off. We work every day – same schedule – so that’s why it becomes more like Groundhog Day for us here. Not much changes day to day.

However – there are certainly ways to gauge the day based on what is happening on base. For example… Sunday is chapel. Now, this is not your normal, run-by-a-chaplain military base chapel. Nope. There is no ‘protestant’ chaplain on HQ ISAF – to start with. I’ve heard that there is a Catholic Chaplain, but haven’t met him. No – out chapel is run by the laymen. We have Jon, a major from the UK Army, that typically leads the singing – unless of course SFC Handren is in town. WOW – that guy can sing! He has such a deep clear voice – sometimes I just like to hear how he’s singing the songs as opposed to singing with him. Then there’s the US Navy Commander that plays the songs on his computer as we sing along. Now, often Major Jon is seen as the ‘leader’ of the chapel, at least by me. And he will preach occasionally. But the special treat is when MG Kennedy preaches. His knowledge of the Bible is absolutely stunning. His depth and breadth of knowledge is indeed formidable. The man is. . .wise. I don’t know very many men I would call wise. Some wise-guys – sure, but actually wise – few and far between. MG Kennedy is wise. Another interesting tidbit would be that, were we under the auspices of the Afghan law, we would be breaking it – as preaching Christianity is illegal in Afghanistan. Or at least it used to be.

Monday through Wednesday – Groundhog Day – all the same. Thursday night – now that’s party night. Typical signs that its Friday morning on ISAF – vomit on the ground outside the Cadillacs – typically smelling very much like beer; rumors about bunker 5 and a certain nation’s men engaging in what I believe is against NATO policy (I won’t go into that – plus there’s no proof); ‘some’ shops being closed – but not consistently; folks not being at work; the post office on base only being opened from 0930 – 1100 – and only for pickup; the chow hall not opening until 7 – but staying open until 10 (for ‘brunch’); and there are others. Thursday night is the big ‘party’ – for some folks (not all) – and Friday is the NATO holiday.

Saturday and Sunday? Well, outside of having chapel on Sunday nights, the weekend is just pretty much like every other day – nothing different. Everything is open, mail is open – you know, it’s a bit odd getting mail on a Sunday, but you get used to it – all the shops are open, and nothing really stops.

Maybe that’s part of the insanity of war – no days off. That’s why after WWII (or was it I) the world went to a 5 day work week. Maybe that’s when vacations started. Maybe that’s when calling in sick started. I don’t know – but it certainly is a different reality to get used to.

Ok, back to work. . . it’s. . . .


Groundhog day.


  1. Thank you for this insight! This sounds much like the life of a business owner--no FULL days off, the mundane tasks that repeat daily, but always the chance to have fires start and have to put them out. Thankfully, we have the Lord that can see both you through in Afghanistan and us business owners through where we might be. I am grateful for what you are doing over there to give me the freedom to worship the way I want and the freedom to have my own business, especially being a woman! God Bless!

  2. Love the patch! Might have to do a trade someday if you have spares...

  3. Thanks!
    Would be cool - I'll have to see if I have any extras sitting around. . .

  4. Typical deployments, 6 to 15 months (depending on branch) of nothing but work. And folks wonder why military guys cherish Federal Holidays so much! After a couple deployments someone will understand.

    Sad to see the scarcity of chaplains, but I'm sure they've got a vast country side to minister to. I know from the Iraq context this is true, especially for the Catholic Chaplains. First time I was there they had 12 priests in the entire country! We had mass at COP Rawah one week in three, the rest of the time it was done by lay ministers. Luckily, our Cav Squadron had a good protestant chaplain (who was prior enlisted, and actually a better shot than his assistant...).