We received a letter from one of our Seminary adjunct faculty members, Dr. Bill Gasser who is a military chaplain stationed in Kuwait. It got us thinking about how it is just one in a thousand different stories we can tell you about how Thanksgiving is spent overseas by our alumni and extended "family"...
Nov. 23, 2008
Hello from Kuwait!
I've been in-country now for two weeks and I'm getting settled with the new time zone, climate, and culture. At times the landscape looks and feels like some remote stretch of California desert... except that there are no mountains, most of the writing is in Arabic, and the drivers are more aggressive! I spend most of my time at one camp but also work at several others so I do some traveling on Kuwait's highway system each week. The speed limit is 120 kph (75 miles per hour) but lots of people go faster, ride the bumper of the car they want to pass, and feel free to exit or enter the highway at high speed at any point without warning or regard to other vehicles. The occasional goats, sheep, or camels that wander into traffic complete the picture.
Camp life is pretty comfortable, even though we live in tents or other temporary structures. Most of the work and living spaces are air conditioned during the day (and heated at night this time of year). I'm part of a care team of chaplains and medical professionals assigned to the Warrior Transition Program. Our task is to help prepare inbound troops to begin their tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then to get them ready to go home as their tours end. It's a pretty cool job! I lead workshops, do counseling, and offer pastoral assistance for troops in motion. Obviously there are many needs and many opportunities for ministry and I'm very excited about this open door to serve!
Our days start early and end late. We typically work seven days a week, including Sundays (I can usually catch a Sunday evening worship service or an evening Bible study during the week). As I mentioned, we work at several bases and camps across Kuwait and as our program continues to develop we anticipate broadening our work further to include sending teams to visit forward deployed units. The troops we work with have remarkable commitment and great willingness to sacrifice and we are trying hard to serve their needs. Each person on the care team and support staff honestly counts it a privilege to be a part of this important work.
Keeping busy does make the time go a little faster. It's now been six weeks since I left Portland and I am missing Teri and the kids. For most of my adult life I've left home for several weeks of military duty each year, but this time it's different because it's so much longer in duration and so much farther from home. That's an adjustment for us. Like most people, we probably tended to take each other for granted when we were together every day. Being gone like this is a reminder of how blessed we are to be with our loved ones every day. Seems like the desert is a good place to gain perspective, maybe that's why the Lord kept sending His people there?
I'll try to keep you posted with occasional e-mails like this. I'd love to hear back from you as well. I greatly appreciate the prayers of believers. Please join me in asking God to comfort and care for my family each day that I'm away. Please pray for me to be strengthened in body and spirit so that I may serve effectively as a faithful minister of Jesus Christ, and ask the Lord to keep opening doors of opportunity. If you care to write to me, my personal e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I have access to e-mail most days unless I'm on the road. A note for all you facebook users; sorry but I can't log into facebook from my work computer so better to use e-mail if you want to get in touch. Old fashioned postal mail works too, in fact you can send a letter to me with just a regular first class stamp if you use this address: CDR Bill Gasser, CHC, USN; ECRC - WTP, Zone 6; Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, APOAE, 09366.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and may the Lord bless you,
p.s. - here's a quick pic of me by my neighborhood, all our homes look just alike!
To All Of Our Alumni and Family Ministering Abroad This Thanksgiving - We Are Thankful For You!