Chaplain Bill Gasser Update from Kandahar
Hello from Kandahar! Looking around this place, I can relate with Dorothy’s words to Toto: “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” Kandahar is very different – borderline desert and not always a friendly neighborhood. But living conditions really aren’t that bad. This is a large base and life here is much easier than on the smaller FOB’s (Forward Operating Bases). We have comfortable housing and work spaces (most are air conditioned), three hot meals a day, gyms, free bottled water, and internet… not always fast or reliable, but not bad for rural Afghanistan! The weather is warming up and we should be in 80 degree days soon. My typical work day starts about 5:30 a.m. and doesn’t end until late in the day (or night). Every day is pretty much the same, except for Saturday when I take the morning off, and Sunday when we have Chapel services. I do a service at the hospital each Sunday and also preach at other chapels a couple of times per month. Most people here work long hours. There are down times with not much happening (no new patients), but all that changes as fast as Kansas weather when we receive new casualties.
Last week was like that, with good and bad results. The good; lives were saved, at least one from the brink of death. The bad; we lost others. I watched a soldier die (no response to resuscitation) and helped receive another who died on the battlefield. I attended two ‘ramp ceremonies’ (the send-off for a fallen US or NATO warrior as they load the casket into the plane), and met and prayed with seriously injured American and European soldiers. Lots of ministry: grief work, shared the Gospel at a Romanian Orthodox funeral, led chapel services, taught Bible studies, held prayer meetings, counseled a wide range of subjects with all kinds of people, and mentored junior chaplains. It was a heavy week!
Last week was also Afghanistan’s general election and many prayers were answered. More than seven million of the twelve million eligible voters ignored the Taliban’s threat of violence and cast ballots (better than we do at home?). Votes are still being counted and a run-off election is likely – the Afghan constitution requires this when no single candidate gets 50% of the vote. But most observers consider last weekend’s election a BIG step forward. There was violence, but nothing on the scale that had been promised. I believe it’s because people are praying. Please continue to pray for peace in Afghanistan.
Please keep praying also for everyone’s safety here, for success in our labors, and for people (of all nations) to come to faith in Christ. A number of Sailors and Soldiers (and relatives) in my unit are participating in our New Testament reading challenge – a plan to read the complete NT by the end of September when most of us go home. Pray for God to open doors through this and other means. “The entrance of Your Words gives light…” (Ps. 119:30), Bill