On the Front Lines

The following is a report from Cyberstones, in case you don’t read that blog.  It is from Janet Frese, wife of Chaplain Michael Frese, who is currently deployed to Afganistan.  Normally, it is rude to cross-post an entire blog post,(after all, the goal is to generate traffic for your own blog) but the important thing here is to share news of one of our faithful chaplains, and to encourage prayers for his safety.

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Dear Friends and Family,

I just heard from Michael this morning via email that he is now at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Andar in Afghanistan. Reaching his final destination took a bit longer than he expected. In all, he was traveling and waiting for about a week and a half.

When he and the other soldiers left Fort Knox, KY, on January 8, they flew directly to Germany, Leipzig I think. During the 16 hour layover there at a US Army terminal, he was surprised to find a German kiosk set up for the soldiers with Schnitzel and Wurst! Michael says it was little taking a little walk back in time (about 6 months back in time). They then flew to the Transit Center in Manas (Kyrgyzstan), which Michael describes: “The airport is an old Russian airport, so it had the familiar Cyrillic script on the building. The runway felt like a rocky landing. It was Soviet-rough.” (We traveled to Russia twice in 2003 to adopt our oldest son, Alexander.) They arrived at midnight and were led to a holding bunk tent where all of the soldiers’ bags were unloaded, 3 bags for each of the 300 soldiers (so 900 bags total). Their first task was to locate their own 3 bags…..each identical to every other soldier’s, outside, in the dark, in the middle of the night. Welcome to the Army.

At 1:30am they were released to get “midnight chow” and then began a long series of meetings and canceled meetings about when they would actually fly to Afghanistan. This lasted for 2-3 days. The details are a bit fuzzy to me, but at some point they finally got on their flights and arrived at Baghram Airfield near Kabul, Afghanistan, where they would then wait for flights to their final destination in the Ghazni province. It’s cold and it’s difficult to keep the tents heated, but the Army provides the soldiers with high-tech sleeping bags, coats, boots, socks, etc. But it’s still cold.

Michael arrived at his base, called Andar, sometime in the last few days. He has the next 5 days to spend with the Chaplain who has been there for the last year, learning as much as he can from him about the base, safety, and how things run. He tells me that it is a shock being there, seeing how remote it really is. It is so remote that there are no toilets, not even port-a-johns. Instead, they must spend the next 12 months using a tube that runs in the ground for liquids and for the “other” they use a bag that is then thrown away. Not to put a foul image in your head, but this is the reality of what the soldiers will endure for one year. Michael says that showers are iffy, working about 50% of the time, with hot water for only half of that time.

The most important part of staying sane in this environment is keeping a regular daily devotional life of prayer and reading the Scriptures. Well, in any environment this is important, but especially in highly stressful situations. Michael will be the only Chaplain on this base, and he is planning to have frequent, if not daily, services offered for the soldiers. I cannot imagine trying to endure a wartime environment and all of its physical and emotional challenges without hope in eternal life and assurance that Christ has redeemed us and forgiven us.

So that it is where things stand right now. We are hoping to be able to talk with him on the phone in the next week, but the connection may be horrible with an annoying delay. I was able to “talk” with him several days ago using Gmail’s Chat feature, so that may be as close to real-time communication as we will get!

Life in Kansas continues on as normal. In a nutshell, we’re keeping occupied with homeschooling, piano, karate, gymnastics, playing in the snow, drinking hot cocoa, building with Legos, and finding fun local activities. The kids are handling this really well, which helps me a lot.

We really appreciate all of your prayers. Soon I will have an address for Michael and a list of ideas about what you can send him and the soldiers, if you so choose. Especially in this remote area, they will really appreciate this sort of kindness.

Yours in Christ,

Janet

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One Response to “On the Front Lines”

  1. […] Boar has posted about Chaplain Frese previously on his blog; here is an […]

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