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Collins reflects on first week in Iraq
0916Doug Collins
State Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville

Editor’s note: State Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, currently is in Iraq as a U.S. Air Force reserve chaplain. He began his service there last week, and in an e-mailed report on his first Sunday in Iraq, he discussed his first worship service conducted for military personnel at his location.

It has been a good day here. I work the night shift, and this is my first Sunday to work in Iraq.

I conducted a service for one of our units tonight. It is very interesting to do services here since we are all in the same boat, far away from anything that resembles normalcy from our homes in the states. The common thread, however, is that people gather with a faith commitment to worship no matter where we might be for a certain period of time.

I will be doing the regular Wednesday night worship service, but also go out to different parts of the base to hold services as well. At those services we typically do not have music because if I tried to sing I would run everyone off. So instead it is a time of prayer, communion and a short sermon.

On Wednesday night, we hold the worship service in our chapel building and we have musicians and singers who all
volunteer their time to help carry out our services much like back home in our local congregations.

In the midst of what has been a very busy first week I have had time to think about where I am and the significance of this place. To be living for a short time in the land spoken of so many times in the Old Testament is a bit humbling and yet comforting to know that God is still working here, just as he did many years ago.

The people on the base are a microcosm of the States. We have people from everywhere. Some are new to the base, they are the ones with the confused looks. There are others who are getting ready to go home, they are the ones with the permanent smiles.

I have had the opportunities to talk to many of our troops and hear their stories. We have new dads who have not seen their child and mothers worried about their kids back home.

All in all, I feel like I am where God wants me to be for now. I miss my family and the activities of their life but we are able to communicate and that helps ease the separation pains.

In regard to the Muslim community, we have locals on base and I have had the chance to talk with some about their faith and it is interesting to hear them talk about their faith.

The weather today (Sunday) has been amazing. We have had a dust storm and the whole place looks like a fresh snow back home except that it is dirt! When I get home I will probably find sand in places I didn’t even know I had.

All in all, it has been a good first week. I am off tomorrow. We work six days a week, 12-hour-plus days with one day off. I would want everyone to know that the morale is good and that although I have been in the military for awhile, the work that our guys and gals are doing over here should make every person be proud to call America home.