The Last Journey

Article #13  “Obstacles and Improvising”


08 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Boris, Afghanistan

It is Sunday, again.  No matter where I am on the planet, no matter what I am doing at any given time, it seems as though Sunday is always the one day I know what the date is.  Things are just different on Sundays, in a good way.  I get caught up on these kind of days.  I took a shower which really is a nice thing out here.  I am so impressed that there is even a shower area available and believe it or not, there is hot water.  You take a shower differently here, for example…you turn the water on, get wet, turn it off and then lather up.  Then, you turn the water back on rinse off and then turn the water off again.  That’s how it’s done and it works perfectly.  I’ve taken these types of showers forever in the past and I always appreciate that there is running water and now it’s even hot water.  Sunday is a good day to be thankful. 

I turned some laundry in right behind where I stay.  It will be done later this afternoon.  That too facinates me out here that laundry can be done.  What a blessing.  Then, I had breakfast in the chow hall.  I had pancakes with some syrup and could eat it with a plastic knife and fork.  I even had a remarkably good cup of hot, black coffee.  And joining me for breakfast was Sgt. Doyle, who unfortunately is still stuck here awaiting to go on R & R, due to the inclement weather.  So for re-cap, I took a shower, turned laundry in, had breakfast and enjoyed good company.  I have a lot to be thankful for here in FOB Boris.  After all that, I went over to the MWR tent and found that the computers were up and was able to catch on the instant message part, my son and my wife.  Due to all the rain we’ve had lately, the computers and phones have been intermittent at best, but, I was able to spend some time on the internet and get caught up on things back home. 


Today is a bit of a slow day and the rain has really put a hold on some things.  For some reason, I believe I severely miscalculated the meteorlogical status of this region.  Usually, I’m pretty good at all that but I think I messed up on that one this time pretty good.  There is a lot of rain here and it is wet, pretty much everywhere.  I’ve been catching some news about all the flooding in Pakistan so being that Pakistan is just a stones throw away from where I am at this moment, I should not be surprised.  It is not arid and dry here, at least not lately.  I’ve been told that this is very unusual weather, but I am told that wherever I go these days.  So, the normal is basically the unusual from now on.  Just got to learn to factor that in.  Need to improvise.


There is another thing I did not think about before coming here.  I learned the other day when interviewing the folks at the hospital in Salerno, that malaria is a serious issue over here.  Very serious.  Is a matter of fact the doctor there explained to me that they had one soldier currently being treated for malaria and two others had just been through there with it.  They got sent to Bagram.  My ears pretty much perked up on that one and I wondered what I was going to do.  I don’t take anything these days except vitamins and supplements and was hesitant to introduce medication to my system.  However, I talked with the doctor here at FOB Boris and he encouraged me to take doxycycline, one pill a day while in country.  I decided that following his advice is a good thing to do and the last thing I need is malaria.  So today starts day one of not forgetting to take my malaria pills.  Another obstacle overcome.


One of the hardest things for me to do on these journeys is stay organized and simplified.  It is a constant battle.  What kicks my butt mostly are these new techy tools I have with me now on this journey.  For example, this time, I have a small little lap top, an external hard drive device for storage, an external DVD rom drive for downloading programs, two audio recorders, three cameras, five batteries, a wireless mouse, a mouse pad, all kinds of plugs and chords and adapters, two flash drives, and a few other things that take up space.  Getting them all to work correctly when needed, and set up properly is a huge obstacle for a guy like me. 


Everyone of these things has instruction booklets that make no sense to me.  I have always said these items should come complete with some 15-year-old kid to show an old guy like me how it all works.  I explain to people who meet me that I never once have ever sent a text message nor have I ever used an ATM machine back in the states.  How on earth am I going to be able to figure out all this techie stuff and get the photos and writings out there for all to see.  Well, I learned a lot of this stuff on the go, and last time in 2007, I did not even carry a computer with me.  Getting it all organized and set out, and always having it ready to wrap up and move on to the next place is really a challenge.  But I’m getting it done.  I cleaned up my quarters real well yesterday as the rain kept coming down all day and night.  I figured I was going to stay on top of my own set of organizational procedures and get a handle on keeping up to date with my reason for being here. 


I spent a fair bit of time, hooking up this drive and that drive, transferring photos for safe keeping, moving audio files from here to there and somewhere else and at times, not exactly sure what I  did or how I did it.  I got batteries charged, vitamins set out for the week, malaria pills organized, clean clothes on and dirty clothes in the wash, bed made, place completely cleaned up and I’m beginning to feel like I can see light at the end of this interesting tunnel.  I have to confess, I’m pretty much spoiled after 36-years of marriage.  Candi has taken excellent care of me but when it comes to this high tech stuff, she pretty much has left me on my own for good reason.  I usually learn how to do it and then try to explain it to her.  She has taught me everything else, but I have found that I have ended up teaching her this computer age stuff and I’m not exactly sure what I’ve learned or messed up for that matter.  The moment I left New Mexico, our computer at home shut down and Candi had to take it and get fixed.  She got it done and we were back in communication after a few days.  It was amazing how I could contact a friend on the internet and pass a message to Candi via having one or more friends give her a call while I kept writing messges over the internet.  It was a real corporate effort and in the long run, it made some good friends back home really feel a part of this journey.  With the help of John in Florida and Mike and Donna in South Carolina, I was able to convey to Candi in New Mexico that all was well with me here in Afghanistan.  Obstacles to deal with and with the help of good friends following my journey, improvisions were implemented and all was overcome. 


I’ve always known that this journey is not being done by myself.  Many are always helping me, scores are praying for me more numerous than I can list.  I like Sundays because they always remind me of how to slow down, how to get things caught up, but most of all how to be thankful.  Historically, Sunday really is the first day of the week.  It is referred to as “The Lord’s day”.  The process between obstacles and improvising issues in overcoming.  The best soldiers overcome with the help of each member of their unit.  Some say if it wasn’t for the obstacles, they would have made it.  I pray, “Lord Jesus, make me an overcomer.”

Jim Spiri Last Journey