A Few Thoughts: Dec. 2003

A Few Thoughts: Dec. 2003

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE CHIEF

Wednesday, December, 31, 2003

I just wanted to wish everyone involved and looking at my site a very Happy New Year. This has been a great year and this next one I am sure is going to be great.

I have been greatly blessed by all the people that have donated, contributed and played a part in this whole operation. I am able to do what I have always wanted to do because of all the great people around the world who are willing to contribute. You are all the greatest. Love you all. Thanks and Happy New Year.

We had a party here at the CPA palace with a live band and everything, not bad fun, dancing it up to bring in the new year. Later three of us, Chief Authentico, Baghdaddy and I cooked up some Ramen noodles with some real honest to goodness Kim Chi, the real thing in a bottle. We really thought we were living it up.

Thanks to the person who sent me the fresh jar of Kim Chi, it was fantastic, even crispy and fresh. You are the best. I will owe you forever. I will be your slave if you desire as long as you feed me that Kim Chi once a day.

Life is great.

Wiggles

posted Wednesday, 31 December 2003

 

WHO?, CHANGES, TOYS ON CHRISTMAS

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Who?

A warm-hearted thanks goes out to an anonymous do-gooder who sent $100. to my family back in the states. What a surprise it was for my wife to open up the $100 envelope. Thanks so much for your kind gesture; the money will surely come in handy.

More Changes to mention:

It is cold at night now as the temperatures dip into the low 30’s.

The other day I actually woke up to a cloud of fog or morning mist. For a moment I thought I was back in South Korea, “the land of the morning calm”.

Vendors of blankets, rugs, and other such paraphernalia used to line the main street leading in from the North gate to the CPA Palace. All of them have now been grouped together on a side street, not quite as visible.

The PX has now been moved from a container to a real structure.

Walls of sand bags, two feet wide by 8 feet tall, now surround our trailers; to secure us against any possible mortar attacks (of course unless it is a direct hit). The flimsy construction of the trailers was always a concern.

We now have a brand new gym, actually had it for a couple of weeks, with all the latest and greatest equipment (too bad I never have time to use it).

We now have a Chinese restaurant in the green zone, owned and operated by an honest to goodness Chinese person. I will definitely have to give it a try.

I am really starting to like driving around through the streets of Baghdad without any traffic rules. Anything goes out here.

I am actually eating Korean noodles with Kim chi these days, due to the graciousness of Gary, my son Daniel, and my wife, who have each sent me a variety of Korean food. You guys’ just rock. Thanks.

Toys on Christmas:

My alarm went off at 5am indicating it was time. As planned our “Sharing Joys with Toys” team woke early Christmas morning, before sunlight, in order to pack up a pickup truck for another toy excursion. We were trying to get an early start on a full day of activities taking us out to many untouched areas.

We had the truck about half full when the mortars started coming in from just outside the green zone. I didn’t hear any of them hit near by, but felt it might be a good idea to take cover as all of us dashed into the basement of the adjoining building. With its tin roof and tin walls our warehouse, even though guarded by tanks, would be no match for any incoming projectiles.

We waited until the explosions stopped; which ended up being about an hour or so, before venturing back out. There was a lot of return fire from what sounded like Apache Helicopters, as automatic weapon bursts were heard around the area, indicating the bad guys were on the run.

With the truck packed high with toys and clothes we departed on our journey to bring a little piece of sunshine to children around this country. Our plans were to spend our two-day Christmas vacation dropping toys off to needy children in some very special locations.

With the pickup cab full of people and toys, we made a quick stop to meet up with another vehicle of volunteers (we always travel with at least two vehicles), anxious to participate in our toy drop. With automatic weapons in our laps, at least two per vehicle, we departed.

It is quite ironic that here we have a group of people going out to give toys to children; all equipped with AK-47’s, MP-5’s, and various other weapons. I was personally armed with a pistol and an MP-5 for my protection. If you didn’t see the toys you would think we were going out on a raid or something.

Along the way we picked up an Iraqi Pediatrician who was anxious to show us the way. He is very involved in the area focusing his attention on the psyche of the children being raised in such difficult circumstances.

Leaving the paved highway we made our way up a dirt road, past a large open market, the ground covered with the vendor’s merchandise. We pulled up to what appeared to be an old prison on top of a small hill. As if entering a large castle we drove through an opening into a large open courtyard in the center of the building.

The doctor referred to this as the compound and began to describe for me the circumstances of this structure. At one time this building had been used as a prison back in the early 1990’s to torture and kill hundreds of people at the hands of Saddam’s special military. As I glanced around I could see that the courtyard was totally surrounded by hundreds of small rooms, with no facilities or amenities just dark gray walls surrounded by dirt.

The story goes that the rooms were now being occupied by otherwise homeless people who for the most part had lost a loved one at this vary facility. Thus explaining why so many of the women seemed to be with out husbands. There were now over 200 families with some 800 children living at this site of torture and death.

At first glance I couldn’t see many children, but no sooner had we entered the compound then children began to run out from every door and alley. Within minutes we were surrounded as they began to figure out the purpose of our visit (seeing the nature of our cargo it wasn’t too difficult to figure out).

After meeting with the so-called compound mayor we decided to have all the children return to their homes, so that we might visit with them one by one. It sounded like a good idea but in all actuality the children were too excited to stay inside patiently awaiting our arrival at their doorstep. Even so, we continued to enforce the concept by telling them to all return to their homes.

With a small group of men caring our boxes we proceeded to the first house in one corner of the building. Over the next 5 hours we went from house to house, more like room-to-room, handing out toys to each and every family (almost every family). There were families in every nook and cranny, built up in every corridor and open area. There were families on the roof of the building in makeshift homes, built out of sheets of wood, paneling or metal.

There were shared bathrooms and kitchens in some areas, others that had built in a gas stove to have their own kitchen. Most without doors, the opening to each home was covered with a blanket or a tarp.  Old worn out blankets or pieces of carpeting covered the cold cement floors of each home.

Fortunately due to the “oil for food program” the people were not malnourished and for the most part looked somewhat healthy.

I was overcome at times with emotion, as I quickly visited with the mothers and in some cases the fathers of these beautiful children. I cannot begin to put into words how I felt as I witnessed such poverty on the one hand and such joy from the children on the other.

There were no toys to be seen in any of the homes, no dolls, no toy trucks, or stuffed animals. The rooms were bare, only a few homes with furniture and appliances like a TV. There were no closets or bedrooms, just one room for the entire family and in some cases there were as many as 10 people living in one room.

The mothers would line their children up in their humble homes as I handed a carefully selected toy to each one. On many occasions the children were so excited to receive such a precious gift they would jump up and down while holding it tight to their chest. Their eyes would light up with happiness, smiles of exceeding joy could be seen on their faces, and overall thankfulness for our little offering.

As we entered some homes the mother could be seen putting on her young daughters finest little dress as they prepared for my arrival. They really wanted to make a good impression on me, with pride not embarrassment for their meager existence.

Children crowded in behind us as we walked from one home to the next. Some kids, hoping to get another toy, would line up with the kids from another family, but I was too quick catching them in their act of deception. It was all done in good fun and laughter.

There were several little girls that would fight through the crowd of kids to hold my hand while I walked along, each time grabbing my hand again after exiting a home. They grabbed on to my clothes and my legs as I moved around the complex.

On many occasions the families would offer to have me stay for lunch or tea, hoping that I would linger. But with so many families and so many children we moved along as fast as we could, hoping to finish before it started to rain. But, the rain came halting our visits and forcing us to leave without finishing every home.

With the toys in the pickup truck getting wet, we drove off promising to be back again with more toys, heaters and blankets.

It was a marvelous day full of so many emotions of happiness and sorrow. Later, while contemplating what I had just witnessed, I couldn’t help but cry for the children. Tired and wet we left.

The next day we also went out to visit a rehabilitation center for troubled boys and a girl’s orphanage, all just beautiful, well-mannered, well-groomed children.

Thanks,
Goodnight from Chief Wiggles

posted Tuesday, 30 December 2003

 

HELP! PEOPLE SENDING ITEMS, SOLDIER’S WIDOW WANTS TO HELP, CORRUPT OFFICIALS NAILED, OTHER…

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Help?

Does anyone know where these 50 plus boxes of clothes came from? A few days ago FedEx pulled into the parking lot of the CPA with an entire flat bed truck full of clothes, in 25-pound FedEx boxes. I have no idea where they came from or who sent them. Please, if any of you have any idea about these boxes please let me know, so I can give credit where credit is due. I was totally blown away by the immensity of the shipment and the generosity of the person or people who sent them. Thanks so much. We have already been taking these out to various locations dispersing them to needy people.

Out of touch but not out of mind.

Sorry for being out of touch for the last few days over Christmas. The CPA was closed for a couple of days, so I decided to spend that time giving toys and school supplies to the Iraqi children in previously unvisited locations. It was a jammed packed couple of days, full of emotional and memorable experiences. I can’t begin to thank you enough for all that you have made possible. Words cannot express the joy that has come to the children and all of us on the team.

Through all of your gracious donations and contributions, I have been able to touch so many lives in so many ways. The toys have opened up a whole new world to all of us on the “Sharing Joys with Toys” team of do-gooders. It is just amazing what a small toy can do for a young child in need, who perhaps might otherwise grow up with out even the simplest of toys to play with.

We have definitely been out doing what you would have us do with the toys you have sent. I have personally been out putting your toys in the hands of young children all over this country. Over the last couple of days we have given toys to over 1,000 now happier children, who give back to you all that they can, a big smile.

Responding to your letters

Many of you have inserted into your boxes of toys small notes and letters addressed to myself, Chief Wiggles, expressing your appreciation for what we are doing and your humble desires for the toys. I have received so many letters and due to my own time constraints it has been difficult to respond. But, I thought is would be nice to begin responding to a few each time I write. Many of you just want me to confirm that I have received your box of joy, putting your mind at ease that your donation has reached its destination.

As time becomes available I will make every effort to respond to your kind letters.

A big Thanks goes out to:

Gwyneth Welch for your kind letter and box of toys

To the Ouellette Family, all six of you, in Connecticut

Jason Black in Wellsboro PA, who is only 13

A Special Example

Yesterday, I received an email from a young woman who informed me that her son’s father had been killed in Mosul on November 15th. Regardless of the terrible loss for her son, she was anxious to share toys with the children of the very country who killed him. Putting all hatred and prejudice aside, she wanted to participate in our”Sharing Joys with Toys”drive, wanting to know what she could do.

The Iraqi children are the sad victims of both the evil rule of Saddam the dictator and the subsequent war that has taken the lives of their fathers and loved ones. Children on both sides, from all coalition countries, will suffer from the consequences of this conflict.

The struggle and the killing continue on both sides, as we attempt to root out the evil forces imbedded in this country. Evil, in the form of greed, corruption, hatred, and unrighteous power and control, does not relinquish or retreat with out a fight and there is a price to pay. Our men continue to pay the ultimate sacrifice to bring about the desired result, the freedom of the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. We offer them freedom from the evil forces that have for so long enslaved them, affecting generations of Iraqi people.

The children represent a hopeful future for this country. We can affect and bring about a change in their young pliable minds, as we reach out even with a small toy.

CNN:

As you know I had a live interview with CNN last week on Christmas Eve. I was a bit frazzled due to the fact that I was running late and got in a little fender bender with a bus on the crowded streets of Baghdad. Regardless of my performance I hope that the additional interest and coverage will influence many more to contribute toys and money for this cause.

The Drive goes on full steam ahead:

As Plunge mentioned OperationGive.org continues on in full force, with thousands of toys now ready to ship from our donated warehouse in Baltimore. We have two 40-foot containers getting loaded up to make the journey across the water. A small amount of packages trickle in each day through the military’s mail system, which keeps me supplied with toys until my ship comes in.

I have set up a strong network of wonderful people who are willing to carry on with this program even after my departure in March. I have doctors, businessmen and other professional people who have volunteered to insure that the toys get delivered to the children. Many of these people have been involved from the programs inception several months back and have participated with me on all of the toy drops that we have made.

I have total and complete confidence that these people will fulfill my wishes for the toys to get to those who need them the most.

We will, through your help, bring about a change and affect the hearts and minds of the people of this country, one toy at a time, one child at a time.

Chief Wiggles Comic Book:

We have about 60 drawings penciled and inked for the first story, just waiting now for the artist to finish the coloring, which should be done in the next couple of weeks. We hope to be printing the first edition by the middle of January. I will put a few of the drawings on the web site for you to get a feel for the style and feel of the book.

Thanks so much for all of your stories; they are just fantastic, giving us many options for additional editions. We appreciate the help of one special professional comic book storywriter, who is willing to help us format the stories and the dialogue for each picture.

Change is happening

There are several sure signs of change here in Iraq.

The four Saddam heads which once adorned the CPA palace are gone forever.
Saddam has been captured and will forever be out of commission
Saddam”s barber who was harassing his employees in the CPA salon and stealing their tips has been removed
All but a handful of the deck of 52 bad guys have been caught
A linguist who was getting kickbacks from contracts was fired
The security director for one of the ministries has been removed after allegations of corruption and receiving kickbacks
The CPA grounds are being beautified and cleaned up.
People in the south for the first time are able to travel to the north or wherever they want.
People can think and say what they think at any time and place they chose.
And on and on

Gas Shortages:

Several of you have inquired concerning the report gas shortages here in Iraq, wondering how in a country rich with oil can there be a shortage of gas. The gas shortage is real, lines running for miles, as people wait for hours to get their share of the precious fuel.

I am writing up a report on this very subject. I don’t have conclusive proof or evidence yet, but it appears that much of the shortage the Iraqi people are experiencing is self-induced by other corrupt Iraqis. Many of the gas-tanker-drivers are selling off their loads to black marketeers, where they can get a much higher price. In turn this gas is being sold on the black market here or is being exported to neighboring countries like Turkey and Iran where they can receive 3 and 4 times the value. These guys are real racketeers, creating a huge problem for their own people. It is a real travesty.

I will write more as I gather information. Thanks for asking.

More to come later.

Chief Wiggles, good night

posted Monday, 29 December 2003

 

CNN, SHARING TOYS

Saturday, December 20, 2003 

Sharing Joys with Toys

As I laid my head on my pillow at the close of another day, my mind fast forwarding through the events of the day, I said to my self this was definitely a journal entry worthy day. It was one of those days where things just all seemed to fall into place, one thing after another.

Aside from the usual meetings and phone calls it was a day of special events. Events planned ahead of time but I never expect things to go as planned, in a place where the unexpected is the expected. We always make plans but fully expect things to never end up like they were planned. We live in a constant state of flux, with flexible thoughts and expectations.

I was scheduled to meet up with the team from CNN at 1000, but I had a lot to do before that. I grabbed a quick bite to eat knowing I would need the energy later on. I jumped in the bus for a quick jaunt over to the warehouse to load up the toys for the day’s activities.

We were planning on going to Mother Teresa’s Home of Love, for the handicapped kids and then off to an unfinished mosque where around 40 homeless families had settled in. We were planning on spending a couple of hours with the CNN crew, who wanted to film a toy drop.

With the bus half full of toys, the team ready in the parking lot, our source in his truck (this guy always goes out on these toy drops with us and has been doing so from the very beginning), a female Iraqi doctor who was going to show us the way, and 4 people with CNN, we were ready. I did the usual brief as far as order of vehicles and where we were going, and then we were off.

We made our way through the back streets of Baghdad, our four vehicles clinging to each other as if hooked together like cars of a train, making every effort not to allow another vehicle to slide in between our caravan. Even though it is hard to lose sight of a bus we didn’t want to take any chances.

The great thing about driving over here is that there are no traffic laws; it is every car fending for itself. It is totally amazing how well it works with no traffic lights, no lanes, no rules or regulations and no one to enforce them if there were any. Anything goes out on the road you just let it rip, driving anywhere and anyway you want. It is survival of the largest, so the bus fairs quite well. You just keep your nose ahead of those around you, with passengers directing traffic from inside the car with synchronized hand gestures, with our locked and loaded automatic weapons held tightly on our laps just in case.

It is a strange feeling to always have a 9mm pistol or an MP5 slung over one shoulder wherever I go; whether visiting a friend or buying ice cream or pizza. I always take a weapon with me everywhere I go, no matter what. I never want to be caught outside with out a weapon to add some firepower to any situation. We have to always assume the worst is going to happen.

I was just thinking the other day that it would be a strange site to have an automatic weapon slung over one shoulder when at church or school back home. In Iraq it is common to see an Ak-47 or a pistol on a variety of people, in a variety of situations. Sometimes we don’t make any effort to hide our weapons in order to persuade any would-be-assailants to give up any evil intentions.

I am going to feel naked with out a weapon when I get home.

We zigged and zagged over to the Mother Teres’s Home of Love for the handicapped only to find out that camera crews weren’t allowed inside and more importantly they had plenty of toys recently dropped off by another crew. So a change of plans was made taking us to the Mosque first.

The unfinished Grand Mosque now has become home to numerous families who have been kicked out of their homes or apartments due to lack of money to pay for living expenses. Some families live inside the actual unfinished structure but for the most part they live in cinder block shacks and shanties around the perimeter.

In preparation our team had been there the day before to count the number of families living around the Mosque (which is 42).

One man, head of his own household, stepped forward to be the leader of the group, writing down a list of each family so as not to forget anyone and to make for an orderly distribution of our bounty.

With a thousand dollars worth of stuff, donated by the British owner of a small clothing store inside the palace, we came loaded up with blankets and heaters (we purchased the day before) and of course the toys.

No sooner had we pulled up then a large crowd started to form, obviously aware of our intentions, anticipating the free handouts. I exited my bus and quickly began shacking hands while offering the customary greetings of the morning. I made sure to extend my hand and offer up a smile to every man in the area. The women were all clustered together in their own group next to the men, with their customary long black dresses, which covered all but their faces.

Not wanting to offend the women I offered up a group “good morning”.

The kids were all hanging out behind the legs of the adults, not sure what to think about the arrival of these Americans. But as expected they would warm up to us as the time went up.

In order to have an orderly distribution to every family, we instructed them all to return to their homes and wait for us to come around. One by one, with all of us toting imported Korean blankets and Kerosene heaters we visited each and every home, spoke with the father, the mother and many of the kids.

The families were obviously extremely poor, with their tethered clothes, their worn out shoes, their dirty appearance and terrible living conditions.  The kids were obviously lacking in so many things, shoes in most cases, choosing to run around with almost nothing on in what was a chilly day. The flies seemed to be the only thing thriving in this area.

The families were living in basically one-room mud huts, with no amenities or even electricity in some cases.

As my team of givers went house to house, several things about these families really impressed me; they were humble, gracious and patient, but not ashamed of how they were living, willing to offer us tea with some even asking me to stay for lunch.

In contrast to all of the other toy drops we have had, things went very orderly, with no one trying to get more than someone else.

After the parents received their blankets and heaters, we separated the kids into two groups, boys and girls, and then while the children were going round and round singing songs, I was in the middle handing toys to each and every child. We gave out stuffed animals, packages of toy cars, and many other things. The children we all so well behaved, with no exceptions and no pushing and shoving to get the best toys.

I was totally surprised that the whole thing went so well. Without exception the people were just so gracious and some thankful.

I was able to see how they cook the customary flat bread that is eaten everywhere. They use a cone shaped earthen oven, which sits up right with a fire inside on the bottom and an opening on top where they take the shaped pieces of dough and slap it hard against the side so it sticks and cooks. I am amazed that the bread doesn’t fall off into the fire.

It was a beautiful day all around; with perfect weather, great kids and plenty of things to give out, putting smiles on everyone. The CNN team seemed to have had a great time, thoroughly enjoying the opportunity.

From there we dashed off to a children’s hospital to visit the oncology ward where all the leukemia patients are. We had just enough toys and stuffed animals for each child to get a couple of things, so pleased that we could offer up a small token of love for these suffering children.

I am sure the mothers, who were by their child’s side, would have appreciated a cure but toys is all I have, hoping that a little soft fluffy stuffed dog might brighten up a small child’s life in some way.

I had a hard time seeing some of the children’s conditions, my emotions getting the better of me at times, finding it difficult to witness the suffering of an innocent child. Even so, it appeared that the children really enjoyed our visit, even if all we are offering was a toy and a smile. I stopped by each bed to chat with the mother and the child where possible. I asked their name, their age and the rest. I enjoyed their smiles and the brightness in their eyes.

The toys do make a difference in a small way bringing hope to a child that might not have any, or a ray of sunshine in a dark and gloomy world.

The CNN team took lots of footage and asked plenty of questions so I am anxious to find out when it will be aired. I will let you know asap.

Great stuff. See what you are all a part of.
Chief Wiggles

posted Monday, 22 December 2003

 

WINTER, CHRISTMAS, NY TIMES, CNN, OTHER

Thursday, December 18, 2003

It’s Winter in the desert

After a week of non-stop activity, I decided to sneak away for a couple of hours just to unwind and catch my breath. I am sitting out under a large tree just beyond the edge of my trailer park, using my journal as a release from the pressures of the week and oh what a week it has been.

The air outside is crisp with the smell of freshly fallen rain. A cool breeze is blowing across the dampened ground; rain falling most of the morning. It actually rained enough to create mud, with puddles of water spotting the roads around the palace.

The sun is dipping down below the horizon as night begins to fall upon another day in Baghdad. The temperature is falling rapidly now, probably dipping into the low 40’s by morning.  It feels strange to have to wear a jacket in a place that once was so hot that taking off all my clothes wouldn’t have helped to cool off.

Christmas in Baghdad

It still doesn’t feel like winter being used to several feet of snow, thoughts of skiing and tubing, and Christmas shoppers packing the streets. There is definitely no feeling of Christmas in the air, Ramadan and Eid having just ended, (Eid is the traditional three days of feasting at the end of Ramadan). I hardly recognize what time of year it is, one day like another, with no day off or break in between.

We do have a Christmas tree, with ornaments and presents, stockings hung on the wall with care (in hopes that another mortar round doesn’t hit into the side of the building) and even a nativity scene (thanks to some co-workers back home). We are planning a special day of activities on Christmas, hoping for that day off. We do have powered eggnog, popcorn, and Christmas goodies, with cookies and cheese and crackers. We have already eaten up all the Christmas kisses, several cans of mixed nuts and a variety of other candies sent from some great people back at FedEx.

All I can see now is the silhouette of the palace in front of me as night continues to fall, getting darker by the minute.

Welcome CNN

Tomorrow CNN is planning on going with us on another day of “Sharing joys with toys”, going to a handicapped children’s home and a mosque, where a large group of homeless people are living in the unfinished structure.

A British soldier, who has been running the clothing store in one end of the palace, donated $1,000, which we are using to purchase blankets and heaters for that group of homeless people.

We sent toys with a group going South to Basrah today, as they are planning on visiting a number of orphanages, hoping to share toys with a few kids down there too. A captain with Civil Affairs is setting this one up, so I thought it would be a great opportunity. We haven’t been able to get that far south yet with the toys.

We are planning a big toy drop over Christmas too, to a few areas up north of here.

Two Cute Sisters

Today while I was tooling around the green zone in my bus, I saw a couple of little sisters, one 6 and one 10, walking into the zone. I have seen them selling candy out in our parking lots on occasion, so I thought it would be a good idea to give them a ride.

They were both so cute and so serious about their work. They told my interpreter and I that they go to school in the morning and then they go to work in the afternoon (which is selling the candy). They had a list of things to say in English and they knew just how to pull on our heartstrings. She would say in her sweetest voice, “I have no money”, while tilting her head to the side and starring up at me with her big eyes.

I am a total sucker for kids like that, sincere or not.

I got my first little notes from some school kids in Iraq, like little love notes to kids in the states. I will put them on my site in the next few days. They were on little cards cut out in different shapes, like hearts and square packages, with short words of appreciation to the kids back home.

I am going to be visiting several schools to solicit letters from elementary school kids here for kids in the states and other countries. I will try to take their pictures to go along with the letters. I really think this is going to be a great addition to my site.
Another one is going to bite the dust

Lately I have been working with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, Internal Affairs, and a variety of other people in a combined effort to take out some really bad apples from the bunch that we have picked. A few of them have become alarmingly quite powerful in a short period of time.

For the most part the file is in my hands in that I am working with several inside sources to put proof behind all of the allegations. We know these people are bad but we need the evidence to prove it, hoping we have enough to remove them from office. Some of these are like Saddam in the making, following in the footsteps of the recently ousted leader.

I am going to do all I can, everything within my power to bring these guys down.
Wish I could say more about the case but it suffices to say that I have a personal vendetta against some of them.

We are still looking for information regarding weapons, attacks, explosive devices, weapons dealers, any anti-coalition groups, and any other illegal activities.

New York Times

Some of you might recall a letter that was sent to the New York Times regarding an individual who was having a difficult time accessing his property. I have met with the individual several times to discuss this matter and I did give him a letter which required them to allow him to have access to his property. As far as I know he has not had any further trouble but he still has a few issues. I am still trying to meet with him to discuss his problems. I will keep you posted.

We are all so psyched about how the comic book is progressing. The first story is well on its way with most of the drawings having been penciled in. The artist is now starting to ink in the drawings and then paint them. It will be around 10 pages with about 60 drawings. It is really cool. I will put some of the drawings on the site for you all to enjoy. We have received the help of one professional comic book writer who is really going to speed up the process for the next story.

The four girls are well.

What about a preschool or Kindergarten

We are thinking about renovating the preschool in the green zone, to set up a model for others to follow. I would like some ideas about what this might include. I am definitely not an educator so this is out of my league, so I could use some help. We want to broaden their horizons with new ideas. How do we do that? We do have some funds that have been donated, would you mind if we spent some of that equipping a school?

We never got our bikes, so I guess that is a dead issue. And FedEx was willing to ship them to us for free too, what a bummer.

I have been going to various restaurants around Baghdad lately with sources, noticing a guy who walks around the establishments soliciting the patrons with Turkish coffee but his only has two small cups. So I am thinking there must be a huge shortage of cups, due to breakage during the bombings of this city, or the supply lines are cut off by bad guys. Why only two cups for the whole restaurant? It is not too enticing to think how many people have put their lips on those two cups. I don’t drink coffee anyway but still.

I ran into the Kurdish salesman from Germany who speaks a few words of English mixed with German and Kurdish and tries to explain his line of water treatment products to me. It is one of the most frustrating situations you can imagine. Every time I swear I will never try to talk with that person again.

My life here is completely full of activities, which seem to be making a small difference in the lives of the people I come in contact with. I rise each day with my mind full of thoughts of all my many projects and all the different initiatives, each with their own list of things to do. I feel that in a small way I am contributing to the forward progress of the plan. It is a good feeling to believe in the cause and have a vision about how it is going to unfold.

I am so blessed. Life is so full of opportunities to bring about personal growth and development through small acts of kindness to others. Even the smallest pebble dropped into a large lake still sends far-reaching waves rippling across the water to destinations unknown.

There are so many good things happening on a daily basis, brought about by the good intentions and efforts of the Coalition forces. It is just awesome.

Have a great day!

Wiggles

posted Thursday, 18 December 2003

 

CAUGHT HIM!!!!!!!!!!! CHIEF’S THOUGHTS

Sunday, December 14, 2003

YES!!!! THEY CAUGHT HIM!!!

The Chief has some comments from today:

At the News Conference

While sitting in my office typing my journal now late well past midnight, I can still hear the sound of celebratory gunfire going off through out the city, as people everywhere enjoy this historical moment. This is an episode of life shared by people round the world, as another chapter of Iraqi history comes to a close with the final demise of the evil tyrant Saddam Hussein.

Earlier today as I drove my bus over to the convention center, I noticed that the guards were unusually on edge. I had pulled the bus over to the side of the road to wait for some people to come out, when I noticed the gate guards moving in around me with their weapons pointed in my direction. For a moment they thought I was a suicide bomber until I yelled out “What’s up guys”, that is when I heard the news that my suspicions were true, (the guards obviously put on alert as a result of the situation), we had caught Saddam Hussein.

As shots rang out all over the city, people could be heard cheering and yelling everywhere. We headed back to the CPA to confirm the story, hoping that it was the real thing. Once at the CPA, at the coercing of my interpreter, we decided to head over to the news conference area, hoping to take part of Paul Bremmer’s conference.

We snuck into the back of the packed room, full of reporters and cameras, as the crowd of people waited for the Ambassador to come out. With anticipation mounting, a man stepped forward to give us a one minute warning.

Paul Bremmer and General San Chez, with the head of the Governing Council in tow, came out to address the anxious audience. As Paul Bremmer’s words, “We got him” echoed over the loud speaking system, the crowd burst into screaming, whistling and clapping, with some individuals breaking down into tears of joy. Others waving their clinched hands into the air blurted out emotional responses in Arabic.

I was almost brought to tears as I contemplated the full emotional intensity of what this moment must mean to these people. I had to hold back my emotions as the reality of this moment hit me, that we had finally been able to catch up with him. After so many stories of his whereabouts and so many pieces of information concerning the circumstances of his activities, we had done it.

After so much suffering for so long it was finally coming to an end. The era of Saddam Hussein was over. This was now going to completely dispel any rumors regarding his return to power, his super human qualities, and the myths of him being guarded by genies or evil spirits.

One thing hit me as I watched the video of his discovery, with his long and shaggy hair, his scraggly beard, and his deep wrinkled face; he was just a man, like any other human being. He wasn’t anything special. Yes, he was once a king with everything anyone could want; now found with nothing at the bottom of a hole in the ground.

Now where are his legends of supporters, his secret services and Special Republican Guards, and his evil genies? He was left alone, with even the devil finally moving on to his next candidate, leaving him totally unsupported.

The speeches were direct and to the point and the briefing complete for the moment with the basic information regarding what exactly had transpired. I was totally satisfied with his capture, knowing what an impact this was going to make on many Saddam holdouts.

This is so great. I was hoping to complete this portion of the battle while still in country, so I have fulfilled one of my missions. A huge step towards unifying this country has just been taken, a step forward into the new era of a new Iraq, closing the curtain on a dark murderous and painful period.

This is definitely going to increase Iraqi confidence in our efforts to rebuild their country, as they can finally put it all behind them. Wow, this is so big!! You will never know how big this really is.

We decided to put on a Ramen Noodle party, with some new stuff I received from home, waiting around for President Bush’s speech to be heard. It was short and sweet and I concur with its entirety. I am sure that time will tell, but I am very optimistic for the future for this country.

I found a full kitchen in one of the buildings where some of our guys are staying, so I am going to be back in business stirring up a few dishes on occasion. Tonight’s Korean Ramen Noodles with onions, green onions, eggs and spicy spam was just what the doctor ordered after such a long dry spell with out any seasoning and spice. It was a big hit with all the boys who quickly consumed the whole pot.

Once it got dark we drove around the city to get an idea of what the overall people’s reaction is to the latest news. Everyone that we came across was extremely excited about the events of the last 24 hours. Totally awesome and fantastic. Yes!

posted Sunday, 14 December 2003

 

GIRLS, BEING LIKE JESUS, CHRISTMAS, WHERE IS THIS GOING?, ISSUES?, WHO SAYS WE SHOULDN’T BE HERE?

Friday, December 12, 2003

Chief Wiggles from the sands of Iraq:

The girls

A big warm thank you goes out to all of you who have so promptly responded to my request for assistance. So many have graciously responded with ideas, suggestions, and solutions for the predicament the young girls find themselves in. We are taking all of that into consideration as we work through the situation on this end. You have given us just what we needed and that is options. You can imagine how sensitive of an issue this is and that there are many things to work through, but now we have solutions.

I wish I could tell you more than that but I just can’t at this time. When the time is right you will hear how this all worked out. Some of you will definitely hear from us in person over the next few days. I appreciate so much the abundance of generosity that was expressed and offered in such a short period of time.

I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. You have come through once again showing how kind, compassionate, and charitable the people of the world can be. We had responses from various countries and people from all walks of life, rich and poor, those with small apartments to large houses, some with money and others just with ideas, even several attorneys offering their services for free, with one thing in common a desire to help someone in need.

Being Like Jesus

I am reminded of a study that was done of the top 100 most influential people in the history of mankind. Jesus was ranked as the third most influential person in history. When asked why Jesus came in at number three, the man who made the list replied that Jesus taught great principles about loving each other, loving those that use or abuse you, or who wrongfully persecute you, but he added that most people don’t follow his teachings.

Maybe that person didn’t meet all of you. Who have proven that you can reach out with love to others, offering of your love, your money, your homes to total strangers from another land, one that we have been at war with. Christmas time and any time, you are awesome.

Christmas is the best!

Christmas is such a special time of year, giving most of us cause to reflect on the fact that we have been so abundantly blessed in so many ways, with reason to share and give to others that might not have been as fortunate. As we reach inside ourselves, we find a part of us that sincerely wants to share and give to others, knowing that in such service we find the essence of true happiness. It is through those simple acts of true service that we feel a greater sense of value, and purpose for living.

It is no wonder then that history is replete with stories of lavishly wealthy individuals who sadly take their lives, because life fails to offer them no continual purpose or value for living. They have failed to realize where true happiness lies. It is a gift from God within each of us, as we give of ourselves to others, giving a part of what we have been blessed with.

Only a few know the joy and happiness that comes from losing yourself in the service of another in need. As is stated in the Bible, “when you are in the service of your fellowmen you are really in the service of your God.”

I can remember as a young boy so anxious for Christmas but more than anything I recall how fun it was to do things that would surprise the others around me, doing those special little things that would bring a big smile of joy and excitement from the recipient. Each year I attempted to come up with something new, something totally unexpected, forcing me to be even more creative each year.

Where is this going?

Now I am involved in the Chief Wiggles “Sharing Joys with Toys” campaign with all of you, giving smiles to kids in a war torn country, coming out of a very dark period in it’s history. These toys are not the answer to everything but they do bring hope for a brighter future in the lives of these kids.

I can’t imagine doing anything of any greater value or anything else that would give me any greater happiness and joy. I would love to take this same project into other areas of the world where the dark cloud of poverty or war has left the children without a reason to smile or without hope for a brighter day.

I hope that we will not lose the momentum for this cause, that it will continue to expand to other regions and other areas of the world, enabling us to take toys to kids everywhere. With all of your help kids throughout the world might receive a package of joy, needed school supplies, clothes, and other essential items, along with learning good solid principles taught through our example, through our efforts, through reading perhaps the Chief Wiggles comic book, or other children’s books.

You have started something wonderful, which will continue to roll forward gaining more and more momentum. Please continue to help in spreading the spirit of this endeavor, as we continue to spread love through the children of the world, one child to another. As Jesus commanded us, “Be ye as little children.”

Letters from Kids

Yesterday, I received my first two letters from children in America, along with their picture, going to the children of Iraq. I will be posting these letters on my site for kids everywhere to read, and printing a copy to be given out to kids here. I hope to be able to translate these into other languages also, for kids in other countries.

We are trying to facilitate the communication between kids, kids in one land talking to kids in another land. This hopefully will open their eyes and broaden their horizons, as they get to know kids from all over the world and understand that kids everywhere are not that different.

I hope this works.

Another explosion

It was 12:23 am, 0023 army time, it had been a very busy day as usual, I had just laid down on my bed grateful for being able to retire around midnight for a change, when the sound of a streaming mortar round and then the explosion was heard right near our trailer. My trailer buddy and I immediately sat up in bed looking over at each other anticipating additional rounds to go off, then another one was heard way too close for comfort. But it is the silence afterwards that is a little unsettling as we listened for any additional explosions.

Then came the sound of helicopters, the customary sound of automatic weapon fire and a few retaliatory explosions were heard, as we knew the assailants were on the run. The CPA siren blasted “take cover”, “take cover”, “this is not a test.” We have been instructed to stay in our trailers and to take cover under the mattress of our beds.

And you have issues?

These sporadic explosions continue to remind us that we are still in Baghdad. Even though things seem to be getting better, with lulls in the action extending for several days, we are still in an area plagued with issues.  But, we are unified in our desire to continue what we have started, that is the freeing of a nation of people from the evil darkness of a demented dictator, putting these people back into the stone age.

Bondage is a terrible thing. Any type of control of one human being over another is wrong, whether it is mental or physical. We must all be free to chose for ourselves, free to make choices in our behavior, in our way of thinking, in our way of life, in what we belief, or what we like or don’t like, the inalienable right of free agency.

Due to a string of unfortunate circumstances caused by an intricate web of corruption in high places I have spent most of the week trying to keep my sources alive and out of jail. I have been building a file of information and evidence against several high-ranking officials that I hope will get them caught in their own web of deceit and corruption.

We are grouping our forces, as we build our case, calling upon all the powers to bring about the fall of these individuals. Please join me in calling upon the powers of heaven to help us in this endeavor. We must not leave this country in the hands of individuals with evil designs, desiring to further enslave this people.

Who says we shouldn’t be here?

For those of you who in your infinite wisdom feel that we should not be here helping these people then obviously you haven’t taken the time to ask any of them, who unanimously agree with our presence. Something had to be done in this region of the world to break the bonds of hatred and distrust, promulgated by their own corrupt dictators, who with their evil intentions, would chose to keep these people in darkness and fear.

It is a travesty for all mankind when any evil ruler controls the minds and actions of a people to the point that if anyone is for example caught with a satellite dish will be put in prison for 6 months to a year.

Freedom had to be introduced to the people of the Middle East anywhere where rulers, in an effort to perpetuate their own power, use fear, intimidation and punishment to enslave a nation of people against their will, preventing them from pursuing the designs of their heart.

On funny note

Once the Saddam heads were taken down they were placed face down into the dirt waiting transporting to another location. There was a sign posted by the head which stated, “Do not urinate on”, written in both language.

I was in a restaurant the other day when we asked if we could have some water at our table. The waiter brought a bottle of water and one glass for all four of us. I guess there is a shortage of glasses, this one being the only one in the place perhaps. Maybe it came from the restaurant next door for all I know.

posted Friday, 12 December 2003

 

ADDAM’S HEAD COMES DOWN, CORRUPTION, TOYS TO KURDHISTAN!, KIDS!, COMICS!

Monday, December 08, 2003

The last of the big Saddam heads came down today. Two of them are now sitting on the ground waiting to be moved out, hopefully to a smelting pot. A great historical moment.

The daily grind and my continual grueling schedule finally caught up with me as I collapsed into bed last night, totally exhausted. Yesterday especially was extremely tiring as I had appointments all day well into the night. At one time, I had three different meetings with 8 different people going at the same time, jumping from one to the next in an effort to handle the needs of each meeting. By my last appointment I was just out of gas, expressing to the individual that I was really tired and needed to cut it short tonight.

Corruption everywhere

It was a day of emergencies, each one as important as the next, urgent situations stemming from the intricate web of corruption that has already been spun in several of the newly set up organizations. There seems to be no end to the Saddam want-a-be’s in this country, making the selection process even that more difficult and critical.

Greed has captured the hearts of so many, greed for money and power. We are continually fighting the battle of weeding out individuals who are trying to take advantage of the situation that exists, with so much money floating around and so many new opportunities. Each corrupt individual seems to be like an octopus attaching a tentacle on any thing that is within their reach, each creating their own network of corruption.

It is survival of the greediest, everyone grabbing as much as they can for them self.  There is no black and white, only a large gray area between what is thought to be right and wrong, with many people feeling like something is owed them for the years of suffering under Saddam’s rule but not that concerned if now there own greed isn’t causing someone else to suffer. More than anything there is a feeling that everyone should take while the taking is good.

Often the tables get turned so that the criminals actually go after the good guys with charges and accusations, putting them on the defensive with fabricated stories of falsehoods. It is difficult to know what the truth of the matter is, not sure whose story we should believe.

There is dishonesty, deceit, and corruption at the highest levels, touching every aspect of life here. The higher it goes the more difficult it is to terminate, with individual power bases growing and support widening. At times, we run up against people that have become so powerful that others in investigative organizations feel too small to tackle them.

Camps are being formed; power bases established, connections and ties firmed up to the point that it is difficult to know where to begin and how to go about rooting out the problems. Every day we make an effort in hopes that we are getting closer to eliminating the enemies without and the enemies within.

We drive on with a firm conviction in the cause and our mission. I have a personal vendetta to take down some of these guys before I leave this place.

Another Toy opportunity up North in Kurdistan

A few of our associates helping us with the “Operation Give – Sharing Joys with Toys” campaign, had an opportunity to travel up north to a small city near Urbil called Sarahadean, right in the middle of Kurdish territory, now referred to Kurdistan. It is about 4 hours from Baghdad to the northeast somewhat. They piled up their pickup truck full of boxes of toys and took off for their excursion.

They met with the Major of the small town who was expecting them. He had arranged for the neediest families in the village to gather the next morning with their children outside city hall, to receive the items of joy. They were expecting about 40 families to show up but it turned out to be more like 400. They had entirely surrounded the building with children of all ages waiting for their toys.

The Kurdish media was there to capture the moment; little did they expect to see such a throng of people, all pressing forward pushing up against the building. At one point the kids all began pounding on the windows in hopes that they would pass out toys through other openings. The Kurdish media later broadcast the episode to all the Kurdish satellite channels throughout the world, as was confirmed by people in America, Canada and Europe.

Logistics became a problem as they tried to figure out how they were going to expedite the passing out of one toy to each child, insuring that kids didn’t make their way back in line to pick up another. Getting all of them to line up in single file was a choir in and of itself. Then getting them to file through the door in an orderly fashion was a task, with each child wanting to get in the front of the line for supposedly one of the better toys.

All in all, they said it went off really well. They gave out all the toys they had brought (fortunately they took up a lot of toys), played with the kids afterwards in a number of ring-around-the-rosy games, and just had a great time. The mayor was very gracious to the team, whom he took out to dinner the night before and for pastries and coffee after the toys were passed out. He invited them back promising to make things a little more orderly next time. (I have figured out a way to logistically handle the numbers of kids we get at these events, so it shouldn’t be a problem next time)

They were all so appreciative of your donations. All of you put smiles on so many kids that day. It is just so fantastic, you are awesome.

A new Idea for kids

I was thinking that it would be nice to have a children’s section on my web site, giving kids a chance to participate in the “Operation Give – Sharing Joys with Toys” campaign. I would like to have children get involved with the kids in Iraq, writing to them, reading their stories and getting to know them to some degree.

I was thinking that the school kids over here could write letters to kids back home, that I could translate and scan onto my site with a picture of the child. Then the kids in other countries could do the same by putting letters on my web site, along with a picture.

So if I could get kids in the states or anywhere put a letter, addressed to the kids of Iraq, along with a picture on my web site, then I could translate them and give them to the kids in the school classes I visit. You could put a letter on my site or put a letter with a picture in one of the boxes of toys you send.

At the same time I will talk to a few teachers over here about getting their classes to write letters to kids back home, that I will post on my site along with a picture of the child and a translation.

I would also like to put up a few of the Chief Wiggles comic book stories that have been written, for your children to read. We are currently drawing the comic book and hope to be ready to print it by the end of the month. We would love to have more stories from all of you back home, so don’t be shy about writing one. We accept all attempts. The first comic book is really coming together nicely.

I would also like to write a portion of my journal directed towards children, so they can read about things of interest to them too.

Well what do you think? I would love to hear your feedback either way.

Please send me an email with your ideas too.

Have a great day! Merry Christmas too.

Chief Wiggles

posted Monday, 8 December 2003

 

CUDDLE UP, VISITING A GIRL’S SCHOOL, COMMANDER

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Cuddle up

Good Morning Baghdad. The nights are really cooling off these days, actually getting chilly in the mornings forcing me to turn on my in-room heater to keep me comfortable. Of course it is so nice sleeping in a reasonably cold environment, over how we were sleeping last summer.

Lately, it has been raining too, which is like manna from heaven, having lived for the past 9 months without even seeing a cloud in the sky. We are definitely not complaining about the rain, which sporadically gets our hair wet. Quite on the contrary we are like little kids playing in the rain, hoping to get wet, hoping to feel the cool freshness of rain falling on our faces. Heck, I would be delighted if it even snowed a bit, but we all know that is out of the question.

So far this has been a great week with plenty of activities going on and information to be gathered and acted upon. There is never a shortage of things to keep us busy here, as each day begins with more information about corruption, attacks, gunfire, schemes, and various group activities contrary to what our plans are.

Visiting a Girls School

As you might have seen already on Fox News, we were able to go out to the green zone community center and a girl’s primary school this week. Just another episode in the”Joys with Toys” campaign, putting smiles on the kid’s faces as we pass out toys and school supplies, made possible by so many great people from around the world. It is always the high point of the week when we are able to get out into the community, sharing the bounty of your kindness.

This week it was a girl’s school in the green zone, where many families have moved into the abandoned homes of the former regime many that are very poor and actually are squatters in this area. For the most part, the homes in this area were left in pretty bad condition after having been destroyed or totally ransacked of every possible thing of value.

You might have noticed on Fox News’s web site or during the broadcast that the school itself is in pretty poor condition, also not having been cared for over a long period of time (education definitely not an emphasis of Saddam’s). The school was very basic, with no apparent amenities, the desks worn and the chairs dilapidated, the walls bare and the rooms totally lacking in anything fun or interesting that you would expect in an elementary school.

But, the kids were great. The young ladies were so well behaved and well mannered, all sitting patiently in their chairs, quick to respond in unison with loud rehearsed “good morning” in English. They looked beautiful all with big smiles on their faces and that certain shyness you can only find on little girls, who are hesitant to respond alone when prompted to do so.

We went from room to room with boxes of toys, making sure that everyone received something to brighten up their day. We passed out combs and hairbrushes, toothbrushes, pencils and pens, and dolls and stuffed animals. The items were just perfect, bringing joy and happiness to every single one of them.

I couldn’t help but sit down with them in their little chairs and desks, to make them laugh by saying a few things I had learned in Arabic and to tease and tickle them. It was great to hear their laughter, to see their smiles and to see the twinkle in their eyes.

We saved a few of the best toys for last, not sure how to give out one special item to a classroom of girls. I decided to have a little quiz to see who would know certain questions. I stood in front of the class with my interpreter, instructed them to raise their hand if they knew the answer, requesting that they not blurt out the answer and that we would select the first hand raised.

I asked them who the president of the United States is, but they all blurted that out (no way to select a winner for that one). I had to go with a little more difficult questions like what is the capital of the U.S. and what is the population of Iraq, etc. But the little hands went up, the first hand chosen and the special toys handed out to the delighted winners. It was a great time for all the team and the news crew that had tagged along.

It was strange to be in an elementary school, a place for young kids to learn, with no colored pictures on the walls but plenty of graphic depictions of war and the military, with weapons and soldiers portraying some twisted idea of what children should be learning. It was appalling to see the remnants of the old regime’s ideas for learning.

Hope you enjoyed the news broadcast, let me know how it went, not being able to see it from here, unfortunately.

A night out with the commander

Our commander here is scheduled to return home soon and had requested that I hook him up with a traditional Iraq dinner before he left, hoping to get an idea about the tastes of this country. I called upon a couple of trusted sources to fill this request, knowing how their wives cook and also aware that their home was just right outside the green zone on the banks of the Tigris River (We had been over to the doctor’s house before for a dinning extravaganza).

It was a rainy day, cool and crisp outside, all of us in our civilian clothes, hoping to not draw attention to us in anyway. From the moment we arrived until we left a couple of hours later, the hospitality and generosity of our host was extraordinary. We had a great evening watching the Egyptian channel on his satellite TV, with all the singing and dancing, and a table full of some of the greatest food I have had in this country.

After dinner we got into an exhilarating political discussion regarding the future of this country and what it is going to take to bring things around. It was refreshing to hear the Doctor’s logical, well thought out, intelligent view of the needs of this country and his deliberate plan to bring a solution to it’s problems. It was probably the best such discussion I have had since arriving here.

I new sense of hope for a viable solution came to me, as I contemplated his comments. There is progress being made in this land, our efforts are making a difference, with every person and child we touch through acts of kindness and forceful enforcement of the law. There is still much to be done.

The days and nights at the palace have been quite as of recent. I won’t hold my breath for what might still be in store for us.

One of my sources did find, defuse and bring to me two bombs planted under two bridges out side of Baghdad, intended for American troops traveling through the area.

As a result of the information we gather and push to action many good things have happened, people arrested, weapons found, bombs defused, groups broken up, attacks prevented, and on and on.

posted Thursday, 4 December 2003

 

A FEW THOUGHTS

Friday, November 28, 2003

As I contemplate the immensity of personal experience that one might have during a lifetime, it is also clear that the same life of abundant experience is also full of endless difficulties and trials, at times seemingly endless. It is obvious that there are no exemptions to trials only variations; in the end, the only difference between a life of experience or a life of trials and difficulties is our own internal perspective of the incident. We all make a choice on how we will view the events transpiring at any given moment, choosing to define some as happy moments and others as depressingly sad moments.

None of us are immune from the affects of evil and sorrow as it permeates every aspect of our life, nor can we be weighed down by the dismaying societal symptoms of our day, that would send us into a depressing state of constant worry and turmoil. Even amid wars and rumors of wars, even amid the luring winds of temptation, we cannot give in to the urge to feel that all is lost and that there is no hope.

At the same time we cannot allow our minds to grow weary of the fight, giving into the negativity of the day, looking for ways to complain, to find fault, to engage in criticism propelling us into an endless downward spiral.

So in this swirl of sinister global events what will then determine the nature of our existence, whether it is a life of positive faith promoting experiences or a life of difficult depressing trials and tribulations? What then is the determining factor in our own personal evaluation of a moment that enables a person to continually be one of those who are forever turning a lemon into a pitcher of lemonade? How is it that some are able to benefit from even the most difficult of situations, even when the pain of the encounter is seemingly insurmountable?

It is a firm belief that we as individuals have a divinely correlated existence, where things happen for a reason, with purpose and meaning. As planets have a precise orbit, we as children of our father in heaven are placed in human orbits to illuminate and add value to our life and to those around us. There is a divinely inspired sequence in life, and a destination for our journey, one with points of learning along the way.

It is a firm belief that there is a savior who is with us and by our side continuously through all that we might encounter along life’s bumpy journey, with all its potholes, roadblocks, and bumps. We are not alone on this trek, nor are we destined for failure, aimlessly wondering in a maze of roads with no destination.

With God’s word written in Holy Scripture to anchor us, we look unto God for he will console us in our afflictions. We to can be supported under trials and troubles of every kind, for he will still deliver us and will be in our midst to lead us along this long journey. As we pass down what appear to be dead ends in this labyrinth we find ourselves in, doors are opened in timely sequence to strengthen our faith in the divine nature of our priceless personal experience we call life.

We have been told that it would be difficult, but in the same breath promised it would be worth it. We have been told, through the scriptures, that there will be difficulties, trials, temptations, sorrow, and mistakes made along the way. But, we have been also instructed that there is a plan, there is a purpose, promised that we will be able to endure through faith, never being forced to bear more than we can handle, with the knowledge that our Savior has overcome the chains of death and sin.

Being worth it implies that there are things to be gained along the journey, things to be learned, a benefit from the fight and a glorious end in sight. It means that there is purpose and meaning in every step, if we but look for the jewels strewn along life’s course, ready to be picked up and placed in our own individual backpack of life.

These jewels continually add value to our existence, creating a wealth of life knowledge and experience, which exponentially increases with the Saviors love as we share with others what we have gained along the way.

These jewels might be behind a difficult rock that we are asked to move, or on top of a branch of pain we reach for, under the stones of trouble and the pebbles of trials, in the pitfalls of sadness and potholes of sorrow, for we don’t know ahead of time where the jewels lie. With out a doubt, unequivocally, the jewels can be acquired from others whom we might pass along this journey if we but stop to serve or assist in some small way, if we will offer our time, our possessions, and our talents, new jewels will be added to our backpack.

If we keep our eyes open and our hands out stretched, palms up as if ready to catch a ball, seemingly from nowhere jewels drop from the sky, the test being will we catch them, hold on to them, so that they might be placed into the backpack. Other jewels might not look like jewels at all until we gently rub off the dirt and mud, revealing its brightness and beauty.

We alone determine the number of jewels we collect along life’s journey, which to some degree determines the value of our own personal experience. It is our own internal belief regarding the existence of jewels in the first place that enables us to continue to collect them.

This belief system becomes an attitude enabling us to turn any experience into a jewel collecting moment. This attitude blossoms from within our core, is based on belief and faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement and love, which then manifests itself in our actions, our behavior, our unceasing desire to find more jewels and to unselfishly assist others to find theirs.

We understand the simple fact that there is unlimited abundant number of jewels to be had and that we personally can collect an every increasing number at a faster pace if we will but work with others to collect theirs. There are oh so many more jewels to be gathered if we will but serve our fellow man in helping them find theirs.

As we increase our understanding of what these jewels are, we begin to put our heart in the right place, knowing these jewels we speak of are not money, nor power, nor glory, nor success as the world knows it. These jewels are the positive fruits of our labors to make the most out of life, to make a difference in all that we do, to give to others our love and share all that we have been blessed with, to look for opportunities along every road and for ways to give. These jewels are the priceless gifts of happiness and love we all search for.

We begin to understand the Savior’s words that stated “and the word shall make you free”. The truth of the Saviors words enlighten, enlarge our understanding, and help us catch a glimpse of what life is really all about. Through obedience to the Saviors words we become free men, full of the eternal truth of his words, as we allow the seeds of love and forgiveness to take root and blossom into a life pattern.

On the hand if we continue in our ways, even though we are free individuals, we can still be enslaved, if we continue to find value in greed, lust, envy, pride, selfishness, chained to the God’s of money, power, and glory.

Just a few thoughts

Chief Wiggles.

posted Tuesday, 2 December 2003


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