Tuesday, August 5, 2014

War Zones and Family Gatherings

War Zones are treacherous places. Countries where a war has been can remain a dangerous place even years later. Take Cambodia, for example. Landmines are everywhere and to this day, some 35 years after their war, undetected landmines and other unexploded ordinances still kill and maim people. Many of those wounded or killed today are people who have always known them to be there, their whole lives.

Wikitravel, in their “war zone safety” pages tell you, “When in an area that is known or suspected to be mined, stay on paved road when possible. If not possible, follow car tracks or well-trod foot paths. Should you, despite your best efforts, find yourself in a mined area, stop. Stay where you are and call for assistance from someone who knows what they are doing. If this is not possible, retrace your exact steps back to safety (this is very dangerous). If you have a long rod (even a pen might work), you may be able to check for mines and escape the area. Insert the rod into the ground at a very shallow angle. Mines will not normally be triggered when they are hit from the side. You need to check an area just big enough for your foot. Keep doing this for every step. It could take hours, even days to get out of the danger area, but you should be alive.”
The US State Department has pages and pages on their web site and are very adamant about the dangers of travelling to a country in the grips of war. You are warned of capture, murder, beatings and worse. Yes, they tell you that if you have to go there, if you absolutely have to, there are some things you can do to help protect yourself. Training for the unexpected, escort services or other organizations already on the ground are all tools and options. Everything tells you to be acutely aware of the area, the situations you are entering, and all of the small details. Be aware. It’s a war zone.
As I prepared for my trip to what could possibly be a war zone this summer, I followed a lot of their recommendations. I did my best to be up-to-date on the governmental leadership in the area. I learned the regional languages and nuances. I packed with the knowledge of the situations, landscape and weather. I also prepared an exit strategy. There are certain things that I felt could be used to extricate myself in case I get into the heat of a battle or in the center of a conflict. Typically you do not have a dog in the fight, you do not explain your opinion or thoughts; it’s just “exit stage left”, and quickly.
The top five recommended responses by the US State Department if you are captured and taken hostage are: 1) Retain a sense of pride but act cooperative, 2) Divulge only information that cannot be used against you, 3) Make every effort to avoid embarrassing the U.S. and the host government, 4) Do not antagonize your interrogator with obstinate behavior, and finally, 5) Concentrate on surviving. If you are to be used as a bargaining tool or to obtain ransom, you will be kept alive.
As I travel to Ohio for the family reunion I already know I am in a dangerous area. This is my wife’s side of the family and I have to be on high alert. She is very sensitive to almost any comment I might have on anything. Yankee jokes or humor is a bomb looking for a place to explode. It took me hours to get out of that landmine field just yesterday.
I am already going, it is by my own free will and I am excited about it. We love her family and getting together after so long will be good. But family together in a small place for several days can be tricky. I intend to use the hostage guidelines provided by the State Department as follows. 1) Pride in being married to my wife will be easy; pride to be a part of her family, not a problem, 2) Talk as little as possible, only when spoken to, maybe, 3) see number 2, and 4) I have cash in my pocket to make sure if I need to “go get ice” or volunteer to purchase any items missed I can do that without hesitation. I will try my best to be cheerful and involved.
When Jesus performed His first miracle, He was at a wedding. John 2:1-11, “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then He told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which He revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
Jesus was a bit aggravated, but he knew what he should do. Now I am not comparing myself to Jesus, but the Bible is a book of directions, instructions and examples for us to use. He did what He knew needed to happen and the blessings were astonishing to all. Yes, this is just a family reunion, but I am no dummy. I am going to try my best to stay out of a war zone. To not aggravate or distract from the mission at hand. I am going to pray, smile and be the best husband I can be. Let’s Roll!