Some of you may not know that Cooking With the Troops has a deeply personal stake in this war. Our own President, otherwise known as Dear Chadwick, is deployed to Afghanistan.
Tonight Chad sent a note from the front. I share it here, with his permission. Take it away, Chad...
My dearest friends and family,
Greetings from Afghanistan! I want to wish you all a blessed and joy filled Merry Christmas!!! Tonight we celebrate the night where hope gave birth to faith!
I will never forget my first Christmas away from home. It was Baghdad 2009, where the main hall of Saddam's Palace was filled with lighted candles and hundreds of troops gathered celebrating the birth of our Savior with our fellow Iraqi brothers and sisters in Christ.
Never had I been so moved or felt the spirit so strong on Christmas than on that day. To see so many people, from so many countries, backgrounds and cultures, together in Baghdad, the cradle of civilization, celebrating Christmas in simple candle light was beyond humbling.
Now I will be celebrating Christmas in another environment desperate for God's love, justice and peace.
The holidays are always bitter sweet for us. We take great joy in the blessing of getting together with the ones we love, but we also remember the ones whom we lost and are no longer with us. We never forget them, and as is with the Spirit of God, we hold their memories deep in our heart, there to encourage us through the difficult times.
Someday we will all be reunited in the Kingdom celebrating Christmas before the Savior Himself. Until that day, we are called top serve each other with love, sacrifice, forgiveness and compassion. Tonight we are reminded of the depth of the love of God and the power such a humbling beginning can have on humanity.
War has many destructive qualities to it, but nothing is more humbling and puts things in perspective better than the constant reminder that we are mortal and life is short. When you gather with your loved ones this Christmas, forgive and love each other, for the gift of life is the most precious gift of all and it is a sin for us to waste it away.
I will be spending my Christmas continuing my work here on shift and will have the blessing of having one of the special forces soldiers here, officially promote me to SGT in a ceremony on Christmas morning. That by itself is such a great gift, but know that I am thinking of you all always and wish I was back home to celebrate this holy day. Though it is an honor to serve on this day for a cause so fundamental to God's essence, that of freedom and liberty to willfully serve others, sacrifice and love God.
I wanted to express my thanks to you all for your prayers, the care packages and for the support you have all given me over my life. Lord knows my life has not taken the path I ever anticipated but I am greatly enriched by the journey I have been on because I have been blessed with the love and friendship of so many great people. I would not be where I am today as a man, a soldier or as a Christian without your support and wisdom. You have all been a blessing in my life.
Merry Christmas to you all, and may the peace and joy of the Spirit of God be with you all this holiday and follow you into a new glorious New Year full of victories in faith! I love and miss you all and look forward to seeing you all upon my return next summer!!!
In Christ, the Savior of all,
SGT Longell, Chad