Following are the words of a father anxiously awaiting the homecoming of his son, a soldier returning from the dangers overseas.  He writes of love for his son and also on behalf of all the ’sons and daughters’ serving for our freedoms.  He refers to his son’s friend, Matt, whose family is active in our church.  We have been praying for months for Travis, Matt, and related concerns expressed by their parents on their behalf.  Great praise was ours on Sunday when Matt stood before the congregation, received with great applause of love and appreciation. He is home on leave for a short time before returning to war.  I hope the following letter will touch your heart as it did mine.  I suspect it speaks for many whose hearts are with their beloved soldiers.  Let us hold them fast in our prayers and offer them our support, respect and appreciation always

 Dear Friends, 

Please indulge our emotions as they are expressed in this letter.  Our hero comes home today.  Travis called from Baghdad at about 1400 ESDT.  He was boarding a plane that would route through Kuwait and Ireland and then to Atlanta, maybe Charlotte, maybe Greensboro or even Raleigh sometime over the next couple of days.  It doesn’t matter because Mary and I will wait for the call and we will rush to wherever he is to greet him.  We will cherish each moment we have with him, but he has many others he wants to see and much he wants to do while he is home.  We understand and accept that. 

He is special to us because he is our son.  But the things he has done and experienced are no different than the son’s of many have done.  Travis has faced an enemy and fought in pitched battles.  He has fired upon another human being in a deadly confrontation.  Unless you have experienced it you cannot imagine its effect.  It is important for us all to remember why he and others are going through these perilous times Soldiers become soldiers for different reasons.  But in the end we send them to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. 

Travis is not so much exceptional among the hundreds of thousands, even millions that protect our way of life.  But for us he is exceptional in that he is our son.  They are all somebody’s sons and all made in the image of God.  I believe he is also exceptional to you in that God gave you a relationship with him.  He has eighteen days at home before returning to Iraq.  Please pray that those will be days filled with rest, good fellowship and joy for him.

 It seems trivial but I also ask your prayers about a vehicle purchase.  Travis owns an older S-10 pick up truck.  But it has developed mechanical issues and is just a tired vehicle.  If I could, I’d but him a new one and give it to him but we are unable to do that.  Please pray for us as we seek to find a truck he can afford and will serve in for the next few years through ROTC/college. 

His friend Matt is also home on leave.  Please pray that he has a good time of rest.  On Friday he travels to Orlando with his family for the duration of his leave.  His parents, Tessa and Jim Dunn are sharing the same emotions we are experiencing. 

We also need to add a new name to your prayer list.  He is Pvt. Justin Goudy.  Justin is from Orrville, OH.  He has been Travis’ best friend for many years.  He is a gifted musician and songwriter, a great mechanic and a fine young man who loves the Lord.  Mary and I love this young man and we have a space reserved on our wall for his picture as a soldier beside mine, Mary’s son Sean who was a Marine and Travis’.  He leaves Wednesday for basic training at Ft. Benning, GA.  He will eventually be training to join an artillery unit.  Simply another young man answering a call to serve his country. 

We are proud of those who are called to protect our freedoms and our way of life.  We are especially proud of our son.  The anticipation of his homecoming is quite overwhelming.  If you would care to send him an email to welcome him home send it to Whaynie@aol.com.  

Thank you for your prayers for Travis and Matt and we encourage you to include Justin Goudy. In Christ, Wayne 4 Mary 2

Added by Renee:  A Psalm to claim for our soldiers: 

Psalm 91 

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
      will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 2 This I declare about the Lord:
   He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
      he is my God, and I trust him.
 3 For he will rescue you from every trap
      and protect you from deadly disease.
 4 He will cover you with his feathers.
      He will shelter you with his wings.
      His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
      nor the arrow that flies in the day.
 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
      nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
 7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
      though ten thousand are dying around you,
      these evils will not touch you.
 8 Just open your eyes,
      and see how the wicked are punished.
 9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
      if you make the Most High your shelter,
 10 no evil will conquer you;
      no plague will come near your home.
 11 For he will order his angels
      to protect you wherever you go.
 12 They will hold you up with their hands
      so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
 13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
      you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
 14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
      I will protect those who trust in my name.
 15 When they call on me, I will answer;
      I will be with them in trouble.
      I will rescue and honor them.
 16 I will reward them with a long life
      and give them my salvation.”
May God’s blessings go out to all of our men and women in service, and also to the loved ones who hold them in their hearts. 

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