Sounds of an Iraqi evening hovered over the American base camp as the ten person squad entered a hostile Baghdad neighborhood. The patrol was necessary as intelligence units had captured significant numbers of light weapons flowing into this area that routinely attacked local Coalition base camps.
Leading the patrol, United States Army Staff Sergeant Rodney Powell, conducted pre-contact checks before squad members exited Armored Personnel Carriers. Everything enroute to the designated area went without a problem. Within an hour, five buildings and houses were searched. Only one house produced military weapons. They were immediately and quickly removed and the inhabitants arrested.
As Sergeant Powell’s team entered a family residence, they came upon a family of five with a newborn girl that had just been born not more than an hour. With little concern for his personal well-being, the father approached the team with hands clasped pleading in Arabic. Summoning the interpreter forward, Sergeant Powell learned that the little newborn was struggling to breathe. The father and his family were quickly escorted out to a military vehicle with an interpreter and two other soldiers to the base camp where physicians from the Military Aid Station Hospital were present to assist the ill child.
On the team’s return, the remaining members visited with the father then marveled and observed the six pound, twenty inch miracle. Through the interpreter, the father was informed that the entire team would pray for his newborn daughter and family though they were not of the Islamic faith. The father indicated his appreciation. The father was also informed that in the United States it was “Father’s Day” that congratulations were in order. As a father of two children, Sergeant Powell requested and was able to give the Iraqi family gifts of food, baby gifts as well as individual gifts to the man, his wife and two children. The Iraqi family and American squad became intimate friends that day.
Sergeant Powell was immediately transported back six years before when his son was struggling for his life. He recalled how difficult the situation was for himself and his wife not knowing what would happen to his first born child. Although the language barrier prevented active interaction between Sergeant Powell and the Iraqi family, he readily empathized with their response and concern for a family member. A sense of relief came to everyone when the attending physician came out after 10 hours of intensive surgery to inform the family that their daughter/sister would be fine and was doing well. Cheers of happiness and joy erupted from squad members, the medical team and from a thankful family who was give immediate permission to the child.
During all of the handshaking, hugs and shouts for joy, Sergeant Powell recalled truths he and his wife had learned from their childhood illness ordeal:
1. Birth is a miracle.
2. Children are gifts however long they are allowed to be with their earthly family.
3. A child does not belong to the parents. They belong to God.
4. Any challenges presented are not punishments for sins parents may have committed.
5. God’s goodness is with us and sees loved ones through any all difficulties though what is happening is not understood.
As Sergeant Powell reflected upon the events of the day, he said a prayer for the Iraqi
family, his family and for all families who faced the challenges of a critically ill child.