My cousin, Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Church, is a JAG officer in the Utah National Guard, assigned to the 1st Corps Artillery, currently serving in Afghanistan in support of Task Force Phoenix. Translation: he’s a citizen-soldier, normally a city prosecutor in Orem, UT, now sent to Afghanistan for a year to help train and support the Afghan Army; his particular task is to work with other JAGs in getting the local military justice system, for which there is as yet no case law and barely even a legal foundation, up and running. He leaves behind his wife, Janae, and his three teen-age sons, Luke, Seth, and Braxton. That’s him on the right.
He has a job for us to do.
Bob is my oldest cousin, in more ways that one: not only is he the oldest of all the Fox-Church grandchildren, but he’s the one I have the oldest memories of. Perhaps this is because they are good memories: unlike what I’ve since learned is typical for fifth and sixth graders, Bobby (sorry, Bob!–it just slipped out) actually took the time to play with, listen to, and treat decently his kindergarten-age cousin next door. I wasn’t nearly as close to him as my older sister, but I always liked him, and remained pleasantly surprised over the years, especially as we saw each other less and less, that every time we did meet or speak, my childhood memories were only reconfirmed: he’s a very decent, easy-going, optimistic, funny and good man. (Don’t believe me? Check out his blog from Camp Shelby in Mississippi and now Camp Phoenix in Afghanistan, in particular here and here and here and here.) So it doesn’t surprise me that he’s found a way to turn his commitment to his country into a larger opportunity to serve.
Bob’s roommate is the local humanitarian projects manager; he is not LDS, but he knows that the Mormons can be counted on coming through when it comes to personal giving, and he has asked Bob to work with the LDS soldiers there, and their families and wards back home, to assist him with providing needed supplies and other items to a couple of local schools and villages. Bob in turn is reaching through his family and his blog to anyone who would like to organize a service project, whether it be for the Boy Scouts or the Young Women or as a family home evening project. Read all the details here, which includes his contact information and lists of what would be particularly helpful. (Some of which makes for sad reading: don’t send pencils, because the locals might not have any way to sharpen them. Oh, and if you send girls clothing, make sure it’s modest enough for a conservative Islamic society.) Since many of those reading this blog have a legal background, you might be particularly interested in contributing some office supplies, as the courts that Bob mentors are in desperately short supply of everything.
We are planning on doing something as a family, and as Melissa has just been called into the Primary presidency here in our ward, we may try to make something happen as a Primary Activity Days project. You can do the same. And if you can send nothing else, send some good wishes and prayers in my cousin’s direction–and, as he suggests, in the direction of the people of Afghanistan as well. I’m sure he, and they, will appreciate it.
Well, what are you waiting for? You don’t want to disappoint LTC Bob Church, do you?
I didn’t think so.