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Welcome to Bernie's Iraq

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A Sandstorm at Al Asad, in Western Iraq Near
The Jordanian Border in April of This Year

Sandstorms are common place in the desert, but this one was unusually bad.  It was filmed by someone on camp and when it passed over the camp, it was a complete blackout.  Shelter is obviously important since it's difficult, if not impossible, to breathe in this.  One of this magnitude is called a shamall.


Thanks for checking in.  It's taken me awhile to put this together, but finally, it's done.  Thanks to Pat, I've been able to publish the pictures I've taken so far.  Hopefully I'll be able to paint the picture of what it's like here. So far it's been a great experience.  Along with the pictures I'll try to fill in the stories they relate to, and give you a feel for this very different place.  Feel free to respond with questions or commentaries.  I know some of you well enough to know the humor you will see in all of this, and believe me, there's some good material here.  Oh, do share!!  It's all about having fun.  Enjoy!

First, let me give credit to whom credit is due. The idea for this website was Pat's.  She was not only the brains in our partnership, she's the one with the computer savvy.  She definitely questioned my sanity when I said I wanted to do this, (who didn't right?), but she still supported me, and for that I'm forever grateful.  Thanks Partner!!  Most all of you who are reading this gave me the encouragement I needed along the way to believe in what I was doing.  Thank you all.  As I look back, after eight long months, I have no doubt that this was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  There are a few people, in particular that lent not only their support, but helped me accomplish the work that needed to be done before I could leave.  I'd like to take the time and the space here to personally thank them. 
My beautiful daughters, Kristyn, Alison, and Lauren.  There is a proverb in the Bible that says, "children are a gift from the Lord", and truly, each of you are gifts.  When the good Lord decided to bless me with each of you, He gave me three of His greatest treasures.  I won't ask Him why, I just thank Him.  Thank you for standing by me through all of life, for standing behind me when I decided to come to Iraq and for encouraging my heart to believe in my dreams.  Thank you for your hard work and sacrifices in travelling, helping me to pack and move, handling my business affairs, and most importantly, for taking care of one another in my absence.  You have given me the peace of mind I needed to achieve my goals.  I love each with all of my heart, forever.
Mom, where would I be without your faithful prayers through the years?   I think we all know the answer to that question.  I remember the moment in time when I told you about my plans to go to Iraq;  it was the look on your face I'll always recall.  A look  of quiet contemplation and no doubt, concern; yet your first words were 'that's marvellous'.  You strengthened my resolve and inspired me even more.  Thank you too for helping me pack and plan every step of the way. I love you and I truly appreciate you.
Then there are the many friends who encouraged me, prayed for me, and even offered to pay for my counseling......With friends like Colleen, Eric, Billy & Jeannie, Rich, Debbie and so many others, the work that had to be done would have been impossible for me to do by myself.  Colleen continues to support me, along with my daughter Kristyn, by handling my business affairs and keeping things running on the homefront.  Eric spent countless hours fixing, repairing, packing and moving, as did Colleen, even after I had gone to Houston.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
My brothers, George and Chuck, my sisters, Kathy and Meg, my sisters -in-law, Donna and Kate, and my brother-in-law, Jerry; as well as all of my 20 something neices and nephews.......thank you for standing behind me.  Kath, I'll always remember you reaching for the bottle of wine instead of the glass when I first told you I was heading over here.  I still laugh when I picture that in my head!  I know you all had concerns and wondered if I'd REALLY gone over the edge this time (imagine that!), but you supported me anyway.  I love and appreciate each of you more than I ever have.  Thanks for just being you.
This has been a good, often difficult experience to be sure, with so many new experiences, it would be hard to recount them all but......the greatest blessing, without a doubt, has been meeting a man that is truly wonderful and who I will be marrying as soon as possible after we get settled back in the States.  His name is Johnnie Hoats, and he is a true gift from the Lord....more about him and our story on another page.
Thanks again to all of you for all you do in supporting me while I'm here.  I love you all!  I hope you enjoy visiting this website from time to time to get updates and see new pictures.

Saddam's Home
On 'Lost Lake'....kind of fitting for him huh?

I've been living here, on this camp, for about 7 months and I just recently found out that Saddam is imprisoned right here.  And the best part, we were allowed to take pictures.... It's rumored that he whines about his accomodations and treatment...big surprise.  Any bully who doesn't get their way...especially when they've been used to controlling others all their lives...always whines when their power plug is pulled.  Oh well...that's life.  The wheel always goes around in a full circle.

Another View of His New Palace
Ooops, I Think the Original Airstrike Did Some Damage