Editor’s note: As a special service for our readers, WND is running a series of dispatches from Allan Wall chronicling his transition from civilian life as he prepares to fight with his National Guard unit in Iraq. Allan will write for us as often as he is able in order to let our readers vicariously experience what people in his position are going through. We hope you will check regularly for Allan’s dispatches and encourage your friends and family to do likewise.

I’m living at Fort XYZ, training for military duty in Iraq, far from home. But I do have some relatives who live nearby. To be more specific, my second cousin once removed and her family live near here.

What is a “removed” cousin? Well, a removed cousin is a cousin who is not on the same generational level as yourself. A first cousin is in your generation. First cousins share a set of grandparents. Second cousins share a set of great-grandparents, third cousins a set of great-great-grandparents. And so forth.

If my first cousin has a child, that child is my first cousin once removed, because he belongs to a different generation than I do. Also, my child is the first cousin once removed of my cousin.

My relative who resides near Fort XYZ is my second cousin once removed. My mother and her grandfather were first cousins, her mother and I are second cousins. My great-grandparents are her great-great-grandparents. That makes her my second cousin once removed. She and her husband have two children (boys) who are my second cousins twice removed.

I contacted my relatives and we were able to get together one Sunday, when I had a day off. I met them at their church on Sunday morning. It was the first civilian church I had attended since reporting for duty.

The music was good. And so was the preaching and teaching. The topic of the sermon was the “Parable of the Unrighteous Steward,” found in Luke, chapter 16. I can’t ever remember having heard a sermon on this parable before. My compliments to the preacher and to the teacher of the Bible class I also attended. It was good to visit a church where serious Bible study is going on.

Being located near Fort XYZ, the church is involved with military families. It helps support deployed soldiers, and even offers a Sunday School class for wives of deployed soldiers.

After church, I visited my kinfolk at their beautiful rural home. We shared a meal together and good conversation. It was great catching up – I hadn’t seen my relative in years, and had only met her husband shortly before their marriage. I had never met the boys.

So I got caught up on their lives, his work (he works as a civilian at Fort XYZ), her homeschooling, how her parents are doing, their church. And I talked about my family and about Mexico.

It was also great to be around their little boys. They are 6 and 3 – the same age difference as that of my two boys, who are 5 and 2. I hope my boys can meet them sometime and they can play together.

When it was time to go, my cousin gave me some homemade cookies. These came in very handy. In fact, the very next day, a few of those cookies were all I had to eat for most of the day.

It was good visit, getting away from Fort XYZ, getting out into the civilian community and spending time with my kinfolk.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.