A city fifty miles away from where we were based on this Iraq trip has been called the "last stronghold of Al Qaeda in Iraq." It, and some other municipalities in the Northern provinces, has seen a heightened level of insurgent activity over the past few weeks.

Our departure clearly reflected this increased echelon of violence.

After going through a couple of security checkpoints, Scott and I showed up at the airport at 1:00 am, only to learn that our flight had been delayed. As this flight only leaves under cover of darkness late at night, the window of opportunity would be missed. The suspension ended up lasting a whole day, with the aircraft finally leaving at midnight.

During our second attempt, we went through multiple baggage x-rays and hand searches before being ushered out onto the tarmac. Not content to rely upon Iraqi security, two Jordanian security officers did a final – and very thorough – search of us and our bags right next to the plane. These guys were the real deal, easily passing for premium henchmen in a James Bond movie – very tough, stoic and down-to-business.

The plane carried no identifying marks – plain white and lacking airline logos or colors, almost like a UN aircraft but absent the distinguishing letters. The security officers boarded the plane with us, surveyed the passengers and guarded the exit. They then traveled on the aircraft to Jordan where, upon disembarkation, they oversaw us putting our bags into a mobile x-ray machine that had pulled up in a specialized truck.

Not allowed to go directly to our connecting flight because baggage simply couldn’t be forwarded, we had to once again enter Jordan, pick up our luggage, and go through all the security precautions involved in taking an outbound flight…including special hand searches of our bags once again.

Such are the travel procedures for exiting a conflict-torn country.

Scott and I thank you for the prayer coverage you have given us on this trip. Please stay tuned here at abandoned-orphaned.com as I continue some of my reflections concerning the visit over the next few days.

Blessings, Paul