(Note: Bill and Lynda Boyle recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land. These are a few of their experiences.)
Ian Boyd has a rather demanding job. As a military attaché for the United States government in Israel, Colonel Boyd is a traffic cop on the Road Map to Peace. An attaché is a high-ranking military officer assigned to the diplomatic corps.
The Road Map to Peace was a major feature of the 2004 peace accords between the Israelis and Palestinians. The plan was to outline a long series of small steps between the two warring nations that would lead to the eventual peace that has eluded the area for so many years.
It was not long after the accords were signed that the process to peace began to break down. There have been breakdowns and road blocks and flat tires and the loss of an engine or two. It seems at times that the process is out of gas.
However, both sides recently agreed to work on the road map again and asked the U.S. Government to help monitor the progress.
That is where Ian comes in. He works directly with the General tasked with monitoring progress (or the lack thereof) on the Road Map to Peace. His job includes traveling from location to location and doing all sorts of fascinating things that he is not interested in talking about to a newspaper editor. Several times, his answers to my questions were not answers at all, but simply a smile.
Thank goodness I am much more than a newspaper editor to Ian. Ian and I were roommates in the 1980s, when I lived in Jerusalem while working at the BYU Jerusalem Center.
In 1986, when I moved in, Ian’s family was still struggling to adapt to life in Israel, where they had moved from Utah a few years earlier. Ian was a young teenager stuck between two cultures. He was attending a demanding Hebrew-language school and trying to keep up with life in western society.
Despite the fact that he was just 15 years old and facing many of the little challenges that are common to that age, there was always something special about Ian. He was bright eyed and clear thinking and unafraid of work. It is obvious that these traits have served him well.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with Ian and his family. We had not seen Ian or his wife, Dawn, since the day they were married nearly a decade ago. We spent the evening catching up on the past ten years, talking about the past and looking toward the future.
His three beautiful daughters were more than happy to demand as much time and attention as these visitors could give. It was fun for Lynda to play with the girls, since she was missing our kids and Ian’s daughters are the same age spread as our three girls. In 1983, soon after the Boyd’s moved to Jerusalem, Lynda spent a memorable evening as a babysitter to Ian and his siblings.
The Boyd family returned to the United States nearly 20 years ago and has not been back to Israel. Ian graduated from BYU, served as a navigator in the Air Force, a coordinator with the US Army in Afghanistan, and an instructor in Florida. Just over a year ago, he became a military attaché and was delighted to be sent to the Holy Land on his first assignment.
As you can imagine, the three-year assignment is a challenge to Ian and his family. In addition to the demands of his job and family, he is finishing a masters degree in National Security.
I can think of few jobs that would be more demanding and more complicated than being on the front lines of the quest for peace in the Middle East. However, I sleep a little better at night knowing that a good man, and a good friend like Ian Boyd, is involved in the process.
Front Line Of The War Against Terror
High on a mountain overlooking the Hulah Valley, Nimrod’s Castle is a child’s dream come true. The castle, built by Moslem armies centuries ago, sits in a strategic location on the Via Maris, the main ancient highway between Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Since it is a Crusader-era site and is not mentioned in Biblical accounts, most tour groups pass by Nimrod’s Castle on their way to Caesarea Philippi or Tel Dan. We were feeling a sense of adventure, so we stopped to explore the castle.
Moats and battlements and secret passages abound in the castle, stoking the imagination of even a few middle-aged visitors.
Even though the castle was home for hundreds of people in the past, the only full time residents of the castle today are hundreds of marmots. At first glance, these strange little animals look like large, slow-moving rats. They are called rock-rabbits in Hebrew and coneys in the Old Testament.
At the end of the hike, we ran into an American couple. The man was wearing a Ducks Unlimited hat and shirt.
I wasn’t surprised when he responded to Chris’ question of where they were from with a drawled “Tyler, Texas.” When we told him we were from Utah, his wife quickly chipped in, “I used to live in Utah”.
When I asked, “Do you know Sam and Leslie Anderson,” our Texas friend just about fell down. “Why yes,” he said. “Sam is in our stake presidency.”
Sam Anderson grew up in Monticello and Leslie is from Blanding, so we suddenly had mutual friends far from home.
We learned that Joe Edward Parker is a “resident enforcement advisor” for the United State Department of the Treasury stationed in Jordan. If Ian Boyd is on the font line of the Quest for Peace, Joe Parker is on the front line of the War on Terror.
Parker first retired in 2000 after a 30-year career in the customs agency. He was called soon after 9/11 and asked to come out of retirement to investigate money laundering and smuggling in the Middle East.
This is a critical task, since Al Qeida terrorists receive the major portion of their funding through money laundering. Parker does the extensive detail work in order to build ac ase against the money launderers. Then he sends out a crew to make the arrest. He is completing a three-year assignment and expected to be home for Christmas.
He and his wife Chris were making a last visit to Israel, where they love to visit the Huleh Valley bird refuge. It is clear that Parker is anxious to get home, where he can hunt water fowl instead of simply look at them.