This week we finished the Military Tribute Tour. We went back to Kuwait for 3 shows, and then did our last show on the tour in Djibouti. It was a bittersweet experience having it come to an end, but it made such an impact on me.
It was interesting to me as this was my first time coming back performing with the title “David Archuleta” and having to embrace that since my mission. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, but there was a different motivating factor this time, which was that this tour was all about giving tribute to the troops. We flew out to these countries; to these military bases on our own time and without getting paid anything. We came out to get to know them, and express our gratitude for them with what God gave us in our abilities and talents.
I would divide the focuses on this tour into 2 different categories: 1st, Getting to know who these men and women were and 2nd, Getting to know what they do.
Traveling to the different bases in each country gave us a realistic view of what is going on and the work that these troops do. They showed us everything from the aircrafts and vehicles to the loading areas and offices; from the chow halls where they eat to the living quarters— whether they were buildings, CLU’s (containerized living units), or tents. We saw all of the different parts it takes to put it all together, and all of the people it took with different skills.
My favorite part of these tours and staying on these bases was getting to meet these servicemen and women and hear their stories. One of them I met in Camp Patriot in Kuwait. She was a Captain, and had an 11 month-old daughter, but she had been away from her for the last several months. On top of that, her husband was also deployed in another camp in Kuwait, so neither of them are able to be there with their new daughter to watch her grow during these first months of her life. The daughter stayed with grandparents in the meantime.
I was impressed to hear stories similar to this time and time again. A lot of times we have stereotypes for these men and women of what kind of lifestyle they come from, what matters to them, and how normal they really are. I met parents, grandparents, people my age and even younger than me everywhere. They all were far away from family and loved ones, and while they are fulfilling to their amazing duty to serve our country it still is no easy task to be away from family and loved ones in tough circumstances that are not your typical home environment. I jumped at the chance to listen to them, and simply be around them. If there was nothing else I could give to them, at least I could give them my time— there is nothing more valuable to me than that, and so I am glad that I could give even a little bit of time to be with them and get to know who they are and what they do.
At the end of the trip we were able to go to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We did a faith-based meeting (also known as a fireside) with stories and music similar to what we were doing on the tour, only more faith-focused. I really loved getting to do these firesides throughout our trip when time permitted, and to feel the hearts and spirits of these strong-spirited youth in these parts of the world.
After this fireside we went out to an Ethiopian restaurant where they had traditional Ethiopian dancers and an Ethiopian band. It was awesome! A few people in the restaurant recognized me, along with a worker, and the next thing I know the owner comes up to ask if I would sing for everyone there. At first I felt awkward, but in the end I thought “eh, why not?” and got up to sing 2 songs: “Stand By Me” and “Everybody Hurts” which I had been singing during the military tour. It was quite the experience being backed up by an Ethiopian band along with my voice coach, Dean Kaelin who was on the tour with us. Good times!
It’s been unforgettable. I am taking so many memories with me from these past few weeks. I just want to thank again these men and women in the military for serving and doing what they do. I am so grateful that they took us in and allowed us to experience a little bit of their experiences. It means so much to me, and to everyone on our tour. We appreciate you and your time you shared with us. Military Tribute Tour accomplished!
Well that’s a wrap for this blog. Thanks for reading!
I have written a letter to my family and friends, but I decided that I should share it with all of you as well:
First off, I am sorry that I can never write less than an essay and that my emails are always so long! But please bear with me and my imperfections with this one.
I wanted to write to all of you seeing as this last week has been quite incredible for me. Right now I am writing this to you as blasting winds full of dust attack my face and my eyes (I’m outside to have some time to myself). I am currently in Afghanistan, and as I don’t know when I will ever be here again I would like to take the time to write to you under interesting circumstances.
What am I doing here? I was invited by a man named Dan Clark. He is a world renown speaker who is the main contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. He has spoken many, many times to the troops all over the world. We are joined by a professional impersonator/comedian named Jason Hewlett (he’s hilarious), and my voice trainer Dean Kaelin (accompanying me on the piano and guitar, and performing himself a number) to do a military tour. It is a tour with the focus to inspire and give an uplifting message to the troops as we entertain.
July 8th we left for the Middle East. We began in the country of Bahrain– a country I had never even heard of before. Afterwards we went to Kuwait. It was amazing to see how empty it is here terrain-wise: sand, sun, dust, and desert. However, due to oil and gas these are very wealthy countries. We visited an Islamic mosque and I was amazed to see that they believe in prophets, and even believe in Jesus Christ… As a prophet of God; not as the Only Begotten, yet they believe that He will come again. It is Ramadan here which is the month of fasting, where they cannot eat or drink from sunrise until sunset. We cannot eat or drink in front of them, and have to keep long-sleeve shirts and pants when in public Muslim-eye to not offend their traditions.
Anyway, this is a military tour, not a desert tourist trip. I wanted to express my love for these military men and women. Here in Afghanistan– along with in Iraq–they are in combat and there are attacks going on. I was surprised at the friendships and the respect the local people have with and for the troops, as the reason why we have been in these countries is to protect these people from opposing groups who seek for power and are extremists and terrorists trying to overtake the countries. We are now making transitions to let the Afghan military take charge of defending their own country so that they may strengthen their own sense of duty and value those rights and liberties more by taking the lead themselves.
We have met so many fathers who have yet to meet their newborn babies in person; they are out in this blazing heat of 100-140 degrees day to day (and wow it feels like a hair-dryer blowing in your face!). We have seen and felt their appreciation for us being here as we “come out of our way” to meet with them, perform for them, and let them know we love them — it is the LEAST we can do!! It is amazing to have them come up and say, “you don’t know how much this means to us. Thank you for coming to see us and break the routine. You bring a piece of home.”
These are people who learn what the word “duty” means. They literally put their lives on the line with rockets being shot at the bases, mines exploding their and civilians’ paths, and suicide bombers coming at them. It is real, but they do it because of their duty to our families and to our country, and to their duty to protecting countries and people who cannot do it alone. How grateful I am for their dedication and for them being awakened to their duty.
I hope the next time you see one of these service men and women, you think of their commitment that they have to this duty: to protecting our amazing and beautiful country where we have freedom, and working to help others have freedom as well. We take what we have for granted– whether- we go to the air-conditioned malls, or sit at our peaceful homes bored. Let us think twice about our liberty that we have in this promised land, and how God has truly blessed us. During this trip we are also getting to do some special faith-based events that we call firesides. It has been a wonderful bonus to the trip.
We have one more week of shows, and I will try and give you another (shorter) update as we come to a close.
I hope you are all well!
P.S. I’ve attached some photos.
Idk why I couldn’t get the video up, but my little sister helped me. I know it’s not the most convenient place to do a video, but oh well.
Thanks to all of those who tuned into the Face2Face Chat last week! if you missed it go here:
Going to Costa Rica this weekend for a project that you’ll hear more about later, and then off to the Middle East and Africa to go see the Air Force Troops and do some singing for them. :)
Pardon the razor burns if you notice them. I had a bad shave this morning and wasn’t able to get the job done properly.
David will be doing a live chat on June 24, starting at 5.30pm MDT in Spanish and 7pm MDT in English, to talk about his mission and perform some songs. The live chat will take place on the LDS Youth Facebook page. The event can also be viewed live on lds.org and the Mormon youtube channel. Submit your questions on the Face to Face event page or via twitter using the hashtag #LDSface2face.
I think its time to put up a video blog.
Updated: Those who missed the live broadcast of “Called to Serve” may now watch the program online at KSL.com:
“Called to Serve” documentary courtesy of KSL.com
“David Archuleta – Called to Serve” is a half hour documentary about David’s mission premiering Sunday, April 6, at 1:30 pm US Mountain time. Check local listings or view it at the KSL-TV livestream. Note that the livestream may not be available in all countries.
Here are some promotional stills from the documentary with David’s words:
Words we have been waiting for…..
David says it all in this short video.
Here is a video of David with his cousin Vanessa Deliz singing one of her original songs she wrote called “Roller Coaster”. You can check out some of her other music at www.reverbnation.com/vanessadeliz
David Archuleta’s new album “No Matter How Far” is now in stores in the US and Canada, and also available online!
“No Matter How Far” features a mix of newly released songs and tracks previously only available in Asia. The record’s tracklist includes the new single “Don’t Run Away”, OPM-classics like “Forevermore”, and fan-favourites such as “Nothing Else Better To Do” and “Wait”.
“No Matter How Far” is David’s 6th studio album after his debut record “David Archuleta”, holiday album “Christmas From The Heart”, sophomore record “The Other Side Of Down”/”The Other Side of Down Asian Tour Edition”, OPM album “Forevermore”/”Forevermore Expanded Edition”, and his 2012 album “BEGIN.” released in August last year. It is David’s third pre-recorded release during his two-year-mission for his church in South America.
1. “Nothing Else Better To Do”
2. “Everything And More”
3. “Don’t Run Away”
4. “Tell Me”
5. “Love Don’t Hate”
7. “Heart Falls Out”
8. “Notice Me”
9. “I’ll Never Go”
Non-US residents can purchase the album from selected Amazon and iTunes country stores.
For a chance to win a copy of “No Matter How Far”, check out the official Twitter and Facebook contest!
Check out the official music video for “Don’t Run Away”, the first single off of David’s new album “No Matter How Far” – in stores tomorrow!
Music video by David Archuleta performing Don’t Run Away. Music Video Animation by Kylie Malchus
(c) 2013 Entertainment One U.S., LP
And here is Kylie Malchus explaining how she came about doing the animation for the music video and the process of creating it.