Vision and Manifestation

A small island off mainland Denmark decided ten years ago to become energy self sufficient. How does one person get such a vision & then see it manifest against all odds? If you would like to see him in action:

As he says in the video, folks often concentrate on all the external factors that they can’t control & thus wind up manifesting their frustrations not positive results.

The path to any destination is fraught with potential issues. If we stopped to figure out what they all might be, we might never go anywhere.

Caution is valuable but fear can immobilize!

Discussion is valuable but action must follow!

Don’t let your doubts become the seeds of failure.

We are creative beings, made in the image. Let’s not waste that imagination that was given to us as a youngster.

Be careful with the word practical as it can be used to inhibit creativity.

Let’s choose our mentors wisely.

David

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December 30, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

One Single Goodbye……

One Single Goodbye……

One single good-bye is like death by a thousand swords.

Thus ended my last day on board the Africa Mercy. The final lesson learned…there is never enough time for good-byes. I fear I have done an awful job at saying “good-bye”. No time, no energy… no cards left to write in. I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of my farewell. Several dinners out with friends…a formal thank you at the Thursday night Community meeting (which happened to be a BBQ outside on the dock including the Day Workers)….Frank and George’s families traveling from Sierra Leone to say “thanks”…and then the final wave off!

As one person after another stepped forward to say “good-bye”…I felt like I was dying and my life (at least as it had been on the Africa Mercy) was flashing before me. Alice from the Galley who after waiting three years to become a sterilizer, will be joining out department in my bed space…Ibrahim who was rescued from being denied as a Day Worker in Togo, and who then went on to become crew….Francis who was forwarded a micro credit loan to continue with his Seamen’s schooling…. James who was financially assisted to stay on as crew when his funding ran out, and who subsequently met his fiancée on board-wedding in two weeks…a phone call from Dennis who was back home in Ghana trying to apply for his student visa ( for the  fourth time)… multiple OR Staff members…two male crew members (one a Chaplain, the other an Anesthetist) brought to tears…my three dear cabin mates…John ( whom I did nothing for, but we had such a great “passing in the hallways”-type of relationship…and the BIG one, Frank and George. The pain was deep, cutting and very real.

What has been amazing about being in West Africa is the huge difference that you can make with very little money and very little effort. It becomes almost addicting. One life changing surgery after another…a family helped with schooling fees…another helped when their home burned to the ground…West African Crew supported, cared for and advocated with. And then there is the story of George, the Day Worker from Togo.

I have withheld the story of George Ebbia from all those except close family and friends. I have no idea why. Perhaps it just felt too personal, too close to the bone. I met George in the OR in Togo. If you have been following my adventures, you will possibly remember the story. He invited a group of us in the OR to visit his farm. We ended up planting trees, and I was so impressed with what he had accomplished…yet felt overwhelmed with what he had yet to do. I met with George the following Monday at lunchtime to ask what would make the biggest impact to him with his work on the farm. His answer?  A motorcycle.  Our time was then up…we had to get back to work, but the thought of George and his motorcycle would not leave my brain.
Later that day, a thought flashed into my head.  John had never had a funeral (by request) and there had been an amount of money in an insurance policy for that purpose that had never been used. I would use it to buy George a motorcycle. That night I wrote George a note…telling him about John and offering to help him.

This offer was a seed, which when planted yielded a crop of virtual miracles. At first I told a close friend Jim, who offered to buy a helmet for George to keep him safe. I then emailed my family and a few friends who I thought might be interested in what I had done. Immediately I heard from my sister Judy and brother-in-law Clare who said that they had not had a chance to do anything in memory of John, and wondered if there was anything else George might require for his farm? George and I met again, and this time I asked him to create a list of needs from which they could choose. Judy and Clare chose a custom –made cart which could be attached to the motorcycle in which George could haul supplies to the farm.
Next I heard from my friend Petrea and her husband Paul who choose bags of cement to build his animal shelter. Then Jim got back in touch and said he wanted to email his friends about this project…he was sure they would be interested. That netted a metal roof for the animal shelter…complete with some animals. And so on….and so on. By the time I left Togo, George had everything he needed to set up his animal farm.
I never asked him to do so, but in the end George decided to name the farm after John. ‘The John McIntosh Memorial Farm Animals’. It was at this point that Catherine, the Chaplain on board developed a logo for the farm-complete with a motto scripted by George… Ensemble Aujour d’hui Pour un Bien-Etre de Demain …translated as “Working together today for a better tomorrow”..

Not having a funeral for John left me feeling a lack of closure. When George and his farm entered my life, closure happened. Who would have thought that a solution needed in British Columbia, Canada…could be found in Togo, West Africa? My own personal miracle. As I write this last entry, I received an email from George telling me that his first sheep has given birth to a baby male lamb. I know John (a former sheep farmer himself) must be looking down on the farm in Togo, and smiling with satisfaction.

I owe each of you a huge debt of thanks for all of the emotional, financial and moral support over these past two years. I simply could not have made this journey without each of you. It has been impossible for me to share all that I have experienced in West Africa during this time. I hope that the postings I have written have given you a glimpse of the life, challenges and joys of this part of Africa and her people.

I wish each of you every blessing of the Christmas season, and a new year filled with peace, joy and love.
Ever gratefully yours,

Jane

 

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Listening

Why do we not listen?

Why do we not hear?

Where has our ability to be open gone?

Why do we think what we think is so important?

True communication is a lost art.

It is truly distressing to watch folks talk past each other.

It is up to each of us to recapture our ability to be present.

Time pulls us along. Being busy is a way of life.

Slowing down is a conscious decision.

We are interconnected, we must hear others.

Together is how we survive.

David

 

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November 18, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Transformation

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” Lao Tzu

Knowing oneself is the art of transformation.

It is difficult to see the changes needed to allow for our own ‘greatest treasures’, as Lao Tzu says.

We tend to be obstinate in the face of criticism, the molding of the clay that is required for our own growth.

Diverse opinions give us a chance to see a different path but not if our minds are closed.

Having patience can be very trying. Having compassion takes time. Keeping it simple is an art.

We are part of all that is. We are one with the Universe. We often see ourselves as separate.

We are a results oriented society. Having more is the basis of our progress measurement systems. Transformation is not part of early upbringing or education.

How might the world change if we changed? By definition, that happens.

“Through forgiveness, which essentially means recognizing the insubstantiality of the past and allowing the present moment to be as it is, the miracle of transformation happens not only within but also without.” Eckhart Tolle

If we avoid transformation, we forgo a personal opportunity.

Does that matter?

David

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November 11, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Greetings From the Africa Mercy!

With just three weeks to go with my life in West Africa, time and opportunity are quickly fading away.

Orthopedic operations are now finished. as we move into the VVF (female fistulae) specialty. This is combined with Max Fax, General and eye surgeries. I am frantically putting finishing touches on the department manual that I have written as a ‘how –to’ book for someone who literally ‘drops’ into the department. Fortunately, that is not our reality at the moment, as we have George, Frank and Juan to keep the department’s gears in motion…along with two very responsible Day Workers, Mark and Amara.

Interviews took place for my position, and George, Frank and Juan all expressed interest in the job. The interview team had a tough decision to make, but in the end, George was chosen to be the OR Sterilizing Team Leader. Alice (from Sierra Leone) who currently works in the Galley will take my bed space, when I leave-and so the department will be left in good shape with a very dependable team.

As always, the best way to connect to the work we do here is to share a patient story. This one is about Memouna.

Go down two flights of stairs on the Africa Mercy, and you’ll find you’ve stepped out of a ship and into a busy buzzing hospital. On the wards you’ll find kids playing, doctors bustling, patients visiting, and plenty of African music. Listen . . . you’ll hear conversations in English echoed by translators in French or one of Guinea’s three local languages – the chatter forms a background like white noise. One would expect that a 13-year-old girl would be among the chattiest – but not Memouna.

Memouna’s pronounced facial tumor began above her left eyebrow, spilling down her face to the corner of her mouth and displacing her left eye. This tumor, a neurofibroma she has had since birth, left her looking like one side of her face was sliding off – like Dali’s famous melting clock in a desert. From behind the curtain of her deformity, Memouna saw the world with her good right eye. And . . . to her despair . . . the world saw Memouna.

For 13 years she was taunted for her appearance. Moreover, superstitions run deep in West African culture, and physical deformities are believed to be the sinister mark of someone cursed. Memouna was not only teased by peers – she was completely dismissed. The drooping facial tumor became the source of a broken spirit.  “She was not happy because in Africa people stay away from her. She would cry because she did not understand why no one liked her,” said Memouna’s 17-year-old sister, Aminata, the oldest of her nine siblings.

“I had so many sleepless nights worrying how to help my child,” said Memouna’s father, who was trying to sell his car to afford her surgery when he learned the Africa Mercy was coming to Conakry. “I was told that no one would be able to do the surgery except Mercy Ships. I had no money to pay with . . . and then God paid!”

On Wednesday, 26 September 2012, Mercy Ships surgeons removed Memouna’s tumor. After her operation, even under layers of bandages, the transformation was profound. Memouna’s profile no longer appeared rough and misshapen. Her face had been physically lifted from the weight of the tumor. Nurses hoped her spirits would follow, but removing years of social isolation is a much more complicated procedure.

In the days after her operation, quiet Memouna said nothing, while her father and sister took turns staying at the hospital and speaking on her behalf. “I’m sorry, maybe she will talk more another day,” her sister would say to visitors. Mercy Ships ward nurse Lynne White said, “It was a long time before I realized she spoke. She was so silent that I didn’t think she could. But I can understand it. She went from spending her life keeping to herself with no friends, and then she came here and was overwhelmed by the attention.”

One night a week after the surgery, Lynne came into the ward to find Memouna listening to headphones, nodding her head to music and mouthing the words. “I couldn’t believe it, so I did whatever I could to try to get a laugh out of her – I started dancing!” Lynne said. “Memouna just laughed and laughed. It was wonderful!”

Two weeks later Memouna arrived on the dock with her father for a check-up. She kept to herself, waiting on the benches. “Is that my Memouna?” Lynne exclaimed. Hearing her name, Memouna glanced around to find Lynne, not walking, but dancing over to her. “It’s you, you’re here!” Lynne cheered, waving her arms in the air. Memouna clapped her hands and covered her mouth, trying and failing to hold back her giggles.

Even though Memouna does not give up her laughter easily, she lets those who show her love see the real Memouna. In those moments, there is a cute teenager in a pink sweatshirt and orange nail polish . . . where a timid, downcast child used to be.

The removal of Memouna’s tumor marks the beginning of physical . . . and spiritual . . . healing.

Until next time,
Jane
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Economics & Spirituality

“It calls for knowing, really knowing, you are a spiritual being, living in a limitless spiritual Universe, endowed with the whole potential energy flow of the Universe.” ‘Spiritual Economics’, Eric Butterworth

How does one ever get to the concept that we are spiritual beings, let alone connect that with economics?

Could we call it Creative Economics?

We are creative beings. Creation is obvious. Everywhere there is a Collective Creative Consciousness. We are a part of that energy, that flow, or we could be, if we knew how to tap into It.

It probably starts by seeing ourselves as part of the solution, not the whole answer. How might we become that open-minded?

Ego & upbringing tend towards individuality not oneness.

Our way of seeing steers our actions. Thoughts manifest on the ground.

‘Other orientation’ changes the way we think & act. Knowing we are spiritual in nature helps us to think beyond ourselves.

Connected to the Source leads to amazing results. We tap into an energy source, that provides at a far easier pace, than working at solutions.

Go with the flow is worth considering, economically speaking.

Does Spiritual Economics make dollars & sense?

It’s your call, David

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November 4, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Spiritual Economics

“A person who seeks knowledge knows more and more, a person who seeks enlightenment knows less and less until things are just what they are.” Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu says “things are just what they are”.

In trying to figure out Spiritual Economics, it seems so easy just to leave it at that.

Ina often says “things are really simple”. So why do I have such a difficult time understanding the nature of things?

Why ask questions? Why not just let it be?

I suppose this searching is mostly for myself. So why write it down? Because I can, is the best answer I have for the moment.

Back to Spiritual Economics!

The first thing we have to accept is that we are spiritual beings & in that role connected.

As long as we live a material life, we are separated.

Connecting then is first, to our own spiritual being, before we can ‘see’ the benefit of helping others as a priority.

As long as we are separated beings, at least in our own mind, then the first priority is to our own needs.

Living a separated life is a stressful life. Living a material life is a separated life.

So how does Spiritual Economics help?

Once we realize we are not here to live for lifestyle improvement, we begin to ‘see’ the possibilities of reaching a state of happiness.

Happiness comes from within. Peace comes from connection.

Connection to what? The soul within, I believe.

Once we are that far, we are close to our core.

Love is the answer. Giving as a way of life.

What you give comes back tenfold.

A new economics?

David

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October 28, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Possibilities

 I had a dream,                                                                     Autumn, courtesy Christine Copeland

A most wondrous dream,

Of the whole world encircled with flowers,

Where everyone had an ivory tower,

With a shining knight

And a princess fair,

With no one ever afraid to dare,

Or afraid to care,

Or afraid to share.

I had a dream,

A contented dream

Of children on a green earth playing,

With sun so warm, trees gently swaying,

With rich brown soil

And waters clear,

Abundance in a world held dear,

Love always near,

A glorious sphere.

I had a dream,

A most beautiful dream,

Of a world with not one border dividing,

No reason to fear, no need for hiding,

With not one foe,

And not one fight,

And peace profound in the deep of night,

A world of light.

A world so right.

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October 26, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Spiritual Economics

“There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with a heart”. Lao Tzu

“We are beginning to SEE (Social, Environmental, & Economic Sustainability) the world & our place on the planet differently & seeking out new ways of adapting. This is the new ‘cooperative capital’ in formation – knowledge born of an awareness derived from a mix of science & awakening spirituality that situates humankind as part of creation rather than its master.” The Resilience Imperative, Michael Lewis & Patrick Conaty

Recently, a 1st Nations lady told me that her grandmother said, “the Creator was here before the white man came to introduce him to us”.

She went on to say that the 1st Nations people saw everything as One, which is why they could not understand owning the air, water, & land.

I began to realize that when we think of the Creator, we have personalized him, & you notice I said ‘him’ not her. The 1st Nations apparently saw the Creator involved as Mother Nature. A feminine, loving, nurturing entity.

I also realized that once we personalized him, he gave us Dominion over everything & we took full advantage of that.

We created the Creator in a way that gave us the chance to treat the planet & it’s indigenous people, wherever we found them in any way we saw fit, which was to eradicate them where possible .

What a great way to build a foundation for our children & grandchildren. Might we want to rethink our approach?

As to Economics, it appears it isn’t working well either. The system is built on the idea that what is in the best interest of the individual will be best for all.

In the Book of Wisdom, I read that one cannot serve both the Creator & Mammon. We have built a system on Mammon & it’s pursuit. Mammon for the sake of mammon not to serve our fellow human beings.

Through Spirit we are all connected. We all tap into the same intuition pool. We all tap into the same universal mind or wisdom. We can’t do it alone, it takes all of us.

Often, we just think we are completely independent. But really we are a part of the human family.

How do we get a spiritual theme back into our economic system?

When do we wake up?

David

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October 21, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

An overdue update from on board the Africa Mercy

An overdue update from on board the Africa Mercy

As the end of my time here draws closer, time in many respects seems to speed up!

Christina, Holali and Christina’s Dad, Dan, left last Monday for Sierra Leone to continue the work of Christina’s sterile processing NGO. Emails from Christina’s Mom indicate that they have had transportation and accommodation difficulties… but I am sure that despite it all, the good work is continuing.

The Friday before Christina left, Volunteer Mercy Ship Surgeons, OR Nurses, Anesthetists and Sterilizers applied elbow grease to the Sterilizing department at Ignes Deen Hospital here in Conakry. Layers of dust and dirt covered counters and window sills.  Rodent excrement, live geckos and clogged drains awaited our attention.  Used needles, razor blades and bloody laundry abounded.
I had the job of cleaning out the toilet which was standing without walls inside the entrance to the department.  It was used to dispose of body fluids and was a mess.  In the bottom of the toilet drain was a tea bag…string attached. Tea time, anyone?
At the end of two hours and with the help of 20 pairs of willing hands, we left a department that was sparkling by comparison.

Sterilizing Room Cleanup

Christina’s discovery that the sterilizing rooms in Guinea are a disaster has been a rude awakening for the OR staff here on board.  They have several initiatives training Surgeons in modern techniques, but to what benefit if nothing is sterile?  What good is accomplished if the infection rate is 90%?  After experiencing the filth first hand, the Mercy Ships OR Staff are committed to Christina’s project.  Christina wants to return to Guinea in March and begin a training course for sterilizers in the city.  Long term, she hopes to partner with a Biomed Tech who wants to teach Biomeds in developing countries.  It would be a project made in heaven to have these two groups of professionals being taught at the same time.  There is one functioning sterilizer in the entire city, but that one is working below temperature.  Hospital sterilizing rooms are filled with broken down equipment, that no one either knows how to repair, or for which there are no parts available.  Brand new sterilizers have been dropped off in local departments by well intending NGOs, without installation or operating manuals. Change is needed.

Unfortunately, we have our own equipment woes on board. For the past almost two years, we have struggled with equipment repair issues in the Sterilizing room, and this time the situation has affected the OR as well. We are down to one working Anesthetic machine, which means that all General surgeries are being done by spinal anesthetic, and Orthopedic and Max Fax surgeries have to share the one working machine. This will result in a 20 hour work day in the Sterilizing room starting tomorrow…with Ortho surgeries in the day time, and Max Fax beginning in the evening. Although the surgeries hope to be completed by 11:00 pm – the work is far from over in terms of the sterilizing room. Now no one person will be working 20 hours per day…but it will most certainly involve a heavier work load for all…and some weird working hours for others. Despite advertizing for a paid Biomed Tech, there have been no nibbles at the offer to assist the one Volunteer BioMed we have-who has been ill and off  work.  A Biomed is scheduled for a short visit to do some urgent repairs, but that individual will not be arriving until November 6th (due to Visas, flights and scheduling).
Note:  A pleasant result has come out of this situation…spinal anesthetics are very well tolerated by the Guineans for General surgery, and are less expensive as well. It will most likely be our anesthetic of choice in these circumstances…a choice that otherwise, would have not been discovered!)

We added to the list of malfunctioning equipment on Thursday when a small lake suddenly appeared on the floor of the Sterilizing room at 7:00 am.  It is just as well a video camera was not running, as I scrambled to get a mop (no mop head was on the pole) and resorted to mountain of small OR towels to sop up the mess.  It was a panic situation, as I was unsure of just how much water would result. If it spilled out from the Sterilizing room into the ORs…all would be shut down until the rooms could be terminally cleaned. The good news is that all ended well! A cracked pipe in the Sterilizer was the culprit.

We almost had a crisis which shut us all down on Wednesday morning, when I opened the department to discover that our ipod was not working. You might think that I am exaggerating, but believe me I am not! Frantic efforts ensued trying to determine if it was the speaker or the ipod itself (it was the ipod). I immediately felt as if I was on life-support, and that the O2 had just been turned down. The panic that crept up inside of me was palpable. I had no idea how dependent I had become on working-to-music in the Sterilizing room!
We started by trying to re-sync the ipod, but no sync option was available to choose. Juan assisted by looking up the FAQs on line for ipod repairs. We attempted to download the most recent itunes software on a system that takes simply forever. (South Penderites: remember the dial-up internet days?…that is high speed compared to our system in Africa!) After on and off attempts for almost 6 hours (we did need to get the work done as well) we were no farther ahead. When the rest of our team arrived at 1:30 pm, I could no longer stand the mournful look in their eyes -and grabbing the ipod, headed on up to our IS (Information Services) Department in total desperation. Grabbing the first IS Tech available, I drew close to his face, and gazed deeply into his eyes, saying…”You know where I work…you know the conditions down there (hot, noisy, cramped)…we have to get this thing repaired..if we don’t, we simply can’t work”.

You never saw 5 Techies debate faster, or more furiously as they tried to fix our dilemma. 2 minutes later, they handed the ipod back and told me to wait 30 minutes and re-start it. The result?… it worked!!! I rushed to the snack bar to buy the IS team a large bar of chocolate. A small reward considering the near disaster they had adverted.

You discover while living on the ship, that things can go along quite smoothly… until one seemingly small thing can tip you right over the edge!

Hope all of your ‘small things’ are sitting solidly, on the correct side of the scale.

Jane

 

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