A Birthday, a Wedding & a Burial

This weekend life & death were swirling around.

We went to Victoria to celebrate Ina’s birthday & my nephew, Mike’s wedding.

Whitney Houston’s funeral was On all the television stations.

There were 195 people at the wedding with numerous new born babies in attendance. It’s amazing how expressive those little ones can be.

The energy generated in that crowd heated up the cold hall. I thought about all the energy that becomes the creative nature of those little ones, as time moves on. I was thinking about the energy that is expended before wisdom is acquired. Why can’t we short circuit that system?

Listening to the Whitney eulogies, I heard that she was one of the most amazing individuals that this planet has spawned. Hopefully, those were the same things everyone said to her while she was alive. I didn’t hear a negative word.

Could we possibly ‘see’ that positive side of our fellow human beings while here on earth? Whitney’s creativity was something she was able to express in song, why did drugs take her at such a young age?

I thought, is there a spiritual thread that runs through the ups & downs of our physical world?

If so, what if we connected with that thread, could life on this planet be smoother, friendlier, more peaceful?

If so, might we take a more compassionate approach to our environment & the children of all species?

Oh, if we had it to do over again, what might I do differently? Well each year we have a new birthday & the opportunity to start anew.

There is always time.


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February 26, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Skittles Save the Day!

Skittles Save the Day!

Time is flying by, and we will begin our second week of surgery on Monday. The screening day was successful, and thankfully was completed without incident. 3,500 people queued up with anticipation of receiving their appointment cards. Our 17 week surgery schedule was filled, although many had to be turned away. Little Kodjo, seen here with new roommate Ann from the US, was one of our first patients who received a cleft lip repair.

George and Frank returned from their DDTS training in Ghana. Their experience far exceeded their hopes, and I believe it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them. They look great and are happy to be back on the ship. They have had a very heavy week, and worked the evening closing shift for five days.

They were thrilled with their new lap tops and have been busy downloading programs and setting them up. Their picture on my last posting tells the story! Many thanks for all of your support for George and Frank.

The three of us went to church last Sunday. There we had 3 languages on the go…Ewe…French and English (provided by our in-pew translators). Tylenol anyone? The church choir made the trip well worthwhile. They were simply amazing, singing most songs in 3 part harmony accompanied by African rhythms. If a CD had been cut that very day…I guarantee it would have been a best seller.

Our Day Workers began this week. Holaly from Togo, and Mark from Liberia. Holaly was an OR Sterilizer when the African Mercy was in Togo in 2010, and Mark was a Day Worker last year in Sierra Leone. Both will be joining George and Frank in the sterilization classes I will be teaching. George and Frank plan to take the certification exam before we leave Lome.

With Holaly, Mark, George, Frank and Juan…I am the token white female in the sterilizing room. So far the testosterone levels have been manageable ?

I almost made my first horrible mistake in the sterilizing room, when I got a cleaning brush jammed in a band new $20,000.00 endoscope. Unbeknown to me, I was using the wrong brush. It fit down the channel the first two times…but on number three??? I ran to the anesthetic Nurse Ali, who visibly paled on the spot. We had just received the scope a few days earlier. She tried a number of solutions, without success. Suddenly, I remembered that when we get the cleaning brushes stuck in the lumens (open tubes such as in a suction device) we turn the brushes in the opposite direction to release them. Ali turned and turned the long brush handle and …POP…it came free. Phew!

Went with bunkmate Polly and another friend Joanne to the Seaman’s centre. Polly was on call, so we could not venture far away. There we met a sailor from Georgia (by the Black Sea..not the one in the USA). He told us he was missing his wife, and then began to recite love poems to us in his language. Something about moonlit nights and love songs. Wow!

Friday was Frank’s 26th birthday. I planned a small party in the OR office at noon, and baked a cake on Thursday evening. This involved cooking in the dreaded Crew Galley. Although it is great to have the facilities to cook when you wish to….it is always a challenge. First of all the room has a very high ceiling, and is filled with stainless steel countertops, fridges etc. This creates a very loud echo, and an extremely high noise level…laughing, yelling crew members…banging pots and pans. Add 8-10 people at once and the ‘fun’ begins.

It seems that everyone needs to know what you are baking….and looks at and comments on the results. Most often this would not cause embarrassment…except when (as on Thursday evening) I could not find two cake pans that would match. At this point it would have been wiser to opt for making cupcakes….but as I had the image of a cake planted firmly in my brain, I simply refused to give it up. The anti was upped by the fact that I had baked a beautiful cake for Johanna’s birthday in November (if I do say so myself). I wanted to make one for Frank that was equally impressive.

I ended up with one round pan and one square one. I thought it would be simple enough to just put the round on top of the square. I did not heed the fact that the square was a little too big, and also had this awkward ridge in the bottom of it. I paid little attention to the fact that the bottom layer took too much batter, leaving a small amount for the top.

To make a long story short, the cake looked like a chocolate-iced deflated flying saucer. Female crew members commented on the fact that it was “not THAT bad”…and “after all…we ARE in Africa”… “it’s the THOUGHT that counts”. I tried to cover my mistakes with small colored cake decorating balls…some improvement, but simply not acceptable. It was in this moment of despair that I remembered that the ship shop sold those candy coated colored rounds called, Skittles. Two bags later, a rather funky polka dot cake emerged. Frank’s present was a folded Canadian flag sealed into an expired sterilizing pouch. He was thrilled.

I came to realize a new truth in life… if Skittles are available…life will always be good!

May your Skittles always arrive exactly when you need them.

Missing you,

P.S. I previously neglected to report that yes, indeed I did get the lower bunk! Thanks Polly!


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January 15, 2012 – Back in the Saddle Again!

January 15, 2012 – Back in the Saddle Again!

Greetings from Lome Togo!

I arrived back to the ship safely, after what was a wonderful holiday. The time in England was sad, but good. I was so glad that I visited John’s sister and brother-in-law and their children in England, and was able to lend a hand where I could. It was difficult to leave Ann, as she certainly could use the companionship and assistance at this point.

Florida was an amazing break. First my sister Judy arrived for a week, then I spent time with my Dad and Step Mom …then my three children and one son-law arrived for Christmas. After Christmas, I spent my last week with a wonderful friend from Ontario. By the time it was all over, I felt rested, and ready to return to the ship.

Ready that was, until I discovered that Anna’s lower bunk that was supposed to be mine this year…was being slept in by someone else! At 11:30 pm, I ended up moving all of my things out of my berth, and into the one next to it. By the time I put all of that away, and all the contents of my suitcases, I fell into bed at 3:00 am! I am still in the same cabin- just in a different berth. Currently I am in the lower bunk. Francis has moved out to a three berth, so it will be Polly from USA/Brazil and Annika from Germany and myself at this point. Polly and I will share a berth. She returns tomorrow, and that’s when the negotiation starts for the lower bunk! I have included a photo of the view from our cabin porthole…not much, as you can see!

From the minute we landed in Togo, I knew that this country was very different from that of Sierra Leone. Cleaner, wider streets, not a ton of people out and about…more numerous types of trees and generally less chaos and mayhem. There were even lit Christmas lights on the way from the airport! I am very glad that if funds were going to be raised for Day Workers to come on board, we did it for George and Frank from Sierra Leone. Although it is hard to accurately judge the circumstances here after just a few days, there feels like there is an atmosphere of hope and opportunity in Togo.

I purchased two laptops while I was in Florida, which were shipped to Texas and will be packed in the next available container being sent to Togo. George and Frank’s insurance and DTS training fees have all been paid, and there is funding for a year’s worth of crew fees, along with a small growing account for their on-line studies. Many thanks to each of you who have generously sent in donations to support George and Frank.

I was delighted to realize that I did not have to start back at square one, regarding getting used to the ship and those awful claustrophobic feelings I experienced last year. I did not suffer much at all from jet lag…and started work the next morning, unpacking the sterilizing rooms (which in my absence had all been packed up for the sail).The week was filled with cleaning, sorting and organizing. It was amazing how dirty everything had become during the sail. Everything has to be re-sterilized in time for the start of surgery the first week of February. I am trying to ‘borrow’ someone to help me, as George and Frank are in Ghana for training, and Juan is not returning from holidays until surgery begins.

I went out with a few fellow Gateway members on Thursday night after the Community meeting. We went to the near-by Seamen’s Centre. It is run by a Christian mission, and was created to provide sailors with an option from that of seedy bars and prostitutes. It is a nice place, with a swimming pool, food, drinks, internet access and open and covered places to sit and talk. They charge a nominal fee for each of the services. They run a shuttle bus which picks up folks from the ships (including ours) at 6:00 and 6:30 pm, and there is also a return shuttle.

Saturday, was Dan’s birthday (from Gateway). Many of us gathered at a near-by German Restaurant for dinner. It was an amazingly beautiful place…I found it hard to believe I was in Togo!

Currently the dust storms from the Sahara are hitting Togo -called the Harmattan sand storms. It is a slightly spooky feeling as the sun is out, but is seen only through the clouds of dust and sand. The quality of light is also affected. Although the air is filled with this debris, it does not seem to lie on everything…although certainly you can see it covering the plants and trees nearby. I believe these storms can come and go for the next several months. If I had realized these storms were arriving, I would have taken some pictures on my first few days here- when the sun was out, showing the landscape in all of its beauty.

So far there are about 150 people on board out of the expected 450. A large number are due back the next two weeks…that’s when I will start hiding out in my cabin.

I received an invitation to re-join the Women’s Prison Outreach in Togo this year. I decided to decline, as I would like to get involved in something different this time around. I shall see what the options are, and how they fit in with my work schedule.
I have emailed and spoken to Anna, my former bunk mate. She is staying at her Dad’s in the U.K. and is grappling with living back in the Western world. She will do a short stint back in Oxford as a Physio, and then plans to travel in Africa …with a stop arranged at the ship in Togo. She feels lonely, so it was great to be able to speak with her. I do miss her!

Well, I guess that is all for now. I will brush up on the history and culture of Togo, and include it in my next posting.

Hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas season, and that the New Year will bring health and happiness to each of you.

Many thanks for your wonderful support and encouragement. I couldn’t be here, if I didn’t have you!

Much love, Jane

PS The love boat has struck again… Reika (from Gateway) is now engaged to Darryl from the UK!

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December and January Letters

December 10/11 – Hi Jane,

We finally left Freetown today. My mother travel backed back to the village about a week ago and Daniel also travel to Bo yesterday . So there was nobody to bid me fare well. As we were about to move several questions came to mind.

1. Are we going to come one day and meet with all the family members alive?
2. Is the 2012 National Election going to be peaceful?
3. Will God provide us a good leader in the 2012 election that will help to minimize the suffering of our people?
4.I also thought of those that are still sick and did not get this wonderful opportunity . I then asked myself a question, when will they get hope and healing?,br> 5. I also thought of my other friends who were also Day workers like me on the ship for the 9 month of the outreach in Freetown, then I finally asked my self a question. How soon are they going to secure another job? Etc,etc

It is my hope that God will answer all these challenging questions for my People. I almost cried when I saw George,s father biding him fare well on dock.

Regards, Frank


From: George Brima Jah
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 14:10:06 +0000 (GMT)
ReplyTo: George Brima Jah gbrimajah@yahoo.com

Dear David,

Sorry for the long silence in communication due to lack of internet facilities. I am happy to tell you that we are now on board the Africa Mercy as crews and its’ all because of you and all the others who generously have contributed time,effort,and money to help us. We really appreciate every thing you have done to help us achieve our dreams of becoming successful people. We thank GOD for this one big step to our goal.



Subject: Thank you note
Date: 2011-12-06 14:02
From: frank seibure frankseibure@yahoo.co.uk
To: David Howe

Dear David,

I don’t think we would have ever thought of become a crew member for Mercy ships without your candid support and other financials. We are really grateful to all those who have contributed and to also those who are still donating to this course.
We highly appreciate the effort you are marking to help us realize our dreams of becoming useful people in society. God will surely continue to elevate you and all those who have meaningfully contributed to this noble venture.




Annual Fees to support George and Frank as Crew Members on the African Mercy:
African crew member fees:$167.50 US per month x 2 x 12 = $4.020.00
Insurance approx: $50.00 per month x 2 x 12= $1,200.00
Personal expenses: $30.00 per month x 2 x 12= $720.00
Total for two per year is $5940.00

If you would be interested and able to support them in this desire, you may donate to Jane McIntosh’s account or you can call Mercy Ships at 1-866-900-7447 or mail a cheque to: Mercy Ships Canada Unit 5- 1318 Oak St., Victoria BC V8X 1R1. All donations are tax deductable.

Your donation, along with funds raised by the Pender Island chopping team will support George and Frank in reaching their goals. Many thanks for your heartfelt consideration.


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A Different Road

A Different Road

Let me be not judge of others,
Nor indifferent to another,
Let me see, not just with eyes,
But with heart, past each disguise.
Let me feel another’s sadness,
And rejoice with them in gladness,
Share their burden and their sorrow,
Help them reach out for tomorrow.
Let myself be humble, knowing,
That the road they now are going,
Might be mine if life unraveled,
And a different road I traveled.

If you would like to order a copy of my book of poetry,
Heartdates, Reflections on Life
use the contact form to email me
I hope the poems strike a chord in your heart.


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February 11, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

You Can Hire Someone

You can hire someone to clean your house,
Or to cook you a fancy meal,You can hire a chauffeur & limousine,
But you can’t hire someone to feel.

No you can’t hire love,
you can’t hire love It won’t get you very far,
The answer’s not found in some heaving delight,
Or a toss in the back of a car.

You can’t hire love,
no you can’t hire love,
For the moment it might feel fine,
You can lose yourself in the heat of lust,
But it’s only a matter of time.

You can hire a boat, take a fancy cruise,
Drown yourself in a bottle of gin,
You can hire someone to dry you out,
But you can’t hire someone to begin.

You can’t hire the one who brings you love,
Can’t hire an open heart,
You can’t hire feelings of happiness,
Or someone to live your part.

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February 11, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Feb 12/12 – “IS LOVE ALWAYS THE ANSWER” “Whatever their differences, both liberal capitalism and Marxist socialism committed themselves totally to this vision of industrial progress which more than any other single cause has brought about the disintegration that is taking place throughout the entire planet. By a supreme irony  Read more »

February 5, 2012Permalink Leave a comment


The word capital, unless one is thinking of a Capital City, is usually referring to economic or financial capital. Why is this?

We live in a capitalistic society with capitalism at its root.

Capitalism: There is general agreement that elements of capitalism include private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit or income. Wikipedia

When people refer to the bottom line, they are often speaking of the net profit of a financial transaction. This concept is based around financial markets, which in turn are based on self interest, first & foremost.

What the financial markets don’t take into account is the idea of social or natural capital.

Social Capital: The concept of social capital highlights the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective or economic results. Wikipedia

We live within a group of islands, the Canadian Gulf Islands, which have a considerable volunteer component, a volunteer economy, so to speak.

How does one track the economic implications of that volunteer component? Where does it show up in any GNP calculation? Where does it show up on anyone’s financial statements?

In the Gulf Islands we are surrounded by fabulous natural wonders & wildlife, Natural Capital.

Natural Capital: Natural capital is the stock of natural ecosystems that yields a flow of valuable ecosystem goods or services into the future. Wikipedia

Where do these assets show up in any financial accounting? We use up these resources but don’t reflect them as expenses anywhere. We don’t consider that if we deplete these resources that future generations may be the poorer for it. What is wrong with that picture?

Who decided that is the way things ought to be?

Now that the global economic picture is maxing out, might it be time to take a new look at old systems?

Should we formulate ways to consider social & natural capital?

If not us, then who?


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February 5, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Life’s Third Act

As you know, we at Greenangels are quite intrigued by the possibilities involved in the concept of our life being split into three parts, ‘30 years for learning, 30 for earning, & 30 for returning’.

Many of you will be moving up on or involved in that third 30 life category, so if you have 10 minutes, would you please stop now & listen to Jane Fonda’s thoughts on this period. She is talking to women but I think her words are worthwhile for all of us. After you hear what she has to say, I would like to make some connections to the Gandhian 3-30 approach.

Jane talks about the wisdom we inherit by the reflection on life’s experiences. The question I have is, how do we take that wisdom & make a difference in the world that we leave to our grandchildren?

Is it possible that we could actually teach our young people a different way for them to get to their third 30, rather than just maintain the status quo?

Do we need to wait until our third 30 before returning becomes an active lifestyle?

Young people start out idealistically & then we mold them through our viewpoints, as Jane says. However, we also use our educational system to teach them the structure we used to cover our earning years, those years where lack was predominate or the need for more, consumption. What we learned & have practiced we now realize is unsustainable & that we are all interconnected.

Just as Jane says we could use a staircase example rather than the bell shape to life aging, I would like to suggest that we could incorporate the three stages of life into a blended model.

What would be wrong with learning, earning, & returning, as a lifelong lifestyle?

Could that be one definition of sustainability?

Could that put spiritual growth, or wisdom in action, as a priority from day one?

Wouldn’t that give credence to the imagination of children, making us a little more careful before teaching them the ‘truth’ as we believe we understand it?

Might it lead us to give greater respect to innate knowledge, rather than waiting to our third 30 before beginning to learn how to trust our instincts?

Who or what delivers those inner voices or intuitions to us & why should we trust them?

Does it matter that we find out where they come from before we believe what we know instinctively?

Might these questions be touching on the very essence of life?

Might the answers to these questions be the real reason we are here, our purpose?


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February 5, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Much Ado About Nothing

“There Are Many Rooms in My Father’s Mansion”

What might the two quotes above, have in common?

They both come from a place about love!

The first quote came from the works of a British Poet:

“Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero. Benedick and Beatrice are engaged in a very “merry war”; they both talk a mile a minute and proclaim their scorn for love, marriage, and each other.” Wikipedia

The second quote comes from one of our world’s most popular books:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” John 14:

New International Version 1984.

Why did I put these two quotes together, besides the connection of love, & what does ‘nothing’ have to do with it?

If you are wondering about the meaning of your own life, if you are wondering what’s really important, if you are wondering how important we really are, or if the child in you still ‘wonders’ at magical sights, then take the next 6 1/2 minutes to visit ‘wonderland’!

I will finish with what I believe to be a spiritual statement uttered by one of the two fellows above:

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

Are we really all connected?


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February 5, 2012Permalink Leave a comment