Immaculee Ilibagiza. What an amazing person.

I heard Immaculee’s story recently at a conference called Acton University, led by the Acton Institute: Center for the study of religion and freedom. I have never heard of Immaculee before this day, and now I will never forget her name or her story.

Immaculee spoke to us about her experience as a Rwanda native, as a Catholic, and as a woman who lived through the genocide of Hutus and Tutsis in 1994. As a Tutsi, the child of teachers in the poorest village in Rwanda, when the genocide began following the plane crash containing the Presidents of Burundi and Rwanda, Immaculee was being hunted. Hunted by Hutus who wanted to exterminate all Tutsis; the government was Hutu and was using the military soldiers to perpetrate this whole scale violence towards Tutsis, and anyone sympathetic to Tutsis. In the past, the tribal tensions would overflow and violence would be directed towards men and women of child bearing age, but in this case, the Hutus announced via the radio to kill all Tutsis, calling them snakes, and saying “the child of a snake is a snake”, so kill them all.

Immaculee was sent by her father to stay with a man who was a Hutu, the very people who wanted to kill her. But her father insisted he was a good man, before he was a Hutu, and every person should be judged on their own merit. So she listened to her father and went to stay in a neighboring village, in a small bathroom…for 91 days!

A bathroom that measured 3 feet by 4 feet (or 1 meter by 1.5 meters), she would share this space with five other women, then two more, so eight in all. The fear, anger, rage! She must have felt, sitting silently in a bathroom with seven other women for 91 days while her country side and her tribe were being ravaged on the other side of that wall…and the knowledge that the violence could cross over into that very bathroom, and she would be killed.

As a catholic, Immaculee has always believed in God and prayed the rosary, but this experience led her to question God, and develop a much deeper relationship with her Creator…and display an outpouring of love and forgiveness that I can not fathom, but it gives me goose bumps to think about…I am still digesting and processing this amazing experience, to meet someone who should inspire us all to be kinder and more caring…I will finish this story in the next post.


Entrepreneurship is a common buzz word these days, but the developing world and entrepreneurship? Not yet. But why not? The great country of the United States was founded on a rock bed of entrepreneurs who were living in poverty and unsafe work conditions, who wanted something better, and were willing to work and fight to get it.

I met a Swiss man named Widmer who is working towards helping entrepreneurs in the developing world to get access to the things they need (like collateral to apply for credit) to successfully launch a business that creates jobs in their community, and creates wealth.

We talked about charity for the developing world, staggering statistics like 12% of the world’s population lives in Africa; the continent receives 29% of the world’s aid, and only gets 12.5% of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) dollars. Meaning that we are will to throw money at Africa, but not actually invest. And what good is throwing money at a problem? This goes back to giving a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for his life. There is a certain moral hazard that comes with giving money to people without requiring something in return, and creating a culture of dependency, and apathy. I would likely not look for an entry level job if my parents paid all of my bills, but how does that really help me? Am I developing my own human capital? Skills? Desire for something better? No, I dare say that would not be a favor to me, to provide my living.

I can hear the protests now; “but they’re starving!” “What about natural disasters?” and more (feel free to post in the comments and I will defend or explain any position written here). We discussed in pastoral counseling, there are two types of counseling: crisis counseling and long-term counseling. Crisis counseling addresses the immediate needs and the crisis for the person, and is short term. When the initial crisis has passed, the person would either have their needs met and end counseling completely, or switch to long-term care with a different counselor (the switch to a different counselor is key to avoiding a “redeemer” complex on the part of the counselor). In crisis counseling, the counselor takes over and addresses the immediate needs; in the case of Haiti, the US took over the airport and starts directing aid organizations to where they need to go to effectively feed the people. In long term counseling, the counselor never tells the patient what to do, but simply listens and tries to empower them to make good decisions for themselves.

When talking about giving aid to the developing world, sending a bunch of westerners to the countries to direct and decide how and what to do with the aid, you have the case of counseling that is not be used correctly, and so is not effective. Obviously, if Africa has received the average of $5000 per every person on the African continent since 1949 and is still in severe poverty, then the approachesEconomics of the last 50 years are seriously flawed.

We must change our strategy of “helping” from this short term, crisis, sympathetic attitude towards the developing world, and start focusing on long-term, empathetic empowerment strategies that result in economic development and the creation of more real wealth. That is the platform that I will be using to begin to explore how this can take place and how people who are truly suffering can begin to help to end their own suffering. Stay tuned.

There are so many sayings and famous quotes out there that address struggle. The Bible says that God will never throw any problems at you that you aren’t strong enough to handle. You will only get as much as you can take. Struggle is simply a part of life.

I have often wondered, do the people regurgitating these ideas have to struggle often? Are they constantly faced with a down side? Have they ever been pushed slowly downhill, and cannot claw their way back up? I somehow doubt it. It sounds like the musings of someone who has had a few down times, but never truly suffered.

People who have really suffered won’t be caught saying these faux optimisms, they know better! They have seen people who have everything thrown at them, and they fail. They don’t rebound, they can’t handle everything that is thrown at them. How do you think people end up in halfway houses, in mental wards, or a suicidal frame of mind?

These are the questions I have wanted to ask people lately when they have tried to trivialize my own personal struggle, rather than simply acknowledge it as a rough time that will likely not last forever (or at least not too long). I actually feel blessed to be dealing with some of my recent struggles.

I complained that I had no job, ’til I met a man who had no skills.

I have family, friends, and a great community around me, all of whom are willing to step up and help when they can, or at least offer some support. Yet I keep meeting people who try to minimize the plight of the unemployed, not just for me, but for others whom I see struggling with the same issues.

The threat of eviction, defaulting on loans, having to beg for help, loss of dignity, the loss of the ability to care for one’s self….these are all issues that people facing unemployment have to deal with. All I ask for them, and me, is simply compassion and an empathic ear.  Just listen, maybe offer a hug, and if you have job leads to offer, don’t mention it unless you plan on actually following through and sending them your down and out friend’s way…

If you have a steady job, count yourself lucky, but don’t expect that it might never happen to you. Prepare yourself as best you can, treat your unemployed peeps with compassion, and pray that everything will turn out just fine…

If the government keeps granting those extensions 😉

Does time fly? I have always heard that expression, but it doesn’t ring true to me. Time seems to sneak away into the night, never to be heard from again. People try to “save” time, which is like “saving” water in a leaky canteen, or “make” time, which I am fairly certain bends the laws of physics. So if time can’t fly, and we can’t make it or save it, what to do when time goes sneaking out the back door?

Use time wisely. time can definitely be used, wasted, spent. Time almost seems like a currency, and really, it is. Time is the currency of you, your value, to yourself and the world. People trade you currency at your job for your personal currency, which is your time. Is it becoming clearer now? Time in your life is limited, finite, and the most important thing you own.

So own your time! Don’t let the time robbers or your job waste your life away. Respect you inner self, use some of your time, your currency, for yourself, instead of trading it for a dollar.

Lately, I have felt like I am over committed and under fed spiritually. And then I realized, all i need to do to change my situation is adjust where I am spending my time! Seems simple enough, but it can be hard to say “No”.  “No, I can’t help you with this project, I am going to yoga.” (or bed, dinner, or any other activity that you need to nourish your body and mind.)

So I am prioritizing, on paper, where exactly I need to spend my time, want to spend my time, and the time that is left over has been pledged for relaxing, rather than pursuing yet another lofty goal (when I haven’t yet finished my last lofty goal).

So I ask you, dear reader, how do you spend your time? Do you have enough? Can you spend your time budget differently? Or is your life balanced? We like to hear success stories too 🙂

I am going to start compiling some of the great quotes that I run across in my everyday life, because my electronic signature is getting a bit long to house them all!
Check back for updates to this blog post, and feel free to add your own awesomely wise quotes in the comments section.

“A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”- Lao-tzu from the Tao Te Ching (means the book of the way/path)

“It is useless to ask the Pope questions about the Bhagavad Gita,
or the Dalai Lama questions about the Book of Mormon.
No one person can know everything,
and wisdom cannot be measured by a test.” – Lori Barfield

“Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” -Michael Pollan from In Defense of Food: an Eater’s Manifesto

“Only the educated are free.” -Epictitus

“Wise Men don’t need to prove their point…
Men who need to prove their point aren’t wise.”
-Lao-tzu from the Tao Te Ching

“We can complain because roses have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses”
-Zig Ziglar

Carols sung sweetly
Angels voices descended
From high up above

Brightly lit houses
Candles twinkling merrily
Inviting you in

Friends and Family
Gather together with joy
Gratitude glowing

Aah, Thanksgiving. Here are a few words that come to mind when I hear “Thanksgiving”…
Turkey (of course)
Feast of Foods
Wine and Cheese
pecan pie
pumpkin pie
Nap time
hungover (for some)
Native Americans who made it all happen
a month til Christmas!!!!

Does anyone have anything to add? I am sure there is oh so much more…

As a writer, it amazes me that I have never tried writing (or really knew what is) a haiku.  I have learned this age old practice and enjoy writing the short Japanese poems.  For those not familiar, they are poems  are written in three phrases per section, with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. EX:

Green, my fave color

For sure, the new ad tag line

Just a state of mind?

This isn’t my most inspired, but if you would like to view my haikus as well as my coworkers, go to:

I am hakiu’s new biggest fan because when I have writer’s block, glazed eyes, or just need a giggle or to let out my creative side, this is a quick simple way to revive the mind and spirit.

“Dream as if you will live forever.  Live as if you will die tomorrow.”

If that were the case, i would be skydiving right now! (you don’t need blue skies if you aren’t avoiding death)


This is why Dove Chocolates are not known for their serious philosophical contributions.

Well, I will have to create a schedule or goal to keep this blog current,

I am thinking one a week.

My big news: I am starting my Master’s in Business Administration sooner than I thought.  I start November 09, 2009, so that is about two weeks away.  It is a little daunting, but I am sure once I start the program, I will really enjoy it.  Being in school helps me to keep a strong sense of direction.

It is also pushing me to step up my job search to find a position in the right company, in the right field!  I know where I want to be, I just need to figure out how to get there.  I have been trying to utilize Michigan Works, as their mission statement is to get people employed, but dealing with bureaucracies tends to involve a lot of red tape, move snail slow and get a different answer from every person you ask.  I will keep trying, as my taxes do fund the program, I would like to take some benefit from it as well.

On the travel front, I am taking a trip to Philadelphia, the first capital of the United States and site of the Liberty Bell, which I will most surely visit.  I have a few other travel plans for the area over the weekend, and then it is back to cloudy West Michigan.  this will likely be the last trip I take for a while, excepting ski trips a few hours north of my home.

On the health front, I chose not to take either flu vaccine after doing extensive research into their ingredients and deeming their toxicity outweighed any benefits: I still remain flu free.  Despite having been around contagious people last week.  Either the flu isn’t as aggressive as THEY claimed, or I have immunity built up, plus a healthy immune system.  I am taking extra immune boosting vitamins to prepare for my plane ride Thursday…If I do get sick, hopefully I won’t die, or suffer severe paralyzation.  On the same note, if I worried that much about everything, I would never drive my car again for fear of paralyzation and death.  🙂

Not wanting to get morbid, so moving on to healthy foods.  I am trying to organize a healthy foods lunch at my work (the health company) and I coming against strong opposition for people who apparently want to poison themselves with processed chemicals.  I am not sure why you would want to work for a health company and not actually pursue good health.  Crazy.  So far we have four people on board, including me.  It will be an “intimate lunch” lol.

Every Monday morning, first thing, I spend an hour looking up interesting health related articles, for ideas on hot topics.  It is often surprising what I find, both on natural news sites, and in the main stream media.  I recommend everyone try it and it will soon enough begin to open your eyes to many things, good and disappointing.

I am going to be trying out some new dishes for the healthy foods lunch, so if they turn out tasting spectacular, I will share the recipes here.

Signing off!