Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back At My Desk

So I am back at my desk, hard to believe that just a few days ago I was on Safari in Kruger National Park and just a few days prior to that I was side by side with my Hospice Brothers and Sisters in Soweto and Johannesburg. I am sorting through emails, catching up on what I missed while I was gone etc, but all the while my mind wanders to my new friends half way across the world and I wonder what they are up to...
People stop me in the hall and ask how was the trip. I answer fabulous, great, exciting, meaningful. All words that really seem inadequate to describe the feelings and growth I experienced as part of this great adventure.

I was really impacted on so many levels it will take time to integrate it all. On a personal level, I am still discovering ways I have grown in my understanding and experience of the human condition. Every time I tell a story I reconfirm for myself just how similar we all really are. No matter where you call home, we all feel joy, fear, pain. It doesn't matter what our challenges, we all find a way to face them, and all have the power to bring our own attitudes to bear on the experience. The most inspirational stories for me were those where a person's choice of attitude conquered seemingly insurmountable circumstances.

On a team level I was able to get to know 6 phenomenal people and began some wonderful new friendships. We laughed and sighed together. We got to know each other really, really well. 24/7 for 2 weeks....Same house, same bus, same outings, and same bathroom. We all got to see beyond the everyday exterior. Blending 7 strong personalities was not always easy but definitely left me respecting the unique strengths and vulnerabilities we each brought to the group. I learned some things about myself and celebrate the gifts I discovered in my peers.

On a Hospice Level, I was honored to be welcomed by such a wonderful team and organization that is our Sister Hospice. The powerful stories and courageous work we witnessed humbled me.

I have so many patient stories and experiences tucked away. I only hope I will do their stories justice as I continue to advocate in their behalf. Of all the patients we visited, I was most impacted by the pediatric unit. I think it was such an impressive unit. But at the end of the day, seeing children ill always cuts to the core. At the daycare, seeing beautiful bright eyed children impacted by the illness or loss of parents made my heart swell with gratitude that they were, for at least part of the day, in such a loving environment.

As for the staff... We were made to feel we were special guests and treated so well. The generosity and care that was bestowed upon us was overwhelming. Staff gave of their time, energy, and resources to make our experience very special. They endured our unending questions and always, always, responded with a smile and genuine joyful spirit. It is a beautiful thing to connect instantly with another... from such a different background.

On a global level, the need is clear. Food, Health care, Employment and Basic Human Rights and Freedoms. This is basic to what every living person needs. In South Africa there have been strides on may fronts but there is still far to go. And as I think of how to help South Africa, I can't help but think how I can do a better job here in my own country. The lessons I learned from South Africa are still applicable right here at home. We really are all walking on the same planet.

Then, I watched the sun rise over the African wilderness, saw a baby Elephant in the shadow of her protective mother, watched Impala with innocent faces graze in harmony, heard the beautiful songs of many colorful birds and remembered that there is a God, a great power of good that we can harness, and there is Hope.

In great appreciation,

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