22
Mar 13

It’s a MAN Thing

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Welcome back.

I’m not sure what’s going on with me today but I have this urge to talk about men stuff.  What that means exactly I don’t know, but somehow this blog will be about men stuff.

Maybe this outburst is because my “T” levels are elevated today.

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Side Note: For you ladies out there, “ T ” is man jargon for testosterone.

Well… that’s what the commercial I heard said while driving in this morning.

Women like their high tea and men need their “ T ” high.

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I’m sure that when my wife reads this blog later today she will suddenly pause, lean toward the screen, scrunch her nose and squint her eyes, and in her head (maybe out loud) she’ll scream, “what in the world is he doing?!”

My response is, “I don’t know.  It just happened.  Blame it on high “T”.  Don’t worry I won’t embarrass you.”

But who knows for sure about embarrassing her because the blog isn’t finished yet.

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There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
- Will Rogers
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Men for the most part are pretty simple.  It doesn’t mean we’re dumb, it just means that we don’t have as many moving parts.

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I don’t know about you, but I find that women can be pretty complex.  Now don’t take my word for it… just ask a women.

This is not a put down on women; it’s just recognition of how we’re made.  The simplicity of men and the complexity of women are part of the divine creation.

A couple of years ago I shared the two-minute version of this video. I ran across the expanded version of The Difference Between Men & Women.  It is both very insightful and very funny.

It is definitely worth viewing.

I was right huh?  Insightful and funny.

Yes, I really like my cozy little “nothing box”.  If you have no idea what the last sentence means you need to go back and see the video… seriously, you’ll be glad you did.

Although we men are pretty simple it doesn’t mean we’re easy to get along with.  We have our issues like women have theirs.

As all of you know, men can be a bit stubborn at times.  Not only can we be stubborn… we don’t need to stop for directions.

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Stubborn isn’t a word I would use to describe myself; pigheaded is more appropriate.

- Michael Bloomberg

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My “T” level must be waning because I have this sudden urge to stop for a cup of tea and watch Oprah.

Humm… nah… I’m going to watch the NCAA basketball tournament.

See you Monday.


18
Mar 13

Lost in Cyberspace

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Wow… I had written about two thirds of my blog and somehow I lost it… it evaporated into cyberspace.

It was weird.  You would think that I could simply retype what I had just written, but Noooooo!

I couldn’t remember a thing.  Pretty sad huh?

Just so you know, you should be aggravated too because you missed out on some amazing insights.  Your life is a little less rich because of those little computer gremlins.

So here I am writing about the perils of modern technology.  If not careful I will start sounding like an old fart that spews criticism and annoyance over any new fangled contraption.

I have some years on me but I’m not that old (if you’re a tree).

As I said, I’m not that old, but I do remember…

  • the sound of a coin going through a pay phone
  • that typing classes were noisy
  • what “cc” on an email really means
  • stores were closed on Sunday
  • you dressed up to fly on a plane
  • what 45’s are (if you know what the picture is above then you know what 45’s are)
  • paying extra for Airmail
  • party lines
  • getting up to change the channel

Yep, time flies and the world changes.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t miss 45’s or party lines.  I of course have a nostalgic soft spot for these things but I don’t pine away for days gone by.

As you know, keeping up with change is tiring.  But it’s worth it.

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were at a conference where the presenter asked that we identify our family values.  We both were able to identify them rather quickly but it was a good exercise to articulate them and capture them in black and white.

There’s something powerful in tangibly getting things out of your head and heart on to a piece of paper.  Seeing it in front of you seems to cut through the clutter.

Our values were as follows… but not in order of priority.

  • Adventure
  • Fun
  • Growth
  • Our Faith
  • Family / Relationships

It was pretty cool to quickly articulate and agree upon our values.

Since one of our values is growth it means that I can’t (must not) hang on to the things that were.  We must hold loosely to the events and things of yesterday and keep our eyes forward.

As one gets a few years under their belt it is an easy trap to begin facing backwards.  It’s logical and natural… but deadly.

What dies are our dreams and ambitions.

One might think that I am talking about someone at least sixty plus.  But I have see people in their forties become dulled by time.  They actually believe that their prime has peaked and the “what could have been” is lost.

How heartbreaking.

I am well past forty and it is an absolutely wonderful feeling to know that my best days are ahead.

How cool is that?

See you Thursday… hopefully.  I haven’t been too good at getting two entries per week written.

Ciao.


11
Mar 13

You Can Do It!

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Howdy, me again.

And yes, I have one more blog entry on the topic of creativity.

I realize that a third entry on the topic of creativity is not that creative but I’ve a couple of more thoughts to throw into the mental mix.

In the last entry I talked about the amazing freedom and joy a child experiences when they create things.  I still feel joy when I create but the innocent unbridled freedom to create has been sadly dulled.

Maybe it’s not that way for you but for me reliving my childhood experience was both refreshing…  and sobering.

I saw a video one time where an educator talked about how and why children begin to loose their creative edge and energy.

The educator is Sir Ken Robinson.  Obviously he is British and has faired pretty well in the “Sir” category.

He is remarkably insightful and amazingly entertaining for an educator and a Brit.

Take a look at the TED Talk video.

YouTube Preview Image

Pretty good, huh?

But having dulled creativity does not mean all is lost.  I do believe we can breathe life into dormant creativity.

It does not happen by accident.  We must be intentional and risk taking.

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Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.

- Dee Hock

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As we rekindle the creative fire I believe that one experiences greater intimacy with their Creator.

Why, because we bear the marks of our Creator.

Think about it.  Humans are the only animal species that can create something out of nothing.

We can imagine, design, plan and execute.

Imagination… creating something out of nothing.

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Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

- Erich Fromm

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To be perfectly honest with you, any attempt to type any more on this topic would be trying to create something out of nothing.

I could give it a go but I don’t want to waste your time or mine.

Have a good day.

Ciao.


04
Mar 13

The Joy of Dirt

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Welcome, it’s good to have you visit.

In the last blog entry I tried to tackle the topic of creativity.  I’m obviously not an expert on the topic but, as you know, that has never stopped me before from having an opinion to share.

I mentioned that the creative genius, which we all possess, is one of the divine DNA markers of our creator.  Yep, we all bare the fingerprints of the one who created us.

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Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is.

- Mason Cooley

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One of the things that stirred me about what I wrote earlier is the joy and happiness one experiences when they create something.

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Side Note: I’m not sure what it says about a person who is stirred by their own writing.

It probably says that I’m weird and I need to get some counseling.  It’s nothing a few meds can’t cure.

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But it’s true… there is amazing joy in the feeling one has after creating something or coming up with a creative solution to a problem.

I remember as a kid building a little town in the dirt for my toy cars and army men.  I would spend hours building roads, clearing a path for a river and constructing cardboard houses.

The interesting thing is that once I completed the town the playtime was relatively short.  The joy was in the creating, not the using.

I am not the only one.  I’m sure you look back on those times as a child when you experienced the joy of playing and creating… just like this person.

We had this big dirt pile in our backyard when I was a kid.  We were back there every day with our Star Wars figures. I would construct these intricate waterways with rivers, dams, and lakes… would work on it dry for hours, and then the big moment would come when I would bury the hose in the side of the pile so that the water would spurt out from the head of the river as if emanating straight from the aquifer. I was filled with satisfaction as the raging headwaters coursed down the winding path I had built.”

Do you remember the freedom you felt during those times of play and creativity?  It was the freedom to explore.

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Creativity is the greatest expression of liberty.

- Bryant H. McGill

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Growing into adulthood somehow dulls our innocent expression of creativity we experience during play.

Our creative juices tend to shift from the innocence of play to the reality of work and life.  Life stuff has a way of robbing the innocence of creativity.

It is this type of freedom we yearn for as adults.

We are made to create… to be creative.

Since I have tapped into the topic of creativity I have at least one more blog on the topic.

See you next time.


25
Feb 13

Simply Divine

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Hi there, welcome back.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I am a sucker for anything creative.

I love it when I am stopped in my tracks by something completely unexpected because someone had a stroke of creative genius.

As you will see I have sprinkled a few pictures that I think are wonderfully creative and a few quotes thrown in for good measure.

How good is that?  Good pictures and a few good quotes.

Yes, I agree, this is a strange picture but I would have never thought of it.

The amazing miracle of creativity is that stirs that invisible something deep within.

I personally believe that we are moved by the creative because it reflects our Creator.  Don’t worry I’m not going to get all religious on you.  But there is something to be said about the Divine DNA we all possess.

Yep… whether you believe it or not, we all carry the marks of our Creator.

Don’t get all weirded out because you’re concerned I’m going to get preachy or syrupy religious.  I never have and I never will.  It’s not my place to get you to believe in a loving God.  I couldn’t if I wanted to.

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I think creativity is spiritual. I absolutely believe that.

F. Murray Abraham

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I just share interesting truths that make us think, cause us to ask questions, and just open our minds to consider new notions about life.

Creativity – what an amazing gift!

This gift allows us to step beyond the confines of the existing to the freedom of what’s never been.

Pretty cool sculpture huh?

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Creativity has more to do with the elimination of the inessential than with inventing something new.

-Helmut Jahn

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Creativity has as much with what you remove as what you add.  It causes us to see beyond where we are or what is known.

When we step beyond the confines of our current thinking there comes an irrepressible freedom.  It is a feeling of freedom because we dared to believe or explore the possibilities beyond the known.

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Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

- Erich Fromm

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Think about how good you feel when you come up with a creative solution to a dogging problem or create something out of your imagination.

Yes… creativity is divine… beautifully divine.

See you Thursday.


19
Feb 13

A quiet life that lives loud

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Howdy.  Good to see you again.

I am pleased to announce that my fascination with South Africa and its societal and cultural challenges have waned.  So there will be no more blog entries about my recent trip below the equator.

You will be happy to know that I am back to my normal self (whatever that is).  Well, maybe I took a leap in logic to assume you will be happy to have me back to normal.

In reality my normalcy could be troubling to you.  Just so you know, people whispering and giggling under their breath has never deterred me in the past.

I will keep on pecking away at my blog in hopes that I will somehow and someway say something meaningful, funny, thought provoking or challenging to those of you who choose to hang out with me periodically.

Frankly, I am not sure which is more intriguing or troubling – myself (Jerry Rushing) actually writing a blog or that you (whomever you are) are actually reading it.

But enough of my ramblings about my quirky sense of normalcy… let’s talk about real people.

Those of you who are regular readers know that people fascinate me.  I absolutely love the variety of people in the world.

Although I think I am a pretty nice person and remarkably handsome and cool, I would hate for the world to be full of people like me.  And yes, you are correct in assuming that a bunch of Jerry Rushings running around would make the world a much better and pleasant place to be… but not nearly as interesting.

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Side Note: Yes, just in case some of you were wondering, the last couple of sentences are totally tongue in cheek.  Those of you who are regulars know that I never take myself that seriously.

My weirdness must be the withdrawal effects of South African water.

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For whatever reason I am really drawn to salt-of-the-earth type people.  These are people who are comfortable with who they are and have no pretense of trying to impress others.  They just  simply live their lives… simply.

I ran across a video of a fellow who simply loves his family and country and quietly lives a life that impacts others without any intention of doing so.

YouTube Preview Image

Humm… in a world celebrates image and are enamored by flowery words, it’s refreshing to see the power of a simple life well lived.

I am not discounting the importance of more visible talents, not at all.  It’s just that I want to celebrate the quieter invisible qualities that make life so rich and full.

Eric would probably never win a personality contest nor would he put himself in a situation that requires an electrifying persona.

But what he lacks in words his life makes up for in action.

Eric’s life forces me to ask myself some questions and I encourage you to ask yourself.

What strikes me about Eric’s story?

Is there anything I need to learn or embrace from his quiet strength?

These are questions worth asking.  I encourage you to poke at these insights over the next couple of days.

Ciao.


11
Feb 13

Don’t Fence Me In

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Yep… me again, and yes one more entry about South Africa (SA).

But before you grimace and start moving your cursor to the exit icon, stick with me.  I think you will find the topic quite interesting.

The pictures above are examples of the typical fence you see here in the US.

For the most part fences here serve as decorative accent and provide visible separation between property lines.  They are meant to keep little kids or pets from darting out of the yard into the streets.

Usually the fences in the US aren’t designed to keep people out.  Yes, we do have security fences around some businesses such as the one below but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

In all honesty fences like this are designed to be more of a deterrent than actual security.  A person can easily cut through the chains.  And yes, there are a few affluent areas where subdivisions use security fences and gated entry.

All of this talk about fences brings me to the second thing that screamed at me while I was in SA.

There are massive, keep you out, don’t come near, make you bleed, don’t even try, you’ll be sorry fences everywhere.  I mean everywhere.

Virtually every home, business, and church were surrounded by amazing security fences.  I am not talking about fences in just the nice part of town.  Even in the poorer areas, each little home had a fence and gate of their own designed to keep people out.

Here are a few pictures to give you a sense of the typical fence.

The only place you did not see these types of fences were in the “informal settlements” where the poorest of the poor lived.

Yes, SA has had very violent times in their history.  And yes, poverty is rampant thus making theft a major problem.  I understand all of this.

Here is the point that struck me.

I know the “Why” but I don’t know the effect on the people.

I have really wondered what the psychological affect is on the people where all they know is massive security fences designed to keep one safe by keeping people out.  You live your life behind a security wall.

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Fear is the highest fence.
- Dudley Nichols

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It is obviously fear based.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not judging them.  I would probably do the same thing if I lived there.

The point I am making is that there has to be an emotional toll living in a world behind a security wall.

What does it do to a person living with the norm of walled security?  Maybe nothing.

All I know is that when I returned home to fenceless neighborhoods and openness between houses I rejoiced in the feeling of freedom not needing to live behind a barbed wire topped wall.

The contrast between the two worlds was striking.

Like most of the entries I post, I don’t have a convenient answer to all the weird life questions I surface.

Maybe you have some insights that will shed light on the psychological or social impact of a world of barbed wire walls.

Well, enough of South Africa.  See you Thursday.

Ciao.



08
Feb 13

More than a SMILE

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If you read my last blog you know that I recently visited South Africa on a church mission trip and talked about the difference between the poor in Soweto and the American poor.

I was taken back by the amazing smiles on the people in the poorest of areas.  Beautiful wide-mouthed, teeth showing smiles.

I am in no way naïve to believe they were happy with their situation.  The surroundings are deplorable.

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Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.
- Dale Carnegie
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But the smiles, not just the children, were infectious.  Their was an endearing quality about the people that made me want to engage and get involved.

The type of engagement I am talking about was not the kind of “do gooder” involvement where you try to lift someone from the depths of their plight because you feel sorry for them.  NO!

I was saddened because of their living arrangements but their countenance did not demand sympathy.  Their smiles just made the desire for engagement easy.

It was as if they were a neighbor who could use a helping hand in assistance.

It has only been eighteen years since the fall of apartheid and full democracy in place.  One would think that a couple of busloads of white people winding their way through the narrow streets would be viewed with distain or considerable resistance or suspicion.

We felt no distain and little or no resistance or suspicion.  They smiled as we passed and freely waved as we responded in kind.

Somehow the American poor seem different.

I am sorry if this sounds judgmental, I don’t mean to be, but I don’t see the smiles or welcoming wave from the inner-city poor in the United States like I did in South Africa (SA).

So here’s my puzzlement.  Why?  Why such a difference?

The SA poor live in much worse conditions, have significantly less governmental support, with fewer opportunities.  To top it off health issues like HIV are rampant.

The majority of our mission trip was to clean up and repair an elementary school in a very poor area of Soweto.  The principle said that about 40% of the children were HIV positive.

Take a look at this video I took of the kindergarteners walking to their toilet break.

school children 3

Although the school appeared pretty nice is wasn’t… especially by U.S. standards.

I think there is something to be said for uniforms and order.  The teachers maintained a fairly high level of order while still allowing kids to be kids.

Once again, don’t misinterpret what I am saying.  Just because the people smile and engage more doesn’t mean that people are satisfied with their lot in life.

Crime in SA is rampant.  People are scrambling for survival.  The poor there do not have nearly the amount of basic governmental or NGO (non-government organization) support for food and shelter that we have here.

But for some reason they seem to stand taller, look you in the eye more, smile and engage more readily.

I do believe there is a difference between being happy vs. satisfied.

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Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
- Abraham Lincoln

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I would really like to know your theory or reason for the difference between the poor in US and SA.  It was fascinating to experience.

See you Monday.

Ciao.


04
Feb 13

The BIG Surprise

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Hi there… welcome back.

If you read the last blog entry you know that I just returned from a church mission trip to South Africa.  I mentioned that there were several things that stirred me, confused me, and challenged me.

Before I go any further I have to do some damage control.

I may be a lot of things, but one thing I don’t tend to be is a critical person.  It’s pretty easy for me to find the best in people or the situation.

But what I talk about today may seem very critical; critical of a particular segment of our society.  When I tell you the group I am referring to you will most likely think that I am an insensitive arrogant pig.

Maybe… I don’t think so, but I’m open to that reality.

I don’t mean for my comments to be critical.  These are just observations that I am still trying to sort through to gain a deeper understanding or broader insight into some disconnects present in our world.

The group that came to front of my mind during my visit to South Africa and whom I am puzzled about is the American poor.

Yikes!  As soon as I identified the group I could immediately sense the polarization of readers.

Some of you immediately bristled up and began making judgments about middle-class insensitivity to the poor and the inability to breakthrough societal barriers that limit their opportunities.

Others of you spontaneously perked up and started to salivate over the possibility of someone confronting those that seem to be too lazy to do things for themselves and thrive on exploiting the entitlement system.

Both sides share a kernel of truth and both are grossly erroneous and narrow in their thinking.

When I went to South Africa I saw poor… lots of poor… really, really poor.  And I saw wealthy, very wealthy.

The poor in South Africa are much poorer than in the US.  And the proportion of the population in poverty is significantly greater than here.

There are literally millions (seriously millions) of people living in makeshift shantytowns made of discarded tin sheets, board and canvas.

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Side Note: In South Africa the shantytowns are referred to as “informal settlements”.  Some how this seems much too sterile for the reality.

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There were piles of rubbish on virtually on every corner waiting the Friday evening burning.  On Friday evening we saw scattered fires throughout the neighborhood emptying the corner for the accumulation of the coming weeks trash.

Although it was very trashy, one could quickly sense a level of order and organization to the seeming chaos.  Masses of people were moving around seemingly with some level of purpose in their movement.  Survival.

The conditions in South Africa are so massive it seems hopeless.

I can safely say that the poor there have significantly more obstacles to overcome than their American counterpart.

Please believe me when I say that I am not trying to minimize the difficulties nor the tragedy of the American poor… not at all.  The poverty we do experience here is totally unacceptable in my opinion.  But still not nearly as bad as South Africa (or any third world country for that matter).

What I am doing is laying the foundation for the real issue that prompted this blog.  And believe it or not, the disconnect for me was not the severity or extent of poverty as compared to the US.

It was the smiles on people’s faces that I saw there compared to the faces of poverty I see here.

I will share more about this on Thursday.

Ciao.


30
Jan 13

Back and better for it

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He’s back!  Yep, I’m back… jet lag and all.

Wow, was Kent Nerburn right.  In the last blog entry I quoted Kent from his book Letters to a Son.

I wasn’t planning to repeat his quote but it’s to apropos for the topic at hand not to.  So here it is again.

“That is why we need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder.

Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting.

We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.

Don’t let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take.

But if you take them, you will never regret your choice.”

I’ve had the privilege to travel a good bit.  But for the most part my travels have been what some might say are safe travels.

What I mean is, the countries I have visited have been fairly westernized with the modern niceties that suit our American tastes.

The visits to Europe have been great and I have been stretched by the differences in culture, language and politics.  All of these visits have left their mental stretch marks but nothing to the extent that I faced last week.

I mentioned that I was going to South Africa for a church mission trip.

First of all the flight to and from Johannesburg was about sixteen hours in duration.  It made the typical seven-hour flight to Europe a leisurely Sunday drive.

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Side Note: Wow, that last statement dates me.  Sunday Drive?  I can’t imagine anyone taking a Sunday drive anymore.

Yes, to all of you too young to remember, people would actually just get in the car and drive in the country as a leisurely family activity.

And by the way, I am not nearly as old as the picture illustrates.  Well… maybe.  But I don’t feel that old.

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South Africa is a very interesting mix of cultures and wealth.  There are pockets of extremely nice areas that are jammed packed full of niceties that we pampered American relish.  But all of these pockets were surrounded by extreme poverty.

The focus of our trip was to help clean up and repair an elementary school in a very poor area of Soweto.  It was a church’s version of “extreme makeover” for a school.

Soweto, if you remember your history, was the epicenter for the movement to banish Apartheid in South Africa.  Now don’t worry, this is not going to be a blog about the ills of racism and the overthrow of the white regime.  There are plenty of history books or web sites that dissect those events.

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Interesting factoids:

1.  I thought the name Soweto was derived from some sort of African word.  But in reality it is the abbreviation of Southwest Township.

2.  Soweto is the only place in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

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Over the next couple of entries I would like to share a few things that stirred my comfortable little world.

Surprisingly, it is different than what you may think.  It’s not the poverty, although it was horrid, nor was it the history of racial oppression, albeit extreme.

It has everything to do with what make people good.

See you Monday.