Sawla School and Hotel

September 28, 2023

We specifically drove to the northern half of Ghana to visit the town of Sawla where we could visit both the Sawla School and the Sawla Hotel. IntelliTect began sponsoring the work of the International Assistant Program (IAP) organization back in 2012 with the building of a home for children. Once it was completed and running, the sponsorship transitioned to building a hotel where the kids could then work in order for the home to become self-sustaining. The hotel completion coincided with the completion of paving the main road to Sawla, thereby increasing traffic, especially traffic headed for the game park 1 hour further north. The end result was that IAP no longer requested our sponsorship; the program was essentially self-sufficient. In the non-profit world, this is a very rare occurrence, and Elisabeth and I were excited to have been part of the effort.

Somewhere along the way, the Ghanaian government requested that all child homes (like the Sawla Home) be closed and children get transitioned back into homes within the community. (This is consistent with the UN recommendation to care for orphans but general guidelines applied universally is likely to be problematic.) Unfortunately, this was not great for all the children, as now some of them were vulnerable in the same homes they previously left because they were unsafe. Regardless, rather than abandoning the community, IAP saw it as an opportunity to pivot. They transformed the home into a school for the community. They essentially built one classroom per year, so now they have a creche/nursery, two years of kindergarten, and primary school grades 1-3. There are 30 students in each class, for a total of 240 students. The numbers are in stark contrast to public schools, which generally number over 100 children per classroom, if not significantly more. And, as you can see in the photos, another classroom is under construction, having been completed by the time I wrote up this post.

During our stay in Sawla, our host, Moses, also took us to see some water wells that IAP had built. They noticed how people in the community had to walk a significant distance, frequently to the hotel, in order to obtain water. While they didn’t mind the visit, they built a couple community wells so that the women (yes, the women are generally the ones collecting the water) wouldn’t have to walk so far carrying the water. We already heard the gratitude of the chief for the first well yesterday. For the second well, seeing it in use by these women (I love the smiles) was a blessing.

I was impressed that the focus was on the wells, not the well-builders. IAP didn’t mount a plaque declaring the water well was built by Christians for a Muslim community or such. It was a water well, and that is enough.

While the work of IAP in the Sawla community is amazing, it isn’t all ideal. I share this because I strongly believe that philanthropy is like an investment. Sometimes investments yield 100 fold or more; sometimes they struggle; and sometimes they fail. Any organization, especially one working in Africa where stuff inevitably happens, gains more credibility when they share the good and the bad. Here are a few examples: After the hotel, IAP attempted farming to supply food for the hotel along with additional jobs for the children living in the home. (Toward this effort, we sponsored the purchase of a tractor.) Unfortunately, the economics didn’t pan out, and they couldn’t make the farm profitable. In addition, they started a bakery. I was excited to hear how this was going since occasionally we have been unable to find bread along our journey, and I thought a bakery would make a great small business in the community. While the bakery is still running and we enjoyed eating the fresh bread during our stay, it isn’t profitable. Inflation throughout Africa is a major problem. (In Ghana, for example, the annual inflation is around 40%.) Therefore, to remain profitable, the bakery needs to increase prices to account for the higher price of goods and labor. However, the community expects the price of bread to remain relatively static in spite of inflation. And, rather than buy bread at a higher price, they go without the luxury of it altogether. Finally, during the COVID epidemic, tourism was essentially shut down, and since then, it has not fully recovered. The result is that in the first full year post-COVID, they are not quite profitable. When you consider all the jobs they are providing, especially for former residents in the home, along with the additional help they provide at the school, it is still making a wonderful impact on the community, but it isn’t currently self-sustaining like it once was. Like any business, discussions are under way on how to pivot based on the new findings. One possible option, for example, is to expand into supporting conferences.

One more comment about IAP and the work in Sawla. The IAP leadership team first met Moses, our host, because he was their driver from Accra to Sawla – originally a 2-day drive. Now, he is their trusted leader in Ghana. He never graduated from school, has no leadership training, and works as a used car salesman for his regular job. And yet, he is making a huge impact on the lives of hundreds in Sawla and maintains an incredible humility about it. He is an impressive man whom we enjoyed hanging out with during our visit to Sawla.


IAP continues to invest in the school and support the hotel. I highly recommend you consider sponsoring IAP and the work they are doing, either in Sawla or elsewhere.

Also, there are numerous organizations that dig wells in Africa. The two organizations that IntelliTect has supported and that I would highly recommend are IAP (here in Sawla, Ghana) and World Vision (in Southern Kenya). A water well investment with IAP in Ghana generally costs less than $5,000. In Kenya, the investment is significantly higher at $15,000. In addition,

Driving Sawla to Accra

September 28, 2023

Building Wells

September 27, 2023

We visited two wells built by International Assistance Partners (IAP).
We already heard the gratitude of the chief for the first well yesterday. For the second well, seeing it in use by these women (I love the smiles) was a blessing.
I was impressed that the focus was on the wells, not the well-builders. There was no plaque or declaration that it was built by Christians for a Muslim community. It was a well, and that is enough.


There are numerous organizations that dig wells in Africa. The two organizations that IntelliTect has supported and I would highly recommend are IAP (here in Sawla, Ghana) and World Vision (in Southern Kenya). A well investment in Ghana generally costs less than $5,000. In Kenya, the investment is significantly higher at $15,000.

Meeting Two Village Chiefs

September 27, 2023

Our host in Sawla, Moses, leads the Ghanaian portion of International Assistance Partners (IAP). This afternoon, Moses took us to meet with two village chiefs. We sat down and talked with the first in his meeting room.

He believes that some of the problems in Ghana are due to the continued use of colonial practices: English, for example. He thinks the country would be better off abandoning teaching English. Admittedly, I’m an Anglophile with little understanding of Ghanaian issues, but I disagree. In fact, I suspect Ghana is doing as well as it is, compared to its neighbors, because English is the primary language.
While we were there, a visitor came to meet with the chief. Only, he wasn’t allowed to speak directly to the chief. Rather, he spoke to an interpreter, in English, and the interpreter repeated what he said, to the chief, still in English, and back and forth the conversation proceeded. What? What is the value in this? How can any effective business happen if an interpreter, speaking the exact same language as the source language, is required.
Not just that, the visitor was asking the chief whether he could interview a woman in the village who applied for a job in a different town. The woman applied for the job, and now the interviewee has to request permission from the chief to interview the woman. I’m an ignorant American, but this is crazy.
Next we visited another village chief in his home, a mud hut. It was a totally different interaction.

This second chief lives in abject poverty and is grateful for the well that IAP has dug for his village. We sat outside his house with his wife and had a conversation, albeit limited since he didn’t speak English.

Visiting a Child Survival Program with Compassion International

September 24, 2023

Today we visited a Compassion International Child Survival Program (see and IntelliTect supports five or so of these in Kenya and Tanzania (, but since we couldn’t make it to either country this trip, we are visiting the one in Togo. While we had to go through background checks and child safety training, I expected the visit to be relatively informal, with just a walk around the facilities and perhaps a chance to meet a few of the moms. I was wrong. Compassion International partners with local churches for its facilities, and this was no exception; we met in a church a couple blocks from the Ghana Embassy. When we entered, everyone stood and started singing as a way of welcoming us. The church leadership then greeted us and ushered us to the front of the church. Those who know me can imagine my internal reaction was less than positive as I dislike being made the center of attention, especially regarding Elisabeth and my philanthropy. Fortunately, I had the wherewithal to catch myself, change my attitude, and behave. The Compassion International staff, along with the moms with their children, genuinely wanted to thank us for our philanthropy and I accepted their gratitude.

Welcome Singing and Dancing!

The program started with some wonderful singing and dancing. I would have joined in if I’d known the words. It was beautiful. My only regret was that we couldn’t stay tomorrow and attend the church service.

Preventing the Child Survival Program

Next, they proceeded with introductions and a presentation of the data regarding the program. They had stats for their impact and challenges. Although it was French, they had a translator, and we were also able to translate using our phones as they went along.

Following the presentation, several women were courageous enough to stand up and share how the program had impacted them personally. In some cases, it made the difference between life and death for their children. For others, it was the difference between a malnourished child and a parent choosing to go without their own nourishment, so their child has some meager sustenance.

Once the program was over, we walked around to various job tables and interacted with sample job-training stations. We asked lots of questions about the business and its effectiveness. Some were sufficient to help people escape extreme poverty; others were less so, only providing a side “hustle” for students in school.

The weaving station, although it produced beautiful crafts, did not seem viable for the amount of work and time. (Update: When visiting Ghana, we saw weaving machines that required less effort but the earnings were still meager.)

The last station was a playroom where the moms focused on playing with their kids. It was good to see the healthy interactions and coaching that goes beyond survival and helping the parent-child relationship thrive. This is in addition to the home visits that Compassion International makes once a month.

While I didn’t see enough to be able to provide a full analysis of the effectiveness, I’m confident that Compassion International is accomplishing a lot with a small budget and making a significant impact on women and their children. Whether you are a Christian or not, by partnering with churches and leveraging their infrastructure and congregants during the week, Compassion International is able to accomplish so much more on a small budget.


At a cost of less than $50 per month, you can support a child through Compassion International, choosing both the age and location. If you are willing to invest more, consider supporting a child survival program, that transforms the lives of ~25 moms and their children before they turn 5 years old. Or, browse through a host of other investment opportunities to select from.

Insane Traffic Leaving Lagos, Nigeria

September 18, 2023

When we arrived at our hotel last night, our expectation was that we would be four hours from the border (Google said three). We could visit Makoko in the morning and be across the border to Benin before nightfall. The night clerk at the hotel told us that with traffic, there was no way. It would take eight hours if not more, to reach the border. Ughh!!!

Since I wasn’t willing to miss Makoko, we left Lagos at 1 p.m. and hoped for the best. The traffic was insane!!! While driving along, we were stopped by some locals who told us we needed to switch to the “express lanes” (the term I’m using for the left lane with a median protecting it)—and, for the advice, we had to pay them money. We switched lanes and relied on a local military official’s timing to avoid the fee, as he informed the locals that, while they could charge a fee, they couldn’t slow the traffic flow, and it was building up.

Traffic was moving along for the first 15 minutes, and we were smug watching the parking lot of traffic on the right we were passing. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. It wasn’t long before, we too, were parked. We waited 30 minutes. At some point, we heard a broken-down truck in our single, median-bound lane. Hmmm!!! Since we can’t get over the median—even with Codiwompler—and no one can come down the lane to rescue, we are going to be here a while. We inched forward. Eventually, we could see that cars were being lifted over a dip in the height of the median and a drainage gutter—for a fee.

At that point, cars were reversing up the lane and then taking turns to exit. Of course, at 5 tons, it was doubtful our car would be lifted. However, when we arrived, we realized that, with the slight ramp of dirt and brush, we could probably jump the curb. Benjamin exited the car and helped navigate. We jumped the curb and drainage gutter, and we were back in the right lane, which was now empty because of a block earlier. Oh, the blessing of having such a capable car!

As we drove on, we passed more and more gridlocked traffic. It was crazy. I question whether it would end by nightfall. And how many cars would run out of fuel in the process, exacerbating the parking lot traffic problem even more? Nigeria is so broken.

Visiting the Makoko Community

September 18, 2023

Today we visited the Makoko community, an informal settlement on the oceanfront of Lagos. This is a fishing community that has been living literally on the water—a Nigerian Venice of sorts—for more than 150 years. (A 1962 map shows the Makoko community back before Lagos even had 1 million residents; Lagos now has 13 million residents.) Since then, Makoko has grown to more than 200,000 residents (officially, it is only 85,000 residents, but the area is considered illegal, so it is not included in any recent census). 1/3 of the Makoko residents live in houses on stilts along the lagoon, which are inaccessible except by canoe. The Nigerian government considers the Makoko community illegal, accusing them of living like animals. And, as such, the government believes they have no responsibility to provide services: no education, no clean water, no electricity, and no healthcare. Everything that exists in the community was established without the government.

The following video provides a window into life in Makoko – it says way more than I can possibly describe.

Our visit started when we boarded a carved-out canoe and went to meet with the village chief, Desmond Shemede. The short journey alone resulted in sensory overload. The sights, sounds, and smells were just a constant stream of the remarkable. The boatman’s balance, the latrines directly over the water, the bright colored clothes accentuating the brown wood shacks—everything was extraordinary. We saw smiling faces, heard alert calls about visitors in the neighborhood, and smelled hydrogen sulfide mixed with (odorless) methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and a multitude of other compounds oozing from the garbage. Our boatman navigated the quagmire of gray-black water and the traffic jam of canoes until we arrived at the chief’s office. He was sitting at a wooden desk just across a waterway from one of two schools. For the next 30 minutes, we sat in silence, listening to Desmond as he shared about life within this slum on the water.

Leaving Desmond’s office took us past the school. They teach about 200 students there, offering lunch along with the free education. There is a clinic that serves the Makoko community, along with some less formal medical services. Malaria is the most common disease. Not surprisingly, cases of cholera, typhoid fever, and many other diseases caused by contaminated water are common. COVID is somewhat of a joke in comparison.

While there are boreholes providing water, they too are somewhat contaminated with sewage and other pollutants in an overpopulated area with little to no infrastructure. While there are latrines, they only provide privacy since they too are on stilts directly above the water. Though privacy was not a particularly high priority, since residents went to the bathroom by just squatting directly over the water without bothering to navigate to the latrines for seclusion,


I haven’t yet done any research on the charity, but we Desmond mentioned his foundation, for helping this community with infrastructure and education and humanitarian aid to help residents here escape extreme living conditions. I’ll provide an update here before the end of the year if Elisabeth and I end up supporting this work along with IntelliTect.

Attacked by Drunk Hooligans

September 12, 2023
Benjamin negotiating with drink Hooligans

As we approached our destination for the night, the Drill Ranch., we were stopped by three drunk men demanding we pay a “youth free.” In accordance with best practices for unofficial stops in Africa, Benjamin kept driving. About 15 minutes later, however, the same men were chasing us on a motorcycle, along a narrow dirt road, and yelling at us to stop. We increased speed in the hopes that we would reach our destination and have someone there that could navigate the conflict before it escalated too far. While the men didn’t have any guns, two of them carried beer bottles.
In the hurried chase, we missed our turnoff and, after going deeper and deeper in the forest, on a smaller and smaller road, we eventually conceded and stopped.
The men approached the car and started demanding payment. They claimed to be youth leaders and that we each owed a youth tax of 5 Naira. After a bit of confusion, anger, and fear on our part, we regrouped and had Benjamin expertly take the lead negotiation. Tension ebbed and followed as the conflict ensued. They threatened to slash out tires and tapped their beer bottles on our window threatening to break them. If reasonable conversation could have occurred, we might have made progress, but as they were all drunk, reasonableness was not a priority for them.
Eventually, they agreed to meet us at the Drill Ranch, where Zach, our host and someone they knew, would help work things out. We drove to the Drill Ranch. Once there, only Benjamin got out to meet with Zach and the men (see picture). 30 minutes later, everyone agreed to continue the conversation back in the village tomorrow. And, after another 30 minutes, the men left via the motorcycle they came on. No payment was made but the situation was only temporarily resolved.
In the morning, Zach went to the community to speak with the community leader. The leader then came to meet with us and let us know that this was just youth being drunk and this is not normal. He requested that we look past the event as a one-off and be sure to not discourage people from visiting. It wasn’t exactly an apology, and didn’t leave us with any confidence that the youth had been dealt with such that the problem wouldn’t occur again, but the community leaders effort to come and meet with us was appreciated. (2023-09-12)

UPDATE: We heard of another overland couple visiting in the last week and they said no youth tax was demanded. Supposedly, Zach spoke with the village chief and the tax has been removed. (2023-09-24)

Accident: Our Scariest Moment Yet, But All Is Well

September 7, 2023

We had just started driving when I saw a young girl out of the corner of my eye scream while looking toward the back of our car. She had suddenly appeared from around the front bumper, such that it would have been impossible to see her. The girl was screaming because her friend, whom I later learned was 3-year-old Aisha, had just emerged from near the rear wheel of our car and was now lying on the ground. Oh no! What had happened?

I jumped out of the car and ran back to Aisha, picking her up from the ground and holding her. She was screaming, but there were no visible injuries. Her dad took her from my arms and rushed her on a motorcycle to the clinic. I followed on a different motorcycle taxi and arrived shortly after. They rushed her into a room, and the nurse started to examine her. She was still screaming, but the nurse was unable to find any broken bones. She gave her an injection that I later learned was an antibiotic (Jawaclox). I approached and carefully spoke with Aisha and encouraged her to hold my finger and point her toes. My hope was to determine superficially if anything was broken. She quieted down at the site of a white man gently coaxing her to move her joints. Benjamin arrived shortly after.

There were lots of conversations in a mixture of Arabic and Kugama (also known as Wam or Gengle). I didn’t understand a word and couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. I eventually turned to the nurse and asked about her assessment of Aisha. In sign language and very broken English, the nurse confirmed for me that Aisha was okay. There was nothing broken. More Arabic and Kugama ensued with lots of gestures. Eventually, Aisha’s mom entered and held Aisha briefly before handing her to a different woman to hold. Next, an Imam entered the already crowded room and examined Aisha in the same way that the nurse and I did. He came to the same conclusion, that she was okay. Aisha wasn’t quite so sure and continued to cry uncontrollably save for a moment when she declared to her mom that she would stay away from cars in the future. Everyone laughed quietly.

Next Aisha was taken to a different room with a trained health worker – Dr. Sule. Everyone who works in a Nigerian clinic, at least every male who works in a Nigerian clinic, is called a doctor – regardless of the amount of official education that is commonly associated with that position in the rest of the world. Dr. Sule concluded that Aisha needed some medicines from the pharmacy: children’s multivitamin, Ibuprofen (Philoxicam), a type of heat rub, and a pain reliever (Diclofenac). I was sent to go with the motorcycle taxi to purchase the prescribed items. The first “pharmacy” didn’t have them all but I rounded them all up between the three “pharmacies” I visited (I use the term very loosely to mean a shop that sells mostly over-the-counter medicines. Back at the clinic, I re-entered Dr. Sule’s office, and he explained the prescriptions to the mom and then instructed me to pay the equivalent of 6-7 USD for the antibiotic injections – which would continue for two additional days.

Next, I went on a motorcycle taxi to the police station to fill out a police report. However, the police were on break so I could return and wait at the car. However, I was informed in no uncertain terms that everything was okay and I was no one was in trouble. In less than 15 minutes I went back to the police station and was ushered into a small room. The father was asked to be in the room as well, along with several others on the police staff. In broken English I was asked to share my perspective I said there was no need, what had happened everyone had seen, and the father was welcome to share his perspective first. Following the father’s explanation, the child was called for and the father went to fetch her while the official asked me for all my particulars and carefully wrote them down in his notebook. When Aisha appeared she was examined again, this time by the head of the police. Again, lots of conversation ensued but eventually, the head official informed me that everything was in order, and I was free to leave. There was no problem or further concern. He only requested that a picture be taken of the father and me in front of the vehicle.

Neither Benjamin nor I, nor even Terry or Graydon from the car behind us, were certain exactly what happened. For some time, however, the situation was very tenuous. From stories of African accidents, never mind Nigeria, it was my understanding that when an accident like this happens, the community gets riled up and decides the fate of the driver regardless of guilt or innocence. After Aisha’s health, this was my greatest concern. However, none of these fears materialized. In fact, while scary at the time, in the end, I am very grateful nothing more serious had happened and for the seemingly just system to handle the accident.

Summary Thoughts:

  1. I am very grateful that foremost, there really was nothing critically wrong with Aisha. I confirmed this fact the following day when I reached out to Dr. Sule to check on Aisha. Codiwomple has big wheels, and it is a horrific thought to consider what could have happened.
  2. I’m astounded that there was a healthcare facility in such a remote location (at least a day’s drive from even a small town) and that (aside from the antibiotic) they had some practical options for Aisha’s care. I was assuming I would have to drive Aisha to a hospital many miles away. Again, I’m so grateful that there were no broken bones.
  3. This was an easy scenario where a Nigerian scam could have occurred and the situation blew into epic proportions in order to gain financial advantage. This never happened. I was quite happy to pay for the prescriptions and the medical care.
  4. I was baffled by the lack of care from the mother. She barely even held Aisha much once she arrived at the clinic.
  5. The police department was remarkably just. They wanted to hear both sides of the story and create a police report based on both party’s perspectives. In the end, they assured me that everything was fine and I was free to go.

Before leaving, I had a local walk me to Aisha’s house, where I bid farewell to Aisha and gave her some money (remember, she is 3, so while I put it in her hands, it wasn’t going to her). However, I was glad to give it into the care of the women in the household at the time (there were at least 10 gathered) and not to the father. (While the father might have put the money to good use, women in poverty are far more likely to be good stewards of money than men are.)

A Remarkable Connection for Toyota Help

July 17, 2023

On Friday, we needed a part for Codiwompler. Unfortunately, the soonest our mechanic (Grimm’s Auto) could get it was Thursday, delaying us by another week. Stink!
Last week, while visiting Philakade ( I met Cindi, who is married to Andrew, the CEO of Toyota South Africa (yes, really). After mentioning my trip, she offered Andrew’s help if I should ever need it. I was grateful for the offer but brushed it off. Surely the CEO of Toyota, South Africa had more important things than Benjamin and my trip through Africa.

Fast forward a few days and I need a Toyota part that Grimm’s Auto can’t get hold of. Wait… I might have a connection? I reach out to Cindi to verify permission to contact Andrew. Andrew connects me with Jakkie, who then begins to do some research. A few hours later he finds one, also in Jo’burg. No problem, Judy is flying out to meet us in Cape Town so she can bring the part. Things are coming together.

However, Judy is only allowed one bag at 7kg (15.4 lbs) and Jakkie doesn’t think it is a reasonable ask of Judy to carry car parts in her luggage (I wasn’t as considerate, obviously). Instead, he is going to use Toyota’s distribution system to have the part at Grimm’s Auto by Monday morning. Wow!! Really?

Yes, really… Grimm’s Auto calls me on Monday at 12:30 and reports the part has arrived. We drive the car over and they do the installation, along with an oil change. The car is ready to go by 5 PM.

When Judy arrives she informs us that we, “Are guarded by Angels.” 👍

Visiting Philakade Care Home

July 10, 2023

Last night we stayed in the Valley of 1,000 Hills – the area in KwaZulu Natal between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. This area is spectacular. The valley is the meeting point of the Umgeni and Msunduzi rivers and a place of unique natural beauty. It is deeply rooted in Zulu heritage and history. Visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture, with traditional Zulu villages offering an authentic experience, complete with traditional crafts, music, and dance. There are houses dotted across the hills, the dirt is red-orange.

At the top of one of those hills sits the Philakade Care Home. Philakade, meaning long life clinic, is a home that is bringing about real change in the lives of the vulnerable and previously abandoned with disabilities. When we arrived the staff was in the midst of their usual cleaning and getting people ready for the day. Beds were being stripped, residents were cleaned and getting up. There was a scent of freshness at the start of a new day.

On this particular day, there was a farewell celebration as Mary, a long-time volunteer, was moving to the United Kingdom. She was dearly loved and had made a significant impact in teaching the staff how to care for residents. Benjamin and I walked around interacting with residents, volunteers, and staff. It was an incredible blessing. The residents each had a unique story of pain and suffering but were generally upbeat and generally positive. I talked with Shedrick, a double amputee, about living at Philakade rather than on the streets of Durban. Benjamin played pool with Wandile. I talked with Cindi, one of the volunteers, and the impact that Philakade had on her, even more than the impact she might be having on residents within the home.

At one point in the morning, the staff broke out into dancing and singing Thula Sizwe. It was powerful. (If I were honest, I would confess that it brought tears to my eyes, but I’m not that honest.) It was amazing to see the joy of the residents. There were so many smiles and even outright laughter. It was a joyous environment and I was blessed.

Where else in the world are the vulnerable and previously abandoned experiencing such care and joy? Where in the world do the staff working with the disabled spontaneously break out to song and dancing? I hope the answer is lots of places, but I haven’t encountered them. Amazing! Please consider donating here:

While I only spent the day there, I found myself pondering my mission and purpose. I recently wrote about what it means to “live like you were dying.” In response, I drafted a new mission statement:

Love like there is no tomorrow,
fight poverty and injustice,
and seize today’s adventures.

As I walked around Philakade, I was aware it didn’t fit in my preconceptions of “poverty and injustice.” My preconceived notions were inadequate. In reality, my mission was deeper. At its core, it is about relieving pain and suffering, and the scope of my intended mission needed to grow.

Rental Car Burglarized in South Africa

July 9, 2023

Last night there was a storm so we drove our rental car to the end of the driveway in the evening, to avoid the precarious drive down the hillside when the road was muddy. The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast, said our goodbyes, and headed down to the car. Unfortunately, when we got there we discovered the car had been burglarized.

While they broke the driver’s side (right) window, they didn’t use the trunk pull to open the trunk. Rather, they took a metal fence post and pried open the trunk. So frustrating. Fortunately, we hadn’t left anything in the car of significance in the vehicle (well, actually, I left my jacket but they didn’t steal that).

In the end, it was just a huge inconvenience. First, we had to drive to the police station and file a report. This involved filling out forms in triplicate. Except, the policeman fills in the form but in first person – under the assumption that the vast majority of people needing a report can’t write. Also, there are a few peculiarities. Consider, for example, the highlights below:

“Nobody had permission to break into my car.”

Next we headed back to the rental company to sort out things with them and fill in the necessary paperwork. Unfortunately, no one was there – even though they hours posted on the door indicated they should be open for several more hours. We waited two hours and they eventually showed. I was pleasantly surprised how much empathy they had regarding the burglary. In the end, I filled out another incident report and they assigned me a new car. We will get the bill in the email. And, hopefully, our credit card insurance, where we filled another report, will cover the expense.

Live Like You Were Dying

June 13, 2023

Love like there is no tomorrow,
fight poverty and injustice,
and seize today’s adventures

Last year I was driving along and listening to the (country) song, “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw and singing it with all my heart. I felt like those words are a core part of my motto, “Be all that you can be.” The lyrics for the chorus are:

I went sky divin’
I went Rocky Mountain climbin’
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying
And he said someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

See full Lyrics by Tim McGraw

I confess my first association with “Live Like You Were Dying” was with activities like “sky diving, rocky mountain climbing,” traveling, etc. However, when I’m on my deathbed, assuming I even get the chance to ponder my life, I’m not sure I will be grateful for all the adventure-type activities, and I doubt I will be regretful of any such activities missed. However, the answer isn’t as simple as that. Perhaps there are three perspectives on a life that “Lived Like You Were Dying”

  1. When I can no longer go sky diving, will I regret not going; will I regret not visiting every country in the world, or visiting the Palawan Island when those activities are no longer possible? While I may still have many years of life left, at some point there will be things that I wanted to do but I can no longer do. Will I be disappointed that I didn’t do some of those things?
  2. My heart breaks at the extreme poverty and injustice at the margins of society where hope is lost. Also, those of us in the Western world are incredibly blessed and we can do something about that suffering. I’m confident that the more I do to improve people’s lives, (especially if I get to know those people) the more fulfillment I would have. I don’t expect I will regret not seeing Antarctica if it is because I was consumed with alleviating poverty or injustice (at a minimum Elisabeth and my approach accomplishes this using the profits from IntelliTect). 
  3. When I’m on my deathbed perhaps my reflections will be solely focused on time not spent with those I love or not having those that loved me and will miss me at my bedside?

In summary, I suspect that when I can’t be adventurous anymore, I will regret not having been more adventurous. Similarly, when I’m not as capable of helping those experiencing extreme injustice, I will wonder if I should have done more. But, when I’m on my deathbed, time with loved family and friends will be my focus, satisfaction with helping others will be cathartic, and adventure will be irrelevant.

Surprisingly, however, I find that this last sentence does not suffice for the guiding insight. Why should sentiment on your deathbed be the primary consideration for how you live most of your life? Instead, I choose to:

Love like there is no tomorrow,
fight poverty and injustice,
and seize today’s adventures

(I’m eager to improve this last sentence and request suggestions… but for now I’m choosing published over perfection.)