Heartfelt Service: An Act of Loving
"In the big picture there isn't a 'leader,' nor is there a 'follower' -- there are only those who serve." - John-Roger, D.S.S.
The following article is part five of five in our HeartFelt Global Network series on service.
Anne Peters from Boulder, Colorado
Anne Peters has been working in matters relating to the proper recycling of old electronics for nearly 20 years, and she is a specialist in the global & national policies, technologies, and standards relating to this. This fall she took her service to Israel and Palestine to assist their efforts in this matter.
I asked Anne some questions about her service ministry and here’s what she said.
Skyler: What does service mean to you?
Anne: Service to me means giving fully of ALL I have to give, on all levels. I have been in MSIA for 40 years year, and I have of course matured and grown through my adult life. What I have to give in service thus has grown as well. My emotions have become more settled and refined; my spiritual awareness has become more sensitive and attuned to the Light; my compassion has grown; my understanding of the dynamics of my community, town, state, nation, and planet has deepened; and my intellectual body of knowledge in my profession has grown and approached mastery in some areas. My heart has opened time and time again. Being of service means giving freely of all these many gifts.
Skyler: What inspires you into service?
Anne: God. The Christ. The Holy Spirit. The Mystical Traveler. My compassion for the ills and woes of this world, and the knowledge that I have been given so much that I must give back, of my overflow.
Skyler: How did you become involved with this project?
Anne: The particular project I have been working on involves a knotty problem in a troubled part of the world. Scrap electrical and electronic equipment - and many other discards - flow from Israel to the West Bank section of Palestine. The West Bank land is contested and the Israelis hold control of it as an occupying force. There impoverished people sort from the discards what can be sold, repaired or refurbished, and the remainders are burned in open pits, often on agricultural lands near places where thousands of people live. Cables from old electronics are specifically burned to retrieve the copper inside them, earning a few shekels for the workers. This burning causes terrible and nearly irreversible contamination of the water, soil, and air in these locations. Studies are finding toxic levels of harmful chemicals in the water in these areas, as well as in the blood of residents. It is causing an increase in cancer, respiratory, reproductive, and other serious illnesses for those living nearby - especially for children and child-bearing women. This is not a part of the world where laws against open burning practices are enforced, as the Israeli and Palestinian stakeholders have entrenched political positions that preclude attention to such problems.
Through colleagues, I became connected with three non-profit organizations - one American, one Israeli & one Palestinian - that are working together to alleviate these terrible problems. The in-country non-profits invited me to come give presentations and hold meetings with the Israeli and Palestinian elected officials, decision-makers, and impacted people this fall.
Skyler: Why were you drawn to this project?
Anne: Really it was more like the project was drawn to me. Through a series of connections, the US nonprofit working on this, Sustainable Israeli Palestinian Projects, found me and invited me to get involved. We held a series of Skype calls over the past year and I contributed my expertise to the Israeli & Palestinian non-profit groups' staff. It became apparent that the situation there was too complicated to be able to move anything forward until I came in person. I decided to forego an honorarium and volunteered my time. Knowing there were people so poor they would pollute their lands and bodies in exchange for just enough money to buy their daily bread gave me pause. I could not accept any money for this work in good conscience. The locals asked me to come.
I was also drawn to this project in the hopes that my knowledge and experience - both professional and as a minister in MSIA - would be of service in helping the locals find lasting solutions to this seemingly intractable problem.
While there, I gave presentations and held meetings with groups of both Israelis and Palestinians, with translators explaining in Hebrew and Arabic, respectively. Participants included high-level officials from both governments, businesses with an interest in the situation, researchers, non-profit groups working on health and environmental issues, students, and citizens. After each presentation or meeting, the locals engaged in serious and lively discussion about the situation, jointly exploring ways to stop the burning and transition to safer methods of waste reduction and copper recovery. In each situation and meeting I consciously placed columns of Light, asked for blessings for all concerned, for the Highest Good, and sought to be an example of living love. I worked hard to choose words and suggest actionsrooted in positive thoughts & actions, and devoid of 'againstness'; this is a part of the world where againstness has become deeply entrenched in the culture, politics, and worldview of so many people. Fortunately, there are peace-loving people everywhere and I hope that seeds of great peacefulness were planted with those folks who can grow them.
The results of my trip and contributions there won't be known for some time, but I trust that forward movement will occur and that solutions will come to those with the ability and good will to take action.
Skyler: What advice would you give to someone wishing to be more involved in service, but perhaps not knowing where to start?
Anne: Everyone has knowledge, gifts, strengths, and wisdom. I feel strongly that there is so much work to be done in this world, to make it a better place. One only need express a prayer to God, 'please help me find the place where I can give of all that you have given me.' Then you have to pay attention to the world around you, the choices you have, and the opportunities that come your way, and you will find a path of service that helps your gifts flow out into the world.
Thank you, Anne for sharing your ministry and service. Your sharing enriches our collective experience and understanding of serving and giving.
I have felt blessed and inspired to be able to hear these wonderful sharings on service from several of our MSIA ministers. Thank you to all those who shared their ministry and service.
If this has inspired you to share your ministry or service in future HeartFelt Global Network articles, get in touch! Email Skyler@heartfelt.org
“What is the most beautiful gift you can give? The gift of yourself."
– John-Roger, D.S.S.
We are one in our loving for one another.
Skyler Patton, HeartFelt Director
office: (323) 328-1925