Start living a life full of love, joy and peace today as you follow James’s life story and learn how he is leaving a legacy while squeezing every ounce of juice out of his life and overcoming the many challenges that life presents. James has travelled all seven continents in his quest for knowledge and understanding and has conquered the impact of cancer, bankruptcy, divorce, death, and immigration; just to name a few. James built a successful construction and leasing business with over 100 employees and sold the business in 2009. Today he manages a successful real estate investment business, actively trades equities and serves and supports his church and several non-profit organizations. Married with five grown children, nine grand-children and a great-grandchild, James speaks from personal experience about family life in America.
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About the Author
Born in the Rocky Mountains of Canada in 1950, James has been in Texas for over 35 years . He retired after selling the family construction and leasing business to spend more time with his wife Sherry, serving his church, traveling to visit family and the rest of the world, volunteering his skills wherever they might be needed, building a real estate investment company and a wildlife ranch to serve the community, doing what he could to improve the community for future generations through non-profit service, and learning new technologies.
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Water, Haiti, and Prosperity
From Haiti to Singapore and from Alaska to the Antarctic, clean water plays a most crucial role in the health of human life everywhere that it exists. Where there is clean drinking water, you generally find peace and prosperity. Where water is scarce, you will often find strife and conflict.
Over 90 percent of the fresh water in the world is found in the ice fields of the Antarctic and Greenland, with the Antarctic fresh water dwarfing that of the Greenland ice sheets.
Eight hundred million people live without access to clean drinking water.
Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause more deaths each year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, given their small bodies, which can't handle the intense dehydration from diarrheal disease. In developing countries, women and children collect water for their families. They often walk miles each day to the nearest source, which is often unprotected and whose water is therefore likely to make them sick. Time spent at this chore keeps children from attending school, working, or taking care of their families.
Haiti is surrounded by salt water and has ample fresh groundwater just a few feet below the surface. Two years after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, I served on a mission in Grand-Goave and saw firsthand how new water wells change the lives of many who suffered through cholera and other serious diseases.
Singapore, one of my favorite places to visit, is also surrounded by salt water, but it is one of the most modern and advanced nations in the world. It is in the process of transitioning from piped water from Malaysia to other more modern and reliable water sources, such as rainwater harvesting, desalination of seawater, and conversion of grey-water sewage to drinking water.
Before that last thought makes you sick, that system is very successful in many places, including Wichita Falls, Texas (https:// youtu.be/gTsYuOcJIts). What is the difference between Haiti and Singapore? Why is there such a difference in the quality of life? Is it the lack of leadership in the past, or is it because of contentment with and acceptance of poor conditions?
Imagine visiting a country that has no street addresses and where possession of property is considered ownership. These situations in Haiti are remnants from past slavery of the Haitians by the French, who stripped the country of its beautiful forests, as well as its very dignity, and who introduced voodoo and all its evil (https://youtu.be/ cKW53FrLMq8).
Next door to Haiti, on the very same Caribbean island, is the Dominican Republic. Why does it have the ninth largest economy in Latin America and an upper-middle income from agriculture, mining, and tourism, while Haiti remains far behind economically and socially and in much distress?
Could it be that the Spanish, who controlled the Dominican Republic, encouraged trade and free markets and thus liberated the people, who then built businesses that prospered and created employment and wealth?
When it comes down to survival, do you draw from faith, or do you draw from fear? Free people become ingenious if left to their own devices (absent oppressive government intervention) because worry disrupts productivity and hope never disappoints. John Paul Jones is quoted as saying, "If fear is cultivated, it will become stronger; if faith is cultivated, it will achieve mastery."
A people reliant on their government for anything beyond a safe and secure country, with efficient transportation systems, will start to lose the ability to think for themselves, and they will not seek prosperity.
In Haiti, self-government has not yet taken hold; the people do not feel safe and secure, and efficient transportation systems are close to nonexistent. It might be several generations before Christianity replaces voodoo, but that process is underway. I have seen firsthand the positive results in some of the communities in Haiti and the much-needed, but struggling, business environment.
Haiti Arise is building orphanages, and its medical facility and schools serve a community that strives to be joyful while learning how to deal with sorrow rather than living in sorrow and instead seeking joy (https://youtu.be/YZ5HwqOQjoI).
Marc and Lisa Honorat are encouraging Haitians to make different lifestyle choices, which are leading to positive results. That's hard to beat when word gets around. During my visit, we traveled into town for supplies, and a rear wheel of our mission van fell through the road surface into an open sewage enclosure. Before I could gather up my photographic equipment and exit the van along with the others, a stranger jumped into the driver's seat and started rocking the van back and forth. I looked out the rear window, and about ten-to-fifteen strangers were pushing on the van and rocking it out of the hole in the street surface.
Within minutes, the van was back on the road, and the strangers disappeared as rapidly as they had appeared. You see, in spite of voodoo influences, the people in the community were fearful of God and saw firsthand the positive forces of Haiti Arise. The van proudly displayed the mission sign, and at once I understood just what Pastor Marc meant when he said, "You will be safe here as long as you are with me and people know that you are part of the efforts of the Haiti Arise mission."
The message was clear. Do no harm. Do only good. Love and help others. It's not complicated. Marc and Lisa believe that, in order to catch a lot, you need to catch a few, repeatedly. That is a lesson that works in all aspects of life. Set a target. Do a little every day, and you will arrive at your destination eventually.CHAPTER 2
About half of the world's population get fresh water from the Tibetan plateau and its many glaciers. Yes, that is half of the world's population. Is it any wonder that China wants to maintain control of Tibet?
The Chinese say it will take about twenty plus years before they can start to reduce harmful emissions into the atmosphere. The flip side is that the emissions will continue to increase for twenty years. With a fast-growing population and the recent acceptance of two-children families, new electrical-energy sources are needed in order to replace coal-burning power plants, which are the primary polluters.
The Chinese have piped in natural gas from Russia and are converting some of the coal-burning power plants to this much cleaner source of energy. Also, they are building hydroelectric dams in Tibet to provide for the growing population in China. However, while the dams are under construction, water flow to India and other countries is restricted, thus creating drought conditions in those areas.
One of my more fascinating journeys was a week that I spent with a large group of photographers on a trip across China and Tibet to Nepal lead by very experienced National Geographic tour guides. We arrived in Kathmandu a few months before the earthquake destroyed the city, and I am very grateful that I was able to photograph many special temples and memorials prior to their destruction.
We visited a village in Tibet and spent several hours in a home consisting of grandparents, a wife, husbands, and children. Yes, I said, husbands. In these older villages on the Tibetan plateau, the mother is in charge of the household. It's an ancient custom that the family selects a woman to marry their sons (and that can range from one up to three or four sons) and that she moves into the family's home and takes charge.
Children born in this family are not certain who exactly is their father, but they grow up having specific chores and duties. There are no trees at this altitude, so they heat their home and cook their meals using dung from their yak herd. That herd lives on the first floor of the home during cold spells and at night. Gathering dung and preparing it for use is an important task.
The mother is in charge of the solar cooker, which she keeps in the middle open area of the second floor, where the bedrooms are, as well as the other living areas. That cooker uses solar heating and sits within a metal stand containing reflective panels as a heat source. She carefully moves the metal stand as the sun rotates across the sky, heating the stew contained therein.
Water is piped into a common area by gravity in surface-mounted plastic piping. This area is also used to hand wash clothes in a daily community woman's club meeting. From what I saw, the water flow would likely freeze in the pipe at night in the winter, but it would be quickly thawed out by the sun during the day. That pipe ran a very long distance to a lake in the hills, and I was pretty certain that it was carefully monitored and maintained by the village leaders.
The base camp on the north face of Mount Everest was a windy and frigid place. It took several hours to drive there in four-wheel-drive jeeps. There were no real roads on the trip, but the guides made this journey on a regular basis and knew where to go and how to handle the many challenges that we faced as we traveled. New rivers would appear where previously there were none, and, for the most part, we felt as if we were traveling on the moon around giant rocks and over terrain absent any vegetation.
The guides said that there would not likely be any cell phone communication, but when we reached the base camp at 16,931 feet, I was able to crawl under a Tiananmen Square Tibet large rock to get out of the wind and call my daughter, Marissa, and my granddaughter, Delilah, on iPhone Facetime and to show them the landscape. It was an exciting and special memory that will be difficult to equal in my lifetime.
Some say that I try to do too much and that I should slow down and smell the roses. That would be my wife and the love of my life, Sherry Lynne Stewart.
It is true that I set my goals high and that I try to squeeze every ounce of the juice out of my life. I believe that aiming for a higher level of achievement in life is healthy because gravity, as the saying goes, will likely impact your result when you least expect it. Had I not disregarded the guide who said that cell phone usage was not likely at the base camp, I might not have tried!
The good things we do, the significant things, are always challenging. Life is too full of opportunities to suffer and be miserable, so why not be hopeful in all that we do? The future shouldn't just stand there, waving you in! The Bible tells us to be strong and courageous. We should be the best version of ourselves in all that we do.
Pulling out my cell phone from my warm pocket required removal of my warm gloves in a fierce and cold windstorm and then the partial removal of my winter parka. Then I had to manipulate the small buttons on the phone with now-frozen fingers and dial the correct numbers to Texas from Mount Everest — all while the guide was telling me that I was wasting my time. You get the drift. It would have been much easier (and warmer) to listen to the experts and blindly follow their lead.
Now, having written that, I realize that I just condemned the very people who brought me safely up the dangerous and treacherous slopes of a majestic mountain in the middle of nowhere. Nothing can be further from the truth. What I did was to listen very carefully to how they answered my question about cell phone usage at the base camp.
What the lead guide said is that he had once experienced some cell phone usage at the base camp but that I should not expect it. What was the risk of giving it a try? Cold hands? That's all? Of course, an answered prayer for help, and that is my message. Hope matters, and so does prayer, but action doesn't hurt, either.
Traveling through Tibet was fascinating, as we learned all about the political and religious history of the region. Because our tour bus contained more than a dozen travelers, we were required to stop and pick up an armed Chinese police officer, who traveled on our bus with us. The bus itself had an alarm that alerted the driver and us when he was speeding. Our guide explained that video cameras covered all traffic and walkways and that, with an advanced facial recognition system, the Chinese police did not need to be patrolling any area of the country.
Criminals are therefore easily located and arrested, and even second-offender speeders would disappear and spend time in lengthy "training" sessions while imprisoned. Families would often be unaware of the location of missing relatives. They would (hopefully) just show up one day.
After making the eventful and adventurous journey through Tibet and stopping at the numerous Chinese inspection stations along the way, where we had to produce our itinerary and passports over and over again, we descended rapidly to Kathmandu. There had been an earthquake in the area several months before our arrival, causing the road to be destroyed. The temporary road lacked protective barriers and, for the most part, was only wide enough for one-way travel. At one point, the road was shut down where a truck hung dangerously over the edge, awaiting rescue by a tow truck.
When we arrived at the Nepal border, there was a very long line of cargo trucks, waiting for Chinese inspection at the border crossing. The entire contents of each truck were removed and inspected and then placed by hand in a cargo truck on the Nepal side of the border. Nothing left Tibet (China) until it was thoroughly inspected, and that included our group.
On our last day there, we hired a small aircraft specializing in flights around Mount Everest. It was an incredible flight. Many beautiful mountains surround Mount Everest. Mount Everest just happens to be the tallest (https://youtu.be/xaf9Wgx-J1E).CHAPTER 3
As a child, my fondest memories were the times we visited my paternal grandparents' small home on a farm in Carstairs, Alberta, where they lived much of their senior years. We would gather there regularly, along with uncles and aunts and many cousins, as well as other friends and more distant family members at times. Somehow, that little house on the prairie did not seem small to me, although I am sure that our parents found it to be rather crowded.
My grandmother, Helen Attrell, was a strong woman, both emotionally and physically, and she was able to manage my wheelchair-bound grandfather, Steve Attrell, without any help quite late into senior life. She would equip us with a .22 caliber rifle and teach us how to shoot the gophers destroying her very large farm garden.
Grandma Helen always remembered to make potatoes and gravy for me, even if she served something different for everyone else. When she caught me smoking in the farm garage, along with my cousin John and Uncle Bob, she threatened to take us to family court if she found us smoking again. We had no idea what that meant, but we made sure to smoke elsewhere after that. She always mowed the grassy field before our arrival so that we could have our family football game, where everyone participated.
Grandpa Steve was a First World War amputee and a hero. He served with the Canadian Corps at the brutal battles of Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge in France and then survived the Spanish Flu. These fierce, ground, hand-to-hand battles took place just across the English Channel, where he was born, south of London, England, in Godstone, Surrey, in 1896.
He loved crib and card games, and although he had severe arthritis in his hands, he would never pass on shuffling or dealing. He also loved to paint and spent his later years working tirelessly through his difficulties in managing a paintbrush to complete several beautiful, paint-by-number works of art. What I learned from him is that things are never as bad as they seem and that endurance builds and supports character. Beethoven's best works emerged from his senior years, when he was deaf. Imagine that!
My great-grandfather Dick (my dad's grandfather) outlived three wives. I have only a faint memory of him. He lived to age nighty-eight. What I remember most is his passing out peppermints to the kids and turning off his hearing aid when we arrived.
I never felt poor or lacking of anything, but I do remember that I had just two pairs of pants. One pair of dress pants and one for everyday use. Mom would wash my pants on Sunday, when I wore my dress pants to church. I also remember that my family could only afford powdered milk at times. It tasted chalky, and unlike anything we'd ever tasted before. It certainly didn't resemble milk. I also remember that we would go for days alternating between spaghetti and cheese and spaghetti and tomatoes at the dinner table. Pasta was a staple that got us through the lean times.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Directions"
Copyright © 2018 James Attrell.
Excerpted by permission of Clovercroft Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Water, Haiti, and Prosperity 5
Chapter 2 China 9
Chapter 3 My Grandparents 13
Chapter 4 Paperboy Lessons 15
Chapter 5 Responsibility 19
Chapter 6 America 23
Chapter 7 Argentina 25
Chapter 8 Boy Scouts 27
Chapter 9 Pumping Gas 29
Chapter 10 Running Away from Home 31
Chapter 11 Australia 33
Chapter 12 The Equator 35
Chapter 13 Close Calls 37
Chapter 14 LTS Citizenship 49
Chapter 15 The Baltic Region 53
Chapter 16 Alaska 55
Chapter 17 Israel and Egypt 57
Chapter 18 Equality 61
Chapter 19 Your Gifts 63
Chapter 20 People, Leaders, and the Future 65
Chapter 21 Technology 69
Chapter 22 Entrepreneurship 71
Chapter 23 Challenge and Opportunity 75
Chapter 24 The Antarctic 81
Chapter 25 Africa 83
Chapter 26 Japan 87
Chapter 27 Hong Kong 89
Chapter 28 India 91
Chapter 29 Retirement 99
Chapter 30 Peru and the Amazon 103
Chapter 31 Spain 105
Chapter 32 Turkey and the Danube 107
Chapter 33 Italy 109
Chapter 34 111 111
Chapter 35 Envy 113
Chapter 36 Health 115
Chapter 37 Bankruptcy 121
Chapter 38 The Great Flood 123
Chapter 39 Flying Lessons 125
Chapter 40 Hockey Season 129
Chapter 41 Smoking 133
Chapter 42 Wabasca Fishing 135
Chapter 43 Friends 137
Chapter 44 Politics 145
Chapter 45 My Parents 153
Chapter 46 Marriage 157
Chapter 47 Children 161
Chapter 48 Siblings 167
Chapter 49 Famous People 169
Chapter 30 Jobs and Careers 171
Chapter 51 The Joy of Pets 181
Chapter 52 Marluc Bella Vita Ranch 183
Chapter 53 Trading Securities 189
Chapter 54 Giving Back 191
Chapter 55 Persistence 197