The Power of Giving


The power of giving is so vital to our health and well being and Boxing Day is a good time to review this thought.

Boxing Day comes one day after Catholic Christmas holiday, the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, is better known as Boxing Day. Nowadays, we often see, in certain families, gifts (boxes) given to those who provide services throughout the year.

Boxing Day is celebrated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. In other countries, this holiday exists as well but may be called by different names,  such as “Second Day of Christmas.”  In Canada… like in the USA Christmas Eve was a holiday for some North Americans… welcome back to work.

However our British readers are enjoying a holiday today. “Happy Boxing Day to you.”

Boxing Day is a good one to celebrate as it evolved into a day about giving to the poor.

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This blind women and…

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this Ecuador family and…

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this small Andean village show the power of giving.

Boxing Day is a public holiday celebrated in Britain and most Commonwealth countries, the day after Christmas. The celebration began back in Victorian England, for the day after Christmas, when the rich would box gifts and give them to the poor. The Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas, sings about giving these gifts such as flesh, wine, and pine logs.

Thus it seems appropriate to share some thoughts today on giving and mention what the elderly of this village above in Ecuador have done with the gifts of our foundation Land of the Sun.

First, a word about giving. When Merri and I began our foundation, The Land of the Sun, the plan was to give to the poor. We found that this did not work so well. Just giving money does often lacks success as evidenced in the innumerable examples of native American Indian communities.

After perhaps causing more harm than good by just giving (the highway to purgatory is paved with good intentions) we focused our foundation on creating jobs and helping children get better educations. Wow, what a gift…for us…because these people are so grateful….also there are some villages that are filled with elders who have no means of support and are always incredibly grateful for all.

Our first entrance into this arena was to buy El Meson de las Flores, a small Inn in the wonderful village of Cotacachi from a foreclosure situation. We renamed it “Inn Land of the Sun” kept the staff (added some others) and gave them something they had never probably felt…loose reins. Wow, did they ever respond.

Here is one tiny example. The hotel serves a nice breakfast, fresh fruit, fresh squeezed tropical juices, eggs, quinoa or granola and bacon, toast and coffee, tea or infusions.

But the staff was not satisfied with just a great breakfast. They decided that the morning meal had to be a work of art. The breakfast job is shared between four of the staff…Santi the chef, Alberto, the cook, Franklin and Eduardo who also serve the food. They began a contest to see who could make breakfast the most beautiful works of art.

Fruit could no longer just be served, it had not be served to be more beautiful for our guests…like this.

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The staff began to come in early…they are not paid by the hour…just to prepare their little concoctions. Then they giggle and photograph them before serving up breakfast with such joy…just to enliven the morning.

Santi, our chef, has been working at the hotel since he was 14 and he has become caught up in these delights.  So lunch now may look something like this:

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We added health into the menu so quinoa became a regular like this quinoa shrimp meal.

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They added excellent health drinks like this orange & alfalfa health packed juice!

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The service became an artist palate as well. Consuleo doesn’t just put out the silver. She makes it an…

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art form.

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Eduardo created his own hand dipped chocolates for…

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Plus he began making hand made ice cream in the ancient…

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indigenous style.

These changes were just the tip of the iceberg. Two years ago when we arrived, the hotel was empty almost all the time and the rooms were 70’s state of the art and crumbling. The staff wanted to work. When we did not have groups there, they come with their work clothes and began renovating the rooms…their ideas…their suggestions.

The upstairs rooms looked like this.

Then Franklin, Alberto and Eduardo went to work!

Now our upstairs is restored and looks like this.

They began ripping the rooms apart and renovating them. What a job! Here is a typical room now.

One of the bedrooms.

They tore out all the old blue carpet, sanded down walls, ripped out old toilets, cleaned, scrubbed and painted…without being asked. No one ever said, “That’s not my job!”

More importantly these wonderful people have blossomed in the art of care. Merri and I receive more raves like the one below:

The whole thing was nothing short of extraordinary but I did want to specifically let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed my two nights at Meson de las Flores (at the end of October). The staff there are so warm and responsive I was able to wind down from a tough conference in Quito and change gears for a tour of the Galapagos the next week and forwards fro the next three weeks.”
Here is another.

“My wife I just returned from a trip to Ecuador which included an eight day stay at El Meson. We would like to relate just how wonderful the experience was and how well we were treated by the entire staff at the hotel. We have never stayed anywhere and received that kind of treatment. You are to be congratulated for having such a group as this. We were amazed and look forward to another trip in the future.”

If you ever stay, you will see what I mean. Once you order in a particular way the staff remembers. They never seemed hassled, harried or angry…just always offering happiness and smiles.

Long ago (and this has been confirmed again and again) Merri and I realized that our role during this stage of life acted as a bridge between the condor of the south and the eagle of the north. The condors, the indigenous societies, live too much in their hearts. We eagles, in our technological revolution, live too much in our minds.

We thought our great pleasure would come from bringing more material affluence to our friends in the south. This has been a joy also but here is the surprise. We may have gained more by bringing the richness of the Condor to our many friends in the north…so today perhaps the gifts that are boxed are for the wealthy folks up north who might be lacking in happiness and joy.

All this came from little initial giving on our part. Now our friends, neighbors and the staff at Inn Land of the Sun can also now really give. They truly care about you… and send  their welcome to come and be served and fussed over in the Land of the Sun.

The entire staff, Merri and I send our hopes for a truly happy Boxing Day and that your boxes are always filled with love, kindness and beauty.

Gary

Enjoy Inn Land of the Sun on one of the tours below that are centered around the Inn this winter.

Meet the people.  In the country.

These two fishing.

January 7-11  Ecuador Import Export Course

Enjoy the markets and goods.

Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Jan. 13-14-15  – Feb.  21-22-23  and  Mar. 16- 17-18

Ecuador Shmanic Tour

Mar. 19-20, 2011 and May.  9-10, 2011

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