Everyday Miracles

I’m currently getting ready for my annual tour to Egypt as I leave next week. It is one of those things that takes forever to get here and when it does, time seems to dissolve as I work feverishly towards the deadline to ensure that I not only get on the plane in time but that I have everything I need for the month as well as ensuring my family are okay in my absence.

My annual tour is a very big part of my life purpose and it forms the basis of my Why. It gets me out of bed every day and it keeps me focused when things aren’t going as I would like, it reminds me that every little bit helps, and it keeps me humble. The fact is my Why is so big, it scares me.
The Pyramids at Giza illuminated at dusk

On Tuesday I head out to Egypt again with a very small tour – indicative of how the world has fallen foul of media that wants to cast a dark shadow over this beloved land. Quite frankly, this is a tour that is very much out of reach of the average Egyptian – something I am always mindful of and probably only something just a few Westerners would allow themselves to tick off the bucketlist. And the odd person comes to connect with their own soul’s connection to this land too. Over the next three weeks, I will once again be on a tour that will have us living in luxury, enjoying superbly appointed accommodation and the kind of hospitality that the Egyptian people have been renowned for. Egyptians have enjoyed hosting visitors for thousands of years and its something they have always done since the beginning of time as the epicentre of knowledge for the world.

While no visit is complete without the visit to the Sphinx and her majestic pose as she guards the impressive Pyramids, we will be visiting the Healing Centre of Saqqara, the Sun Temple of Abusir, the astounding Serappeum, the souks, the markets, dining in exceptional restaurants and eating places, sunning ourselves by the pool. We will be visiting the Egyptian museum, the enjoying an incredible Egyptian Safari, camping out under the stars, and a superb 4 day Nile Cruise with domestic flights included and so much more. This is something that only a few people in the world actually permit themselves to do, but my tour goes so much deeper than this. It’s about delighting and inspiring others for their connection to Egypt, but underlying this is something I am driven to do. But not for myself.

Nile-RiverRecently I went to Australian Convention for dōTERRA and I was inspired by what I saw there as a part of my regular daily focus helping people with Essential Oils. It is hard enough to let go of the apathy involved touring Egypt but I have had a dream for some time now, and I started to give up on that dream. I started to think my dream was so far out of reach, with the practicalities around helping the Egyptian people as well in what I do. My ‘why’ I felt, wasn’t a ‘why’. It was a dream, because it was too hard. Plagued by the fact that it isn’t yet an open market and that as a country experiencing inordinate economic suppression they have made it so much harder for people to import product even if it is for personal use.

I was inspired by Corey Lindley’s address to us (Vice President and CFO of doTERRA) who shared his talk about about how he went to Angkor Wat with his family and shared these beautiful essential oils with the villagers there. I saw photographs that reminded me so much of the villages in Egypt. A 3rd World country facing similar economic hardship as Egypt but where the CFO and his daughter were inspired to share these beautiful essential oils with the villagers, just as I want to do with the Egyptian people. When Cory announced that doTERRA’s vision involves doing whatever they can to support these beautiful Gifts of the Earth to support people in 3rd World countries, my heart burst wide open and my WHY fired up big time. I have huge dreams of being able to do something similar: empowering families with very little to help them access new ways of health and wellness and showing them how to use these gorgeous essential oils for themselves. These are people who give me so much and who I just am at a loss at how to help them and do what I need to do. I had so much story in the way as to the illusion that the customs laws create for the average people to get by in a country that is experiencing such hardship. And suddenly I see the CFO of this billion dollar company doing EXACTLY what my visions have been leading me to – empowering the health of the villagers of Abusir by gifting them these very sacred and special oils to help themselves. To help empower themselves with their own innate experiences of essential oils and improve the health of the people around them. This will be a dream come true for me.

When I first visited Egypt, in 2012, I was struck by the way in which the villagers were forced to live under such hard circumstances. Partly this is their culture, they are people who embrace their very earthy way of life that takes you back to the beginning. We were travelling on a road to Saqqara and at the time, I had no idea where we were. I saw children running through a canal, strewn with rubbish to get to school. At that moment, I said “OMG how can I help these people? Please, tell me what I can do”… I heard a response as clear as day. So many crazy things happened on that tour, I could write a book about it. But this was … crazy. “what? me? no WAY!” I was horrified. Go on one tour to Egypt, act like I know it all, and come home and start a tour like I was some kind of expert? No way. “Bring the people to Egypt” and I’m like OMG ‘GO AWAY! I’m on holidays… I’m not doing it. No way. OMG I’m Australian. No one would believe me. I don’t know ANYTHING about Egypt. Go find someone else. I will do anything, but not that!” and the voice came back and said “Why not, you have the Guide!”…

With that my now very close friend and business partner (and our Tour Guide) Abdou Ashour comes up the bus. He asks me if he can sit down beside me, and I said yes. Inside I’m like ‘Uh-oh’… he says to me “PJ I am wondering if I can ask you something?”… “Sure” I said. He said to me “I have seen how you are with the people, I have seen how you are in the Temples. I have seen how the Egyptian people love you so much”… and I reflected and yes, I felt that too for some reason. “Will you bring the people to Egypt?”… spoken with pride, but in his eyes I could see he was pleading with me. I had inspired in him a hope he hadn’t felt for a long time. And those eyes were pleading with me.  I could see this was as much an offering as friendship as it was a way of allowing him to continue to provide for his family. Struck by his sincerity, I responded saying ‘yes… but how?’ He said “I will help you”.. and soon after he went back to his seat delighted with what the future would hold as we worked to co-create some magic together for the world.

DSCN1791On the way back to the hotel, we went through village after village after village in Egypt. All of them full of people struggling to make a living. All of them so similar to the little village we had just left, and which had touched my heart so much.

Quietly I said to myself “OMG… what have I just said yes to? How on earth am I going to do this? I have my beautiful man at home, my children… how is this even going to be possible? I don’t know anything about Ancient History, I’m not an Egyptologist… ” and again, the voice came back “we will support you” and I was stunned. “What?” and the voice went on “you will never have to worry about interest for the tour – that will always be there. You will always be supported. But on three conditions: 1. That you find your Egyptian sisters and connect with them 2. That you provide for the children and 3. That the tours are always of the heart … if you can do that, we will provide everything else” and with that, it was done.

Normally when I go to Egypt, I spend a bit of time in a hotel to unwind, rest and rejuvenate after the tour. It takes a very big toll on my body as I come to terms with the flesh catching up with the soul, so to speak. On Tuesday when I return to Egypt I will be spending 10 days in the village of Abusir, with Abdou, his pregnant wife and three children. In a house that we helped them finish when my son lived there last year just metres from the place where I was given guidance about how I could help the people going forward. This is particularly confronting each time I go, because I suffered Hepatitis A from my first tour in 2012, discovered on return to Australia, from which it took me six months to recover and basically turned my life upside down. We think it was obtained from spending time in the villages, but its a small fear and isn’t justified because fortunately once endured, it isnt possible to get Hepatitis A again. But even though I face the risk with my health every time, I feel this is something that is bigger than me, it’s just something I feel I have to do. This is why I do the tours, to provide the vehicle for me to do this.

cropped-dsc00010.jpgThrough my recovery, I stayed focused on my promise to help the Egyptian people and in 2014, I had a tour of 14 people ready to go after many, many cancellations due to perceived instability. This was a tour that my husband chose to propose to me and after the tour finished our wedding was held in the village of Abusir on a spare block of land that has become very special for me. Here I hold the intention for some incredible magic to take place, where my dream is to one day open a centre, where the villagers can come and avail themselves of these beautiful essential oils with some guidance on how to use them, all free of charge. Supporting them with their health with little or no options for sanitation, no fresh water to drink, living amongst the rubbish that the city says it can’t afford to clean up and very humble housing that is ‘regulated’ and is hot in Summer and cold in Winter. The girls in the village begin motherhood at age 14 or 15, because they have no access to education beyond primary school. They spend their lives raising large families in faith and some of them I count as my dearest friends.

DSCN1740On the last tour, I used crowdfunding to help raise over $2000 for another, very similar village that was destitute 1200kms from this area. Through my connections in Egypt, we were able to get a list of the poorest families in Egypt and give them little yellow packets, sealed with a gold star. It was Eid (like Christmas), and these villagers were ever so grateful to receive these hand written messages from us, thinking that the packets were full of seeds. The people we met were some of the poorest I have ever seen, many disabled, blind, dirty, and some barely alive. They were walking and breathing alright, but you could see the light of hope had dimmed from their eyes. Abdou and I went to a discreet corner away from the eyes of the public and we handed these packets to them with the gift we’d received from so many people who wanted to come to Egypt but couldn’t afford to come. This was their way of reaching out to Egypt and connecting and making a difference. We matched the money that was raised and were able to double it so that there was enough to go around. After we left, the villagers opened their packets privately and were stunned to realise that inside were not seeds, but around US $50 each which is like a month’s pay! With it, I was told later, people were stunned and set about buying groceries. To their absolute amazement, when we had gone, they opened the packets and found not seeds, but money which they used to go and buy medicine, and clothes, and food.
DSC_2296-Edit-3376262498-O
Today I witnessed some every day miracles. I have been concerned that I haven’t been able to give enough time to my efforts to assist people in villages this time and therefore feeling under-prepared. I have been on a road trip away from home, rushed for time as a busy mother with a family who still needs me present. I believe I witnessed several miracles over the past 24 hours, but what I have discovered is I have come home to many more oils than I would ever have in my possession. Normally I buy as I go, and I teach people in my team this as well. You will never imagine how stunned I was to discover that since I have been away, I have managed to acquire dozens of oils and many more beautiful little sample bottles that I have mysteriously acquired along the way. More product than I can imagine that leaves me with plenty to give and make available to the beautiful Egyptian people for those who have the means, and those who don’t too. Money is scarce in Egypt, but love is abundant. I have seen a few occasions where money has caused more problems than it solves but these beautiful oils will assist people with hope. I realised, I have the resources at my disposal to make a small difference, and it is that small difference that I know will inspire many. I will be able to help the villagers, engage and empower the women, I will be able to assist the children, and delight and inspire the wealthy there and of course, lead a tour that is in complete alignment with my desire to serve and be in Heart so I can always walk in service which was exactly my life purpose outlined to me when I visited Egypt four years ago.  I have all I need to make a difference in these people’s lives, by daring to follow my dream and reaching out to the people who make it all possible for me!

If you’d like to know more reach out to me here or at www.facebook.com/earthspiritpathways.com

If you’d like to donate to my crowdsourcing activity to raise money for an Egyptian village which is struggling at the moment, please go to: www.gofundme/egyptassist

IMG_3716

Is it Safe to Travel to Egypt?

I was saddened and reflecting this evening on the fact that news once again in the Middle East has highlighted an explosion in a popular suburb in Egypt with nine policemen killed by the blast after being asked to investigate suspicious activity in an apartment block near the Pyramids area. Curious about the timing of it all. Every year it is the same, every year there’s a buildup of ‘tension’ on the same date. You can adjust your watch by it.

With just days to go before the anniversary of the Revolution on the 25th of January, this I know is disheartening for Egyptians everywhere who would just prefer that this whole thing disappear. Most average Egyptians I know don’t even like to talk about the Revolution anymore, because it just brings on feelings of deep disappointment and sadness at the way in which the West just abandoned them, refusing to respond to what has gone on, and pretty much left the Egyptian people to hang in the breeze as they have watched tourism drop nearly 98% since 2011. To date, losses since 2011 total $50b – and counting. As one of Egypt’s most important economic sources, to observe the pain this causes is very difficult to watch each time I return. But Egyptians, overall, are bouyant and resilient. One of the gifts of the Revolution was a new direction for the country and most are focused on creating a better country with an even greater outlook. Everyone I speak to – from hotel owners to cab drivers say to me “wait until you see Egypt two years from now”. It’s exciting to hear their passion and determination come to the fore.

But is it safe? Lets look at this contextually. Every day in Egypt, more than 80 million Egyptians get about their every day lives focusing on surviving, getting through their busy lives, making ends meet, and providing for their loved ones. In Cairo, Egypt’s largest city by far, over 26m people call this home. That is the population of Australia – in one city. There can be an incident (much like this one) and more than 25m Egyptians and many millions of tourists who choose to ignore the sensationalist reports and political reprise won’t even know a thing about it unless they see it in the news. I know I never do when I go there and I am not interested in finding out. It is just not a part of the every day.

The thing is – incidents like these occur every day around the world! And while I never say nothing bad would happen because it always can, anywhere. It goes on every single day over every country with violence, shootings and attacks on nearly every continent on a daily basis – but no-one like ISIS is ‘claiming’ responsibility and none of it has the focus that Egypt seems to endure.

HOW DANGEROUS IS IT?

The whole point of terrorism is to harm a small number of people to make a much larger number of people who are basically safe to feel unsafe. It’s a tactic used by those whose resources of forced are limited. The reason it works is because there is always the chance at least one person might be harmed in the incident, even when that chance is immeasurably small. So while the sensational daily news coverage keeps this momentary threat in our psyche, greater threats like disease, car crashes, flooding, drownings, lightning strikes and earthquakes aren’t really in our thoughts. A terrorist attack is like a freak accident. They are often terribly timed and poorly created. In Egypt, there are more than 80m people unaffected by what goes on and with the added tourists, lets say around 3m a week the chanced are that there is less than 1 in 85m of being impacted. Those are fairly broad odds! in fact you are probably more likely to win a lottery than you are of being affected by this so called ‘Terror wave’. You are more likely to be bitten by a shark while swimming, killed on the highway, or hit by lightening than being affected by political activity. And that’s the honest truth.

Even with low tourism numbers, Egypt experiences roughly 9m tourists a year, and while it is nowhere near the 14m they are used to, that is still the vast majority of tourists who truly adore Egypt and really don’t regard what sensation is going on in the headlines. Thank goodness for sanity. 9m people who visit each year is the equivalent of the entire population of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne combined. There are still many people ignoring the nonsense of the media and engaging with the magic of Egypt that is still there.

I’ll be travelling back to Egypt again very soon in April, as I did in May last year with my 15 year old son (and he lived there for 3 months with dear friends while he worked through some emotional issues he was facing). While he had some trepidation about the stories he’d been bombarded with in the media, he came home with a new focus and a new perspective on the world at large. He saw just how insane the media circus is and the horror painted is not even close to the reality that occurs in the streets of Egypt. Where one can walk around and absolutely soak up the magnificent atmosphere without threat of harm by the beautiful Egyptian people.

The point of the matter is this – for any visitor to Egypt the risk of harm from any sort of political or military event is extremely low. One naturally avoids large gatherings of a political nature and you don’t go wandering in places where you don’t belong of course. And we don’t. There is a military presence that is visible to the tourists and they are there to protect us and the local people who are getting about doing their every day thing.

IT’S YOUR DECISION

The very best thing you can possibly be doing is not allowing the fear to paralyse you. That’s exactly what they are trying to achieve. At present 5m of those tourists are missing and in fear. So when there are scary news reports (understand this is the way they are designed!) people will turn to me and ask ‘is Egypt safe now?’ as if they are wanting me to guarantee their safety. Nothing is guaranteed but I will say this. You need to make the decision that is right for you. If you believe that an amount of uncertainty will spoil your trip just postpone it. I guarantee you Egypt will still be there. I’ll be returning in April and when I do I will continue to report on my experiences in Egypt and I expect to encounter zero problems – just as I have each time I have travelled there and have only ever been treated with nothing but immense love and respect by all the Egyptian people I am friends with.

Those headlines are sensational – violence that makes a strong photographic impression on the mind but they actually make very little difference to the average Egyptian going about their every day.

Most visitors will naturally find some nervousness about heading to Egypt and after I arrive I don’t think another thing about it while I am there because I am only ever experiencing daily life of the place – unless of course there is a headline and for obvious reasons I tend to avoid the news for its sensationalist distortion of facts.

I always recommend that people in Australia register with www.smarttraveller.gov.au and in the US the Safe Traveler Enrolment Program (STEP) where both Egyptian and your local authorities have a record of your personal, passport, contact and emergency information in an online database and reach you if needed which will allay any worries about travelling in this beautiful land.

In the meantime, we have no problem enjoying the magnificent gems of Egypt. Her natural beauty, the amazing weather, the incredible people, stunning Temples and the Pyramids with no crowds which is the upside of travel to Egypt. We head to the Museum, travel across Luxor in a Hot Air Balloon and experience a stunning Nile Cruise. We have a night in the Sahara Desert, camping under 5 billion stars with a true bedouin tea and explore an oasis. We are precious goods the entire time we are there and I am always treated as a true Queen, escorted every step of the way in a way that is discreet and effective. We have the wonderful protection of our beautiful Tour Manager Abdo Ashour who works to ensure that we always travel enroute to all destinations safely. We get to experience quality time with our Guides and there are no queues. The people of course with their beautiful open hearts and minds are always willing and ready to greet us and show us the hospitality that Egyptians are renown for!

Before my tour starts, I will be connecting with my beautiful friends in Egypt who I cherish and adore. We will hang out together, have some tea, and enjoy laughs, and fun together as we always have. I will spend time with their children, walk in the village, sit down and have tea, enjoy one of probably 30-40 magnificent sunsets. I’ll eat mango and bananas and peaches that are out of this world, and be taught how to make flat bread and smoke Shisha and eat the most incredible BBQ food that you can possibly imagine.

Should you go? Well you might be hit by a bus tomorrow, so I say come and enjoy it while you can! But keep your head out of the media nonsense.