Posts Tagged ‘Peace Corps’

Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected #TMOY 1 #PeaceCorps #AbrahamLincoln #EleanorRoosevelt #21DayChallenge

Thursday, October 8th, 2015


Eleanor Roosevelt visiting soldiers

Eleanor Roosevelt in South Pacific

Life lesson from Eleanor Roosevelt

During WWII, in 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt wanted to travel to the Pacific War Zones and visit wounded American soldiers. Her trip met resistance from top Navy brass. Initially, Admiral Halsey regarded her trip as a nuisance and insisted on surrounding her with so much protection that she felt cut off from the ordinary soldiers she had come to see. However, Eleanor’s indomitable energy and kindness staggered the mind of everyone she met.

When Eleanor Roosevelt visited the wounded soldiers, it wasn’t just a wave and a smile, then on to the next hospital. Eleanor spoke directly to each soldier, comforted them with the words a mother would use with her son, took messages back to their loved ones, and passed along heart felt wishes from the President. The soldiers loved her maternal compassion. Admiral Halsey said “It was a sight I will never forget.”

Halsey later admitted “I was ashamed of my original surliness. She alone had accomplished more good than any other person, or any other group of civilians who had passed through my area.”

Eleanor Roosevelt exceeded everyone’s expectations and her tour graced the lives of countless servicemen.

And, as Abraham Lincoln would say . . . that reminds me of a story.

I had a similar “eureka” moment as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras.

I had dreamed of working in a developing country for many years. However, my experience turned out to be a complete disaster. I returned to school to study agriculture for the purpose of utilizing my knowledge overseas.

Honduran Dream Job Turns Sour

My Peace Corps assignment was to work in a small farming community in Northern Honduras. I started off full of enthusiasm, but within a week I came down with food poisoning and was hospitalized for 7 days.

Upon returning to my site, I felt loneliness, frustration in communicating with the local people (some of whom didn’t seem to like me) and, I was physically exhausted from voracious, industrial sized insects that were attacking my body like the Luftwaffe attacked England. Internally, I had self-doubts about whether or not I could cut the mustard and actually do my job. I felt depressed and it showed in my uninspired work.

One day while walking several miles to visit a farmer, I encountered a hostile looking bull blocking the stream that I had to cross.

Mad Steer


Two ladies and several children were standing by looking at the bull.

I asked one lady, “Que pasa?” (What’s going on?)

She said, “El toro esta enojado. No nos deja pasar.” (The bull is mad. He won’t let us pass.)

I looked into the eyes of the bull and we had a “mind meld.” I could feel his fury and his desire to flip me like a pancake if I tried to cross that stream.


Even though I knew the insects would have a feast on me, like a ravished high school football team at an all-you-can-eat KFC buffet, I jumped a fence and crossed the stream through an adjoining field so the bull couldn’t get me.

When I got home that night. I found I had mosquito and chigger (tiny, super powered mites that burro under your skin) bites all over my body. I could barely move for several days which made me more depressed.

Childhood Memory

I remembered the time I suffered a serious injury in middle school. I missed a month of classes and when I returned, I was overwhelmed by my homework. I doubted if I could ever catch up. I began to think I was not smart enough. Fortunately for me, my American History teacher took me under his wing and to engergize my study habits and to do thinkgs like outline the text book chapters before each test. He pushed me to do far more than was normally expected. Consequently, I caught up on my school work and became  a model student.

I learned that to succeed in achieving goals, I have to do more than anyone else, show super enthusiasm, and throw myself into my workwith reckless abandon.

I applied the same principal in Honduras. I determined that I was not going to give up. Instead, I was going to  work twice as hard as anyone else to be successful.

In doing so, I overcame my obstacles and I came to love my job and the people I worked with. I even stayed a third year in Honduras to continue my work with the Peace Corps.


Action steps I’ve learned to overcome obstacles:

  1. Overcome resistence with indomintable energy and kindness.
  2. Work twice as hard as anyone else.
  3. Move forward with unbridled enthusiasm and reckless abandon.


SCAN0249 (2)

Building chicken coop in Honduran school.

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.


Related Posts

Yard Sales, Heroic Cats and Zombies

A Mindfulness Trick for You by Lynne Spreen @ Any Shiny Thing

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments

Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10

Failures Can Be Transformed into Strength – #LifeLesson 11

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Think for Yourself: Never Ask a Barber if You Need a Haircut – LifeLesson #13

Upcoming Presentations

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones


“I am Terry Sprouse and I am a Lincoln-holic.”

But, let’s go back to where it all began.

I first became acquainted with Abraham Lincoln when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras in 1986. Like most PCVs, I was starved for any reading material that was written in English, a thing more valuable to me than diamonds.

A Life Changing Book 

One day, I received a large package from my mother. It was book entitled “Abraham Lincoln – One volume edition” by Carl Sandburg.

I was captivated by the personality of Lincoln, as well as the elegant manner in which the book was written. As I read the book, I felt like I was experiencing a beautiful dream that I never wanted to end. I read the book through many times and highlighted passages that I wanted to remember.

I think the life of Abraham Lincoln is the most intriguing story in American history. Poor farm boy rises, like Venus from the half-shell, against all odds, to become President of the United States. And beyond the Presidency, he achieves legendary status through unparalleled displays of grace, charm, and good humor.

I planted a goal in my mind to write a book that would inspire people the way that Sandburg’s book had inspired me, and maybe even write a book about Lincoln. I read everything I could get my hands on about Lincoln.

28 Years Later- The Book is Written

Fast forward 28 years. I have been a member of Toastmasters (public speaking club) for several years, and I delivered several speeches about Abraham Lincoln. In 2012, I completed a book with my wife (Turn Your House into a Rental House Instead of Selling It!) and I was casting about for a topic for my next book.

Then, the goal that I had planted in my mind to write a book about Lincoln came back to me. I initially thought to write a book containing Lincoln’s best jokes that I could sell in conjunction with my making Lincoln speeches at various groups and organizations.

Gradually the book got longer and stronger, as I decided that some supplemental text would make it all the more interesting. I added chapters on the techniques that Lincoln used to tell his stories –mimicry, self-deprecating humor, and adding a moral to the end. Then another chapter on childhood influences that molded young Abe into a storyteller. Another on how he “Lincolnized” old stories to make them his own.

Throwing modesty to the wind, I also included a chapter on how I use Lincoln-like stories to teach my young boys valuable lessons and in radio interviews to promote my books.

I presented many of my ideas in speeches to my Toastmaster Club. In the process of writing the speeches and receiving feedback from club members, the text improved, and ultimately wound up as content in my final book.

With the publication of my Lincoln book, the 28 year wait is over and my mind is at ease.

Yes, I am a Lincoln-holic, and gratified to be in such good company.


See also:

Abraham Lincoln Storytelling Secret – Add Voices

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me About the Power of Stories

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Win the Presidential Nomination (a lesson for the 2016 Candidates for President)

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview

Feb. 4: “Abraham Lincoln and the Power of a Story” at AZ Senior Academy

Lincoln Storytelling at AZ Senior Academy and Aztec Toastmasters (Video)

Follow Abe Lincoln’s Storytelling Example

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps: My presentation to the ALP Convention (video)

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

Volunteering at Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair

Review of “The Hour of Peril” – 5 Abe Lincoln Anecdotes

Dreams Still Come True

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Dreams come true: without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.” — John Updike

One of my favorite blog authors is Lynne Spreen at Any Shiny Thing. Her article “Our Dreams Persist” describes the long and winding road that she traveled to write and publish her book “Dakota Blues.” I admire her persistence in the face of many obstacles to hold tight to her dream and to finally see it come to fruition.

Reading her story of how she wrote her book reminded me of my own experiences.

I first determined to write a book when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras in 1987. I didn’t have any idea, at that time, exactly what I wanted to write about. I just knew that I wanted to write a book that would be useful to others, and to hopefully inspire them along life’s way.

Time Marches On

It wasn’t until 15 years later, after starting my fixer upper and rental house business, that I began to put pen to paper (and fingers to computer keys) to begin writing my book. I thought that sharing my experiences with fixer upper houses would be that useful and inspiring book that I had imagined writing years earlier.

Four years later, through many iterations, and alternating periods of exhilaration and self doubt, “Fix em Up Rent em Out” was proudly rolled out on Seeing my book finally published gave me a warm glow  that still shines inside me to this day.

The Seed Continues to Grow

What I find interesting, in both my experience and Lynne’s, is that once the seed of a good idea is planted, it grows inexorably and invisibly inside of us, until it eventually becomes reality. The fact that it takes years for the final completion of the dream makes it all the more satisfying.

Weekly Blog Roundup

Additional recent blog articles that I liked:

The Landlord Quick Fix at LandlordInvestor

21 Ways to Manage the Stuff that Sucks Up Your Time at Louisville Gals Real Estate

 Why is it Healthy to Change Bank Accounts? at Fearlessmen

Give your Family an Amazing Fall with these 8 (Frugal) Activities at Frugal Habits

Hording Gold at All Things Pondered

How to Save Money on Contacts and Eye Care at Work Save Live

How We Bought A $50K Duplex – Part 4 at plantingourpennies

Legal Battle Over a Sagging Balcony  at Blue Collar Worker

What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What You Want To Do With Your Life? at Untemplater

Auto Insurance Basics And Recommendations For Everyone at Financial Samurai

Household Budget Tips for the Upcoming Fall at My Money Design

Catering Your Blog To Your Readership at Modest Money


Coming Soon!

How to Turn Your Home into a Rental House, Instead of Selling It