One of the four cornerstones of JMS Ventures foundation and mission statement is Joy. As the founder of JMS Ventures, how did I decide to choose joy? I like Wess Stafford’s quote: “Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.”
Read his book “Too Small To Ignore “ to understand this powerful quote as it relates to his own life story . My own story, starts perhaps in 1960, as an innocent nine year old living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My father worked at the Ethiopian Air Force base in Debre Zeit, and we lived just south of Mexico square , those years we live there were some of the most impactful special years of my life, we camped on the shores of Lake Awasa , then a sleepy fishing village, we traveled to Ambo, Jimma, lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, and other beautiful parts of Ethiopia….. I also witness extreme poverty, disease,and even death, in those early years of my life as well, Wess, you are correct, choosing Joy is some times a brave hard decision .
Each school day we would pass by the Lion of Judah monument in front of the National Theater ,over those years to and from school I would always sit on the side of the school bus that allowed me to glance over at the statue . I knew little of it’s history then and knew even less how much those memories would impact the later years of my life, I since have leaned the history of this beautiful work of stone by sculptor Maurice Calka , and why it was commissioned by Emperor Haile Selassie , that’s for another story . I see it today as a symbol of the diversity, strong will and culture of the Ethiopian people. And the joy so many choose to live out each day .
Fast forward 45 years to 2008, 09, & 10 when my son Tyler and I traveled to Ethiopia to meet our Compassion International children, We stayed at the Ghion hotel , where as a kid I took swimming lessons in their olympic size pool. All the memories came rushing back as we drove down Gambia St. and on up to Churchill Ave. and I once again passed the Lion Of Judah Monument, now in a sea of high rise buildings and grown vegetation ! Oh what a joyful rush it was .. As we traveled around the country to meet and visit Ty’s brothers and sisters and their families , he too began to see and feel what I felt as a young boy , most of our children live with relatives or if they are fortunate enough to live with both a father and a mother the family lives on about a dollar a day.. Yet here is the most amazing heart warming part .. the joy in their lives was a choice and a very brave one in the midst of hardship, it was real and intoxicating as they accepted us into their homes, and shared their own wonderful stories.
As we continued over those three years to travel back to visit with them it was always the same , Ty and I cherished what they had each and every time ! And as we boarded the ETA plane to return home each year we too, always decided to choose joy to take back to our home in Colorado. Today as I expand the vision of JMS Ventures and I look for and evaluate Companies , NGOs and Non-Profits to Market and Advocate for I spend time looking at the character and culture of the people running their daily operations and one of the main virtues I look for is if they have consciously made the “Decision” to Choose “Joy” as part of what they have been called to do .. Both for profit 4life Research USA https://www.4life.com/jmsventures and Non-Profit Foundation 4life: http://bit.ly/Foundation4life live “Joy” every day as they continue to impact lives around the globe . And as our own membership continues to grow , I personally feel very grateful and even more joy as the new members also witness first hand how choosing Joy in the end is always the bravest and right choice in this world. And they do just that! JMS.