Monday, May 27, 2013

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Last year I read a blog post which made a great impact on me. The blogger described her visit to a relative who was a missionary in a rural area of Africa. He taught his students using next to no equipment- they sat under the trees as they did not even have a classroom or desks. But they were so motivated and hungry to learn that they applied themselves with great enthusiasm and, against all odds, achieved great things. The blogger related how her relative put Theodore Roosevelt's famous quotation, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are" into practice.

She returned to America to teach her own students in a well-equipped lecture hall. They had every electronic aid imaginable, but they were distracted and not interested in learning. I expected her to complain about their lack of appreciation of their wonderful facilities, but in a twist at the end, she related how she began to do what she could, with what she had, where she was.

Last year my husband and I visited "The Jewel of the Free State", the beautiful South African village of Clarens. Many artists live and work there, but one in particular stood out. His name was Morgan and he brought Roosevelt's words to life for me.

Morgan was a gifted artist, and day by day he did what he could—he painted.
The painting below was displayed on the grass at the side of the road which was his shop front.

Morgan used what was available. Here you can see him with his easel and the board which served as a palette.

We bought this vibrant painting, which now has pride of place in my kitchen. If you look carefully, you'll notice the "canvas" is simply a rusty old piece of metal embellished with barbed wire. Morgan probably found both materials in a scrap-heap on a nearby farm.

And Morgan's studio? He painted where  he was—under the trees on the village green where he had natural lighting and a view of the mountains.

Morgan I salute you.

You know the true meaning of Roosevelt's words.You are an inspiration.

If you have read the blog that I mentioned at the beginning and have a link to it, please leave it in the comments below. I didn't make a note of it and would love to read it again.


  1. Really interesting and challenging blog, Ruth Ann--thank you. Gorgeous photos too! The artist's joy for life seems to shine through his face and his paintings.

  2. Wow, Morgan is an inspiration to us all. He looks so young too. I don't know if you'll be able to find that original blog post, Ruth Ann, but I want to bookmark this one to remind myself of the lesson of joyfully doing what we can with what we have.

  3. Thank you for your comments Jo-Anne and Paula. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog.

    I felt inspired all over again as I went through my photos to choose a couple for the blog. Morgan has such a wonderful smile.

  4. Love this post, Ruth. What an inspiration and reminder for me. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What an encouragement Ruth Ann. Just what I needed today! A much needed word at the right time. Thank you. Sue Peters

  6. Thank you for your comments, Lisa and Sue. I enjoyed sharing with you.

  7. Loved this, Ruth. And what stunning photos. Morgan's love for life shines out through his beautiful face! Good application for "the rule of three" too! Well done.