ten wisdoms 02


By Bernie V. Lopez


Excerpt from the book – Ten Wisdoms of the Lord’s Prayer.
This has been blogged before as a separate article.


never let your mind take over
always let your heart take charge
for the heart has wisdom the mind is blind to


Once in a while, we see the faint glimmer of heroism in desert dunes, as in this story,


“Your kingdom come.” Our mission in life revolves around spreading God’s kingdom on earth and changing the world for Him. Changing the world in situations of extreme human conditions requires both prayer and spiritual strength. In this particular case, not everyone may have the “creativity” to change the world as Jacqui did. This story is inspired by a movie and the aftermath of the Sumatra tsunami.


Jacqui was once a journalist who became famous overnight when she wrote about the human drama of the mega-earthquake in Sumatra in 2004. A quarter of a million people died worldwide in that disaster of the century. She immersed herself among the survivors to be able to write first-hand the poignant stories of the lives of survivors torn apart by the biggest tsunami of the century. As she was writing, tears fell on the keyboard.


Now, she is a high ranking official at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR). But she is bored to death at her desk job. When she hears about the African famine in Ethiopia, she jumps with joy and wants so much to go. She is attracted to the harsh field of human disasters. It is the journalist in her blood. Her boss, Frederick, is angry.


FREDERICK – Tell me one good reason why you have to go, Jacqui.
JACQUI – This is special for me, Frederick.
FREDERICK – You have tons of work here. This trip is out of line. It is not in your job description. You can’t go. I’m sorry. There is nothing special for you in Ethiopia.
JACQUI – Yes, there is. It’s close to my heart.
FREDERICK – Not good enough. You have to strip yourself of this journalism disease you still have inside you. I know, I know. It is addictive once it has made you famous. Forget it.
JACQUI – It’s not that. The laurels mean nothing to me, Frederick. You know me. My heart is there. I’ll die if I don’t go.
FREDERICK – See. You have the reasons of a child who is denied of her candy. You’re obsessed. A professional does not get obsessed and attached.
JACQUI – So I am obsessed. I don’t care. I’ll die if don’t go, Frederick. Please, I beg you.
JACQUI – Then I resign. I can’t stand it anymore.
FREDERICK – Be reasonable, Jacqui. I need you.


From those last three words, Jacqui knows she has the upper hand. She quickly storms out of the room. But outside, she walks slowly, hoping to hear him holler. Silence. After ten paces, her heart sinks. Tears roll down her cheek. She cannot resign. This job is her last card before boredom and alcoholism.


FREDERICK – (Screaming). Jacqui, get your ass back here! (Jacqui gives a soft scream. She wipe her tears as she re-enters the room.) Okay, you win. Fifteen days, that’s all you have.
JACQUI – Thanks, Frederick. I will never forget this. I promise to work double time when I come back. I am your slave.
FREDERICK – Get out of here before I change my mind.




And so, Jacqui wins. She is doing the one thing she does best, that is, absorb the feelings of people in pain. It makes her whole and, ironically, it strengthens her spirit to see and help people in pain. It is her way of changing the world for the Lord. She whispers a short Our Father and Hail Mary for the Lord to bless her trip.


Arriving in Ethiopia, she is met at the airport by David, a UNCHR veteran who is an expert in massive food programmes. He is feeding a staggering 850,000 who are dying of hunger.


DAVID – Ms. Jacquiline Durmont?
JACQUI – Just call me Jacqui.
DAVID – We go straight to the refugee camp on my jeep. Hey, you look so happy and excited.
JACQUI – I am, I am.
DAVID – This is not the place to be happy about. About 4,000 die everyday, about one half percent of the entire camp. More than half of them are children below four. Are you still happy?
JACQUI – Okay, okay, I’m no longer happy. I’m wiping off my smile.
DAVID – I read your writings. Are you going to write about the people here? If you are, I can’t help you. I will not permit you to use these people for your ambitions to stardom.
JACQUI – I am not here to write. I am no longer a journalist. I represent the UNCHR.
DAVID – I’ll bet. That’s your cover. I know your kind. Not one journalist who has been here was able to write a story. I have a nickname among journalists. I am called the anti-media snake. Ms. Durmont, you won’t get your story, I promise.
JACQUI – Jacqui, that’s my name.
DAVID – Ms. Durmont, you have to prove you are not a journalist.
JACQUI – Why are you so hostile? (She gets her cell phone out of her pocket and talks to Frederick on the line). Frederick, I got problems here. You know my problem? Well … okay … okay … (hands the phone to David) … he wants to talk to you.
DAVID – (On the phone).  Yes, Sir … yes, Sir … yes, Sir …right away Sir …. (Hands the phone back to Jacqui). Jacqui, right?
JACQUI – Right.
DAVID – Sorry. It’s the place. After two weeks, it gets into your system.
JACQUI – My turn. We don’t need softies here. You want me to recommend your transfer?
DAVID – Nope. Okay, your turn. Let me show you around. We go to the refugee camp. (Cutting across the vast desert, the jeep churns a cloud of dust. All around, they see people trudging along the direction of the camp. Jacqui sees something).
JACQUI – Stop, stop.
DAVID – We can’t stop here, Jacqui. Protocol. There is a rule. High-rank UNCHR personnel unescorted by security cannot stop. It’s dangerous out here, Jacqui.


Jacqui suddenly shifts the gear to neutral.  As the jeep slows down, she jumps out, falling to the ground. She picks herself up and runs towards what seems to be a pillow on the ground. It is an abandoned baby in last stage of malnutrition. Jacqui shoos off the flies in the baby’s eyes, and goes back to the jeep. They move on.

Click photo to see credits.


JACQUI – Remember, David, protocol is a man-made bull created by administration people who have no field experience.
DAVID – It is still protocol. I can’t violate protocol.
JACQUI – David, why are you here?
DAVID – To help people in need. That’s pretty obvious.
JACQUI – You better make up your mind, to help people or follow protocol. Because at a certain point, they contradict each other and you have to make a choice. If we did not stop, protocol would have killed this baby. One small advice, David. The heart, your wanting to help people, has primacy over the mind, your wanting to obey protocol. Make sure this baby makes  it. If she doesn’t, I will make sure you don’t.


The jeep arrives at the UNCHR headquarters in the middle of the desert. Jacqui hands the crying baby to David. David hands the baby to a nurse and gives instructions. A convoy of seven ten-wheeler trucks full of sacks of grain arrives, churning up a cloud of dust, triggering a commotion among hungry refugees.


Photo by Dr. Dutkowsky
JACQUI – Where is your security force?
DAVID – The colonel won’t give me one. He said I don’t need one.
JACQUI – You realize if there is a riot, we could get killed. Get me the colonel on the phone. (She hands her cell phone to David. He calls the colonel and gives the cellphone back to Jacqui).
JACQUI – (To the colonel on the phone). We need security here at the camp, colonel. My name is Jacqui Durmont, UNCHR.
COLONEL – THE Jackie Durmont? I’ve read all your writings. You are one son of a bitch of a writer. Do you know, your writings move me to tears?
JACQUI – Cut the crap, colonel.
COLONEL – We can talk about your request over dinner. Tonight? I pick you up at the UNCHR office?
JACQUI – No problem. Can you send security right away? We may have a riot here.
COLONEL – Sure thing, Ma’am. Right away. They will be there in an hour.
JACQUI – Thirty minutes. Don’t mess with me, colonel.
COLONEL – Alright, alright. I want to talk about your days in Tunisia. You described the Sahara as a sacred place, remember?
JACQUI – Pick me up at the refugee camp. (She clicks off the cell phone).
DAVID – I like your style. Swap security for a dinner date. Really nice, Jacqui.
JACQUI – Want me to call off the date?
DAVID – No, no. I owe you. We really need the security.
JACQUI – I know. That’s why I will be the martyr, tortured to death by a boring macho colonel.
DAVID – You know him?
JACQUI – I was here as a journalist last year. He’s been eyeing my ass. (Refugees are crowding the lead truck. There is a commotion. A near riot situation is emerging.) We have to get to the lead truck. You push, I follow.


The two penetrate the screaming mob. In ten minutes, they make it through, going up the truck. Jacqui’s sleeve is torn. She raises her hand to quiet the mob down in vain. The noise instead intensifies. The truck starts to wobble. Jacqui grabs a megaphone and speaks in perfect vernacular. She is ignored by the hungry crowd.


JACQUI – (Screaming through the megaphone).  I was here a year ago. I don’t know if some of you recognize me. (A few raise their hands).  This is a lullaby song a mother taught me before she died. Her baby died of malnutrition in my arms ten minutes after she died.


There is no reaction from the mob. She starts to sing. There is a sudden quiet and calm as the Ethiopean lullaby echoes across the desert, cutting deep into the hearts of the mob. At the end of the song, there is a deafening roar of applause.


JACQUI – The security force will be here in a few minutes. If they are here, and we have not formed a line, all of you will be pushed back and will be the last to be served. I need five of your leaders to form the lines. Five lines please. (A dozen raise their hands. Jacqui selects the five leaders. They start to move). Okay, those at the back, move back. Only the women, the mothers will be served first. Let the women stay in front. Move, move. Those women carrying babies or with children at the very front. The men, stay behind, please.


Jacqui sings another song. Some women join her. The lullaby echoes across the desert, having a calming effect on everyone. In ten short minutes, a near-riot mob turns into a quiet disciplined crowd. Five long lines are formed, women in front, men at the back. In another ten minutes, a convoy of three trucks of soldiers arrives. Rifles on hand, they alight from the trucks. The colonel goes towards Jacqui.


COLONEL – Hello, Jacqui. This is impossible. How did you do it?
JACQUI – Simple, colonel. Just touch their hearts.
COLONEL – Just touch the hearts of a violent mob? Are you kidding? Impossible. (Jacqui starts to sing the lullaby again. The colonel sings with her). You are an amazing woman. I bow to you. You are a woman warrior, the Joan of Arc of the desert. (The colonel gives a slight curtsy. The crowd applauds).
JACQUI – I am no warrior. There is no war. There is no enemy.
COLONEL – Yes there is, hunger, death. Dinner tonight?
JACQUI – On one condition.
COLONEL – What, another condition? Okay, shoot.
JACQUI – I want your commander to monitor the food distribution 24/7. And tell David here if there is a problem. If there is a riot in the future because there is no security, I will get your ass. One more thing. I want lobsters for dinner.
COLONEL – Lobsters in Ethiopea? Let’s see if I can get some. How about steak? Easier to get.
JACQUI – Okay.
COLONEL – Your wish is my command, my queen.


They board the jeepney and fade into the red sunset. The dust gives an orange glow.


the Lord Himself created wisdom
He looked on her and knew her value,
He poured her out over all His works
upon all mortal beings in accordance with His goodness
He lavished her on those who love Him


Sirach 1:1-10


To order the book, send email to author at


Check out another book by the author –
Wings and Wanderlust (The Art of Discovering Your Inner Self)
Read some excerpts first at –


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