Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mission :: El Salvador

I had the joy of going to El Salvador with a small group from my church a few weeks ago. The mountains were gorgeous and the people, wonderful. We went to partner with a church in Ahuachapan, a small town near the border of Guatemala. The church was tiny - we doubled their size with our 24 people. We had a major language barrier - they spoke Spanish; we didn't. But, we worked through it with the help of some fabulous translators and, of course, wild hand gestures.

Each day, a group of us would go out and do a puppet performance for the little kids while another group would go to a park and do street evangelism. We traveled through heart-wrenching poverty where families lived in houses made of aluminum siding and a tarp for a roof. Many of those we met were refugees, from where we aren't sure. Many of the people there have nothing. For those who are doing really well, their monthly wage is about $300. It's a different world.

The church in Ahuachapan is wanting to expand to a new site that is closer to their current members and can reach a very impoverished area. We hope to visit again soon to help them build that new church.

While I was there, I felt like a tourist about 99% of the time because I was glued to my camera. It always dangled from my neck and I somehow lugged my 3 pound mega lens with me too. But, my official title on the trip was "photographer", so I guess it just comes with the gig. I'm pretty sure that one of my dream jobs would be to travel with missionary groups and take pictures for the organization or church...just throwing that out there. :)

Here's a sampling of some pictures. You can see plenty more on Flickr.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Ezer Project {Personal Project}

"It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make an ezer suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18).

Ezer is the Hebrew word for a woman. Literally translated, it means "warrior". It's the same word that men in Israel's history would name their sons to indicate strength.

"Eve and all her daughters are ezers - strong warriors who stand alongside their brothers in the battle for God's kingdom." (Carolyn Custis James)

This personal photography project was inspired by a number of people, things, and Scripture verses. Ultimately, however, the purpose is to show the strength of all women THROUGH Christ alone. Each word written on each girl is a representation of the reality dwelling inside. We are tattooed with these attributes because of Christ and it makes us not weak damsels in distress, but valiant warriors standing together.

This is only the beginning of this project! More will be coming in time!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It is not human nature to be wonder woman {Personal Post}


(Just as a warning, this post has very little to do with photography. But, let's be honest, this blog needs a little sprucing.)

Being out of college is tough. No more starting an Office marathon the week of finals at midnight. No more 6 week Christmas breaks. No more parents paying your bills. Those dreams of changing the world in only 6 months after getting out of college suddenly crumble under the crippling blow of a mortgage, 401k, electricity bill, utilities bill, and a 40-hour-a-week-bottom-of-the-totem-pole job. Now, I'm no longer in a rented house that I will leave in 9 months. I own this place, or so says the bank. And those super cute $50 shoes I've been eyeing? Forget about it.

It's true - I suffer from PCB...Post-College Blues. I was warned this could happen. But, I thought it might hit me for maybe a few weeks and I would get over it. But, alas, it's been a rather difficult road for me to become accustomed to life in the 'burbs.

Although the rows of perfectly trimmed lawns and structurally symmetric houses sometimes become tiresome, I have been experiencing the Bible in a whole new way. This verse has new life for me now: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (Philippians 4:12). 

It's been comforting to me to know that it's not within the human nature to be okay in any and every situation. It's not human nature to be wonder woman. Contentment is an attribute that is learned, in time, and experience - whether you're a new believer or the daring apostle Paul.

I'm not entirely sure what specific secret that Paul was talking about. It would have been kind of nice if he had written in nice big letters: "THE SECRET TO ALWAYS BEING HAPPY IN EVERY SITUATION IS THIS...." But, I suppose that God isn't aiming for our constant happiness. He's aiming at His glory through our sanctifying lives. So, I continue my 20-somethings learning what this secret is. Here's what I've found so far.

Prayer has been tantamount to a proper perspective and right attitude for me. Speaking with the Father is powerful and effective. I've dedicated a time for prayer for the youth group, where my husband is a pastor, once a week. I've seen an increased love, focus, and dedication in myself to seeing the youth and the church as a whole flourish in depth of life-changing stories.

New friendships are always difficult for me, but making a conscious effort to make new friends has also shifted my "woe is me" mentality to wanting to love others. I pull my head out of my kiddie pool of self-pity and actually interact with another human being and it leaves me feeling encouraged and challenged.

But, the most powerful has been reminding myself that there is a whole lot more to my life and to God's glory than me living downtown with a super sweet job and an even sweeter salary. If I truly am after pushing forward God's kingdom, then any sacrifice is worth it. Even if it means being a desperate creative in an office job an hour away. In the end, Christ died; Christ rose again; and Christ is coming again. Everything else will melt away.

I've heard that PCB (Post College Blues in case you missed that) can last up to 3 years. I see it disappearing, ever so slowly, as God continues to shape me. I will probably always struggle with being content, but I am ever grateful for such a powerful lesson in this stage of life. May He continue to shape me for His glory and His reputation.