Gulu, Uganda & Sister Rosemary

Gulu, Uganda & Sister Rosemary

Sister Rosemary Sisters at St. Monica's give new hope to Girls Upon visiting Uganda, I had no idea I would meet her and get to spend so much time with her. Her cause is bigger than her but her bravery and courage during a war has us all searching our hearts. 25 years of Kony’s LRA war and his stealing of kids from their families, forcing them into all forms of slavery and brainwashing, had left Uganda with a great need of restoration. I came to see some of this restoration. Invited, actually, to come. And not fully understanding what I agreed to do, I found myself on a plane with a few other incredible individuals that I still call friends. We arrived super late into Kampala, and headed out early the next day. After two car breakdowns, and a much longer trip than we had planned, we arrived in Gulu. This was just the day after the world mourned the publicized fall of leadership of Invisible Children. Another group dedicated to stopping Joseph Kony as he continued destroying so many lives.  We were there to meet kids at school who were experiencing new beginnings after so much had been taken from them with Restore International. But there was so much more for us this day. We left the hotel, made our way to Invisible Children where we prayed with the leadership there. We didn’t so much talk about all that had happened, we just sat with them, put our cameras away, and prayed with them in a difficult time. This impacted me greatly, as the world was speculating,...
Vidas Jovenes

Vidas Jovenes

Vidas Jovenes Costa Rica “There are still valleys to walk through during our remaining days.  The disappointments, the frustrations, the discouragements, the dilemmas, the dark, difficult days , though they be shadowed valleys, need not be disasters.  They can be the road to higher ground in our walk with God.” Phillip Keller  Amen.  For all of us, this is good news.  A beautiful truth is being told to many teen moms while they are being loved well by Michelle Suwyn & her team of mentors, volunteers & committee in Costa Rica.  We spent the day with these girls, their children, and their mentors, and heard some of their stories.  Being around them and watching them interact with each other and with the leaders, you can see that they have a great hope in something bigger than themselves.  Something we might all learn from them.  If they come in weary, they leave renewed.  They feel supported and trust in the love that their mentors pour out. Through the time that the leaders lift up and present the Gospel, the girls are drawing closer to their Creator that loves them perfectly,  then as they grow into beautiful women, Vidas Jovenes, provides opportunity for them to pour back into their communities, and lead the next generation.  I am reminded to be thankful that even in difficult circumstances, there are new mercies every day. Without that truth, all of our futures would be hopeless regardless of our weaknesses, mistakes or situations.  These exist in all our lives. We traveled around to meet all these sweet girls, and we were not just meeting girls,...
Capernaum – Vida Joven

Capernaum – Vida Joven

We headed out that day, invited to come take pictures of a talent show in Alajuela here in Costa Rica.  We began our journey into the worst traffic we’d encountered in our entire time here, but what we were about to watch was going to bless us more than we knew.  We pulled up to a hand-painted Vida Joven sign, hanging on the wall of the fence just at the curb.  We walked in to see paintings the kids had done, and we could hear all the energy and excitement inside.  This was a first for us to be part of Capernaum and the joy was everywhere. Capernaum is a Special Needs mission within Young Life.  These  kids had rehearsed and worked toward this day for a month, and many of their parents were in the audience. As I walked around and began shooting the event, there were so many things happening.  Parents were anticipating the show, and you could literally feel the community around this mission, and the hope it gives so many.  One of the many special moments there was when some kids were acting out Noah’s Ark.  They were all in.  Full of confidence that the people there to see them were 100% for them.  It was if I was watching and seeing something in them that I didn’t fully possess myself.  I found myself asking, “How can it be that they are so brave?”  It was difficult to reconcile the beauty of what I was watching and equally difficult to explain it here.  As I was shooting and holding back tears behind my camera, Ella...
Vida Joven, Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Vida Joven, Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Visiting Matagalpa, Nicaragua was up high on the list of things we’ve experienced that renew our strength, build our faith in how the darkest of circumstances will never eliminate anyone from experiencing renewal if there’s an intersection with Jesus.   In fact, story after story of Him meeting them in the brokenness spurs us as North Americans, with all our entitlement and ease of life, to consider joining those who have no such understanding of such carelessness, ease, or even our striving for such things.    The stories we heard of gangs, abandonment, and truly a past of hopeless poverty has actually refined so many of these leaders here in Nicaragua to be strong in faith, and desperate to introduce Jesus to others.  Here’s a few shots of La Finca Vida Joven Camp in the mountains of Matagalpa, Nicaragua.  A place God uses well to bring kids to Himself, in a safe place to make a decision about eternity....
Guatemala  Mayan Ceremony – Chichi

Guatemala Mayan Ceremony – Chichi

Our last day in Guatemala certainly was one of the most culturally rich events.  We took our shuttle with our new friend, Julio, to Chichicastenango.  As we headed into Chichi, we saw Chicken bus drivers drinking Tecates in the drivers seat conversing with other bus drivers. We saw three people on motorcycles with no helmets; mom, dad and babies 2-3 years old.  As we entered Chichi, we passed a huge billboard with a picture of feet and toe tags covered with a sheet that read… something to the effect of  “Don’t kill, and don’t die.”   Again, my nervous laugh came as there was no turning back now. We arrived and met up then tried our best to stay together, but if you stop to grab a shot, by the time you look up, your team of photographers are GONE…  So needless to say, I was soon all alone in the town of Chichi and it might be one of my favorite market experiences of all.  I luckily hooked up with Dan and Julio just in time to head over to a Mayan ceremony.  Julio had a Mayan child leading us all the way up a mountain. I almost backed out 2-3 times certain we were all idiots allowing this child to lead us to an unknown location.  It was hot, and we kept questioning whether this was a good idea.  On the way there, we were all hoping it was going to be worth it, and it really was.  It was nothing like what I imagined at all.  There were very few people there, which made it actually...