harnessing the power of photography for good

Guatemala

mission focused :: photo-peeps this wednesday…guatemala sharing

This Wednesday Cyndy and brotherjoe will be sharing photos and stories from the recent Iaomai Guatemala medical mission trip.

Please come and join us as we share about what God did in Huehuetanengo, Guatemala.

7pm at the Rock, in room 353.  All are welcome

brotherjoe with Omar and Luis, 2 of our awesome translators in GuatemalaCyndy, getting some hugs from her new friends


iaomai guatemala 2011 :: God’s Timing…

with all the action goin on in the clinic waiting area, i set up my camera to take photos of the day, timed to take a photo every 30 seconds…the fun part is you never know what your gonna get.  it was wednesday, october 5th, the middle of our ministry week in huehue…the joint was full of people.the waiting area, folks waiting to see 1 of 6 medical providers in the clinic

i dont recall where i was when i heard that tim had met and prayed with the general of the base.  my first reaction was “did anyone get photos?” and “why didnt yall grab one of us (photographers)?”  they looked but couldnt find us…i believe alot of photography is about timing and being in right place at right time.  and as a follower of Christ, i believe sometimes  God gives us photos that are just for us, the photographer, and not for sharing with the rest of the world.  and thats ok.  if you spend any amount of time with me you will hear me say that sometimes the photographer has to put the camera down in order to be obedient to God when He wants you to pray, worship, or just be still!  some folks prayin and being still…not me!

later on in the day, i was able to talk with tim more and found out they prayed for the general in the clinic waiting area!  so once i found out what time of day it was, i was able to search the nearly 1000 photos taken that day for the time-lapse, to find the photos (once i get the photos together i will share the time-lapse images).  i was able to crop down and get some photos we could share!  so i wasnt ready…but God set things up so when the time was right, the photo could be shared with all yall!  Praise God!praying with the general in the clinic!

tim was gracious enough to share a little bit more of what happened that day on the Iaomai website/blog…you can read his account by going HERE.  enjoy


iaomai guatemala 2011 :: liquid sanctuary (Ode to Miller)

in the middle of editing and processing photos from guatemala…so i thought id mix it up a bit and offer a tribute to my friend dave miller, coffee aficionado and all around good guy…

im no coffee snob.i like folgers.  afterall, its the best part of waking up…i like 7-11 coffee…especially with all those coffee flavors and free flavored syrup!i like starbucks coffee too…im no hater!  but i do know good coffee and i know what i like.  at a rest stop on the way down the mountain from huehue, i saw this machine and had to have an espressoan excellent espresso, at the end of a great week of ministry!

Coffee can be an other-worldly experience when its done at a high standard  and when the circumstances are right…it can serve as a place of sanctuary amidst the chaos around you.

i stumbled upon tretto caffe’, while we were having a tour of la casa del jade, in the city of antigua, guatemala.  what a blessing to find this joint.  i only wish i had more time to hang out and take in the vibe…and drink more coffee!my first ristretto cafe!  my goodness!  jam packed with flavor and richness and goodness!frosty, the owner of tretto caffe’, surrounded by his talented baristas

my second visit to tretto caffe’, located in “el jaulon” building (just a block off the center plaza of antigua), i met frosty and got to hear his passion for good coffee.  and his desire to be the best barista in guatemala.  theyve only been open for a few months…but if they continue to serve great coffee im sure they will do well.  he allowed me to take a few more photos of the process of making delicious coffee…

i call it the “art of the draw”this was cyndys latte’


iaomai guatemala 2011 ~ matt’s “mark”

Matt Bishop RN, with his new friend

I took the above picture of Matt early in the week. The interesting thing is that i kept seeing him in the viewfinder and what grabbed me was his genuine sense of caring and compassion for those he was helping. That was before getting to know the rest of his story…Matt with a young patient, getting help from Kelly Caldwell to calm him down

Matt was kind enough to share his story on the Iaomai website. Its a powerful story worth reading, please go to iaomaimedical.org or press HEREMatt sharing some of his story with a young man from todos santosMatt in action


iaomai guatemala 2011:: decay

tonite was our last nite in guatemala.  we gathered together everyone from the states that was still with us, the translators joined us along with some of the key helps international staff that helped us in huehuetanengo.

its been a long day and i do believe the enemy is working overtime, wanting to discourage and distract me from the good that happened this past week.  its nothing new.

after spending a good chunk of the morning and early afternoon looking through photos of the work in huehue, cyndy and i had a chance to get out and have lunch with loida and liza at this joint around the corner…tastey stuff.  afterwards cyndy wanted to do some last minute shopping before heading home and didnt want to go on her own.

along the way we ran into what looks like an old church.  dont know the history or its current status but what immediately came to mind was the idea of spiritual decay.  it may of looked lovely back in the day and even quite grand, but if you were to look at it now…its a question of foundation, being rooted in what is good, that is Christ.  if God isnt at the core of who you are, no matter how many mission trips you go on or how many old ladies you help cross the street…the Bible says you have decay, or sin in your life that will kill you spiritually.

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

this has been a blessed trip indeed!  but unfortunately there are folks who are still dying without Christ…both in Guatemala and in the USA.


iaomai guatemala 2011 :: sanctuary

websters defines sanctuary as a consecrated place; or a place of refuge and protection.

As I continue to process the things ive seen, and after having some time to relax, be alone and chill. And after a nice long hot shower…i decided it was time to venture out of the room and see what i see.  Casa Santo Domingo  is pretty cool hotel at nite. It has an old school feel, lots of exposed stonework and wood beams. The lighting is subdued, with candles everywhere and the sound of trickling water coming from the fountain in front of me…its dark enough to feel at ease but not too dark where the ambiance feels fake or contrived.

When i finally sat down, with some candles by my side and classical music playing in the background…sanctuary is what came to mind.The view from one of the many areas you can find to relax and reflect…this is mine

The work of Iaomai with Helps International was a work of sanctuary.

The army base that houses the hospital and all the medical workers along with support staff, really was a place of refuge for the many patients that came for medical help. A place where physical pain was relieved, be it in the elbow, tooth or abdomen. A place where sight was corrected or in some cases, restored. A place where those with physical deformities, which have caused them to be ostracized by the community around them or to be thought of as less than human…can have their physical appearance and self esteem made new again.This man came to have his enlarged upper lift corrected…now leaving much happier with his wife

It really becomes something greater than a medical mission. The work that has been done is truly consecrated, set apart for the Glory of God!  That those in Huehuetanengo might know that there is a God who cares about their physical needs and comforts.

One of the biggest lessons that ive taken away from my experience with Adventures in Life, in Oaxaca Mexico…is that its not enough to meet the spiritual needs of those your trying to “minister” to. If you can meet their physical needs than theyre gonna be more receptive to the message of Hope that Christ has to offer, because their stomach wont be growling from hunger. Or in the case of the work done this week in Huehue, children wont be cast aside because they look different, or men can feel whole and complete after having their lip operated on.

I do believe that this hospital became a place of sanctuary for those serving as well. A place for doctors to give back to those in need…but also for them to realize how blessed they are…all because they were born in the United States and not somewhere else. This isnt meant to be a statement of supremacy of one country over another, just an observation. This sanctuary has changed the lives of more than a few high school students from Guatemala City over the past year or so… These quite extraordinary students have volunteered their time to be translators for us.  I was told that many of them have had their own personal world shaken up a bit…seeing one time strangers, now friends, from another country come to their homeland and give of their time, talent and treasures…and serve their people selflessly. Has caused some of them to question why more Guatemalans arent doing this, why arent more people serving and meeting the needs of others in their country.

And many who came to serve, ended up being served by those who we were helping out. The countless stories of perseverance, patience and hope that we got to hear, thanks to our awesome translators, ended up giving us just as much in return.

The Good News is that this sanctuary can be found today, wherever you are…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

                  (John 3:16 ESV)


iaomai guatemala 2011::cant hold me down

as i sit and try to process what just happened…i am sitting in a covered patio area of hotel santo domingo, in antigua, guatemala. Im pretty tired, physically and spiritually.having fun with dr buckmiller…

I had a brief discussion with a friend of mine, not too long ago about the idea of being spiritually exhausted. He couldnt quite understand the concept in terms of being exhausted of doing good…

as i have the privilige to serve and use my gifts to document what God is doing, both here in guatemala and in san diego, ive become accustomed to this feeling and i almost welcome it. As a result im the more convinced that this spiritual “exhaustion” is part of Gods sanctification process in my life. My faith isnt a touchy feely kind of thing, and my friend is someone i respect and consider him to be wise council in my life. But there are times when it all comes together and the emotions come to play…so whats i guy to do…naturally i go to Gods Word.

looking to Jesus on the cross, John tells us that

Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill Scripture), “I thirst.”  When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,”  and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.  (John 19:28,30 ESV)

im thinking, and im no scholar, Jesus was physically and spiritually tired. His work was done! He was ready to go home and be with His Father. We now have access to God the Father because the work of Christ on the cross!

and Paul encourages us to “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we dont not give up.”   (Galatians 6:9 ESV)

dont grow weary of doing good.   dont get tired.

This is exemplified in the life of paul when he says “I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

(1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV)

mom with her smiling son, heading home

i am thankful that God is not done with me yet. That as i seek Him daily and strive to be more like Him in all that I do, He will continue to mold and shape me into the man of God He has created me to be.

I am thankful for bringing me here to guatemala and for the new friends ive met.

I am thankful that He allowed me to see His Work, through the hands of those who came to serve this week, up close and personal.  Hopefully in the next few days and weeks i can continue to share more photos and stories of what God allowed me to witness.

That He would be Glorified!


iaomai guatemala 2011:: sandra’s story

sandra, in january of this year, when she first came seeking help

erin, with helps international, in the triage area talking with sandra and her parents

when i started writing this i was happy just to have captured the images i had, documenting the work of iaomai/helps and the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of sandra and her parents.  i spoke with dr lisa buckmiller an hour ago(4pm huehue time, oct 6), trying to get more info concerning sandras case.  she told me it was a tough case with a really neat back-story and that i should talk with erin.  this is what erin was able to tell me.

sandra was first seen by dr shultz, a helps international plastic surgeon, at the january huehue clinic.  after examing sandra, he determined the case was too difficult for surgery.  and that some other options would need to be explored.  after thinking about sandras case, dr shultz suggested erin contact dr buckmiller, a plastic surgeon who had the expertise to tackle sandras case.talking with dr albertson in the clinic

after forwarding all the doctor notations, case files and charts they had on sandra to dr buckmiller, she said she would see sandra when she came to huehue in october.  erin notified sandras parents that dr buckmiller would see sandra and to bring her to huehue.  sandra and her parents made the 2 hour trek to huehue and erin was able to meet them at the front gate on sunday, when we arrived.dr lisa buckmiller and her team consulting with the family about sandras upcoming surgery

sandra and her dad, before going into the operating room

dr buckmiller praying for sandra and her parents before her surgery

sandra had a severe fissure in her pallet that dr buckmiller said was the toughest case she had since she got here.  considering the fact that the helps plastic surgeon didnt think he could help sandra is a testimony to dr buckmillers skill and how difficult the case really was, and more importantly i believe its a testament to her faith in God.  dr buckmiller has been given a gift to restore and correct what is not right.  i was able to witness several times this week when she and her staff would come out to the pre-op area to pray for the patient and their family.a last minute hug from dr buckmiller, comforting sandras mom as her daughter is taken to the operating roomready!sarah erwin, posing with sandra and her parents before going home!sandra, the day she left the hospital.  dr buckmiller said more work needs to be done to fix her upperlip but the biggest hurdle had been cleared.

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

(2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV)

this verse came to mind after thinking about the physical restoration that has happened in sandras life.  what a blessing to be a witness of what God is doing in huehue.  sandras life with improve dramatically now that her pallet has been corrected by dr buckmiller.

the reality is all of us who follow Christ have access to the One who can provide Spiritual restoration to those around us who may look whole on the outside but are empty on the inside.  pauls encouragement to us all is to strive (or aim, in the esv) for full restoration….lets not be afraid to share the Good News of true restoration that comes through Christ!


jackpot! iaomai 2011

crystal rivera, showing some folks how to apply flouride to the chicklets…

it was about 3pm in huehue, lots of folks waiting around hoping to have their name called.  unfortunately they can only see so many folks in a day so they have to triage the “masses” to find those they can most help.  and because you made it pass the gate and are now inside the hospital, doesnt mean you will get to see the doctors.dr sonia tucker with the happy couple

a name is called out twice from surgery…both times with no response.  they call another name and this couple doesnt waste any time.   from their smiles youd think they won the jackpot or their lotto numbers came in.  surgery looks through the cases from triage and they determine which patients to take.  they explain whats gonna happen and whats required of them, then schedule a surgery time for next day.  someone doesnt here their name called, another benefits.  a few minutes after this happy moment another couple came forward to say that they were “here” before they were.  but this aint first come first served…

thankfully, Jesus doesnt work that way!  when He calls each of us unto Himself, i believe that calling is irrevocable!   we are saved by Grace, not by works or by being in line first…thats surely Good News!

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

please visit the iaomai website for more stories from huehue, or just click HERE


iaomai guatemala 2011~smiles

check out the latest post on the iaomai website, “smiles,” a story written by arkansas native kelly caldwell…please visit the iaomai blog HEREdr chris henninger, san diego resident and all around good guy, being assisted by kellythis guy was so happy he wasnt in pain anymore he wanted to keep his teeth!


iaomai guatemala 2011 :: kids…

kids are great. They are full of so much energy and curiosity along an attitude of innocence.

 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
 (Matthew 19:14 ESV)

at heart im still a kid. I love adventure, exploring new places, like guatemala.  i still love to play cards and board games and whenever i get a chance…i love to play on the swings.

on the way to huehue, one of our rest-stops was at a restaurant that happened to have a swing set.  of course i went for a swing. It was great!  at that moment i didnt care who was around me or for that matter where i was.  for that short time, i was a kid back in san diego, playing on the swings and seeing how hi and how far i could jump off…at least in my imagination!my days of how hi and how far are long gone.   unfortunately my body has begun the process of aging and i dont recover as fast as i used to and my kness are shot.  but what has kept me from doing alot of the stuff i used to enjoy, like bodyboarding, snowboarding, mtn biking and play tennis and badminton…ive come to appreciate the simple things.  like a good swing set and some time to spend with Dad!maricel, chanel and yoni

monday morning the army base we are at had an official ceremony thanking iaomai and helps international for the humanitarian/ medical help they provide for the people of huehue.

thats when i spotted yoni and his cousin chanel peaking from behind a tree.  i tried to get a photo of them but they ran off.  a few minutes later, i saw three of them in between the trees.  they were joined by maricel, big sister to yoni.the 2 girls ran off and yoni ran towards me…stopping short to show off his tree hanging skills.  next thing i know im taking his photo and his sister and cousin are coming to join yoni.   i took a few more photos when cyndy walked over to where i wasi introduced the kids to hermana cyndy and the girls gave her a hug  it reminded me of the scripture where were told to have that child like faith.

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
(Luke 18:17 ESV)

kids are great judges of character.  if they dont trust you, theyre gonna keep you at heishman distance.  i reckon being a big kid has its benefits…the kids let me take lots of fun photos and i got to meet yoni and maricels parents.  God used yoni to  remind me to keep things simple and try not to take myself too seriously, have fun and trust that Dad is in control!

Praise God!!me and yoni, photo taken by his sister maricel

dont forget to visit iaomaimedical.org to read more stories and learn more about what God is doing through Iaomai


thank you…iaomai guatemala 2011

After dinner tonite(monday), the plan was to work on photos from yesterday and today…sunday oct 2nd…strategery meetingrecovery room…beforeafter…with some patientsmom and son, waiting for their turnbut God has a way of changing things on the “fly.” at least as i see it…but if ive learned anything from being on these short term mission trips is that change happens and God is still on the throne! There is comfort in that knowledge. No matter how things are goin, be it acccording to plan or is way off kilter…God is in control and if i trust, obey and follow wherever He leads me…im good!some new friends…high school and college age students who come and help translate for us.   praise God!

we got side tracked by the translators who were playing cards in the back of the dining hall…they wanted to sing karaoke which led to them dancing to different songs on various ipods and blackberrys for about an hour os so…it was a fun and much needed distraction!

nurse crystal with one of her favorite patients

the doctors & nurses praying for sandra and her parents before she goes into surgeryplaying with their luchadores figures…helping put the boys at ease before seeing the dentistchecking the eyesthank you kelly and delta dental for the toothbrushes!

there are so may things to be thankful for…last nite before the dance party started i had a chance to chill and worship.  i listened to the katinas live worship album, and as the song “thank you” played i couldnt help but stop and be still.  it had been a long 2 days and i was able to reflect on all those who are here to serve…and all i could do was say thank you to the God of the universe for calling me to Himself and for allowing me to use the gifts He has given me to worship Him in return!  thank you Jesus!

continue to keep cyndy, liza, loida n levi and me in your prayers…along with everyone else serving….

more photos and stories soon


latetest from guatemala…

 patients waiting patiently

check out cyndys latest blog post on the IAOMAI medical ministries webiste by going HERE


iaomai guatemala 2011

its almost 1050pm (local time) in huehuetanengo guatemala.  sitting in the hospital loading photos and processing the last 36 hours.   the flight went relatively smoothly with only a few hiccups as our plane left dallas late and we were missing 3 medical bags.

my first God moment came on the plane leaving san diego for dallas.  i noticed the gal sitting next to me was crying as we were taking off…after the plane got cruising i started talking with her.  she is in the army and was leaving her fiance’ who is in the navy, stationed in san diego.   my first reaction was its been ages since i cried for someone…for that matter, had someone to cry over, but thats another story all together…

i started thinking about how much God cares for me.  and how much He cares for the people of guatemala.  thats why were here….

IAOMAI   \ee-ah’-om-ahee\

Iaomai Medical Ministries is based on the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. The Scripture describes the ministry of Jesus as a compassionate outpouring of the love of God on the sick and impoverished. The word “physician” comes from the Greek “iatros,” and the verbal form of the word is “iaomai,” meaning, to heal and to cure. “Iaomai,“ which sounds like “ee-ah-o-my,” was used in Scripture for physical healing as well as healing of the soul. This is the distinct emphasis of Iaomai Medical Ministries: to share of the love of God in a practical way to the poor through the gift of modern medicine.

im truly blessed to be here and am excited to see what God is going to do and have the honor of being “eyes” for the rest of the body of Christ to see what God is doing…love it!  thanks sean for inviting me to be part of iaomai guatemala.  take a look at some of the photos and please keep us in your prayers.

melinda and mary

cyndy and kelly getting to know each other at dallas-ftworth airport

welcome to guatemala

im unarmed…cyndy has my canon!a section of twisty road from guatemala city to huehuearriving at the army base in huehue…folks lined up already!

cyndy is blogging on the IAOMAI site as well, you can read stories from this week HERE