This was our set up in 2010 when Terry Schwartz and brotherjoe first came down to Oaxaca for Summer Camp. We brought 2 compact HP Printers to print 4×6 portraits of the kids at camp. Since then we have been down to Oaxaca for Summer Camp 3 of the last 4 years and we have learned a lot about how much gear we need to bring. We definitely used to bring too much back then.
This year, with 2 Summer Camps back to back, it’s been a busy week and half. We now leave one of the printers in Oaxaca, so we don’t have to bring it down with us anymore.
The kids are just as cute as they were in 2010! And the blessings are just as huge. Amazingly, there are still kids who have never had their photo taken! That’s why we come to Oaxaca.
Tonight brotherjoe heads off to new territory for Mission Focused….Guadalajara!
We have never photographed on mission there, so it’s gonna be exciting!!
Adios Oaxaca! Cya soon.
Terry, being prayed for by the kids of Dios es Amor Summer Camp in Ensenada, at the end of a great week of photographing there.
Our friend and fellow photographer, Terry Schwartz, is a faithful man of God who loves to use the gift of photography to bless others.
The doctors have found a small cancerous growth on his vocal chords. Please pray for Terry that God would be glorified in his life. That if God chooses to heal Terry before the doctors do anything or if the treatment the doctors prescribe gets rid of the cancer…whatever happens, Terry would be a light to the doctors and a sweet aroma that causes them to want we Terry has. Jesus!
If you know Terry feel free to reach out to him with words of encouragement and prayers. He’s a tough Marine, and we are sure God is gonna be glorified through him!
2 Corinthians 2:14
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
2010 AIL Summer Camp at Pastor Chable’s farm (Zimatlan, Oaxaca Mexico)
3 years ago I made my first trip to Oaxaca with Dave Miller and Adventures in Life. I have known Dave for quite some time and I have many friends who have been very involved with AIL over the years. I almost made it Ensenada 15 years ago, give or take a few years, with AIL but it didn’t happen.
Terry in action at 2010 AIL Summer Camp
Understanding that God’s timing is perfect, I finally made it in February of 2010. It was on that trip that I began talking with Dave about bringing more photographers to Oaxaca in order to photograph the work that AIL was doing and to take portraits of kids and families in Oaxaca.
If you have ever been on a mission trip, one thing you will notice is that everyone serving seems to have a camera. What you see is someone taking a photo, usually of kids, and then they show the image on the screen of the camera and that’s it. The folks you are serving never see the photos ever again. Our goal as a ministry is to fix this problem. The Summer of 2010, Terry Schwartz came to Oaxaca with me to photograph AIL Summer Camp at Pastor Chable’s farm. We brought with us 2 HP printers so each student that came to camp could take home a photo of the whole camp and a picture of themselves. The photo above is of our “command center” that week.
Cyndy has been to Oaxaca several times, like Terry, to take portraits and to photograph the work of AIL in Oaxaca.
Some of the students looking at their photos from this summers camp in Oaxaca.
One of the biggest blessings for us is knowing that we were the first photographers to take some of these students portraits! It’s something that I can never forget or take for granted. We live in a world here in the U.S. where everyone has a camera, whether its a traditional camera or a phone with one. And to think that someone has never had their photo taken?
I took this gal’s photo in 2010. She is from San Pedro Amatlan, a small town several hours in the mountains above the city of Oaxaca. Cyndy and I visited this town with AIL’s Medical Team in March, where we had the chance to photograph families while we were there.
I recognized her from camp and I asked her if she was coming to camp in July. She was not able to make it. I also asked her if she still had the photo we took of her in 2010. She smiled and said “yes.” We took the photo above of her with some of her family…we left this and other photos we took before we headed down the mountain that evening.
These are some of the portraits we have had the privilege of taking over the past 3 years in Ensenada and Oaxaca…
This Summer was a blessing for us as a ministry. Since we started taking portraits of students at camp in 2010, we have been able to take portraits several different times on numerous trips to Oaxaca with Adventures in Life, in a half dozen locations around Oaxaca and in Ensenada with Dios es Amor Church this summer! Praise God!
2012 AIL Summer Camp
It is our desire to help ministries like Adventures in Life by documenting in photographs the work they are doing, and help AIL and the local church in areas like Oaxaca and Ensenada extend their reach into the community through photography.
MISSION focused is now a non profit 501 (c) 3, registered with the State of California and the IRS. If you would like to support the work that we are doing in Oaxaca and in San Diego, it would be a blessing to us. At this point in time we are not set up for credit card donations, so for now you can send a check payable to “MISSION focused” to the following address: MISSION focused ~ 8030 La Mesa Blvd #326 La Mesa CA, 91942
If you are a photographer, and have a desire to use your gifts for God’s Glory and to serve others, we would love to talk with you about future trips we are planning….
All Glory to God!
Terry Schwartz being prayed for by the kids at camp!
Terry worked hard and took lots of great photos. These are just a few to give yall an idea of what God did this week.
This is the heart of who we are as MISSION focused, to use the gift of photography to document what God is doing through ministries like Adventures in Life and small local churches like Dios Es Amor in Ensenada.
Dios Es Amor ~ Adventures in Life Kids Camp 2012
First Baptist Church of Salinas spent the week with Adventures in Life, sharing the love of Christ with the kids and remodeling the kitchen at Dios Es Amor Church. The men worked hard and got tons of work done…Please keep the next group, from Gardena Valley Baptist Church and Panorama Baptist Church, in prayer as they come to Ensenada to finish the work that began last week.
Dave Miller, Executive Director of Adventures in Life, taking some time to recharge and rest during worship.
You can see more photos from the week on our Facebook page HERE…
Jesus Velarde…at the end of a long week.
Terry made it back home safely, praise God!, with over a 1000 photos in the can…pray he gets some rest so he can look through all the photos and pick out the best to share.
Please keep the work in Ensenada in your prayers as well, the work continues this coming week. Check out the following video Dave Miller made, re-capping the week of ministry.
It’s gonna be another busy week for Dave, as he helps direct the work of Adventures in Life in Ensenada then jumps on a plane for Oaxaca on Friday.
More photos soon!
This is Terry. He is a Marine. He is wearing makeup. Probably camouflage to help him blend in more and not be seen, in order to get the shot. He appears to be printing photos…
Part of what Terry is doing, what MISSION focused is all about, is blessing folks with photos. To often groups go on mission trips, take tons of photos, and the people they are working with and ministering to never see any of the photos, save the quick look at the screen after capture.
This is Terry in action 2 summers ago in Oaxaca, Mexico. We were taking portraits of all the kids who came to camp so they could go home with a photo of themselves.
This was a huge blessing for us, realizing that many of these kids had never had their photo taken! It really is a privilege to be able to do this.
As Terry is still in Ensenada, please keep him in prayer. He will be taking portraits tomorrow of the kids at the Dios Es Amor camp.
We will be heading down to Oaxaca next week for another kids camp, where we will be taking portraits of the kids once again!
All Glory to God!
7 years ago we (AIL & Dios Es Amor Church) started this camp with a few volunteers and 15 kids from Dios Es Amor Church in Ensenada… Now we have a leadership team of over 20 people from Dios Es Amor and almost 90 kids, most of whom do not attend any church… God has been faithful in helping us see a dream move from an idea to reality…
Praise God for the work that’s happening in Ensenada this week. If you want to help more kids go to summer camp, feel free to email Dave at email@example.com
This is Dave and Chelle Miller. Dave is a blessed man to be able to minister alongside his lovely wife this summer in Mexico.
The volunteers and campers, arriving for a week of fun, fellowship & Jesus.
Terry is in Ensenada now, photographing what God is doing there with Adventures in Life. He will be taking photos for Pastor Jesus Vera’s church, Dios es Amor, and taking photos of the kids who will be coming to camp this week. The following is the first report from Terry, chronicling his journey to Ensenada on Saturday, July 7th.
The trip down and the first day in Ensenada were both challenging and uneventful all in one go of it, if that makes sense.
At noon I had got everything in order and was ready to hit the road, and so I hit it hard. As I approached the border I jumped off the freeway to secure insurance and a few pesos. But alas as I walked into the first insurance office and dropped my registration on the counter, I was soon told that they could not fully insure my lovely little car. Not full insurance just cover any other cars or persons. At the next insurance office the same story; I was about to give up and head home, I was not going to take El Bandito de Amor across the border without coverage. I stopped in BajaMex and they agreed to cover me. This kept me from slinking home in abject failure and disgrace.
I arrived safe and sound about three hours late, but in time for dinner, call me anything but late for dinner. After meeting the rest of the team, we had a lovely dinner prepared by the Pastors family.
I met Pastor Jesus Vera and his lovely wife Mirtha, of the Dios es Amor Church, who will be sponsoring the camp. Tomorrow, Sunday, I will take portraits of Church members before heading off to camp to immortalize the children on film or in the modern vernacular, on Flash cards.
Keep us in your prayers, GOD bless you.
Dave and Chelle, along with the folks from First Baptist Church, Salinas.
This week those serving with Adventures in Life will be remodeling the kitchen at Dios es Amor (God is Love Church), and they will be hosting a camp for 100 kids, 80 who do not go to the church. This is the beginning of a great summer season of ministry for Adventures in Life. MISSION focused is blessed to be serving alongside Dave and AIL.
MISSION focused began photographing military families (free of charge) 3 years ago, as a way to say thank you for serving our country. It has become one of the biggest blessings for us as a group of photographers. When I began coming down to Oaxaca with Adventures in Life in February of 2010, I started thinking that maybe we could take the concept of free family portraits to Oaxaca, as way to extend the reach of the local churches. After talking with Dave and Pastors Americo and Norma, they liked the idea…we decided to try it out and see how it went.In this photo, I was able to gather, was 3 generations of one family, spanning 4 generations. The young girl in red was the daughter/great grand-daughter; the gal in brown was the mom to the young girl and grand-daughter of the women in native Zapotec clothing; and then there was grand-ma/great grand-mother(bis abuela). How cool was that! What a huge blessing to be able to take what most likely was their first photo of the 3 of them.In July of 2010, Terry came with me to Oaxaca to help photograph a kids camp Adventures in Life was leading for kids who live in the mountains surrounding Oaxaca. Terry and I were able to take portraits of every kid and print them so they could take the photo home with them.Along with a photo of themselves, we gave them a copy of the camp photo. Our plan was to go into some of the towns Americo and Norma are ministering in and take family portraits, unfortunately we got rained in. There was so much rain the first couple days we were stranded and unable to go and take photos. brotherjoe, Dave, Cyndy, Jim and Terry, with the owner of the famous Chaguita Nievas Oaxaquenas (ice cream like dessert) helados stand in the middle of the market in Oaxaca City.
Last February Terry came back along with Jim and Cyndy to help take portraits. Unfortunately Jim got sick and had to stay back at home base as Terry, Cyndy and I went out to take photos.Terry in action last FebruaryCyndy taking photos of some of the local kids in San Baltazar, February 2011The reality is this: In the parts of Oaxaca that Adventures in Life ministers in, family photos is a luxury item that most families can’t afford so they don’t think about it. The best example I have of this is Hermana Norma’s parents, Santiago y Julia.This is a photo of Santiago and Julia’s wedding day in 1965. Santiago is at the head of the horse that Julia is sitting on.Terry took this photo of Santiago and Julia last February. It wasn’t until we showed Hermana Norma this photo that we learned that this was the first photo of the two of them since their wedding day. I was in Santiago and Norma’s house yesterday and there was this photo hanging on the wall.
This is the power photography! This is why we come to Oaxaca and this is why we choose to use our gifts for God’s Glory.
**to see more portraits please visit our Facebook page HERE, and while your there please LIKE us**
We began serving military families by offering free family photos as a way to thank them for their service…it has become something we all look forward to doing. Take a look at some of the photos we have taken recently…God Bless our Military Families!
If you are in the military or have friends & family that are, please feel free to tell them about us. They can email us at MISSION.firstname.lastname@example.org or they can leave a comment at the end of this post. We want to shoot them…
you can see more from wednesday by going HERE
I have attempted to show in these few photos the elements of Saturday morning; not only the labor of love but the fun and laughter as well.
I just wanted the viewer to see all the people involved in making the day a success as the Rock strove to show their love and appreciation for the heroes who serve our community.
I like this one, a kind of abstract of the life of the Station
Striking a pose in front of Station 19. I know it’s not the best compositionally, with one girl in the sun and the brother with sunlight on his face. I should have rearranged them but I was being photographically lazy(we dont recommend being lazy, but the reality is mistakes happen and photography is a craft you constantly have to hone).
Deputy Chief Lorraine Hutchinson with Pastor Gary. She gave a very nice and appreciative thank you speech to the Rock Peeps.
These photos were my attempt to show some work but also to be ascetically interesting. With each one I used a flash so that their faces and work was not dark and unusable from the back light and to save detail while retaining the blue of the sky. I liked the composition, with him looking trough the ladder down at me.
Wanted to show the fun and laughter had by all…Stepping away from her brush to take out a punching bag. A quick capture of some of the rockers being sprayed with water in a moment of fun and laughter…
It was a good day of service and I chance to but action behind our words of love, to live our faith.
On the 25th chick-fil-la, along with local sponsors held their Annual Military Appreciation Night. A way to say thank you from grateful businesses for the sacrifice and service of love these warriors and their families, past and present, give so unselfishly to their country.
Throughout the afternoon and evening spouses and children of deployed loved ones, families of returned military personal and individual military members and veterans filed through for a free meal and a big thank you from volunteers and Chick-fil-la workers, and a big cow.
Among those that passed through was a military child only a few months old and new born children in strollers hidden behind a blanket as they slept. On the other end of the spectrum was a 98 year old veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
The children had an awesome time with the cow and watching the Crew play on barrel drums, playing and laughing. It was a good time had by all.
you can see more photos from Chick-Fil-A’s Military Appreciation Night HERE
mike and terry spent the evening on the Newport Hornblower taking photos of the Rock Academy Prom. Take a look at some of their photos…thankfully nobody got sick!
you can see a few more photos HERE on our MISSION focused Facebook page…go look and make sure you LIKE us!!
more photos soon…
there is power in an image…sometimes more than we expect or imagine. our goal as a group of photographers is to document the work of the Holy Spirit in our images. a big part of the equation is being ready. and ready isnt confined to our cameras, it has to do with being right with God as well. so with camera in hand, and lead by God the Holy Spirit, we look for the photos that will testify and glorify God. to show the world that He is still working today in the lives of those who love Him.
the above photo was taken in tlacolula, mexico on sunday feb 6th at la unica esperanza, pastor americos church. all of us photographers were taking photos that sunday, and i looked outside and saw hermana julia…praising God. the service was almost over and she was making her way to the food that was gonna be served for lunch…praising Him along the way. im humbled.
Santiago and Julia Reyes Reyes
brother terry took this photo, same day, after church. come to find out this was their first formal portrait together in some time. naturally they wanted a copy of the photo. so we made a 8×10 and had it framed for them. after giving the framed photo to hermana julia, she was so appreciative. she hugged each of us and started crying…telling us that (translated) “there werent enough words to express her thankfulness. gracias wasnt enough.” she touched her heart, tears coming down her face, saying “gracias, gracias.”
i told cyndy, jim and terry that if we didnt do anything else during our time in mexico…it was all worth that moment that we gave her the framed portrait. it was a powerful moment. terry being ready and in the right place…was able to provide a truly priceless memory for the family. to God the Glory!
i love this photo. there really doesnt need to be much said about it. it speaks power & strength and at the same time theres a sense of humility and grace. it was tough to get this shot, since it was dark and lit with fire from the outdoor stove, and he didnt always stay in one place. it really was one of those waiting for the right moment shots…
no, im not talking about pokemon or some new nintendo ds game. the power is in the polaroid pogo printer
i heard about this printer from david du chemin several years ago. and after i got 1 and used it…its worth its weight in gold as far as im concerned. its a powerful little tool to open doors and allow you access into areas that ordinarily might not be. case in point…
this is raquel. a young zapotecan girl that i met feb 2010 in san baltazar. she was hangin out as her mom was serving us by helping cook meals for the men that week, and her dad was helping with contruction. she saw my camera but whenever i tried to get a shot, she would duck into the little adobe and hide. so i used every ounce of stealthiness i could find to wait and get the above shot. once i got my shot i took out the pogo and printed out a photo for her.
i gave her the photo and printed another for her as she held the pogo printer. she seemed happy, but i wasnt sure. she disappeared for about an hour after this shot and came back with her sister…gesturing to me and showing me the photo. her sister esperanza wanted a photo too! bam!! i broke down the invisible wall that was up. game on!
now almost exactly a year from last year, im back with some other photographers from san diego, armed with the pogo. when raquel and her cousin erica came to the church where we were the other day in san baltazar, she ran the last 20 feet to me and gave me a big hug. then proceded to give cyndy and terry a hug as well. thats the power of pogo. and the power of Jesus! we couldnt stop taking photos of her and erica…her sister came a few minutes later.
the pogo hard at work
erica, esperanza & raquel
We went to San Baltazar to take portraits of kids and families and it was awesome, Hermano Jose’s favorite little girl was there and she is a character. A real sweetheart, she’s the little girl at top of MISSION Focused page you have seen her adorn the opening page.
The village totally old school, a step back in time as most of the indigenous people live in these types of villages.
The Church gate was locked and we hung around near a home next to the Church where they came out and gave us great tamales’, not like American tamales which are mostly two pound s of corn and a sliver of filing. While these tamales were just the opposites, thin corn shells and lots of filling.
We watched the slaying of the chicken and the plucking and the preparation of tamales on or with ancient cooking utensils and the steaming of said tamales in an old pot over an open flame on the ground. They even allowed us to prepare tamale ourselves. It was more than cool.
Day seven left me in the deepest contemplation of my week in Oaxaca. I took me back to times in my life when I was faced with the question of how much would I give up for Jesus. Have I counted the cost of discipleship? I think I have but I wonder if that is really true, it is easy and I guess noble to say yes I am.
Remains of 1st Christian church in San Jeronimo Tlacochahuaya, Oaxaca
Today we passed through a village that’s name is unpronounceable ( sahn he-RO-nee-mo tlah-ko-chah-WAH-yah ) let alone spell able on the way to Santa Cruz, a rustic village that will take you back to the 19th Century. While passing through that town we came upon an old burned out Church and were told that it was the first Christian Church in Oaxaca, the Catholic church burned it down with the Pastor inside. I thought of stories I heard as a Short-term Missionary about a Chinese Pastor who would preach the gospel, get thrown in prison get released and told not to preach and went promptly back to sharing the Gospel and get thrown back in prison and that was a hard labor prison. I believe he served about 20 years, a year or two at a time.
While in Russia we were told that instant conversions were rare. Back in the day when someone came to the Lord he or she may lose their job, decent housing, their kids denied upper education, maybe prison, or even death…before they decided to follow Jesus they counted the cost and were not uncommitted.
I had a Careers Pastor who continually challenged us to count the cost, take up our cross and follow our Lord. In America there is not much cost for me or rather it is easy to ignore. And I must confess that I am guilty of being a noncommitted or even at times an undercover Christian. As I looked at that Church and we drove away I thought of a young man in Africa who became a Christian and his Muslim master nailed him to a cross, he was rescued and serves faithfully to this day.
I can name many other modern day martyrs who have counted the cost and were found faithful, and I ask have I counted the cost and am I willing to pay the cost. I hope that when that day comes GOD will be able to say of me well done thou good and faithful servant.
This is day six and my second blog… I don’t like writing blogs, no doubt stemming from the fact that I type slowly with two fingers, but I have been told it is a necessity in the computer age…
But I do have a thought to share something that amazes me, something I see often in third world cultures, and that is the amazing worship and commitment to the Lord I see as people come to small buildings with corrugated roofs that are warm, very warm in the sun and noisy in the rain.
Sunday I had the opportunity, no privilege, to attend two services at different Churches. The first was at La Unica Esperanza and in the evening their sister Church at San Baltazar. Though it is the same Pastor serving each one, Pastor Americo, the two churches could not be more different.
At La Unica Esperanza the worshippers were much more expressive in their worship, by raising their hands in praise or placing one hand over their heart and the other wiping away a tear of love and thanks-giving. It was the type of worship I saw at a Charismatic Catholic Church in Oaxaca. The other Church which I think I can say was one with a more indigenous congregation was more stoic or reserved. That is not to say that the depth of worship and love for the Lord GOD was less, it was not but the expression of love was different. Both left one with a sense of being with a people who loved Jesus and had a sense of adoration for the Lord.
At San Baltazar they worshipped, then the people in the congregation shared testimonies and the guest Pastor preached. After he preached they took an offering and then Pastor Americo preached. That’s like a Pastor from another state preaching at the Rock and then after the offering Pastor Miles preaching… a double dose.
Before the Pastor preached the children got up and went to Sunday school. The Sunday school was a 8 x 12 block building with one bare light bulb to provide a very dim illumination for the study. But to look at the adults and kids there it was as if they were in the Chrystal Cathedral.
Pastor John Maxwell once said, “It is not what happens to you, it is what happens in you that makes the difference.” And in the hearts of these brothers and sisters GOD reigns supreme. In San Baltazar outwardly they were dirt poor, they had a one room church and across the way they had a very small room for the kids. But in their hearts they were rich in love for our Lord. You could see that it was not their outward experience that impacted their lives but rather it was what GOD did in them that made them the kind of worshipper they are.
It is inspiring and humbling.
dan is fueling up, hi octane coffee
Adventures in Life Oaxaca 2011 FMO Crew
if you look closely at this years AIL Oaxaca 2011 gang, you will notice some familiar faces and some new ones. this year im excited to bring 3 more photographers down with me. terry, who came with me in july, jimmy is new and the queen, cyndy smith. she is technically the only gal on this trip. norma lives here and natalie is her daughter. she said shes used to being around guys, with 2 sons and a husband. its a blessing to have her here. i think she will be a real asset when we start shooting photos of families tomorrow.
natalie and julian, working at playing
dave miller with his alter egos
on monte alban
cyndy on ruins of monte alban
cyndy, terry, jim and me came down early to visit some of the ruins in oaxaca. we had a chance to see mt alban, the ruins at mitla, and hike on and around the frozen waterfalls of hierve el agua. we got to sample plenty of delicious traditional oaxaqueñan food and see their culture up close and personal in the zocalo (center of the city). we got to visit some of the surrounding towns and witness “market day,” when all the local farmers bring their produce, meats, and artisan come and sell their crafts. we also got to visit pastor chable’ on his farm, where he is breeding rabbits, chickens, goats and cows for food. and we witnessed mounting day.
the weather has been beautiful and as we prepare for ministry week, im ready to see God work! most of the men who are working this week have arrived already into oaxaca, and cyndy is feeling quite “royal!” since she will be the only gal with 20+ guys this week, she is the queen.
praise God for His mercy and grace. that we get to come along side Him and be part of His plan to share Jesus with those around us in Oaxaca!
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
jimmy takin a breather
looking for the shot…
dinner being cooked up in a stone oven, at La Tlayuda Restaurant
keeping the folks dancing…
dancing in the night…
dave, me, cyndy,dan & terry at the ruins in mitla
top of hierve el agua(frozen waterfall), oaxaca
looking up at the frozen waterfall, thats jimmy at the bottom
fresh tejate’ for breakfast
dave & pastor chable’
pig w big
cocina de frida
market dayfridays at pastor chables ranch are mounting day…where the males have conjugal visits with the females…
for breeding purposes of course
los fotoperiodistas de mission focused in the zocalo
Bro Joe, Terry, Cyndy & I are at the airport in TJ getting ready for our flight to Oaxaca, MX. We will be covering the mission work of Adventure In Life Ministries building a school and living quarters for visiting pastors.
We also will be visiting local villages doing family portraits and reaching those in need of the Word as well as His love. If we have access to WiFi while serving I will blog about our experiences so keep an eye out for us here.
Mission Focused Photog