Update and a few Photos from Our Summer in Oaxaca!
We have been so busy serving and photographing all over San Diego and Mexico, we have neglected updating our site. We apologize for lack of new content and we will be updating what we have been doing in last 6 months and share more about our fun crazy summer! For now, here are a few photos from our recent trip to Oaxaca with Adventures in Life Ministry. We will explain more about what God did soon…
Canon Hawaiian Photographic Workshop
The folks at Canon are hosting a photo workshop on January 2nd, 2015.
You will have use of some cool Canon gear and lunch is included. Only $50!
Go to www.hawaiipauriders.org to purchase tickets
All proceeds benefit the Hawaii Pa’u Riders Equestrian Unit
Raul was paralyzed from the chest down when the truck he and his cousins were in was hit by a gas truck that didn’t stop…that was 7 years ago. It hasn’t been easy for him or his family but they continue to trust God for their needs and God has been faithful in His grace and mercy. The family is a great testimony of what it means to trust God for everything and remaining faithful to Him despite the circumstances of life.
Pastor Raul and his family.
I first met Raul’s Dad, Pastor Raul, in 2010 when he came to Oaxaca to serve alongside Adventures in Life during the February Men’s Ministry week. Pastor Raul wanted to see photos we were posting but he does not have Facebook, he told me his Son did. That’s when I became “friends” with Raul. It was a blessing to be in Guadalajara this week, where I got to finally meet Raul in person! It’s been a great week of ministry…
We finished up work at the church on Friday and eating lunch when Raul asked me if I would take some photos of him on the grass. Of course I said yes! I didn’t realize that this would become one of the hardest photo sessions I’ve ever done…After taking photos of Raul he asked the folks from AACF UCLA, who were serving with Adventures in Life in Guadalajara, to come join him. As I started photographing and watching as the family gathered around Raul for photos, a few things really stood out to me. Raul wanted some nice photos where he was not in the chair…for a few minutes he was just part of the family posing for photos, smiling, having fun, goofing around…Honestly, it took every ounce of strength I had to keep the tears back! I’m taking photos, praying and thanking God for the blessing of being here in Guadalajara to photograph this beautiful moment. It was magical!
This is the power of photography. Once all the photos were done, Raul looked exhausted and was left lying on the ground, he looked in pain but had a big smile on his face. I had to take a walk and compose myself.
The interesting thing is I don’t think some of the folks in the photo understood what just happened…The lesson was not lost on me. I am blessed!
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.
Cooking & the Gospel
Adventures in Life Ministry is dedicated to spreading the hope that can only be found in Jesus. Dave Miller, Executive Director of Adventures in Life, will also tell you that it’s not enough to preach Jesus. In Mexico, the mortality rate for children under 5 is twice that of the United States, mostly due to malnutrition and hunger. Children can’t hear the Good News of Jesus when the “grumbling” and hunger pains are all they can think about. And when they do have an opportunity to hear about Jesus, and come to saving knowledge of Him…the question still remains, where will their next meal be coming from?Photographing on mission with Adventures in Life in Oaxaca I have seen their work as they try and deal with these issues. At Summer Camp, the kids get 3 full meals a day, packed with tons of protein. Many of the kids who come to camp might have some sort of meat protein once a week, if that. They can have as much as they want!
This Summer they began an exciting new “culinary arts” program. Partnering with recent Le Cordon Bleu graduate Yesenia Martinez who lead the classes in our camp kitchen, she taught the first group of students in a sort of cooking boot-camp, giving them information to help them understand what a career in cooking might look like. On their final full day of camp the young students were brought to Oaxaca City to meet Chef Rodolfo Castellanos, Owner/Chef of Origen Restaurant. With the help of Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza Restaurant in L.A. the kids got to visit, get to know and cook with Chef Rodolfo in his kitchen. It was a great morning and the Chef was more than gracious about sharing his story and how he worked hard in kitchens all over the world before making it back to Oaxaca to open his own restaurant. He encouraged them to dream and work hard, regardless of if they wanted to be a Chef or not.
It was a exciting to see the kids look around at his restaurant and listen to someone who is from Ocotlan, Oaxaca and think that with a lot of hard work and perseverance they might be able to be a Chef as well.
These are issues most short term missions never address. I think many of these missions trips are so focused on spreading the Good News to as many folks as possible, they never think about the physical needs of those they are trying to minister to. It’s safe to say Adventures in Life is trying to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those they are ministering to.
Thanks again to Chef Rodolfo for being such a gracious host. Thanks to Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza Restaurant and thank you to Chef Yesenia Martinez for your willingness to come to Oaxaca and share your passion for food with the students.
Guelaguetza Parade…a few photos
One of the great things Adventures in Life is does, is they encourage those coming on mission with them to engage and experience the culture of Oaxaca. The Guelaguetza is the biggest cultural celebration in Oaxaca, some would say all of Mexico. It’s a chance for the different communities in the State of Oaxaca to come into the city and celebrate “being” Oaxacan! The last 2 weeks of July every year, the city is alive with music, color, art, food and dance…a cultural kaleidoscope!
These are just a few photos of the Guelaguetza parade. If you ever get a chance, and I highly encourage you to…come visit Oaxaca during the last 2 weeks of July! You won’t be disappointed.
In Oaxaca, Serving with Adventures in Life Ministry
Brotherjoe is in Oaxaca once again, photographing Summer Camp at Pastor Chable’s. He will be there till August 4th, then he will spend the next week in Guadalajara photographing camp there.
There is no internet at the camp, but when possible, photos will be posted on our Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MISSIONfocusedPhotography and on the Adventures in Life FB page, https://www.facebook.com/AdventuresInLife
This was the great team of folks who were serving the kids at the camp this past week. Please keep brotherjoe in prayer…Thanks
Travelling Light to Oaxaca :: Gotta Love Think Tank Photo!
It was a long day of travel…it all started on May 16th at 830pm San Diego time and ended in Oaxaca, Mexico at 630pm local time, May 17th. I’ve been to Oaxaca 8 or 9 times in the last 4 years, photographing for Adventures in Life Ministry.
The first time I came I had my Shapeshifter and Airport International, along with a smaller roller with clothes that I would checkin. I’ve learned over the past few years what works for me, and in the end that’s what matters. I have also learned that the airlines in Mexico don’t care what’s in your roller. If they want to be sticklers for the rules, they won’t let you bring your rolling case on board. Especially if it weighs 24kg and the limit is 15kg! Oops!!
I love my Shapeshifter pack, it holds what I want and with some coaxing, I can fit it with the gear in the photo in the overhead bin of an AeroMexico Embrear Jet.
So this is my Think Tank Photo Shapeshifter…I love it! I love Oaxaca and can’t wait to see more of the beautiful city. I will be posting as much as possible, but come Tuesday, I will be up in the mountains above Oaxaca for a few days shooting in Tlaxiaco…not sure if I will have wifi. We will see….
Back in Mexico!
I’m ( brotherjoe) in Mexico for the next week doing some photographing and planning for this Summer with Dave Miller, executive director of Adventures in Life Ministry.
Please keep us in prayer…for safety, good weather to photograph in and patience.
What was to be a relatively simple flight from Tijuana to Oaxaca, via Mexico City, turned into a long day of travel on a bus to Oaxaca from Mexico City. This time of year the local farmers are burning off the corn fields to prepare the land for planting of the next crop of corn. The airport in Oaxaca is downwind from many of these farms and was closed down yesterday due to the thick smoke coming from these farms.
We had to re-schedule or cancel some meetings since we weren’t able to get to Oaxaca til about 630pm. Our original flight had us arriving in Oaxaca at 930am. That’s ministry in Mexico. Things change, stuff happens, you have to be patient and flexible.
Thankfully, I’m used to it now so you just roll with it.
I’m excited to be in Oaxaca. Praise God!
You can keep track of what we are doing here and on Facebook www.facebook.com/MISSIONfocusedPhotography
Adventures in Life www.facebook.com/AdventuresInLife
Serving Alongside Adventures in Life in Mexico
We have been blessed to photograph the work of Adventures in Life in Mexico over the past 4 years. This photo was taken in the main marketplace in Oaxaca, with the owner of the world famous NIEVES OAXAQUEÑAS CHAGÜITA. Our friend Crystal (Multi Cultural Cooking Network) posted a nice little article about the work Dave Miller and Adventures in Life Ministry has been doing in Mexico, you can read the article HERE.
Oaxaca 2013 :: Serving Alongside Adventures in Life Ministries
L to R: Raquel, Claire, Jolene, Cyndy, Arlene, Judy, Linda with Ty in the middle
MISSION focused has been actively serving in Mexico with Adventures in Life Ministries since February of 2010. It has been a real blessing to see up close the work Dave Miller, executive director of Adventures in Life, and their ministry partners in Mexico are doing.
The above photo is of the 2013 Adventures in Life Spring Medical Team, posing for a photo in San Diego, before heading South for Oaxaca. They are in Oaxaca this week seeing folks that they saw last March, and attending to new people who come to their clinics this week in the different towns and villages. Please keep them in prayer.
MISSION focused photographer Cyndy Smith, is photographing this year’s Medical Mission.
The photo below is of this year’s Adventures in Life FMO Men’s Ministry Week Oaxaca, that just finished up in February. It was a busy week, unfortunately they didn’t have any internet connection, so we are working on photos now and hope to have some to show soon. The photo was taken by Jim Wanglund, friend of the Mission who was photographing this year’s Men’s Week in Oaxaca.
Adventures in Life :: 2013 Men’s Ministry Week
Jim Wanglund is on his way to Oaxaca for this year’s Adventures in Life Men’s Week of Ministry. This will be Jim’s second trip to Oaxaca to photograph the work of Adventures in Life. Please pray for safety and good health for the men on this year’s Mission.
Internet access is limited at the site where the men will be working, so what updates we get, will be posted on our Facebook page HERE(facebook.com/MISSIONfocusedPhotography)
The above photo of Jim was taken at Hierve el Agua in 2011.
Cyndy Placed on Injured Reserves
Please keep our friend and fellow Mission Focused photographer Cyndy in your prayers. She recently broke her wrist fighting off lions, tigers and polar bears in the arctic tundra…well, it wasn’t that dramatic but she did need surgery this week. Pray for healing and a speedy recovery so she can get back to serving Him with her gifts.
Christmas 2012 :: Free Portraits for Military Families
We had a great time on Saturday, December 8th, blessing Military Families in San Diego. MISSION focused gathered up a bunch of talented photographers to offer Military Families in San Diego an opportunity to have their Family Portraits taken at Liberty Station. We had 36 families, representing the Navy, Marines and the Army, come join us Saturday morning. It was a beautiful morning to bless those who serve our country and their families. You can see more photos HERE.
Toys for Joy
Toys for Joy began over 15 years ago by Miles McPherson and Miles Ahead Ministries. I first started photographing at Toys for Joy, I think in 2002. This year’s Toys for Joy is just around the corner.
The photos here were taken back in 2003 by my friend and fellow photographer Rafael Delgado.
The event is now run under the umbrella of the Rock Church. Miles McPherson is the pastor at the Rock.
Since 2002 I have photographed almost every Toys for Joy Christmas outreach. Every year is different and to be honest, sometimes you wonder if the folks in line are really in need…that’s when I pray and seek to tell the story of what God is doing at this great event. In the spirit of giving and blessing others, you have to look the other way when you see a teen in line, listening to music with his $200 beats headphones connected to his iPhone while wearing $150 Air Jordans…One of the great things about Toys for Joy back when I first got involved, was that every man, woman and child that was in line heard the Good News of Christ coming at Christmas and His death and resurrection at Easter. That everyone might have life in Christ. Every person heard this message and was given a chance to pray to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, before heading into the toy area.
Photographers by nature are observers…we are always looking for the “shot” that will tell the story in 1 photo…
I think Rafael got pretty close on this photo. One of the traditions of Toys for Joy was to award a bicycle to a young boy and girl near the end of the event…This young girl was just told she was going to be getting a new bicycle for Christmas! The rest of the photos add to the story…
Praise God for Toys for Joy. That kids who might not receive anything at Christmas might be blessed and know who this season is truly about….Jesus!
You can learn more about Toys for Joy by going HERE.
Horizon Fall Festival
Our friend and fellow photographer Dr. Jim has been taking photos at Horizon North County for quite some time now. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years back and since then, I’ve helped him photograph several different events at Horizon. He has helped MISSION focused photograph several events over the years as well.
Photography can be a very solitary art at times. It’s not uncommon to hear about photographers waiting days, weeks and even years… for the perfect photo. Much of that time in the middle of nowhere all by themselves.
With a little extra effort, it can be a time of community and sharing, where photographers come together and learn from each other. This sharing of the creative process is in my opinion healthy, and beneficial. There’s nothing like getting up in front of your fellow photographers and explaining why and how you took a certain photo.Last week I went to Horizon’s Annual Fall Festival with Cyndy and Danie, to help Dr. Jim take photos of this years festivities. I think I have been to the last 3 or 4 of these, it’s always a great time and a wonderful alternative for young families who don’t want their kids roaming the neighborhood at night. There’s tons of fun activities for big and little kids along with chairs, coffee and entertainment for the folks.
These are just a few of the photos that we took. You can learn more about Horizon North County HERE. Enjoy.
Jesus Geeks in Action!
Jack praying for Faris Hassan after delivering a laptop for him and his family. They are refugees from Iraq and have been in the US less than 5 months.Faris with his wife and kids.
Jesus Geeks is a non-profit ministry that provides quality computer services for those who can’t afford it. They also take old computers and repair & refurbish them…then they donate them to families who don’t have computers. Sunday I had the chance to follow Jack, leader of Jesus Geeks ministry, as he delivered 2 laptop computers to families in need. In the case of Faris, they are Muslims, but Jesus Geeks don’t discriminate…the family needed a computer and they delivered.
The ministry is about serving Jesus with their gifts. They have learned to be culturally sensitive with families who don’t know Jesus…but when Jack asked if he could pray for them they gladly accepted. After praying, Jack closed the prayer by praying ” in the name of Isa Jesus. Amen.” Jack said Isa is the name Muslims use for Jesus. Very cool.
Jack helping set up the laptop for another family from Ethiopia.
Kids are kids, no matter where your from. The computer isn’t quite ready for play, but the kids don’t care…
Gabrawhout with his wife and 6 kids. They have been in the US for less than 8 months. While Jack was setting up the computer, I spent much of my time photographing their middle boy, on the left between his big brother and sister. He was so much fun, wanting to pose for me whenever I wasn’t taking photos of Jack in action…Praise God for the work God is doing through Jack and the Jesus Geeks ministry. If you want more info about the Jesus Geeks ministry, you can go HERE.
San Diego Rescue Mission :: Graduation at First Presbyterian Church San Diego
Was blessed to photograph the San Diego Rescue Mission’s latest Graduating class tonite. It was held at one of the oldest churches in San Diego, First Presbyterian. I love the pipes! There is something to be said for the old school charm and beauty of these old churches! More photos from Graduation soon….
The Adventures in Life 20th Celebration was a great evening to come together and thank God for the work that He has done through Adventures in Life in Mexico. I always look forward to these gatherings because I get to see good friends in the Los Angeles area that I don’t get to see as often…So Sunday was an added bonus for me!
Grady Martine and Paul Lathrop. I’ve known these guys for some time. Grady was the one who God used to get a hold of me back in high school. He and another friend Danny Mandagie, wouldn’t let me not go to Younglife…as hard as I tried, God had another plan. I am forever thankful to both of them for dragging me to Younglife.
Paul and Grady grew up together in Pacific Grove, and Paul came to live in San Diego with Grady in between missionary stops in Columbia and Mexico. That’s when I met Paul.
Paul and his wife Deanne, at the Adventures in Life 20th Celebration.
My good friend Ernie, with his lovely daughter Adrienne. Wife and Mom, Joy, couldn’t make it to the Celebration.
I think Ernie and I met back in 1995 or 96, when we were both leaders with Younglife in San Diego. We used to meet together for a men’s Bible study group every Monday. Paul was part of that men’s group, along with another friend Brett Bristol, who didn’t make the celebration on Sunday.
I don’t recall who moved up to L.A. first, but in a few years…Paul, Brett and Ernie all had moved to L.A. and started meeting with Dave Miller. I had met Dave sometime after he and Grady started Adventures in Life. Grady and his wife Barb had moved up to the Pasadena area when Grady began working on his Masters at Fuller Seminary.
Dave with Ernie and Adrienne at Restaurante Guelaguetza, where the 20th Celebration was held.
Ernie, Paul and Brett all became involved in some way or another with Adventures in Life over the years and I think we have all been blessed by this ministry. I never had a chance to go to Mexico with Grady, Paul, Brett or Ernie. Perhaps in the future. I do know that these are friends that I will have for a lifetime! This is another reason why I am thankful for Adventures in Life!
Here’s to another 20 years of ministry!!
Sleepless San Diego :: Face of Homelessness
I first started photographing for the San Diego Rescue Mission in 2003, at their Annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner. It has been a true honor to see up close, through the lens, the work that the Mission is doing for the homeless population in San Diego.
At this years Sleepless San Diego, the had a photo exhibit called “Face of Homelessness.”
Inside this tent were photos of the homeless in San Diego. Linda, who put the exhibit together asked if I would contribute some photos, since she heard I had been helping photograph at the Mission. I said it would be an honor and I gladly gave her a few photos to pick from. These are a few of the photos that they used…
This was taken in the morning before the Annual Thanksgiving Dinner. Groups go into downtown inviting the homeless to dinner…I was following a group that wandered down to Seaport Village Embarcadero Park.
I think this photo was taken at Easter Dinner. One of the great things the Mission does is after the dinner, they give everyone a “goodie” bag of essentials. They have 3 Community Dinners a year: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you want to be blessed, volunteer for one of these events.
This was taken at a homeless outreach in Balboa Park. They meet on Saturday mornings for Church Without Walls. They invite the homeless to come, rest and attend church. Afterwards they feed them lunch, hand out Bibles and just talk with them.
The next 2 were also taken at Church Without Walls at Christmas time.
After the service, they gave out Christmas presents to everyone along with backpacks full of toiletries, socks and other assorted essential items. This young boy came with his dad, and I think he was blessed as much as the man receiving the present. It was certainly a humbling moment.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you,and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
I am truly thankful for the opportunity to share some of these photos. Hopefully, through these images folks can see that homelessness isn’t constrained by age or gender.
These volunteers were walking around Sleepless with these signs…1 in 4 homeless are young adults ages 18-30! The signs speak for themselves, even the ones upside down!
The SD Rescue Mission created this great video about 5 ways we can help the homeless. Please take a look
Sleepless San Diego 2012
Sleepless San Diego 2012 was another great success! Thanks to everyone who slept out to help raise awareness
of the homeless population in San Diego. To learn more about Sleepless and the San Diego Rescue Mission please go HERE.
To see a few photos from the event, please check out our Facebook page HERE…don’t forget to”Like” us 🙂
More photos soon…
San Diego Rescue Mission :: Sleepless San Diego
Tonite, a whole bunch of folks will be sleeping out under the stars at Liberty Station to raise awareness and money for the homeless in San Diego. This will be the 6th Annual Sleepless event that the SD Rescue Mission has done.
MISSION focused has been part of this great event since it began. If you would like more information about the SD Rescue Mission you can go HERE. If you live in San Diego and want to do something fun to help the homeless in San Diego…come down to Liberty Station.
Promise Keepers San Diego :: Called Out
My first experience with Promise Keepers was at Anaheim Stadium in 1994 (seen here, before becoming a baseball only stadium).
It was an experience that I can still remember and it was when God really showed me the importance and the power of men who come together to pray and hold each other accountable. Since 1994 I think I have been to 4 other Promise Keeper events, either to attend or photograph.This past weekend Promise Keepers was back in San Diego at SDSU‘s Viejas Arena. The last time I was at there it was for the Rock Church Easter Service in 2007. It was fun to wander around underneath, hard to believe it was 5 years ago since I was last there.Volunteers getting their assignmentsIt was a blessing to help Promise Keepers document this year’s conference in San Diego. It was their last event for the year and it finished well. Promise Keepers might not be filling 60,000+ seat stadiums right now, but I was exciting to see what God was doing. They are trying to equip and encourage the men of the church. Young and old and everything in between! Calling them Out to be Men of God…in their marriages, families, churches, work places and communities. There is talk of Promise Keepers coming back through San Diego next year. If they do, I will be there! What a blessing!
Pray for Terry
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.