Our goal is to use photography to bless others, serve our fellow man, and bring glory to God in all we do. Last weekend we had the honor of photographing Military Families in San Diego. Many of the families hadn’t had formal portraits of their family in some time, due to the demands of Military life…
Dunhill has created a series of videos, Dunhill “Voices,” highlighting people who exemplify “elegance and achievement.”
This video of photographer Don McCullin is quite extraordinary. He is known in the photography world as a “war time photographer,” a term he hates. His words are haunting and compelling. A reminder of why we choose to photograph the good, the beautiful…things that encourage and bless. You don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate this little video. There a lessons to be learned on many different levels. Thanks to David Sims for creating this beautiful video.
We want to Bless those who serve or have served in our US Armed Services! We will be offering Free Family Portraits for Military Families several times this year.
Our first Portrait sessions will be Jan 25th. If you are in the San Diego area and have served or are serving, email us. We want to bless you! Photo sessions for Jan 25th are limited to 20 Families. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
Today MISSION focused has the honor and blessing of photographing Military Families in San Diego. It’s a small way we can say “Thank You” to the brave men and women who serve our country in the U.S. Armed Forces by offering free family portraits. It’s gonna be a great day!
The Cruz family were the first family we photographed back in 2009 when we started photographing Military Families, as a way of thanking them for their service to our country.
On December 8th, 2012 at Liberty Station in San Diego we are offering active and retired Military Families from all U.S. Armed Services, Free Family Photos. It can be just the kids, the whole family, gramma & grandpa with the grand-kids or just the 2 of you…We are here to serve and bless those who protect us through their service in the Armed Forces.
If you would like to take us up on this offer, please email us at MISSION.email@example.com to reserve a time slot.
December 8th, 8am to 11am at Liberty Station in San Diego. All Military folks welcome. Please help us spread the word:)
We want to bless Military Families in San Diego.
If you know any Military Families who have been wanting photos but just haven’t found the time…send them our way.
We will be at Liberty Station on December 8th, 8am-11am
You can contact us at MISSION.firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot.
Our friends at Adventures in Life Ministry are celebrating 20 years of ministry in Mexico. We are truly blessed to have been able to photograph what God is doing through AIL in Ensenada and Oaxaca. In the next few months we will be sharing a few of our favorite photos from the last 3 years that we have been photographing for Adventures in Life. You can learn more about the work of Adventures in Life by going HERE. Enjoy!
Our 2nd trip to Oaxaca in July of 2010 for AIL Kids Summer Camp at Pastor Chable’s farm in Zimatlan, Oaxaca.
The above photo was taken as we were waiting for a bus so we could make our way to Tlacolula from the city…I remember hearing Dave say,” jump on the nicest bus”…which we did. In the mean time we passed up 4 or 5 buses and ended up waiting another 30 minutes. I was fine, but the gals apparently had to go to the bathroom. The nice bus ride was 40 minutes to our destination….
This was taken in San Felipe Guila, about an hour away from the city of Oaxaca. We were there with the Medical Team. The folks there loved the photos, we took over 70 portraits in 2 days….of families, kids and different combinations of friends and family. What a great time
The men had just finished eating at one of Dave’s favorite roadside eating establishments, Taqueria El Rodeo, across the street from the main bus station in Oaxaca City (if you ever find yourself in the area you must go eat there)…and we were walking back to Casa Arnel when we bumped into these guys. The world famous Tuna de la Urse, one of the best roaming minstrels in Mexico and beyond… They travel all around the world competing and winning. They played for us and then the men got to pose with them! Great food and great music!
Happy 20 years of ministry to Adventures in Life! We hope yall have at least another 20! Praise God!!
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!
Summer Camp is something most U.S. kids get to do sometime in their life. But in Oaxaca, Mexico it is a real novelty. This week Adventures In Life has hosted 62 kids for a fun filled four days on a farm.
There are fourteen staff people at the camp to love on the kids and to provide them with a fabulous experience. Seven have come from Evergreen Church in Pasadena, CA, Three from other parts of California, 1 from New York, 3 from Guadalajara and 1 from Ensenada.
The kids have come from all areas of the State Oaxaca: San Baltazar Guelavila, San Pablo Villa de Mitla, San Pedro Amatlan, Citla, Puerto Escondido,Oaxaca City, Zaachila
Joe & I have been at camp to document the week and to provide portraits for each of the kids.
To see more photos go to our Face book page
MISSION focused teamed up with Adventures in Life 3 years ago this Summer, we took photos of AIL Summer Camp. That’s where we first began taking portraits of the kids at camp and printing onsite so they could take the photo home with them.
Too often on missions trips the folks who are serving, take tons of photos but they rarely leave any. Most of the time, after taking the photo, they show the photo on the small screen of the camera and that’s it! I have been guilty of this myself.
It is our desire to use the gift of photography to bless others and bring honor and glory to Jesus. One way we can do this is by taking the portraits of the kids and printing them for them.
Adventures in Life Summer Camp 2010
The kids receiving their photos
Terry Schwartz was down in Ensenada earlier this month taking portraits of the kids who came to the Dios Es Amor Summer Camp. These are just a few of the kid portraits he took. I am sure Terry was blessed just as much, if not more, as the kids were.
If you want to join us on one of these missions trips as a photographer, let us know. We love to share the blessings.
You can see all the portraits that Terry took at our Smugmug site HERE.
Victory Loves Preparation!
Bags are packed…ready as I will ever be. I’m heading off to Oaxaca tonight for 2 weeks of shooting with Adventures in Life Ministry. This will be my 6th trip down in 3 years, and I have learned a few things over the years.
I have learned a few things over the years…no matter how well your prepared, something will happen that will throw you off and cause you to change directions in order to “keep up!” So I basically gear up for the unexpected.
The biggest lesson of all, is that ministry in Mexico is fluid. God is in control and He knows the beginning from the end and everything in between. So if I rest in that assurance, I can go with the flow and ministry will be a lot more fun and successful.
In the end it’s not about whether I’m shooting with a Canon or Nikon camera, or if I’m using a PC or a Mac.
It’s about using the gifts that He has given me to the best of my ability.
So I prepare as best as I can, and I bring what gear I think I will need and use, and then I do my best to shoot what God shows me in a manner that brings Him the most Glory!
All Glory to God!
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!
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.
Terry Schwartz will be representing MISSION focused in Ensenada next week with Adventures in Life, working with Pastor Jesus Vera and his church, Dios es Amor. Please keep Terry, Dave Miller and Pastor Jesus in prayer, along with the different groups coming to Ensenada to minister alongside AIL this coming week.
I found this old photo of Terry, in camo, and Mike Saucedo, far right. It’s hard to find photos of photographers since they are usually behind the camera and not in front. So the fact that I have 2 photographers in 1 photo is a bonus!
Terry has been faithfully serving God with his skills in photography for as long as I’ve known him, over 10 years. Please keep him in prayer as uses his gifts for God’s glory this week in Ensenada.
Hopefully he will have time to post photos on our MISSION focused FB site, so keep an eye out.
MISSION focused will be in Oaxaca this summer, photographing the work of Adventures in Life. While we are there, we will take a few hours to photograph the beautiful pageantry of the Guelaguetza. Looking forward to witnessing and photographing what God is gonna do in Oaxaca this summer. Stay tuned…
A few years back I was visiting family in the Philippines., and on the TV they were running public service announcements with the then President Corazon Aquino, she was reminding everyone that “‘Filipino time’ is on time.”
1987 Time Magazine Woman of the Year: President Corazon Aquino
I thought it was rather funny that it took the President of the Philippines to remind people to be on time. In case your skin is lacking melanin(color), this may not make sense to you. But i’ve been told by friends that they’re are other ethnic groups out there that have similar issues with timeliness. That’s a good thing, since I have been known to have issues with being “on time.”
That’s why I subscribe to the philosophy that “when I get there, is when I get there.” So I’m always on time!
Paul serving in Mexico with 2 Hermanas (Sisters in Christ)
This is Grady
The details are fuzzy and I may be off in my timeline., but that’s not what’s important here…
I met Grady back around in late 80’s when I was a wee lad. He played a big role in how God called me to Himself. Grady introduced me to Paul around the same time, when Paul came down to San Diego before heading off to the mission field in South America. Paul spent was as a missionary in Colombia and Mexico for quite a few years.
Paul and I kept in touch and when he was in San Diego and not in the field, we would spend many hours talking over coffee…
This is Dave
In 1992 Grady and Dave started Adventures in Life. Dave was still a gringo back then so Paul became a key asset to AIL because of his Spanish speaking skills I think I met Dave while visiting Grady in LA, don’t recall when exactly.
I took this photo of Ernie, his wife Joy and their daughter Adrienne this past weekend in Balboa Park.
I met Ernie back around 95/96. Ernie, Paul, our friend Brett and I were in a men’s accountability group during this time. Fast forward a bit, next thing I know Ernie, Paul and Brett are now in LA and hanging out with Dave and helping with Adventures in Life. I would see all these guys at least once a year when AIL would have their annual fundraiser banquet in Monrovia.
It was always my intention to get down to Mexico with Adventures in Life…and I almost made it on several occasions. Almost…
Again, my details might not be 100% accurate but the important thing here is that God is in control and His timing is perfect!
Having spent the day with Ernie and his family, we laughed about the fact that I finally made it down to Mexico with Adventures in Life now that he, Paul and Brett (and Grady) are no longer actively involved. Dave and I have had similar conversations recently…
I don’t confess to understand why either. It would have made perfect sense for me to go down with Adventures in Life when all my friends were going as well.
What I do know is that it has been a blessing for me to have finally made it to Mexico!
I know that as a photographer, I was not ready back then…and that I have a better understanding now of how you can use photography to further the work of those in the mission field.
Are you using the gifts that God has given you for His glory? Don’t wait to use your gifts for Him either. Too many photographers think that they have to “make it” before they can do things for God.
God can use you if your heart is right with Him.
In the end it really is all about Jesus.
Be a blessing!
Dave Miller talking with Jaime about how the make textiles on the looms
Yes, Dave does share about MISSION focused and our relationship with Adventures in Life, but why I’m sharing this again is to follow up with some photos that I was able to take for Jaime. Read Dave’s post HERE and this will all make more sense. Continuing the friendship…
Jaime and his son
When talking with Jaime I asked what his son’s name was. He said they did not give him a name yet…they were waiting to see his personality in order to find a name that fit. Plus, it’s not like he won’t respond to you just because he doesn’t have an official name. Makes sense to me.
After taking these photos we had a few photos printed up for Jaime and his wife and Dave and I delivered them. The family was blessed almost as much as we were. Jaime asked how much money we wanted for taking the photos, we told him nothing. We do this because we love Jesus and want to serve our friends in Mexico.
The relationship that began many years ago with Doug and Julian (Jaime’s Dad)…using photography, again,to continue the relationship!
You can see more photos from Adventures in Life HERE.
It’s about that time…for everyone to head for home. Before everyone leaves, wanted to share a few photos of some of the amazing folks we had the privilege to serve alongside this week. Pastor Rolando with his family and the Adventures in Life Medical Team, in San Felipe GuilaPastor Chable’ with his wife Estella and her mom and their son Hiram. With the beautiful view of the valley of San Pedro Amatlan behind them. Team Oregon! Jolene, Fran, Arlene and Claire. Great gals from Burns, Oregon
Pastors Americo and Norma, with their children Ruth and Julian. Surrounded by the great folks on this years Medical Team.
Friday we celebrated Hermana Norma’s Birthday! Here she is with the shawl and flowers we gave her.
Can’t have a birthday without a birthday cake…and fire! Janet and Raquel have already left for home…but we still had a blast celebrating Hermana Norma’s birthday without them 🙂Before I forget…It’s been a real blessing to serve alongside Cyndy Smith. She has traveled the world on many missions over the years, and she is a great addition to MISSION focused family and this week couldn’t have been possible without her. She has been a real trooper this week. Missions deep in Mexico is very different than what you may have experienced along the border towns and she has learned to be quite flexible with how things are on mission in Oaxaca.
We will be continuing to post when we get back to the states, photos and stories, so stay tuned and please visit our Facebook page for more info and photos. You can see our Facebook page HERE.
This is Elizabeth.
I first met her in July, 2010 with Adventures in Life. I was in Oaxaca, Mexico with Terry Schwartz, photographing with MISSION focused. Pastor Chable’ hosts a camp for kids during the summers at his ranch. He brings kids down from some of the surrounding towns in the mountains above Oaxaca. Many of these kids never leave their little towns, and if not for this camp, most will never leave their town.
Me and Terry were there to photograph the week of camp, and take portraits of the kids so they could take the photos home as a memento of the week. Many of the kids had never had their photo taken, or had a photo of themselves!
During the week of camp I noticed a few things about Elizabeth. She had a beautiful smile with these great dimples, but she didn’t always smile. She had maybe 2 or 3 pairs of clothes, which she rotated and mix & matched during the week. This was typical of most of the kids that came from the mountain towns. At times I would see her playing with the other kids, and other times she would be off by herself, like the photo above…
The camp was made up of kids from all parts of Oaxaca and a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds with ages ranging from 6 to 16. The age difference made things interesting when it came to spending time with them and how the counselors would counsel them, but there were no real issues to worry about.
Who do I see? Elizabeth.
I asked if she remembered me, in what little Spanish I speak, and if she still had the photo we printed for her 2 years ago. She said she still has the photo. I dont’t think she remembers me, but I remembered her. I was excited to see her and to know she is doing well in the little town of San Pedro Amatlan. I asked her if she was coming to camp this summer? She didn’t know. That makes two of us. We will see if I can make it up to camp in July.
Hopefully she will be able to add the photo above to her collection of photos. What a blessing!
We have had two good days of ministry at San Baltazar. Tomorrow we leave Tlacolula at 6:30 AM to drive to the little town of San Padro Amatlan. It is about a three hour hour dive. We really don’t know what to expedited in regards to the turn out but we leave it all in God’s hands.
The people here in Oaxaca have filled our hearts with love as they have opened their hearts to us.
They have shared their heartaches and their hopes and dreams, we have learned from them and uplifted them in prayer.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
Next door to the church in San Baltazar is a family that has a textile manufacturing business, they make knit ware on the loom, from wool, cotton, silk and other assorted materials. The father, Julian, has been a big help in the past as was part of the team of locals that helped build the church over the years.
Doug, Noemi, Elizabeth and Brian in front of the church in San Baltazar in February 2012
Doug got to know Julian during their time of working together while building the church. Doug took a photo of himself and Julian that found its way back to Julian, via Dave, and now hangs proudly in the house of Julian. Talking with Jaime, Julian’s son, he said his dad still talks about Doug and his experience helping build the church.Jaime and Dave, who is holding the photo of Doug & Julian
Dave shares…As I walked in the door, I saw it. A picture I have seen a million times on my computer. It is one I have used on the Adventures in Life Ministry web site. It was a picture of my friend Doug and the new friend he made in Oaxaca, Julian, Jaime’s dad.Everyone in the family remembered Doug and the day that photo was taken. I listened as they shared about their dad helping us build the church next door and his work with us alongside Doug in Tlacolula.