harnessing the power of photography for good

Posts tagged “Guadalajara

Blessed!

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!


Adios Oaxaca!

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.


Missionary Follies…by Dave Miller

Missionary Follies… when separation replaces real mission engagement…

Dave Miller is Executive Director of Adventures in Life.  Adventures in Life has been leading groups of short term missionaries to Mexico for 20 years, ministering primarily in Ensenada, Guadalajara & Oaxaca.  MISSION focused has been to Oaxaca several times to photograph the work of AIL.

Dave shares some real keen insight into ministering in Mexico, which is relevant to all missionaries world-wide, that is important to remember.

You can learn more about Dave HERE and Adventures in Life HERE.

Enjoy

Yesterday I learned of a potentially grave consequence for mission work in my area of Latin America.

An organization with whom I am acquainted here in Oaxaca is in danger of being asked to leave the area.  It is an organization that is involved in some vitally important work in helping spread the Gospel in Southern Mexico and Central America.

What, you might ask has been their crime?  What is it that they may done to anger their national hosts and the leaders of the community where they serve?

They have chosen to work alone and not be involved with the larger community of people who live around their ministry base.  To put it another less charitable way, they have decided to not engage the community where they serve and have instead chosen to live a separate missionary life devoid of local contact.  It was not always this way.  There was a time when people in this community respected and felt connected to the larger work of this ministry.  The missionaries saw it as part of their ministry to engage and connect with the community in a variety of ways.

With the passing of time and a new generation of younger workers, that is no longer so.  Children of the missionaries no longer attend community schools, their parents deciding it is best to send them to the private English speaking school, which is miles away.  This was effectively the first step in breaking community with the very people they are serving.

Next was a gradual diminishment of personal involvement with the local Mexican church, choosing instead to worship together at their compound in English.  Now I know that these local churches are not the best, but perhaps those local missionaries could have been part of really helping and supporting the new emerging and struggling Christian community in Southern Mexico.

The people of the village, remembering the past when leaders of this ministry would be in homes and side by side locals in the market and at school meetings are feeling abandoned and neglected.  They are trying to figure what they must have done wrong to warrant such a pull back from a relationship that had transcended generations.

They are hurt.

Now the leaders of the village are saying that if the outsiders do not really want to be part of their community, why should they continue to let them live there.  Should anyone be surprised?

I believe when missionaries from another country go to live in a foreign land, for the sake of the Gospel, they should become part of the local community.

I do not favor missionary compounds and have learned over the years that locals tend to subtly resent missionaries who refuse to be part of their community.  That is one of the primary reasons my own ministry, Adventures in Life, has worked hard to stay connected to  communities in ways that can enable us to be seen as part of that community.  It is that connection that helps us to really understand the culture of the people we are striving to serve.

Let me give you an example.

A few years back, all across Mexico, people in rural areas were talking about the Chupacabra.  For the uninitiated, this legend is almost equivalent to the tales of the Loch Ness Monster.  The Chupacabra was a nasty beast that would kill your animals, and maybe even, your young kids.

I happened to be in a village at that time with an in-country missionary when a woman named Gloria mentioned her fear of the Chupacabra.  Because I was aware of this legend, she and I immediately had a bond that transcended our cultural barriers.  We were able to connect.

My missionary friend, who had served that area for almost 20 years had no idea what we were talking about or what this Chupacabra was.  He told me he never pays much attention to those types of things or the local goings on across Mexico, choosing instead to stay focused on his missionary work.

Hear me well on this… If your missionary work, be it in Mexico, Los Angeles, China, or your local Starbucks does not include understanding the local customs and culture of the people you are called to serve, you are going to fail!  

This is what that mission organization here in Oaxaca has failed to understand and because of that, an entire ministry may soon lose its opportunity to continue some very important work.  There is evidence that at least some in the organization have gotten the message.  Over the last few weeks, leaders have started attending local services and asking the local church to pray that they are not forced out.

I wonder when they will begin asking for forgiveness and repent for rejecting the very people they have been called to serve.

Because if they don’t, their ministry will soon look as if had been attacked by the notorious Chupacabra of Mexico.


Jerusalem, Buffalo, Las Vegas & Oaxaca

This morning Dave shared out of Nehemiah 1: 1-11

Nehemiah was in mourning when he heard that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and that the gates were destroyed by fire.  After weeping, mourning, praying and fasting he sought the Lord that God would allow him to rebuild what had been destroyed.  Dave mentioned that just as men came from all parts to Jerusalem to help fix the wall, the men this week have come from all over the United States and Mexico because we heard there was need in Oaxaca.  The men have come here to Mexico, with willing hearts and servant attitudes to serve the people of Oaxaca and in essence, be cup-bearers of the King.  Being willing to give our lives for Christ.

It was a great choice of Scripture as the men begin what will be a hard exhausting week of work.  All Glory to God!

You can view more photos from today on our facebook site HERE, please take a second and “like” us…thanks!


Adventures in Life :: Sunday Fellowship in San Baltazar

With all the men now in Oaxaca we headed out to Tlacolula where most of the work early in the week will happen.  After settling in we all jumped in 2 trucks and drove to San Baltazar to attend church and eat dinner with the growing church plant there.  Pastor Raul, here from Guadalajara preached from God’s Word… it was a great evening of fellowship.

You can view more photos from Sunday by going HERE