harnessing the power of photography for good

Posts tagged “summer

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.


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

team group


Adventures in Life :: Twenty

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!!


Adventures in Life, Oaxaca & Photography

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!


2012 Guelaguetza :: Oaxaca

The Guelaguetza, aka Los Lunes del Cerro (Mondays on the Hill) happens the last 2 Mondays of July in the streets of Oaxaca City, and in surrounding towns and villages throughout the State of Oaxaca.  It’s a celebration of everything that is Oaxaca.  It’s  a wash of color, sound, smell and taste that makes the culture in Oaxaca so unique.

If you ever get a chance to visit, you really must come during the Guelaguetza.