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.


Oaxaca 2012 :: Outreach Club in San Baltazar

Monday was the first day of Adventures in Life Outreach Club in San Baltazar, Oaxaca.  There were over 75 kids from the church and community that came to learn more about Jesus.  There were also 10 women who came to their Women’s Ministry sewing clinic.  You can see a few more photos on our Facebook page HERE.


Terry in Ensendada :: This Is Who We Are

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!


Ensenada 2012 :: Summer Camp

Dave Miller, Executive Director of Adventures in Life Ministry shared this photo (that Terry Schwartz took) on the Adventures in Life FB page, along with the following text….

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 info@ailministry.org


Photopeeps this Wednesday…May 30th

Victory Loves Preparation!

Join us this Wednesday as we share what’s happening this Summer with Photopeeps.   We have tons of fun things planned, some new classes, photo outings and summer bbq’s…

All are welcome, with or without a camera.   If you do have a camera, please bring it with you…we might take some photos in class!

Photopeeps :: May 30th, Wednesday at the Rock, 7pm in Rm 353

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


Sustainability Lessons from Oaxaca

This post was originally written after my first visit to Pastor Chable’s ranch in the Summer of 2010.  With my recent trip to Oaxaca and spending time on Pastor Chable’s ranch, I thought it would be good to show what God is doing in the area of Sustainability….I welcome your thoughts.

In this photo, of the farm of Pastor Chable, you can see left to right…the greenhouse where tomatoes and peppers are grown, in the middle 2 buildings that house chickens, turkeys and rabbits (for food), and on the right a field waiting to be planted with corn.

This is where the rabbits are housed.  The middle row of cages is where the breeding rabbits are.  in an effort to maintain the integrity and health of the rabbits, the University of Guadalajara’s agriculture dept has helped catalog and register the rabbits used for breeding here.  The male offspring are never introduced to any of the breeding females and unfortunately for the males, they usually are the first to be sold for food or invited to dinner…

What Pastor Chable is doing on his farm outside of Oaxaca, is selling rabbits for food to help pay for the upkeep of the rabbits, chickens, and turkeys.  He is also selling breeding “sets”.  A female will on average give birth to 10 rabbits, 4 times a year.  And if I remember correctly, each rabbit will yield about 4 kilos of meat.

For less than $150 US dollars, a farmer can purchase 1 male and 10 females, to begin raising rabbits for food and revenue.  With the formula of 1/10 a farmer will on average have 400 rabbits that he can use to feed his family, which means protein for life.  The rabbits also provide the farmer a way to help support his family, by the selling of rabbits.  The buzz word in missions lately is sustainability.  This is what Pastor Chable is doing…providing a way for locals to support their families.

While we may find it objectionable to eat Bugs Bunny, it’s a reality.  A friend recently reminded me that if we saw how most of our meat comes to the table, we would all be vegetarians.  If you would like to learn more of the process…and see photos you can go to HERE and enter the password: LIFE

**warning**     The images are graphic, showing rabbits that are being prepared  to be slaughtered for food.    If you are squeamish about that sort of thing, please dont go to the post.  But if you want to learn more about the good thats happening with the rabbits, feel free to go…

What’s sad to me is what I heard shared about churches in the states who are helping support the work in Oaxaca.  Some of the U.S. churches have stated that they would like Pastor Chable to only give meat to christians.  On occasion, famlies will come to Pastor Chable asking for meat to help feed their families.  He doesn’t turn down anyone needing help, with or without money.  Those of us visiting, thought it funny that these American churches in essence are asking Pastor Chable to not feed non christians, only to feed christians.  Those of us visiting thought this was funny…you want to help support the work in Oaxaca, but only to christians.  This is ridiculous.  But it happened.  Of course Pastor Chable  couldn’t abide by that request.

This opens up another can of worms that won’t be discussed here right now…that being, “do we have a right to tell those we are supporting financially how to use those funds?”

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He does raise chickens and turkeys as well.  I was surprised to hear that turkeys are hard to raise…they eat lots and take too long to get big and plump (naturally), so its not worth it.  He keeps a few turkeys, like the dude above, cause they look good.  But the most bang for the peso (or buck) comes with the rabbits.

Pastor Chable sharing with the kids about the rabbits and the tomatoes they are growing…

This is corn that will be planted.  Another way to help local farmers produce a product they can take to market and support their families.

Irrigation lines in the corn field.  Adventures in Life is helping bring new farming techniques to local famers in Oaxaca to help them get the most from their crops.  Dave has brought down some folks from the states who are farmers, to help them share ideas…the big picture is to help locals be self sufficient, so they can support their families while staying in Oaxaca.  Like many areas in Mexico and Central and South America, the men have left their homes to search for employment to support their families…many coming to the U.S.  as  the local church in Oaxaca seeks to provide means for the men to produce corn and tomatoes on a small plot of land, and to raise rabbits, the hope is that they can stay with their families and keep the family together.  Which is much better than having the husbands thousands of miles away.

Pastor Chable with his family (minus their oldest son)

This trip was definitely eye opening, and a blessing to see what God is doing in Oaxaca, through men like Pastor Chable.   I look forward to seeing what God does as Adventures in Life continues to work in Oaxaca.  If you’d like more information about Adventures in Life, you can go HERE, I’m sure Dave would love to hear from you.

If you want to see more about sustainability and rabbits, you can go HERE and enter the password: LIFE

warning…warning… these images are graphic in nature, showing the slaughter of rabbits for food.  It’s real and it’s life.  It may not be suitable for children.


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