Travelling, photography, people, missions, a good cup of coffee are just a few of our favorite things…We love Jesus!
We believe in using our photography gifts, talents, and creativity to bless and serve others.
We are ready and willing to go anywhere, domestic or international, to photograph and serve.
We are in the process of retooling and relaunching our site so we apologize if it’s a bit dated. If you are interested in learning more about us, we invite you to check out our Facebook page HERE for the most up to date info about what we are up to. You can also email us at MISSION.email@example.com
We look forward to hearing from you!
Serving in Oaxaca, Mexico with Adventures in Life Ministry
We had the blessing of photographing Adventures in Life Ministry’s first Fall Medical Mission in Oaxaca last week. The photo above is the Team that traveled from the U.S. to serve with Dave and AIL. You can read a great re-cap of the week at AIL Ministry’s blog HERE.
We will be posting more stuff and photos from the week soon.
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.
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
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….
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
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.
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.
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!!
Since returning from Oaxaca at the beginning of August, it seems like I have been going non-stop. As I sit in Chick-fil-A and look back it’s hard to believe that it’s September 3rd. Where did August go?
It’s a good thing I have photos to look back on to help me answer this question…if not for that, I don’t know what I would do. So, as a way to maintain some sanity and to share what God has been doing I share these photos of August 2012. God is good!
Beginning of August, finished photographing Summer Camp in Oaxaca, with Adventures in Life. Taking portraits of cute little kids and some not so little kids….I got to spend some time with family, always a blessing. We came together to celebrate my youngest niece Olivia’s 9th Birthday.
2002 Rock Church Staff photo, taken by Rafael Delgado.
In August I started looking through and uploading on Facebook old photos from the archives. Photos are great reminders of what God has done in the past and a way of showing those who came before us. This photo is from a 2003 Rock Church baptism at Mariner’s Point, Mission Bay.I love this photo. Pete Giordano took this photo at one of the first Rock Baptisms, Mariners Point, I believe in 2001. He is a great photographer who loves black & white film. The photo speaks for itself.
August 16th, the Rock Academy started school. I have had the privilege of photographing at the Academy for several years now…I watched a few kids graduate this past May that I have known since they were in elementary school. It’s always fun to see the new faces as well as the familiar ones, in expectation…Blessings on the Rock Academy for a great school year!
My friends kids, Valeria, Veronica and Diego. It was their first day at their new school…August 18th, taking photos in San Marcos at Knob Hill Elementary. Rock Church North County was there to help beautify the campus…over 150 folks came out that day. That afternoon, Warriors Indoor Club Soccer…Photos are from the 18th and 25th.Rock North County had a Marriage “Date Night” on August 24th. They asked us to document the evening and take portraits of the happy couples…Rock North County Baptism, August 27th at Carlsbad Lagoon. A great place to declare your faith in Jesus publicly…August 31st, Friday night lights. Rock Academy Football team had their season opener versus Capistrano Valley Christian. It was a close game but in the 2nd half Capo Valley pulled away winning 35-21.August was busy, but after looking through several thousand photos I can’t complain. I get to use my gifts to serve Jesus and bless others! Hopefully September does’t go as fast…
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!
The word Guelaguetza comes from the Zapotec language and is usually interpreted as the “reciprocal exchanges of gifts and services”. Traditionally when there was an occasion for celebration such as a wedding, or a feast day, the people attending the party will bring items necessary for the celebration like food or alcoholic beverages. Each person’s offering, or “guelaguetza” allows the party to take place and becomes part of a reciprocal exchange and is one of the ways social ties are reinforced and preserved through time.
The state of Oaxaca is home to 16 different ethno linguistic groups and is incredibly diverse. For the Guelaguetza festival, members of these groups gather wearing their traditional clothing and perform folk dances that are particular to their village.
The Guelaguetza celebration dates back to way before the Spanish and continues as a defining characteristic of Oaxacan culture. Its origins and traditions come from a earth-based religious celebrations that worship the corn god. In contemporary Oaxaca, indigenous communities from within the state gather at the Guelaguetza to present their native culture, mainly in the form of music, costumes, dances, and food. It is the most famous indigenous gathering of its kind in Mexico.
For the 80th year in a row, delegations from communities all over Oaxaca unite in the capital to showcase their traditional clothing and music with parades, and dance performances. The Parades are held on the last two Saturdays and the performances in the amphitheater take on place the last two Mondays in July. Although the celebration is now an important tourist attraction, it also retains deep cultural importance for the peoples of Oaxaca and is important for the continuing survival of these cultures.
To see more photos go to MISSION focused Facebook page
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.
As I sat getting a manicure & pedicure contemplating all the things I needed to accomplish before I left on my trip to Oaxaca my mind wandered to a few days earlier when I was on the beach with my Niece and her son. He is so adorable and at this beautiful age of wonderment and discovery.
My mind jumps back to my trip, not the things I still have to do but to the people I am going to see. The contrast between the opportunities of the children living in the US and those living in villages in Mexico are staggering. This is the fifth time I have travel to Oaxaca and the surrounding areas. This time I will be taking photos of Adventures In Life’s Kids Camp.
Just think about the lists you have made with your kids this summer of the things they want to do: Swimming at the beach, Riding Bikes Together, Going To Sea World, Disneyland and Legoland, Camping, A Road Trip, or Maybe A Vacation Flying Somewhere. Most kids in Mexico could never even dream of these thing, they don’t own a bike, their families don’t even own a car, they don’t take vacations, many don’t even have running water or electricity in their homes.
And here I was getting a manicure & pedicure, something I struggle with every time I am going on a mission trip. Why am I so blessed when other have so little? I still can’t answer that question; but I do know “that to whom much is give much is required” Luke 12:48
My prayer is that just by being in Oaxaca I can help make a child’s time at camp more fun and be an encouragement to those who give of their lives in service to the Mexican people.
If you would like to help buy ink and paper so we can give each child at camp a photo of themselves to take home with them please mail a check to MISSION focused 8030 La Mesa Blvd. #326 La Mesa, CA 91942 We are a 501c and will send you a tax deducible receipt.
If you would like to help support AIL Ministry in Oaxaca Click HERE
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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.
It was a long day…you can see a few more photos from the parade on our Facebook page. You can go there by pressing HERE or by clicking link to the right. More photos soon.
Long, fun day…time for some rest!
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!
Terry Schwartz being prayed for by the kids at camp!
Terry worked hard and took lots of great photos. These are just a few to give yall an idea of what God did this week.
This is the heart of who we are as MISSION focused, to use the gift of photography to document what God is doing through ministries like Adventures in Life and small local churches like Dios Es Amor in Ensenada.
Dios Es Amor ~ Adventures in Life Kids Camp 2012
First Baptist Church of Salinas spent the week with Adventures in Life, sharing the love of Christ with the kids and remodeling the kitchen at Dios Es Amor Church. The men worked hard and got tons of work done…Please keep the next group, from Gardena Valley Baptist Church and Panorama Baptist Church, in prayer as they come to Ensenada to finish the work that began last week.
Dave Miller, Executive Director of Adventures in Life, taking some time to recharge and rest during worship.
You can see more photos from the week on our Facebook page HERE…
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.