Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 200 • f 5.6 • 1/320 sec
The cliche says “A picture is worth 1000 words,” but sometimes a few extra are helpful. 🙂 This was one of my favorite pictures from the Mexico building trip, because I think it summed everything up perfectly. (If you missed the earlier story, I wrote about it here and here.) In the picture are four things that remind me of the trip: dirt, band-aids, paint, and prayer.
The dirt is probably self-explanatory. We were in Mexico, and it was everywhere!!! When the team first arrived, some had a difficult time adjusting to the mess after leaving the comfort of America. All that was forgotten, however, when we caught one of the local kids trying to drink out of one of the construction wash barrels because that was the cleanest water they had. Ick. A large tank of clean water was quickly added to the project.
My friend had a very good reason why her fingers were covered in band-aids. She had been working on stucco all day. The mixture we used included sand, cement, water, and lime. The last ingredient is hard on skin, so we usually wore cloves to work with it. However, my friend noticed there were gaps in the stucco near the roof, where the angle was too small for gloves to fit. After several failed attempts with a trowel, she gave up and took off the gloves to fix it with her fingertips. We didn’t want gaps that would let in breezes in the winter. The mixture chewed up her fingers quite a bit after several hours of work, but she was happy that the kids would stay warm and dry.
Paint was the finishing touch on the houses, along with a numbered plaque. It was our pay of personalizing each building and making it look more cozy. The inside walls were unfinished, but outside, we went crazy! My team’s building had blue window and door frames. The large building used wood and chicken wire under the stucco to create an embossed cross on the outside wall.
Finally, but most importantly, we prayed for the kids, the families, and the other work teams. It was the faith of the host family that led them to care for all the homeless children, and it was faith that led the three work teams to help build the orphanage. God brought us all together at one time to make a miracle for those kids, and we needed to take time and thank Him.
Do you have a picture that tells a story you love to share? Let us know… and don’t forget to include a link!
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 25 • 1/200 sec
Every once in a while, I see situations that totally FAIL. This week was one of those (and one reason why this post is a day late). The other night, I got a Skype message from a friend of mine. He had been catching up with some old friends from high school he hadn’t seen in years. In discussing our mutual friends and how they were doing, one girl’s name came up. My friend was told she had died a couple years back due to complications in childbirth.
None of us had heard from her for years, so we struggled with the guilt of why we hadn’t kept in touch. I searched the obituary archives online to try and find details, but I didn’t know her married name or what town she had moved to last. Like the people in this week’s photo, I just wanted to get away from everything and think.
I updated my Facebook status to reflect my mood, which of course attracted other old schoolmates who wanted information. One claimed she still knew an extended family member, so she would try to follow up. Within a few hours, she wrote me back: The person who told you this was misinformed… or lying. She’s not dead. What??? Sure enough, my supposedly-deceased friend added me on Facebook within hours. We have a lot of catching up to do.
What moments of FAIL have you found yourself in? Did you laugh or just groan in disbelief?
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 7.0 • 1/220 sec
This week’s picture reminded me of the journey we are all on. Life can take us through both good times and hard times, and both are needed to grow. Several months ago, I wrote a post about the goodness of God in natural disasters. What about when the struggles are personal? Is He there for us then as well?
This past week included some of the hardest moments I’ve had in years. I spent hours begging God for answers, getting upset at His silence, or waiting quietly in expectation. Finally, despite my frustration, I took time to worship. I’m a music freak, so for me that means cranking up the volume to 11 and dancing. I barely made it through the first song before I was at His feet, crying. I saw that in my time of struggle, I had simply forgotten who He was.
“He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”
(Psalm 146:7-9 & 147:3-4 NIV)
God does all these things, but not always on our schedule. Sometimes His healing takes time, and sometimes His justice comes to the world when we are not there to see it. Other times, He just holds us close and lets the pain help build character in our lives. IMHO, brokenness sucks. Yet sometimes I need to remember that Jesus went through the same things – willingly! – in order to be there for me when I’m hurting. Not only that, but He promises to use it for something good… someday.
What pain are you going through right now? Can you see God working through it?
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 5.0 • 1/3200 sec
(Note: I don’t recommend ISO 800 for outdoors – I had just come from indoors and didn’t switch ISO’s before taking this picture)
More stories from the Mexico orphanage! While the work teams were building, some people took turns visiting the kids and running a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program back at the home. My turn came in the middle of the week, and I went with three other teens to help the organizers plan the day. We included the usual songs, games, and fun skits, as well as toys and playtime. While we were having lunch/snack time, the parent family managed to set up a small swimming pool and fill it with water. This was fairly unusual for the area, because clean water was expensive. But they wanted the group to enjoy the time here.
The kids weren’t really sure what to do with it at first. Finally, one of the older children had an idea that she whispered to her friends. Before the rest of us knew what was happening, they surrounded two of our teenage volunteers, Gabi and Sam. With a combined effort, they picked up both girls and threw them into the pool, clothes and all! Both came up laughing, so the kids decided it was fun. They jumped in as well – all 30 or so of them! Of course, with that many kids in the pool, they lost half the water. Nobody seemed to care, as they all splashed and screamed and laughed. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the most fun.
What’s the most fun you’ve had with simple things?
Until I went to India, I never imagined how fascinating a ballpoint pen could be. Yet these schoolkids would literally fight each other over one if they had the chance. No worries – I brought a bag full. I enjoy bringing little gifts for kids when I travel, and these kids were no exception. For them, having something more “high-tech” than a pencil was exciting.
Cameras were exciting too. They knew that with digital photography, they could see the pictures instantly on a camera’s screen. So I was inundated with requests by kids to take their pictures, then turn the camera around to show them. This always elicited excited shrieks when they recognized themselves. Every once in a while, I would get a group of kids so big that they started grabbing at the camera. I was worried about it getting lost or damaged, so I started taking their pictures with a point-and-shoot. While they were busy admiring themselves on that one, I would pull out my DSLR and get a good pic for myself as well. 🙂
Knowing how much these little things meant to the kids, I was amazed by a street girl named Minyana. Someone had given her a sheet of stickers, and she chose to be generous herself. She went to each of us in the group, and affixed a sticker to each of our shirts. Even in poverty, she knew what generosity was all about.
Have you ever seen a small gift mean a lot to someone? What about something that someone gave you?