Category Archives: Photography

I’m Hoping To Work My Way To Slave.

Simple homes on the banks of the Nile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past seven years I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve covered about a dozen countries, several of them multiple times. I’ve been to Ethiopia three times, South Sudan four times, and Kenya about ten or so. I’ve stayed in cities, towns, villages, and some places so remote that when you try to enter it into Google earth, you get nothing. The great thing about being a missionary is that whenever possible, I’m either staying with the locals, or at least somewhere very nearby. I’ve seen all kinds of living conditions, from a family of six living in a 3 meter by 3 meter room, to relatively affluent people living in modern houses with soft furniture and satellite television. Having seen all that, what I’ve learned is that poverty and wealth have very little to do with income.

I learned this week that the average individual, non-mortgage debt in the United States right now is $37,000. That’s the average of every person, not every family. One in ten have non-mortgage debt over $100,000. That is a staggering figure. Now I realize that for some people this is medical debt, and there’s not much that can be done about that. But for a lot of people, it’s just lifestyle debt; the desire to attain some fictitious standard that we’ve either been told we need to achieve, or that we’ve decided we owe to ourselves. It’s the latter that’s the most insidious thing. As we tell ourselves and our children that we can be and have anything we want, we seek to self-glorify ourselves through things. It is the end product of the hyper-individualistic American mindset. In the land where the winner is the one who accumulates, and the king is the one who accumulates more than anyone else, is it any wonder that we see success as having the most stuff?

Here’s the cruel irony. The inevitable end-product to individualistic self-glorification is that we eventually become a slave to someone else. Don’t believe me? Which of the following two people is richer? An Ethiopian who makes enough money to put a simple roof over his head, feed his wife and children, and is content with his life, or an American making $75,000 a year with a mortgage that is going to take 30 years to pay off, student loans that don’t disappear even if he goes bankrupt, two car loans, and a year’s income worth of credit card debt?  Who sleeps better? What good is having stuff if at any moment the bank can call in all my loans? Who has better security, if such a thing exists?

I write this today not as a condemning measure, but because for many of us, our paradigm is that this is the way it has to be. I’m here to tell you that it’s not, and in fact most of the world does not do it this way. Wealth is not just having a lot of things, it is also not having the things you don’t need. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 says, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

For those of us who have chosen to make missions our lifestyle, this is doubly important. Hebrews 12:1 says, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” I can’t think of a bigger encumbrance than $37,000 of consumer debt. How can we be a servant of God, when we are already a slave to the bank? How can we give our time when our time is already spoken for to pay for our debts? Simple living is a virtue. I want to challenge us to learn from the African who lives simply, but enjoys his family and every blessing that God gives him. It’s not too late.

The May Show And Tell.

Normally I don’t put two photography-only blogs nearly back to back. However, there were simply too many pictures from the last trip to include in my April post, so here is another. Plus, my thoughts on other subjects are still ruminating. So rather than work on getting my  disheveled thoughts into a proper order, I’ve decided to be lazy and put pictures up instead. Judging by the number of people that look at my blog when it’s only pictures, that seems to be what people want anyway. So here are more pictures from my trip to Ethiopia last month.

The spice market in Harar, Ethiopia. If you ever get the chance to go to Harar, definitely go here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grinding coffee the old-fashioned way, with a wooden mortar and an iron bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silvest posing for the camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The goat was not amused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horse cart is a frequent means of transport for people and goods in Ethiopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The narrow passageways of the ancient city of Harar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If my kids complain about how hard they have to work….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Khat market in Awaday, pronounced “I will die.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fun moment between father and daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The toothbrush seller. You buy a stick to brush your teeth with for about 4 cents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more shot from inside the walled city of Harar.

The April 2017 Show And Tell

It is virtually impossible to not be greatly affected by your surroundings and culture in your worldview. It’s also virtually impossible to understand other cultures without a frame of reference. It’s hard to obtain a frame of reference without actually going, but the next best thing is pictures and video. So consider this blog to be my best attempt to provide a frame of reference. I’ve been back from Ethiopia for about three weeks now. Frequently after a trip, I pause my pontificating for a bit and just post pictures. There are unfortunately a lot of pictures I can’t show. However, here are a number of pictures from places we went and the people we met on the street. More later. Enjoy.

Our frequent server of coffee and good food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A camel train going down the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial shot of farms and villages East of Addis Ababa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman in the butcher shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man in thought on the street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A night scene in Dire Dawa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An immense tree in the ancient city of Harar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetable sellers in Harar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids outside the hotel in Dire Dawa. Most, I believe, were professional beggars sent out by their parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mountains of eastern Ethiopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even the goats chew Qat here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The desert between Harar and Dire Dawa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gorilla Is Helping Me Test My Blog

In a week I leave for Ethiopia. I often write my thoughts and post pictures as I’m in the field, and it’s best to work any bugs out of the system before I’m there. There are no gorillas in Ethiopia, but this one I took a picture of last week is helping me today as I test software to help with my internet connection when I’m overseas. In the next week or so, you should be seeing pictures from my trip.

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Ersatz Misir Wot

Tonight I’m writing this blog because in less than 60 days, I leave for Ethiopia. It doesn’t seem like it, but it will be two years since my last trip to Ethiopia. I was supposed to be going in November, but the security situation on the ground wouldn’t allow it. Last year I had work to do in Kenya and couldn’t go. Now the time is coming. 

One of my favorite foods in Ethiopia, and a taste that I miss is misir wot, a dish made from red lentils, garlic, onions, and the ubiquitous berbere spice, which is in nearly all Ethiopian food. This week I was excited to have found some locally; excited until I made misir wot with it, and found out that it was nothing like the authentic spice I knew so well. Nevertheless it was better than nothing, and I was able to give my friends an ersatz taste of Ethiopia.

I’m also writing this blog today to get any kinks out of the system I’ll be writing from. I normally write on a computer, but I will only have an iPad with me, so I’m writing from that. I’m also testing out transferring files over wifi from my camera to the iPad, then editing a picture with Snapseed. So far, so good, though with the snags I’ve run into, I’m glad I’m practicing at home first. 

I will be writing my normal blog as I get thoughts worth writing, but I’ll also be writing more about the preparation for the upcoming trip as it gets closer. Until next time…

African Profiles

Recently I started going through many of my pictures and revisiting some that either I hadn’t looked at before, or revisiting some with a new eye. What I found was that there were a tremendous number of stories that haven’t been told. It is probably about six months until the next time I go to Africa. Until that time, I plan to honor as many people as I can, telling their stories and showing you through words and pictures the beauty of who they are. All will be from either South Sudan, Kenya, or Ethiopia. I’m doing this primarily because the more I talk with people about Africa, the more I realize just how vast the disconnect is between what I have seen and what people understand. There is simply no frame of reference for people in the western world. I can tell stories, or I can show pictures, but without both together; a powerful picture with an explanation of what you’re looking at; people just fill in the blanks with their own preconceived ideas. So without getting too wordy, here is the first one. All pictures can be clicked on for a larger view.

This is Alemi. I met her in the highlands of Ethiopia. She is a widow who lives with her son. I really don’t know what happened to her husband. The most common reasons in this region of Africa are either tuberculosis or HIV, but I don’t know for sure. Alemi lives in a simple home. She has wallpapered the mud walls with newspapers full of ads for things that will likely never be within reach for her. However, she recently received a micro-loan through a Christian organization called the Petros Network to help her start a business. With just a small amount of money, she is able to feed herself and her son, and even put a little bit of money away. She is able to do this not because of a handout, but through a method that allows her keep her dignity, promotes work, and teaches her son the value of work. I hope to see her again next year and see how she has progressed.

As westerners, our first reaction is to feel sorry for people we see who are poor. Don’t feel sorry for her, except perhaps for the loss of her husband. She has a roof over her head, food on the table, a small business, her faith in Christ, and she and her son are healthy. She is complete in that she has everything she needs except her husband, and very little that she doesn’t. However, let her be a centering perspective when we think we deserve better than what we have.

Alemi in Ethiopia
Alemi in Ethiopia

A Year In Photographs.

Each year, I try to publish some of my favorite photos of the year. This year, as I went through my files for the various things I took pictures of this year, it became apparent to my the vast diversity of things I shot this year. Up until this point, I hadn’t realized this year was different from any other. Sure, I take pictures in Africa every year, but this year there was so much more than that. From Eastern Ethiopia to shooting a wedding in the Bahamas to documenting life on a fishing boat, I truly have a lot that I’m happy to have captured this year. I’m posting quite a few photos in this blog, and there are many more I could have posted. Some made it in for the technical quality of the photo, some for the backstory or the story the picture tells. Hopefully the latter two will represent well. Please enjoy. I look forward to the adventures that 2016 brings. All photos can be clicked on for a larger view.

Men working on a shrimping boat off the coast of South Carolina.
Men working on a shrimping boat off the coast of South Carolina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wide panorama of the Kibera slum, largest urban slum in Africa
wide panorama of the Kibera slum, largest urban slum in Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

A patchwork of farms surround a small village in Ethiopia.
A patchwork of farms surround a small village in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time goes by around a bride and groom in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.
Time goes by around a bride and groom in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental portrait of Sarah Sanford-Rausch.
Environmental portrait of Sarah Sanford-Rausch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People watch as a whale shark and manta ray swim past at the Georgia Aquarium.
People watch as a whale shark and manta ray swim past at the Georgia Aquarium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite wedding shots of the year.
One of my favorite wedding shots of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can you not love this elderly man from Ethiopia?
How can you not love this elderly man from Ethiopia?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gratitude of a woman saved from starvation.
The gratitude of a woman saved from starvation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A portrait I did this fall on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina.
A portrait I did this fall on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture for me sums up what Harar, Ethiopia looks and feels like.
This picture for me sums up what Harar, Ethiopia looks and feels like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A shot at sunset as the storm rolled in near my home.
A shot at sunset as the storm rolled in near my home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite of the wedding I shot in Hopetown, The Bahamas this year.
My favorite of the wedding I shot in Hopetown, The Bahamas this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The captain of the fishing vessel I was shooting on this fall.
The captain of the fishing vessel I was shooting on this fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time lapse of the waves rolling in past the bride and groom.
Time lapse of the waves rolling in past the bride and groom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candid portrait of a girl in Kibera, Kenya.
Candid portrait of a girl in Kibera, Kenya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Action portrait of dancers for a Beaufort Lifestyles Magazine.
Action portrait of dancers for a Beaufort Lifestyles Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

time exposure of young man standing in flowing water looking at dead flooded trees
time exposure of young man standing in flowing water looking at dead flooded trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman walking with a donkey in the highlands of Ethiopia.
Woman walking with a donkey in the highlands of Ethiopia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Pat Conroy in this environmental portrait in his home.
Author Pat Conroy in this environmental portrait in his home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite Ethiopia shots ever, taken in Dire Dawa.
One of my favorite Ethiopia shots ever, taken in Dire Dawa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait taken for Beaufort Lifestyles Magazine.
Portrait taken for Beaufort Lifestyles Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastors totally lost in prayer in Ethiopia.
Pastors totally lost in prayer in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time exposure of waves and driftwood in the ocean at sunset
Time exposure of waves and driftwood in the ocean at sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A wedding portrait I shot on Fripp Island.
A wedding portrait I shot on Fripp Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethiopian athletes playing football (soccer) at dawn.
Ethiopian athletes playing football (soccer) at dawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short time exposure of traffic in downtown Nairobi, Kenya.
Short time exposure of traffic in downtown Nairobi, Kenya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I photo I did for a couple's engagement this fall.
I photo I did for a couple’s engagement this fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids hamming it up for the camera in Kibera, Kenya.
Kids hamming it up for the camera in Kibera, Kenya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying a "Stoney" with my wife in Kibera.
Enjoying a “Stoney” with my wife in Kibera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my couples in an avenue of oaks.
One of my couples in an avenue of oaks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athletes receiving new shoes donated from Nike in Ethiopia.
Athletes receiving new shoes donated from Nike in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple watching the storm roll past just after their wedding.
A couple watching the storm roll past just after their wedding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back From Kibera

Less than forty eight hours ago, we got back from Kibera. All in all, I’d say the trip was a success. We were able to build good relationships with the people in the church and help out in the daycare. We were also able to help in some financial ways, but I see these as secondary to the job we came to do, which was build understanding of the issues and the people so we can partner for the long term. None of that can be done if we go with blinders on and a singular goal to build something or feed somebody. We are broken in certain ways, some of us financially, some of us spiritually, some of us in other ways. The goal of missions is to help each other overcome these various forms of brokenness. As I think over the issues I saw and more is revealed to me over time, I will write about these more in depth.

The trip home was an ordeal. My wife got sick to her stomach half way through the first flight, and is still a bit uneasy two days later. It was to the point where she came that close (you can’t see me thumb and forefingers about half an inch apart) to not getting on the plane from Zurich back to the United States. A couple missionaries saw what was going on and came to pray for Lynn. She met someone in the last five minutes before boarding who had some prescription nausea medication, and she was able to settle her stomach enough to board. God truly puts the right people in the right place.  My friends wife also got sick to her stomach on the plane, but not to that extent. Then we had to get through the nightmare that is customs in Dulles (very close to dullard), where everything is done in the least efficient manner possible. Our plane was boarding by the time we got through that, but we still needed to get to a different section of the airport entirely. As I rounded the corner I saw the sign that said the next train would be coming in 23 seconds. I shouted back the information to everybody else, and we managed to get onto that train. After getting off, I ran ahead to the gate and found they were about to close it. I told them my group was right behind me, and they let us on. I can feel my blood pressure rising even as I write about it. Nonetheless, we made it on our last plane and back home.

I have been going through the pictures from the trip. I have far fewer this time. As I mentioned in a previous blog, my role was very different for this trip, and I was watching out for three other people rather than focusing all my attention on taking pictures. Nevertheless I have some that give what I feel is a good representation of our trip, and I will post more later as I have something to write about. Enjoy.

child in Obedis' daycare in Kibera.
child in Obedis’ daycare in Kibera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children on the outskirts of Kibera. They were there as I shot video interviews.
Children on the outskirts of Kibera. They were there as I shot video interviews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking dinner together
Taking dinner together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carl having a good time with the kids.
Carl having a good time with the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynn in her element, teaching the kids, and trying to learn some Swahili.
Lynn in her element, teaching the kids, and trying to learn some Swahili.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kibera right after a heavy rainstorm.
Kibera right after a heavy rainstorm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A child looking in the window of the daycare.
One of Obeid’s daughters looking in the window of the daycare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obedi making ugali.
Obedi making ugali.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nairobi shortly after dark.
Nairobi shortly after dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty in the little things.
Beauty in the little things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunny and Obedi walking through Kibera.
Bunny and Obedi walking through Kibera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The market on the railroad tracks.
The market on the railroad tracks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An overview of Kibera.
An overview of Kibera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masha and Gaz, great guys.
Masha and Gaz, great guys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the daycare kids.
One of the daycare kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Week In Kibera

I’ve been in Kibera for about a week now, and honestly have been too busy to write up to this point. I was terribly sick yesterday, but fortunately had a lot of people praying for me, and I recovered very quickly. Thanks to everyone who was praying. The trip is still ongoing, so there will not be much in the way of reflection. That will undoubtedly come later. I can say that I have learned a lot this week, and have more questions than I started with. They are not bad questions though, and I’m sure they will lead to growth and a bettering of my understanding about how to partner with the church in Africa. For now then, here are some pictures from the trip. When I get home and I have had time to ponder, I will write more.
For those of you following this blog for the photography aspect, all of these pictures were shot with my small Canon G1X. The large SLR frankly was just too conspicuous and risky to pull out. U til next time.

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Tent Making

In the book of acts, Paul is described as a tentmaker. “Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.”   Paul didn’t simply live and travel through the generosity of others, he worked as he went. He had a trade.

I have to be honest. Fundraising is my least favorite part of missions and traveling for the church. It takes a huge amount of time and effort, and I don’t really like asking people for money. Fortunately, I have a trade that helps. Whereas Paul made tents, I take pictures. The blessing for me is that I can take pictures anywhere I go, and when I come home, they become art that helps fund my next trip. It’s at least partially self-sustaining. Today I sold two art pieces, the proceeds from which will probably fund about ten percent of our upcoming trip to Kenya. It truly is a blessing to be able to do this.  So with that thought, I just wanted to post the two pictures that sold, and put up a few others that I’m thinking of replacing them with on the Thibault Gallery wall in Beaufort, South Carolina. I’d actually like feedback on what people would like to see as art, so opinions are welcome. What I like is frequently not what other people like, and vice versa.

A widow in Ethiopia surveys the small field where she grows wheat for her family.
A widow in Ethiopia surveys the small field where she grows wheat for her family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baskets of fresh tea leaves sit under a tree in Kimunye, Kenya
Baskets of fresh tea leaves sit under a tree in Kimunye, Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A waterfall flows through the lush rainforest on the slopes of Mt Kenya. This is a possible art piece.
A waterfall flows through the lush rainforest on the slopes of Mt Kenya. This is a possible art piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athletes train in the early morning dust of the Ethiopian highlands. Possible art piece.
Athletes train in the early morning dust of the Ethiopian highlands. Possible art piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man drives his horse and wagon over the cobblestones in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. Possible art piece.
A man drives his horse and wagon over the cobblestones in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. Possible art piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wide panorama of mount Kenya at dawn. Possible art piece.
wide panorama of mount Kenya at dawn. Possible art piece.