I have felt it building in my heart. The unexplainable desire to simply do more. Be more. Share more. The insurmountable thought that there’s more to my life with this camera. Something I couldn’t explain, but have noted and scribed in bits and pieces. The urge to capture those who an image of themselves is an unobtainable luxury. The yearning to let those who appear as castaways know that someone cares. It was this quote from an HBO war photographer that was finally able to put my heart into words: “[I take these photos so] people can no longer say ‘I did not know”. There’s just always been something aching inside me letting me know there’s more to my life as a photographer alongside shooting the weddings I love. I just couldn’t seem to put a finger on it. It’s no surprise that in the past year my faith has done a 180. I would say 360, but my belief in God has always been there, it just got buried for a bit. Deeply, deeply buried. It was a hard road behind me, that is for sure, and if it weren’t for my courage to open up about my darkness and the wise words of my friend Alyssa, I most likely would not be where I am today with my faith in the Lord and my rekindled fire and strength. And, of course, my favorite church that she introduced me to, Hope Chapel West O’ahu. Which is where I found myself one Sunday morning.
Sitting to the left of the stage, wondering what God was going to bring me through Pastor Mike Kai today, I sat attentively in the second row by myself, notebook in hand. The service began as it normally does, with super cool graphics, videos, and upcoming announcements. A moving frame of of children drinking clean water in Africa fluttered past the screen along with a touching message showcasing the works of missions and donations from the church.
Hearing the word hit me hard. So hard, in fact, I opened my notebook and scribbled the word down, underlining it. Then just a few seconds later, I kept writing, adding in my feelings so I would never forget. It was as if a western style rope had lassoed my heart and nearly tugged it out of my chest. I knew there was something to this word.
Missions. I let the word roll around in my head for quite some time throughout the sermon. But where? And what would I have to offer on a mission? I am no pastor.
I have had Thailand stuck on the brain oddly for the past few months. For not knowing a lick about the country, I have been obsessed with the idea of visiting. Watching friends post trips from instagram. Having clients randomly tell me about how much they loved Chiang Mai. And Marshall, who just the week before I turned to and said “Hey! Let’s start saving for a trip to Thailand. I mean, why not?”. I couldn't shake this place.
Church concluded and as I exited the sanctuary doors I did something I don’t normally do--I turned to wander the hall and explore the ministry tables. You can only imagine what I saw. A table modestly labeled “Thailand Missions”. In sheer shock, I stopped in my tracks, rather clueless as to what what happening. I probably dropped my jaw. Wait--fo real??
Nervous to talk too much and accidentally over commit to something I knew nothing about I sheepishly quizzed the volunteers and expressed a generalized interest in missions. But as the Lord would have it, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut for long (nothin' new) and naturally blurted out ever feeling and desire I have ever encountered on the subject, including “I am a wedding photographer and love it but I think I'm supposed to be doing more with my camera too, you know?”
At that moment the Mission trip leader Bob materialized at my side and was explaining that actually the Chiang Mai trip in July, (you know, the month where oddly NOTHING is booked on my calendar) needed a photographer. So, I signed up for more information and waltzed out the door, confident I was going to be heading on my first mission.
It was a few days later that I got the email where my confidence went from through the roof to waivering. I found out the pledge needed to attend the trip and nervous to commit to something I was sure I couldn’t afford and went back to my general question asking ways. However something inside me said I needed to be honest and share my burdens in this email--let them know that no matter how much I wanted to go I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to swing the costs.
And their response? It was exactly what I knew in my heart, but I needed to hear:
“...The enemy knows our weaknesses and will grind on it until you scare yourself out of doing what you're called to do..”
“Boom. I’m in”. I took a leap and my three word email sealed the deal.
And so it is, I am committed to my very fist mission trip.
“If you can encourage others, you are a missionary”-Bob, leader of the Thailand missions trip during my first meeting yesterday.
If you’d like to know more about what we will be doing in Thailand, my role as the trip photographer, or you’d like to share the love and donate to help make it all possible, please visit GoFundMe.com/ThaiMission2013 and know I will love you for forever and ever and ever. Even moreso if you spread the word! xo