Saturday, July 22, 2017

Anchorage Questival 2017


This is Manger Danger looking at the sunset during the Cotopaxi Questival 2017! I didn't know much about Cotopaxi before this, but I am super stoked about their motto to "Do Good". We've done a lot of challenges that are designed to love others and serve! We've had some cool moments this trip and watching this sunset was just one of them. Thankful!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

DESCRIBE A CONVICTION

Recently for a class I was asked to write about a core conviction that I have and the experiences that have led to this conviction. Tears have accompanied the production of these words. I think it's easy for me to forget these moments that have transformed my life, so in an attempt to not forget, I'm sharing.






My deepest core conviction is that there is and will always continue to be beauty in darkness and brokenness. I think the thing that has influenced this the most was my upbringing in West Africa.

I remember at the age of thirteen stepping off of that plane and feeling a deep heaviness from the thick, humid air of Lomé, Togo. We hopped in a dirt-covered land rover and headed off towards our new home—the M/V Africa Mercy. Culture shock was an understatement. I looked out the window and one of the first memories I have was looking at the drainage system that ran down the sidewalks on both sides of the street. The trash piled high and the water flowed thin. The next view that has engraved itself in my memory was the glass windows of a towering hotel. I looked out and all I could see was my own reflection. Sweaty and tired, I glanced back at myself, protected by the shell of the landrover. That seemingly insignificant moment was the beginning of a deeper awareness of the sheltered life that I had lived up until that point.

Within the first ten minutes of our drive I was confronted with the extreme poverty that plagues West Africa. We stopped in traffic, and without missing a beat, a child of about seven, half-covered with scraps of torn clothing, ran towards us. He put his fingers together and tapped his lips with the tips of his fingers. Though there was a barrier of language between us, it was no secret what he was looking for. Food and water. The most basic human needs that, up until that point, I had unlimited access to.

At thirteen I had to face the reality that my world was no longer contained to our small countryside home in England. After two years had passed, I worked in the hospital for a week for work experience. I met a thirty-year old lady named Chantelle who was on our hospital ship to have plastic surgery in order to replace the burned skin that covered her neck, torso and arms. She had to have skin grafts taken from her legs to replace the scarred skin. Unfortunately, her legs weren’t healing and the rest of her body was rejecting the skin graft because of the destruction of AIDS that inhibited skin growth. I remember when her bandages were being changed, her teeth clenched and subtle cries ached for healing; but still, she braved the pain, knowing that the pain was only necessary for healing to come. I found my journal entry at the time, which read: “Her clearly troubled face seemed to emit a joy that seemed to make the worries of the world dissipate. When she laughed, the brokenness of a lifetime of pain was forgotten. In those eyes I learned the true meaning of being joyful always. Lying in that hospital bed, I have never seen anything more radiant."

I went on my school retreat and returned to my mother’s solemn words that Chantelle had passed away during the week. She asked to feel the breeze of West Africa once more, and it was in her bed in that moment that she breathed her last. My mother relayed the words of the nurses--that she passed away with a spirit of peace. But in my downcast spirit, I still had to ask the question: if the Lord loved her, how could this happen?

These are just two of my experiences in West Africa that radically changed my entire world. I arrived in West Africa believing in a God who provides for and heals those who do “right”. Now, I refuse to believe in a God who strictly rewards those who do the “right” thing, and curses those who don’t. 

I think my love of photography and art developed during my time in West Africa. The desire to call out the beauty in the broken almost felt like a challenge that I was charged to face, and photography felt like the easiest way for me to begin doing this. As I started to take photos, I began to genuinely fall in love with West Africa, the culture, the landscape, the people.

I’m still not sure I am able to comprehend the brokenness that I have seen in line with the belief that the Lord is all-good, all-powerful and all-loving—but I know that it is a challenge worthy of my intelligence, as Leonard Oakland would say. Though the world is wrought with darkness and brokenness, there is a light that has the power to break through. I'm by no means saying there is beauty in starvation or dehydration, but there is beauty in the life of every human and every human story. Maybe the beauty is not in the brokenness, per se, but the hope that remains even in the darkest of moments. There is hope in the eyes of the child who sees the wealthy and sees a way out of their prison of hunger and dehydration. There is hope in the eyes of one who has found peace with their earthly suffering, knowing that there is a life beyond, held in the hands of a Father who promises no more tears or suffering. There will always be beauty in the brokenness and darkness of the world, for hope is stronger than the greatest sufferings that we as humans have to face.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

stillness

o sweet rest

no agenda, no people

the snow falls silently outside my window

the clock ticking fights to be louder than my own breathing

reflection becomes hard to avoid

nostalgia settles

a semester is gone, another five more to go

almost half way done with undergrad

being stretched; challenged

learning through every faulty step and weak cobblestone

my list of lessons I’ve learned:

sleep is mainly for the weak

I fall under the category of weak

fruit strips are essential for finals week

sometimes people are manipulative

your language is only as wholesome as those that surround you

good bosses make good work

roommates are the silver lining

burn out buddies will never burn out

burrito runs should never be declined

tea and coffee are the nectar of life

you may be addicted to caffeine

relationships are worth fighting for

fighting means s.o.s. pie runs

fighting means learning who is worth it and who isn’t

intimacy is more than physical

the best friendships are those made on actual ships

sometimes the biggest blessings have been living two doors down the entire time

teamwork makes the dreamwork

dreams being daily life

life would not work without my team to sustain me

breakfast is still the best meal of the day

unicorns and cats never get old

sing because you want to, not because you’re good or not

take more pictures

grace is not an easy thing

grace is bigger than our minds can understand

it starts in the simple things though

sometimes friends should be let go

parents are not often wrong… especially about relationships

snuggling is actually better with a body pillow

it’s still good with good friends though

be bold

don’t refrain from saying “hello”

ask people to get meals, the results are surprisingly positive

art professors will like you when you draw ducks instead of tables

be confident in your growth

comparison will literally suck the joy out of your soul

so don’t

drawing is not as hard as you think

patience is important

growth takes time

guilt is about the past, conviction is about the future

loving people means sacrifice

it means unlocking doors at ungodly hours

it means spending countless hours listening to residents tell you their life stories

it means staying up an extra hour to go on a walk with a teammate

it means listening

it means hearing

the Spirit is at work

God is faithful to provide

spending time with God always beats watching “friends"—do not be deceived

life comes from one place alone

living life in union with the Spirit

rest comes from that too

rest can be found in a bed

my bed is messy

my room’s a mess

I should begin packing

maybe that’ll be my only agenda

home tomorrow

back in two weeks

Thursday, January 14, 2016