Two Men

21 February, 2012

Statues, Grand-Leez, Belgium, 2009.

Statues. Grand-Leez, Belgium. 2009.

I recently used another (color) photo of these old men in the post People of Stone. Why? Because I like these old chaps. They seem so determined, so resolute.

In honor of these two petrologically-inclined gentleman, I wrote this little story, The Fleming and the Walloon. please don’t think of this as any commentary on the political situation in Belgium between the Flemings and the Walloons. I am unable to speak to that as I am neither. However, I thought it would be an interesting foundation to build a story on the two natures man. It is quite a stretch I know, but I thought it would be an interesting effort. My preemptive and sincere apologies to the Flemish and Walloon everywhere.

(This story will be published here in the near future.)

© 2011 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.

And who is my neighbor?

7 November, 2010

Learning english, Tijuana, Mexico, 2010.

Learning english. Tijuana, Mexico. 2010.

Between downtown Tijuana and Las Playas on the pacific ocean lies a small colonia called Cañon Carretas. Hidden among the scrap wood and plastic dwellings sits a one-room building that serves as a youth center, school, and simple gathering place. On August 6 of this past summer, I visited this small Mexican community with Kathy Saracoff, a missionary with Latin American Mission. For a few hours that Friday morning I watched as she led a small group of kids in some gospel songs, and then spent time educating them in english.

Employment in the community used be a short hike over to an adjacent valley where fathers, mothers, and those old enough to work dug through an immense mountain of refuse in one of the Tijuana-area dumps. Eventually, land-fill activities ceased at the site and dump activity moved closer to Tecate. Since then, the members of the community have had to commute, any way they can, to the new dump site where they earn a meager living digging for recyclables hidden in the tons of refuse dumped there everyday.

The children who come to the one-room school are the children of this community. Many of these cannot go to the public school because they cannot afford to buy the uniforms needed to attend the state schools. They are essentially barred from free education due to a lack of funds to buy the mandated uniforms.

Mrs. Saracoff started a small, handcrafts enterprise where the children produce bracelets that are then sold to help fund the children’s need for school uniforms and supplies. For these children, there are few options. Their parents spend the entirety of the money they earn on the basic needs of life.

In nearby San Diego, there are those who could easily afford to buy the supplies and clothing needed by these children, and thus they could be allowed to enter the public schools. Unfortunately, these connections, between the children in this dusty valley and those who could supply their needs, are not made.

“And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29

The increasing violence has been an added pressure to their struggle for existence over the past few years. Not only is this an increase in the level of danger associated with living and working in Tijuana, but it is also restricting the river of help that once flowed south across the border with the many Christian groups that would come to help, build, teach, and love the people of Mexico.

During the writing of this post I learned that, just across town from this community, supposed members of the Mexican drug cartels murdered 13 people at a health clinic,. This horrific event was barely reported on the US side of the border. If the cultural filter of la linea can muffle such a human tragedy, how much more will it silence the voices of these children living in the shadow of this violence? The violence is deeper than the 28,000 murdered in these cartel wars, there is another violence in that we, seemingly, are now no longer listening.


© 2010 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.

The Leatherwoods, Artajona, Spain, 2006.

The Leatherwoods. Artajona, Spain. 2006.

It is hard to believe that it has been four years since I first went to Spain. In 2006, I visited three missionary families in three various locations around the country. This photo has always been a favorite of mine for its metaphor of beginnings and of new opportunities. This family, the Leatherwoods, walked through this archway located in the 11th century Cerco de Artajona. I suppose that in comparison to the 900 years this structure has seen visitors come and go, my four-year absence has been hardly noticed.

Yet, for my friends in Artajona, I am sure that the past four years have brought countless changes in their lives as they watched their five children grow. For me, those years have passed by in a blur as I have changed careers and embarked on founding and building my media mission, A Mission Proclaimed.

It was a year after that trip I started A Mission Proclaimed (AMPProductions and AMPPhotos). Greatly inspired from that spring and summer I spent visiting my church’s missionaries as a media emissary for my church in my position as Director of Video Services. The intent was to gather stories of what was happening on the mission field and bring them back to the church to create interactive,  multimedia “kiosks” for creating a greater connection between the church family in the states and those overseas. That project fell apart along with other church projects in the harsh reality of cutbacks and reorganization due to the faltering economy. The blessing of those factors, however, was that they were the impetus for my vision and creation of A Mission Proclaimed, to continue bringing the stories of God’s work in missions back to the people here at home.

The revelation of having so much time pass brings some guilt that I have not kept in communication with the missionaries I visited. Being in constant “catch-up” mode and busily starting a new career while simultaneously building up a ministry takes a toll on the cultivating of friendships.

I suppose it is out of guilt that I vow to reconnect with those friends and to cultivate those friendships that I started over the last few years. Priorities, priorities, priorities. Get them straight.

In my hope to realize the metaphor pictured by the Leatherwoods as they walked through that stone arch four years ago, I commit to treating each day as a new beginning, a gift from God, and an opportunity to greet each new day as a blessing to enjoy friends and cherish friendships that God has given me.

© 2010 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.