Posted on July 9, 2014
So I’m a little behind the blog thing.. It’s been an amazing emotional roller coaster trip this year! Lots going on that will take some time to process.. A lot of late nights and long conversations to sort through the events of the day/week.
Here is one story though!
Tuesday, at basketball before we started to hand out the prints, Tony introduced me to the group. After he said my name and I walked to the front the principal looked around and said ‘¿Donde su esposa?’ The teens erupted in whoops, hollers and cheers wanting to know where Stephanie was! This made a huge impact on me because Steph didn’t make it to basketball this year, they remembered us from last year!
I have always been curious about the impact we are making here in Guatemala. I trust that the Lords work is being done, but struggle with not being able to see the effects. To hear from a local that we have only met once or twice in years past that we are remembered and missed made me tear up a little! No matter what our role is here in Guatemala, we are making ripples and spreading the love of The Lord!
Posted on July 9, 2014
Part of our mission here in Guatemala is doing basketball camps (which you already know..). This mission takes place at local schools (again, which you already know :). This is an odd thought because in the states this would never happen! People coming into a school from another country who want to take over the entire population and preach the gospel. Another strike against us is being in a soccer culture. This doesn’t seem to matter to the children though! They absolutely love hanging out with us in the crazy heat and throwing a ball around.
When we arrived at the school we noticed there were no nets and a good quarter of the court was covered in dirt. Quickly the team got out our replacement nets and grabbed brooms and shovels and got to work. Within half an hour the court was cleared and ready to go! Most of the team split into groups and started coaching their stations, a few of the team members and I broke off and set up base camp for some portraits. As the children worked their way from station to station they came and got their photo taken. Thanks to our Epson PictureMate we were able to print their images out on the spot and present everyone with their photograph at the end of the event. In a culture that doesn’t see many photographs of themselves, this is a huge deal to get a portrait for free! We are all very happy that we are able to provide such a simple (in America) task for them to brighten their day!
Posted on July 8, 2014
Stephanie and I woke up to see the sunrise this morning and witnessed more than we anticipated! We were sitting by the lake enjoying the mountains and the beautiful painting forming in the sky, when we felt a little rumble. It felt the same as a furnace starting up in a old home, and gradually got stronger and stronger. I looked at Steph and said ‘I think it’s an earthquake!’ Just after that, the ground started shaking more and more. It shook to the point where the sidewalk was shifting from the stone wall next to it! Thankfully it only lasted 10-15 seconds, but it was a long 15 seconds! After the shaking stopped we heard some distant rumbling and said a quick prayer that it was an echo we were hearing vs a landslide. Praise The Lord there was no damage at the Promised Land other than a lot of dust from walls creaking and a bunch of cranky team members that were awakened at 5:30! They were all grateful however to witness the remainder of the sunrise.
At breakfast we learned that it was a 7.0 on the Richter scale! The second largest Pastor Luis remembers! A few walls did fall in the city, but we have not heard of any serious injuries to anyone in town.
The rest of the day was a little hectic because of the earthquake. We had originally planed to do basketball camps at 2 schools, but they cancelled classes due to a power outage. Fortunately there was a gym close by that had a basketball court we were able to use for our camp.
All in all it was a very successful day! Many who attended our basketball camps accepted the Lord into their lives! Despite the shaky start, the day ended very positive.
Posted on July 7, 2014
Lazy Sunday here in Guatemala. After breakfast we went to visit the family we will be building a home for. Although the entire family was not able to meet us, we met the father, Rafael. His family is currently living with his parents along with 3 brothers, a lot of people in tight quarters. A recipe for disaster in America, but here it is very normal. Rafael was in tears thanking God that we have been blessed enough to make the journey to assist his family. We are honored beyond belief to be able to provide a home for his family. Our team alone cannot take the credit for this project though. Its through the many family and friends who helped us raise the support for Rafael’s house and giving us the prayer support we need to have the courage and energy to make the build a possibility!
This evening we went to a service at Ebenezer church. It was a fantastic experience! I understood about 5 words of the worship and sermon, but seeing our brothers and sisters in Christ worship in their language spoke for itself. The service as a whole was split between the local ministry team and our visiting teams. We sang a few songs to the congregation as a special music session, and I gave a quick testimony of how the Lord is using my life. In a nutshell I spoke on how I felt lead to pursue photography and how it has lead to many conversations about my faith and gives me the time and energy to pursue working overseas. Selfishly I really enjoy meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. But honestly really feel like that is also what gives the Lord joy. Serving God doesn’t mean you need to sell all of your belongings and pursue a lifestyle that doesn’t match where you currently reside. I believe that as long as you are praying about decisions before you make them and trusting your heart, than your desires will align with the Lords Will for your life and put you exactly where you need to be ministering.
Posted on July 5, 2014
Arriving in Guatemala yesterday was like coming home. Pastor Luis and Tony picked us up from the airport and hugs were very quickly exchanged. After starting the night in Guatemala City we pack the bus and make our way across the country to Lake Atitlan.
Along the way we stopped at Poacorral, a very poor village at the top of a mountain. At 12,000 ft elevation, 75% of each day is spent surrounded in fog which makes it a surprisingly chilly village to live in. It seems like most of the people living here have vitamin B deficiency due to the lack of sun. There are not a lot of smiles and very little laughter around the village. Poacorral is full of refugees who were pulled from the coast during various natural disasters. Due to the elevation making a living farming is difficult and travel to another village for work is cumbersome and very time consuming.
While we were here we did a short VBS and craft for the children and afterwards set up to do a Happy Feet (shoe distribution) Ministry. Despite the depressing atmosphere of Poacorral, our VBS and Happy Feet ministry created many smiles and laughter! Some of the people we befriended made it a point to thank us in English, which is rare for us to hear. Although communication was sketchy (most people in Poacorral do not speak Spanish, rather they speak an older Mayan dialect), we felt like the love of our Lord was revealed to over 400 people this afternoon!
Posted on July 4, 2014
Well here we are again, currently sitting on a plane heading to one of my all time favorite places! In case you don’t really know me very well I am en route to Lake Atitlan Guatemala to spend the week with Impacto Ministry. (Read more about it here)
I am going to try my best to make a post once an evening (pending internet access) with a photo of the day and a story to go along with it. Please feel free to share with those who have a heart for missions, and spreading the good news of hope & joy.
I pray these post inspire you to reach out to your missions circle where ever that may be! I am a firm beloved that we are all called somewhere different. Some keep it local, some like me travel a few hours outside of the US, and others travel to the opposite side of the globe! Where ever your heart is drawn to, please travel with love in your heart, and joy in your eyes. Even the smallest smile can make the worst of days a little brighter.
– Chris W
Posted on July 31, 2013
We’ve been back in the United States for 4 days now, and it’s still difficult to put the past three weeks into words. Although we’ve been to Guatemala before, this was the longest amount of time we’ve spent there since Chris’s first trip in 2010. We went this year with the goal of creating a video for the Impacto Ministries staff to use for ministry and fundraising purposes, and we agreed that one week was simply not enough time for us to obtain all of the footage we needed. Three weeks, however, would be a good amount of time to shoot, edit, and deliver the finished product. Unfortunately for us, three weeks felt more like three days, and we were packing up to leave long before we were ready to say goodbye.
Within the weeks to come, we will be posting more photos and sharing more stories, but for now, we want to tell you about a group of the most loving, giving, and faithful followers of Christ that we know… the Impacto staff members. From the moment they met us at the airport to the time we said goodbye with tears in our eyes, they never stopped treating us like family. In fact, I’m pretty sure each and every one of them said to us on more than one occasion that we are now a part of their family. We were greeted with hugs and kisses every single morning, all of our meals were practically fit for royalty, and we were blessed to be a part of their staff meetings. Neither one of us had any idea we were going to have the privilege of spending so much time with the staff, seeing how the ministry operates “behind the scenes”, but it was being a part of this team that so radically challenged and encouraged us!
Most of the staff members are on-the-go from sunrise to well past sundown 7 days per week, whether they are out doing ministry activities with teams, driving 4 hours (one way!) to pick up new teams in Guatemala City every weekend, or triple checking details to make sure everything is prepared for the next days missions. During the busy season (February-September), Chris and I honestly have no idea when they are able to spend any quality time with their families, as they all are constantly working to ensure that the Lords work gets accomplished. We have never witnessed a group of people so consistently place others before themselves!
Within the short time we were there, I only hope we were of some help to them! Whether it be putting together a slideshow or just being an extra presence on a worksite, I hope the staff members were able to breathe just a bit easier when we were there. Knowing that we will be able to bless this team with a few videos and hundreds of photos brings so much joy to our hearts, and we only wish we could ease every burden they bear.
This year, it wasn’t the precious Guatemalan children that brought tears to our eyes as we said goodbye, it was our new family members. They all told us we could come back anytime we wanted, and we’re wondering if maybe we’ll be going back sooner rather than later. At this point, all we know is that for the past four days, we have missed them all terribly and can’t wait to see them again! What’s next for the WhonPhotos? We’ll let you know when we know!
(and family :) (Tyler, Dusty, Fred, Sarah, Dinora, Pastor Luis, Andrea, Tony, Daniel, David, Freddy, and Bryce)
Posted on July 12, 2013
Hola, amigos, from San Juan la Laguna! We have successfully completed our first week here in Guatemala, and the time is just flying by!!!
We are absolutely loving working alongside IMPACTO Ministries staff, serving the people of the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala. Today we said goodbye to two teams (one from North Carolina and one from Tennessee), and we welcome two more teams later this afternoon. We have already captured so many wonderful images and video footage of teams building homes, loving on the children of Happy Tummies, and dancing with the “Abuelitos”. It’s going to be difficult to pick only 3-5 minutes worth of footage to use in the video we’re making!
The staff members here at IMPACTO have absolutely blown us away with their care and concern for us, always checking to make sure we are doing ok and that we have everything we need. As was expected, we’ve already decided that it’s going to be difficult to go home, as Guatemala has once again stolen our hearts! We are thrilled to be here, and we already have seen God move in HUGE ways in the hearts of so many!
Please pray for the staff this week, as this will be a very busy week for them with all of the various activities they will be involved in with the teams. Pray for rest and strength for them all as they work effortlessly to meet the needs of all those they serve. Thank you for your prayers! We can absolutely feel them here in Guatemala, and we will keep you posted as we are able to do so!
Chris & Steph
Posted on June 30, 2013
One week from today my wife Stephanie and I will be in Guatemala!! A huge thank you goes out to everyone who helped make this trip a possibility! We are beyond excited to see how the Lord will work through this trip. Here is a little preview of one of the ministries we will have the pleasure of working with, Happy Tummies!
Posted on April 22, 2013
Recently Paired Inc. approached me do put together a post for their Tools of the Trade campaign. The topic of the post is essentially, what tools do you use on a daily basis in your business? This is a crazy open-ended question.. Each shoot requires a very specific set of tools that I tailor to the particular project (Look at these 2 specific posts on projects Traveling with Photo Gear and Weekend Survival Kit). Other factors that determine what I bring and use on a shoot include weather, location, personality of business, timeframe of the shoot, and many more. But if you boil every shoot down to the bare essentials there is a list of items that I typically always bring along no matter what the subject of the shoot is.