Monday, November 09, 2009

A summer in sum

Did you wonder what fun things happened this summer?
Well, wonder no more!

GTAB's Bellingham Team met twice each week while Kevin Gowan was in town. The team grew to six members and we outlined a new fundraising strategy (which is getting close to launch!)

[Most of the GTAB team: Michelle, Tim, Amanda, Kevin, and me.]

I decided to do a triathlon with my friend Tim and then told a whole bunch of people so that I wouldn't back out. The week of the race came and we decided that the registration was too expensive. But instead of bailing altogether, I got together with Tim and a pile of Widmans (they're always game on short notice!) and we did our own "self-administered" triathlon at Lake Whatcom. 1/4mi swim, 15mi bike, 3mi run.

[Tim, me, Jeff, Carla, and Brad before the triathlon.]

We added a couple of miles on the biking leg when Tim got lost and we went looking for him. Then the Widmans had to skip the run for a family thing but me and Tim (once he found his way back) both finished the while thing. It felt fantastic.

[Post race, post haste.]

Chris Akers (of Bridging Babel fame) has started a new band called Transcarlet and he invited me to play a concert with them at the Thurston County Fair. There weren't many people at the fair but those that witnessed our show may or may not have undergone some face melting.

[Jeff Storvick (#1 fan) and Chris before the show.]

I led my first mission trip in August and it went super well. I went to an orphanage in Mexico, 4hrs south of Tijuana with 8 of my good friends (including my sister.) After a lot of preparation the trip pretty much led itself as my friends were all so helpful, responsible, and aren't too bad at the Spanish themselves.

We got to paint classrooms, can tomatoes, demolish roof infested with bees and a coral snake, get schooled at soccer, and play lots of music. What a marvelous time.

[Pitstop at the Oregon dunes on our way to Mexico.] (Photo from Kevin Fitts)

[Music always sounds better when you're in a tree.] (Photo from Megan Eells)

Action for Africa is a group of Whatcom county locals who are partnering with a community in Lesotho (That's near the southern tip of Africa.) I'd been wanting to get involved with them so when they organized a small horde of relay teams for a local relay race, I jumped at the chance to participate. The only leg remaining to be filled was the one that's hardest for me. Boo. So I attempted a 5 mile run for the Bellingham Traverse with a long uphill at the end. I achieved my goal of never standing still... lots of walking up hills but never stopping.

Hey, thanks.
If you're reading this, chances are you deserve that. Friends, you've been tremendously encouraging this summer. You rock.


I like Andrew.
We like adventures.

How do hide a huge (1.5mi) tunnel in a small town?
Put it underground.

How do you keep us out?
Good luck.

[At the mouth]

[The first of many manholes. This one surfaces at Happy Ct.]

Friday, November 06, 2009

One purpose, two reactions

Every time I've told someone about switching my academic focus from Civil Engineering to Video Production I've gotten one of two reactions:

(1) "Now that's a switch!" or (2) "Finally!"

The first response is fairly ignorant of both disciplines. Producers and engineers both spend most of their time working with teams and wrangling project management... lots of scheduling, budgeting, and client communication. Both use complicated software tools and require heaps of technical knowledge (whether it's Young's modulus of elasticity or anamorphic pixels.)

My purpose in each of them has been to influence a positive change in the world. One by construction, the other through communication.

I realized, however, that one while video was taught through team-based projects, a degree in engineering looked a lot more like long lonely lectures and long problem sets. Funny that even though the careers look so similar they would be presented so differently.

[Still a little concerned of what may lie ahead]

Friday, July 03, 2009

Argentina in review

Thank you to the many who prayed and to the few who gave money. God remained faithful (surprise, surprise!) and I feel both blessed and privileged to have experienced this trip. I enjoyed sharing so much of it with you through photos and I hope also to live the rest of life with this broader cultural understanding and a persistent desire to serve beyond these borders.

===Prayers answered===
~safety in travels (planes, buses, taxis, and back roads)
~hospitality in Colombia (completely unexpected and overwhelmingly good)
~financial provision (and now a fantastic summer job!)
~health (so many times I should have gotten sick and didn't)

===Things learned===
~Found a balance between experiencing and documenting (This was my first trip where I communicated enough with those who were supporting me in prayer.)
~Abiding in Christ is desirable but difficult. Definitely worthwhile. Still figuring out how.
~God is faithful and prayer works (softened our hearts to see and serve, favor with city officials, construction supplies provided on time)
~God is both sovereign and loving (Who knew that a free will vs. predestination conversation could be so life-giving?)

I've also learned a lot by watching Will and Jessica's leadership during this trip and I'm looking forward to trying it out as I taking a group of my friends to an orphanage in Baja California this August.

===Possible futures===
~Returning to Colombia to deliver a bus (hopefully soon!)
~Expansion of GTAB to new international education projects
~Use documentary video for non-profits or missionaries (primarily communications/fundraising)
~Use fiction video for education in developing countries
~Lead missions team to a church plant in Argentina
~Help Guille start an orphanage in Zimbabwe
~Photo journalism trek through Rwanda, Uganda, & Sudan

[The Argentina team with Gina Fernandez]

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Coming home

Today is my last day here.
Tomorrow I leave for Bellingham.

Prayers for tomorrow:
~safe travels
~fruitful reflection (I'll have lots of airport time)

Starting Strong:
~Establishing healthy rhythms at home
~Guarding margins of time

In the next 2 weeks:
~3 days with family before moving out
~editing GTAB documentary (diligence, clarity of communication)
~resuming internship at church (investing in community)
~starting work for Nathaniel (house painting)
~summer school starts a week from Tuesday

Lavalle desert

If you saw the hard sand flats of Lavalle, where every shrub bristles with thorns long enough to pass all the way through a foot, you might get the impression that Lavalle is an inhospitable place.

But the desert has a beauty unlike any other. It's beauty is not found in variety but in simplicity... and sky... and solitude.


We arrived Wednesday afternoon and walked over to the school to scout out the project. We got an early start the next day but by four-o-clock the sand and gravel that we had ordered for delivery still hadn't arrived. This is the cool part: The team turned to prayer and less than ten minutes later the truck pulled in, unloaded, and we started to mix the first batch of concrete.

Supplies arrive
[Supplies arrive]

Working it
[Working it]

We finished the patio the next day and on saturday had just enough leftover materials to lay a floor in the YWAM house that we had been using (it had a dirt floor before.)

Pouring the second floor
[Pouring the second floor]

Before leaving we hosted an evening church service and invited the neighbors to celebrate what God has been doing in Lavalle. Two years ago, this school had one room with bare bricks and a dirt floor. After YWAM (Youth With A Mission) started helping them improve their building the government joined in to help and now the school has a tile floor, a second room, a covered play area (now paved), and as we were leaving there was a team installing a toilet and sink (the only ones I saw all week.)

After the evening service
[After the evening service]

So thank God for answered prayers, safety, jobs finished, and for experiencing a whole new kind of beauty.

Kids from the school
[Kids from the school]


Graceful sunset
[Graceful sunset]


Quiet time
[Quiet Time]

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Lavalle Update

There's a few photos from me on the team's blog.

More to come tomorrow.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


[Rachel showing her face-painting repertoire this afternoon at the block party.]

[Game on! Jessica blindfolds Crusoe at Horita Feliz.]

[Pure excellence.]

[Leading songs at Horita Feliz this morning.]

[Spending time with the Barrio youth Friday night.]

We're looking forward to some rest tomorrow evening and Monday.

Work Complete

Work Complete from throughwaters on Vimeo.

We finished the work project and now we're showing it off with a party for the whole neighborhood! When we arrived this room had broken windows, bare concrete walls, and a ceiling so ominous that we were scared to step inside. One week later... this!

We played a few games of fútbol with the neigborhood kids and then I got to rock out with Will and John (percussion and harmonica) as we played music for the kids. (Burlap to Cashmere, Dispatch, and worship songs in both Spanish and English.)

[A job well done.]

Horita Feliz

Horita Feliz from throughwaters on Vimeo.

Horita Feliz is way more fun with hand motions!

Video Update

Argentina Update from throughwaters on Vimeo.

Hey! It’s a video update from our team meeting!
(Recorded Thursday, May 28)

Thursday, May 28, 2009


A look at the coming week...

Today: Finished painting the classroom!
The ceiling is finished, too, and we're planning a barbecue/block party for Saturday afternoon. We've already challenged the local kids to some futbol.

Fri: 9pm-midnight with barrio youth
Last week it was just a time to hang out and build trust. This week we're planning a memorable introduction. I'm hoping for a combo of beat boxing, juggling five flaming balls, and spitting fire. ...we'll see.

Sat: Horita Feliz (with barrio kids), block party, and leading youth worship at church.
John, Will, Steven, and myself are working up an acoustic set for worship. We've chosen mostly songs in Spanish and what's funny to us is that the music we've chosen is far more stereotypically Latino than theirs is.

Sun: Attend church and rest

Mon: Some serious sabbath
We're all getting pretty tired.

Tues: Projects around church

Wed: Leave for Lavalle (la-vai-shay) desert.
We've been warned that working in the desert is an experience to be approached with healthy respect. We anticipate that it will be both physically and spiritually intense while simultaneously inexplicably beautiful. The distractions of life will be stripped away and we'll be left with hard work, gorgeous skies, and each other. Because of that, it will be essential that we rest beforehand.

Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun: Mixing/pouring a 30'x30' concrete pad in the desert.
We'll stay until the work is done. We're expecting 3-5 days.

Thank you all again for praying.

A day of rest

Monday was Revolution Day (el 25 de Mayo) and the country was on holiday so the Fernandez and Miller families took our team up to a cabin in the Andes.

[Exploring stream beds.]

[Pre-asado ordervouirs]

[Cuddle puddle while reading Narnia aloud in Spanish]

[Constructing the new ceiling.]

[The council of leaders at the YWAM base... deciding to go to the Lavalle desert.]

Bogotá in Review

I enjoyed my day in Bogotá tremendously. Here's a glimpse at what I saw between my hours of riding buses and even more hours talking with Matt.

Fusion Recap from throughwaters on Vimeo.

(Recorded on Wed, May 13 in Bogota and Thurs, May 14 in Bucaramanga.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Settling in

(Written Mon, May 25th)

Arriving in the barrio for the first time, we see deep holes in the rocky streets. Esteban tells us that the metal grates have been stolen from the road to be sold for iron. We pull up to the Copa de Leche for the first time and inside the building there is a small class in session for the neighborhood kids. We make our way to the back of the building and ask the question of the week, "How can we help?"
...we've been asking that question a lot.

[Team transport (Esteban's truck.)]

This soup kitchen serves kids every week day at 5, so our team has already made a rotation so that a few of us are there to help every day.

"We've got someone with a bloody toe already! She got rocked... all puns intended." (Aside: "Hee hee. It has begun!") -Will

Friday I got to play on the worship team for the youth service at church. Great fun trying to fit in to an established team with a very different style from my own. (A heavy southern gospel/Israel Houghton influence... with a swooshy synth keys foundation.) We've been invited to plan and lead next week on our own and an acoustic set with wailing harmonica is in order.

[Playing on worship team fo r the youth service.]

It's been a unique trip for me as we've been befriended by the youth at the local church, here. Our team is certainly not working in isolation and a large part of our time will be spent building friendships at church while we serve i n the barrio to help bridge the social gap between the middle class Mendocinos and the displaced indigenous poor in the barrios.

Saturday we were back in the barrio at the Copa de Leche but this time for "Horita Feliz." That's the two hour program for little ones wit h Bible stories, crafts, games, and a snack. It was mayhem of the best kind. I had a blast puppeteering with John as we narrated the story of the good Samaritan and the kids loved it, too.

Jessica: "¿Eres una artista?"
Little girl: "No."
Jessica: "¿No?"
Little girl: "No."
Little girl (aside): "¿Que es una artista?"

Today we've been working to renovate a building where high school dropouts are tutored. We've replaced a few windows and we're painting the interior with the worst paint known to man. (Walmart and the devil worked together to bamboozle us into buying this junk.) While I led the painting portion, Will and others started i nstalling the new ceiling. We expect to finish by this weekend and to throw a block party to show off the new facilities.

[The room under renovation.]

[Replacing broken window panes.]

I've been making progress on the GTAB documentary and have started planning an informational video with Will for Resonate Church and Compassion With Action Foundation. Hopefully I can finish the latter before leaving Arg.

Tomorrow is my day on the cooking rotation so I'll get to spend extra time with Julio. He works for the church but has been a constant help with cooking the best food in the world. So much good food...

["Asado" always means delicious.]

Please continue praying:
~Discernment as we seek God daily to know not only what we should do, but also what we are called to do.
~Cultivating servant hearts
~Learning about/Adjusting to culture

Wednesday will be the end of week one. Two more weeks remain for me.

Argentina Begins!

(Written Thursday evening, May 21)

I was really concerned about getting any rest staying overnight in the airport in Santiago after my experience with the "soft" Jazz from hell in Miami. But thank you for praying. I found a dead end hallway on the fourth floor and decided to be a little more audacious then usual... there were two security guards working just around the corner but I set up my new hammock between two railings and got seven hours of uninterrupted slumber.

[Sunset over Chile]

[Home away from home.]

Meeting the team for the flight out that next morning was definitely a joy for me and we were picked up at the airport by a small posse including Steve Fernandez and his two kids Michelle and Derek. We made it to Argentina!

That first day we got the tour of where we'll be staying (a house next door to the local church that they are partnered with) then we went out to the Fernandez's house where they stuffed us full of empanadas and we chatted until afternoon. While the others rested through the heat of the day (part of our daily schedule) I got to rehearse with the youth worship team for a Saturday evening service. At 4:30 a small group of us went to the soup kitchen ("Copa de Leche") in the barrio to help out. That happens every weekday so our team leaders, Will and Jessica have written up a rotation so we all get a chance to help there.

Today was day two in Argentina and I'm loving it! We spent the morning doing chores around the church and as the sun was setting we played futbol with Julio (a great guy who works for the church and is teaching us how to cook delicious things each day for the team.) Pastor Besada (who I know from my trip here with YWAM 3 years ago) called and then stopped by to invite me to dinner tomorrow.

This evening continued with a team meeting, a delicious snack, and then worshiping together.

Tomorrow (as always) will require some flexibility as I'm not sure what we'll be up to. But it looks like most days are going to include some hard work, some fun, and lots of delicious food.

I used today's siesta time to get a jump start on the GTAB documentary project. I'm realizing that it would be completely undoable if I hadn't worked my way up to this. Four hours of video in 530 files is a ridiculous amount of video to work with. But I've finished setting up the project file faster than I forecasted and editing interviews is ready to begin!

Colombia Recap

(Written Thursday evening, May 21)

Thank you so much for your prayers.
My primary concerns became the strongest and best parts of the trip...

The evening before I left Bellingham I got an email from Matt saying that he would meet me at the airport. Huge relief for me and I got to spend even more time with him as we bussed together all over Bogota.

The Acevedos' hospitality is world-class and unparalelled by anything I've experienced before. In both Bucaramanga and Cáchira they provided places to stay, food to eat, and great company. Jairo basically adopted me and rarely left my side throughout the four days in Cáchira: driving me around, introducing me to people, and helping me communicate when I got stuck. His hospitality overflows onto the next answered prayer...

Communication/Effective project:
The Acevedos' help meant that I got to see many of the villages surrounding Cáchira. I met professors, toured a handful of primary schools that send students to the Institute, and had instant trust from anyone that met me. This led to a mountain of superb media and interviews that have already started coming together. This trip has already been shown effective as I've begun sharing about the trip and witnessed people's interest.

There were many times that I was concerned for my camera's safety, but never for my own. Having someone Matt in Bogota and the Acevedos in Bucaramanga and Cáchira meant that I was nearly always escorted. Usually that wouldn't have been necessary, but it meant that I got to go to more places and meet more people.

[Cafe with new friends in Bucaramanga]

Monday, May 18, 2009

Canyón Chicamocha

I spent most of today in the car (again) but this time we drove South from Bucaramanga to the Chicamocha Canyon. It's a national park with a crazy-long cable car. It was a beautiful drive and we only almost died a couple of times while passing or being passed on blind corners. The cable car was closed but we had a great time anyway.

Psalm 37: Dwell in the land -> Enjoy safe pastures.
John 14: Abide in me -> Bear fruit.

...join me in thinking about it.

I got to rest this afternoon and I'm making tremendous progress on a script for the documentary. I hope to finish the outline before meeting the Argentina team in the airport Wednesday morning.
Prayers, please:
-Safe travels tomorrow (departing 4:30am PST)
-Good use of travel time (overnight layover in the Santiago airport)
-Processing what I've seen so that I can communicate clearly
(revelation to see connections, organization to emphasize them, writing to communicate them)
-Preparation for Argentina
(heart & mind ready for what God will do, rested enough to jump in immediately)
(The digestive ailments are arriving and I'm alert in case of malaria symptoms. None so far.)

[The national park in Chicamocha.]

[Me, Tañia, Doñatina, and Jairo.]

[Made with goat blood, heart, and intestine. Tastes like rice-a-roni.]

[A Santanderean snack food fried and salted: Hormigas Culonas.]
(Literally translated: "big-ass ants")
Shards of the exoskeloton stick around in your mouth for a while... not a fan.

[Beautiful spot for thinking on the roof of the 5th floor]
...definitely a fan.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Back in Bucaramanga

Thanks so much for your continued prayers, friends! I've returned from Cachira now and am in the big city of Bucaramanga. I have an afternoon to rest before a day of sightseeing tomorrow.

What I'm up against now, however, is 5hrs of video footage, 28 pages of notes, and a whole lot of stories rolling around in my head... Somehow I need to organize all this into something that communicates the GTAB project clearly.

Tuesday morning I leave for Argentina and get to spend the night in a Chilean airport. Good time for thinking, pray for rest.

[Great lighting for interviewing students.]

[Doñatina (Manuel's mother) reminiscing as she looks at the hillside where she raised her children.]

[Tio Victor.]

[Inside Cachira's cathedral.]

[A little car trouble on the way back to Bucaramanga (Tire change and pressure check: US$3)]