The sun had long since set, the city was a dark and busy place, and we had successfully navigated customs. The five of us banded close to the uniformed pilot sent to guide us through the maze of paperwork, inspections, and inquisitive agents. I don’t know what we expected, when we prepared for arrival, but landing in Nairobi, Kenya was nothing like I’d imagined. Those first few days are a blur of meeting people, tasting new food, navigating crowded streets, facing the ever-present bombardment of new smells, sounds, sights, and experiences.
After the dust settled a bit, I stepped back to process this new life we were living: on the opposite side of the globe, thousands and thousands of miles away from normal and comfortable, in a completely new culture.
We’d known lots of family and friends who lived in, grew up in, served in, or visited Africa.
My Dad’s college roommate’s prayer card had been on our fridge for more than twenty years.My parents’ best-friends-from-before-I-was-born had moved there several years before we had.
My Aunt and Uncle had lived decades there.
My second cousins had raised their family there.
So why did I know so little about life on the mission field?
It’s obvious, really. And I put the pieces together faster than I can type it.
These missionaries were on the mission field with a specific purpose, a specific mission. That purpose took time, energy, effort, brain power, sleep deprivation, tense meetings, grueling schedules. The missionaries didn’t have time to be taking photos, writing stories, sending emails, creating videos, updating social media.
But without staying connected with their friends, family, and supporters back home, how would the supporters know the needs, embrace the opportunities to give, and create the structure of stability that the missionaries require in order to stay on the field, fulfilling their purpose?
Ten years ago in the attic of the cute little duplex on the compound in Nairobi, I dreamed a dream.
I’m a writer, a storytelling, a photographer.
I’m a traveler, an adventurer.
I can tell those stories, take those photos, connect those supporters.
My dream has laid latent for ten years, fueled by the occasional opportunity to photograph for a church’s website or take portraits for a missionary heading back overseas or document a specific ministry’s project.
In God’s perfect timing, though, and incredible orchestration, He keeps giving me opportunities to use my camera in ministry.
I had just moved to British Columbia from North Carolina, was contracted to shoot a wedding in Washington, DC, and was spending the weekend with the bride’s friends from France. A couple conversations, a passing comment, and a few emails later, it was official: God needed me and my camera in southern France.
It’s been ten years in the making, but in just over one month, it’ll be reality: I’ll be a missionary photographer.
Prayer is coveted. Specifically as we work on bureaucratic details in preparation for going, financial arrangements for the team, travel safety for all involved, and clear weather during the week the crew is in country.
P.S. Africa has special significance for me, of course. I went to Africa and met a Canadian and became a bride and roadtripped across the continent with my husband. Simple enough, eh? =) And now the move from North Carolina, U.S.A. to British Columbia, Canada is complete and I’m open for business in the Lower Mainland!