“Being clear about what we’re doing and why is the first step in doing it better. If you’re not happy about the honest answer to this question, make substantial changes until you are.” Seth Godin. Jan 15, 2013
Not a day goes by when I don’t have the extreme privilege of hearing stories of young Tibetans fleeing the Chinese government’s occupation of their land. The stories are shocking, filled with bravery, a fight for freedom and many times, end in tragedy. Just today, a friend of mine told me his story of crossing the Himalayan Mountains (as they all do in order to get to India). He told me of being captured by the Chinese government the first 3 times he tried to escape, put in prison and then returned him to his home. The fourth and final time, he travelled for multiple weeks over the mountains, with some dying along the way. Food runs out, the temperatures are freezing, there are unmarked paths with dangerous cliffs. One young man fell to his death during their journey.
I want to help. I can’t just stand by. I serve a God who came to earth and died for justice, for us, un-deserving, but with Him, we have a hope for a future. He asks the same of us, to humble ourselves, to serve, and to fight for justice. “What you do to the least of these, you do to me.”
This has inspired me to start a documentary project of these young adults, coming from Tibet, as refugees, holding on to their culture, learning for the first time about their country’s history (as it is mostly banned in Tibet to learn of their own history), all the while trying to embrace their new surroundings in India, separated from their families and from the way of life they’re accustomed to. A beautiful mixture of tradition and modern appeals. Starting a new life…. with “Refugee Status”.
This is the first image of the series.
(Sengye, shown above, is a young Tibetan man from the Amdo region of Tibet. He wears a traditional fur hat and necklace, identifying him as Amdo. He was raised in a nomadic family (as most are in that region), breeding yaks, sheeps and goats. He fled Tibet on the same night of his father’s return from being imprisoned by the Chinese government for 14 years. They didn’t see each other.)
Please feel free to share your thoughts, input and comments.
This weekend was so incredible. I got to hike with some beautiful people through the Himalayan Mountains, seeing spectacular views, culture, and wildlife. We went with our friends Evan + Katie Finley and Caleb + Hannah Showalter, as well as some new friends who are monks from Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. There were chai and dahl shops along the way to rest and enjoy the scenery, but the best part was making it to our final destination at snow-line and basking in the views.
Sonam from Bhutan, Rabten from Napal, and Tenzin from Myanmar
I was able to hold a baby goat that was born the night before we arrived.
Our lovely view where we stayed in the Himalayas. Nick and I stayed in the sherpa’s tent but the tents made a nice photo.
I was so fortunate to get to photograph the nomadic goat herders in the middle of the Himalayas. They posed with their goats for a few photos and were so generous with their time to share about their lives.
Sharing a morning cup of chai with our host in the Himalayas. We spent the night under his tent which doubles as his home, shop and kitchen. It was magical.
Our view from one of our hikes to the glacier in the Himalayan Mountains. Once in a lifetime trip. So thankful.
I’m a photographer. I see the world in highlights and shadows, composition and shape. Sometimes I don’t want to be ‘framing’ my world within the contours of a viewfinder, but I do. It’s not a burden, but a gift. Being in Zambia, the world around me has changed. I feel a bit like a kid in a candy store with all the new and wonderful treasures there is to capture; the people especially. We have journeyed with the beautiful people of Zambia for about 5 months. We have learned a bit of their language, their culture, and their faith. We have seen the hardships they face and we have seen God move in beautiful ways. It has been my pleasure to freeze them in my camera. To freeze the moments of time we have spent with them, and to freeze their burdens and trials into a means of raising awareness and connecting worlds. That’s my hope and my prayer.
On a personal note: For those of you who don’t already know, Nick and I will be spending the next few months in Cape Town, South Africa as we go through the CPx training and schooling with All Nations (the parent organization to Love’s Door). We are excited to be back in South Africa, in a town we love and with people we cherish, but will deeply miss, for this short time, the people of Zambia, the villagers we shared life with, and the opportunities to serve with them… but this is only the beginning for us….
Prayer points: For those of you who are continually praying for us and showing us support and encouragement, Thank you! We are forever grateful! A few things we are praying about and hope you can join in are: A mode of transportation. We are thinking about getting a little scooter to get around Cape Town during our schooling and are praying for the funds to come in. We are also prayerful about the outreach phase of this schooling, as we want to be and go where we are supposed to be. There is so much need and so many people to shine light to, but want to be in His perfect will.
“Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meaning.” When Helping Hurts
I have told many people about this book that I’m reading, When Helping Hurts. It’s a book serving to identify what true poverty looks like, from all aspects, in order to be able to discern the best way to help alleviate it. Poverty is not just lack of material possessions. It’s not just about lacking food or shelter or shoes to walk to school. There’s definitely a lot of that kind of poverty here in Zambia and it’s an easy thing to recognize, that’s for sure. But what this book is distinguishing between is the material poverty and the kind of poverty that goes deeper. It goes into the very fiber of who we are and who we were created to be. It’s poverty that keeps us from being able to have compassion on others, or that keeps us broken inside, or that keeps us distant from our Maker.
Living in Africa, it’s very tempting to want to help in visibly large ways! I want to be able to say, “I fed 1,000 people today!” I want those 1,000 people to have food. It’s not a bad thing to want, I believe. But what happens when tomorrow, those same 1,000 people don’t have food again? Do they come together as a community to figure out creative ways to get food, or do they come to us, the “makuah” for the handout? (makuah is white person). My heart would be the former, and not the latter. They are wonderfully intelligent, hard working, and compassionate people. But if we only see the immediate need of giving the handouts as the answer, we are stunting their ability to be whole people, to have the dignity of working and to be creative beings to solve problems and see it through. I am challenged and encouraged by the concepts in this book, and it’s helping me form relationships with the people in the village that is not on a “giver and receiver” basis. Instead, it gives us the ability to have relationships with mutual encouragement, helping each other reach our full potential as loved human beings, created for great things, restored for His glory!
“…if you spend yourself on behalf of the hungry, and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
With the demeanor of a meak and quiet spirit, with just wispers in his voice, Oliver sits beside me as I teach him English colors and read him some Bible stories. At age 9, Oliver (shown directly below), has been identified as a vulnerable child here in the villages. He and his younger sister, Monde, were both found with no food, in a home with no roof, in a village where they were unwanted. Even by their own mother. Love’s Door for All Nations, the organization we serve with, gladly welcomed them into their Children’s Home with a caring widow, named Hilda who has taken them in amongst her own children. He now has food, shelter, clothing, and school fees, but most importantly, a chance at life, and hope.