It feels as if I'm dreaming, someone might need to pinch me...
It has been a very full month here, getting acquainted with my five amazing housemates, painting the Oakley House while job hunting (thanks, Dad, for teaching me to paint houses in high school!), and enjoying the beautiful state of Colorado. Looking back over the past several weeks, being here in Boulder has often felt like a dream. The sun peeking over the mountains. The bright, yellow aspen trees. The worn trails all around me. It’s easy to feel as though the beauty surrounding me is merely a dream world.
Then it starts to hit me—it’s not a dream at all, but a CHANGE.
Change often means giving something up, in exchange for something else, which is exactly what I did when I moved to COLORADO to pursue my passions and dreams. Life in Peoria was great— I loved my jobs, my friendships, my family, my church, but something was missing… I wasn’t doing what I was passionate about in life.
"You have to find your way back home again. Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. It could be creativity, family, faith, service, or raising corgis. Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energizes with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential." Elizabeth Gilbert
Like Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, I believe that home is much, much more than an address. Living in Peoria, I wasn’t devoting myself to what I loved “more than I loved myself.” So now, though my new “home” is in Colorado, I find my sense of “home” in fulfilling my passion.
I’ve been doing ministry ever since I can remember. Growing up in a Christian home and attending a private Christian school provided me with the opportunities to be involved in worship teams, vacation bible schools, and missions trips. During my senior year, I went to Rwanda, Africa and learned so much for only having been there 2 weeks. I loved playing with the children and seeing the joy they had even with so little. I loved the music and the way they would sing praises to God.
It was not until I finally did YWAM, “Youth with a Mission,” in 2014, that my passion for ministry was narrowed down specifically to Refugee ministry, after spending 3 months in Lebanon and Egypt. My time was spent working in refugee camps, playing games with the children, and stopping to hear the unforgettable stories about their lives.
My interactions with the refugees in Lebanon and Egypt made me want to do more, so I went to Lesvos, Greece about a year later, and spent time volunteering at a refugee registration camp called Moria. After coming home from Greece, I was able to take my photographs from both trips and share the stories from those I had personally met and start this refugee blog and several other exhibitions as well.
This vision I have for refugee ministry wasn’t happening in Peoria, since the majority of refugees living in Illinois are located in Chicago.
I’m definitely not a big city girl, so… I of course moved to Boulder where I could roam free to be in the mountains with my camera and spend more time with the refugees living in Colorado.
I have dreams to start a refugee art ministry, taking portraits and sharing the stories of what the journey is like for those making their way to America. This ministry would also be a place to find safety, a place to create, and a place to dream. Art in many forms has always been a way of expression for me, and I want to create a space where men, woman and children can come to feel free. As of right now, my goal is to make connections with churches and organizations to see how I can help minister to their needs.
My first month here I started volunteering at a Burmese refugee homework club on Sunday afternoons. My first week there I mentioned I did photography and the girls got really excited. They asked me if I could teach them how to use a camera. Of course I was excited and said YES! I’ve decided while I’m here I’m going to start photography classes for those wanting to learn how to use a camera, how to pose subjects, etc. I’m excited to use my passion for photography to connect with others.
The second opportunity I’ve had since being here was connecting with Hope in our City in Denver. This organization works mostly with Somilian refugees, and just recently was blessed with a building in Denver. I was able to attend one of their prayer meetings last week and will be volunteering with them while I’m here.
The third connection I was able to make was with Cornerstone Boulder church. I’ve been attending Cornerstone Boulder the past five Sundays since being here, and I’ve been extremely blessed by the preaching and community. I was able to take some pictures for one of their Justice and Mercy Ministries working with human trafficking survivors this past month. This specific ministry is called Reintegra and they will be taking a trip to Mexico City to continue doing work there. They have asked me to go with them this December as part of the team doing photography and videography.
I have decided to go with them, but will need continued prayers and support.
The total cost of this trip is $1,500, which will cover travel, housing, food, and other needs for the trip. The church has graciously offered to pay for 50% of the trip, leaving me with $750 left to raise.
If you are interested in partnering with me, feel free to contact me through this blog or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am truly blessed to be here, and I can’t wait to see what else God has in store.
Thank you for all your prayers and support! :)