Lifemark Productions: Blog en-us (C) Lifemark Productions (Lifemark Productions) Fri, 15 May 2015 21:35:00 GMT Fri, 15 May 2015 21:35:00 GMT Lifemark Productions: Blog 69 120 The Park Family - 2015 - Colorado Springs Just before we endured a week of wind, rain, snow, and hail the Park and Moon families had a short reunion here in Colorado Springs. They traveled in from both coasts to see each other and spend time with the new arrival, Charlie. Charlie was definitely the center of attention, even though she slept most of the time. (Angel!) Every one got a little snuggle time with her during the photo session, and toward the end she woke up and opened those beautiful eyes. Sweet Charlie, you are so loved by so many!!

I really enjoyed the time I had with this family. Beautiful people with beautiful hearts. So fun getting to know them!

]]> (Lifemark Productions) Colorado Springs Family Rock Ledge Ranch Fri, 15 May 2015 21:35:26 GMT
Selfie Sunday.. on THURSDAY I am so rockin' this on time thing. :)

The Selfie Sunday is happening later in the week because my weekends are BUSY.  Selfie Sunday is also an "about me" kind of post.. and I rarely take the time to focus on myself.  Even when I have time to myself I am not usually thinking about myself.  I think it's a mom thing.  Doesn't every mom feel like this once in a while?  "I just want a nap!!!!!"   Zzzzzz....

And then came my girl.. she saw me clicking and asked if I'd take some pictures of her.

Sure, Baby!  Come here and give me a hug first.

Thank you. 

(She warms my heart.)

Now gimme a kiss!!!!!  Om nom nom!!!

So... my selfie post is not so much about me.. but it is!!  My focus is my kids.  God gave me the bestest 4 kids ever!!  Like so many other bestest kids have done for their parents, mine have taught me patience and how to love.. and about how God loves me, despite my incredible flaws.  They have also taught me that it's impossible to keep a clean house.

FACT: I LOVE their smiles.

]]> (Lifemark Productions) Selfie Sunday Thu, 21 Nov 2013 23:20:07 GMT
Ministry It is coming to my attention that I am maybe a little bit "mission minded."  We will probably not be one of those awesome families that moves overseas to bring the Gospel to the world. (I'm not counting it out, though.)  Going to Uganda was amazing, but I don't expect to get to go back every year just because it was His Plan for me this year.

I knew when I started Lifemark Productions that I wanted to be more than just "that one photographer down the street."  I wanted to produce MORE than awesome images.  I also knew I wanted to be more than just a business.  I'd love to be able to minister somehow through my business.

God is absolutely providing that opportunity.  So far, I have discovered ministry in two places...


1) Illness.

I've had the honor of photographing two terminally ill people with their families.  These are special sessions.  And while I haven't officially announced this, my personal goal for 2014 is to give 1 free family session to a family dealing with terminal illness for every 9 regular family sessions I book.


2) Missions.

Whether I am going on a trip with my camera and laptop to document, or partnering with missionaries through prayer and finances, I feel very led to "do" missions.

In the next day or two, I will tell you about my friend Amanda.  She is preparing to leave in a few weeks for Macedonia.  What she hopes to do there sounds amazing to me, and I'm thrilled to be able to contribute toward her mission through my business.  I really can't wait to tell you about her. :)

I love this job I have.  I'm in a business where I get to meet really amazing people who appreciate the preservation of memories as much as I do.  I get to watch love happen and I get to see the beautiful in everyone.

Yeah.  Pretty much awesome. ;)



]]> (Lifemark Productions) Missions Wed, 20 Nov 2013 23:51:21 GMT
Seeing the Beauty This one is kinda written for the ladies.... sorry guys.  You can read it too though!

I've been thinking about my "beauty post" since I started thinking about the Sunday Selfie posts.  I was going to save it for a Sunday Selfie post.. because it's my self-consciousness about the way I look that keeps me from feeling confident in front of my own camera!  But if I know the following truth about other people... then I ought to know it for myself, right?  Anyway.. I felt moved to do this post today.

Something I have trained myself to do, over the last year especially, is to see the beauty in people.

Unless someone is strikingly beautiful or something, we probably don't notice them when we walk by.  We glaze over just about everything and everyone we see. Most people just look sort of average.. normal.. meh.  

The media have absolutely polluted our minds with their interpretation of beauty.  To be a beautiful woman you have to be 5'10'' or taller, have a 23" waist and wear a 36C bra.  Your eyes need to have the shape of an almond and your eyebrows need to have just enough arch.  If you have brown eyes, they're only pretty if you have blonde hair.  If you have blue eyes, they have to be BLUE.. not some mixture of blue and green, and they're only pretty if you have dark hair and dark skin.  Hair can be curly, but not frizzy.  But it's best if there's a gentle and controlled wave in just the right spot.  Natural hair color is really a no-go.. unless you are naturally ash blonde or have auburn hair gravitating toward more red than brown.  Ombre anyone?  Ladies, take a look at your arms.  Your ankles ought to be skinny as your wrists and your calves as skinny as your forearms.. and don't even get me started on thighs.  OH - and that ever-so-important boob-to-waist-to-hip ratio!!  HOURGLASS PEOPLE.  HOUR.GLASS.  I pray you can read the sarcasm.  (There are standards for men too, but in my opinion, they're not really as rigid as those for women.)

That kind of beauty is not what I look for when I am photographing my clients.  I am looking for the beauty of personality, reflected through facial expressions and body language.  


This sounds really ridiculous when I read it out loud.. but I believe it's the beauty of the soul, the beauty God sees when He looks at us.  The beauty He created in us.  


This is what your husband is talking about when he looks at you and says, "Wife, you're beautiful."   Beautiful

This is the beauty I have trained myself to see.  This is the beauty I hope I capture in 1/200th of a second or less.  This is what I want my clients to see in themselves in the images I finish and offer them.

(Hover your mouse over this one!)

BeautifulThis is my sister-in-law. It is Thanksgiving Day 2012 and her husband was working. She had driven several hours over the mountains with my 4 nieces and nephews to spend the day with us. We had just finished dinner, and I suggested we go take the kids' pictures. She was not prepared to be in the pictures this day. She didn't do anything special to prepare for the shot, and didn't know that my intentions when I called her name were to take a picture. I hadn't told her how to sit or what to think about or how to smile. She had family on the mind and she just looked at me with the calm Danielle expression that I love. (This is my explanation for why she is the only one not hugging on her husband!) Isn't she beautiful?

It is what I see now when I look around myself.  At the mall.  Standing in line at the post office.  Yes... even at Walmart.  Everyone is beautiful.  Even when the beauty is hidden by the darkness of anger and bitterness (like in mug shots).. the beauty is there.  (I know.. what just happened with the mug shot comment?  There was like.. this great inspirational piano music playing in the background while you were reading, right?  And then I mention the mug shot and the piano player in your head was like.. "Wait, what?!" and so he hit a couple wrong notes.. you know.. like his fingers kinda stumbled over themselves.  So, maybe it ruined the moment I had created.  But I'm just trying to make a point is all.)

YOU are beautiful!

All of the pictures I posted are of clients of mine.  I purposely took them going in for the "beauty shot."  I pulled the images off my camera and scrolled through them.. and these are the ones from each session that struck me: "Wow.. she is so beautiful."  I didn't photoshop these ladies to make them pretty.  Do you see what I see?  If you saw any of these women I pictured walking down the street... would you see how striking they really are?  When you look in the mirror, do you see how striking you are?

See the beauty.

]]> (Lifemark Productions) Beauty Wed, 13 Nov 2013 19:30:50 GMT
Selfie Sunday.... {on Tuesday} The back-story of this post:

I realized a few months ago that as business started to pick up, my own personal photographic endeavors kind of slowed down.  They didn't just slow down.  They completely halted, actually.  For the last few years I've put together a little calendar of my kids for the grandparents.  As I was sifting through this year's pictures, I saw that entire MONTHS had gone by without a single snap of my awesome kids.  And of me?  Forget it.  Clearly I need to get back to my roots.

I read recently, that as a photographer, it's a really good idea to have a picture in the "About Me" section of your web page.  Well.. the most recent and decent picture I have of myself was taken just over two years ago when I was very pregnant with my 4th child.

Enter Selfie Sunday.

For future reference, self portraits are kinda tough.. especially when all you have to work with are 2- and 10-second, single-shot timers.  I'm messing with manual "guess where it'll hit next time" focus, stepping as far away from the camera as I possibly can, hitting the shutter release, zooming to my spot and trying to look as relaxed and "me" as possible.  Ha!  The exciting part is.. I will get to see the growth I accomplish over the next several weeks of this project, and you readers, potential clients, and current clients will get to know me better.  AND, I should eventually come up with a pretty decent "About Me" picture.  Three birds with one stone.  Sweet!

Here's what I came up with on my first week's attempt:

Summer - Week 1

The technical shooter in me is driven mad by some of the happenings in this photo.  They are things that I would recognize and fix quickly if I were constantly behind the camera taking pictures of someone else. The "model" in me isn't excited to be in front of the camera.  I am camera shy and feel a little insecure with a big lens pointed my way.  But you know what?  A lot of my clients feel the same way about the camera lens, and if I can loosen them up by the end of a session.. I think I can loosen myself up too...

So this is for all you other camera shy, insecure people out there.

FACT:  I love the outtakes most of all.


~ Summer

]]> (Lifemark Productions) Selfie Sunday Tue, 12 Nov 2013 17:30:40 GMT
Uganda: London Layover (For the record.. I had this written and prepared a week or so after we got home.. but it wouldn't publish!!  So... 6 weeks later...)


We had just under 24 hours to spend in London before our flight to Denver.  Most of us went to dinner Friday evening at a local pub and enjoyed some actual fish and chips. (SO GOOD.)

The next day Smokey and I left pretty early to go see the sights!!  I just thought I'd share a few of my favorites until I found enough room on my desktop to move all the trip pictures over and finish them up for the projects I have in mind.

]]> (Lifemark Productions) London Tue, 06 Aug 2013 21:12:48 GMT
Final Day  

Today was our final day in Uganda, though a few will remain and continue working for another week.  We spent the day at the orphanage playing with the kids and doing dental clinics. (A few of the doctors went to a hospital in Kampala.  Apparently they've got some crazy stories to tell, but I wasn't there… so you'll have to ask them when they get home!)  It was an emotionally charged day for most of us… meeting new people, falling in love with them, and then saying goodbye.  
We leave for London dark and early tomorrow morning.  I will probably write one final blog upon our return home.
Please keep us in your prayers.  We have to make it through Kampala traffic tomorrow morning to meet our plane.  Thank you for your faithfulness to us and to God on this adventure!!
These are some of the "Moms" that care for the orphans at Adventure Village.  Ricki and Bev hosted a little shin dig for them this morning and gave them gifts and prayed over them.  Smokey led them in worship and real JOY shone on their faces!
Yup.  That's me.   I handed over my camera for a few minutes to Kathy, who was determined to take a picture of me with my camera.  It only took 2 weeks, but she did succeed!
Music class
Saying goodbye...
Obligatory Cute Kid Photo of the Day
-- What?  YOU try to pick just one out of 900!!
Awesome Photo Op
-- Jason, Rudy, Smokey, Gavin, Danielle, and myself took a stroll into the streets near the orphanage to witness to the people who lived in the area, specifically the boda boda (not sure that's spelled right) drivers.  They're basically taxi drivers, but on motorcycles instead.  We handed out candy and made sure each person we spoke to had at least heard of Jesus.  We ended up on a corner where the boda boda guys park and wait for clients.  I took this man's picture and he asked how he could get it! I promised him I'd put it up on the website tonight.  SO.. this is me keeping my promise.  :)
]]> (Lifemark Productions) Thu, 20 Jun 2013 20:47:53 GMT
Jinga - The Source of the Nile  

Today, many of the team who sponsor kids at the Seeta orphanage were allowed to take their children on a field trip to Lake Victoria and the Source of the Nile River.  The rest of the team stayed back at the orphanage and served 48 dental patients!  We met up again at dinner time.  We were able to swim in the pool and enjoyed a special outdoor BBQ dinner hosted by the hotel.  For many of the team, including myself, tomorrow (Thursday) is our last full day in Uganda.  We will begin our journey home early Friday morning.
One thing I haven't written much about are the devotions we've had each morning, led by Rudy, Gavin, Sarah, and Danielle.  These teaching moments have been especially beneficial for many of the team, with incredible insight from the young people on this trip.  We've spent time in prayer and worship and refreshed our focus for each day.  I quit taking pictures during the devotions because I felt it was more important that I participate in them, but I did want to mention a little something about them here.  They've been fantastic!
Thank you for covering us in your prayers.  God has kept us safe in health and in all our travels.  And believe me, travel in this country is chaotic.  Please continue to pray for us, especially for those sponsors who will be saying goodbye to their kids for another year or two.  Tomorrow is expected to be a very emotionally taxing day, and I'm certain that many of us will need the Peace and Comfort of God to make it through saying goodbye to these beautiful people and this amazing country.
Dave, teaching his kids how to pop a straw.
Doug and his kiddo enjoying each other
Enjoying the boat ride
Passing by a fisherman
I love these white birds... this one decided to begin flying out of my frame.. but I like the image anyway.  Of course, it's late and I can't be 100% sure of the name.. but I think it's a White Herring, or something like that.. we saw many of them on safari too.
I caught Larry cuddling with his kiddo after swimming tonight.  I also caught him showing her pictures at lunch and dancing with her by the pool when a slow song came on before dinner.  It was difficult to pick just one picture of them together to post on the blog.. but this one... just makes me so happy.
Obligatory Cute Kid Photo of the Day
--- Morris.  John was squeezing the ketchup bottle and when he'd let go he'd make a noise and Morris would jump and laugh!  Every time.  He is a small, quiet 7-year-old... sponsored by John, Melissa, Karleen and Tori.  This kid can EAT.  You know that first picture of the fried tilapia?  That was his.  And he ate it all.  Like a PRO.
]]> (Lifemark Productions) Wed, 19 Jun 2013 19:31:14 GMT
Safari! (2 days)  

The group split in two yesterday and today.  Half of us went on to the orphanage at Seeta and the other half took a detour to Murchison Falls National Park for a safari.  I was with the safari group, and was able to capture a few images of some of the animals we saw.  The first day was spent slipping around on muddy roads in a bus and checking out all the animals of the savannah that were out enjoying the cool weather.  The second day was spent on The Nile hanging with hippos and crocodiles.
*Just a little reminder.  Please remember that these images are not print-quality.  They are hardly even web-quality.  Please do not pull these and try to print them.  They'll look terrible.  I will upload the full-resolution images upon my return home!  Thank you!
Obligatory Cute Kid Photo of the Day
-- You can ALMOST see this baby baboon clinging to its mommy's belly.  :)  The baboons made me laugh today.  A lot.  
Our trip is coming to a close.  The next two days will be spent with the kiddos at the orphanage here in Seeta.  Many of the team have kids that they sponsor, and as of right now it looks like they'll get to spend some special one-on-one time with them tomorrow.  We thank you still for your prayers!!
]]> (Lifemark Productions) Tue, 18 Jun 2013 19:50:14 GMT
Sunday - Day of Rest  

Today was a relatively relaxing day, with little work and more play.
This morning we were up a little earlier than normal and went to church at Victory Outreach Ministries.  We were led in worship by both the School of Worship from Colorado Springs and the church's worship team.  This church knows how to worship!  They are always singing, dancing, shouting, or clapping… and sometimes jumping!  They are purposeful, lively, and so transparent in their devotion to God.  It was very refreshing to be at church after the long, tiring week of work at the hospital.
The kids are off to their own classes for church
After saying goodbye to the School of Worship team, which is on its way home today, some of us chose to walk home from church instead of take the bus.  Nothing very spectacular happened, but it felt good to walk the streets… which is what so many of the people here do.  Many of us decided to eat lunch at an American restaurant.  They had pizza and burgers… but the sign out front wasn't very comforting.  ;)  Good luck?!
Tonight we pack up and head out for the next leg of our trip.  Some of us, including myself, are heading out on a two-day safari, while the rest are headed to the orphanage at Seeta.  The safari group will meet up at the orphanage at the end of the safari trip.
Obligatory Cute Kid Photo of the Day
-- The very shy Esther was somewhat attached to Gavin
Prayer Requests:
Please continue praying for the health and wellness of the team members.  We have more travel and work ahead of us tomorrow.  Please pray for the safety in travel.  Please pray that God continues to penetrate our hearts and mold us as He sees fit.  At church this morning, we saw several people welcomed into the family of Christ. Please continue praying for the people of Uganda, that their hearts also will be softened and open, ready to receive Him.
"Apwoyo."  ("Thank you," in Luo, the language of the tribe of Lango, who lives in this region.)
]]> (Lifemark Productions) Sun, 16 Jun 2013 19:35:44 GMT
Work Day 5  

I've been trying to post these next 2 blogs for a good 7 hours now.  The picture below is a great demonstration of how I feel about internet speeds here.
I began feeling impatient about it and prayed over the internet speeds, that God would open up an IP address for me long enough to post these blogs for our families back home.  (I prayed for other things too..)  Praise God!  It didn't take 60 seconds before things were suddenly loading. He has freed things up and I am able to post tonight!!  I did not feel ashamed to pray about this... because God wants us to bring everything to Him.. even something as silly as our desires for fast enough speeds for uploading blogs.)
I spent the day resting while the team split up between the hospital and the orphanage.  At the hospital, a group wired some new electric lines.  Originally, the operating room was running off about 1/3 the power they really needed.  The a/c rarely worked, the power would flicker or completely go out in the middle of surgeries. Yesterday, the surgeons were able to work without breaking a sweat for the first time since we've been here.
At the orphanage, people spent time with the kids and held medical clinics to check on the health of the kids.  Sadly, I was unable to see the sewing house.  Bonnie has taught many of the women at the orphanage to sew.  Yesterday there was a closing ceremony, and the doctors were presented with surgical hats and masks made in the sewing facility there at the orphanage.
There was also a party at the hospital for us last night.  There was food, worship, dancing and fellowship. It was dark before the party really got started.  On a personal note, sitting among the dancers felt absolutely awesome, and I'm excited to say I got some fun video footage of some of their performance. These people are so on fire for God.  They were so thankful for us coming and being a part of God's plan for their healing.  Saying goodbye to the patients, nurses, and doctors that I had been photographing, praying with, and sometimes just sitting with while they waited… was hard.  Preparing for this trip took a lot of effort and sacrifice by myself and my family, but I can't imagine not coming back here to this hospital.
Conga "line!"
Serving dinner to the hospital patients and families
Patients and families of patients waiting in line for dinner
OBLIGATORY Cute Kid Photo of the Day
-- Meet Devotion (Yes... that is her name.  This girl has SPUNK.)
Prayer Requests/Praises:
Praises that the majority of us are well again.  We are wearing down and still have the orphanage in Seeta to visit and serve.  Pray for God's strength and endurance to cover us in these last days of our journey.  Praises for the safety of the homes of the team members who live in the Black Forest area.  As far as we know, they've all been spared.
]]> (Lifemark Productions) Sun, 16 Jun 2013 19:12:24 GMT
Work Day 4 A few highlights from the day...


Esther came into the hospital on our first day of work.  They aren't 100% sure what's wrong with her because they can't test everything they need to test.  Her condition has improved in some ways, but deteriorated in others.  One new symptom is the jaundice, which you can see by the yellow color in the whites of her eyes.
Every day, there are several children who stand by the gates of the hospital, just watching.  The hospital guards won't allow them to come inside.  So, Smokey and I went to say 'hi' to them all.  This girl is 10 years old and carrying her one-year-old baby brother.


The kids laughed at me when I asked them their names in their native language.  I must have a horrible accent... that or I said something totally different!!  We figured out how to ask how old they were.  All of them were 10 and under.  They had a good time laughing at Smokey's Vibram Five Finger "toe shoes" and how funny they looked.  They all tried speaking to us as best they could, except for this little boy who was very shy!
This is one of the kids at the orphanage.  We had planned to do medical and dental clinics there today, thinking the kids were home from school.  But there was a miscommunication somewhere, (not uncommon here) and there were only a few kids today.  We packed up and headed back to the hospital only 30 minutes after we had arrived.  The dental team did stay and serve the kids who needed work.
Obligatory Cute Kid Photo of the Day
One of our own!  Miss Tori has been at the orphanage all week.  Catching chickens and lizards has been a regular past time for her here!
I meant to spend half the day at the hospital and orphanage in Lira and half with the School of Worship in a nearby village.  Instead, Africa got the best of me and I spent the day resting on an exam bed with an IV.  I am better now though, so no cause to worry (that means you Mom)!!
About half the group has had some kind of stomach ailment since we've been here.  Your prayers for complete healing and protection against anymore sickness are very welcome.
As you can see, I did manage to take a few pictures before they stole my camera and started taking them of me…  You can blame the poor photography and photobombing in this last photo on my husband and Gavin, respectfully.  They threatened to post this picture on  Facebook if I didn't post it here.  They never did say how BIG it had to be.... ;)


]]> (Lifemark Productions) Sat, 15 Jun 2013 10:22:19 GMT
Work Day 3 I hope it's true that a picture is worth 1,000 words, because if it's not, you'll only get 28 today... since I am exhausted and need some sleep!



(Huge thank you to  I took this with the borrowed Canon 135mm f/2.  It's my new favorite lens!!!)

]]> (Lifemark Productions) Thu, 13 Jun 2013 16:09:42 GMT
Work Day 2 *posted a day late due to power and internet outages

I was able to describe many of the different clinics our team members have been running in yesterday's blog, but I did not include insights into the physical therapy clinic, the vision clinic, or the operating room.  So here you go!
Without a prescription, near-sighted patients are the most difficult to treat in the vision clinic.  We brought a few hundred pairs of glasses with us, representing a variety of prescriptions.  Matching prescriptions to patients is sometimes complicated in these conditions, but John, his daughter Karleen, and many others have done their best to assist each person who walks through their doorway.  The easiest people to help are those who are far-sighted and just want to be able to see well enough to read.  John loves sharing about his experiences when patients are overjoyed because they can finally read their Bibles again.
Bev and Debbie have been running the physical therapy clinic this week.  I visited them briefly and saw Bev treating a 9-month-old with Cerebral Palsy.  Bev and a local physical therapist were training the child's mom to help the baby strengthen her core muscles and improve her development. I'm looking forward to spending a little more time in this clinic!
Most of my time today was spent in the operating room with Larry, Danielle, Doug, Dan, and Kyle.  This room is always busy and whoever is working in the operating room is the last to be back to the hotel.  Today, the air conditioning unit wasn't working at all.  The temperature in the room was likely in the 90's (American operating rooms are kept at a cool 65ºF).  Most of the doctors and assistants were sweating during surgery.  The power was irregular today.  It went out at a crucial time in one surgery, making it difficult for the doctors to see what they were doing (surgery by cell phone light, anyone?) and impossible to monitor oxygen levels or the heart rate of the patient.   This is a normal occurrence and the Ugandan doctors didn't seem phased.  Thankfully, all of the surgeries have been successful so far, in spite of the conditions!
Prayer Requests:
I have a special prayer request for an 8-year-old girl named Nancy and her mom, Joyce.  Nancy was very afraid to come into surgery today, but she was brave and sat down on the table anyway.  It was a little difficult for her mother to watch, and I made sure to reach out to Joyce throughout the procedure, knowing how scary it can be to watch your own child go under anesthesia.  After it was done and Nancy was in the ward recovering, I prayed with Joyce and asked her for her permission to request further prayers for their family.  Joyce was very pleased with the idea.  So please do pray for a speedy recovery for Nancy, and praise God for a successful surgery.
We heard about the fire in Black Forest this morning.  Please pray for Larry, Bev, and Ricki, whose homes have been evacuated.  We will also be praying for the Black Forest and Colorado Springs areas.
We thank you for continuing your prayers over our health, and ask you to lift up Rudy and Melissa today as they haven't been feeling very well.
Thank you!
Obligatory Cute Kid Photo of the Day
Personal Favorite Photo of the Day
-- back story.  These kids were hanging out at the entrance of the hospital, and Rachel, Sarah and I decided they needed some candy.  Rachel hid the candy behind her back on the walk over.  This just made me smile SO. MUCH.
]]> (Lifemark Productions) Thu, 13 Jun 2013 16:00:18 GMT
Work Day 1  

We began this morning with breakfast and a devotional led by Rudy.  He reminded us of the woman who knew that if she could just touch Jesus' garment she would be healed… She longed to be closer to Jesus.  Rudy encouraged us to draw nearer to Jesus and long to touch His garment.  Rudy challenged us with the question, "How much more useful could we be if our only focus was to draw nearer to our God?"
A few of our team went to the orphanage here in Lira, but the majority, including myself, went to the hospital to set up and start seeing patients.  When we arrived, the people waiting in the yard were singing and praising God.  "Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!"  There were two men - each speaking in a different Ugandan dialects - preaching simultaneously.  The people were very excited to see us.  We started unloading supplies and setting up the pharmacy and patient rooms immediately.  Shortly after our arrival, the doctors were able to start seeing patients.  
  I started my day with Doug and his Ugandan medical officer and translator, Jimmy.  Doug's first patient was a 78-year-old man.  He had heart disease, heart failure, and heart irregularity. This man's age is of relative significance because I haven't noticed many elderly people here.  I was told that the AIDS rate in Uganda was in the 30th percentile but has recently dropped down to 10%.  AIDS has taken a heavy toll on the population, leaving many children behind, some of whom are HIV positive.  The average Ugandan will only live into his or her 40's.  Doug wrote a prescription for some new heart medication and prayed with the man for God's healing. 
  Doug was also handing out coins today that had a verse written on it. Just a small gift and a prayer brought huge smiles to the faces of some of these people.
Later I slipped into Dave's office.  He was seeing a patient who started having weakness in his legs 5 months ago.  This man had crutches, but his legs had gotten so weak that he would often fall and sustain new injuries.  His right leg didn't even respond to Dave's reflex testing.  He really needed a CT scan to see what was going on with his spine and hips, but there isn't one available here.  We were able to give him a wheel chair so that he wouldn't fall anymore, but he needed more tests before Dave could treat him further.  This man didn't know his age, but knew what year he was born, 1953.  He's a cobbler and mends shoes for a living.
Melissa was running triage for these two doctors, taking vitals, checking patients in and organizing the waiting area.  She did the work of an entire office staff and kept things moving as smoothly as possible.  Melissa has an incredible work ethic, in Uganda and at home.  She has an incredibly kind and gentle spirit and that spirit is definitely amplified in these conditions!
Jason, Rudy, Smokey, and Gavin were assigned to empty a storage room and prepare it for conversion into a ward. This turned out to be a huge task, with hundreds of boxes of supplies and various pieces of equipment needing to be sorted and moved in less than two days. They quickly recruited Danielle to assist and help lead the sorting effort. They found a lot of useful equipment, including canes, walkers, a scale and operating tools which the doctors were able to put to use immediately. There were many items that would not be useful to the staff at this hospital, but these items will hopefully be distributed to other area hospitals and clinics.  (This group had a little fun on behalf of a certain photographer who took a ride on a rolling hospital bed which was being used to transport some of the boxes from the large room to a smaller storage area outside the complex.  Keep your eye out for some amazing footage of this awesome ride.)
Today Craig was able to see many of the hospital staff and perform tooth extractions, with Sarah as his assistant.  There was no one to check the dental patients in.  They would walk in, show the doctor where the pain was, lay down and prepare for an extraction (if needed).  They saw over 20 patients today, many of them with more than one tooth that needed to be pulled.  Thankfully Craig had local anesthetic ready and the procedure was relatively painless.  One woman was so thankful that as soon as she was done she hugged both Sarah and Craig.  She was so glad the pain was gone.  Sarah spent most of her downtime today learning the language from patients and hospital nurses.  I think she'll have the best understanding of the language by the end of our two weeks.
Near the end of the day, there was a little girl who was carried in by her uncles.  She was listless and her stomach was distended.  Doug carried her to a bed and someone got her IV started.  Danielle and Sandy stayed with her.  Awhile later, Danielle carried her to the ultrasound room for an exam to help with diagnosing her illness.  She's  only 9 years old and seriously sick.  Her name is Esther if you'd like to pray for her by name.
I could write for hours about the different people who were seen and treated today.  There are so many stories I didn't tell, and even more I didn't get to document.  I can't wait to tell you about the folks in the vision and physical therapy clinics.  But I will have to save that for another day.
Until then... I leave you with my Obligatory Cute Kid Photo of the Day!!!
Prayer Requests:
Please keep the people of Uganda and our team members in prayer, especially our Beth, who wasn't feeling well today.  May we continue to reach out for the garment of Jesus, and allow Him to work His will through our lives.
]]> (Lifemark Productions) Tue, 11 Jun 2013 22:46:23 GMT
Arrival We made it safe and sound to Lira, Uganda.  That was an incredible amount of travel… 2 nine-hour flights, a 9-hour layover in London and a full day's drive from Entebbe to Lira!  We landed at 7:30am Uganda time, and it was actually very pleasant outside.  It took two buses to get ourselves and all the gear here.  One bus was full of people, and the other bus was full of bags.. and a couple people. 

Personally, I am amazed that people can drive anywhere in this country.  Heavy, unorganized traffic in the cities and poorly paved, pot-holed roads in between, made for a slow and tedious ride.  We did get to wave at a lot of school children walking home, though.  

I'd like to share a little about some of the people we saw on our drive… the BEAUTIFUL people!!!   … were working… walking… or waiting… all in the streets.  In the cities and villages, the streets are lined with shops and restaurants and gas stations.  They use motorcycles as taxis instead of cars, and the women in skirts sit sideways on these motorcycles as their drivers squeezed between fast-moving buses and cars.  People were transporting goods on their motorcycles too.. or on their bicycles.. or on their heads… tying insane bulk and weight to these "modes of transportation," and balancing all the while.

Here are a few pictures I captured on our journey from London, England to Lira, Uganda.


(Please note that the images I am uploading from now until we return are for web-viewing only.  Unfortunately, I have had to compromise and upload smaller, lower-quality images until I get home to faster upload speeds.  All of these images and more will be available in their full-resolution quality shortly after our return to the States.)

Obligatory Cute Kid Photo of the Day
]]> (Lifemark Productions) Tue, 11 Jun 2013 22:28:39 GMT
The Journey Begins Friends and family, we are in London!  Our flight leaves in a few hours.

We had a nice ride up to DIA, taking Hwy 83 instead of the interstate because of traffic - Thanks to Tom at First Southern Baptist Church for the ride!  We ended up having to unload on the opposite side of the airport because of construction, but some resourceful members of the team got some large carts and we got the job done.
Then.. we waited.
The flight to London was relatively smooth and we arrived on time.  We've spent the day in London, most of us checking out the city and a few of us staying behind at the airport to rest up.. (*ahem* that would be me).  We have another 9-hour flight leaving at 9 pm followed by several hours on a bus to Lira.
Prayer Requests:
  Pray that God keeps us healthy and fit for the task.  Pray we empty ourselves of ourselves… that God will fill us up with Him so we can accomplish what it is He has sent us here for.  Pray for safety in traveling.  
We thank you for covering us in prayer!
]]> (Lifemark Productions) Sun, 09 Jun 2013 18:15:56 GMT
Countdown to Mission: Uganda - 2 days For the Blog: The "Moses Disclaimer" -- I'm not a great writer.. my punctuation is iffy.. at best.  I spel pourly when I'm tired.  Sometimes I struggle to concentr--SQUIRREL!-- and I jump around with the subject matter.  I tend to write run on sentences and not use enough punctuation so it can be a bit difficult to figure out what the heck I just wrote and what I meant by it.  Yet, here I am.  Halfway packed and about to do it anyway!  Okay, God..  Let Your will be done.  (In the words of Michelle Tanner..) "You got it, Dude."



An Explanation

Part of the reason I wanted to go on a mission trip like this is so I could bring some of the experience back to the people at home.  Expressing what happens on these things seems to be difficult for most missionaries.  Even the most well-spoken person can't really convey the matter.  He's overwhelmed with emotion.. but when I'm sitting in as part of the congregation listening to the mission presentation I don't get why.  So, I've been thinking and praying.. "God.. how is this going to work?  How do I bring the why back to them?"  I don't have the complete answer yet.  But I did glean one part of the answer from my prayers these past few months... Be Transparent.  We will see what God does in the end... but I'm hoping that my transparency will help with the why.  

All that was to explain that I think I'll have a personal section in this blog every now and then.  We've been told by other missionaries to journal everything.  I guess I can do that here.  But the point of it all for you back home is to hopefully see with.. like... x-ray vision... the growth that can occur in people while they're overseas with the explicit intent to serve God.  I certainly do not want the personal section to be the main section.  Not all of you know me.. you're reading because you know someone on the trip and want an update on what they're doing and how God is working through them!  Maybe some of my fellow travelers will be willing to be transparent too.. and I can tell their stories as well.  I would love that.


The Actual Personal Part

I woke up this morning, and the first thought that went through my head was that I only had "two more sleeps" (mother of 4 young children.. I know toddler-eze better than I know English) in my own bed before we left for Uganda.  I have been experiencing some awesome anxiety about this trip!!  Some of it is excitement anxiety and some of it is fearful anxiety.  I don't know what God is going to do to me over there!!!  I just know that I'm leaving my very comfortable, overindulgent, entitled life behind me.  God is going to wreck my world and it's going to be a beautiful thing.


Here we go folks.  Two days and counting.

Last little booster shot for one of the Hepatitis-es. Check.  
Rental gear is in (thank you!) Check.  
All packed. Uhh.. half-Check.  
- (But I'm not the only one still packing - I know this because I've seen pictures of other members of the team packing. - Thank you, Facebook, for the blackmail.)  
Obligatory "something in the house broke" event.  Check.  
- (Happened two days ago.. and it still needs tweaking to be fully fixed. This would be a spring for the garage door.  Did you know you can't even manually open the garage door to get the car out when a spring breaks?  Well, now you do.  Thankfully this didn't happen on Saturday!)  

Yes.  I think I'm officially ready.  Once I finish that packing.


Prayer Requests

Please do continue praying for the team as we make our final preparations.  Pray for smooth traveling, transitions, and transactions.  Pray for the safety of our families and homes as we are away.  Pray that God will open the hearts of everyone we come into contact with, from here to Uganda and back again.  Pray for each other.. I'm certain our prayer warriors would benefit from being covered in prayer as well!

]]> (Lifemark Productions) Countdown Personal Prayer Preparation Fri, 07 Jun 2013 05:46:52 GMT
Countdown to Mission: Uganda 2013 -- 7 days... Seven days and counting!

One week from now we will be in the air, Uganda bound!


Thursday night was the final meeting before take-off.  We held a 'Packing Party.'  We sorted the donations of clothing, shoes, medicine, and toiletries by gender and age group.  Then we packed them into bags for Lira and bags for Seeta, weighing them to make sure they carried no more than 49.5 pounds each.  I was impressed by how quickly we completed the task.  It only took two hours for everyone to unload the stuff from their cars into the building, unpack and sort the items, then repack, weigh, sort by city, and label each bag.  It felt so organized and smooth.  It was noted in the meeting afterwards that this has been the least stressful pre-trip experience to date, and that's saying something, because this is the 10-year anniversary of the trip.  Praise God!  The prayers are being felt!  The path is lit!  Now we get to put one foot in front of the other and follow it!


Please be praying with us this last week before our departure!


Helping Hands

So many clothes! (Praise God!)

So many clothes!


Unpacking and sorting

Unpacking and sorting


Putting together IV packs

Putting together IV packs


Glasses galoreGlasses upon glasses


Sorting jewelry

Sorting jewelry


Sorting medicineSorting medicine


Stuffing it full

Stuffing it full


How many people does it take to close a bag packed for Uganda?How many people does it take to close a bag packed for Uganda?


Weighing bags

Weighing bags


Weighing bags (LIFT!!)

Weighing bags... LIFT!!!


Labeling the bags by color and number

Labeling the bags by color and number


Bag pile for Lira.  It is the Lira pile early on.  It about doubled in size by the end!

Bag pile for Lira.  This is the Lira pile early on... it about doubled in size by the end!


Final meeting



Last minute details. (Note the pile of trash on the left. Not even the half of it.)Last minute details... (Note the pile of trash there on the left.  Not even the half of it.)







]]> (Lifemark Productions) Countdown Packing Preparation Uganda Sun, 02 Jun 2013 05:13:01 GMT
Countdown to Mission: Uganda 2013 -- 9 days... Nine days from today, I will be headed for Uganda, Africa with a medical mission team.  Obviously, I'm not a doctor.. or a nurse.. or medical assistant. In fact, the most medical experience I've got is applying Band-Aids and administering small amounts of medicine to young children.  For at least 7 years I have imagined and prayed about traveling to Africa to document a mission trip.  I'm still in disbelief that this dream will become reality in less than two weeks.  This post, and any others that are posted before our trip begins will likely be more personal, but the goal of this blog is to help journal the stories that bloom on this journey.. whether they are mine, another missionary's, or one of the Ugandan's I meet along the way.


The preparation for a trip like this is pretty involved.  For myself.. it started over a year ago.  In May 2012, the team was getting ready to go on the 2012 trip and I had decided I wanted to go the following year.  I talked briefly to my husband about it, and he said we'd have to find someone to watch the kids before we could even consider moving forward.  I called up my sister-in-law and talked to her about it, and a month later she bravely agreed to care for my kids.  There has been a lot of prayer and discussion over the last year.  A lot of brainstorming and "vision sessions," trying to figure out the best way I can document a trip like this.  In the end, I believe God will give me what He wants to be seen and heard.  It's up to me to be maleable and empty of myself, so that whatever comes is simply... God.

Team preparation has been happening too.  The team has had meetings since November/December 2012.  Meetings about medical supplies, types of clinics that can be held, up-to-date passports, visas, plane tickets, vaccinations, what to pack, what not to pack.. the list goes on and on.  

One of the big discussion items at these meetings is of course finances.  The biggest fundraiser we had was a Gourmet Dessert & Silent Auction event held at New Life Church in the World Prayer Center.  This year, Dr. Patrick Opio, a surgeon from Lira, Uganda - one of the cities we'll be serving in - was the special guest speaker.  He shared a few of the stories from the war-torn area of Uganda in which he works, often withholding gory details for our sakes.  The strength in his testimony astonished me.  Here was a man who had actual faith in God.. a faith that could be felt all throughout the auditorium that night.  


Dr. Patrick Opio


It may have been the biggest of our fundraising events, but the Dessert Buffet & Silent Auction wasn't the only one.  There were others.  For example, my church has eight members going to Uganda this summer, and they held a benefit concert to help us raise funds to pay for it.


Mr. Tony Ray


The Wilfong Family


Jody Adams and the String Dudes


My own personal Mary Kay consultant, Renee, had a party for me on International Women's Day and donated all of her profits to help us go.  Mark, owner of, saw my fundraising letter and has offered any equipment I need, saving me almost a thousand dollars in equipment rentals.  Some of my latest photo sessions were done for donations to the trip as payment instead of my normal fee.  These are the fundraisers I was involved in, but I'm only one of almost 30 people... so imagine all that work.. times 20 or 25...

And there is more preparation ahead.  Tonight is the Packing Party.  We will meet one last time to pack the 75 some odd bags we'll be taking full of medical supplies and donations.  And then... we're off!


Uganda has gone from being a country I had hardly heard of to a daily thought.  As the departure date draws nearer, it is almost constantly on my mind.  I am so grateful that God has given me this opportunity.  I have never been on a mission trip before.  People who come home from these trips are often unable to express what it is that happens there.  I'm going to do my very best to bring this experience home.  To accomplish this, my focus will be on God, and my prayers will be never ceasing.

]]> (Lifemark Productions) Countdown Fundraising Preparation Uganda Fri, 31 May 2013 04:38:02 GMT