Jai Masih Ki! (Praise the Lord in Hindi)

I am home!!! After what felt like an eternity on planes and in airports yesterday wouldn't you know our flight from Dallas to Amarillo was cancelled due to bad weather. Half of our team took a cab from DFW to Love Field and caught the next flight out on Southwest. The other half of the team was able to get on an afternoon AA flight out of DFW. I'll tell you the extra money I had to spend on the Southwest flight was well worth it to be able to see Jeremy & Ella a few hours earlier. I am so happy to be home, to hug my family, and to get to sleep in my own bed! I'm excited to get back to work too. I have several sessions to edit and wedding albums to design over the next few weeks. I'm praying that I can get well caught up very soon!

I experienced so many great things in India and still have tons of photos to show you all. I'll continue to share with you some of what I experience here on my blog over the next week. We were able to do a bit of sight seeing while in India. You definitely can't go to India without going to the Taj Mahal! What an experience that was...I was speechless the whole time. It was such a blessing to get to see it with my sweet friend, Ashley, too. We took an overnight train (an interesting experience in and of itself) to the Taj, got there before sun rise, and drove around tho the back of the Taj across the river to watch the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was extremely foggy and hazy and the river was way down so I didn't get any great pictures of the sun rise or the reflection of the Taj in the river. It was so surreal to stand in silence and look at that world wonder though. I will never forget it! Due to the overnight train ride we don't look too hot in the picture below...haha!

We also went to tour the Khajuraho Temples. One thousand years ago 85 temples were erected, 20 of which remain standing today. The architecture and sculptures of these temples are absolutely amazing; although, not entirely G, PG, or even PG-13 rated. You see these temples are also known as the Kama Sutra temples. Needless to say, I won't be showing you any close up shots of these temples as they are quite graphic (as was our guide!). You can see the intricate detail of the carvings even from far away! They truly are a marvel to look at.



I have so many images that I want to show you but am completely overwhelmed! I have shot something like 2500 images so far. And I feel like I haven't told you all much of what we are doing or how I feel about some of the things I have seen while in India. Some of the other team members are much better writers than I am and have expanded on each day over on the Hillside Missions blog (link located on the right). I'll let you know a bit from my perspective though.

I do feel like I was pretty prepared (as prepared as one person can be) to come on this trip and see the things I have seen. People that have gone before me had said that I would never see poverty until I have seen the poverty in India. Now, mind you, this is not my first mission trip. However, all of the other mission trips I have been on have been in Mexico...and none lasting more than 5 days. I do agree with that statement about poverty though. I have never seen poverty like this. Our days are very surreal to me...like something straight out of a movie or off the National Geographic channel. A few of the people on the team have been not once but two or three times and have been great about letting us know the things we need to know. In the face of such poverty, persecution, and hardships I have been surprised to see joy in the faces of India. :)

One of the great things we have had the opportunity of doing is touring the Mid-India Christian Mission facilities. Oh my gosh! I am humbled and...well extremely humbled! The first place we went to is the school. I am amazed and a frankly a little embarrassed to see the level at which these children are learning. Pre-schoolers sit for around 4 hours at a desk like the "big kids" and learn in a class room setting. Five year olds are multiplying! A lot of the students are seniors when they are 16 years old. The discipline and respectfulness of these children would put shame to the children in America.

The hospital's facilities are primitive at best. It is amazing to hear that they are able to do 100+ eye surgeries per month with the equipment they have (or don't have is more like it). We also visited the Woman's Rehabilitation Center where woman who have overcome abuse etc come for some Jesus love. ;) They make beautiful sweaters and other things to sell. They work with old Singer sewing machines from what Ashley & I thought were maybe the early 1900's. Again, I have been humbled by the experience thus far.

I have to cut this a bit short b/c I just found out I'm speaking tomorrow morning (it's almost 8pm here) and need to prepare.

I am enjoying staying here at MICM...lizards and all. Haha! (One in Ashley & I's toilet and one in my pants yesterday.)

I'll post more pictures and blog more of my experience tomorrow!



We went to Hatta yesterday...and I feel in love. I did not want to leave that place.

Bugagee is the leader of the Christian movement in Hatta. This man has such a passion for Jesus and was so welcoming to us. Judy wrote more about our experience there on the Hillside Missions blog. I plan to blow these images up and hang them in my house.

They made us coffee in a pot on a small fire. The milk they made it with came from the cow standing right outside the second photo. Bugagee broke bread with us (hand-feeding us and then us feeding him). It is a huge deal to break bread with white men.

They ride bikes everywhere. The traffic in India does not just consist of motor vehicles. It is pedestrians, rickshaws, tractors, bicycles, motorcycles, cows, dogs, etc all over the street all the time.

This woman was washing dishes with mud. She was very shy but let me take her picture anyway. :)


When words fail...

So much has happened and has been seen in the last few days that I don't even know where to begin. This experience is surreal and completely overwhelming. I don't think I will be able to process any of this until I get back. I want to share a few pictures. Even these don't begin to share with you what my eyes have seen (oh my God...I'm tearing up right now just thinking about it). I have taken over 1000 images in the last two days. Here are a few...

The first 3 images are from the VBS we did in Sukha. We were the first white people to enter this village, not to mention the first white people these people have ever seen. It was a beautiful mess! Fabulously chaotic as Mark called it on the Hillside Mission blog. We were told that this was a little bit of a dangerous area for us but God had His hand over our time there. When we left and got back into cell phone range someone called David and told him that 3 men on a motorcycle showed up demanding to know who we were and what we were doing there. Like I said, God had us covered. ;) (P.S. Mom & Dad, I feel perfectly safe & at peace in Mark & David's hands so don't let that worry you.)

Roofing "tiles" made out of mud. This one's for my Daddy! ;)

Most of the images you'll see on my blog while I'm gone are straight our of camera and probably shot our of the car window as we are driving. Haha!


Check out the Hillside Mission blog for more details of what we're doing. Btw, we have been eating Chinese food a lot since we've been here. That's just funny to me...but most amazing chinese I have ever tasted!


Leaving on a jet plane...

Our team heads out in less than 24 hours! I'm doing last minute preparation and hanging out with Ella today. She keeps saying she wants to "go to India with you, Mama". I'm gonna miss that girl! I appreciate you all for committing to pray for us while we are away and don't forget to check out the Hillside Missions blog (click on the link on the right). I really hope to be able to update everyone with fabulous photos while we are in India.

I wanted to leave you with images from a few sessions I'm working on right now. These were the first sessions of 2009 and some of my favorite sessions EVER! The first image is from the Fitch Family Session, the second from the Stallwitz Family, and the last two from Abigail's newborn session. I can't wait to show you more of these images (when I get back)! Grace & peace to you all until next time!



If you'll remember, back in August I posted this. Well, it's here! I leave for India in 5 days! Planning for this trip has brought about excitement, fear, tears, laughter, anxiety, etc. But it's here and there's no turning back. ;) I'm so excited for this adventure, I'm excited for the many ways that the Lord is going to stretch me, the time I'm going to get to spend with some of my favorite woman, and for the photographic opportunities. One of the main things we will be doing over there is a women's retreat for 200ish woman...some of which have already started traveling to the retreat location from their homes on foot. What an experience this is going to be! I feel completely underprepared but I just keep quoting this scripture:

Jeremiah 1:5-8
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”
The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Many of you have already committed to pray for myself and the others as we are in India. One request I have is that you not only lift the team up in your prayers but also our families. This would mean so much to all of us, especially those of us with small children who aren't used to being away from their Mommies. ;) Also pray for the woman & children we will be meeting and sharing the gospel with. My biggest prayer is that we will not get lost in translation. :) Your prayers really do mean more than you know! Here is a simple little breakdown of our itinerary so you can have something a little more specific to pray for each day.

Jan 15-16 Fly from Amarillo>Dallas>Chicago >New Delhi, arrive 9:30pm on the 16th
Jan 17 Early morning flight to Jabalpur...visit girl's orphanage & worship in pm with house church leaders...overnight in Jabalpur at hotel
Jan 18 Drive to Sakha...church and 1/2 day VBS in Sakha village...drive to Damoh...overnight in Damoh
Jan 19 AM tour of Mid India Christian Missions...PM 1/2 day VBS in Ghandigram
Jan 20 AM 1/2 day VBS in Hatta...PM r&r
Jan 21 All day trip to Khajuraho temples
Jan 22-24 Damoh Women's Retreat...theme: Esther--It's Tough Being a Woman
Jan 24 Overnight train to Agra
Jan 25 Early AM trip to Taj Mahal & Red Fort; shopping; train trip to New Delhi--sightseeing
Jan 26 Republic Day parade & sightseeing in New Delhi
Jan 27 Return flight to Chicago>Dallas>Amarillo

The team blog (link found on the right) will be updated as much as possible. I am also hoping to be able to update you all through this blog and even post photos as much as possible. I'll post again before we depart on the 15th!


Murphree Family

My dear friend, Tiffney, asked me to photograph her family and ended up being my last session of 2008. Jeremy & I met Bradey & Tiffney shortly after joining the fabulous congregation at HCC. We were invited to be a part of a small group in September (I think) of 2007 and didn't really know anybody. We quickly became great friends with all 7 couples in that small group and have been immensely blessed by their presence in our lives. We share a special "bond" (they're gonna laugh at this...I hope) which has made our connection run a bit deeper or maybe just a bit differently than the rest of the couples in the group. (Although I do LOVE each and every other couple dearly!!!) I feel like Tiffney & I have just started our journey of friendship and so far it has been wonderful.

Bradey & Tiffney have the sweetest little red head I've ever met. Adi is just so much fun to be around. She makes us laugh a lot. I had fun photographing her but as you can see in that last image she had had enough of me in her face by the end of our session. I can't wait to photograph my sweet friends again! Love you guys!!!

The last shot of the day (so sad!):