I have spent the past week in Mexicali, Mexico. This trip is important to me for a lot of reasons. For me, it is where it has all began for me. Eight years ago, in 2006, was the first time I went to Mexicali. It is when I first got connected with the church and my journey with photography. The very first morning in 2006, I met a very important friend, Darren Takegami. He’s been a photographer for over 20 years at the time and encouraged and supported me with photography. Since that moment, I have a love and passion for capturing life.
The theme of Mexicali 2014 is Heartbeat.
“Make our heartbeat Your heartbeat”
Everyone that went on the trip had a story and was impacted in so many ways. This is our story. And my story.
This is the first year I have been back since 2008. The first day, we drove from Sacramento, Calif., to our stayover location in Southern California. On that morning, I saw old friends going on the trip that I have not seen since 2006! I was so joyous and grateful to see them again. It was only the beginning of a huge amount of blessings that God is going to do for the trip.
I met up with members of my team, Impact 30. Little did I know that we were all going to become close to one another over the next week and establish everlasting relationships. We spent two days driving to Mexicali. The conversations in the car were rich and the Holy Spirit was with us. We all shared our testimonies with each other and really gotten to know one another.
Upon arrival at basecamp, a flood of memories from previous trips overwhelmed me. I spent some time walking around the camp reminiscing.
We went to our site, Iglesia Baustia, located near the border of Mexico and Arizona. Our site is the farthest away from base camp, roughly an hour and a half away… one way. The drive time was important to have as well; we utilized that time for fellowship and sharing with each other.
Our student leader, Jessie, was at this particular site last year. We were all excited to go meet all the kids. Little did we know that they were going to make an everlasting impact on our own lives.
The scenery in Mexicali is just… gorgeous. There are no words. After a long day of work and serving, watching the sun set over the horizon and slowing down to reflect upon the day in thankfulness. It is moments like these where I feel I am closest to God. At this time, I also said a prayer of thanks for my new brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve met so many incredible people on this trip.
In addition to each team serving in various aspects, we had quite a bit of fun when taking our big group photo! Over 1,200 of us participated in the group photo followed by an explosion of color and a mini-dance party.
The last day there was a solemn day. All of us knew that at the end of the day, it was time to say goodbye. It has been an incredible week playing and getting to know all these kids. The kids gave us bracelets to remember them by. We ended the day with a celebration and the pastor’s family made us a very delicious lunch.
It finally came… the moment to say goodbye… goodbyes are never easy. We all cried blessed tears. Tears that symbolized the memories and connections we have made. Tears of love and laughter shared throughout the week. Tears that promised us another “hello” in the future.
The power of photography transcends language barriers. I had brought along a polaroid camera and the kids just loved it. It was fun for both us and them… we took photos with them and gave them the prints. We placed a number of them on the bulletin board at the church. At the beginning of the week, there was but one photo. A few days later… there were a lot of photographs that captured laughter, memories, and amazing bonds created. These images are everlasting and will always be in the my heart.
I love everyone in this photo. So. So. Much. Each of them have a special place in my heart. I’m thankful for the priceless photographs. Photos capture a moment and preserves it into a memory that are otherwise fleeting. Each time I look upon these images, my heart swells with love, adoration, and gratefulness for such a good God.