Since our last post, we’ve traveled to NYC, north and south Brazil and Bogota, Colombia, and we have so much to share with you!
Two projects took us to Brazil, one on the south coast and another on the north coast. Never having been to Brazil before, and not having much time to research before we found ourselves there, nearly 30 hours of travel later, many things surprised us as we first stepped off the airplane.
It’s hard to believe that our three months in Peru are already over. We’ve seen and done so much — traversing nearly all the diverse environments the country has to offer. From the desert capital situated on the Pacific to the high sierra to the Amazonian jungle to the Andes mountains, Peru offered us a wide range of adventures and it’s been amazing to see how God is working in all of these places. We definitely feel like God is also doing great work through us, as we have had not only the opportunity to serve these ministries with our passion, but we’ve also had the opportunity to teach others and share our faith. We feel like God has given us great success as the first satellite office for Silent Images. To date, we’ve served more than 15 ministries, produced 11 videos, and taught four storytelling workshops to more than 100 people.
Our first two months in Peru was nearly 100% filming and traveling for projects, while our last three weeks we spent editing. This gave us a chance to finally put together some of the amazing stories we’ve captured over the last three months. Below are just a few video stories we’d like to share with you.
Martina’s life was transformed after she discovered Latidos de Esperanza,Heartbeats of Hope, a ministry that helped her through a difficult time in her life and introduced her to Christ.
Two months have gone by, nearly in the blink of an eye. Peru has become home to us, though not necessarily one location. We’ve spent a few weeks in Lima, a few weeks in the jungle near the Amazon, a week in the high sierra mountains of Arequipa, and we even made it up Machu Picchu! It’s hard to process all that we’ve done, but one thing we’ve done very little of, is video editing. It’s safe to say that we’ve been filming for four weeks straight, and we will continue to film nonstop for two more weeks — one week in the highlands of Peru and one week in Quito, Ecuador.
We made it! We are officially in our new “home” in Lima, Peru (for now, anyways), starting the first satellite office for Silent Images. The satellite office idea isn’t actually a physical location; it’s just us being based out of Latin America this year. We have our own room in a guesthouse run by an organization we are partnering with called South America Mission, or SAM, although we haven’t had much time to settle in!
Our last traveling project for our missional year took us to Los Angeles to partner with iEmpathize for the second time this year. The first time we worked with them was in Boulder, CO, where we produced videos that were more metaphorical, but in LA we got to see the work of iEmpathize first hand and produced videos that reflect the huge impact that their work has in various sectors of society. The fact is that we all intersect with modern-day slavery, human trafficking and/or child exploitation, and if we only recognize our intersection, we can learn how to do something about it.
This video highlights iEmpathize’s work and approach to end child exploitation in the U.S from training truckers to empowering college students.
Our second project with The Gospel Coalition took us back to our old stomping grounds in D.C. to film a series of interviews for a new campaign called “Friends of TGC.” This trip was more like a long layover, as we only had one full day to zip around the beltway and gather the interviews before we were flying out again on our way to the west coast. We visited four different TGC supporters, gathering their testimonies and stories, seeing their homes, churches and workplaces, and capturing small pieces of their lives, and this also gave us a chance to share a piece of ours as well. Take a look at the video portraits we produced below, and definitely be sure to check out the amazing gospel-based resources on the TGC website.
Nicaragua holds a special place in our hearts. It was here, while we were both volunteering as photographers and video producers with AMOS Health and Hope in 2011, that we decided we wanted to honor God through our relationship and commit to getting married (although we kept everyone else in the dark until our surprise wedding!). Nicaragua is also the setting for the beginning of Jordan’s testimony, the turning point when he saw the joy that only comes through life in Christ and began to actively seek out what it truly means to be a Christian. So returning to Nicaragua and working with AMOS feels a little like coming home.
AMOS Health and Hope is a Christian non-profit organization that exists to improve the health of impoverished communities by working alongside them in health, education and development. People and partnerships are at the heart of how AMOS works. They strive to help communities build up their capacity to identify their priority needs by training local leaders in rural communities to be health promoters and supplying them with medical resources.
Here is a video that we produced about the AMOS Model:
We should have known when the director of the organization we were serving with in Colorado told us that in his experience traveling to more than 50 countries, Mexico City was his favorite place on Earth. We couldn’t understand why or how this was true, but now we understand.
Arriving in Mexico City was like arriving home to your family, except you had never met this family. We had briefly met Jesús Rodriguez, but that was back when we were living in the DC area, before he had moved to his hometown of Mexico City to plant a church. Now Jesús is the pastor of Doxa Christian Church, and we fell in love with his family, church and city in less than 10 days.
We had no idea that Christianity in Mexico was not widely practiced or accepted until we heard the struggles Jesús has experienced firsthand. Fast forward to more than a year after planting his church, and Doxa is still meeting in the Rodriguez’s living room because it’s so hard to find a rentable space that will allow a Christian church to meet. Catholicism is widely practiced and accepted in Mexico, while Christianity, or the reformed church, is often looked at as something similar to a cult. We know this is not the case, and the joy we saw in the group of 15 Doxa core team members at the two Sunday afternoon Bible study gatherings makes it hard to believe anyone wouldn’t want the liberating truth of Christ to spread. Because our trip coincided with Mexico’s Independence Day, we were unable to see a normal “church service”, where 30-40 people somehow manage to fit in Jesús’ living room, but we did get to party while still producing five videos before we left!
First, take a look at the video we produced that introduces you to Jesús, his mission and vision for Doxa Church, as well as the abundant life these chilangos, or people who live in Mexico City, experience through living life with Christ.
Though our project in Colorado suddenly came two months early with less than a week’s notice, we had great success. Originally, we were supposed to work for the Boulder-based nonprofit, iEmpathize, in October, where the glowing yellow Aspen trees and crisp mountain air would welcome us. But due to extenuating circumstances, which involved Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health putting us in an unexpected mandatory quarantine for fear of an Ebola outbreak after our travels to Liberia, we found ourselves in Boulder in August — skipping out on the 30-day monitored quarantine altogether.
This is where we fell in love. Not us, Jordan and Cassie, we’ve been in love for more than seven years now, but this is where we fell in love with Boulder, Colorado. We arrived late one night, well into the poker night that was happening at our first host’s house, so the darkness shrouded our outside surroundings. But when we woke up that first morning, we saw about 15 layers of mountains in the distance and we knew right away that there were many adventures to be had during our month-long project in Colorado.
This project was one that we had been looking forward to all year — with an incredibly creative nonprofit that fights against child exploitation in the U.S. through prevention, education, and industry-specific campaigns. iEmpathize does great work and is one of those invisible players in the background of the human rights world that is really making a difference. It was an honor to serve them this year, to challenge ourselves in creating several videos that pushed us in new ways. For instance, take a look at the first video we produced, a very time-consuming stop-motion video that illustrates the heart of iEmpathize.
Liberia is a country that has been through a lot. The destruction from 14 years of civil war is still apparent in the lack of infrastructure, and the storm clouds of the Ebola outbreak are just now receding, but it’s still fresh in everyone’s minds. Billboards tell you how to identify symptoms, or how to seek proper treatment, and ETUs (Ebola Treatment Units) can be seen throughout the country – constant reminders of the terrible virus that claimed more than 4,800 lives in Liberia alone. From the moment we stepped off the plane, we were instructed to wash our hands in chlorinated water and airport employees in latex gloves checked all travelers’ temperatures with infrared thermometer guns. These precautions are mandatory procedures to enter nearly every big establishment in Monrovia, and then as you drive through counties in rural Liberia, roadblocks are set up to go through the same motions.
The hardships are apparent on the surface, but we also saw a different side of Liberia, a hopeful side where villages and communities are being rescued from a different killer – water. While Ebola has generated a hysterical response, fueled by the media’s fear-induced reporting, 2,300 people die everyday from water borne illnesses (that’s more than 840,000 people each year!) because they lack access to clean water. That’s exactly what The Last Well is striving to end, and fast. The Last Well’s mission is to provide access to clean drinking water to every person in Liberia, border to border, by 2020. Not only that, but they are bringing the good news of the gospel to every village they serve. We had the amazing opportunity to witness this work on the ground, and to capture the story of The Last Well in the video below.