The mini Derecho caused a delay in many of my church’s mission conference activities, due to loss of electricity. (It is sooo cool that I can say “my church” now that we are official members) However, the Reach Our City outreach event to the community was kept on schedule!
The main reason that I started attending this church was due to this missions focus. The fellowship area outside of the sanctuary is decorated with flags hanging from the ceiling, there are artifacts all over the walls of the church from previous mission trips, and each of the classrooms is named for a different country!
I loved knowing that I was growing my photography skills during our missions conference week! Some conferences may feature great speakers, and have special sessions where you can talk to a missionary. My church wanted to also follow through in actions, so Saturday involved working with our local ministries and the event was named “Reach Our City.”
I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous about this photographing opportunity. I’ve always taken pictures, especially since 2006 and owning my own digital camera, but this was the first time that I was the sole person responsible for pictures. The night before the event I just made sure all of my gear was ready to go. Part of this involved using a side bag instead of my typical purse. I can’t believe how much easier that made my day, as I was easily able to carry my purse without it inhibiting my picture taking movements.
Everyone met at church early in the morning for breakfast and announcements. There were about 190 people there ready to serve in various ways. Each separate site joined at the tables, and after breakfast quickly departed to their sites. Each of these sites are a different ministry that my church partners with. The goal was to get people hooked into serving long term at these sites.
During breakfast and announcements was a discouraging way to start taking pictures for the day. Indoor photography had always been the bane of my existence, and despite knowing how to raise ISO I had not been able to successfully do this and have the pictures not be blurry. Thus, I had to suffice with the use of my camera’s flash. I tried just to push through, knowing that the ministry pictures were the most important and would be mostly outdoors.
Most of these sites were ministry oriented: another church, a community area, a pregnancy center, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and sports outreach ministry, a Boys and Girls club, and a cemetery. However, most of the tasks involved on this Saturday involved cleaning these facilities rather that participating in ministry with people.
Soon everyone was off! This was the other part I was nervous about…driving around to all of the other sites without getting lost. I printed off as many of the specific directions that I had…and I actually brought my computer to leave in my trunk in case I needed to charge my cell phone (also functioning as my GPS unit). My car’s cigarette outlet doesn’t work, the actual physical parts tend to fall apart, thus the necessity for a back up charging plan.
At the first site I realized that I’ve been doing mission trip photography since 2006, and I do know how to do this! It is just about learning how to do it better now that I have a better tool. Probably one of the most enjoyable parts of the day was simply talking with the different people at each site location. I was happy to be able to be apart of the big picture and saving these moments for them.
I kept chugging along until lunch time. There I was photographing many sites/crews within the same community area. There were various projects including readying a new library facility, painting, weeding/lawn care, as well as doing more ministry related activities like puppet shows, and craft projects. A cookout was also planned for this community!
While eating my lunch I was listening to the conversations around me. Some people were reflecting on the changes between last year’s event and this years. Apparently, last year when the cook out was prepared no one would step outside of their apartments to meet us. Some of the church volunteers even prepared meals to take to their doors, but no one would come outside. This year, people were freely mingling and eating with us. Its neat to see the difference consistent relationships can have on opening people’s hearts!
After lunch I was able to visit the Boys and Girls club where our team had re-tarred the front parking lot area. I was sad they were already finished by the time I was able to finish their site! Though I was able to watch others painting murals inside the building.
My final site for the day was a cemetery that was hidden away down town. This was the time that I learned that my phone’s GPS will try to have me go down one way roads the wrong way…but I survived. There was a crew of several men, blaring away lawn mowers and weed eaters. By the time I arrived most of the large expanse had already been mowed!
Upon returning home to download the pictures to my computer I was too nervous to even look at them! They had looked great viewing them on the small LCD screen of my camera, but I know one can be easily deceived by that small screen. Luckily for me my husband was finally due home from Boston, and I was able to bombard him to look at my photos. Easily, these were some of the best pictures I’d ever taken, so it was weird trying to sort them into folders named “Keep” “Promo” and “Trash” when all of them could have been promotional.
It was a rewarding experience to try something new and discover that I could succeed in it! I can’t wait to take more pictures at my church! Good thing my next opportunity was during church service the next day, and the local youth mission trip this Thursday till next Saturday! They’ll keep me busy and learning :0).