Thursday, November 22, 2012

Say my name again

    "No really say it again. I forgot my name." Unless you've suffered from amnesia you've probably never said these words.  Yesterday, I did. 
     This week I was given a Baoule' name. In this language, names are given according to which day of the week you are born. So because I was born on a Tuesday my name is Konadio. 
    If you are wondering what your Baoule' name is you can use this chart to find out. Just don't ask me how to pronounce it. 

                         Girl                Boy
Monday.           Akissi            Kouassi
Tuesday.           Adjoua           Konadio
Wednesday.     Amelan           Konan
Thursday.         Ahou              Kouakou
Friday.              Aya                Yao
Saturday.         Affoue'            Koffi
Sunday.           Amoin              Kouame'

What do I

     "So what do you do all day?" I've been asked this question several times in the last few weeks.  By my friends and family in the US as well as fellow journeyers waiting to be placed into homes.  
       Its harder to answer than you think.  I do so much every day that each night I go to bed exhausted. But the next morning, it's hard to say exactly what happened yesterday. I've discovered that the question itself betrays our western mindsets and ideals of productivity and task orientation. If we haven't completed some note worthy work or task, something we can put in a blog or newsletter then... we haven't really done anything.
       From a Western Perspective my day looks like this:

Wake Up
Wait for someone to get me water so I can take a bucket bath. 
Get dressed.
Wait for Uncle Yeo to finish his bath so we can each breakfast.
Pray for the day with Uncle Yeo
Go to the local Highschool, where Uncle Yeo is a Biology Teacher
Wait outside while he teaches
Go back home.
Wait for lunch to be ready.
Eat lunch.
Take a nap.
Wait for everyone else to get up from their naps.
Wait for Uncle Yeo to get back from School.
Go with Uncle Yeo to visit people. 
Wait while he talks either in French too fast for me to understand or in another language all together. 
Go back home
Wait for dinner to be ready
Eat dinner.
Wait for Aunt Awa to tell me to take another bucket bath.
Watch TV while people come and visit
Wait for bed time.
Go to bed.

    Rod Ragsdale, the field leader for WorldVenture in Cote d'Ivoire and the director of Journey Corps, has famously said, "It's not about doing, it's about being. Just be." This from a man who has a hard time stopping work to sit in a meeting, or quite working long enough to take a nap. And vacation forget about it. Yet he knows, having grown up in Cote d'Ivoire, the importance of being, of sitting with people, of watching and observing before speaking. And so from this perspective my day looks like this:

Wake Up
Mentally prepare for the day and be reminded of the peace that God has secured for me in Christ.
Get dressed.
Watch how an Ivorien family interacts and learn their roles in the family.
Pray for the day with Uncle Yeo.
Go to the local Highschool, where Uncle Yeo is a Biology Teacher
Watch how students respect teachers and vice versa. Talk with students and practice French, learning new words as I watch and interact.
Greet everyone on the way home and begin to comprehend the importance of greetings to relationship and life here.
Play games on my Iphone while I wait for lunch to be ready, and laugh with my little cousin as I teach him how to play.
Eat lunch and enjoy the pleasure of eating with friends.
Take a nap.
Wait for everyone else to get up from their naps, and read while enjoying the quite and stillness of the afternoon heat.
Read my Bible in French and have my pronunciation corrected by Aunt Awa.
Go with Uncle Yeo to visit people. 
Give people value and importance by visiting and make them laugh as I stumble with my bad French.
Stop by "The Grein" a gathering of Teacher, to say hello. 
Talk with Aunt Awa about different foods and learn why food is prepared that way.
Eat dinner, while watching TV.
Learn the importance of cleanliness in society and the roles of the family by waiting to take another bucket bath.
Bathe and enjoy the simple pleasure of getting rid of sweat and grime.
Watch TV and laugh with people as they teach me knew words in French, and try to explain Western Perspective on current events while learning Ivorian perspectives.
Ask Uncle Yeo to explain the things I didn't understand during the day.
Go to bed and thank God for a great day.

        So you answer the question, "What do I do all day?"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wait, I don't understand...

Wait, I don't Understand...
This month I began one of the most exciting and frightening parts of my time with Journey Corps. Living in an Ivorien home. On Thursday November 1st, I moved in with the Yeo family in Brobo just outside of Bouake.  It's exciting because this complete immersion is a masters level course in culture, worldview, thoughts, beliefs, and of course language. The frightening part of this is living in the family on my own. I don't have a translator to help with miscommunications or a someone from my own culture to help me make sense of what I'm seeing and experiencing. And so I end up making alot of mistakes and saying, "Wait, I don't understand..."
These challenges are part of the value of my time here. The lessons I learn here and the way that these experience shape me will make me more able to tell the story of the change and growth I see happening here in Cote d'Ivoire, change that is only possible because of God's work here.  Already, I can notice a difference in how I see the people and their stories. As I start to plan shoots and productions I am certain this new perspective will make my productions that much better.

Social Lessons
I've been learning so much and I want to make sure I share some of those lesson with you.  Internet in Brobo is... difficult at best and non-existent most of the time. Still I'm trying to post as much as I can to differrent social media channels.  Besure to check out Facebook for all the latest pictures. And follow me on Twitter @CADVideo .  Make sure to check out the different threads by searching for the hashtags: #CIclassroom, #whereiamat, and #drewvsinternet. I've also been able to post some longer thoughts and experiences on the blog at 

With out the ads for Black Friday Sales and special Thanksgiving deals, the idea of thanksgiving and what I have to be thankful for has been a clear focus this month. God has continued to provide for this project through people like you. Thanks to you and other supporters, I have over 200 people that are reading this newsletter and following the project. 20 different  people, family and friends, continually give to my project each month providing aproximately 65% of my full financial budget. In the last month, 3 new people joined that team, and one family gave a very geneours one time gift so that my work accounts now have over $6000.  Because of these generous people, I have enough money to be able to start the travel and production when my time in Cote d'Ivoire comes to an end in January.
Thank you for being part of this project. If you have any questions about the project, how finances are used, what is still needed, or how you can become more involved please contact me via email at  or reply to this email. Again thank you for being a part of this exciting project.

Your Fellow Servant,
Drew Hayes

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I love questions.  Its one of the best parts of my job.  I get to sit down with people and ask them questions that normally wouldn't be asked in polite society.  Hard questions, questions that make people stop and think, questions that shock people and make them laugh at their own answers, deep personal questions.  The amazing part is somehow because I have a camera pointed at them people try to give me honest answers, as if the camera is some sort of lie detector. 

In my own life questions have played a big part as well. I'll get a question in my head and I'll chew on it like a cow on cud, swallow it, digest part of it, and then start chewing it all over again. Grinding my teeth until, I get every bit of nourishment out of it.  

My favorite type of questions are the ones that are answered by more questions?As part of the training this week, I was given a feast of these types of questions?

What is your origin?
What are the Benchmark events in your life?
How did you get here?
What did you think you were getting into by coming here?
What have you done in your Past?
What are your dreams for this year?
What are your dreams for your life?
What is the most important thing for you this year
Does your being here really matter?
What is your greatest fear for this year?
What is your greatest desire for this year?
How is being here going to contribute to the above?

    Have you ever answered these questions? How would you answer them now? See its already happening, more questions coming from questions. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Value of a Visit

 I am an introvert. I prefer to let people come to me. That creates a small problem here in Ivory Coast, because visiting is a very important part of Ivorian culture.  As a new comer, I am expected to go on these trips.  Once we visited a local pastor. Another time we visited the family of friends from church. Every time, I say the few phrases I know in French and then just sit and watch what others do.  Not too hard, but really kind of boring.  It wasn't until this past Sunday that I understood why it was so important. 
Nature walks are a good way to see the land, and meet the people that live here.      Phil, one of the leaders, invited me to come with him to visit Jahn, a beekeeper and one of the gardeners on the ICA campus.  Everything was pretty standard. 
- Bon Arivee (Welcome) Have some water.  
- Thank you.  
- What is the news? 
- Nothing serious, just came to visit.
- Ah good. Please meet my mother, my wife, my daughters, and my son.
- Glad to meet you. My name is Drew. I'm a documentary film-maker. 
   This is where my French runs out and I begin to watch while straining to understand a few words of the conversation. But as the conversation came to a close, Phil turned to me and translated the last of what Jahn had said. 
 "I am very content at your visit. I am glad you came to see me and my family, my house and our garden. I am very content.  Visiting is very important here in Cote d'Ivoire. When you come to visit it means that person is important. It gives them value. So I am very glad you came to visit me."
    Value? What did I do? I sat here? Could it be so simple? Could something more be going on in these visitation? How do I give a person value just by visiting them?
    In the car ride back, these questions kept rolling through my head. One of the main ideas that I want to covey through my videos is the value of the people here, that they aren't to be pitied, that they are worthy of more than just our gently used goods.  I want people to see the value that God gave them when He created us all. 
     I'm still not sure how to do that in a video, but I'm learning visit by visit that somehow the presence of friends and strangers coming, talking, seeing you in your home brings worth and value. And I think that transfer of value goes both ways. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Beinvenue a Bouake!

Beinvenue a Bouake! (Welcome to Bouake) 

I can't believe that I've been here in Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire for two weeks already. In some ways it feels like yesterday that I said farewell to you and in other ways it seems like months have passed since I arrived. 
For example, the initial departure and flight to Cote d'Ivoire was a month long saga packed into 2 days.  That tale is too long to share here, but if you want to read about it you can visit the Blog, and read the entire story there. 
In contrast to those first days, things are now moving along very smoothly. Language learning is coming along very well and I am even enjoying it. The sense of community here is very strong and continues to grow. Beside the team of 6 Americans and the 5 Germans who arrived just ahead of me, there are 6 Journey Corps team members from previous years.  They have been a huge aid in our transition, helping with translation, safety, transportation, and setting an example of what the next months and year will look like. They are just part of the community of people here in Bouake that have made us all feel welcomed. 
For now my days are overflowing with learning. Even as I sit in classes, I am aware of the work God is doing here. You can see it in the change of the other journeyers as they learn to relate to each other and build community, in the worship of the local churches, in the labor of a community to raise a roof, and in the personal stories you here when you visit people in their homes. It excites me to see all that God is doing and urges me on so that I might share those stories with you. 
Thank you for being part of this project so far. I am excited for the future and how we can partner together in telling these amazing stories of growth, of development, of change, of what God is doing. 

If you would like to know how you can be more involved send me an email, . I would love to help you do that and find your place as part of the team.

Your Fellow Servant,
Drew Hayes

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Running in Circles

      The devil is in the details, or so the saying goes. I would agree with that. Details are not my favorite thing. I prefer to dwell on big ideas and concepts, to dream and imagine what has never been thought of.  
       But I am continually faced with details. This past month especially, as I've been preparing to leave.  For a while it felt like I added 5 items to my to-do list for everyone one I completed. One of the biggest tasks, has been completing the editing of the projects from this summer. Approximately 80 hours of work. By itself not that difficult but when you add in all the other work and the pressing deadline, it came down to the wire.
       And so through a series of events far too complicated and exhausting, I found my self running around Dubai International Airport trying to find a courier service to mail out the last edited piece of this project.  Misinformation was the name of the game. First one person and then another gave me the wrong information and so I would have to back track and try a different route. In the space of about 90 minutes, I walked the length of the Dubai Airport 3 times, took a taxi to the offsite cargo facilities, walked back to the airport on the side of the superhighway, went through at least 6 security checkpoints, and still made it to my flight on time.  
       And somewhere in the midst of all this running back and forth, I thought, "How pointless this all is. I'm just going in circles, not really getting anywhere. I should just give up." I didn't of course, but now as I look back I see an interesting lesson.
       Some people love running. They love the planning, the preparing, the reading about strides and diet plans, the sweat and the pain of exhausted muscles. I'm not one of those people. I don't like running, but I do it because it's good for me. I do it because it gets me in shape for days like today. I do it because it helps me get where I need to be. 
       Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own... But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12+14 ESV)
       So I keep running to reach my goal. I keep working at the details, crossing each item off my list, and always learning how to take the next step. The running in the airport this morning wasn't pointless circles, it was circuit training for what lies ahead. 

Life Story

This past week, as part of getting to know the Journey Corps, we've been sharing our life Stories. It has been very cool to hear and the stories of how God orchestrates the moments and events of people's lives to bring them to Bouake, Ivory Coast.  

I got to share my story this past week. You might think since I call myself a visual storyteller that I would have been excited to share. For me it was nerve racking. As I prepared, I kept thinking how do I do this? What parts of the story do I use to tell who I am? What events do I leave out? Will people really get a grasp of how God has molded me and prepared me from the very beginning? How do I reveal His subtle impressions and guidance over 27 years?  Can I my whole person be wrapped up in only a few minutes?

The good news is that I will continue living with these people over the next few months. They will not know me just by the story I told that night. They will get to know me by the stories I tell along the way, each day sharing with them a little more of my life, and even adding new stories as we experience them together. 

I think this is what community is really all about. This sharing of life stories. This hearing each others stories, accepting each other as we struggle together with a common goal. This overlapping of many lives to create new stories. Perhaps this is what Acts was talking about when it says that all the believers were of "one accord." Perhaps, this idea of community is what Christ intended for all of us in the Church

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Sending

    September 2nd was my last Sunday with my Church, Ravenswood Evangelical Covenant Church in Chicago.  It was a holiday weekend so many people were missing.  Ideally I would have had time to meet with everyone, but with my sudden departure plans this became the last chance for me to say thank you and goodbye.
    This was the hardest goodbye I've had to say so far.  For the past 3 years this community has been the closest thing that I have had to "home." With all the travel that I do and jumping from place to place, I always felt like I was back when I walked through those doors and was greeted with the smiles of people who love me. It was hard to look at them and realize I wouldn't see them for... I don't know how long.  With tears in my eyes, I said, " Thank you for loving me. Thank you for caring for me. Thank you for investing into my life. God has used you in my life to prepare me for this project."
    As is the custom at Ravenswood, the whole congregations surrounded me and laid their hands on me to pray for me as I went out. According to Wikkipedia the human hand weighs about 3/4th of a pound.  So there I stood with about 30 lbs of hands laid on me, and instead of feeling pressed down with the extra weight I was lifted up. I will not easily forget that feeling, and when I am third and fatigued I will remember the strength and support I felt with their hands pressing on me.
    It was there surrounded by my Christian "Family" that I understood Hebrew 12:1

 " Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race set before us."
My paraphrase goes like this.
Because you are held in Gods grace by so many faithful believers in the church let no sin, or fear, or obstacle keep you from doing with diligence all that God has given you to do.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Prayer Supporters Journey - Guest Post

The journey to start this project has had it's ups and downs. One of the things that has helped keep me moving when things get discouraging is the team of people that regularly pray for me. Sarah Chambers has been one of the most faithful in supporting and encouraging me along this journey.  She has walked along with me and shared in many of the joys and disappointments.  Here are some of her thoughts on this journey: 

You've heard it said, "A picture is worth a thousand words." When you watch a movie and then you read the book that inspired that movie, you know it's true. Drew has understood this for many years and had the vision to partner with missionaries to share their stories. To help them create what they don't know how to, pictures to give them more words than they could give in a presentation. Drew's vision has grown and changed over the years (whose doesn't?), but being one of my oldest friends it's been a joy to be on this journey with him. 

I remember when Drew told me about this opportunity with World Venture. His face lit up and I could tell, not only was he excited, but God inspired this. To partner with Drew on this idea as it's gone from conception to reality has been a joy and what a ride it’s been! Not only has Drew come along side of me and prayed for where God had me serving, but my faith has grown as I’ve seen God provide for Drew. Then to watch the videos he’s created and see their impact. I have the chance to hear stories I would never otherwise hear, and to see what God [the creator of heaven and earth] is doing through His servants in Africa, though Drew, and in my own life.

When Drew told me that he was still at 57%, I was sad. I longed to see Drew released to serve, to do what he was created to do. So I began to pray fervently. I recounted God’s faithfulness that he showered on me only 2 months ago as I went on a short-term trip to Uganda. What seemed impossible was like pocket change to Him. I asked for the same blessing to be showered on Drew. Then, God did what only He can do. He made the impossible, possible. Drew was given the go ahead by World Venture to begin this amazing project!

To watch Drew’s faith grow during this process has encouraged me. To walk with him on this journey and to see his passion be used by God for God’s glory is inspiring… so if you're not a part of Drew's team, change that! Today. Drew's journey doesn't end when he arrives in Africa. Nor will it end when he comes home. His reach will far surpass him as the videos he creates touches lives around the world. Drew has told me many times that he doesn't feel this video project is his, but rather that the project is Gods and he simply has been asked to join into it. When you partner with Drew, you aren't just encouraging him, strengthening him, and being inspired by his work.  You are joining into God's project. We are all who we are because of the people who have invested in and partnered with us. Consider, "How will you partner with Drew and this God project?"

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Good News!

I’m going to Ivory Coast to officially begin the project!  As you may know, the team at WorldVenture has made a language and cultural training program, called Journey Corps, available to me. Held in Ivory Coast the program is designed to help the participants to integrate into the language and culture of West Africa.  I will be involved in this program for 3 months starting in mid-September.

That’s right September! In less than 4 weeks I’ll be in Africa! This was a shock to me given where the financial support for the project is at.  Currently, I have 100% of the one time expenses and about 57% of the monthly costs covered.  After talking with Glenn Kendall, the Africa Director for World Venture, he and I both agreed that it was time to start the project.  With the current level of support I have enough to participate in the Journey Corps program and have all of my living expenses covered.  What is missing is the funds necessary to do the travel and work of producing videos. My hope is that over the months while I am training in Ivory Coast that those funds will arrive.

By the Numbers

Thanks to the wonders of technology, I have been able to track data regarding the videos that I have produced and posted on Vimeo.  To date these videos have been viewed 2000 plus times in over 60 countries!  Open My Eyes - part 1 , the video I produced to share my trip to Kankan, Guinea has been viewed 488 times in 44 countries!  It is so exciting to see that these videos are being watched around the world! Thank you for watching and sharing.

A Growing Hope from Drew Hayes on Vimeo.

In the midst of my busy summer traveling and working, I was able to finish a video highlighting the work of Nathan and Becky Kendall, and Brenda Allen in Kankan, Guinea.  After watching it, please share it. Lets see if we can get over 1,000 views for this video in 100 countries!

The Value of Video

I am so excited! The news about Journey Corps and the start of this project coupled with the growing viewership of the videos has driven home the value of this project. This project is all about “Telling stories of Change to create Change.” The goal is to share what God is doing around the world in peoples lives and inspire others to join into what He is doing. This won’t be possible without you. Would you please join this project? I still need approximately $1500 per month or $36,000 total to fully fund the project.  The monthly support breaks down like this. I person giving $200, 5 people giving $100, 10 people giving $50, and 12 people giving $25.  What level can you give at?   

To donate online please follow this link .  If you have any questions about donating or the project, please contact me
or phone at (502)-395-035.
Thank you being part of this project so far and I look forward to what is next.

Your Fellow Servant,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I'm Coming Home

At the beginning of the summer, I wrote down 3 things I wanted to see come out of time traveling in Europe.  These prayer requests were things too big for me to achieve, but they required consistent effort on my part.  They are as follows:

1. Fully finance the entire Africa Video Project ($35,000)
2. Conversations to change me and change others.
3. Teach me that Christ is my “Home.”

Prayer is … well … confusing at times and at the same inspiring.  I haven’t seen these desires come to fruition the way I had hoped, but still I can’t shake a certainty that they have been answered.

This is best illustrated by the last item on my list. In June, I gave up my apartment in the hope and expectation of being able to start this video project when I returned from Europe. That hasn’t gone according to my plans. I am still living out of two bags and trying to figure out where to go and stay. Part of this I anticipated and hence my prayer at the beginning of the summer.  And yet God hasn’t answered it. Even now that I’m back in the US, I don’t feel any more “at home” than I did sitting in a hotel room in Munich. It would be a lie to say, “I’m not homeless, because Jesus is my home.”

I have often pleaded this summer, “Lord, be my home. I’m tired of not knowing where to return to, of not having anything grounding me, of just floating by with nothing holding me to the ground.”  In reflecting on this summer, I have begun to see that is exactly what He wanted to teach me.  I am homeless.  

Chicago is not my home. Kentucky is not my home.  No place on this planet is my home.  I am a sojourner wandering through these lands and every once in awhile I see a glimpse of my home.  In the smiles of friends, the hugs of family, the laughter of strangers, the singing of the church, the encouragement of scriptures, and the beauty of a sunrise over cloud skirted mountains.  

But these are not my home and so I must carry on, confident that one day I will cross the threshold and drop my bags, kick off my shoes, and breathe in that refreshing aroma of “home.” 

Until that day, I am homeless.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lovin' Summer

This summer while traveling in Europe for some payed video work, I got the opportunity to work with the Livies and Owens in Chevry Cosigney, France.  Take a look at what they are doing there.

Cooking in Chevry - English Camp 2012 from Drew Hayes on Vimeo.

My summer wasn't all work, I also got to have some fun and to see some beautiful and stunning scenery.  It was quite a great trip.  Here's some of what I got to see when I visited Paris, France. 

Le Gare de Paris from Drew Hayes on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

So... What do you do exactly?

Telling people what it is that I do can be a bit of a challenge. It's easy to show them the results of my work. All I have to do is press play and they can see it. But explaining what it takes to make those videos and the impact it has on the people I serve that is another thing entirely. So I thought I would give someone else a chance to explain it. Becky Kendal is one of the missionaries that I got to work with in Kankan, Guinea this past April. This is what she had to say about my visit and work.
We so enjoyed having Drew Hayes come out to make a video documentary of life and work in Guinea. His efforts have yielded some great tools for telling others about what life here is like and also about our lives and ministry focus. Drew’s prior cross-culture experience gives him a comfort-level in the culture that most “newbies” and short-termers don’t have.  He wasn’t fazed by setbacks or the rigors of food prep, time schedules, or daily life in rural Africa.

Drew’s lens captured and portrayed the rigors of maintaining solar power, shopping for vegetables and meat in a bustling market, teaching your own children. More than just the activity he captured emotions – the quiet word, a smile, a caring heart or a listening ear. The neighbor kids who bully my children, when seen through Drew’s lens, were again transformed into the children I came hoping to draw to Christ. The dusty, trash-filled streets, a constant drab backdrop to life, were filled with beautiful people I care about and flooded with the hope of a beautiful sunrise.
What I am unable to communicate to my supporters and friends, because it is my everyday life, Drew captured on video as a beautiful story.

I’ve forgotten how my life is different here from what my friends in the US experience.  I’ve also forgotten that how I live and interact here is different than those around me - that the fragrance of Christ is on me.  But in Drew’s lens I saw again what I can’t always see, but what is the whole reason I am here – God at work in and through me, reaching out to those around who don’t know Him yet.  

Thank you Drew for your work."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Eye Opening - Part 2

Balancing work, life, friends, and editing has definitely been a challenge.  But I continue to make head way.  This week I was able to finish up two new videos.  Take a look and let me know what you guys think.

The next step for me is continuing and finishing the fundraising for this project.  I still need about 50% of my support in monthly commitments.  That roughly translates to $30,000 dollars.  If you haven't committed to giving already but would like to use the links on the right; or if you prefer you can give a one time donation. Again use the links on the side.  Thank you for being part of this project and I can't wait to share the rest of the videos with you all soon. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Eye Opening

After a few weeks back in the States, I've had the energy and time to think through the incredible experience that I had in Guinea. To put it simply the trip was "Eye Opening." The idea behind this preliminary trip was to test the idea behind the project. Could it really be done? Would it work? Could I shoot and produce using Guinea as a base. Would it be possible for me to live in that community?

The resounding answer throughout the trip was, "Yes, It's what I made you for." I've never felt more certain that I was created to tell stories in this way. I was continually struck by how well I fit into the work I was doing.  Experiences and skills that I really hadn't considered became useful and helpful to producing these stories. My personality allowed me to patiently wait for the right shot and quietly watch the story unfold.  I didn't feel like I was home or that Africa was were I belonged, my skin and the language barrier were constant reminders of that.  It was more a sense of being perfectly tuned to the purpose at hand.

My eyes were opened to God's ability to provide and prepare. I have been dreaming of telling stories in this way for so long. I've written often about how tiring it can be waiting for these dreams to become reality, but this trip was not one of those times. It wasn't part of any of my planning and worrying, but the trip couldn't have gone better. It encouraged my confidence that God has made me to tell these stories and is continuing to work out His plans to use me to tell His story.

These are a few of the images that God used to open my eyes to these truths.

Even now as I am going through the tedious task of editing hours worth of footage into only a few minutes, I am reminded that He is working and preparing me to be used to Open the Eyes of others. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I Made It!... Now What?

Greeting from Guinea,
It seems not too long ago that I was only exploring this idea of producing  videos in Africa.  Now it is a reality!

I made it here to KanKan Guinean after only a slight hiccup at customs, and a 12 hour drive through nearly all of Guinea. Over the past week, I've been working hard with the World Venture team to help tell the stories of Gods work through them. God continues to confirm for me that this is what he made me for. All of my life experiences give me an edge in how I do life here and the work I am able to accomplish. Praise God for that!

It consistently is 90 plus here even at night. The dry heat creates dust that gets everywhere and I am discovering that while I understand a little French, I can't really communicate with anyone except the missionaries. Despite those difficulties, we are actually ahead of schedule if you would believe that. So we are adding a few extra pieces to the production schedule. When we first set the production schedule I thought it was ambitious, but my gear has performed perfectly and everything has fallen into place. The content I've been able to capture has been great and the material is editing together beautifully.

God continues to bless these productions, and I'm excited for the next phase of production: Distribution.  With these first videos, my goal is to see every video to be viewed at least 250 times. Then as more videos are produced and online, to have videos viewed 1000 times a piece.  By the end of 2 years that should add up to over 200,000 views!

Missions Like Solar Panels

In order to reach those goals I need your help. If everyone on this list shared the videos with 4 friends we would reach our second stage goal. So let's give it a try.  Internet here is slow, but I've been able to upload one short piece to Vimeo. Take a look and share this video across social media channels. Let's see how many hits we can get this first time around!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sticks and Stones

     I've been called a lot of things in my life. When I was a baby my Mother called my "Little Lamb." My Dad called me "Drewski." I'm sure my siblings had names for me but I've blocked those from memory.
     One year for vacation we went to Virginia beach. That day there happened to be some military lifeguards off duty and they were throwing children into the ocean. Throwing probably doesn't do it justice. They were Launching kids six or seven feet up into they air where we could land safely in the waves. Because I was the youngest and also the smallest and lightest I was thrown higher than anyone else. Imagine a 50 lbs kid being launched by four lifeguards who would have put David Hasselhoff to shame. My family has pictures of me 12 feet above the waves, laughing and screaming each time. After that they called me "Sky-Willie."
    In high school, I was called "God Hog." My classmates would tease me that I spent so much time talking with God that nobody else could get a word in edge wise. Some how what they meant as a tease I took as a badge of honor. 
    When I was traveling to my sisters in Uganda, I remember driving  through the mountains and across the valley children came out of the houses yelling, "Muzungu, Give me money." The only English they knew. Muzungu is what they call white people. Here in Guinea the kids yell, "Toubabu, BonJour." The only French they know.
     Today I was called something new and will always remember it.  I spent the morning shooting in Leferani a local village. The classic scenery of locals cooking, building hits and in just living kept me constantly behind the lens trying to capture every image. Our host for the day, made the comment that I was a Deaf, Mute because he hadn't heard me say anything. That struck me. A deaf mute. I've never been called that before, but I like it.    

Just think ... a Deaf and Mute Storyteller.     

Yeah, I like that.     

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Un-Answered Prayer

"Okay God, so what are you doing here? I mean now what?"

Two weeks ago, I prayed those words. I was confused, tired, a little depressed, and angry. All of February I had been praying and working toward being fully supported by February 29th, the one year anniversary of starting this fund raising process.  After working hard all fall, I had saved up enough to spend January and February not working but dedicating my time to this project. I was calling people asking them to give, to join my team, to be part of this project, I was expecting God to do something great, to bring it all together, to do the impossible, to bring in the funds that I need to get on the field in April.

He didn't.

On February 29th, I only had 45% of what I needed. It looked like I wouldn't get to Africa until the fall, if that.  I was out of money. How was I going to pay my bills until then? And so I prayed those words. Tired, confused, angry, and upset.

What do you do when you God doesn't answer your prayers? Or worse when He says, "No, I'm not going to do that?"

Admitedly, I didn't handle it well. Over the last two weeks, I kept asking those same questions, trying to figure it all out. Worrying about what I was going to do. Finally, I stopped. I stopped yelling and pleading. I was out of words. So God filled the space with His words.

"My love endures forever." Psalm 136
"I will not abandon you." Psalm 94:14
"The Lord is your Rock." Psalm 18:2
"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Time and again as I read scripture or talked with friends, I was reminded of these truths. God kept saying to me,

"Relax, I got this. Trust Me."

And now I stand on the other side, amazed at my lack of faith and His faithfulness.  On April 1st, I will be in Guinea, producing videos that tell His story.  Check out the last Newsletter for the details on how that worked out.  More than just being able to do what I have been longing to, I get to see which of my crazy production ideas actually will hold water before the water gets too deep. With three week trip I get to see where I will be working, meet the people, and see the land and then come back and make any adjustments before I depart in the fall. It better than I had ever planned.

On top of that, through a couple of unexpected work gigs, I have made enough to pay my bills while away on this trip.  Now I feel ashamed, small, bewildered and humbled.

Why did I doubt?

Here We Go - Newsletter #4

Here We Go!

When I started this journey a little over a year ago, I couldn't have predicted what was going to happen. I still can't. If you haven't been following for a while check out the older Blog posts to catch up on the story. Right now there are some pretty exciting things happening.  Allow me to share a few.

New Plans - Journey Corps

Working with the team at World Venture, we have made plans to participate in a cultural orientation and training program called Journey Corps. It is an amazing program that teaches future missionaries how to integrate into the culture and be able to create impacting relationships.  For more info check out their website here. This is actually a 1 year program, but we have worked it out for me to participate for only the first two months. The plan is for these two months to act as a training for me. It will teach me the skills I will need to navigate through numerous cultures and help me be more effective in my video production.

The program is scheduled to begin in October 2012, so that means I will need to be fully funded and supported by then. Currently, I have 65% of the one time expenses covered and 45% of my monthly budget in financial commitments. There is a ways to go, but I am excited to see how God is going to provide. If you would like to be part of the team by giving, please follow this link to make a commitment or give now.

Going to Guinea

The original plan was to be on the ground in Guinea shooting by April.  With my support level and the plans to participate in Journey Corps, those plans had to change. But here's the cool part. The team of World Venture missionaries in Guinea are so excited for my work and eager to be a part of it that they are going to fly me out to Guinea in April to produce 3 videos for their ministries. I will be working with Nathan & Becky Kendall, Brenda Allen, and David & Billie Blessing. Our aim is to tell the story of how God is working through them and the opportunities He has for others to join in. If you would like to know more about Guinea check out this site.

This means that even though my project won't officially start until after completeing the Journey Corps training I will get to show you what it is all about by actually doing it. This will provide some much needed real world testing of the my project ideas and equipment. Keep a close eye on the blog to watch for updates as they happen and to see the videos when they are finished.

Why Worry?

With only three weeks to go before my first production in Guinea, there is lots to get ready for. Equipment has to be ordered and prepared, visa's secured, scripting done for each shoot, logistics and transportation arranged, vaccinations updated, and all these have to be checked and double checked.  In the midst of all this planning and work, I get overwhelmed and start to worry.  Thank fully God has been giving me daily reminders from scripture about His views on worry and how He is already working out all these things. You can read more of my thoughts on the blog,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012