|A Simple Photograph Can Mean So Much
|As a teenager, I felt like God was
asking me to be involved in missions.
I really felt He had a specific plan for
me to serve Him by going on trips to
other countries to tell others about
Him. When I was 20, I got a little
sidetracked. I started dating a
photographer. I told myself we were
going to be missionaries and travel to
Africa and he would photograph all the
children and I would feed them.
|I ended up drifting really far away from God
and His plan for my life. But I learned how
to use a camera. Eventually, I came to my
senses, got rid of the boyfriend and kept
the camera. And I realized that I had a gift
for creating photos.
|In 2003, I went on a missions
trip to the Democratic Republic
of Congo in Africa. Then I went
to South Africa and Malawi in
July 2004 and back to South
Africa again in 2004 and a
third time in 2005.
|On each trip, my primary responsibility was to take photographs of the people we met and document our experiences
so we could share our stories with people back in America. On each trip to South Africa, I was able to take photos,
go to the lab in town, print out the photos and then take photos back into the village and pass them out.
|It was really fun to watch people as they
were given a photo of themselves. They
would take one look at the photo and turn
around and run and yell to their friends to
show them that they had a photo of
themselves. They were so excited!
|I photographed this lady
with her daughters in front
of their home during one
visit. Later, I came back
with her family portrait and
handed it to her.
|She looked at the photo, and turned and looked at her house
and looked back at the photo. She was absolutely amazed to
have a simple photo of her and her family in front of their home.
My friend Thandi, standing with us here, was equally amazed.
|After one of the trips to South Africa, my team leader, asked how
the trip was for me. I said, "It was great! I loved being able to hand
out photos in the village. That was a tiny part of what we did, but
that is what was meaningful to me".
He stopped me and looked at me and said, "Laura, you have no
idea how integral and how important to our trip those photos are.
For many of those people, the photo you gave them is the only
legacy they will leave to their children when they die of AIDS. And
ten years from now, that kid will be able to hold that photo and say,
'this is my dad' or 'this is my mum'."
|Buhle, with her grandma, Thandi. Buhle is very
fortunate to have a healthy mom, Lumke, and a
healthy grandma. Many other children in Africa
have lost both parents to AIDS and are left with
relatives or must raise themselves.
|A few months after that conversation with my team leader, he took a team of 30 people
back to the same village in South Africa to officially initiate the Photo Legacy Project. Six
teams, each with a photographer, went into the village, met families, were invited into
their homes, talked with them, prayed with them and photographed them. As the teams
left each home, they told the families that they would return the next day with family
photos. It was not until the families actually saw the team return with photos in hand that
they began to trust. The adults in the village lived for years under the fierce rule of
apartheid. White people rarely come into the village even more than a decade after the
end of apartheid. Most villagers have never had a white person in their home. A simple
photograph opened the door to begin to build relationships of trust.
|My mom, Marcella Adams, 6 years
before she was diagnosed with
advanced ovarian cancer.
|As I continue the Photo Legacy Project, I have created photos for families in
Africa, families in New Orleans, LA and Biloxi, MS who lost their family
photos in Hurricane Katrina and for families living in a motel a mile from my
home. When I think back to dating that photographer all those years ago, I
realize that what Satan meant for evil, God meant for good. As destructive as
that relationship was, I have been able to keep the good that I learned,
creating photos, and use it to bring glory to God. Whatever your struggle has
been, God can use you. Whatever your giftedness, God can use you.
|A Simple Photo 2 of 2
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