We leave here in one week. That’s insane. In some ways, it feel like it flew by. In others, the days felt slow and long, like time actually moves at a slower pace here.
I thought I would write the entire time I was here. I thought I would be overwhelmed with words and thoughts and revelations—things I would share with people on this blog with everyone.
But here I am, a week from leaving, and writing something to share for the second time. The words and thoughts and revelations came, but they weren’t for sharing. They were for me. This season has been one of definite growth and change, but more than anything, it’s been a lesson in being present.
I asked (read: forced) Travis to write a blog for you all. I thought it might be a good idea to let you hear from him while we are in Kenya because he is, after all, half of this journey. He's also much smarter than me so who knows? Maybe I'll get some more engineers to follow along, ;).
I remember studying the planets as a kid in elementary school, maybe even making a diorama of our solar system, but I don’t remember truly geeking out over them. It was just another science topic and I suppose at that point in life I was too devoted to recess activities to think or feel strongly about the planets.
Welp, we've been here in Maai Mahui at Naomi's Village for a little over a week now. And that feels crazy to me. I honestly feel like we've been here a month. And not in a bad way, but in a very, very comfortable way. The kids welcomed us with wiiiiiide open arms on the very first day we were here. They instantly started referring to us as Auntie Rachel and Uncle Travis, and I did my very best to learn the names of all 81 kids (plus about 20 staff!) in the first week. And I did it!
Today is the day! I'm writing this blog from a cute little coffee shop in Salt Lake City. Trav and I just landed and we have a few hours to kill before boarding our flight to Amsterdam.
(If you don't read every word I write on all social media channels, I judge you and I have some news: Trav and I are heading to Kenya for the next four-ish months. We will be working at a children's home—him as an engineer, me as a photographer.)
When Chris first reached out to me about photographing his dad's birthday slash family reunion, I was a little skeptical. They were having it a Boondock's (which is basically like Dave & Buster's ... an adult arcade). I thought about the harsh bowling alley lighting, the dark arcade area, and the repetitiveness of the go-kart track.
You guys! This is one of my favorite projects I've ever done and I CANNOT WAIT to share it with you! If you follow me on Facebook, you likely saw some of these images back in February, but here are many, many more!
It seems as though I have become the official birth photographer for the Messiah soccer alumni. And I don't hate it. Last year, I had the honor of photographing my teammate Cassie's birth. Shortly after, I received a message from my friend Brenna, who we also played with in college, saying, "I wish you could photograph my birth!" I thought for a second and then realized, "Hey. I bet I could make that work."
A few weeks ago, I received a message from Katie (pictured above), detailing a grand plan to surprise her 5 kids with a trip to Mexico. It involved sneaking into their rooms to change their clocks back an hour while they slept, packing getaway bags, cryptic letters to the kids, and the big reveal of the destination at the airport.
This past weekend, I read a book by one of my favorite authors of all-time, Maria Semple. She wrote Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which is about the character we named our dog after. And she most recently published Today Will Be Different, which I loved just as much.
You could call this a book review of sorts, but it's not. This is about photos and our stories and how we choose to tell them.
I was a little confused as to why there were quite a few typos in this book. And then I realized that it was translated from French. So, there goes that criticism.
Overall, the author, Katherine Pancol writes characters that you really find yourself rooting for. They are ordinary enough to be relatable, but quirky enough to be endearing. I loved the process of the main character discovering her value and in turn, cutting out the toxins in her life. It's a story of becoming, albeit later in life.
So I did this thing this past year. And I wrote about it on the blog and my close friends knew about it, but I realized that just not that many people read this blog. Therefore, a lot of people didn't realize I was doing it.
This thing is that I didn't buy any new clothing all year. I went shopping for the first time yesterday and posted about it on Instagram. And I guess that is where people read what I write.
Trav and I went to Costa Rica in October to celebrate our fifth anniversary. It was such a great trip, but made so much better by the fact that my friends Laura and Nate live there and we got to visit with them!
I've known Cassie for 10 years. Wow. It's weird that I can be old enough to say that. We played soccer together in college and I bet we are both still exactly as good as we were 10 years ago. Kidding.
She and Brian moved to Colorado a few years ago and it's been so fun to reconnect a little bit. And after having the unbelievably unique privilege of attending her birth, I guess I could say we reconnected a lot. And I loved it!
I don't shoot many weddings. Hardly any actually. And I especially don't photograph them by myself. There are very few exceptions to my "no weddings alone" rule. The lone exception is if I really, really like you. And there were quite a few people I really, really liked this year who asked me to photograph their weddings.
I'm going to go ahead and say that this may not have been the best choice for a poolside day of reading. Don't get me wrong—this book was well-written, thought-provoking, and more than interesting. But it was sad. Very, very sad.