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God is moving, can you see it?
July 29, 2013 1:57 pm

I guess it is technically winter here in Kenya, but only just.  While 60 degrees is on the chilly side for us here at the equator, it’s nothing to those Montana winters!

So much has been going on (uh, and I haven’t posted in almost three months!  Tut tut!), and it would take an age to write it all down, let alone for you to read it.  So let’s do a photo recap, shall we?  Righteo!

June was dominated by my trip to Rwanda to photograph for an NGO.  It was challenging, full of lessons, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be in such an interesting country and further push my photographic skills.

Rwanda 1

Rwanda 2


Rwanda 3

Rwanda 5

Check out those giant arrow-roots!

Rwanda 8

Rwanda 6

Rwanda 7

Rwanda 4

July brought departures.  My dear friends Ethan and David winged their way back to the states.  They always had me laughing, and I miss them hugely.  Below they are putting on brave faces before running a marathon!


Ted, our fearless team leader, also made his way to the USA with his family to take care of their stateside relatives.  Before they left, we had a wonderful team retreat out in the countryside and a 4th of July bbq.


teamretreat 2

Teammates relaxing.

teamretreat 1

teamretreat 12

Chasing flamingos on Lake Bogoria

teamretreat 14

Best seats in the house for a safari.

teamretreat 13

We even had the privilege of witnessing Ted’s youngest son’s baptism.  What a special day!

teamretreat 5

timmy 3

I’ve been keeping busy with a few personal photo projects.  From bees to awesome lady missionaries, I just can’t seem to stop clicking.  And that’s just how I like it!  (To keep up with my photo work, head to bessbrownleephoto.tumblr.com)

bees 1

Me and two Maasai mamas with our bee suits on!

bees 2

The golden magic of a honeycomb!  Learning the skills of beekeeping with new friends.


Hannah is a fashion designer AND a missionary living in Liberia.  Pretty awesome!

Hannah (1)

Virginia (1)

Virginia is a family practice doctor in a tough part of Nairobi.  She is also a missionary and a darn nice lady.

Virginia (2)


We round out the review with a little visit from a wonderfully familiar face.  My dear friend Lauren spent ten days with me after a mission trip and we had a bucket-load of fun!

cheese 1

We toured a cheese farm and did some tasting as well… YUM!!!

cheese 2

cheese 3


crescent 2

Apparently we were quite close to a python nest in this picture… yipes!  We didn’t find out this information until we were back at the car.  (Insert scream of horror here!!!) I have searched all my photos and haven’t found conclusive evidence of a giant snake, but the mere possibility is enough to keep me away from Crescent Island for a while!

crescent 1

Whew, I’m so glad we caught up.  Eat a ripe peach for me, and enjoy your summer wherever this post finds you!

July 27, 2012 2:45 am
Published in: On the Field Tags: ,

Thankful.  That’s how I’m feeling.

Thankful that God knows what I need.  I’m talking beyond food, water, and shelter… He knows what my heart needs.  This month it was refreshment, and it came in the form of familiar and dear faces.

Mo, Dar, and Candice, wonderful friends reunited in Africa!

Not just one friend, not even simply two… but THREE of my beloved gal-pals made the trek to Kenya, and I was lucky enough to soak up some laugh-filled days with them.

Mo exploring Kitengela, Kenya

On the bridge to Kitengela Glass, don't look down!

Maureen is my oldest friend from home in Montana.  We first met eachother on the playground in 2nd grade.  She was part of the reason I came to Kenya in 2009.  She had gone to Africa the summer previously and told me I should really consider going.  I couldn’t be more grateful for her nudge out the door.

Dar & Mo, the brunettes!

Darnell and I had the priviledge of venturing around Kenya in 2009, and staying together in Korogocho slum with a wonderful Kenyan host family for three weeks.  There is something about killing cockroaches, learning how to make Kenyan food, sitting through 3 hour church services, and leaping over sewage rivers in the slums that turns new friends into sisters.  I can’t believe we got to revisit that place again 3 years later, thanks Dar!

Dar & I with our host parents in 2009

Darnell with the camels in Kitengela, Kenya

Currently, Darnell is living in Italy with her husband James.  She sent me a message a few weeks ago asking if she could come down and see me before she and James moved back to the states.  DUH.  We had a great time running around Kenya, laughing at old stories and seeing old friends.

Candice and Mo in Kitengela, Kenya


I met Candice on the 2009 Kenya trip as well.  I have never known somebody who emanates so much grace.  Candice is that rare person who makes you feel instantly calm, understood, and loved.  She is a treasure, and I’m so blessed to have had a few days with her.  She is off to Dallas Theological Seminary to study counseling this fall, I can’t think of a better career fit for this big-hearted gal.

Boat ride on Lake Naivasha

Brownies, games, and Jane Austen!


Sunrise on Lake Naivasha

We adventured all around Kenya, recounting old memories and make new ones along the way.  There is nothing like a taste of home.  There is nothing like friends that know you.  This month was balm to my soul and food for my heart, it was so, so, SO good.  Mo is here for a couple more weeks, and it feels like time is whipping by like the wind.  My prayer is to stay present and savor.


Your Father

knows what you need before

you ask him.

Matthew 6:8


June 4, 2012 6:57 am
Published in: On the Field Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been in my head a lot lately.

You know the feeling, when you realize you’ve been sitting in the same position for a long time, staring at the same spot on the wall, just thinking.  I’ve had some incredible experiences lately that have caused me to retreat into the recesses of my brain (and heart) and mull.  I’ve had a chance to go through photographs of the last month, and it has only deepened my “head time.”  Oh how I love photography.  The fraction of a second snapped with a camera has the ability to rocket me back to a time and a place, helping me remember.

These photos are my visual breadcrumbs, they are significant marks on a path of memory that I can follow through the woods of my mind.  They leave a trail, reminding me of where I’ve been.  Whoa, did I just get a little “heady” there?!  Sorry, that’s just how it’s been lately.  Here are some of my latest “crumbs”…

I had my first guests!  After six months without a familiar (Montana) face, my heart nearly exploded with joy at the sight of these people.  We ventured around Kenya, and went to many places that had an impact on me in 2009 when I first came to Kenya.  The second time around is always different than the first, but sometimes even more meaningful.

Lots of laughs with Joanna, Yasmin, and Holly

Revisiting Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi, home to more than 500,000

Spending time with my dear Kenyan host family in Korogocho slum, Nairobi

Get-away with my girls on Lake Naivasha, complete with several hippo encounters!

In early April I had the privilege to experience a different area of Kenya, outside of the bustling epicenter of Nairobi.  The media team and I traversed eight hours north to a place called Maralal.  It’s an arid, scrubby land where the sun shines hot on the baked earth, and all the plants seem to have thorns.  The Samburu people call this area home.  They are tall, lanky herders (goats, sheep, and camels) with friendly, warm spirits, sun-weathered skin and broad smiles.  Oh, and they like beads… a lot.

Samburu mama and her chicken

Samburu kiddos

I was struck and inspired by one Samburu, a young pastor named Peter.  A warrior turned multi-church pastor, Peter left his tribe to get an education, and unlike so many, he returned to be with his people afterwards.  He rides his bicycle for miles and miles every week between his four churches (one of which is under a tree).  I’ve never met someone with such a heart of joy and passion.  His fire inspired us all.

Pastor Peter on his bike near one of the first churches planted in the area

Little Samburu girl at church

Chai tea and hospitality at Pastor Peter's house

After my mini-adventure to northern Kenya, I boarded a plane bound even farther north.   North Africa.  Little did I know what was waiting for me… a whole new world.  I went to see what that world looked like, felt like, tasted like, smelled like; I went to broaden my knowledge of what and who makes up this crazy continent of Africa.  I went to see my dear friends who labor in love there.  I went so my heart could begin to understand.  Head coverings, mosques, Arabic, the call to prayer… It is a place unlike anything I had ever experienced.

Fabrics for sale in the market

Canyon walls

Exploring local crops by the river

Breakfast with friends

Oasis town

Fragrant tea blend of rose hips, chamomile and mint

Camel trekking

Honeydew is best shared with friends

Fresh orange juice!

Climbing dunes to watch the sunset

A couple braves the rocks to watch the ocean

Spices galore!

Thread baskets

Toasting adventure with saffron mint tea and dear friends

Now, I know how to pray.  Now, I have breadcrumbs to remind me of all I saw, heard, tasted, and felt.  Now, I can’t pretend that I haven’t seen this world, this beautiful and vibrant yet hard, heavy, and dark world.  Now, I can’t ignore it… now I press into it.  Now, I bear witness of my experience.  I feel a bit like Paul, who was knocked clean off his horse on a road to another place, and made to see.  Afterwards God told him this…

Now get up and stand on your feet.

I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness

of what you have seen and will see of me…”

Acts 26:16

Paul rises, taking with him what he has seen, and walks forward into God’s promise… that he, Paul, will see more of God.  I am responsible to bear witness to everyplace God leads me.  Now, what do I do with what I’ve seen?  That’s why I’ve been in my head, I can’t just walk away from this one.  God has planted some curious seeds in me, and I’m giving them time and room to grow.

I only have one life to pour out, and I want to make it a beautiful offering, a fragrant and pleasing sacrifice to my God.  I will not lay before Him a life that was easy, nor one that cost me nothing.

What can I say?

What can I do?

But offer this heart, O God, completely to you.