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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!

February 18, 2012 4:26 am
Published in: On the Field Tags: , ,

But not just a still, quiet peace…

Contained within shalom is a tapestry of meaning.  Threads of safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, rest, harmony, and the absence of discord are woven together into completeness, wholeness, and fullness.  The result of shalom is enemies reconciling, injustice disappearing, wounds healing, fears ebbing away and communities being restored.  It is a loaded, rich peace.

Shalom is not the sort of thing typically associated with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Dusty streets of Bunia, DRC

Instead war, rape, poverty, violence, tribalism, disease, injustice, and unrest are lashed together into a crude picture that represents the Congo in many of our minds.  True, these things have taken place in the Congo, and sadly are still happening to this day.

But there are also echoes of shalom, unexpected patches of peace, sparks of deep love and joy… like the millions of bright pricks of light in the dark night sky.

Sunset in Bunia, DRC

The media team and I went to the DRC to see just what God was up to in swiftly growing school called Shalom University.

Flying over Lake Victoria

The campus is located in a rough town in north-east DRC called Bunia.  It is a place of dust, razor wire, and UN troops.  This city has seen a lot.  These people have been through more turmoil than I will ever know.  War, tribal strife, mass looting… the list of unspeakable hardship goes on and on.  During one of the conflicts, the school became home to more than 1500 refugees, holed-up in classrooms, offices, and the chapel.  Miraculously, the school remained unlooted and on the whole, undamaged by rebels and troops.  The same could not be said for the rest of the town.  Now Shalom University is growing exponentially; nearly 900 students are flooding the campus.  We went to tell this story, to see how shalom is catching fire, and to witness it spreading.

Professor Witmer walks through campus

God is up to something in the Congo.  Something big, something beautiful… He is urging His children in the DRC to spread shalom, to be peace-makers.  He is using this school in Bunia to send out solid, servant-hearted leaders into the Congo.  Into business, into agriculture, into ministry… they are bringing sparks of change, and becoming ambassadors of peace.

There is evidence of shalom here, the fingerprint of the Creator of peace is all over this place. It is on the faces of sweet light-hearted children, in the melodies of Congolese choirs practicing at dusk, within tight community gatherings, upon the eager minds of the students as they soak up knowledge, and resting on the distant mountains, hazy and glowing orange in the setting sun.

Light will always overcome darkness.  Always.  I am so grateful to have seen a slice of Congo.  True, it is a tough place.  But it is also a place of surprising beauty, full of people that God’s heart burns for. I pray that one day I will see more of this country… and witness just how deeply peace can take root.

Congolese mama and her children

Bananas at the market

Waiting to mud the chicken coop

Dried fish, yum.

Market ladies, selling everything from peppers to nail polish

Community water tank

Sorting beans for dinner

Before church

Camera v. Camera

Outside of a rural church

Sweet girls living in campus housing

Sugarcane snack

Campus housing at dusk, three families to a building

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;

then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 

 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:17-18


November 7, 2010 7:41 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , ,

Well, dear inquisitive friends, watch these videos and find out!!  These were both made by the team I will be joining next year, On-Field Media. (NOTE: click the play button and then pause, to allow these gems a few minutes to load, cheers!)

Click HERE to learn more about Africa Inland Mission.

Click HERE to view more of the work of On-Field Media.

November 7, 2010 3:30 am
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , , ,

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8

This small passage has had a huge impact on my life during the past 10 months.  The first time I heard it was last January at the Urbana Missions Conference in St. Louis, MO.  It was during a very in-depth scripture study about the ministry of Jesus… and out of the many verses we looked at that day, this one grabbed me.

You see, God has always been a mystery to me.  I feel like I have learned so much about His character over the years.  Sometimes I even feel like I have a good handle on Him. Yet, as I push deeper in pursuit of Him, I stumble upon vast realms of wonderful unknown.  And it scares me a little.  But it also draws me in.

I love that God is unmeasurable, beyond my attempts to categorize and comprehend, yet still accessible and inviting.  He says COME, take the risk, I want you to know me and see how it changes you… I want you to see where it could lead you!  That is the journey I am on now, lead by the mystery of a living God.

In John 3:8, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about comprehending how God works.  Nic just can’t grasp how people are “born again” or how the Spirit works.  I can’t say I blame him.  Jesus compares the mysterious workings of the Spirit to that of the wind.  The wind has the power to uproot trees, knock down buildings, and cause the sea to rage, yet it can be gentle enough to ruffle feathers, make a kite float or blow a few strands of hair.  I cannot see the wind.  BUT I can see it’s effects.  We cannot see the Spirit, but we can see how it changes people, nations, even the world.

Almost a year ago, I went to the aforementioned Urbana Missions Conference (www.urbana09.org) full of unknown.  I had so many questions, and I wanted answers.  God had shaken up my life during a two month stint in Kenya that summer with InterVarstiy Christian Fellowship, serving in the slums of Nairobi.  He changed my life, refined my dreams, ruined my normal life, and asked me to take a risk… to know Him, and to see that adventure would lead.  I understood then that the wind had started blowing, it was up to me… time to let myself be swept up.

I scoured the mission organization booths at the conference.  I wanted to know how I could use my passions and gifts from God in missions.  I was one semester away from a photojournalism/media arts degree, and I wanted to put those skills, my love for visual media and missions to work. I interrogated reps, gathered mounds of brochures, and still didn’t feel like I had found a fit.  Then I spotted AIM, it was the last booth I visited.  God bless that rep, haha, he answered my questions for over an hour!  In the end he handed me On-Field Media’s (Africa Inland Mission’s media team) best of 2009 DVD.  To say the least, I was blown away after I watched it.  As far as visual media production goes, no other organization came close.  My excitement and intrigue grew… God was up to something.

If you asked me a over a year ago if I would ever be a missionary in Africa, I probably would have laughed at you.  In less than a year I am moving to Africa… with a missions organization, for two years.  Funny how the wind blows.  I am like Nicodemus in that I cannot fully comprehend the mystery of God.  I don’t know where the His wind comes from, or where it is going… but I do know that God is real, that He is at work, and that if I allow myself to get swept away in Him, there is no telling where I will end up.  The workings of the wind are made visible, my life is proof.  Air is not wind unless it is moving. Africa here I come.

God is moving, can you see it?