I'm a wedding and portrait photographer living in Vancouver, BC with my husband Randy.  I photographed my first wedding when I was only 17 years old - and I've photographed over 200 weddings since! I am an avid bookworm, lover of green tea, pretty nail polish & my Labradoodle Harley. Thanks for visiting!

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guatemala: the end of myself.

November 16, 2010


i’m going to guatemala. thursday. flying out of vancouver international airport at a ridiculous morning hour. i’m traveling with twenty other teenagers/young adults from my church: christian life assembly. i have way too many thoughts about this trip. i feel like only since this past weekend have i arrived at a healthy, excited place. i’ve never been on a missions trip, i’ve never seen anything close to the third world. sure, take a walk downtown eastside vancouver and i’ve seen poverty and drugs and filth. i’m not ignorant. i’ve never seen a country of poverty though… know what i mean? missions trips were emphasized in the high school i went to; i never felt called to go. i didn’t want to be [excuse my awful, rude, generalization] another private school rich christian kid who wanted a trip to somewhere exciting like africa. [not that that is a fair representation of everyone’s heart.] i just knew that when i was supposed to serve in this way, God would prompt me. i love the local church–i’ve never had this “missionary” dream.

i couldn’t help but feel since the spring that post-wedding season (end of 2010 and beginning of 2011) was going to be a different season for me. less work, perhaps new opportunities, a movement towards being more involved in the local church. i didn’t think missions. i had the entire month of november completely free on my calendar: not one thing booked. in september, i heard about this trip to guatemala at youth one tuesday. immediately, my heart said “yes.” i walked up to my youth pastor after the service smiling, “i’m going!” done. i’ve had a few experiences like that in my life: kind of out-of-body moments—like the words that come out of my mouth are so contrary to my previous desires, things i would have ever seen myself doing. saying yes to a missions trip? didn’t see it coming. but i said yes.

in the past two months leading up to this trip, i haven’t thought much about it. life was busy and in the mean time, i traveled to montreal, philadelphia and charlotte. three separate trips. guatemala was just another thing on the calendar, blocked off in big letters between november 18 – november 29. in the past two weeks, my life has slowed down quite a bit & i began to realize that my next flight was not to the US… it was to guatemala. huh? what? why?

i do not have a romanticized view of this trip. in some ways, you could say i’ve been expecting the worse. i am introverted; being around twenty people constantly for two weeks is going to be very challenging for me. i will likely want to tell everyone to “shut the crap up!” every now and then. that would not be very Christian of me. at times, the weather will be hot and humid. i hate sweating. it’s gross. we will be immersed in a language i do not know. we will be waking up early, staying up late. i will be eating food i’m not used to—and i have a string of food intolerances longer than most people could deal with. i get sick to my stomach, easily. bad enough when this happens at home and i can stay in bed all day. when i’m expected to work all day with this, that’s kinda depressing. after our final meeting saturday night at the church, i was anxious. on a forty-minute drive home that night i started praying out loud in my car & crying. i’d like to call this “prying aloud”—combo verb. perfect. i “pry” a lot.

God, i’m anxious about this trip and i’m sick of this. i’m sick of worrying: worry is not trusting You. worry is not trusting that You have this trip in Your hands, that You gave me this desire to go to Guatemala, that You will protect me, protect my stomach, my health, my body, protect my emotions, give me grace to love, give me grace to serve, give me energy when i have no more to give. i confessed it all aloud the whole drive home. then i worshipped Him, singing along to the spanish EP revolution band recorded for the trip. the next morning, i woke up with such a sense of purpose for this trip. this comes at exactly the right time in my faith. [leave that to God; perfect timing for things? say it isn’t so. He’s so smart.] i love to DO IT ALL. i’m a type-A, give me something to do and i’ll do it, ten times faster than you thought possible. boom. i will accomplish it.

after saturday night, i have come to the conclusion that God is taking me on this trip to bring me to the end of myself. i am going on His strength. i will eat food [that usually my body rejects] and be protected and kept healthy by His strength. my mom felt a verse on her heart for me this week: “behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you,” Luke 10:19. nothing shall hurt me. that’s a sweet promise. i feel like it relates to my allergies a lot. i am at peace in His promises.  i will love people when i want to be alone by His strength. i will serve with energy that is not from my twice-daily americanos, but His energy. i’m not going on this trip alone–i couldn’t do this alone. i know now, this is exactly why God has told me to go.

i’m excited.

see you all in december: there will be no emails, blogs, tweets, anything like that until then.

  1. Yana

    November 16th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    That is so awesome that you’re taking this step of faith. One thing that trips like this have a habit of doing is stretching you to the core, which results in growth unlike growth that anything else can produce. I came across this quote today… "The end of your comfort zone is the beginning of life." Be blessed, my friend! Go with God.

  2. Cara

    November 16th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Jamie- another great verse that has gotten me through SO many of life’s challenges is Jeremiah 29:11, I’m sure you know it, but thought I would remind you. ;) You’re going to have an AMAZING time, like really, incredible. You will grow spiritually like you never imagined and God will be by your side with each step. You may be uncomfortable, but you’re doing it for His glory, and He will delight in you. I will be praying for you as I know just what you mean when you mention stomach issues and strange food, etc. When you come home, your heart will be full of joy and gratitude like you’ve never experienced. It will make that hot shower, Americano, and soft bed to sleep in even that much more sleep. And that my Friend, will be all worth it. You’re doing an awesome thing Jamie, you’re changing the world and don’t think of it as anything less!!

  3. Faith

    November 16th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    "Prying"- I love it! ;) Good luck on your trip, Jamie. I will definitely be praying for you and your team while you are in Guatemala. I can’t wait to hear all the stories! :)

  4. Laura Radniecki

    November 16th, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Jamie, prayers and positive vibes to you from Minnesota. While we are in different places and different seasons of life right now, I can relate a lot to your feelings of wanting to trust God, to do what He has planned. I’m so happy you are going on this trip. I’m happy you are taking a step back from your normal life and doing something for Him and for others. I will be tuning in, in December when you return.

  5. Rebecca Sehn

    November 16th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Oh Jamie – I am so excited for you. If you don’t have one already, you should bring a little spanish phrase book with you. It’s so helpful to be able to try to communicate, especially with children.

  6. Laurajane

    November 16th, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    wow. sometimes i read your blog entires and think that we’re the same person. i’ve not wanted to do mission trips for the same reasons, mostly the having "a string of food intolerances longer than most people could deal with." they’ve prevented me from doing many things. i did go on one mission trip to baltimore and i brought all my own food (and got made fun of constantly) but i definitely had that moment where i wanted to yell at everyone and tell them to be quiet. but instead i freaked out and started crying and missed one of the activities. but thank you so much for being an encouragement for me. and that verse, i think i need to write that one down and remind myself of it whenever i say that i can’t do something because of my allergies. and p.s. i think that we need to meet sometime. because i feel like we’d get along so well. let’s plan something.

  7. jonneke

    November 16th, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Hey Jamie..I’m one of your blogreaders.. from the Netherlands. I appreciate your writings so much.So now: be sure that to go to Guatemala, it will be life – experience… much more than you think now.God bless you now and in G.!I’m looking forward to december to read your stories!!

  8. Bethany Steinmann

    November 16th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Acts 18:9-10"Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."

  9. Megan Wold

    November 16th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Jamie, I currently live in North Dakota, but I grew up in North Carolina and while the offspring of a military man, my family and I were stationed in Guatemala for two years. I was only 7 when we went but the experience sticks with me day by day. We were in the "wealthy" class and had a gardener named Jose. He had so much pride in the little 8×8 hut that his three children, wife, mother-in-law, and two sister-in-laws lived in. Helping with little things like giving him a hard floor, supplying his children with shoes, fresh fruit and a few of our toys, made me see the world in a different light. You are already on the path of changing the world, just keep at it. This experience will change you even more. Just please capture it in not only photos but words as well. You will look back on this experience often and it will make you reflect on your life, so if you have the words and images from the moments you were experiencing it, it will only help stabilize those thoughts. Best of Luck and thoughts are with you.

  10. Maggie

    November 16th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Jamie, you are so very inspiring. Faith is not something that has ever come easy to me. I have had too many "bad" church experiences and seen many examples of people that call themselves people of God, but really are the first ones to stab their neighbor in the back instead of helping. It’s people like you that make me want to believe and have faith as strongly as you do. But being surrounded by so many people that aren’t true believers makes that so hard. And also makes it easier sometimes to "not have faith" because I do not want faith if it means I have to act like some of the not-so-great-believers in my home town. For you, I hope that your Guatemala trip is inspiring, breath-taking, and life changing. I honestly cannot wait to read about it. And I hope that one day I can find and have faith like yours. :)

  11. Dorothy

    November 16th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    so excited that you’re experiencing something new. it’ll be a challenge but so worth it. God is going to change you so look forward to that! you and your team will be in my prayers :)

  12. Lydia

    November 16th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Jamie, I’m praying that you and your group would be protected while you’re away and that many would heed the call of the gospel and be saved! I have friends who will be down there at the same time–one finishing up a 5 month YWAM mission trip. Wouldn’t it be funny if you ran into each other. :-)

  13. Jen

    November 16th, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Hey Jamie, I’ve been a faithful reader of your blog for a couple of years now… Just wanted to encourage you as you take this trip of faith to Guate. 3 1/2 years ago was scheduled to go on an identical missions trip. It was my first one (I’d always been hesitant for the same reason you mentioned) and I basically fealt EXACTLY how you described– health issues, didn’t know any Spanish, etc. God finally brought me to the end of myself and I went trusting His leading. The trip turned out great and some amazing things happened while we ministered and worked at an orphanage. God had great plans for me on that trip… 2 years later I married the guy who had been hired to translate for our team that week! Okay, I’m not saying you’re going to meet some hot Guatemalan guy and marry him, but I am saying that I have no doubt that God has plans for you far greater than you can even imagine. Can’t wait to hear about it! I hope you love Guate. as much as I do and if you end up in Antigua, visit a coffee shop named Cafe Barista. :-D

  14. Naomi

    November 17th, 2010 at 1:27 am

    God go with you, Jamie. Have a good time,be a blessing – and girl, you BE blessed. This is going to change your life FOREVER. I can safely promise you that from one who has been right where you stand. It’ll rock your world. But Jamie, it is SO worth it! You’ll be in my prayers. Now just make sure you tell us all about it when you get home!!! In the love of Christ, from the other side of the world, Naomi x

  15. Naomi

    November 17th, 2010 at 7:38 am

    First time at your blog – Emerson mentioned this last night in passing and I see he posted this link. I will TOTALLY be praying for you and the team. What an awesome opportunity God has clearly led you in. I stand with you in agreement that nothing will by any means harm you and for the record, I know people with tons of food allergy/issues that have been FINE on the mission field-myself included. God WILL sustain you!!! :) This will be an amazing experience that will FULLY open your heart and eyes to how MOST of the world’s population lives. May God give you His eyes to see – and His perfect love to give even when you’d rather be alone. I look forward to hearing of great fruit there and in the hearts of those that go…(not to mention seeing some FABULOUS pics!) Peace, peace, peace be upon you!

  16. Lesley Stefanski

    November 17th, 2010 at 10:49 am

    God’s peace, love, and protection upon you and your team! This will be an amazing time of growing and feeling comfort in something completely outside of yourself! :D

  17. Rachel Clarke

    November 17th, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    You will be in my prayers, that all your anxieties will disappear. :)

  18. Krista Marie

    November 19th, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Jamie, you are going to have an amazing time! I have been following your blog for quite some time but this will be my first comment. I have been on 2 international mission trips but it wasn’t until I experienced the poverty like you are talking about that it truly hit me. It was the most amazing/life changing experience. You are in my prayers!

  19. Christina Hastings

    November 24th, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    I will be praying for you, Jamie! May the Lord continue to stretch you and grow you in ways you can’t even imagine!

  20. ana aguilar

    December 1st, 2010 at 9:54 am

    I hope you have a good experience around here, in Guatemala. Enjoy your stay and if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask! :) ….have a safe trip! – Ana.

  21. cassandra ginter

    December 1st, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I hope that your trip to Guatemala was phenomenal! I traveled to Sudan this past summer, and it changed me to depths I didn’t even know existed. Your faith is inspiring, and I cannot wait to read about your trip!

  22. Kelli

    December 7th, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Oh Guatemala! How you will love Guatemala..actually you are probably back already..I think. My husband, myself and our two sons were there a couple of years ago..we were there visiting the country and visiting our "Guatemala" family. What an amazing place. i hope you had an amazing journey!

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