So! I am excited and am so much so that I’m not going to worry about going on tangents, having possibly terrible grammar and a few misspelled words. No, I’m just going to type at my hearts content until I think I’ve shared enough of how wonderful God’s love is in my life and in the life of others and how glad I am for the opportunities He has given me. The moment we live now is what’s important, not the past, not the future; right now I’m writing to share with you how relevant that has been recently along with many other great things I am learning while here at Summit Ministries.
Now I’m going to attempt to share everything that has happened so far as chronological as possible but bare with me if I stray a little with a thought or two. My mind tends to wander, but as they say, not all who wander are lost and I can say for certain that one of the great things about Summit so far is that it nearly feels right at home. Though, I will be missing home very much along with my beautiful family and many dear siblings. My hope at least is there will be enough for me to keep me occupied to not worry about it so much. And, of course, I know we will keep in touch.
Forgive me for not having very many pictures posted. . . I took a few with my iPod Touch but trust me. . . If I had taken a moment to pull out my camera to grab a few shots, I might have missed my flight it was that close and tight of a schedule. Normally, I’d prefer a slow and steady pace but this time around it was actually rather nice as I don’t normally enjoy long waits with nothing to do. Later the night before I finished all my packing and I must say I think I might have over done it. But! Better to have more than enough and not need it than the other way around. Next morning was a very early start at about 5:30 in the morning. I made a few last minute checks on my baggage, did what I could with my computer before shutting completely down, and soon my brother and I were off to the airport.
I normally am not a morning person. The one thing that always makes it worth it, especially the drive to Houston, is the morning sky. So majestic and colorful! I always like to think of the morning and night-time skies as one of God’s many canvas that He paints on and it’s always a pleasure to witness its beauty. To make it a little more exciting, the drive I mean, we listened to Vangelis’ original soundtrack to Blade Runner. It’s one of my favorite films for a lot of reasons, one of them being the music. The dramatic synthesized tones of strings, sax, and keyboard are both futuristic and stimulating as much as they are nostalgic and soothing. And it’s perfect when driving through a city scape. Anyway, I highly recommend the music. As I’m a lover of music, I may make a lot of recommendations from time to time so bare with me as I try to get out of this tangent.
We finally arrived to the airport with my Oakley Backpack, Single-strap-over-the-shoulder camera bag, and my 64 pound piece of luggage. Of course, I had no idea it weighed that much until after I had it weighed at the front and I hesitate to share my surprise of the size and digress to even mention the price tag. . . After checking in my bags, I soon headed for the security clearance with boarding pass and ID in hand. After managing to shove all my stuff through the clearance I stepped not through a metal detector of two columns but an entire glass cylinder that made a full rotation back and forth around my person. Some may be a lot more familiar with airport security than I, but being that this was only my second flight in the United states, I found it quite fascinating.
It may had been about a 20 minute wait at gate C-43, but it was a nice time to gather my thoughts and just enjoy the fact that I’d finely be flying again and on my way to see mountains. Of course, I knew I was on my way to Denver first so the two hour flight only ended in a layover to Colorado Springs but things moved very swiftly. One of those things being me because when we landed in Denver, I exited out of Gate B5 and found out that my flight out to Colorado Springs was all the way down to Gate B80. As soon as I got to the gate, there were only five minutes to board! A nice thing because I didn’t really have to wait all that long to be on my way, but at the same time very discomforting for I wouldn’t know what to do if I had missed my flight. This particular flight lasted only about 30 minutes which just blows my mind on how efficient air travel really is. Breaking the physical bounds of our magnificent planet makes it seem very small indeed.
After exiting the plane, I made my way straight for the baggage claim anticipated to meet the Summit Staff and be on my way to the Manitou Springs Campus. I waited for quite some time for the baggage to start rotating out for pickup when I realized after it had finally started that I had seen the same bag with an ‘X’ made out of duct-tape almost five times. That’s when I knew something was wrong. That’s when I realized that my bag didn’t make it with me from Denver.
On my iPod lock screen there are two very calming words in friendly bold letters that say, “Don’t Panic.” Of course, I’m borrowing this from an excellent piece of literature called the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and if any of you out there that are familiar with it you may also very well know that I cary a towel with me everywhere I go too. These two words always come to mind when strange. abnormal, or the unpredictable arise. So the first thing I did when I noticed that something was wrong was talk to the people working at the baggage claim. After scanning my baggage receipt and looking into the airport’s database, the employee found out that my stuff indeed was left behind in Denver and that they would have it returned to me as soon as possible. She asked for my address but I was unaware at the time of the exact numbers and street name of where Summit was located. I did, however, mention that I was going to be working for Summit and to my surprise she appeared to know exactly what I was talking about. I later found out that she did know what I was talking about because the Summit staff and a few others like myself were coming to her with claims of missing luggage. That was soon after I ran into Julia, Summit’s Staff Nurse, my escort, and new friend. I actually just got a glimpse of the back of her shirt when she walked past me. Realizing that it said, “Summit” right at the back of the neck, I knew she was the one I needed to talk to.
We quickly got to know one another and I discovered that she’s both a registered nurse and photographer. Having the photography in common made me very excited as it’s one of my favorite subjects to talk about. I soon learned that she specializes in wedding photography and has been on a few mission trips documenting events such as Human Trafficking in Tia land. I told her that it was encouraging to know that after I’m finished with school, waiting for the right opportunities, and making the right connections woundn’t be so bad and I too could be very soon off on my own adventures, helping people in need, and using my talents for the benefit of not just myself but also the rest of humanity.
It was a bit of a drive from the airport to Manitou Springs, but the good conversation made the trip near seamless. We finally arrived and I was ready to get started. There were many more introductions to many more wonderful people who I more or less had a lot in common with: one thing was for certain was our love for Christ and ministering to others with our gifts and talents. Everyone also seemed very diverse with unique walks of life, educational mindsets, goals, and pursuits. The rest of the evening comprised of just getting to know one another, getting comfortable, and making oneself at home.
It’s wonderful being here now and I can’t wait to share more stories as I’m sure there will be plenty more to come. Please stay tuned and share with others who may be interested in attending the Summit Summer classes, the Summit Semesters, or just come out and staff. It’s truly been a wonderful experience thus far and I’ve only been here for no more than 48 hours. I’m certain the rest of my stay will be full of adventure and exciting things.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I actually thought my Summer would be more full of activity but lately it’s been mostly a time of waiting, patience, and spending most of my time with my family. In less than 24 hours I will be making my departure for Colorado Springs and hope to document my adventure every step of the way as I make pursuit in my much anticipated internship at Summit Ministries.
I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted any pictures too. The reality of that is I actually have been posting a lot of photographs. . . I just managed to overlook posting my best and favorite experiences on the website. To some avail, I hope that my beloved followers can still watch for my work on my Flickr profile and now you can start following a new experience of mine called 500px. Of course, I still intend to post much of my best work on the website, but I will also be posting a lot of my recent and best work on a very ingenious web-based portfolio by which you can start viewing at the following link.
In the mean time, I’ve also been working on my first Theatrical gig with Applause Theatre Company and hope to be posting some screen shots of my editing work along with a preview of the production itself. Plenty more details to come!
Analysis of Cultural Diversity in Robert Redford’s
The Milagro Beanfield War
In Robert Redford’s The Milagro Beanfield War, entrepreneur Ladd Devine uses wealth and elected officials to manipulate a Hispanic working-class community in building a recreation center. Areas of race, class, gender, and ability are all portrayed throughout the film—the most prominent area being the issues of the upper and lower classes. Does Redford’s depiction of war between classes reach a dominant reception or will situations and characters only appear as stereotypical and nonnegotiable interpretations? Taking a closer look and analyzing the literary and visual designs (among other technical aspects) may reveal the miracle beanfield a true sensation inspired by the heroism of a united people and a little bit of magic.
Immediately the name of Robert Redford may yield great attention. The acclaimed actor made his big break as “The Sundance Kid” and would go on to becoming a director earning an Academy Award in 1981. Eight years later he adapted John Nichols’ Novel of the Southwest into The Milagro Beanfield War;a film that tells of one man’s rugged individualism as he struggles to defend his small beanfield and his community against big business and political interests.
The cultural diversity observed kicks off with the predominantly Hispanic and Catholic fictional town of Milagro (miracle in Spanish). Heredwell the lives of Amarante Cordova, a stubborn old man who talks to an angel and dead saints; Joe Mondragon,a farmer out of work; Charlie Bloom, an unsuccessful lawyer who runs a bimonthly newspaper, and Ruby Archuleta the female mechanic—all of them, in one way or another, have something to do with a beanfield that is making a whole lot more trouble than it is actually worth.
The issue at hand, as one might think, doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact that most of the characters in the film are Hispanic and Catholic, but rather they are all under-waged working-class citizens who are Hispanic and Catholic. As if they are only good for is running a small town, farms, and construction, the stereotypical situation hardly gives them any credit for being capable, hardworking, and successful individuals. All the same, they still manage to band together and fight against the injustice set upon them by evil white men who are politicians and running big business—revealing that the lack of success and prosperity really come from the repression of a corrupt upper class that consists of dominate white patriarchal capitalists.
Gender roles are also explored in the film. The dominant masculinity expressed in the film is the irrational use of guns and violence while the intellectual and leading activist is the female mechanic. Rudy Archuleta is the primary voice against Ladd Devine and his plot to slowly end every man, women, and child’s way of life in Milagro while, Joe Mondragon represents a rugged, angry, struggling criminal nearly killing the people he’s fighting for.
What the people don’t realize is that along with the overpriced water for irrigation, their taxes will also be going up if the Miracle Valley recreational center is built—leaving them soon out of work and out of home with all their money going into the pocket of the state and Ladd Devine. This issue is soon realized when Joe decides to sow bean seeds with water he doesn’t own creating a spark of rebellion and independence. Before the people relied on Devine for work in construction, but when Joe cannot get a job, he takes matters into his own hands inspiring his small community and striking fear for the big profitable business.
Considering this issue from a more rational approach, Ruby wants to run an article in the newspaper to inform the people of not just Joe’s act of rebellion but also the consequences of the recreation center. She tries to leave it up to the discretion of Charlie Bloom to write the article, but Charlie plays the role of a bitter lawyer who won’t succumb to the women’s demands. In turn Ruby threatens to write her own article that Charlie later claims would get them sued for liable (perhaps stereotyping the irrational and forceful tone of women). Later on, Ruby tries to call for a town meeting to democratically address the issue beginning it with a rhetorical speech to call into action an organization that would preserve the land. It is worthy to note that when someone nominates her to be the organization’s president, a member of the community states that she couldn’t because she’s a woman.
Finally there is an issue of segregation among Milago’s own people between generations and the abilities of the elderly. Along with that, there also appears to be an issue being tied with a member of the community with only one arm.Both are depicted as being delusional as the oldest man in town talks to the heavens and the man with one arm is still searching for the missing one despite the accident occurred long ago. In the end, they are town heroes very capable of holding their own.
Robert Redford directed a film that encompasses great cultural diversity between social classes and generational values by telling the story of a hypothetical and fictional event.Romanticizing audiences with discourses of an elderly man and an angel, Redford still manages to reveal a believable community with believable problems. The magic involved does not entirely take the film into a direction of being a fantasy, but rather the divine having an influence over the fate of the people. This is done mostly through the visual design of miraculous events being closely tied to the presence of the Angel. There is still a feeling of doubt as when seen with the older man by the objective view of another; the Angel appears to no longer be there. This is all accomplished by editing two shots together. For example, there is a scene where one shot features the Angel talking to the old man for a couple of takes and then vanishes once another character enters featuring the old man as talking to himself.
The use of location is also quite effective as the film was shot in the location indicated by John Nichols’ Novel: Milago is a town near the New Mexico Mountains. This adds to the realism of the setting by shooting on location. The time period would most likely be set during the time of the making of the film in the late 80’s. This could add an appeal to have a close relationship with the film as it takes place during a time audiences could relate. Modern viewers may not find it as appealing although the issues at hand may still be relevant.
The Milago Beanfield War empathically deals with social issues of a time through the eyes of those who experience hardship while gaining a hope in the divine and each other. The rolls of the people limit themselves only to the capacity of the mind. No matter the class, gender, or personal ability, nothing can or should stand in the way of social justice. Although violence appears inevitable, it is the inspired will of the people and their passionate heritage that wins in the end making a modern magic bean story yet another tale to learn from.
The Following is a film analysis (not a review or synopsis) I performed as a part of my Intro to Film course at the University of North Texas. Throughout this analysis I have assumed the reader is familiar with the film in question and would also caution that it is not a film I would normally recommend. However, there can still be a lot to learn from a Hollywood narrative while observing the more prominent theme of “Isolation from Adulthood”. The Graduate, although a 70’s classic, contains adult themes and content wherefore viewer discretion is advised.
A Theme of Suffocation
Mike Nichols’ The Graduate formally introduces a thematic portrayal of social isolation through the eyes of Benjamin Braddock, the college graduate who is worried about his future.Early in the film, Benjamin sits alone in his room while a congratulatory party awaits him outside. A more isolated miniature scuba diver figurine in a fish tank stands behind him, foreshadowing a sequence in the film desiring even closer attention. Isolation from adulthood appears as one of the most prominent themes throughout the film, and the analysis of this sequence will allow for a better understanding of its design. All five formal axis of Hollywood cinema shall be taken in close account beginning with the literary design.
Dressed in California Contemporary Sport style, the Braddocks are celebrating Benjamin’s twenty-first birthday. The scene opens with Benjamin’s father announcing to everyone the unveiling of the “Afternoon’s feature attraction.” Benjamin is hesitant to come out and embarrass himself as he sounds to be having second thoughts about his birthday present. Left with no choice, Benjamin comes outside wearing a diving suit and is led to his new underwater habitat. His naïve and undisclosed desires are repressed to captivating depths.
Throughout the entirety of this sequence, there is an almost nauseous and tantalizing tone overwhelming the obvious pride of Benjamin’s father and the forceful nonsense Benjamin has to put up with. He’s finally done it. He’s raised a boy into a young man of 21 with a college degree and honors almost claiming as if they were all his own achievements. And yet the reality of the situation is the timid Benjamin who looks all but dashing and confident in his birthday suit. Benjamin’s choices have been made for him all his life leading him on to becoming the morally drifting and indecisive degenerate at the bottom of the pool. Like the little scuba doll in the fish tank, Benjamin is nothing more than a piece of materialistic value to cling to.
The dialogue comprises mostly of Benjamin’s father along with the annoyed, impatient banter from the audience and the subtle protests of Benjamin waiting in the kitchen. Benjamin’s father sounds like the ring master of a circus but is soon cut off when Benjamin walks out of the kitchen and the perspective is taken all from his point of view. Behind the mask, nothing can be heard other than the loud gestures of Benjamin’s father and the breathing apparatus. Led to the pool, Benjamin takes a plunge and is forced under by his father’s mindless and vicarious self-indulgence.
The Graduate is a very appropriate title as the story is about that of a graduating college student, but the title could also be interpreted as the sign of a new era: graduating not only from college but also into the adult class. The irony of it all, however, is although Benjamin Braddock has finished his college education, he’s still left as unsure and insecure as when he was a child—he has graduated but he hasn’t really “grownup.”
The visual design takes the literary design further. With the establishing shots and use of angles, it is only clear of what mood needs to be felt during this sequence and what is to be interpreted based on the visualization of the words of a script to pictures on a screen. From the young and hip clothing a much older generation is wearing to the mature and committed clothing of the younger generations throughout the film there would seem to be a battle being waged between the materialistic and the intellectual. Among the more impressive shots would be whenthe perspective of the viewer is taken behind the mask and through the eyes of Benjamin adding not only creativity to the shot but also the symbolic meanings behind Benjamin’s mask of isolation and narrow vision. Of course, this all ties in very well with the cinematography of the sequence following a very formalistic style with the precision of American Society of Cinematographer’s Robert Surtees.
The film was shot on Panavision 35mm anamorphic film using an anamorphic lens attaining a very wide field of view and a classic Hollywood frame. What this also achieves is subjecting audiences to more than just a single subject; however, close-ups remained the most effective and used shot. The most sticking shot used in this sequence is when Benjamin walks out in his Scuba suit toward the camera looking almost directly into the lens and breaking the fourth wall. Benjamin’s body fills the frame and the shot is changed to his perspective—literally through the mask. Finally, the camera is submerged underwater (which would require special underwater housing for the entire body of the camera) and the final shot is a wide shot of Benjamin left alone under water. All these shots were carefully edited together into a story told by Sam O’Steen.
The sequence and the voice of Benjamin’s Father is actually heard “off-camera.” In other words, the editor implanted the use of a “J-cut” and does so again when the scene ends when we hear Mrs. Robinson begin a conversation with Benjamin over the phone. What this accomplishes (especially at the end of the sequence) is allowing the viewers into the head of the protagonist, almost literally allowing them to hear Benjamin’s thoughts along with seamless transitions from one sequence to the next. A “reverse” cut is also used breaking the line of action but allowing the use of the “reverse shot” when Benjamin walks toward the camera and then transitions to his point of view and through the scuba mask. The sequence finally ends with a montage of Benjamin going into the pool, being forced down under, and then left alone in a human sized fish tank with Mrs. Robinson a phone call away.
Having analyzed almost every aspect of this sequence, a discussion of the sound design could not be left out. Realizing the importance of sound only to the point of being able to hear the dialog leaves out the actual importance and use of silence among other effects. Although the dialogue serves as a driving force for this sequence, the most memorable scene is when nothing can be heard at all except Benjamin’s breathing apparatus. This silence and not being able to hear outside of the mask could indicate more toward the theme of isolation and Benjamin’s self election to drown out the noise tying close to Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence which opens the film. This could also be interpreted as the silence that dwells in and around Benjamin’s life giving him a “no one listens and no one cares” mentality.
The Isolation Benjamin Braddock faces among his adult peers may have everything to do with the large gap between generations; he either cannot hear or will not listen and this is demonstrated well through the analyzed sequence. Although this single part certainly will not do entirely on its own to tell a story; it still plays a powerful roll in gaining a better understanding of the themes involved leading to a mosaic of motifs and overall the bigger picture. From the figurine in the fish tank to the drudge in the pool, Benjamin’s nothing more than property with no future to call his own.
A friend of mine once quoted,
“The quickest way to make money with photography is to sell your camera”
Food for thought. . .
What I’m about to share with you is most of what I know in my heart about what makes a good photograph. It is something instilled so deep that I cannot simply give it away. It isn’t merely a gift either; it is a privilege, a pleasure, and an everyday pursuit of mastery. Keep in mind that these basic principles I am about to share are applicable in most if not all situations regardless of what type of camera you may have. Though I will say owning a camera with manual settings will reap the most benefits and most of what I will discuss pertains to digital photography while not so much as film.
Composition and Balance is key.
To obtain optimum exposure, the aperture and shutter speed must be balanced.
To tell a story, your composition must have depth.
These are two main goals of a photographer: know them well.
At first these steps may seem slow to follow one after another as you think about what to do next, but after awhile they will start to become second nature as you practice and you will begin to follow them almost subconsciously and in a much more fluid way. Before long you may find your self adjusting settings without even realizing it and had already taken the perfect shot.
There is a religious saying in digital photography of mine that goes,
“Always shoot RAW and always shoot manual”
One reason: Control.
Control: The more control you have over your camera, the light, and your subject, the better your photography will turn out. However, we cannot always be in as much control as we would like so we improvise, adapt, and prepare for what we cannot imagine because anything can happen and anything that can go wrong will.
Confidence: Be confident in taking your photos; make it your passion, and let the resonance of your passion swell and splash amongst everything around you. Let the very nature you capture hear you proclaim its beauty and how much you enjoy taking its picture.
Organization: look for patterns, symmetry, texture, lines, and depth. Photography already being a flat medium requires you to make it deeper than a piece of paper or an image on a screen. Naturally, photography tells a story—realistically, your composition only imitates life but it still can transport your audience only as effectively as your composition will allow. Each of the elements stated above can be used to direct attention and create a field of vision that encompasses the desired subject matter and story you wish to share.
Balance: Your exposure is based on two things: 1. Aperture and 2. Shutter speed. Let the dial in your view finder be your guide and find your balance between your chosen aperture and the shutter speed. Be willing to adapt and be knowledgeable of what works best in varying situations. When in the dark, the iris of our eye increases in size to let in more light and in direct sunlight it decreases in size; so should our camera’s aperture when adjusting to these situations. Timing of an exposure will also be crucial so be prepared to adjust your shutter speed as well and know that the longer the exposure the more motion blur will occur which can be both negative and positive depending on the shot.
White balance is also important. Understand that Sunlight and Artificial Light give off two different colors and we need to adjust our cameras accordingly–although there are automated settings, they don’t always turn out the best. The best way to avoid taking pictures with the wrong white balance is to know the proper settings and to shoot in RAW. Camera RAW samples an image at all temperatures of light (among other variable settings including exposure) and saves them into the memory allowing the user to manipulate the white balance later in post production.
Technology: Digital cameras are rather smart and have very helpful automated settings; however, they still lack the artistic vision of the complex human mind. The better we understand not how the technology works but rather how to use the technology to our advantage is most essential. Understanding ISO ratings for instance may help in low lit situations but also understanding that adjusting these settings can affect the quality of your image is also important. The higher your ISO, the more sensitive your sensor will become; the more sensitive your sensor becomes, the more likely it will make mistakes and create noise in your image degenerating the quality but allowing you to see better in the dark. For bright sunlight, try to use the lowest ISO possible, and for dark situations, use an ISO rating that develops the least amount of noise but still gives a bright and clear enough image. Touching back on automated settings, be able to know how to use both automatic and manual focus, and know that using “aperture priority” or “shutter priority” vs. going completely manual can save a lot of time and guess work–remember, “Balance is key.”
Creativity and Ascetic: Although art may be subjective, know where your inspiration comes from and why. Then let all that influences your life flow through you with ease and allow it to navigate your way into an artistic vision with an intending purpose. Use all that surrounds you, both in the past and present making note and borrowing what you can from others along the way. There is nothing new under the sun, so do not be afraid of originality or taking another’s idea—only be prepared to use your perfectly unique conscience to take your creativity and make it your own.
Make Mistakes: One of the only real ways to learn is to fail and to fail miserably. What’s important though is that you learn from your mistakes and keep on keeping on. It’s truly one of the best ways to learn because you can only get better as long as you elect to. And experimentation is always allowed. Though balance has been described up until this point as a critical aspect of a good photograph, allow your muse to turn the balance upside down every once in a while and reveal the world in a different light and with new perspective.
Collaboration: As much as it is important to have a sense of independence, self-reliance, and self-respect, know who your community is and let them be a part of your artistic family. Although the thought of competition at times may seem brutal, your willingness to collaborate and learn from others will be most beneficial along with a diverse network of talented individuals who will refer your credibility.
Remember to be in control and confident about your work; you must be passionate! Be organized and balanced; you must be ready for anything! Know that technology is every bit a part of our organic body and understand its limit of creativity–being creative is believing you are unique and capable of incredible imaginative vision that only your conscience possesses and be willing to share it with the entire world. Know these things, understand these things, and believe in your abilities.
Finally, wisdom comes from experience so go and do.
Of course, I wish you the best and godspeed.
I was required to write a biographical sketch as a part of my application to Summit Ministries. This was required, of course, because I’m hoping to be accepted as a video production intern for the entirety of this upcoming summer. I’d like to share a little bit of what I wrote because writing has little worth if only seen by a few eyes in my opinion and I rather not have any of my writing go unpublished. I hope you can take from this as much as I hoped to put into it–a vignette, if you will, of merely part of my life’s work.
I came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ when I was eight years old. At the time I described to my father my fear of dying and losing loved ones. I was terrified of the fact of death because I didn’t understand fully what happens and the thought of never being able to live again was unbearable. This was all due to a recent funeral my family attended of a distant family member and I had lots of questions that needed answers. Of course, I was privileged to have grown up in a Christian home; and that night, with tears in my eyes, I called out to my earthly father who then shared with me the story of Christ and how much my Heavenly father loved me so much that he humbled himself as a man and died on a cross for my transgressions. None of it really made that much sense before until that night. From then on I looked at life from an entirely different angle; I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. The stories I heard in early Sunday school were not just stories anymore—they were chronicles of an epic journey made by incredible people. The Bible is full of history and fulfilled prophecies ultimately revealing God’s handy work in all of creation and His perfect plan for redemption by conquering death and freeing us from our sin.
Like any Christian walk, everyday is a day to further one’s sanctification, I believe my faith grew the strongest during my teen years, for at that time I experienced many trials and temptations that challenged and overall enforced my walk with Christ and His influence over my life. One of my favorite books of the bible is the book of James. I once heard it described as “The proverbs of the New Testament” and it is there I turn to most for answers in trying and hard times. My life verse is James 1:2-4 …
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (NKJ)
Further on in this chapter, James goes on to talk of wisdom and that if any man lacks of it, that he should ask it of God who gives to all men freely. I know with all the knowledge and understanding the world has to offer I could never be fulfilled or truly happy without the Lords wisdom and guidance in my life. Other readings I have enjoyed and have had great impact in my life are “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyon, “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis along with his many other works, and “Understanding the Times” by David A. Noebel.
The desire to work for Summit Ministries this summer is a strong one to say the least. I am always keeping my heart open to opportunities like this. It has been my dream to one day film and produce narratives and documentaries alike with the message of Christ in them. I’ve also had the passion and desire to teach what I know on both personal and technical levels. Being the eldest of six siblings has had a major impact in my own interest to raise and lead a family. As I am still young and unmarried, much of this desire has been fulfilled quite simply by being an older brother, helping and teaching my younger siblings with what it means to be a child of God and that with the capacity to read and learn all that which is in the will of the Lord can be achieved. I can see doing this at Summit but with an opportunity to grow and learn from others just as well.
The most recent experience I have had with Christian service was a mission trip to the Rio Grande Bible Institute and producing a series of videos for the West Houston Pregnancy Help Center.
Late in the summer of 2010, members of Katy Bible Church, one of my brothers, and myself traveled very near to the Mexico border to aid and assist the Rio Grande Bible Institute in various tasks including striping and re-waxing an auditorium floor; scraping linoleum tile, removing a cinder block wall, and installing sheet rock in one of the dorm rooms. This was all done for the returning students of the fall semester who have dedicated their lives in the theological study of God’s Word and sharing it on a multicultural level, especially to the Spanish speaking communities. One of the most interesting aspects of RGBI’s ministries was their radio station where they broadcast the good news of Christ on a frequent basis to not only the school and surrounding area but also clear across Mexico and as far as South America where in some countries it isn’t even legal to send the Gospel in such a manner. Although I didn’t feel like I was ministering specifically to people while physically there. I know the work we did will speak greatly to the students who eventual returned along with those yet to come and those they minister to. One of the great lessons I learned while on this trip was that with even the mundane of things, God can do marvelous and magnificent work. My brother and I also became very close to two of Katy Bible’s leading elders, Barry Hays and Danny Snyder. It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with these two men and I’m looking very much forward to an opportunity like this again.
While all of this was going on, a very close friend of mine who is a very talented photographer had been coordinating and consulting with me concerning his Eagle project for the West Houston Pregnancy Help Center. His name is Stephen Herbert and he decided to produce a series of videos that would help train and recruit volunteers; inform and guide future and current clients; and with the hope of sharing the Gospel and saving the lives of the unborn at risk of abortion. Stephen did an amazing job directing the entire project, and I was privilege to have been a part of the production as a primary consultant and editor. Over the entirety of the summer, he and I spent several hours sifting through and editing footage of what eventually would become a series of videos made for online distribution and clips later authored to DVD. We used primarily Adobe products including Photoshop, Premier Pro, and Encore. Stephen and I learned so much from this project and I am pleased to report that his project was a major success in regards to both his career as a Boy Scout and the Pregnancy Help Center.
All of what has been stated so far has a lot if not everything to do with how I view the World. The need of a critical and discerning mind is especially relevant in today’s society due to the rise and increase of accessible information. I believe the internet, mass media, and current political agendas are hefty evidence to the changing times and desire of global conformity. This postmodern era of likeminded thinking is a dangerous one, for there can only be one ultimate authority to the existence of the universe. I for one am thoroughly convinced of the Lord God, Yahweh/Jehovah, His most Holy Spirit, and the redeeming fellowship and blood of Jesus Christ. Through His word, the Logos, all of this is revealed, and by only His word can truth be found. It’s easy to have one’s faith pushed aside, judged, and compared to lesser thinking. The culture we live in—as citizens of not just the United States but also the entire world—is a conglomerate of thinking in desperate need of sifting. Furthermore, having a better grasp of not only one’s own worldview thinking but also that of others can help us understand where our fellow man is coming from. We must not only know what our brethren believe, but whom they believe in and why. Only then can we effectively reach out and ultimately reveal the truth. Of course, I also believe that although our efforts can be highly influential to society, there is no change without the work of the Spirit; wherefore, it is even more necessary to have the capacity to pray. I believe to change a man’s mind is impossible; to influence his mind is essential. By living as godly examples, by living pure and undefiled lives, and by loving one another with an agape love we can make a difference.