For the past month now I’ve been helping teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to Chinese students who reside in the city of Houston. Once a week I attend Crosspoint Lutheran church in Bellaire to assist in training Chinese natives in the basics of the English language in order to help them gain a better sense of prosperity in the United States along with preparing myself to teach at an English Camp in Pinghu, China this coming summer. I am very excited to be learning so much about the Chinese Culture and, slowly but surely, the Chinese language along with equipping myself with the necessary tools and experience to teach. Below are some photographs I took of last week’s class the day before the Chinese New Year. Normally we have a much larger class but due to the holiday festivities many of our students were probably away with family celebrating the on coming year of the Dragon. I am very excited to be a part of this wonderful opportunity to teach and look forward in continuing to share my journey with the rest of you. Enjoy the pictures and stay tuned for more to come!
Betty Cooke helps explain the week’s new Bible memory verse
Students range from adults of early 3o’s to late 40’s on up
We also include elementary students in our lessons!
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
As a visual artist—a rather idealistic one at that—finding Christ at the center of every frame, pixel, sound, and display of movement has inevitably revealed His perfect will and glory to me. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I believe in myself, no matter what I put at stake, Christ forever shall remain the center of attention and focal point of my existence. Now, that hardly seemed sufficient to a very prideful, vain, and arrogant young man such as myself at first, but through my parents wisdom and instruction, through the wisdom of my heavenly Father, and by His salvation was that all undone, breaking me away from the bondage of sin, and granting me an eternal place in heaven as a child of the King humbly serving in His service and not my own.
The moment I realized my reality was not my own, my existence was not all left up to me, that my life did not belong to me, I was set free. I remember never being able to satisfy my desires, dreams, and wants because the vanity of the situation was all too clear—I was meant to be His and His alone; everything I set out to do must be for His glory and His alone, and once my whole life has finally chosen that path less traveled could all the difference be made in the world. Otherwise, I would aimlessly achieve only what the material world had to offer—absolutely nothing.
The happiness so many men and women waste their whole life searching for will never be found unless their mind is set on heavenly things. This is my mission, this is my purpose, and this is my life: to reveal to men the ever satisfying, perfect sustaining, wonderful savior Jesus Christ through whatever means necessary and by far the most effective. That is why I feel called to teach and enter the media industry. As Christ instructed His people in righteousness and taught through stories so do I feel the need and dream to do the same. To teach and show everyone around the world the wonderful saving grace of God, the unprecedented sacrifice He made for us all, and the perfect loving relationship we can have with Him and each other for all eternity.
As for the calling to go to China, witnessing lately the desperate search for answers to life’s greatest questions among the Chinese people, in the comfort of the States, constitutes my whole desire to go to their country of origin. I want to learn their language, their culture, their history, and find ways to better communicate the Gospel, teach them the English language, and show them the love of Christ along with my team. Up until this point, my evaluated experiences of the past has led me to this conclusion, but even more so the burning passion and desire within my heart that I can only know God has placed within me.
We are noble men and women of the risen King; for that may we feel nobly obliged to go and serve our almighty creator LORD and one another in unity and love for ever and ever. Amen.
Today I had the pleasure to work with once again my mentor, teacher, and friend, Rob Brayton. We were both immensely pleased to have the opportunity to bless the senior citizens of Grace Care center with photographs of Santa Claus. Each of them will be getting a copy just in time for Christmas to share amongst their families and care takers.
Rob Brayton is an experienced 2nd generation photographer with decades of study in digital engineering and the arts; his vision is to enrich the lives of people and business through visual storytelling in still and moving life portraiture—as is mine. He has taught me everything I know about film and photography and it is always an honor to work with him.
And of course the big guy himself, Santa Claus was a real treat to work with as well. He was able to bring so much joy to the citizens as they posed with the man of jolly and cheer making Christmas this year for the Grace Care center and its members a happy one indeed.
Call it a sabbatical if you will; I’d much prefer to look at it as if I fell into some vortex of a world that wasn’t necessarily perfect but pretty darn close. All year long I can remember myself praying, “Dear God, let me see mountains again!” Who knew He’d actually answer my prayer and not only give me a mere glimpse of them but actually allow me to live among them for twelve weeks! If that wasn’t enough, let me tell you about the food—if a man’s heart is truly won through his stomach, then I left my heart in Pegosa Springs along with the cooks. And then there were the people who ate the food with me: 30 students who I not only ate with but also studied with, worked with, played with, prayed with, laughed with, cried with, and truly lived with for three months. Such adventures we had and though I keep trying to remind myself that the end is only just the beginning, I honestly cannot believe it’s over . . .
There are some things in life I always want to remember and then there are some things I will never forget. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then not even a picture can express well enough what I felt while living in Colorado. Don’t get me wrong though. It’s wonderful being home again. Being back in the city, where this city boy probably belongs, I can tell how much I missed the rush of Houston traffic, the stress free life of a stay-at-home college student, the worry free . . . Who am I kidding? The answer is not at all! Still, it is very nice to be home again. And by home I mean where my heart truly lives among my family who all five brothers and one sister I call friends, and parents who I consider wise and wealthy with God’s providence. As much as I long to go back to the mountains, I’d be dragging them all up with me in a heartbeat if I knew that I could. But who knows? God knows and that’s enough to keep my hopes up. As fretful and anxious I may get from time to time, I know who controls my destiny. Ask a fellow minister of mine how to spell love and he’ll tell you, “T-I-M-E.”
So what about my work, my art in photography? Well, in the next several weeks I will be uploading a ton of photos to Flickr featuring most of my favoritest and bestest work from places as majestic as the Pegosa Spring Mountains, to as mystical as the Great Sand Dunes, and the misty Grand Canyon in winter. Also, I plan to feature some amazing HDR photos and a few portraitures I did so stay tuned for that as well.
And as for the world of video, I plan to upload a bunch of those too as long as I can manage time to edit and upload them all.
sigh of blissful content
I really can’t tell you how exactly I feel right now about everything. I feel amazing yet at the same time totally exhausted. I feel super happy and excited yet at the same time totally depressed. But I’m making due. It brings me overwhelming joy—which is quite possible to have when you’re feeling lonely and sad—to know how much my family and friends care about me. Though they may be near or far, I love each and every one of them with all my heart.
It really is good to be back . . .
And, as always, there will be plenty more to come!