When my kids were little, one of our favorite bedtime stories was Max Lucado's Your Special Gift. Little puppets called Wemicks woke up one day to find that they were all given special gifts. The baker got a new spoon, a little boy got a guitar, the Mayor's wife got a book and they were all so excited. One day, a downtrodden family came to their village and the Wemicks scrambled to help. The baker tried to repair the wheel with a hammer, the little boy tried to sew their clothes, the Mayor's wife tried to cook a meal, but the results were less than stellar. Their wagon remained broken and their dinner was burned. They took their problems to Eli, their Maker, and he reminded them about their special gift. "Use the gift I gave you," he said, "don't try to use a gift you don't have. JUST DO THE MOST WHAT YOU DO THE BEST."
Even though I'm not the greatest photographer in all the world, I have a great camera and some experience under my belt- not to mention a fascination and a passion for capturing all the gifts God gives us every day in photographs. I've wanted to use my special gift- the one God gave me- to bless others and spread the Gospel. I'm so thankful I was given the opportunity to do just that. I was able to capture over 200 children in individual portraits, using photography to communicate worth and value and belonging and beauty to a people group often overlooked and marginalized. I wanted them to know that they are seen and beautiful and are of great value to God and I pray that the portraits they received as well as our interactions were able to communicate just that. Because they are. The gypsy/Romani people's beauty and rich culture and joie de vivre easily showcase how each one of them bears the image of God.
Additionally, to witness Darcie and Brigette teach English as a second language with scripture, and Glen sing and play music and forge cross cultural relationships, and Clista organize and minister, and Amye teach and plan parties, and Dolores encourage and teach and spread her joy, and Meredith and Caleb love on kids and spread the Gospel through sports... well, that was a very special gift as well. What an experience!
I hope our story inspires you as well to just do the most what you do the best. There is a Maker who smiles big and wide, so glad you're using what He gave you, when you do.
*musical side note: FBC ministers Glen and Clista Atkins were full time missionaries in Hungary some years ago. While they were there, Glen directed a gypsy/Romani choir. He directed the kids in a rendition of their national anthem and put it on You Tube. It was then picked up by Stephen Angelo who remixed it to the techno version that you hear in the video and royalties now go to the school.
*funny side note: In all earnestness, I tried to put "Jesus Loves You" in Hungarian on the back of their portraits. I thought Google translate would do just fine. But after I proudly showed my Hungarian friend Richie my work, he told me what I had actually written was "Jesus I love you you." A for effort, right? ;)
*sweet side note: I did some special fundraising photography sessions to pay for my trip. At the end of a family session, an 8 year old boy gave me $20 of his own money and told me he was praying for me and our trip. I was able to give that money to a Hungarian girl who could really use it and most importantly, God connected all of us relationally all the way across the globe. How inspiring is this little boy's faith and generosity? Amazing.