Wow, its Wednesday already. The days fly by as we spend time in La Chureca (the city dump) and spend time as a group, worshiping, praying, and seeking God, and his purpose of this trip. As the days move on, the intensity of what we see continues to build.

Yesterday, on a path in La Chureca, Moises (Moist with an es) stopped our friend and guide Daniel and asked him to pray for him. Moises has been addicted to glue for years, and he was high when we saw him yesterday. His desire to let go of the burden of addiction was evident by his stopping us and asking for prayer, but we also know that addiction is a hard burden to let go of. As we prayed for him, he dropped to his knees, and began to weep: asking God to help him.

The story of Moises is not an uncommon one. Addiction grips La Chureca, where its residents find any way they can to numb the pain that they feel, the children are left desperately wanting to be shown love and affection. They run up and hug you, clinging to you in hopes that you will touch them, giving them a second to feel the love that they so seriously need. We met children as young as 11 years old, already addicted to glue. Their eyes, just dark holes in the sockets, nearly void of life, numbed to the world that they live in.

Some people would argue that that is the only way to go through life when hope barely seems to exist. I argue that with love, and the peace that experiencing love produces, a stronger drug than anything they could ever afford, is produced. As proof, we went to the local school and fed the kids during lunch. We played with them, sang with them, and saw joy in their eyes from love, and affection freely given. Regardless of the conditions that they have to go back to, for a while they were  totally free to be kids.

We also visited a girls home that Daniel and Jessenia started this year. We had a craft time, talked, played, and then they put on a performance for us. This home is important because the girls and one boy (Elias) are all from La Chureca. Their parents want to see them have a different life, and have allowed them to come to a place away from drugs and violence. A place where they can learn and grow as children.

As we ate and settled in for the night, we prayed as a group, and began to experience Gods presence like most of us had never felt before. Im still trying to work through what I was witness to, but you can check out our group Blog Mission 2 Nicaragua for Pastor Dougs thoughts. All I can say is I have never been in the presence of something so powerful, so clearly other-worldly.

On that note, its time for breakfast now, and Im really hungry. Enjoy some photos from the trip.

Check out some of our group blogs.

Mark:
http://leavingthemabetterplace.blogspot.com

Group: Aka Pastor Doug
http://mission2nicaragua.wordpress.com

More to come later today or tomorrow.

For the photographer minded out there. the majority of the photos are shot with a Nikon D2h in its 4megapixel glory with a Sigma 70-200 2.8. The rest are with a Nikon D700 with a Nikon 20-35 2.8. I’ll also have some film and Polaroids coming thanks to a SX-70 and the Impossible Project.

My Dad has been working with a wonderful restaurant on the North Side of Pittsburgh called Bistro To Go. After meeting with him for lunch a few times and getting to know the owner Nikkie, and wonderful staff, I was asked to come and do some work for them on a few different levels. One which includes photographing their newest venture Bistro Soul: a healthy version of southern home cooking. Right now, Bistro Soul is under construction, and I am photographing the total rebuild of the interior of the building. Once that starts, I’ll be photographing their remodel, and the finished product for the website.

Yesterday I was brought down to photograph the face of Bistro Soul and Head Chef. Meet Matty.

For you photographers out there, the indoor photos were shot with a Nikon D700, 70-200 2.8 lens, and a Nikon Sb-800 1/16 power high camera right bounced into an umbrella and fired with a pocket wizard. The space was very small so I was using the wall to camera left to bounce a little light back onto her face.

Blessings

I cant wait for winter to come! My goggles, ski pants, boots, and snowboard, are all ready for the white stuff to come. Im so excited to get out on the slopes and start shooting some winter lifestyle, be it families playing and having fun, or kids throwing cork 9′s off of a big table top, its a new beginning, a chance to shoot what I love; a chance to take a nap, and wake up fully refreshed, with new ideas, and start rocking a new year of weddings.

I’ll also be shooting a little bit of fashion, and glamor, just to mix it up a bit. It helps me to come up with new ideas for brides and grooms, and try and keep it fresh, and fun.

I love this photo from back in September. I was out shooting a wedding downtown, and as we were walking back to the limo, I saw this guy walking up the street and I turned and grabbed this photo. I took three images, and this was my favorite.

Dont be afraid to take time to shoot for you. I was talking to a group of photographers recently, and they, like me were burned out. Because they were burned out they were unhappy, and very stressed out. Sometimes its better to just take a day to yourself, go out and shoot something that you want. If you aren’t a photographer, go do something that you love, just for you. After a day of R & R, you will come back more refreshed than you ever could have imagined a single day could do.

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I’ve had the phone since Friday morning now, and im still learning all the things it can do. but here are my basic thoughts thus far.

The phone is fast. Really fast. Internet browses and loads with a short lag, and then it hurries up and finishes loading the pages. I have been able to view all the blogs that I typically visit, and as long as the site isnt a flash site everything is fine. However, the rumor is that flash will be supported in a 2010 update.

One thing that drives me crazy is that I cant push and pull to zoom in and out, the European version does that with out a problem so i hope for an update soon, and the phone doesnt change layout in every way that i hold it. the iPhone does, so if i hold it upside down the iPhone still flips the page for easy viewing, the droid only works upright, or landscape with the keyboard in the proper direction. but the screen is amazingly sharp and clear. It feels sharper than my Macbook Pro screen.

I couldnt set up my yahoo mail until yesterday, but i just had to go through IMAP and now all my accounts work perfectly fine on the phone, but it doesnt update my inbox in Yahoo the way that my iPhone did. Verizon says that you need to upgrade to the paid version of Yahoo, but i do have all my mail coming to the phone and sending out. The only big problem i encountered was that the first message I sent out, went to my friend like 100 times, but now its working fine.

The keyboard takes getting used to. I have big hands, and believe it or not, when i had the iPhone, that virtual keyboard was easier to use than this “real keyboard”. I cant get my self typing as fast as I was able to before, and the directional pad has been mostly useless so far.

The GPS is awesome, and has taken me right to where i need to go, this is awesome because i dont have to buy a GPS again since my last one was stolen, it also works for walking, driving and public transportation.

I did turn most of the background apps off because it uses up battery like crazy when everything is running, but I was at a conference for 12 hours Tuesday and it had a 3/4 full battery when i plugged it into my car. Yesterday it lasted almost 24 hours and i use email all the time and twitter, i just dont have them always running in the background.

Twidroid works great, its the free version but I have had no problems with it. Pandora is awesome, and so far pong and space war have kept me amused.

The music player works well, but I wish i could use itunes to create playlists, and I cant sync my calenders from iCal. But i may start using the google apps in mail like google calender and google documents. (ammend- google calendars works well and any changes i make on my computer or phone, update the other) I’ll try video this week and load a movie, but I dont doubt that there is an app that plays movies great.

I also wish there was an easier way to load music and documents but i think i can load PDF’s onto it and be able to send my branded price lists and contracts right to a client- if it works like i hope it does, this will be awesome.

I wish PNC, and a few other companies that I work with had apps for Android already. that being said, the apps arent great yet, but until recently, T-mobile was the only game in town for android in the states. I would love to have Camera bag or the Best Camera app, but now that mail works (took me a while to figure out how to set up Yahoo), the phone is a keeper.

If you have any more questions just let me know.

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I am currently reading Economic Hitmen, and Dan Browns The Lost Symbol.

Im loving both of them.

I also just bought a Nikon F100 FILM camera. Yep thats right. Film. I have decided to start shooting a little bit of film here and there just to mix things up. Im also looking into a medium format camera just to be able to play around a bit. Film forces you to slow down, and thats what i need to do sometimes. Film also has certain qualities that I love (soft colors, smooth tonal transitions, and numerous things that I cant explain) and so its time to get back to my roots and bring back something that I love. Now if I only had a dark room I could spend hours at a time jamming out to cranked music, while printing photos.

Anyways, I picked up my camera from KEH and couldnt be happier. The camera body is in beautiful condition!

Since winter is just around the bend, I’m getting ready to launch my new winter lifestyle sessions, where we spend a day skiing, sledding, hiking, snow tubing, or anything else that you like to do in the winter, and capture you and your family having a fun day together.

The idea came to me when my parents put the farm that I grew up on near 7 Springs Ski Resort, and we really dont have photos of this time in our life. So this fall, when we have the whole family together, I am going to work on creating a book to commemorate that segment of our life, before the next step begins.

So that is what I am proposing to families coming into the area from Baltimore, MD., Washington, D.C., Virginia, or as close as Pittsburgh, etc, for a weekend of fun in the snow at ski resorts locally, (7 Springs, or Hidden Valley) or any place that is meaningful to your family, i.e. a camp, other resort, cabin, or local Western Pennsylvania Park, etc.

After the day of shooting is finished, I will be producing a custom coffee table book for you, to remind you of that time in your life, before it passes by.

Anyways, here are some photos that I have been playing with from downhill mountain biking yesterday at North Parks free ride hill Dr. J.

This first one is me taken by my buddy Ray, even though I am cut off, I love the photo. Typically I dont like any heavy processing, but with these photos it gives it more of a gritty look.

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The rest of these were taken by me, using an off camera flash, camera left, with a Nikon D70, Pocket Wizard, and a slow small aperture lens.

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