March Visit to Uganda

kla_morningI was given the opportunity in March to fly to Uganda to create a short film for the African Children’s Choir.

I was excited to work with a great organization, and blessed to have the opportunity to return to our home and connect with friends face to face. Unfortunately I only had 7 days to accomplish everything!

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Filming at the African Children’s Choir school.

The African Children’s Choir is an organization assisting impoverished youth to attain a quality education they would not otherwise be afforded. The film shows where a choir member, Peace, used to live and how participating in the choir and attending their school has changed her life. Peace’s story is told alongside the story of Elsa, who was part of the very first choir back in 1983, and because of the opportunities through the Choir is now working to impact change in Uganda.

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Posing with the star of the show, Peace.

Peace and Elsa are amazing individuals who did a great job articulating their story and inviting all of us to join in the work of educating the future change makers in Uganda!

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Click this image to watch the 5 minute film!

While in Kampala for the week, I grabbed every opportunity to meet with friends and catch up. When I wrapped up filming, I picked up our car and began the 5 hour journey to Mbarara early Sunday morning. I rolled into town just as Church was starting and enjoyed gathering with good friends again.

After the service I drove an hour south to the refugee settlement to greet the women Betsy has been working with. It was encouraging to see them face to face and I was able to share a short video of Betsy greeting them and reinforcing that we are working to return and continue partnering with them.

A few hours later I drove back up to Mbarara to fellowship with close friends and spend the night at our house. It was fun to be in our home again and see it was being well taken care of. Every plant seemed to be twice the size, grass had finally grown, and some small bushes turned out to be fruit bearing!

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Boys at the African Children’s Choir school playing football.

The next day, Monday, I drove the 5 hours back to Kampala and caught my flight out that night. Getting on the plane, I was completely exhausted.

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Being goofy with a bunch of the African Children’s Choir kids.

I feel overwhelmingly blessed with the opportunity of being back in Uganda, even for a brief time. The entire trip was a refreshing reminder that this was the location and work God has for us and we can’t wait to return!

Below are a few of my favorite shots from the trip. Click to enlarge.

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African Children’s Choir

A few weeks ago while visiting family in Phoenix, AZ we had the chance to meet up with the kids of Choir 42 of the African Childrens Choir.  We got to know them while we were in Uganda as Micah stayed with them for three days and filmed an intro video for their tour.

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We stopped in to see them before the show and they loved seeing Porter again.

All the children come from impoverished and at-risk situations and few would ever have a chance at an education.  The organization takes them on a world tour and raise sponsorship for themselves and thousands of other children across Africa to receive scholarships for free or subsidized education.  It’s a fantastic organization and the kids are truly amazing young people!

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Here is the video I created to intro their performance.  It was filmed at or around the children’s actual homes to help the audience get a better understanding of where the kids come from.  The score was written and performed by a former choir member specifically for this video.

Check out their tour schedule and see if they are coming to a city near you!

In Memory of Grandma Lois

Grandma1On January 7th my grandma Lois Scott passed away. Thankfully we had the opportunity to go back to Michigan this past week for the services to celebrate her beautiful life. She truly lived every day for the Lord and her final deep burning passion was to know that her family and friends, people she loved dearly, had accepted God as their Lord and Savior. We know when she passed she was met by the words “well done, good and faithful servant.”

God is so gracious. My grandma was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor in early December while we were still in Grand Rapids. We were able to go directly to the hospital and spend the afternoon with her only a day after she was diagnosed. We had an entire week left in Michigan before coming to Arizona which gave us precious time with her.  My grandma prayed for me my whole life, that I would have a relationship with God. She never ceased as a woman of prayer. She has left an incredible legacy for our family.

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After Micah and I got married she liked to remind me that ALL of her friends had great grandchildren and she didn’t have ANY. We were overjoyed with the arrival of Porter in 2013, but he was born in Uganda so family didn’t get to meet him until we returned. This past June upon arriving to the US, we brought Porter to the cottage at Big Star Lake where grandma finally met her first great grandchild. The moment was so sweet, locked in my memory forever. Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 6.53.07 PMFast forward to December in the hospital, I asked grandma to pray over Porter knowing the warrior that she is. Porter sat on her lap and she prayed over him and his life, one of the most beautiful pictures.

I am unbelievably grateful for the time in December with my grandma. To share Porter with her. And to say “see you in heaven.”

14 MOMENTS OF 2014

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This past year was filled with many great moments and a few hard ones. Here are 14 of the most memorable ones:

1) Felt God leading us to pursue Business as Mission with a missions organization

2) Applied to World Venture

3) Our media bag was stolen from our car that contained our cameras & computer

4) Began moms group in the refugee settlement

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5) Betsy got malaria (and survived!)

6) We returned to the United States

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7) Our Uganda home was broken into and both dogs were poisoned

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8) We were appointed with World Venture

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9) Visited with family who met Porter for the first time

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10) Porter turned 1

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11) Attended two trainings through World Venture in Colorado and began partner development

12) Two successful Designed4 photo auctions to replace our stolen equipment

13) Began substitute teaching & freelance video work while in the States

14) Celebrated Christmas with Family

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Looking back we can see God’s faithfulness in leading us to partner with World Venture for long-term impact in Uganda. We are hoping to find temporary housing in Grand Rapids while we are here in the states for the next few months working and building our team.  Let us know if you know of any options!

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Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 7.11.28 PMAs we trust in God’s timing, we look forward to returning to our work and home in Uganda in 2015!

Wishing you an incredible New Year!

Back in Business

new_camera2In the last few weeks we’ve hosted a silent auction in Chicago as well as an online auction selling some of Micah’s photos.  We were overwhelmed by the generosity and support of everyone who participated and clearly saw God’s abundant blessings. We raised over $5,000 and we were able to purchase a Nikon DSLR, 2 lenses and essential audio equipment. We’ve been without a camera for 10 months, so Micah is loving having one back in his hands and already filmed for an organization the day after getting it!new_camera1

Thank you to everyone who came out to support us and participated in getting Designed4 back in business!

Silent Auction

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 3.09.00 PMOur Designed4 Silent Auction in Chicago last week was a HUGE success! Thanks to everyone who came out to support us and bought photos. We had 20 photos up for auction and every single one of them sold. By the end of the night we had raised nearly $4,000!

We saw God’s hand in so many things, and it was such a fun night! We are incredibly grateful for our loving and supportive community. Thanks for coming out!

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We know many of you missed the auction so we would love to have you join us on Facebook today and tomorrow to get some of these photos! The online silent auction is happening today, Cyber Monday starting at 6pm EST and ends tomorrow, Giving Tuesday at 9pm EST. Please click below to go to the private auction page and support Designed4’s work in East Africa!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1561373570760702/

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Recovery Plan

The waiter came up to our table and timidly said “Excuse me, but some children told me your car was just broken into.”  I immediately jumped up and ran to our car that was just across the street.  It was 6pm, still light out and on a public street but the bold thieves had only left shards of glass on our back seat.  The bag we kept our macbook pro, two cameras, and audio equipment was gone.  Just gone.

cameraThis happened back in February and they say time heals, yet the knot in my stomach still remains.  There was nothing we could do to recover the bag.  The police would be of no help, and insurance agencies had been uninterested in insuring thousands of dollars of camera equipment in a developing country.  So the equipment we had invested our personal saving into was now gone with no hope of getting it back.

As Betsy and I settled into this new reality we felt the best option was to step back and pray.  Was this a signal to end Designed4 as a business?  Should we stop working in Uganda?  The answers to these questions we heard from God and others was no.  This was a painful event but not outside of God’s sovereign control.  So we pressed forward.

Since our plans had us back in America within a few months, we decided to wait until we were back in the States to purchase new equipment.  We had some kind friends who allowed us to borrow equipment for film projects during the last few months in Uganda.

Now we are finally ready to replace the equipment that was stolen, but simply don’t have the resources to re-purchase it all.  So we are having a silent auction event on Thursday, November 20th.  We will be auctioning off 18 photographs and a few crafts from Uganda at Derby Bar & Grill in Chicago. All funds generated from this event will go towards equipment and get Designed4 back on its feet.

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Please join us if you are in the Chicago area!  We would love to see you and it’s bound to be a great event!  If you can’t make it in person and interested in joining in, we will have an opportunity for you to buy photos in the future! Stay tuned via our facebook page.