I am Kirstin, and this is my photo blog. I love to take pictures and share them with everyone around me. Sharing the beauty of the earth is one way I can share the love of Christ with others. I hope you enjoy your visit!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The ponderings and life of a college student

Hello, all. :) 
It's been quite some time since I've actually just posted because I can. And I know, blogs are out-of-date by now. But I don't care. It was the start of my photography, and I still love them very much. I'm I promise that when I'm not at school studying photography and photoshop, hanging out with my friends, fam, or boyfriend, spending hours on pinterest, sleeping, eating, or look for a job/working, I'll make sure to try and post. ;) 
Anyways. So life is chill. My parents made me a deal. All my life, my Army doc dad has put aside money for each of the 4 kids in our family for college, and they never let me spend it on anything till I entered college and began my 'official, serious' education. The deal was this: I enroll in photography classes, and my parents would use that money to help me purchase my dream camera for 3-4 years, the Canon 5D Mark II.  So I did. :D This is going to be an officially crazy class. 1 week in, and I've discovered each student has to put together a portfolio of our best work to be judged and graded by the professors, who are using 109 years of the school history's experience and knowledge. Yeah. My overall grade depends on that. Photoshop class is in the same room as photography, and I spent 5 hours a day in front of huge Mac computers on photoshop. My brain officially fries from technology overload. I'm not even joking. hahah  But they are great classes, and I'm so thankful that I now own my baby!  Right now I'm just looking into further improving my photography skills, and getting started in weddings within a year, hopefully. I'm silly, but I'd love to do that. :) 
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(one of the first pics with my Canon 5D Mark II) 
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chilling with friends 
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and spending time with my boyfriend of 47 days. :) yep. that 'special friend' became my man as soon as I returned from my missions trip to Japan. and what wonderful days have come since then. :) 

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(the moment I surprised him. I told him for 4-5 months that I would be arriving in America on August 9th, when I really purchased my ticket for July 29th, a day after his birthday)
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Anywho. Yeah. Just a bit of my life this summer/fall.  Have a great beginning to the school year! 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Japan Summer 2012 Trip Summary <3 <3



Hello, everyone 
 I wanted to thank each and every single one of you who supported me both financially, and through prayer, with my summer missions trip to Japan with the PAZJapan ministry. My trip lasted just under 2 months, and I could not have done this work without you. Thank you SO much for everything you did for the trip. 
  My trip began on June 9th when I arrived at the PAZJapan church in Kawasaki, Japan, an hour from Tokyo. I arrived there at night and woke in the morning, learning that a team from ORU (Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma) was staying at the church as well, finishing off a month-long trip, within a few days. I spent that time getting to know the members, and learning the ropes and basics of living in Japan and talking with the Japanese people, as well as meeting some Japanese friends they had made during their stay, 3 of which became my good friends that I was able to spend the 2 months with! It was a blessing having our trips allowing us to cross each other's paths like that. God is so good.  After their departure, my main focus was to work with the Youth ministry PAZ had created for young people between the ages of 17 and 27. I spent my days at the church building, studying Japanese, chilling with members who also lived there, and chilling with the Japanese friends I made through various events, as well as the 3 I met through the ORU. On Sundays in the late afternoon, me and the FUSE Jesus team with PAZ got a dance studio ready, by transforming it into a meeting/worship room for a few hours, where we invited Youth to first join us for free Japanese/English practice, then we had our worship and a message by one of the missionaries that lived there. We usually had between 20-55 Youth attending every Sunday, depending on how their school schedules were for the week. After the FUSE meeting, we all broke down into Cell groups, where 3-8 people meet somewhere, pray, study the Word together, and learn about the other people in fun ways. Mondays were usually the 'days off' for the missionaries there. We didn't have meetings, classes, events, or anything, so we could stay at home, go travel in the city and site-see, or anything we wanted, really.  Tuesday mornings we had a missionary meeting at the church where the main leaders, Tim and Christine Huber made breakfast and led us in prayer and worship for PAZ. That was followed by FUSE team leadership meetings, where we then planned out the week of what activities we would do for FUSE. This included planning the FUSE meeting on Sunday, it included parties and events, as well as Friday Night Outreach.  Afterwards, we all liked to head out to Senshu, a local University up a hill in the city, where we met new students, hung out with ones we knew, etc. Senshu is where my three friends, Wam, Yuuki, and Yuki (a boy and girl) attended and met the ORU team.  Wednesday mornings I had free language class, usually, at a hall in one of the nearby cities a trainride away. Thursdays a couple gals and I liked to go to an all-girls University called Keisen, where one of our missionary girls living in my church building attended.  Honestly, being a foreigner in a country such as Japan, is just shocking, and kind of exciting. You wouldn't think so, but it truly was an experience I can't forget. Because I am an American and speak English (Anything American is studied and copied by Japanese, including English), all the Japanese people automatically look my way. They are curious about me and my culture, and are eager to practice their English on me. However, Japanese people are shy. Very shy. So as the foreigner, you have to go reach out the them. So reach out is what we did. Whenever we saw a group of people looking our way and talking about us, we smiled, headed over, and started conversation with them, usually ending with an invitation to our Friday Night Dinner, or to do something fun.  Fridays were spent in prep for the Dinner. We have everyone, Japanese, American, Canadian, Brazilian, Korean, anything, all meet down in the basement of the church I stayed at. We would prepare a meal for them, usually Curry (a favorite meal in Japan!) or a foreign food like Spaghetti, Brazilian food, Korean, or American. We would meet people who came, play games, and have a fun activity with everyone before cleaning up (which was my major thing-I love to clean up, so I usually did the hundreds of dishes there were the result every week, with one of the live-in missionaries, Jeremy).  Saturdays were pretty much open for me, so I did whatever my friends wanted to do. One weekend we all went to the beach, once we went and did a popular activity, Karaoke. Karaoke in Japan is different than in America. You rent private rooms with a huge tv, mics, a table and drinks, and computers and books to select music from. No singing in front of strangers. Japanese youth spend literally hours doing Karaoke with each other. Karaoke, shopping, and Purikura, an advanced version of photobooths where you decorate your pictures with fun draw-on-screen art, and then print out as tiny stickers.  Many things to do in Japan with the youth!  Living there, and getting to invest my time in just being with my friends was a blessing. I did what I love to do, and what they do, and I was able to share and communicate a love for them which they have never known. Most Japanese people have never even heard the name of Jesus. Not as anything, not even a swear word. Crosses are just stylish jewelry they wore, so whenever I spotted one around my friend's necks, I would smile and tell them what it really is. Many little moments to share the Gospel with them. There was a river about 15 minute's walk from the church, where my friends and I would go and chill at, and one day while skipping rocks with my friend Yuki (the guy), I picked up one and asked him if he knew the story of how a giant was killed by one that size. His eyes got big, so I told the story of David and Goliath. I've never been able to do anything like that before. Getting to share stories and love with people who are stuck in a culture that is spiritually dead, is so wonderful! It was a blessing. :) 
  After being in Japan for a few weeks, I really had the urge to DO something beyond just the activities involved in FUSE. I really felt that I should be helping somewhere else for a bit, so after discussing it with Tim and Christine, they told me that I could accompany a Brazilian team that would be arriving soon, on their planned trips to do disaster relief up North. !!!!!!!!! That was so exciting to hear!  The day after they arrived, I accompanied them down to Machida, the city where we held FUSE, and showed them around for their shopping. The two single girls who were on the team, Edilaine and Leticia, more or less my age, had learned English when they were in Brazil, so we were able to chat and get to know each other in a special, fun way during their stay. The main leader of the team, Becky, is Tim Huber's sister, and she is the leader of PAZ in Brazil. Her son Paul also came, so I was able to converse with those 4 in English during our trips. Some pastors and other single guys from Brazil were also part of the team. The first week of volunteer work, we (the singles and one of the pastors) drove 9 hours up to Sendai, and spent the week living first in a Christian family's home, then a Christian Center in the city. Ok, so for the first couple months after the disaster last year, everyone was devoted to helping Japan. But after a little while, everyone seemed to have forgotten. We were wrong to. Japan needs SO much help still. All the thousands of houses that used to stand, were wiped away. All that was left in cities were the concrete foundations of homes, and tons of garbage. Thousands died in every city. It is SO tragic, my heart breaks to see what they are living with. We need to remind everyone, and pray that the Lord would send people out to help! The Japanese people were SO blessed and touched to see people coming out of their way to help them.   The first day we moved shed pieces to different sites to be built for homeless families. The second day we tore down everything but the structure and outer wall of a small building of an elderly Japanese man, so that it could be rebuilt and fixed, and the third day we spent preparing food, games, and fun activities for families in a temporary housing neighborhood. Most of the people in that city were living in temporary houses, and lots of the men had lost jobs, so the families just wandered around not doing much. Getting to serve them the way we did was just a blessing for me!  The 4th and final day there, we, along with a Korean team in Sendai, did the same thing for another neighborhood of temporarily housed families, before heading back 9 hours to the church in Noborito.  Now the rest of the team (the pastors, wives, and Becky) had flown with Tim, Christine, and their sister Angie, to Korea to spend their days in the churches there. They unfortunately got stuck because the Brazilians didn't have re-entry passports to Japan, so they had to fly straight back to Brazil. So they were unable to accompany us for the second week of volunteer work.  The second week, Becky, Tim and Christine, Jeremy, a Japanese friend also named Yuki, and me and the Brazil team went up to Iwaki, another city that got hit. First we went to a Japanese Gospel choir performance (which, btw, was amazing! Imagine Japanese people singing African-American style Gospel music :) ), and spent the week living in another Christian center, where a bunch of other teams and missionaries lived at as well. There was a group of people from Romania, some spoke Spanish, we may have had a few Koreans, we had the Brazilians, Japanese, and Americans. Every night and morning we spent singing/praying together. And let me tell you, being surrounded by godly people of SO many languages and cultures, worshiping the same Amazing God, is just so powerful and inspiring. I will never, ever forget that experience, and I am SO blessed to have been a part of it!! :)  The week was spent doing odd jobs around the center, doing beach cleanup, shelter cleanup, touring (that was a fun Japanese man who took us around in the ministry van to tour awesome places. heh He wasn't supposed to :P), and entertaining temporarily housed people again. Yuki, the Japanese gal that accompanied us, was a first-timer with volunteering. And when she saw the disaster area and what actually happened, her heart broke. Honestly most Japanese people didn't go to help with the relief work, and they have no idea what truly happened up there. Having her volunteer and come spend her week with Christians was heart-changing for her.  Another wonderful week of serving with my favorite Brazilians. :)    During those two weeks, I spent lots of time with Leticia and Edilaine. We became best friends. I love those gals to pieces, and it was a honor to know such godly ladies who live somewhere where the Gospel has been changing lives at a rapid pace. So inspiring again! 
  The last weekend I was in Japan, a team from one of the Korean churches came, and they entertained us for the Friday Night Dinner. Before that, I had spent my time with Yuki (the guy), and invited him and Wam to accompany us at our pre-dinner prayer meeting. The Koreans led the worship and prayer. And believe me. Oh my goodness. Korean faith is POWERFUL. They are not silent prayers. And powerful is a small word. It was amazing. There were people bowed down to the ground, people with faces and hands reaching up to our Lord, people crying, people yelling prayers. Tears, laughter. Wam and Yuki, that night, later told us that that was the first time they truly knew that Jesus is real, and that something is very good about this person we talk about. :)  
  I apologize for the length of this summary of my trip. But no matter how many times I try to, I can never make it small or insignificant in size or meaning. Not even if I wanted to. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip where I met so many wonderful people from around the globe, all cultures and languages, serving One True God.  The revival in Japan is just beginning, and I am blessed beyond anything to have been a part of it. And I can say that you were, too! Your support is something I can't thank you enough for.  I cannot ask you to stop, however. I would ask you to continue in your prayers for this country! Japan is waking up from it's spiritual sleep. There are millions of people in Japan that need love and prayer. And they need Jesus.  Pray for Japan and that people would keep sending help! The disaster relief is far from done, and we have hardly any missionaries out there. Every single person counts.  Pray for that, and also pray for the friends I made! Pray that Wam, the 3 Yuukis I met, and my friend Yu would all continue to attend the meetings and hang out with those wonderful people, and that they would be changed and truly know Christ's love for them! It is a beautiful thing, and I love those people so much.    Remember, in Christ we can do so many things! With little faith we can move mountains. Brazil and the Amazon has seen it. Japan is next! The Lord is good and faithful to his children. 

   Thank you so much, everyone! God bless! 


       Kirstin 


















Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Washington state visit {Personal, last post for a while}


Hey, guys.  A couple weeks ago my family was able to fly down to Washington state to visit our family for a bit, which was wonderful for me, since I'll be leaving for Japan tomorrow. I've had a wonderful time this year so far. I graduated last Saturday from High school, and I'm excited for my next chapter in life to start. Here are some pics from our trip for you. I'll try to post a couple pics from Japan on here during my missions trip if I can. 
Have a happy summer!! 
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(cotton wood tree fluff <3)
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My look-alike grandma <3
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Updated family picture :)
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Again, have a wonderful summer, everyone! May Jesus Christ lead you in all things and try to make at least one person smile a day. :) 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Masquerade {Personal}




"Masquerade! Paper faces on parade; masquerade! Hide your face so the world will never find you..."  Photobucket
Greetings, all! Sorry, but that song from Phantom of the Opera has been running through my mind for the past couple weeks now.  Our Youth ministry has an annual banquet for the Juniors and Seniors (our version of Prom), and every year it's a different theme. I always grew up watching the older people attend, wanting to join them. They have had some amazing themes. One year everything was decorated with thousands of candles and tiny lights, with a lovely orchestra playing for them. Another year, they had tons of colored stripes and bowls of candy. Last year, my Junior year, they did a City theme, which was pretty epic. But what I've always wanted, was for them to do a Masquerade theme. 
And this year, for my Senior year, they did. :)
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I had so much fun getting everything ready over the couple weeks beforehand (well, sort of. I got a bit upset at certain things like the fact that my dress was a size bigger than me cuz that's all the store had, so I had to figure out how to keep it on me, and I ended up finding ribbon the same color. also, I never found a good cover-up pieces (like a shrug or bolero) till last minute, and my mask wasn't what I had wanted. I ended up also finding a roll of mesh last-minute to make a Marie-Antoinette-style mask for myself). ish. :P   It all ended up turning out lovely, though, and I'm grateful for the patience my faithful friends and family gave me. :)
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Seriously. It was SO fun seeing how everything turned out. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of inside during the actual banquet. But the lovely light-covered water fountain, all the red flowers, mirrors, candles, and masked people just made my night so wonderful. :)
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To make it even better, my Junior brother, Erik, joined me for the first time!
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aaaaaaand I could not go without an escort, one of my best friends in the whole universe, Gabe.
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He graduated highschool last year. However, he agreed to go with my this year, since I wasn't even sure if little-bro Erik would attend. I'm so glad he did. He kind of made his outfit to match mine. And it was so very amazing to have him with for my last year in highschool. :)
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Anywho. Just wanted to show you the pictures. I had a blast. It was a once-in-a-lifetime sort of an event. And I won't forget it. :) 

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