Thanksgiving can wonderful for some and hard for others. Yes, the Holliday’s are a time for family and friends but, is also a time when some remember family and friends that are no longer with us. Personally, I am looking forward to 2018 ending.
I heard once, that the severity of hardship is given to us based only on the level of our strength. The stronger you character the harder the challenge. This is because there is something greater and better working its way into your life. Our struggles are prepared us for our next level of growth. Anything meaningful in life comes at a cost. We in a difficult seasonit’s important to be grateful. Gratitude is kryptonite to our difficulties!
Today, I celebrated my first thanksgiving in the house I have lived for the last 9 years. Never would have happened had it not been for my incredible wife Sherry. She has put a heart into my house and constantly puts a smile on my face. I am SO grateful for her!
I am also grateful for my new family members from my wife’s side, Barbara , Tammy and Brady. Plus, I will alway be grateful for the family I was raised in.
Today before we celebrated and ate dinner, I thought it was appropriate to set a open place setting for all of the people no longer in my life. I wanted to honor all of those people that helped make me who I am today. My wonderful uncles, aunts, friends, coaches and mentors that did so much for me. Plus, I wanted to honor all of those that have left this world but were instrument in forging the people I was celebrating dinner with.
I heard a lot of great stories about my wife’s dad Lewis tonight. Although I never met him, I could feel his presence tonight as I heard all kinds of stories about him. I couldn’t help and be so thankful for him and all that he had done for Sherry and her family.
If you made it to the end of this post please consider posting something about someone in your life that is no longer with you but their presence made your life better. This open seat at our family table was set for them to be remembered. Please tell me a little about them!
When I move more deeply into my subjects, I draw close, I always try to move with care and without judgment. While my mind may be racing while contemplating things of a technical nature such as shutter speed, F-stops, composition, framing and lighting; my heart is always aware that the most important aspect of a photo is how the person sitting in front of me is feeling. Are we connecting? Do they feel comfortable? What feelings are they conveying?
This is Debsara, she is 60 years old and has four children. She and her family live in a temporary shelter made of wood and blue plastic tarps. Their home was destroyed from the floods after the earthquake four year ago.
Her new Watts of Love solar light will allow her to do many things at night, including sewing. It is an honor to be a witness to the most powerful human emotion—hope.
Pablo Picasso once said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” As the sun was still below the mountains and the early morning fog flowed through the village ridge line, I witnessed these three Nepali men begin their work day. Inspired by their work ethic and dedication, I captured this moment to honor all of the hard working Nepali people we have encounter.
Almost everything else in life can be replaced, except human life and the memories of those lives. Photographs take us back to the moment, the time, the place, and especially the people we encountered and allow us to remember. This Nepali women had such a regal quality about her and the way she interacted with her son was captivating.
One in nine girls in the developing world is married before she turns 15. Many are not allowed to continue their education after marriage.
We saw this young girl and many like her both young and very old smashing rocks with a hammers all day long on the side of the dusty and dangerous road.
The young girls and old women pound the rocks by sheer force into smaller pieces and load them into 30lbs bags. The bags of small rocks are then sold for road constuction. The heavy bags of rocks sell for 50 US cents.
Although this young girls laughed and smiled as I and took her photograph, I couldn’t help but think how likely it would be that if we were to return to this same location 10, 20, 30 years from now that this same little girl would most likely be doing the same difficult task to earn the smallest wage, however, she most likely would have her own little children to support, feed and mother.
Poverty is a generational disease that passes from one generation to the next. Please help us break that cycle. Light = education. A child that has access to light attains up to two more years of formal education.
Please consider helping us with our mission and help provide someone just like this little girl and solar light so they have a chance to break the generational cycle of poverty.
How does one drive around the extremely narrow, winding, rolling mountainous terrain in a colorfully painted Nepali bus?
As the driver is blasting his horn to alert on coming traffic around the bend you are about to pass, a assistant safety driver leans outside of the bus and continually slams on the side of the bus. The slams thump throughout the old metal bus to alert the driver as he drifts too close to the edge of the road while maneuvering over to allow on coming traffic to pass on roads that were not made for two vehicles traveling at night speeds.
Daily driving life in Nepal would be referred to as “a game of chicken” in the US. Whaaa…. whooo! Thump, thump, thump!
#wolnepal2018 #givelight #wol
There is no end to grief so that let’s us know their is no end to love.
This Nepali man and these young children were all forced to relocate after their homes and possessions were destroyed by the land slides initiated by earthquake two years ago.
Tonight his home will be brighter than it has ever been and his heart filled with joy. Light=Love
#DashboardDecorations. What people put on their dashboards and the combinations of those items alway intrigues and fascinates me. Several @wattsoflove trips a go I thought it would be cool to take a photo of every diver and vehicular while diving. Here is our current Napoli bus. It’s colorful and he has a mean old horn that he loves to toot! #thoughtsfromtheshotgunseat
Once we see the light we know there will be no satisfaction until we experience the sacred.
Four year ago my sister Nancy and I visited the Khokana Leprosy colony after helping with the earthquake effort. We promised those living in the colony that we would come back and deliver solar lights. Two years ago we fulfilled that promise.
When we were distributing lights in the colony in 2016 we saw that many of the people affected by leprosy struggled turning on the lights. Many were missing fingers and hands and could not push the buttons to turn on the lights. Although it was difficult for us to see this problem, everyone who received their lights remained grateful. Regardless, it was not easy to witness.
When we returned from Nepal and after 4 years of in-the-field experience delivering lights, we began the process of designing a new solar light. We needed the light to be brighter, smaller and more versatile. We also needed the light to be easily turned on by people that had no hands or fingers.
With the help of @molexconnectors and a few of their best engineers, we designed the light you are seeing pictured here.
The moment this women pressed the top of her new light with what remains of her arms and the bright light illuminate her face was truly a sacred moment.
Light truly changes lives, and this moment will forever remain one of the most sacred we have ever experienced.
We got to see some of our my all-time favorite plans. Folker, Albatross, Fokker DR 1, British Mosquito, P 38 lighting, A10, B-17, Spitfire, F 16, Huey helicopter, and tons P-51 Mustangs, just to name a few. Oh and we even received a spontaneous ride while “hitch hiking “on a classic Willys Jeep from WW2.Great time for both us! @eaa airshow in Oshkosh Wisconsin!
Day one with my number one son @kaedin_kuster at @eaa Oshkosh Air show. This has been on my bucket list to share with my boy since the day he was born. The war birds are truly beautiful to photograph!
#eaa #airventure #airventure2018 #warbirds #p51 #mustag #p51mustang #warbird
Have you ever seen someone love a complete strange in a way that you will never forget? Or, have you ever seen someone love another person and know that at that specific moment the recipient would remember that they are not invisible? If you have seen this kind of love in action, like me, you will never forget it.
She was barefooted, shivering cold, alone and looked as though she hadn’t eaten in days. She sat one seat away from me as we began our boat ferry journey home.
Although she was only one seat away from me, it felt more like a million miles separated us. She wore so much pain, sorrow and struggle on every fiber of her being. Although I kept wanting to do something or say something to her, only silence and helplessness came forth. Like everyone else around me, I sat uncomfortably as her shivering, silent pain screamed above the diesel engine that propelled us into the deep waters.
What could I do to help? How could I communicate with her? The more questions I had, the more I felt my eyes avoiding her.
Suddenly, as if compelled buy a immovable force, I saw Teresa Lin a complete stranger to this young girl, pull out a shirt, wrap her in it and embrace her to provide this freezing girl some body heart, comfort and most importantly the understanding that she was not alone.
It was the most beautiful moment I experienced on my entire trip to Uganda. I have thought about this moment and photo every day since I returned to the states. It was simple, it was selfless, it was done out of pure love.
As I watched Therese rub her shoulders, warm her body and give her all the food she had in her pack back, I struggled if I had the right to capture such a pure and sacred moment.
Then I remembered, I am preservationist. I take pictures to stop time, capture truth and record moments so they NEVER disappear.
Had a great spontaneous reunion last night with some of our U4Uganda and Watts of Love team. Although a few folks locally were missing, I believe we were all really missing our leader Father Stan.
When I asked him one time what his favorite animal was he said, without skipping a beat in a heavy Togo accent…. “A LION!” Fr. Stan speaks in a way that sounds like a cross between a exuberant baptism mister and a classically trained shakespearean actor. His tone and delivery says more then the words he speaks.
As a way of thanking him for all he did, we purchased him a paining of a lion. After he opened the gift he paused, studied the painting and said… “I like this painting. I will keep it!” It was truly a classic response from someone who in my eyes, is the king of the jungle.
Over two years ago I put a call out on Facebook looking for someone to help me with our social media needs. Although many raised their hands to help, @butterfly109 not only agreed to help, she has become an invaluable contributor to @wattsoflove in many, many ways. Meredith now manages all of our social media pages, write articles, travels with us and photographs some of our amazing stories and light recipients. Don’t let the size of that camera fool you in this photo, Meredith has a world class eye!
Thank you Meredith for saying “yes, I will help” and remaining so dedicated as we continue to grow. Your talents have help put us where we are today and we are so fortunate to have you as a part of our Watts of Love.
I love that our friendship and collaboration started with a “bunny ears” photos of me and through the amazing @jjcommunity. I am always humbled by you willingness to help, serve others and your amazing talents. Thank you for being my friend, collaborator and partnering in crime late night in pubs in Ireland.