Showing posts with label humanitarian photographer. Show all posts

Bethel Lighthouse Baby Home - Beijing, China Photography

There was a heartbreaking article going around today about four kids (ages 5-13) in China, abandoned and fending for themselves for two years. They survived off of cornflour and the bare minimum until one day, all four were found dead. Through the use of pesticide they killed themselves not bearing to live another day. Honestly, when I read this, I wonder why are there places in the world where this is a common situation? They may have food, they may have clothes but they don't have LOVE, love of their parents, the gentle touch of someone to tuck them in at night, someone to comfort them. This is the case for over 61 million kids in China...they live alone without their parents, fending for themselves in this big scary world.

After reading about this I ask, "God, why was I not an orphan? Why was I born in America? Why do I have a family? Why do I waste so much time on things that don't matter?"

If I could, I would adopt these kids in a heartbeat...but I can't, I would kiss them and hug them and love on them...but I can't, I would quit my business and travel to them...but I can't. But I can CRY with them across the ocean, I can PRAY for them in my little house in Iowa, I can TELL their story and ADVOCATE for them. Right now as I type, is one of those moments I am crying with them. Honestly, writing this post makes me angry too...because I feel stuck here watching little faces over a computer screen. But it's through the computer screen that these lives are changed. It's virtual storytelling and family hunting.

These pictures have been waiting on my computer for awhile and saving them is not doing justice to any of these kids. It's just holding their story for a little longer and making them wait. So let me introduce you to the Lighthouse Baby home kids!

Although being in an orphanage is still not the same as having a family, one thing I absolutely LOVE about Bethel is the time and care they dedicate to their kids. I do not have enough GREAT things to say about them. The kids to them are not just a number but a story, a face and a precious life.

The location for this baby home is beautiful. It is little bit outside of the city and surrounded by mountains. There is not much in the little village but there is a home and safe haven for these little ones and boy are they beautiful.

 This is the middle courtyard area, the homes and living areas surround this middle section.


 Isn't this room fun! Love the colors!
 When we arrived we caught them taking the babies for a walk, so we had to chase them down of course!
 This little lady is home with her family and I am so glad she was adopted...she is so adorable!
 Faith is hilarious. She has such spunk. If only I was old enough, I would like to call her my daughter!

 These three would run across the playground together laughing...back and forth, over and over.

 OH this face!

 And this is where my heart turned to mush...I mean it was already melted but come on people...really? This face is too much for me to take! I miss them all but I really miss Alisha!


 She is trending it up, even though you can barely see her little eyes!

 This was after naps. Some were not as happy as others waiting for clean diapers and coats.
 Oh Faith...you are beautiful and you will be loved!
 Freddie gave me the biggest smile. 


 Post nap...

 Peter got the giggles out of here. Tickles seem to be the perfect trick!
 OH and now back to my baby Alisha. I had to add a couple more!
 Thumbsucking for dayssss.....

 So, this little boy is coming home soon, as in a week or so. And I found out that I have connections to the family through my adopted sister. Small world! They start the kids with this device for cane training. It is pretty nifty.


 I had to throw this one in. This was on the way to the baby home. It is University that looks rather like a mini white house. It is things like this in China that humor me greatly, you never know what you are going to see.
If you have any questions about the baby home or Bethel...shoot me a comment below. If you are wanting to bring one of these little ones home to your family, email adoption@bethelchina.org

// C A I T L Y N    B //

Atelier Art Workshop - International Photography

Oh kids! Kids are so creative, they lack fear of what people think and see everything with wonder. While in China, my husband and I had the opportunity to go to Atelier Art School for a workshop with Bethel kids. Yes, you may be thinking, Caitlyn but they can't see so how can they do art? I thought the same exact thing and to my surprise was convinced that they are more artistic than most people.

Atelier Art School was started in 2012, by to French women. Now having grown and running two locations, they teach courses for both children and adults covering photography, screen printing, painting and so much more. If I were to live in Beijing, I would totally be enrolled in one of their art classes.

Recently, they donated their time and put on a workshop for the kids in the Bethel City Life Project. Using items that are easily accessible and recyclable, combined with a cardboard box...the children created animals. It was so fun to watch one of the teachers describe various animals to the kids and see what they created with their knowledge and imagination.

My time at Bethel was amazing because experiences like these make me want to shout to the world that if you are looking to adopt, consider adopting a child from Bethel or a child that is blind. People are so uninformed about the abilities of kids with visual impairments.  Honestly, they are able to do almost everything, similar to a kid that is not blind but I would say they have a bit more imagination and are ready to overcome any boundaries. If you want more information on a child from Bethel, contact them through this email >>> adoption@bethelchina.org.

Please watch the video below of the Atelier Art Workshop with Bethel...the kids are amazing. One of my favorite box animals was Jimmy's shark.


// Caitlyn // 

8 Things Married Couples Doing Missions Should Know

Honestly, this was the first post I wrote after spending a week in China.  I am just now posting it because I didn't want to scare anyone away and think that missions is too scary and that my time in China was a drag.

So, let's get right to the point and talk about marriage and missions or should I say the warfare side. Before Peter and I got married, one thing was talked about and made very clear...we both had a goal of moving our relationship and life overseas. How that will look, we still don't know...when, well that is still in the works as well. All we know is that if we are both walking daily with the Lord, He will show us the perfect timing and it is a matter of taking steps in the right direction.

Now fast forward to our recent trip to China.  We planned this adventure in three weeks...I literally received an email about cheap tickets to Beijing, chatted with my husband, booked the tickets, panicked and tried to un-book the tickets, connected with Bethel about photographing their kids and last but not least, packed and left. While it doesn't seem too thought out, it was.  We decided it would be a good time for us to travel on the mission field together and interact overseas. I wanted to get a feel for what we wanted to do as a team and wanted to check a dream off my list and photograph orphans. It all came together and I can say we LOVED almost everything about China but also forgot about one detail...warfare.

China is very dark...there is a heaviness about it that I haven't felt in other places throughout my travels.  It is a sneaky darkness though, one that comes on gradually and if you aren't daily on the lookout, well it will mess with you. Last time I was in China, I felt the heaviness and then almost died...so honestly, my memories are more about my hospital experience than anything else. This time I went in prepared for battle but was more lax because I was excited to have Peter there and didn't think about the effect it would have on our relationship. We laughed together, photographed together & didn't communicate with each other. I can talk about it now because I feel like it is essential for anyone going on the mission field to be prepared and ready.

For the LORD your God is he that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. Deuteronomy 20:4



Satan used his sneaky tactic of division and we fell for it.  The division came through the lack of communication. From my side of things, I wasn't as overwhelmed with China itself but with more of the photography aspect and some of the kids. My heart was breaking for each one but I was trying to be "tough" and hold it together. Peter was overwhelmed with everything...China, the language barrier, and what he was seeing. At the end of the day, I need to talk about what I saw and Peter needs to process.

Instead of processing together we would just go to bed and start the next day.  As anyone knows the longer you hold it in, the larger it grows and things go haywire.  Towards the end of the week, my act of being "tough" broke and it was manifested in tears, anger and feeling like my husband didn't care about anything that happened that week. He just became silent and unsure of what was going on. It took advice from a late night call to my Mom and an evening of Peter and I unraveling what was going on.

For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them. - Matthew 18:20 


You see everyone processes life differently, but as a married couple regardless of how you process you have learn to do it together. Doing life together is communicating what is not pretty....it's being vulnerable. Although, we have been married 9 months now...we still are learning about what makes each other tick.

Spiritual warfare is real.  And Satan uses what can divide people the most, whether it is your marriage or daily struggles. It happens at home and it happens overseas. It is what you do with it that matters.  Do you fall into the trap or do you fight it with God's word? We learned that we are accountable for our own walk with the Lord and how we treat each other. We are responsible for our words and actions. We have seen what the orphan looks like and we have seen oppression.  BUT now that we have seen we are responsible to change, advocate and share.

So, if you are married and going overseas.  Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Communication is hard. But unity with Christ and each other is essential. Use your experience to grow and prepare. Assume the best in each other. Work together and run the race.

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. - 1 Peter 3:8




What put us into the loophole at the end of the week was partially from what was going on during the day. We were not only in a foreign land but surround by a foreign language. During the day, you can't do a lot of talking without knowing Chinese...things were at times, pretty silent. So, at the end of the day, the silence remained and a feeling of loneliness, even though your husband was a step away. It is a funny thing that you can feel so isolated in another country just because of a language barrier.

God used us and our time in China. He grew our relationship and broke our hearts...exactly what I had been praying about before I left. It happened in a way I least expected but it was good.

If you are married and heading overseas here are a few things to remember:

1 - Have your prayer warriors be lifting you up. Share what you are doing and ask that people pray for unity.

2 - Don't let the silence and darkness weigh you down. If you are busy during the day working on projects or with kids etc., spend the evening or the hour subway ride unwinding. Communicate what you saw that day, ask what was hardest, encourage each other about how the Lord worked and the open opportunities.

3 - Pray together. Sounds cliche' doesn't it? Well, when you exhausted sometimes you don't take the time and pray. Don't just thank God for the day but pray hard. Pray for each other. Pray vulnerably.

4 - Assume the best. Don't just assume your husband is not being broken and seeing the what you see. Just because he doesn't express it the same way, know that God is working in their heart just like yours. Even if you are frustrated...be kind, love & be patient.

5 - Bring your weapons. Something I wish we would have done, is each morning picked the SAME passage of scripture to meditate on for the day and one specific way we wanted to see God work. It would have made us communicate better and be on the same page. We don't usually read the same passage in our devotions when we are home but when you are in a battle, I feel it can be more effective.

6 - Remember it's not about you. While you are a team, it's about God, His people and sharing the Gospel. At the end of the day the glory belongs to the Lord. What you did was only possible through HIM. Our story is HIS, our photography is HIS, our journey to China is HIS.

7 - Perspective. Have someone you can talk to, other than your husband, that can give you perspective while you are overseas. I was able to talk to my Mom, gain perspective and be reminded about what was going on. She helped me open my eyes and encouraged me to keep running the race, even when things are rocky.

8 - Last but not least, enjoy the adventure. When God calls you to something, it is so beautiful. He makes beauty from ashes. Peter and I had the time of our lives and can't wait to see where this takes us. We are now more unified in the midst of what we have seen and are running together, a race that is never in vain to share the glory of the Father and what He has done. And for this we are both beyond grateful.

// Caitlyn // 

Bethel City Life Project - Beijing, China Photography

No matter how long I let my thoughts percolate, this past experience in China exceeded all expectations, God did HUGE things and I am still being surprised!  Now, let's back up to how this trip came about.

My Mom tells me when I was a little kid, I came home from class with a board to fill out containing questions "About Me" & "What I want to be when I grow up". As I was pasting magazine clippings in the appropriate sections, the about me said I want to be Jesus, with a lovely Jesus head clipping. I laugh about it now but I know that at the young age, He was stirring up my desire to serve Him overseas. That desire has continued to grow and expand over the years. It has been seasons of waiting & praying, then when I least expect it, I am able to go. While my fire to move overseas and serve still is fierce, the minor details of when and where are still stirring...all I do know is it will involve kids, some photography and whatever else He surprises me with.

Now, to the photography aspect of missions. A lot of people don't know that Pink Flower actually has it's beginning in Africa...actually, our name came from a nickname that one of my Mozambican friends gave me (my little pink flower) and it just fit my business. Africa was my first time photographing and where my two items on my "to do" list were added; One - volunteer photographing an overseas ministry/orphanage; Two - volunteer long term at an overseas ministry/orphanage. This latest trip rocked my world and #1 on my list.

How the series of events unfolded this last month are seemingly random and crazy like most things in my life. I was surfing Facebook and saw a friend post about cheap tickets around the world. Peaking my curiosity, I got the websites with these offers and tagged a couple of countries I was wanting to head to. Beijing, popped up with tickets the cheapest I have ever seen in my life. I called my husband and asked him what he thought about going to China, seeing if we can connect with an orphanage and photograph. After a slight pause, a yes was heard, tickets were booked and we were heading to China in 3 weeks. Then came the frantic fear of not finding an organization that would let us come. With a few connections, I emailed Bethel and received a YES. I may or may not win the award for last minute planning.


We arrived on a Sunday evening and had a completely crazy taxi ride to our hotel. Instead of staying in a traditional "American" hotel, we decided to stay in a Chinese hotel in a popular Hutong (a type of alley way). The driver must have never driven through to that particular section of Beijing, because when he has to pull over several times to reread the location name and make a phone call...you get a little concerned. But we made and were never so happy to go to bed.

(this is the subway system just in Beijing, so you can imagine how easy it is to get lost here)






(this is our neighborhood...view from hotel, night market, neighboring bell + drum tower)




Our first day to Bethel was at the City Life project (for those of you who haven't heard of Bethel...it is a completely amazing organization that puts orphans with visual impairments in different foster care projects to receive care, education and various life skills). This part of Bethel rents out a few different apartments and houses older kids (8-14yr) with caregivers (about 4 kids per family). The awesome part about this particular project is most of the kids are in the local blind school and getting a formal education...this is a big deal for kids, especially if you blind and an orphan.

(this is one of the complexes in the area the city life kids live in)

We visited this project twice because we wanted to make sure we captured enough footage of these kids...some of them are aging out and we are racing the clock to find them families. So if you have an extra seat at your table...consider adoption!

(Eric has a $20,000 grant towards his adoption...he ages out in 9 weeks!!!)

 (I have never seen a kid smile as much as Jerry! I don't know why he is still waiting for a family?)
 (Jimmy's origami skills are impressive! He is also looking for a family!)

 (Justin is just plain hilarious...he liked my husband a lot)

Planning this trip made me realize also how sheltered I was, I had never worked with people that were visually impaired nor had the opportunity. With that in mind, Peter and I were a little nervous on how this would work. Honestly, I can tell you that kids are kids...no matter where you are in the world, they love laughter, touch and just being with you. What is even more amazing is that just like anything in life...you learn how to do things around your impairment. All these kids are gifted...I mean if you saw the origami Jimmy makes, Peter's erhu playing, etc...you would not even know they could not see. I learned a ton and would not be hesitant to tell any family to consider adopting a child with visual impairments. It is a scary idea for a lot of people to consider hence why a lot of these kids don't have families. My heart breaks knowing how much beauty these kids or any orphan can bring to a family but never get the chance.

(Reading Braille is really interesting and amazing to watch)
 (This is what the kids use to write Braille, it's a series of punching hole patterns in the paper)

 (I love this series of Lou because he is wearing his glasses upside down)
 (If you haven't heard the Erhu, you are missing out...it's a beautiful instrument and very hard to learn...click HERE to listen to one)
 (Peter can sing and play and also NEEDS a family!)


A big hit for our visit were the balloon animals...the kids LOVED them. It was really entertaining seeing them carry around multiple balloons asking for different animals, colors and then just playing with them. This entertainment also made me realize that I need to work on my animal making skills...they are pretty weak haha!

(Someone stole Peter's glasses)
 (Balloon animals at the park had a lot of onlookers curious about the commotion)

 (TINA! She is one of the last girls to find a family. She is like the "mother" of the all the kids...they love her and she cares for them and is so sweet, gentle and kind. Tina would be great in a family with other children)


(I think he has enough balloons ;)

 (Jerry worked so hard to get this balloon on the pump, he didn't want help and guess what? He got it!)






I definitely am counting down the days until I can go back to Bethel, I miss these kids and I WANT them to find families. If you are interested in one of these sweet faces or want more info, contact adoption@bethelchina.org.

The rest of the projects will be featured soon (you don't want to miss the baby home) along with videos and an awesome art class/project they were part of.  Stay tuned!

// Caitlyn //