Dominican Republic Day 1

Que lo que, friends? Just got back from one of the best trips of my life. For a week, a group of journalists and I traveled to the Dominican Republic to document the people, the culture, and anything and everything else along the way.

I basically had the one computer on this trip that wasn’t able to get online on a consistent basis, so I wasn’t able to share some photos from this incredible trip until now. Guys, it was such a phenomenal journey. Read about our travels here, where the team members wrote about our progress in making the book project. Here is mine from yours truly. Anyways, here are some fotos from Republica Dominica. I love this place so much… and the people I got to spend a week with there.

This is Day 1.

This guy was just chillin’ on the beach. No big deal.

Day 2 tomorrow. Stay tuned folksies.


Dominican Republic

In a little over 24 hours, I’ll be in a plane with 15 other journalists from Biola University on the way to the Dominican Republic. Thoughts on the eve of the big trip?

– Gratitude
– Excitement
– The possibility of dying is intriguing
– Baseball
– Friends
– Journalism
– God
– Grace
– Nervousness
– Open-heartedness

Yeah, I’m nervous about the trip. What if what I do doesn’t amount to anything? What if I can’t capture a story or find anything worth telling?

Yeah, I’ve got a heart wide open. I’m ready to be changed. I’m ready to grow. I’m ready to leave this crap-hole of a week behind and spend time with God, my journalist friends, and the beautiful people of the Dominican Republic.

Oh yeah, and my favorite baseball player, Vladimir Guerrero, is from the DR. Won’t be running into him, but still, pretty rad.

I’m stoked. God, I want to be moved and changed.

“I know it’s hard.”

My heart was torn asunder. The church I was sitting in was doing a small little in-house ministry thing. The idea was that the church is just as much obligated to reach out within themselves and care for one another as it is to go out into the world and make disciples.

On this particular day, I wasn’t doing so swell. I had done some pretty embarrassing things at this church, and caused a scene like Billie Jean. But the in-house ministry thing proceeded, and I was handed a care package of a few little things like everyone else. I scanned the items, and on the Lays chip bag, someone had written a little word of encouragement.

The first words I saw were “I know it’s hard.”

I’m not sure exactly why the tears came. Whether it was the fact that I was having a bad day, or the fact that someone out there at this church understood what I was going through. Or perhaps it was the fact that God used this person to write this message on a chip bag; a message that could have been delivered randomly to anyone else in the congregation. But it came to me. It’s  a reminder to never underestimate the power of just understanding someone’s situation. Sometimes that’s all people need.

Well, whatever it was, it hit me like a freight train. I don’t recall what the rest of it said, but upon reading those words of understanding and empathy, I began to openly weep.

Then, I woke up.

lyrical scraps

When frustrated, I used to always write songs. Then I stopped. And now I’ve started again. Here is a song I didn’t intend to be so harsh. But hey, what can I say?

Hey, what are you trying to say?
What are you gonna do to me?
Oh, so now I’ve got to do
everything you want me to?

But I say, Hey Now, I wanna quit
I’ve felt so free for so long
And I say, Hey Now,
I don’t care, Hey Now
about what you say or your prank calls

Hey, I’ve got work to do
so why don’t you get back to me soon
Actually, I’ve got a better idea
why don’t you hit the road and go

Cause I’m so sick of what happened before,
I’m so sick of all the wars
Cause I think I might die if I
go back; what could there be in store?

I’m leaving, I’m leaving, I’m leaving.

late night dreaming.

You know what’d be my dream job? Concert photography, followed closely by sports photography – particularly baseball.

Ok. random thought of the night/morning = done.

“Can’t find the words to sing…”

I slammed the headphones down in frustration. This is just not going to work! I thought as I feverishly looked for something to chuck at the wall.

It had been a day-long project. I had gotten the backing tracks to Michael Jackson’s and Akon’s new song, “Hold My Hand,” and was determined to sing over them and create a new masterpiece. In my fervor, I forgot two things:

1. I’m not Michael Jackson.

2. Akon (as always) is heavily auto-tuned on the track.

but none of that matters! I thought to myself. I’m going to sing my heart out and deliver a performance that even MJ would’ve been proud of. That was at 2:30 p.m.

It was now 8:30 p.m., and the song was going nowhere. Sure, I had the tracks laid down, but it just didn’t sound VERY GOOD. I played it back for my brother, who gave a few “oo’s and ah’s” (not the good kind) for feedback, and I knew it was back to the drawing board.

Ok, ok. I’ll go ahead and rest for a bit, then lock myself in my room and try it again...

The only part I had been remotely impressed with was my mini-choir; I had cobbled together 5 of my vocal tracks to mimic the choir at the end of the record. See?

Anyways, I took my break. And now, here I was in my room. My grand plan to “prove the world wrong” was underway; I was going to be living up to the notion that “if you do not at first succeed, try and try again.”

Then, the bro peaks his head in the door and says something to the effect of “Maybe you’re just trying to hard. You can sing, but you’re trying to copy MJ and an auto-tuned guy.”

He was right. So in a generally despondent mood, I flipped the Macbook closed and turned the TV on, ready to drown in a cesspool of mediocrity and failure. I think at that point, I posted a status on Facebook:

^In theory, that would’ve hurt a lot…

Anyways, my attention then turned to the DVD player, which played Switchfoot’s “Hello Hurricane” film thing. Not the first time I had seen it, so I watched with passive interest – until the camera focused on guitarist Drew Shirley. In this shot, the guy was close to tears as he talked about one of the band’s songs called “Sing It Out,” which came at a very difficult time in the recording process. Switchfoot had tracked song after song after song until they became lost in a sea of material… and in the process, for awhile, the band had lost their identity. But here was this beautiful song that had emerged out of the brokenness…

“When I listen to ‘Sing It Out’… ~breaks down~ It’s cool… ~sniffs~ Kind of a victory out of brokenness, you know?”

My situation wasn’t nearly as dire, but that thought moved me. Yes. YES, there IS victory out of failure and brokenness. Yes, I may never sing like the King of Pop, but there is more to life than that! It’s not the last song I’m going to sing… so why cry about it? There will be another day… the sun will rise again!

Even when “I can’t find the words to sing… you’ll be my remedy…”

So go ahead. Even if you aren’t where you want to be, sing out loud! Live life to the fullest and reach out for your goals!

You know how people say things? Well, they say that success isn’t the end goal; it’s the journey that takes you to there. SO cliche. So cheesy.

But so true.

Life is funny: a story about fallen hard drives

Life is funny.

As I was plugging in my hard drive to back up my mac, I thought to myself, “Hm, wouldn’t it just suck if my hard drive crashed?” I then made a mental note to myself to exhibit extra care when handling my precious external hard drives. Ok. Remember, set them down flat on the table, be careful not to swing them around, etc.

Having completed this brain checklist, I plugged in my hard drive just like every other time. No big deal, right? It turns out, the drive was unreadable! WHAT!? Unbelievable. The very thing I had thought in my mind had come true before my very eyes. The reality of the whole situation left me sitting there dumbstruck while incredulously staring at my fallen hard drive for a couple of minutes.

After recovering from the shock, I opened disk utility on the mac, and salvaged what I could from the drive.

^This is what it gave me. So, it looks like I’m going to be up tonight backing up my photos and other cyber crap into my second hard drive. But yeah, life is hilarious like that.