June 30, 2009

And When It Rains It Pours

So couple quick updates from the humid heat of Panama. Today Panama
saw it´s worst thunderstorm and flooding in almost five years! Pray
for many of the villages which live on the edges of the flood plain
river banks. There are many many peoples homes being destroyed! We got
word today from a small indigenous village about an hour up the river
from where we are staying. They had a number of trees fall on their
little huts and about 40% of their homes are destroyed. Most of these
villages store up food as they make few trips into the city to much of
their supplies and lively hood have been destroyed by the rising
waters. We had a number of things planned for tomorrow, but have opted
to simply go and help this community rebuild their homes as best we
can. So pray for us tomorrow as we boat up the river to give aid to
this hurting community...

Also, Diane & I are very much in need because of our stolen
backpack/laptop. In all we had about $3,500 worth of gear stolen from
us. A laptop really is a needed tool in the work for justice that we
do. It´s basically impossible to be in the field and shooting pictures
without the means to edit and create the publications and awareness
material we have come to provide here...

We love you all, keep us in your prayers...

Trying to stay dry,
Steve & Diane

The Schallert´s Stolen Backpack Adventure

Hello Brothers & Sisters. We pray this finds you well and full of the abundant grace of our God. Diane & I have just arrived in Panama City and can´t tell you how excited we are to see what God has in store for us! There are so many amazing opportunities arising and we have only been here 24 hours!! Right now we have a project being developed working along side the US Embassy, who are beginning a campaign against Human Trafficking in Panama. With organizational prostitution being legal in Panama it makes this issue even harder to engage and more hidden, but the statistics of just how many woman and children are being trafficked in Panama are unbelievable. Some of that has to do with another major issue we are getting involved with during our time. We have strong contacts here working with an organization called Hearts Cry that are trying to find homes for the 50,000 neglected orphans in Panama. The system here is so unbelievably broken it would take hours to explain. But these children are basically abandoned and often worse off in the system that on the streets. Abuse is so prevalent and these orphans are one of the simplest target for Human Traffickers. So the two issues really relate to one another, yet we see so much potential for our team to really make a lasting impact over the coming months, leaving something behind that these organizations can build from and use. And last night, just as we arrived, we saw just how much the great darkness wants to stop our work for justice.

Last night as we rolled out of customs and into the greeting area of the airport, one of our backpacks was stolen. Diane had set it on the floor for one second to get my glasses out of it, stood up and said hello to our Panama Contact (David Tracy) and then as quick as that it was missing. We searched around, asked airport security, later called airport security again, but it was never recovered. It was probably stolen right from under our feet. Today we filed a police report (a very interesting cultural experience), but it is probably lost for good. The backpack itself along with all the following was taken:

Our 17" Macbook Pro (with charger, cords, and CS3 software)
Steve´s Cell Phone
Steve´s 60GB i-pod
Diane´s 350GB WD External Hard drive (Thank God we have a backup of our work)
2 pair of Sunglasses
3 Books I was very much enjoying
Diane´s Bible
and the saddest loss is our quote books that Diane & I have kept since we first started dating...

So we REALLY need your prayers. Again, we believe this to be yet another confirmation of just how much the Kingdom can shine here. Just how much the love of Christ is needed in Panama and across the earth. We bring a voice that the darkness wishes to silence, yet we WILL NOT BE SILENCED. Please pray for us at this time.

Also it is very hard for us to really accomplish our task without some basic equipment. Most everything we can live without, but it is terribly difficult to do our work for justice without a laptop...that is really the biggest loss and now one of our most immediate needs as we begin working on project in Panama. If any of you pray and feel lead to help us in our need, I have listed a link bellow to a smaller suitable replacement laptop that would help us tremendously...the replacement laptop will cost us around $1,300...beyond anything however, we are still very much looking for monthly financial supporters to walk with us over the coming year as we head into the world proclaiming good-news to the poor and freedom to the oppressed on every continent...how great is our God!!

Link to computer - http://www.apple.com/macbookpro
13inch Macbook Pro

Because He Lives,
Steve and Diane Schallert

PLEASE CONTACT US VIA EMAIL (projectlove1.0@gmail.com)

June 23, 2009

And So We Begin...again...

It's really crazy, but I haven't really had a second to process what Diane & I are about to go do. We have been so incredibly busy preparing, organizing, advocating, networking, fundraising and more than anything PRAYING about what we are going to do, and hope God will do through us, and all that we believe can change, and what can give life to those who are marginalized, and yet it's always seemed such a long way off. But today it hit me!!! This Thursday {as in two days from now} the two of us and our team will get on airplanes...and we won't stop for over a year. The world will be out stage and hope will be our script. So pray for us! I have more hope for this world than ever before and feel more prepared than ever to capture the beauty and worth of people all around the world. Again I plead pray for us! Pray for our photography, as it is our tool for cultural and personal transformation. For art in it's very God-granted nature has the possibility to create something out of nothing, to build beauty out of the broken. We hope to give worth and listen...quick story:

"Last summer Diane & I really caught this truth in Afghanistan. There was a specific moment during our time in Mazar-e-Sharif that I truly realized the potential that photography has to literally restore a light that has gone out. It was a particularly hot afternoon, the sun was up and a dust storm had just blown through. On these ridiculously sizzling days it's not uncommon to see more stray dogs wandering the streets than people. But I was out laughing with street kinds and taking pictures when I met a young kid in his late teens named Ahmed. Ahmed was orphaned by war at age ten. His entire family had been killed in a bombing years ago and he has basically wandered the country alone ever since. As Ahmed told me his story I began to cry...I felt hopeless and knew of nothing else but to ask if I could pray and take his picture. He agreed, I prayed for him (and he for me) and then we parted ways. A few days later I had printed the photo and thought it might please him to have it, I thought perhaps Ahmed had never had a photo of himself, so I went to find him. When I found him a few blocks from our house I handed him the picture and then - like nothing else had ever before - it hit me. Ahmed gazed at the picture of himself...so deeply...as if to say for the first time "I ACTUALLY EXIST"!!! I am real, so I must have worth! I could literally see his entire self become empowered as he stared at himself. He was SOMEONE again! A light had turned on. It was one of the most eye opening moments in my life to see how photography can be a tool to actually breath life into someone..."

And this is what we are about to go do for the next year! Not just in Afghanistan, but all across the entire world starting in Panama, because there are Ahmed's in every single country & city on the planet. Diane & I profess a hope that you all know and hold within you as well. It is found in Christ alone and his message brings good-news to the poor, the broken and the voiceless. It's time we go proclaim it...It's time to yell it from the roof-tops...We have cameras...and I encourage you to ask yourselves...what do I have? Do you have a voice? A job? A field of study? You can bring good news to everyone around you, for in your vary lives exists a kingdom so utterly beautiful it WILL transform. Let it bubble up! The it over flow! Let us let our love shine together and one to another...ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE, ANOTHER WORLD AWAITS!!!

- Prayer Points -

- For all our last minute logistics here in Kona before we leave Thursday. {so much paperwork}
- For safe travel of our whole team to Panama City {We fly out @ 5:40pm Thursday}
- For a good transition into the practical {hands and feet} ministry in the field.
{we are moving from conceptual to practical now and will need grace}
- For a strong cultural sensitivity {as Paul says to become a Greek to a Greek}
- For safety as we head to the villages {in about 10 days from now!! We will have to trek far into the jungle to live and work in the indigenous community. They have been so marginalized by their fellow country men, so pray for times of empowerment and that the love of Christ would be birthed in their communities}
- For the conference on July 18th! {We will be launching the Spanish version of the "Voice for the Voiceless" prayer book, so pray it will spark a prayer movement in the Spanish speaking world on behalf of the marginalized in those lands. That this prayer may be the foundation to actually see issues like Human Trafficking end in Panama}
- For our projects and open doors. {We have been invited by the US Embassy in Panama to contribute all the media for their international Anti-Human Trafficking campaign! This is such a huge opportunity to make an impact on sexual slavery in the region!}
- For Unity!!!
- For our marriage, that we can grow in love and closeness. {That we can have some special moments together that empower our marriage and that we can continue to rely on God for our needs}

- Also please pray and consider our financial burden. WE ARE IN NEED. We need to mobilize $2,000 of continuing monthly support starting next month in order to lead this mission across the world. As of now we have about $250 of monthly support, so we are really looking for individuals as well as communities who want to partner with out work. We have so much faith in God's provision so we are stepping out in belief that God will provide. Please consider partnering with us. Every single dollar counts ever month. If you received our most recent missions package you have the information for our YWAM Missions Account, if you did not, we would be happy to fill you in on how to give. Our arms are wide open to you...

We love and appreciate you all so much. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and feel free to send the occasional message. It's always so encouraging to hear from YOU when we are in the jungle or the desert or the slum or the township. You are with us and we LOVE you!

Because He Lives,
Steve & Diane Schallert