Monday, October 27, 2008

Love is... | october

While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young girl, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.
He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young girl paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
To this, the young girl replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young girl, do you not realise that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young girl listened politely. Then she bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

This month's Love is...focuses on an individual embarking on a year long journey to bring palliative care to individuals dying of AIDS in Africa. It may seem like an insurmountable feat, but even if she spends a year impacting only one life she will have labeled her journey a success.

<< Rewind 15 years ago (think Junior High age)... I read a book about a floating hospital that brought free care to the remote countries of the world and decided then, that that was my life become a nurse and serve on a Mercy Ship. Nursing remained my occupational goal for years simply so I could be apart of something that brings life-changing results to people of the world. In a nutshell, it was in the late 70's that a young couple set out with a passion to impact lives and their cause was so well received that a full fledged ocean liner was essentially given to them for FREE. This was the beginning of an organization called Mercy Ships and, IS... responsible for touching lives all around the world by bringing the opportunity for basic life saving surgeries to be conducted for free. (Think Operation Smile and Doctors without borders rolled into one)
Here is one photojournalists view of the adventure on Mercy Ships

now >> fast forward 10 years to college. I went to a small christian college where I was surrounded by young adults venturing off and dedicating their lives to helping the less fortunate around the world. Delving deeper and deeper into my passion for photography at the time, I decided I would take pictures as a 'hobby' and use any earnings to fund the trips my friends were embarking on.

And stop at the present.... October 2008. We all know I am not a nurse... and photography has kinda grown into more than a 'hobby' but the underlying passions of the past 15 years have remained a constant thread weaving together the patterns of my life. Dreams and paths may have changed or been altered by life but the foundations/passions on which they were built have not.
Today, at this very moment I have the opportunity to merge both past desires into one action and this brings me to this month's Love is....

Since moving to New England I have become dear friends with a nurse who works up at Boston Children's Hospital. She will be leaving in January to join theMercy Ships team in Benin, Africa for one year. Originally placed as a PACU nurse on the ship, she was recently contacted about the opportunity to go into the villages and provide palliative to those dying of AIDS and are facing the last days of life. I commend her, I admire her, and I want to support her...
Each individual who volunteers on the ship must raise their own support. For Suzanne, that is 11 months of finances she must conjure up. She leaves in January so the next two months will be dedicated to helping her fulfill HER dreams of reaching the world by bringing care and light and love to those who bodies and souls are ravaged by this awful disease.

So my friends, meet Suzanne... we had the opportunity to grab a few fun photos of her a few weeks ago so it is only fitting to share here :)

Africa's newest ray of sunshine...

If anyone would like more information on supporting Suzanne or subscribing to her monthly newsletter, simply shoot me an email ( and I will connect you to her and her blog.


Krista Photography said...

Shy, the picks are wonderful :)

Suzanne, I love you and am so excited to see what God does in you and through you next year!!!

Annemarie said...

You captured Suzanne's heart, joy, and radiance, perfectly in these images, Shyla!! I, too, am so excited for Suzanne and her year of service in Africa!! xoxo

erica sergio said...

Mercy Ships sounds amazing (& these photos are beautiful).

Jenny said...

What a beautiful post Shyla. Thanks for being a part of our lives :) Suzy has waited her whole life for a friend like you!

suzanne said...

I don't know what to say Shyla... you are an amazing friend and I can't wait to give you a big hug tomorrow when I see you (although not even that will express my gratitude)
Love you

tyronebcookin said...

I think I already commented on Suzanne's blog but you can really get a feel and sense of personal lives on the ship by their own blogs...

Many links there including Scott Harris old site:

I lost a few peanut MM's to Scott at a few of our late night poker games (yes, on the ship).

Palliative care, whew! Suzanne will be needing some prayers for that job ...I've know two of the prior people who have run that, it takes a lot out of you mentally. But they say the people, relationships, and life experience is priceless.

ohana photographers-david and kimi said...

the starfish story made me tear up!!!!!!!!! "it made a difference for that one" oh how i love that!!!!!

many blessings and love to suzanne on her incredible journey to make a difference!!!

Katelyn said...

Hi Shyla! I'm a photographer from Oregon and I just found your blog through Sarah Anne's blog. You do beautiful work!

Tim Halberg said...

that's awesome!! I have a friend who did Mercy Ship and he had some amazing stories... what a crazy awesome experience!!!

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