Moments – When I saw the nuns… bang, the moment, period.

“When I saw the nuns, I thought it was an unusual group. I’ve never seen so many nuns together. That would make a nice shot. Then as I got close, it was difficult. I was being jostled. People were all around me. I have a Roloflex, and dangling. So, I had to be careful what the best shot I could get. It’s one shot I’ve always been proud of, because everything worked. Everything came together. And bang, the moment, period.” – Morrie Markoff

Los Angeles Times – A life in Pictures: 99-year-old photographer looks back

Morrie Markoff hasn’t been bored “one minute in my life,” he told LA Times columnist Steve Lopez. The LA-based photographer has raised a family, run a business, created art and cheated death in his 99 years – and captured much of it. Read more about Morrie: Thriving 99-year-old is right at home in today’s lively downtown L.A.

 

“If you love photography, shoot pictures. Keep shooting pictures. You’ll beging to notice a difference when you first started and two years later. Some people look, but they don’t see. Keep shooting pictures. That’s all.” – Morrie Markoff

Taking a Year Off to Change the World? By Tori Pintar

“Take a year off to travel, work or volunteer abroad? The “gap year,” typically taken after high school and before university, is a long-held tradition in many European countries, and in Australia and New Zealand. But the tradition is unheard of in the United States. Author and committed traveler Rita Golden Gelman is launching a national movement to change that.

On June 20th, 2009 in Washington, D.C., Gelman held a brainstorming session with over 40 representatives of various organizations with gap year interests to discuss the formation of a national movement called Let’s Get Global. The project’s mission is to make the gap year experience an accepted and established tradition in the United States.

Let’s Get Global focuses specifically on international gap year experiences, with a goal of increasing Americans’ participation in the world community. Let’s Get Global plans to launch a public relations campaign to educate the American public about the benefits of taking a gap year. High school students and their parents will be specifically targeted. A detailed website will contain information about the programs available, the universities that support taking a gap year, testimonials of gap year alumni and their parents as well as information on funding. Integral to Let’s Get Global’s vision is that gap years be available to all high school seniors regardless of financial background. Let’s Get Global wants to find and create funding sources for potential “gappers.”

It appears that the Let’s Get Global project has arisen in a market ripe for change. America’s elite universities from Harvard to Tufts and Princeton already support their accepted students deferring admission to take a gap year. This Fall, Princeton will launch a new program in which 20 students will spend the year in service-oriented work abroad before starting at Princeton in Fall 2010. At the high school level schools have even begun to hold gap year fairs, according to USA Today.

Gelman and Let’s Get Global’s volunteers see themselves as an umbrella organization seeking to unite and intensify the gap year movement in the U.S. They believe that cross-cultural connections are the solution to decreased world conflict because those experiences develop increased respect and understanding of different cultures. “Connecting across cultures changes you, you’ll never be the same,” says Gelman. “When you sit in someone’s home, sit across the table from them and share their food, they’re no longer strangers, foreigner; you realize they’re the same as you. And you can’t drop a bomb on yourself.” For more information, visit Let’s Get Global: Crossing Borders, Sharing Lives.”

Tori Pintar for Ethical Travel News Team – July 2009. Reposted with permission.

To learn more, visit Let’s Get Global a project of US Servas Inc.

Passion to Action, a crazy love story

My friend Jay Loecken defines himself as a “Lover of God.” Husband of an incredible wife named Beth. Father of four amazing children, Ben, Bekah, Abi & Noah & Ministry Director for Crazy Love In Action.” I met Jay back in the summer of 2009 when I was the Creation Care community manager for SustainLane.com, an online green guide. I invited Jay to tell their love story Loving Others – Living Simply. The Loecken family has been traveling the United States in their RV demonstrating to all they meet “crazy love in action” based on the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan, about God’s crazy love for us and what it means to show His love to others in a tangible hands-on way. The new name of their outreach is Passion to Action. Their mission is “to inspire, empower and mobilize people to put their faith in action”. Rather than tell their remarkable story, Jay has given me permission to repost their story from their Passion to Action website. Please join us as we hit the road with Jay, Beth, Ben, Bekah, Abi, Noah and friends.

Our Story

Our dream of hitting the open road and traveling the country in an RV began in the early years of our marriage. With a few babies, moves and job changes, our dream never became a reality. In July 2007, our family had the privilege of going to Africa on a life changing missions trip. When we returned, we wept as we realized all that we had in comparison to the African people. Our country host, Paul, shared his powerful testimony of growing up in the slums. As he spoke about the importance of having a dream, we realized that we had let our dream die. We decided to earnestly seek God to see if this dream was from Him. Over several months, God spoke to us through prayer and His word and we believe He has truly led us on this adventure.

Our journey began the summer of 2007 when we went on a life-changing missions trip to Kenya, Africa.

While in Africa, we had many conversations with our country host, Paul Omondi, who grew up in the slums of Nairobi. He described the heart wrenching challenges he faced growing up in that environment and how he saw many of his friends pay for their wrong choices with their lives. He described how some of his friends were burned or stoned to death. He told us that what kept him alive in the slums was that he had a dream to one day be the President of Kenya. He spoke of how God places a dream in all of us. What was our dream? We knew it was buried deep in our hearts, but we were too busy pursuing the “American” dream to even acknowledge it. The 5 of us (little Noah stayed in Atlanta with friends) served for 10 days in Kiu, a small community outside of Nairobi, Africa. We went there to serve and bless others, but we received much more than we gave. The people of Africa changed our lives forever. Until you see them face to face, their lives are only an image on a TV screen, looking very surreal. When you hug them, talk with them, see their living conditions, pray with them, it touches your heart in a way that is hard to describe. They are the most generous, joyful people we have ever met. They are clearly poor and in desperate need of so much, yet they have a richness that many Americans will never experience. Their faces and our time together will forever be etched in our hearts.

Coming home to the U.S. was difficult as we experienced a myriad of emotions. How could we have so much and yet be so discontent? We were thankful for how blessed we were, yet at the same time wondered if all that we owned added to our life, or actually stole life from us? As we allowed these questions to surface and answered them honestly, we began to pray about what to do. As a family, we wept, prayed and searched God’s Word. We needed answers and direction. We discussed our dream of traveling the country full-time. We no longer wanted to wait for “some day”, nor did we want to just travel for site seeing, adventure, or homeschool reasons. We knew that this mission needed to have a purpose and that it was bigger than us. Initially, we felt a little crazy. We researched, prayed, questioned and wondered. We also wrestled with the fear of the unknown and the fear of failure. Through it all, we finally came to the conclusion this was in fact what we felt God was leading us to do.

In November 2007, we put our home on the market. We waited 5 agonizing months and during that time we were able to detach ourselves from our home and to purge our hearts of materialism.

In March of 2008, we sold our home. Two weeks before we moved, God provided the perfect used RV for our family and surprisingly it was driven to our home in Atlanta all the way from Las Vegas, NV. Through this and several other events we saw specifically how God was capable of meeting all of our needs.

On April 18, 2008 the house was sold, the RV was packed and we hit the road. Although we left behind many wonderful friendships, we knew beyond a doubt that we were following what God had put so heavily on our hearts.

One of Jay’s favorite quotes: “Preach the Gospel to everyone, and if necessary, use words.” St. Francis of Assisi

Follow the Loecken’s blog and read more about the mission of Passion to Action, each member of the family and their posts Stories of the Obsessed, videos and photos.