Photo Friday: Sarah Meets Detroit

Photo taken by Ben Stevinson of  Sarah Peraud who wrote the following reflection on her Spring Break trip to Detroit.

I had the absolute privilege to spend my spring break in Detroit with 5 amazing people living with the Daughters of Charity and exploring different service sites.

Detroit is terrifying. Everywhere we drove we saw houses burned down. We saw people living, selling drugs, surviving on the streets. There was a lot of darkness, a lot of pain.  God was very hard to find.

But, I discovered Detroit is possibly the most hopeful place in the world.

Detroit used to be motor city, a city built on machines and industry. That was quickly taken away. Detroit was stripped. The bones of the city stand as testament to a world and industry that sucked out their marrow and then turned away.

There are no more factories. There are no shiny new cars rolling out from shiny warehouses and factories.

It is the people that make Detroit now. When I met those people, God became evident. When I opened my heart to loving God became inevitable.

I met a boy who, although homeless, just graduated high school wants to go to college and law school and move back to fight for Detroit. I met a child who wants to study fashion and who has the voice of the old Mo-Town greats. I met two homeless teenagers who had found love in each other. I heard an ex-addict talk about the power of poetry. I head volunteers speak with the utmost respect and welcome to the people who walked through their soup kitchen lines.  I saw grafitti everywhere, testament to artists still willing to put their name, their art, their mark on this city.

Repeatedly, after telling us about the cold and destitute situations they were dedicating their lives to people would say, “But things are looking up.”

“Detoit is a phoenix rising.”

“Detroit is a diamond in the rough.”

Over and over again, I heard, “We are a diamond in the rough.”

Detroit is a diamond in the rough. The rough is tougher than most, darker, thicker than most. There is certainly a lot of work to be done, and we are nowhere near finished. But hope is easy to find when the diamonds shine this bright.

I cannot wait to go back.

Photo Friday: Nico en Mexico (1)


Today begins a series we like to call “Nico in Mexico.” Every Christmas break, Nico goes to Mexico to serve the people. He captures the beauty of the experience on film. Lucky for us, he is kind enough to scan the photos so that we can present them to you digitally. If you ask him, I bet he’d be willing to tell you more about the beauty that surrounds each of the moments he has captured. Agua Azul Mariachi Mayan Girl Old Lady Veracruz

Photo Friday: Dignity Shots


We forget that even things like Holiday cards can be a matter of separating those who “have ” and those who “have not.” While some are busy sending out the most beautiful picture of their beautiful children in front of a beautiful tree on their beautiful vacation, enclosed with a letter about all the beautiful things that they have done this year (and, what a wonderful thing to be able to do), Some are not able to participate in this cultural rite. To not be able to send a litany of fun and successful things you have done, or to not have a photo that looks “send-able,” or to not have an address to which these holiday cards can be sent–all of these things are barriers to participation.

One non-profit, Help Portrait, has seen this need and is working with their homeless friends to address it-via the camera lens. While many of these people may not be sending out their photos to loved ones–they are receiving evidence they can carry around of their own beauty and worth.

Help Portrait says that they want to make sure that the Homeless know that  “they are valuable, respected and important members of our communities. That they may be looked past on a daily basis but . . . they are beautiful and worthy people who may just need to see it in their hands to understand what we mean.”

Click here to read more of this beautiful story, and about the lives that have been affected by it.

Click here to see a gallery of photos.


Photo Friday: Black Friday

First in line at Best Buy in Aiea are, from left, Kyleen Krugh, Chevas Miyashiro, Zachary Fletcher, Latoya Artis and Adam Pobrero. At around 2:30 p.m. the group said grace before partaking in their Thanksgiving meal.

From green beans and creamy mashed potatoes to cheap flights and great deals, millions of Americans, 247 million to be exact, found time this past Black Friday to make the most of retailers’ door buster deals and promotions, both in stores and online.  Many Americans stood in line for hours to be first in the stores.  These lucky few managed to observe Thanksgiving while in line at a Best Buy in Hawaii.  With stores opening at 7:00pm on Thanksgiving Day, what is the point of celebrating Thanksgiving?  Has it become a prequel to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday… and now Thanksgiving Thursday?  Have we as a consumerist society lost the true value of family time and the meaning of thanks?

For me Thanksgiving is a relaxing time spent with Ohana (family) and friends where we share a nice meal and enjoy each other’s company.  Where I can reflect on the year and appreciate everything and everyone in my life.  Especially the big man watching from above!  Thanksgiving is where I can acknowledge God, and thank Him for His profuse blessings and lessons He has taught me.

The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:5-6).

Throughout the holiday season whether that be having a nice meal with family and friends, going shopping at three in the morning, or singing songs by the fireplace, do what makes you happy and what is important to you and your family.  But always keep in your hear the meaning of thanks and always be grateful for the joys that surround you.


Photo Friday: Ignatian Solidarity

This weekend is the annual School of the Americas Vigil, a large protest and memorial service conduced outside of Ft. Benning, a large military base in Georgia home to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), previously called the School of the Americas. The Institute is an officer training program for the armies of various Central- and South-American nations, and has drawn controversy over the years for connections between its graduates and events such as the assasination of the Jesuit priests at the University of Central America on Nov. 16, 1989, 23 years ago today.  A tradition of the SOA Vigil is the placing of crosses with the names of victims of violence associated with the SOA on the fence of Ft. Benning, as shown here.