Sous le ciel de Paris {Travel Photography}

Under the Parisian sky, you will find beautiful monuments and photogenic places.

Crepes, coffee & the Eiffel Tower are a must! I even bought a beret to go with the iconic Paris tourist theme. If you love beautiful scenery, delicious food & fresh bread - Paris is for you!

I think we struck gold with the photo spots - this was my favourite view of the tower!

I think we struck gold with the photo spots - this was my favourite view of the tower!

Couldn’t stop singing: “Au soleil, sous la pluie, à midi ou à minuit , Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Elysées”

Couldn’t stop singing: “Au soleil, sous la pluie, à midi ou à minuit , Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Elysées”

We quickly realized a place worth visiting if you find yourself in France is Disney Paris. Every corner felt like being in a real life movie. The parks felt magical! Their PR team was so prompt with e-mail responses

In my head I can picture Ratatouille helping the chef make the meal by pulling his hair - haha.

In my head I can picture Ratatouille helping the chef make the meal by pulling his hair - haha.

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My Disney Paris Tips:

Check out both parks - One of my favourite parts of this experience was watching the stunt show. Don’t blink, this choreographed care chase and special effect show really keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Get the app - Something we learnt mid way through the day was that we would be able to view schedules, maps and WAIT TIMES via the app.

Second times the charm - We actually had enough time to do some rides twice. Which I highly recommend. Get the photo face you actually wanted, or keep your eyes open this time to notice some details you may have missed the first time around.

Don’t miss the parade - Definitely, 100% watch the parade. Workers did a great job at directing people to the view areas while clearing the path. I loved the singing, dancing, and special appearances from so many amazing characters.

Bring a portable charger - There are too many photo moments to capture, so be prepared to use your phone for videos and photos lots! A portable charger ensures you have the battery life to last!

I loved:

Coffee - No time for naps, there was too much to be excited about! I was so grateful for the many places that sold coffee in the park. 10/10 and much needed.

Food - Feel free to pack snacks, but I saved up my appetite for a meal in the park, where I had some amazing fajitas. There were many options and styles of food to choose from so we each got exactly what we were craving.

Lion King - What more is there to say. We went before the opening of the Lion King & Jungle festival, but it made us very eager to return. These new shows and exhibits just started 2 days ago. (JUNE 22 ) and run until September! Anyone want to come with? ;)

Costumes - Leave it to Disney to make you wish you could dress up everyday of your life! Not only was every person we interacted with bilingual, but they greeted us with friendly smiles and really cool costumes that were associated with their ride/attraction!

Fast Pass - The fast pass life is the way to go. Waiting times are very visible above each ride, so it helped us use our fast pass strategically. You are given a time slot to which you can come back which means we got to do rides that were less busy and grab snacks while rather than be in line the entire time.

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Overall, France - you have have exceeded my expectations. My camera roll is full and so is my heart.


All images shot with a: Canon EOS M100 & edited on Adobe Lightroom

I'm sorry & I love you - inspired by: Lesvos

Volunteering in Moria - a refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, has been the worst, best and most significant experience of my life. Someone described it as an organized slum, I laughed at the time but that’s so accurate. If I could tell every person I met these things - I would.

I’M SORRY & I LOVE YOU.

I’m sorry - you are no longer safe in your home country, but I love the hope and risks you took for a better life.

I’m sorry I’ve heard your problem and said: “yes i understand” when really - i don’t and never will. I love your patience with my terrible Farsi speaking skills and the giggles we have when I finally get the word right.

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I’m sorry this place isn’t the prettiest, barbwire, locks and tall fences aren’t the most aesthetic. I’m sorry you feel like animals, I hear you and I wish I could sit with you and chat for hours. - I love the organizations who have incorporated art into camp. They bring light to a dark place.

I’m sorry to the volunteers and new friends who show up not knowing what to expect. I love that you give it your all. That wether it’s shovelling gravel, or begging people to make room in an already small space -  that you laugh, encourage each other and in some cases even want to come back.

I’m sorry to the long term volunteers who sacrifice a lot to be there - I love how you are though, yet gentle. You are patient as we try and learn the ropes of what it means to serve this community.

I’m sorry your 70 year old Dad will have a hard time walking up the stairs to your container home, but that is the only place your family of 9 will fit. I love that ever since he never fails wave and smile at me from the window.

I’m sorry that you are a single woman who came alone and had to work in a factory in Turkey on your way here, but I promise you are still valuable. I love that you feel comfortable sharing your story with me, that you let me hug and pray for you.

I’m sorry I can’t give you that extra half a meter of space. There is another single dad just like you with a young son who needs a floor to sleep. I love that 3 days later your sons have become friends.

I’m sorry the food isn’t great - I can’t imagine only eating this bland airplane food, but I love seeing different cultures change it up and make it their own. (I especially like the fresh bread & donuts)

I’m sorry to wake you while you are fasting to bother you once again about making room for new arrivals. I love how you still invite me in for chai while we talk it out.

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I’m sorry the last resort is to bring the police - “Moria very small , with many people”. I love how the next day feels brand new, you forgive me and understand and I am so grateful.

I’m sorry that due to the unknown number of new boats and people arriving we can’t give out everything we have - I love seeing you be resourceful. Creating areas for laundry, sharing with your new neighbours, adding some “home decor”, making the most of your situation.

I’m sorry that you are sick, I’m even more sorry that your baby is sick - I love that you are able to get a little bit of rest and that there are volunteer doctors who speak multiple languages eager to help you.

I’m sorry I don’t have all the answers. I love that you are patient as we scramble to decipher Greek letters and find out what you need.

I’m sorry that you are the only one left in your family and are still considered a minor. I love that you still have 16 year old guy dreams - finishing school & playing football and how that is now a possibility. I am excited for you my friends!

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I’m sorry that you are a single man who feels like they’ve been thrown into the jungle. I love seeing you step up and take responsibilities wether that’s becoming a translator for volunteers, representing your community or helping others find their way.

I’m sorry that the Greek economy sucks - that this crisis doesn’t help it at all. I love seeing Moria open up some work opportunities for locals, I loved ease dropping on some Greek police practice some Arabic with their new friends.

I’m sorry your husband got sent to the detention centre, I love our memory of crying together hoping they would release him and the smile you had when you were reunited.

I’m sorry I got to go home and come back while you stayed here. I love our surprising reunion, and hearing about how far you’ve come since your first day in camp.

I’m sorry that waiting for asylum takes so long. I love the celebrations and smiles on your faces when it’s finally your turn to leave to the mainland.

I’m sorry that all I can do when we say goodbye is maybe take a quick illegal selfie for my own memories and pray for the rest of your journey.

I’m sorry it has to be this way, but to everyone in Moria, know that we love you.


“We can’t change their future or their past but we can be part of there now. “

*image from Eurorelief social media

*image from Eurorelief social media

Treat yo self'

HEY YOU, DON’T FORGET TO TREAT YOUR SELF today.

Shout out to the coffee guy for taking our picture!!

Shout out to the coffee guy for taking our picture!!

After crossing the border back to Canada just in time for work - my best friend ELLA & I looked at each other and went hmm.. that was THE BEST MORNING!

To be honest it was nothing out of the ordinary, and for two gals who have had the privilege to see so many beautiful places around the world, how could such a simple morning be so exciting & memorable.

Post snow storm & frost in the air - we got in the car and headed south towards a coffee shop we had discovered through some pictures online.

I’m a sucker for a cute cafe, a little adventure and beautiful greenery!

First off, this place was 100% worth the “ international drive”.

IF YOU ARE READING THIS - YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT BABYGREENS !! @plantshopbaby on instagram and in person.

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There seems to be a trend going on, where everyone is purging their closets, belongings, drastically cutting out sugar, coffee, vowing to never shop ever again because it’s not ethical and all of the above. Instead - consider simply doing things in moderation & with intentionality. Getting rid of items that no longer bring you joy is so great, but once in a while it is also important to purchase yourself a little treat that can go a long way for your overall productivity, mood or happiness. (or get someone else a treat and make their day!)

I found shifting my perspective on spending has made me really value the things I have purchased.

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I pay for that $5 + coffee because not only am I supporting someones business, but I know I will enjoy it - I know it allowed me to catch up with a friend or work on something creative in a beautiful environment.

We gather, thrift & search through home decor store for pieces that will make us enjoy spending time in our bedrooms. (That’s one of me and Ella’s fav activities - cleaning our cute rooms haha! Stay tuned, we did a photoshoot of her’s for her upcoming blog.)


SO DO IT - take a morning off

Get that cute plant

Buy that drink if it allows you to sit and enjoy a calm moment.

Treat yourself to that 3-wick candle you’ve been meaning to splurge on!

I THINK YOU DESERVE IT!

Finding joy and excitement in the little things has honestly made life SO MUCH FUN.


Thanks Amanda for helping us pick some greenery to smuggle home. This one was my absolute favourite find.

instagram vs. reality

No personal photographer following you around 24/7? no problem > Film with your back facing iphone camera in 4K setting, pose, smile, dance, laugh and then screenshot your fav moment after! I have been loving the VSCO M5 filter or I use Lightroom mobile CC for my current instagram theme.

Look at that pineapple plant! DRINK CHOICE: OAT MILK MOCHA

Look at that pineapple plant! DRINK CHOICE: OAT MILK MOCHA

LOCATION: BABYGREENS CAFE

1201 CORNWALL AVE BELLINGHAM, WA

Holiday Gift Guide - For PNW dudes

Need some last minute gift ideas that a majority of men can appreciate?

Here are a few of our fav items that can be shopped from each brands online store OR even better, in stores at Fort & co , in beautiful Fort Langley, BC. (amen for not having to pay for shipping!)

To be honest, you can’t go wrong gifting anything Herschel. From apparel, suitcases, bags & travel essentials - it’s all perfectly designed AND PRACTICAL! (that’s where a majority of these are from)

I should really name this post: PRACTICAL GIFTS FOR A #PNW KINDA DUDE.

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Here are our two fav rain jackets: The lining inside these jackets are quite nice! The black one is a longer length style - both come in various colours.

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“Puffers are all the trend” - In the end, this one was our winner for best investment jacket. So light, fit in our backpacks, kept us warm & dry - yes, I said “us” . There is a women’s version as well.

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A fun little gadget kind of gift - VSSL flashlights are such an aesthetic option for light & different supplies. Check their website , they have a flask version, first aid kit & even a zombie one - haha. A practical item to have camping, on a hike or in your car. They are actually local & have created such a great adventure tool.

Oh, here’s a fun stocking stuffer or gift bag idea. Herschel has these affordable & compact bags! I have used them in the past to hold gifts, but they also fit in a stocking. There are backpack or duffle versions!

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Thought I would throw in one last little gift idea - Anything Gentlemen’s Hardware is beautifully branded, packaged & very practical. We found that these waterproof cards would work great for rainy trips, or in our case, being near a rapid river!

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Hope this helps give you some holiday or birthday inspiration for a friend, brother significant other, dad, uncle etc. ( or for yourself - I personally like all of these)

Laughter > Language | GREECE RECAP

Hello again my friends,

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Jet lag is hitting me hard as I write this. Bare with me as you enter my narrative train of thought.

I got a little self conscious about posting a second update because these are usually stories I jot down on iphone notes while lying in bed and I’m just so ESL haha.


Let’s pick up where we left off. We had 2 days where instead of doing shifts in camps we went to the Lifejacket graveyard & spent time in a community centre.

Going to the lifejacket graveyard was another reminder that “every life jacket has a story”. I found it helpful to have done a few days in camp before going to see the jackets because I could picture a lot of my current “friends” from camp who had just arrived during our first week.

We helped them hang multiple wet clothing items and jackets. Rain in general makes me uncomfortable, I can’t imagine what it’s like to cross those dangerous waters.

Go boys! Moving the furniture out so we could do the floors, while Alex cleans the walls.

Go boys! Moving the furniture out so we could do the floors, while Alex cleans the walls.

Community Centre:

Shoutout to the Village Men’s team - The entire camp & surrounding organizations really appreciated the hard work they put in to all these “special projects”.

My new friend and I did some watercolour painting together, she really understood my love language because we hugged lots and lots despite not being able to communicate. (my google translate connection sucked that night)

My new friend and I did some watercolour painting together, she really understood my love language because we hugged lots and lots despite not being able to communicate. (my google translate connection sucked that night)


We spent a few hours before “tea time”, doing a deep clean of the space.

By the way -  Squeegeeing a floor is a real arm workout.

Go Little Kaitleen !

Go Little Kaitleen !

The centre is used to host tea time twice a week, where tea is served and anyone is welcome to come hang out, colour, play soccer, and enjoy each others company.


On Saturday’s they host Women’s Day - Where only women are allowed and apparently it is a much looked forward to morning for the women in camp. Small things like not having to look after kids and getting their nails painted goes a long way.

I think if I were to go back I would love to teach english in the community centre.  

Since we are outside of camp - it is also a space where you can share the gospel or about your personal relationship with God. Those who wish to receive Bible’s in their language can pick one up there as well.  


YWAM ship:

My oh my did I miss that boat. (I mean I got sea sick in April while it was docked..but still, it’s special)

Our team had a blast sanding wood, polishing the bell & prepping for a community night hosted by the YWAM family every week. We lead a time of worship, a message & prayer. Church and nights like this are fun because everything get’s translated as they are being said. (also takes double the time it would if it was just in one language) .

This was one of the moments where I realized “who cares about language barrier”!!!!

God is so good, and gave us plenty of opportunities, resources and moments to create relationships with people from different nations through laughter, high fives, hugs, sports, music, a card game etc. Honestly, at first I thought I would laugh a lot to cope with the brokenness on the island, and then I realized a smile or laughing together it was the best form of friendly communication.

Back in camp:

Hehe, one of our french speaking friends in camo had a really great conversation with myself & Kalisse and apparently in honour of that he painted our names. (the rules are no works, just pictures but I didn’t say anything)

Hehe, one of our french speaking friends in camo had a really great conversation with myself & Kalisse and apparently in honour of that he painted our names. (the rules are no works, just pictures but I didn’t say anything)

Our team had the opportunity to try a variety of the jobs, yet most of us chose to go back to tasks we felt familiar with. Being there for only a short period of time, it seemed like a wise choice. Returning to a task you feel confident in allows for opportunities to teach new volunteers and giving them tips on what has worked for us. (in Moria - you got from a newbie to a veteran expert real fast)

I.D cards - ONE OF MY TOP 5 FAV MOMENTS IN CAMP

I find it special to be on shift long enough to run through a whole process with a family or individual.

They get off the boat, the Greeks interview them, they take a mugshot style image and receive papers, then we hand out blankets, chai or water and various items from organizations (hygiene kit / dry clothes)

Then they can get settles in the gated “new arrivals area” or around there. In the past people stayed there 1-3 nights but from their food stamps it seems like it’s been taking longer due to the lack of space available.

In order to speed up the process when people finally get moved out of new arrivals, they decided to start creating their I.D card sooner rather than later. Going from a vital non-replaceable piece of paper to a plastic waterproof card is a big deal. My friends eagerly lined up, we set up the camera and had a machine print out their cards.

I am tearing up - I miss them. I am thinking about how funny it was to have them be excited just for a picture. They fixed their hair, asked me if it looked good, tried to make each other laugh and one by one we celebrated each person receiving what seemed like a lottery win.

Another top 5 moment: seeing the different cultures interact, encourage and assist each other despite their language barrier and religious differences. We come from a pretty multicultural area, but this is a whole other level. They all have different practices, views, and have gone through a lot of trauma and stress for the last - who knows how long.

Beautiful art, stories & people:

Something new to camp are these murals. An initiation taken by an organization that melts my heart. ( So I contributed a heart to a wall) Seeing children and artists make Moria a little more colourful was amazing. For a minute, it makes you forget that you are on a military base in the middle of some random island. The murals represent different stories, different nations and many different hands were involved during the creation process.

THE 2018 COLLECTIVE GREECE TRIP TEAM!

THE 2018 COLLECTIVE GREECE TRIP TEAM!

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR:

There is good news.

The other day this article came out:

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Good news #2 - WE MADE A FRIEND

I know I say everyone on this trip is our friend, but Stavros - you are a special friend to our team. Thank you for being the best server in all of Greece ;). We went to his work multiple times for the best crepes & Nutella pizza.

Ralph gifted him one of our teams most recommended books: Love Does ! We can have a book club from across the world.

My Greek little brother, we can’t wait for you to let us show you around Canada!

A FEW MORE THINGS:

  • I am working on a proper blog post for church, but I appreciate you tuning into these "all over the place” stories.

  • Our team has plenty of stories and moments that we will cherish in our hearts. God kept us safe and rather healthy.

  • Ask me in person about our sneaky selfies & photos with our new friends that we can’t post online.

  • Please keep the people of Moria in your prayers.

  • Please keep our team in your prayers now that we are home. I think it’s hard to be in Canada, while our new friends lack basic needs. Some of us feel a tug to be part of local Refugee initiatives, to go back or to brainstorm outreach opportunities and ways to share what we experienced.

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That’s a rap for this time - Saying goodbye was hard, so many of our friends managed to find us on our last shift to wish us farewell, take selfies and give us hugs!

I’ll link my previous GREECE blog posts here:

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who helped us financially to be able to serve the people of Lesvos.

Arrival in Greece 2.0

Wow. I don’t even know where to start, but to give you context on the Refugee situation here on Lesvos, you can read my previous blog posts from a couple months ago.

If you are looking for us, here is where we currently are: 

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Here is our first team photo! SOME OF VILLAGE SURREY/LANGLEY/CALGARY ‘S FINEST YOUNG ADULTS in my opinion. These people are incredibly gifted at so many things. They all put aside time and money to travel and help wherever will be needed.

Here is our first team photo! SOME OF VILLAGE SURREY/LANGLEY/CALGARY ‘S FINEST YOUNG ADULTS in my opinion. These people are incredibly gifted at so many things. They all put aside time and money to travel and help wherever will be needed.

First camp visit

As we pulled up to the camp I recognized the smell right away. I thought “oh Ok now... I’m definitely back”. It’s hard to describe but it’s a constant mix of sewage, clay?, cigarettes and a melting pot of perfumes. You get used to it pretty quick. #manysmellsofmoria

off topic - the place we are staying has the cutest puppies!

off topic - the place we are staying has the cutest puppies!

After a couple hours of orientation I was not sure what to expect in camp. Surprisingly, some parts were much cleaner than in April. The biggest change I saw was that these GIANT HALL/TENT STRUCTURES had been renovated. Apparently a team from some country in Europe recognized the need during a visit and made it happen. - so amazing, those tents were definitely fire hazards.

 

   On our camp tour we saw a bus full of people leave for Athens. I saw a man aggressively wave at me so I waved back and in French he yelled: YOU ARE BACK? GOODBYE MY FRIEND!

It took me a while to process that very short moment. THAT WAS IN FACT MY FRIEND! In the spring there was a large population of Congolese people arrive on the Lesvos shore, I spent most of my time with them. Here I was months later getting to say goodbye as they finally received legal documents allowing them to leave the camp!

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It’s hard to use words to describe Moria, google has its fair share of images (most outdated) but picture a lot of outdoor blanket forts & school portables turned into what will be their homes for an undetermined amount of time.

What does the team think? 

I loved hearing the highs, lows, and first thoughts on Moria. You only ever experience your first impression of the camp once.   

Quotes:  

“Tension. You can feel it in Mytilini - the writing's on the walls. But while hate may win some battles, hope has already won the war.”

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

‭John‬ ‭1:5‬ @ Mytilene, Lesvos, Greece

-Andrea Kingston (professional tool guard lol)

“You will feel overwhelmed, people will stare at you when you first walk into camp. With roughly 8,000 refugees in a space originally made for 3,000 with over 40 countries representanted & through language barriers”

-Amity Petralba (Housing & drill using Queen) 

What are we doing?

The boys are alternating to cover night shifts: midnight to 8am ! We have done daytime 8-5 and an evening shift as well.

Alex did an 8 hour overnight and then an 8 hour day electrician shift back to back... he’s crazy!

Alex did an 8 hour overnight and then an 8 hour day electrician shift back to back... he’s crazy!

The tasks vary throughout the day:

Census - Essentially checking ID & Counting

Diapers - handing out the baby essentials

Photocopy - this is something I forget is a luxury back home

Tools - You go with the Person of Concern who needs the tool and you wait until they are done using it to ensure our limited tools make their way back to the office. 

Housing - once families get notice that they will be leaving for Athens, spaces open up for new arrivals to move in. You sometimes have the opportunity to go through the entire process with a family. (I’ll talk about that later)

New Arrivals - organizing & handing out food or clothing to those who have just arrived (Charise did 2 shifts in there and there was so much efficiency!)

New Arrivals gate (evening) - my fav / least fav spot to be in. You let those who are new in, those who don’t live there - OUT !

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A few moments of what we specifically did or saw:

Every task and problem is often SO SIMPLE, but the same problem at home vs. in Moria is a whole other ballgame.

 

My family, friends, work place are very organized. There are standards of excellence for everything you do and the right materials to help you create a solution.

Ressources, supplies, tools, people, time, safety and help is VERY limited in the camp.

Our task: there is one big tent that needs to be switched to a smaller tent because it is blocking half of the path trucks go through.

 

Simple right?


My mind: Ok. Inform the families, help them move out, unassemble tent, assemble new tent, help them move in.

 

Estimated time of completion: 2 hours max.

Actual Duration until completion: took almost the ENTIRE DAY HAHA


Language barriers suck. Trying to explain the dangers of their large tent being there was a challenge, then came the realization that the space would now be smaller, then came the back and forth shouting between a few of the husbands about how “this is big problem” (that’s the extent of what I understood in Farsi). Either way that tent had to come down.


Tent Parts, screws and nails need to be salvaged for future use. I had never used a power tool in my entire life but I was more than happy to start then and there.

(Being a carpenter is secretly a dream of mine)

A few of us did some intense team bonding when it came to take down, clean up, removing garbage soaked in sewage, taking apart screwed in pallets and putting up the tent.

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It’s so funny. It doesn’t matter what big project you are working on, the people LOVE to stand and watch. I get it- it’s honestly really boring to wait around and do nothing in camp. So watching me struggle to use a drill was entertainment until 2 men offered to help. 

Turns out one was a kitchen cabinet builder! He showed us pictures and they were beautiful! Dillon helped him put a tarp over his little space so his baby would be less cold and in exchange he said: ME HELP BUILDING.

What a blessing.

This is so typical Moria- one minute you’re being yelled at or told we are all bad the next the same person is hugging you and says you’re beautiful and you are their friend.

 

A women showed me how Google translate has a feature where you can speak into your phone and thanks to technology we realized we were both on the same page this ENTIRE time. She now hugs or waves when she sees us walking around.

On an evening shift...

It’s  a little less physically demanding but you are making sure those who are vulnerable remain safe to the best of your abilities.

Some of our team got to sit at Section Gates and those are the best moments to get to know those who live there. The women love to sit and chat, draw, lean on you and it was cool to see the relationships being formed between our team and them. They tell some traumatic survival stories in the most casual ways. These women are though.

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Myself, Amity and Dillon guarded the gate and to be honest, our new friend helped us do most of the hard work. (Can you tell? Everyone is “my friend” haha)

They know who lives there and who doesn’t, who will cause trouble and who will honestly only go in for just a minute to look for someone.

I realized I had been practicing the wrong language while at home.

Most new arrivals are coming from Afghanistan where they speak Farsi. I honestly think there are over 100 underaged boys waiting to be housed into the vulnerable unaccompanied minors section. In the meantime, they are all becoming “bros”, I see them taking care of older women, helping babies, looking after their sisters and despite the circumstances they are always making us laugh and offering us food or tea.

 

There is a spot in my heart for all those little trouble makers.

 

In the middle of the shift one of the boys said “Hey. Close door now because one guy drinking to fight”

So we held the gate closed and I only got pushed once.

 

As soon as they saw that he had possibly hurt me on his way in, 4 or 5 of them starting yelling and shoved him outside and said “go call police”.


Told you, they do all the work.


A few little fights and one larger one occurred that evening and I was grateful to our friend who warned us and explained what happened. The next morning I saw one of our new arrival guys had his nose & fist all bandaged up.


I gave him a motherly disappointed glare and shook my head.


He said “so sorry, I protect my friend, but no more fighting Ok?” - we exchanged a high fived and we both laughed.

My oh my, that’s just another regular day in Moria

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We have 2 days off to go to church & work in the community centre. A few people have told me it’s not fully normal to enjoy and want to work in camp - yet they feel that way & that was enough confirmation that God wanted them there, which is why they stay. So far I feel the same as I did on the last trip here - I’m surprisingly very comfortable , sad the days go by quickly and excited to return. 

 

One reason I feel so excited to have the opportunity to work in this heartbreaking military base is because so many people contributed to me being able to afford this trip only a few months after raising the first trip amount. I feel encouraged to do every task I’m assigned as if I was serving Jesus himself. I am grateful for my community at home.

Thank you for being part of this experience if it was financially, through kind words or through prayer - That’s so unreal. 

- lots of love,  

Cece R.  

LEVEL furnished living - Vancouver

I have stayed in many hotels or similar accommodations, my absolute favourite as of right now was LEVEL furnished living in LA. Where I had the opportunity to stay for a week and I could not get enough of how photogenic the entire city was. I pushed myself to have the same outlook on my own city coming home. I have been on the hunt for spots with great lighting, backdrops & interesting textures locally and it just keeps on getting better. To my surprised during a stroll downtown I saw the recognizable LEVEL sign. My self & Kassie had the opportunity to tour and learn about the suites the New Yaletown - Richards location offers! 

Here is a gallery of photos from our visit :

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Lightroom Edits w/Bella&Wren + Kassinka

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Inspired by my fav VSCO presets I did my best to create Lightroom Presets that would work on multiple styles of photos & help achieve a professional look within a minimal turnover time.

Photographing Clothing & products:

When it comes to shooting product - especially apparel or OOTD's, it is key to have a fast workflow and not take too much time to post the picture. Items often become out of stock so post it after you purchase it, if you want to encourage others to shop your look & the chances of a store repost are higher if the item is available to purchase. 

HOT VS. COLD

My editing style changes depending on who the client is or what look I want the image to have. I like to categorize and export a warm tone + a cool toned edit. (You can see more hints of brown in the first image and a more blue tint in the second)

USING MY PRESETS ON INDIVIDUAL IMAGES

A preset is pretty much a filter you can apply to an images in Lightroom. I find that investing in an editing software is key. (I have the student monthly plan). You can purchase some from photographers & VSCO. I have also found various Free Presets on the internet.

I am working out the final details to share these presets with you for FREE! 

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INSTAGRAM: @cecerahoerason + @cecerahoerason_media 

Arrival in Greece

Hey friends,

Here is what’s important to know:

Geographically Lesvos is the closest large land mass from Turkey.

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Greece & Turkey do not always get along, and the reality is that Greece does not have the resources to be receiving this many refugees in a camp that is already double its capacity.

 

The country is not doing well economically, tourism is low and that leaves a lot of businesses without customers. In the last few days I’ve had fun photographing how spectacular this place really is, in hopes that maybe this specific island becomes a travel destination for people.

 

I tell myself I am trying Greek sweets & coffees.. for the sake of helping economy, right? ;)

 

Rule of thumb when in Greece, plumbing sucks. Don’t flush the paper.

 

This is not Canada. Pedestrians don’t have the right of way. Drivers and scooters are so confident in their hectic driving way... crossing the street scares me more than being in camp.

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•I’m all seriousness, small boats are overpacked after contacting a smuggler in hope of a better life and then they make that dangerous open water journey.


•People from many countries no longer have a home.

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(We are talking 40 different nations!)


•We are volunteering under Euroreleif /

•YWAM LESVOS who is about a year old, their base is on the “next wave” which is where we are currently living.



•The crisis is STILL ongoing

The very morning we toured camp there was a handful of boats that arrived!


some of the tasks we do: Security, gate guarding, admin, doctors, plumbers, teachers etc. 



Every life jacket has a story.

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We had the chance to see the “life jacket graveyard”. Thousands have been dumped, along with boat remains and small floaty tubes. Kassie looked over at me and reminded me that each jacket had a story and the little girl I was holding hands with at camp wore one of these - if she was lucky. My heart broke at the truth in her observation. You can visually see the large number of people Moria camp has had to host.


WE ARE TOLD:

Everyday will be different, that is the life of most volunteers... and the refugees.

How are we & what you can pray for:


Don’t worry. So far so good :) our entire team made it after a full day of travel on Easter.


Incase you didn’t know I am on this trip with my Village school or ministry class. I’ve had the privilege of spending the last eight months with some amazing people learning about the bible & what it would be like to pursue ministry, but that’s a story in itself.

It is a whole new adventure to be living 6 girls out of suitcases in one small room did I mention.. on a boat.

The “next wave” is bigger than what I had imagined. Theres a kitchen, bathrooms and a cozy library we’ve already gotten to dive into.  Feels homey and I some how still get lost on this small ship)

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 The marina is beautiful to look at, the Greek stars are something I am excited to stare at. I picture what life at sea must be like, but the thought makes me a little sea sick so I’ll stop.


PRAY FOR CONFIDENCE

Some of us have been feeling anxious about the unknown of what the days will look like, or what tasks we will be asked to do. Pray that we feel adequacy and courage.


We were reminded that it is easier to be a light in a dark place. Moria camp is a dark place.


It was fitting to leave for our trip on Easter, when our church reminded us to RISK EVERYTHING.


We can’t ignore this situation, we need to come in knowing that we were given a crazy opportunity and we need to make the most out of it. We are not the only ones who risked it all. These people risked safety, being caught or arrested in the waters, the lives of their children and families, risk going into a country with no legal documents this is THE REAL DEAL.

I GOT TO SEE MADI & JOSH!!!

I GOT TO SEE MADI & JOSH!!!

We already miss home and our families.

We have the advantage of coming into this already a family, but many on our team are leaving North America for the first time and traveling an entire day to end up half way around the world into the unknown CAN BE (I take that back..) IT IS a scary thing. We know our families miss us, but trust me it goes both ways.

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Well. That’s all for now. We got asked what our first impression of Moria was (because you only get one first Impression). I think the documentaries made me think the journey to camp was the hardest part for them, but I realized once they get to camp the frustration and shock levels for them are high, and they don’t expect to be sleeping in these conditions. Maybe I’ll ask the rest of the class what their impressions were, but i thought it was cleaner than what I expected now that the Greeks get hired to pick up some trash. In a matter of seconds during our tour many kids would hold our hands and call us “my friend” or joking call us thieves. It’s kinda very cute in its on way.


Oh, If you donated, spread awareness or prayed for anyone on our team THANK YOU. We seriously came at a very needed time.


One last thing. The other day thanks to jet lag, Sarah and I watched the sunrise. What is life? I watched beautiful colours above Turkey from the comfort of our boat/home ! 

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It had been a few days and lots has changed.

JUST ADDING PHOTOS TO THE NEXT POST SO ILL SEND THAT OUT ASAP SO YOU ARE ALL INTHE LOOP.


Lots of love,

Cece Rahoerason

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Staycation @ Burrard

Here is a little glimpse from our stay at the Burrard in Vancouver, BC.

Kassie & I are from the suburbs, being downtown even for a short trip gave us a breath of creativity and rest. The Burrard has loads of character, and the friendliest staff. We felt very taken care of and were steps away from the cutest shops & restaurants.  

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After checking in we got changed & had dinner at the Warehouse (we sure love $5 food)! In the morning we had a waffle craving were able to grab a coffee from Elysian on our way out. The Burrard has amazing branding & social media presence, it feels like you are in California while still in the heart of Vancouver. 

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When staying at the hotel you get to use the cutest bikes! We took advantage of this perk for our photoshoot. Overall, if you want the best Instagram photos & loads of DM's wondering "where is that!", "that place is so cute" this is the place to be! 

My Fav captured moments of 2017

WEEELL... I wouldn't call this an annual blog post since I've only ever done this once, but I figured it was a great way to capture some of my fav memories from this year. 

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2017 almost feels like.. a blur. In the sense where so many things happened that I can barely remember if that was this year or last haha.

So much has changed, there has been so much growth in my personality, community and I've gained a better sense of maturity (at least I think so) 

 

365 days ago. What the heck was I doing haha.  

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In fact I was on my way to Hawaii. I remember visiting Ella and then finding out I had the opportunity to go. So I went, out on a little journey that taught me that God was in control. I had to accept that this year was going to be unpredictable if I started it off this way. So I let God take control for 365 days and LOOK WHERE I AM NOW. I came home, had to unfortunately let go of some friends and relationships that caused me to stumble, and at the same time I gained the most amazing ones. GOD PROVIDES. Despite my emotions being up and down, this year I turned 21, surrounded by so many people who have loved on me in the most incredible ways. 

This screenshot of my feed captured some of my fav moments. 

I met the talented Kassie and I told her I was thinking of joining Village School of Ministry, next thing you know we became classmates and very close friends.

Portland was an incredible trip, God pulled through big time as we completely winged our vacation. GOD PROVIDED.

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I am so grateful to have shared fun road trips & adventures with my gal Micah - this year she started a really inspirational blog. I love that we both love spending time loving on our youth girls. 

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A few ladies I adore got married this year, Elissa & two Madi's. I forgot how fun it can be to capture a couples special day. 

I used to think, I would never cheat on Hawaii, that was my happy warm place, but In the spring I gained my an entire new perspective on California. I had only ever been to embark a cruise, I was wrong, I woke up happier than ever when I was staying in LA. I started my own freelance social media content business, and I'm excited to about what is to come in 2018. GOD WILL PROVIDE. 

 

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Missing these girls so much! xo

Missing these girls so much! xo

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Sometimes I feel like I over do it, when it comes to taking selfies, and pictures when I'm having a blast. But considering so much went on this year, it was rather nice to be able to scroll through memories. Thank you past cece for taking these pictures. 

SOME OF MY VILLAGE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY FAM - WINTER RETREAT 

SOME OF MY VILLAGE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY FAM - WINTER RETREAT 

SPONTANEOUS WHISTLER TRIP FULL OF LAUGHS! 

SPONTANEOUS WHISTLER TRIP FULL OF LAUGHS! 

THAT ONE TIME MICAH MADE US HIKE.. before... CHURCH. 

THAT ONE TIME MICAH MADE US HIKE.. before... CHURCH. 

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THIS IS CRAZY. in no means was I a qualified concert photographer, but the events I got to shoot included musical performances and this really brought me so much joy. I was up close with some of my fav artists & learning how to interact with the crowd to capture the energy of the actual concert is a craft I am still learning.

CAFE CREPE L.A MODELS - GOD PROVIDED ME WITH THIS AMAZING GROUP

CAFE CREPE L.A MODELS - GOD PROVIDED ME WITH THIS AMAZING GROUP

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- PCE OUT 2017 - 

LAX - Photogenic city

I fell in love with California in a whole new way. I have been to beautiful places, but I was in awe that every corner & every glance I took was extremely gorgeous. 

 

I had an assignment with Cafe Crepe and the city & beach was pretty much our studio. We captured so much West coast content for the brand. 

I had high expectations when I was told the skate park would blow my mind. I am far from a sk8r girl. To this day, that skate park is my phone wallpaper. 

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ACCOMODATION 

I stayed at the LEVEL FURNISHED LIVING (I woke up every morning thinking I was still dreaming), I felt like I was coming "home", I was able to unwind and this made editing hundreds of pictures so easy. 

I stayed in a one bedroom suite that had a stunning view - the kitchen included everything I needed to cook. I was a short walk away from Whole Foods and I bought a few ingredients to host dinner. I found myself using the pool & hot tub more than I regularly do when I stay in hotels. The entire aesthetic portrayed relaxation & comfort. 

COFFEE

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Butchers Daughter - I was obsessed with the greenery and colours of this cafe. (they also have a NY location)

SHOPPING 

 

I obviously suggest Target, there was a mall right by Level. I also shopped on Abbot Kiney Rd. while location scouting and there is everything from small boutiques, well known brands and cute cafe's. 

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Venice - Incredible skateboarders, Artists, Music and so much culture. 

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I left this city with multiple amazing shots, I felt like I was across the world but I was only a short flight away from home. I find so much joy in discovering new places. If you are looking for cheap flights - check out the Hopper app or Allegiant air. 

 

Happy Travelling, 

Cece xox

JAUNT GOODS & CLOTHING // S U M M E R MERCH

Summer is here and the adventures can begin! Today I'm sharing with you some of Jaunt's new collection & some tips on how you can photograph merchandise or apparel in a natural way.  

Trust me, their stuff is unbelievably soft & comfy. You can pair the tee's & tanks with athletic wear if you're going on a hike or camping or dress it up with some jeans and even a leather jacket for evening wear. 

#JAUNTON {check out their instagram, I get loads of ideas on where to go for photoshoots from them} 

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I would do a poor job on explaining the JAUNT_GC history, so here's a little snippet from their website. 

Companies are starting to stray away from the studio styled shoots and opting for more lifestyle visual content. Since social media presence is so important and your typical ads are usually very obvious I find it fun to try and make product shoots look as organic as possible. Here are a few easy tips to get you started if you're interested in collaborating or featuring products in your posts. 

use your friends 

Free models. Free new profile picture. Everyday people are sometimes the best models, the adventure you take to get some pictures becomes a lot more fun when you are with a group of people you love. 

When I was in LA , I knew maybe one person and I happened to find models through friends of friends and asking around. People are more than willing to step in for a couple of photos. 

 

  feature what you love

It's totally ok not to make income on your first couple of posts. Companies will often reach out simply because you tagged them in a high quality photo. Get your work out there and don't be afraid to support brands you love.

location is key! 

Choose a location that makes sense. I can't stress that enough. It's one thing to look for a creative spot, and another to just go to the same place everyone else goes in the exact same spot. Keep an eye out as you are doing life incase you see potential backdrops and sceneries you can take future pictures at. Think about the product, where it would naturally be used and get creative! 

Feed off their feed

Some brands have very specific themes and traits in what they look for in posts that could potentially be featured. If you get hired on for a collaboration or sponsored post, make sure to ask if you are unclear about anything. Take a look at the colour themes, angles, similarities in their post and branding for inspiration. 

models: SONJA M. & BRAD K

models: SONJA M. & BRAD K

Instagram // the truth


Hey, what's up, hello. Incase you don't know me personally my name is Cecilia, people have always called me Cece (or other odd variations of that). I do a numerous amount of things but my heart is the most full when I'm encouraging community, being creative & worshiping through photography, dance or music.


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As I was editing my instavlog, I felt called to share something with you:

I wanted to remind people that life through someone's instagram account is often far from the entire truth. Especially mine. Even if some things are instant, a lot what I post is well curated, I get opinions from friends before posting, we take 20 of the same photo and then spend time editing a photo and revisit it later to make sure I'm happy with my work.

 

I know I value community, SO much. The problem was, I am not a huge quality time love language person, but I learnt that a lot of my friends didn't know how much I really loved them because I didn't always make the time. Ever since, I've set aside hours of my day to spend with people I hold close to my heart, people I want to get to know or at events where I can show that you can choose joy in the midst of crap in your personal life. That is why my life seems so "fun and "busy"!

 

I get upset when people meet me or haven't seen me in a while and say that my "life is so cool". It's SO not. I follow and know many people who do way more interesting things. Maybe I have learnt to make my one interesting activity of the day more exciting.

 

I have held off on posting any instavlogs since I got my laptop back because I heard that people thought I shared my life for a lot of the wrong reasons, including seeking attention and online validation. That really hurt my confidence because I want to capture my fav moments so I can re watch them, I'm sharing a product I'm doing an honest review for or I want to give others some fun activity ideas.

 

I post a couple boomerangs and pictures In a story. That is me sharing 1 minute of the day and that leaves 23 hours and 59 minutes of my life that is unseen. There are people I hang out with weekly that never make it on any of my social media because we are having so much fun or I just choose to keep that time between us. I often don't know where my phone even is and I'm the worst at replying to texts if I am around friends. I am alone for a majority of my day, I stay up late to edit or work in order to make up for the time I spent hanging out during the day. I'm working on it. I am setting reminders to text people back, creating structure in my workflow and I'm fully trusting that God has a plan for me in every season of life.

 

Posting on social media is my part time job. I literally went to school to learn how to understand marketing & social media communications. Which gave me an advantage to how I could use my blog and photography as a source of income. I wouldn't do it unless I loved it and felt that I was capable of using it in a positive and healthy way. I love seeing what everyone is up to on snapchat & instagram. I have made friends through these apps. I love how creative people are with their themes, story editing and photography skills! I am in awe when I see my youth kids sharing the gospel through these platforms. I think this is a safe place to show your talents, captured moments and your style. We need to just celebrate and be happy for each other, rather than compare and critique.

 

If you're reading this, I'm not sure where you are at. Maybe you see people on instagram and envy what they wear, how they look and what they are doing. Perhaps you are the one spending hours on VSCO and Facetune trying to make your picture perfect. I don't know, you could be someone who is living an entire different life through social media.

 

Some of the most worldwide famous people are weird. They are themselves ! They are so original and own it. This is going to sound cheesy. But own who you are. Just try it and let me know how that works out for you? Are you happier ? Because when I started being myself in every aspect of my life, even online... it really changed my life. Sometimes I'm sure I'm a little much to handle, my energy is a little over the top when I'm tired and I'm emotional over the smallest things. But I leave so many situations going wow, these people still love and want to hang out with me even if I'm borderline crazy. I hope you find those people, I hope you find a love for yourself and pride and ownership in your gifts that you've been given. You have something different that I do to share with the world, and I would love to see you using it to your fullest capacity.

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PROM 2017 // Tori & Max

Location: Fort Langley , BC 

Fort is a very common spot for engagement, wedding, grad, and family photos, to the point where some photo spots are overdone. Our goal was to find creative angles, backdrops and scenery for the day. Here's what we collectively came up with. 

This was a treat for me as a photographer, because my "models" are so photogenic! 

 

What fun it was capturing Tori & Max's graduation. 

our fav shot from the entire day

our fav shot from the entire day

Graduation season pushes me to grow as a photographer. Every grad has their own story, unique style and look. 

My graduation / prom photography quick tips:

- get inspired by the dress/outfit 

- do a pre walk around of the location

-capture the "in between" moments (those turned out to be our fav shots) this can include walking from one location to another, dress twirls, hair touch ups, get creative! 

Thanks for reading! 

Portraits // where it all began

// Aina Caroline Rahoerason //

My little sister, best friends and the original model.

I have put her through countless hours of me testing out settings, locations and poses. 

instagram: @ainacaroline

instagram: @ainacaroline

I made the most out of having a photogenic sibling and since then I have had hundreds of different faces, moments and stories in front of my lens. In the last 2 years, I have found my "style" / my strong points and where I want to go in terms of photography. 

I used to think I had to follow every successful photographers style of editing and career choices, but to be honest.. weddings and concerts are not my fav, I loved creatively controlled shoots! This is how I got to where I am today. A freelance portrait and product content creator! 

Here are some of my past portraits I am really proud of! 

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ROSE RUFFLE BIKINI // Jetset shop

I love that the Jetset Times Shop encourages us to travel & seek experience. That is something I value in my short lived life & I have seen benefits in my day to day life from the places I've been to & the people I've met. 

I was very excited to take my new Ruffle Top Suit with me to Oregon.  Lots of heads were turned at the sight of this stylish and orginal suit. 

Location: Canon Beach , OREGON Model: MICAH S

Location: Canon Beach , OREGON Model: MICAH S

"The Rosa Ruffle Top is a fun, flirty bikini top ready to be noticed. Pair it with your favorite Nager By Nic Hyl bottom for instant beach style. Our favorite bottom to pair it with is the Leela Bottom, but feel free to wear with any other Nager by Nic Hyl bottom, your favorite shorts, skirts or jeans. The Rosa begs to be worn. Try it on or off the shoulder to add your own personal touch!"

beach blanket : Heavenly couture

beach blanket : Heavenly couture

Something we loved about the swim top is that it looked great paired with some flowy black pants for when the wind hits you or when you are on your way to the beach. can't wait to ry it with a maxi skirt too! 

"this product was received complimentary for testing purposes" - #jstambassador