Working together for a great cause

All has been quiet on the blogging front for some time now, but for good reason. Ray and I were back in western province the last few weeks to spend some time working on a project with his grandparents in Bungoma, and to do our first short documentary for some missionaries in Kitale.

We worked our first real job together and lived to tell the story.

Is this really happening?

When Ray and I first got married, I never even suspected that this would be a career we’d pursue as a couple, but here we are starting our own little Wasike Creations business, and we’ve not only successfully completed our first job, but we’ve already got another big job lined up! God has really taken us into an area where neither of us feel totally qualified, but the whole process has literally been thrilling. So often throughout the recording and editing sessions, it was all we could do to just cling to one another and ask, “Is this really happening?”

Prior to all of this, Ray especially had a fear of moving to Kitale because he knew that with the work we want to do, we would be around each other 24/7. We tried that once when we lived in the States, and it was disastrous. We fought all the way to counseling and back, and it scared the bejebus out of my dear husband. He honestly couldn’t see how we could possibly stay married if we ended up in a position where we were working together all the time. Looking back, I have to agree with his logic. We weren’t mature enough or ready for it then, but our season in Nairobi has really helped us build an appropriate foundation for the work we need to do in Kitale and for being together all the time, so now we have no excuse.

Divine connections and strategic orders

The last time we were in Kitale we got connected with Bill and Patricia Cornell, the founders of Vision for Africa Ministries. They’re missionaries that have been serving the people of Kenya since 2001, and over the past few months they have become dear friends and incredible spiritual mentors to us. Whenever we leave their home we feel challenged and inspired to pray and love harder. While we were visiting with them the first time, they shared tons of stories about their ministry and told us that with the quick expansion of their reach, they needed to raise funds so they could serve their students better. Our offering to help was the beginning of everything.

They had $100 left in their pockets and they gave it to us to plant a seed towards the work we would do for them. No amount of self-doubt in our own abilities could keep us from working on their project at that point. They knew God connected us for a reason and were willing to invest the last amount of money they had in us. Of course God always rewards acts of faithfulness like that, because the next day they received an unexpectedly large donation, and we got our bicycle, equipped with brand new training wheels, pushed into the beginning of a new life assignment. When we got home we began dreaming and scripting and planning, all the while feeling twinges of excitement at what lay ahead.

Step by step, day by day

Ironically enough, Bill and Patricia live and work together 24/7, so they were great people to work with on this first project, because they gave us great insight on how to work together whenever we would hit rough spots. Here are a few things that they either shared with us or that we gleaned from the experience:

  • Clearly define your roles. This is one of the most important things to do before you begin working together. Ray films and directs, and I interview and edit. For the most part, knowing what each person is responsible for takes a lot of pressure to micromanage off of our shoulders. To allow him to do his own thing with his role shows that I trust him and I believe in his talent, which really emboldens him to do his best. There may be times when we switch hats and he’ll ask me to direct and I’ll ask him to edit something, but it’s imperative that you wait for the person to ask so you don’t step on his toes and squash his creativity.
Documentary Interview

Interviewing Bill and Patricia.

  • Recognize when you need help and ask for it. Even though each person needs some autonomy, you have to be careful of compartmentalizing too much. Just like in marriage, you’ll find in work that you each have certain strengths and weaknesses. Most likely your talents combined help to balance those weaknesses out, so why not utilize that? Yes, I’m the editor, but Ray understands Adobe Premiere much better than I do, so if I try to be a lone island, I’m going to be the one everyone points to when the ships sinks.
future photographers

Some local kids wanted to see what Ray was seeing while we shot.

  • Be willing to receive correction from your spouse. There will be times when your spouse reviews your work and he won’t think you did as great of a job as you think you did. Don’t argue about who is right, just let him show you what he thinks would be better and then decide from there. Sometimes I would suggest a change to something Ray did, so he would change it, we would see that it wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be, and we would go back to his idea. Sometimes you just have to give the other option a chance before you discuss so you are both in a better position to decide what works best. Just be sure when you’re correcting your spouse to speak with all manners of gentleness and love. Don’t let your titles or workspace cause you to treat your spouse like an underling.
Forcing a smile at the end of a recording session.

Forcing a smile at the end of a recording session.

  • Know when it’s time to take a break. Ray and I would shoot all day and then go into the office and work on editing late into the night. Around 2am we would find ourselves arguing over stupid stuff quite a bit, at which point I would promptly send Ray to bed while I kept working. By the end of the week we had worked out a schedule where he worked until 4:30am while I slept, and I worked through the rest of the morning while he slept. Surprise, surprise… no more fights. If you feel the tension between you rising, don’t force it, just take a break.
  • Pray together before, during, and after. This is something the Cornells told us. We had talked to them about fighting while working, and they came into the office and encouraged us to pray with each other. There’s always something calming about praying together as a couple. It also helps you focus on the bigger picture, what God wants from you and what He wants to do with you, as opposed to the problem at hand.

 

Bill helping Ray with sound.

Bill helping Ray with sound.

  • Let work be work and home be home. We were staying with the Cornells the entire week that we were in Kitale working on this project, so we practically lived in Bill’s office and basically only came out whenever Patricia called us to eat.  Once we left the office, we didn’t really talk about the project, we just focused on building relationship with them and enjoying one another. Bringing the stress of work into your personal life really adds some serious strain on your relationship and you don’t want that thing looming over your head as you try to live your life. Leave it alone, go do what you need to do, and you’ll be surprised that your perspective will have changed by the time you come back to work.
  • Have fun. Though making these videos was tough work, Ray and I made a point to have fun. While we were shooting Pastor Raphael, we took a minute to be all kissey kissey in the road, and a guy on a motor bike came by and was like, “Get off the road! This is not the place for romance!” (insert childish giggles). While we were exporting the first promo, we went outside and did a photo shoot in the very first African dress Ray got for me. I normally hate it when he wants to do photo shoots, but this time it was a welcome break. We even stopped once and I grabbed a guitar while we sang worship songs loudly and badly to let off some steam. After twenty minutes of that, we were refreshed, happy, and ready to get back to work.

African dress

snuggle buddies

This was only our first job, so we’re by no means experts on this topic, but because things ultimately went so smoothly for us and because I’m a writer, I was taking notes of everything we did. So this isn’t just a self-help list for you, but it’s a reminder for us of how to work together once things really get going. Hope it helps you as much as it helped us!

Remember, “teamwork makes the dream work”.

#teamjesus

The promo for VFA’s YouCaring fundraiser (please check it out and help them get the word out by sharing)

The full 15-minute documentary

Five loaves, two fish, and other miracles (pt. II)

Previously on “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World with the Wasike Tribe”…

Ray and S’ambrosia were finally able to wed after nearly $1,000  of visa expenses,  9 months of waiting, and 1 wrecked car.  By the ever abounding grace of God and the generous support of friends, the impossible was made possible.

(If you missed the last episode, you can catch up here.)

On this week’s episode…

The plan was simple: get married, sell everything I owned, use that money and wedding gift money for plane tickets, find a new home in Kenya, get a new job to work towards paying off student loans, start an organization, and… okay, so in hindsight, maybe the plan wasn’t so simple. Nevertheless, with starry eyes and high hopes, we continued the pursuit of our goals.

Thanks to the help of many amazing friends and family members, my costs for the wedding were minimal. Good thing, because my bank account had become used to being trapped in an empty, cold, dark room, and that season was no exception. We figured the money we got from wedding gifts would cover the cost of our plane tickets, but we ended up being $200 short. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, that was before we realized we had bills to pay before packing up shop, so before we knew it, over half of the money was gone. Part D of phase 3 of our plan was to leave the States from New York after spending the Thanksgiving holiday in Maryland with my mom’s side of the family. The bus tickets would take the majority of the little money we had left, but we decided to use the last of our money to at least secure our tickets to the east coast. We had no idea how we would get to Kenya, but at least we knew we’d be one step closer.

Expect the unexpected

So the wedding money didn’t cover our plane tickets, as we originally hoped it would, but I still had furniture and household items to sell. Surely we would get some money there.

Surely we did not.

No one should ever let me price items for their garage sale if they actually want to make money, because I will sell everything for at least half of what I should and still believe I’m overcharging. Even so, selling some of the bigger items in the home brought in a little cash, but when it came time for the actual yard sale, we barely sold anything. Apparently people were just waiting until I posted that I was giving away all that was left, because droves of people showed up that day leaving nothing but a single box of odds and ends. On top of that, selling my car could have made us at least $1,000 (the cosmetic damage could easily be fixed), but I had the conviction that because we had received so many free blessings via the wedding, we should give just as freely. A friend pointed me to a man who was in need of a car, and the evening before we left town, we surprised him with his very own car… for free. As happy as we were to bless someone who was so deserving of a vehicle, we did go back to our empty house and contemplate our own predicament.

Did we just give away our plane ticket money?

We really needed to pray some more.

Answered prayers in mysterious ways

Well, the time came for us to skedaddle, but before we left, we spent the evening having dinner with my family for obligatory farewells. We never mentioned that we only had like $400 in our pockets. No one asked. Why would they? Who in their right mind would pack up to move for another country without having all the necessary funds in place?

As we were leaving the restaurant, I received a text from some good family friends asking where I was. They met us before we got in the car to give us $200. Unbeknownst to me, my husband had put out a silent “fleece” before God asking for a sign that the step of faith we were taking was actually something we should be doing. He asked for a monetary miracle. The gift that night did more for us than contribute to the small pot of money we had for airfare; it gave us an incredible boost of hope.

The next morning, as we prepared to leave, we got another surprise as we discovered that I had almost double the amount of my apartment deposit coming back to me. According to the landlord, I had overpaid at some point, so a good chunk of change was added to the pot.

Before we went to Maryland, we planned a mini road trip through Topeka and Kansas City to visit with friends. By the time we left Topeka we were another $200 richer, thanks to a friend who said he wanted to bless us. We only needed another $200 to completely cover the cost of both of our tickets.

Arriving in Maryland, we were positive that it was smooth sailing from then on because my aunt told me that since they weren’t able to fly out to our wedding (everything was too last minute to book flights), they would give us some money. For the week that we were with them, they put us up in a hotel. We couldn’t afford a honeymoon, so this was such a sweet blessing for us and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Spending time with family I hadn’t seen for years was equally satisfying for my soul. It had been a long time since I had felt such warmth in a family gathering, and it made me so happy to see how well received Ray was by everyone. It was like they had known him for years. My heart was overflowing with that slap-happy kind of giddiness. Things couldn’t have been better.

Enter the plot twist…

That happiness came to a screeching halt the night before we were to leave Maryland for New York, because I realized that the money we were supposed to receive had been spent on the hotel and we weren’t going to make our goal. I thought the only way to meet it was to sell my beloved guitar. My aunts, aware of my plans to sell my guitar, questioned me about our flight plans, and when I hesitantly admitted that we didn’t actually have anything solidified, the fury of my mom’s sisters was ignited! We had a series of long, stern talking to’s, and then they took it upon themselves to help us cover the rest of the money.

I was so ashamed to have looked so immature in front of my family, but my heart was also incredibly encouraged. Without going into detail, my immediate family’s ability to communicate properly was very poor even when I lived in the same city, so I knew that communication would be pretty much nonexistent when I moved over 8,000 miles away. Thus far, my suspicions have been confirmed. Receiving those lectures from my aunts meant so much to me because it showed me that they actually cared about me. They wanted phone numbers and contact information for Ray’s family, they wanted to make sure that we had everything we needed, and they wanted to make sure that we had a proper plan for when we reached Kenya. I could see my mom in every action they made that night, and it spoke volumes of love to my heart. I know God could have easily provided that last bit of money without anyone knowing our predicament, but I truly believe things happened the way they did so my heart could receive a little healing… healing I didn’t even know I needed.

How much more will your heavenly Father give?

The next morning was my uncle’s birthday, and he was ultimately the one that gave us the final $200 we needed for the tickets. He also sat us down and lectured us (who knew I would grow to love lectures so much?) and then closed by commending us on our faith. He shared how encouraged he was by us and the way we just packed up and left home even though we had no idea if or how the money would come. It was quite a stirring word of encouragement, and all the tears I had pent up trying to be a big girl in front of everyone took nose dives down my face. My family prayed with us, helped us book the tickets (with the help of some of my cousins), and sent us on our way.

All of the money that we had went to the tickets, so we had no extra cash for post-departure. We got to New York to spend the night with Ray’s uncle before our flight left, and as he dropped us at the airport, he handed us another $200, not knowing that we were broke or anything about the journey we’d been on to that point.

Let’s do this thing together

In the last post on our faith journey, I shared that the lesson I learned was that sometimes the negative events we face in life are simply blessings in disguise. I would say that is still very much true here, but I also came away with the understanding that a faith journey isn’t something you’re supposed to do alone. Maybe it was pride or maybe it was immaturity, but I believed that we could get to Kenya without having to share our story with anyone. I knew God would provide, so there was no need to reach out to anyone else. The response of my family, when they found out the truth, not only broke down some emotional barriers in my heart, but it helped me to understand that you don’t pursue faith in spite of the ones you love, but you pursue faith with the ones you love.

To tell the truth, the emotional pain I had hidden in my heart was because of a family member acting on faith in spite of the rest of us. He made a big decision and told us God told him to do it and then left us wondering where we fit into God’s plan. I had no idea that I was doing the same thing. I have since resolved to be more transparent about where I am in my faith journey, especially with those nearest to me (hence this blog), and I pray that everyone who reads this will also be encouraged to let others into their faith walks and allow them to help carry the load.