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What do you complain about. Tell me and I will tell you there is so much more.

Photograph by Stephen McGee

Forever kneeling, 5000+ members of the Tutsi tribe lay scattered to this day 10 years later between pews of a church in the countryside of Rwanda. Seeking refuge under the roof of their belief, women and children were raped and killed by members of the Hutu tribe in 3 days.

And God is good.

For a further story. Please, please, humbly asking one more time, please visit…

http://mediastorm.org/0024.htm  (14 minutes of your life that will hopefully change you for longer than a day)…but watch out, your world view might change after this movie.

I can tell you my stories of Rwanda if you ask.

Fear. What do you seek when you seek God. Words and sentences can be thrown around in this part of the Christian world that does not see persecution. Pain is gain when it is in Christ. My answer to those who dwell on their humble circumstances includes many scriptures like this one “Yes you have suffered, but have you suffered to the point of bloodshed?” My first time reading that was a few weeks prior to when I was first truly persecuted in my faith. With rocks and hate thrown at me, my life was impacted by the silent force of the spirit, and not a drop of blood was shed from me.

In that persecution I was one with the Spirit and was blessed because of it.

I have been dwelling on the point, find God past in your fears. You can conquer them with Him. It is amazing, flat out amazing and impossibly uncomprehendable to me that God can use the worst in the world for His will. But I believe it and like those spoken in the bible, Lord willing my belief that evil will not triumph, will not triumph, will not triumph, will not triumph, is credited to me as righteousness by God.

It is not usually the last important moment in our lives we base our current situation on. It is the preceding unpredictable future that grasps us and leads us to chose what is right and what is beneficial.

Friends we have nothing that is evil to fear where we live. Whether mugged or beaten, robbed or vandalized, mocked or immoralized, the point is not that moment which haunts us, it is our status as front line participants in God’s will. Our battle at the battle field begins when we wake up because we are always the invading side, not retreating. Invading on the grounds occupied by not held by the common enemy that all brothers and sisters share across the globe.

How can we spend time pointing the wrong in others who are fighting with us.

When there is pain like this in the world while The Even Greater leads us, it is time to align on the right hand of God and fight with the only armor and weapons we have; Truth and love. Praise God. Remember this Friday that his strength is real.

Imagine with me America, what if there will be a time when our great nation will change it’s motto from God Bless America to God bless (insert country here) and we turn our focus off of us and on to the them. It is my thought that the them out there is where God is dwelling and blessing anyways.

Mark 2. James 1.

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I am such in the presence of God right now I could praise him for hours straight. I wish I had more energy to tell you all everything that has happened over the past few days that has increased my faith, drawing me nearer to God. Tonight Amos, a great friend, spoke at his church so I went to support him and to hear what he had to say. He talk about Abraham and Isaac and how in that test of Abraham’s faith, God wanted Abraham’s obedience and he wanted Abraham’s heart. Isaac was the answer to God’s promise in him and Abraham knew God was faithful. Oh there is so much more to that and to what Amos talked about.

This is my week of fasting so I am on a super study session with where God wants me and who I am in him.

I have heard from two people that they had friends who talked about the clensing of this city. And both said it needed to get worse before it got better. One said that the city’s officials needed to be clensed and well, tomorrow morning at 9am, Kwame will pleade guilty to what he has been charged with. After that he will have to step down. God is moving but oh man we need to pray that he doesn’t turn his back on this city. Can he even do that when there are believers here?

Praise Him. Change.

It is such a strange day today; hot but boggy and overcast. Fog horns dedicating songs to each other on the river out of site from my position on the bed. Lightning hits once or twice here and there by letting it’s aggression out only for the purpose of attracting someone’s attention. To catch you up, I have developed 12 rolls of film that I had in my fridge a few days ago and to appease my peaking artistic frustration, I have decided to only open up one at a time to maximize the effort put into writing about each roll. You see the 12 rolls have accumulated over the past 7 or 8 years and for some reason or another I did not process them, until now. Some may be from the same trip, some may be memories that I have moved on from and some may be of nothing more than just a day out shooting.  Regardless of the content I will post four pictures from each roll and keep each roll as a separate blog post.

Roll 1.

There, the first four images.

It must be weird for my friends here in Detroit to see me standing next to a girl whom I loved in the photo above.  Doesn’t matter her name but for the cupids stupid record (one that I wish wouldn’t remember it’s previous guest lists) it is the same name as a common flower found on a hill. The type of hill you would pass while driving in a dream only to remark to yourself as you pass it, “That is a beautiful hill”. You might have even scurried as you saw the hill coming up to get your camera on and pointed. But by the time you had it ready, the hill passed forcing your eyes to glance from responsibility and the road ahead to the rear view mirror and hill, growing smaller as the feet pass you by.

At the bottom of the red film package (the type you get at a one hour photo store that you need to fill your name and everything out) lay 12 rolls of uncut negatives, each with a number on the outside. I chose my first roll and opened it up. With each roll I have to split the negatives into sections of 5 to fit on my scanner bed. I was my hands first so to not soil the surface or the negative with oil. I can not find my scissors so I grab my knife and head to slice the negatives. As I cut I try and look at the inverted small photographs in my hands as I try to remember where I was with her. Her outline, face and everything is always instantly recognizable to me when looking through negatives. I begin thinking what we could have been doing that cold DC day in January. I think I remember it as windy and cold making the two of us angry. I place the negatives on the scanner, click the preview and watch as they come up one by one. Each driving a steak into me at first glance but my defenses that I have trained with for the past five years drive that steak right back out again. Girls reading this, in my imagination anyways, might say, “oh Stephen is still in love with this girl from the way he is talking about her”.

If I were to drive past the Washington Memorial a week ago on my way to Georgetown or the National Art Gallery I would have told you I never had been up to the top to see how the capitol looks from what some call a bird’s eye view. So when I saw that photo of The Mall I was amazed because even though I see the photo I still don’t remember being there.

So why the word “Split”? It is odd how life works out sometimes. So planned but so random. The two beings I have loved the most who are no longer with me is my ex-girlfriend and my dog Pete. Half of the roll was with my ex-girlfriend and half was me and my dog Pete near the rivers the mark West Virginia. To read about Pete I will insert a previous post now…

I had a dog named Pete who was the best dog in the world. Pete and I went everywhere. His mom was a springer spaniel and his dad was a one night stand. He looked like a rot but had the body of a spaniel. Pete got hit by a car when he jumped out of my lap in the car we were in and survived. I think a Pulitzer Prize photo was missed in 1992 as me, a 10 year old Boy Scout, short shorts, merit badge sash and all, ran back from my moms parked car to pick up my lifeless dog only to walk back holding Pete, bloody head and all, down the street in the cup of my arms, to take him to the hospital. He survived brain surgery for 1400. Pete was the Houdini of the animal world; able to get out of any dog cage built for canine/elephants/whatever and could open a fridge, a sliding glass door, a gate, any type of garbage can and a plethora of other locks and doors. He ran away, often, and came back, most of the time. He once ran away, then got picked up by a dog lover who posted signs, and then ran away from them, and then got caught by the dog police and we did not see him for 2 months. One last ditch effort i walked around the largest dog pound holding 560 cells in the southern part of Vegas. It was a square block with dogs looking at me on both sides. And sure enough, the very very very last cell, there was Pete, curled in a ball, accompanied by his least favorite relative in the dog world; the shitzu.  By the handle a sign was posted, “Mutt to be exterminated 5/11…No owners came for him” . The date as I stood there was 5/12. “Pete” I whispered. His head lifted and turned and the nub of his spaniel tail moved three times. He had grown old in those two months in the slammer. His wisdom serving hard time was shown with the greying of his whiskers. He lifted his paw to the the cage to meet my hand as I was kneeling. I could not believe it and I cried. “150 dollars”  the dog policeman barked as I told her my Pete was to be set free. The person who was supposed to put Pete under was sick the day before. As Pete’s life went, I would have expected no different. We walked out to my 1985 Jeep and it was like nothing happened. Pete’s nub tail shook his body in excitement as we approached the jeep and I said, “Dammit Pete, get in the car” like an old friend. I put on his driving glasses and we were off.

Pete was put to sleep 3 years ago this month. I spoke my last words to him over a phone before he was taken to the doggy hospital by my parents who could not watch him suffer throat cancer any more. The doc said the best thing, “If you can think of the best 5 things your dog loved to do and he doesn’t love to do them anymore, it is their time to go”.  Thanks for reading about Pete. He had a friend named Maggie, a big black lab. But that is another story.

Many will say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I do not disagree. Many will say that Dog is man’s best friend. I do not disagree. Many will say that the fridge is what an empty void a man can look into and not find what he searches for while it is right in front of him. I do not disagree. Many will say many things. And I do not disagree with most of those. This brings up a very important part of my life; my fridge, my friends and my heart. As I currently sit, I do not have much in my fridge. Just a few condiments for cooking Italian food located sporadically through the organizers, bins, shelves and dividers. Occasionally, on days when I feel bold or extra ordinary, I will go to the local markets and purchase the best of what they have and welcome those condiments into my life, securely placing each in their labeled organizer, bin and shelf. Hidden on the top row of the door, however, is the mini garage door of goodness. Able to be flipped up and down but when down, securing the patrons of its abode at a cool 10 degrees less than the outside. Being a digital photographer I no longer need to stock my fridge full with film (keeping it cold for longevity reasons). This garage is reserved for the rolls of 35mm that I have acquired over the 7 years I have been a photographer that have not been processed for some reason or another. As of this morning there were 11. 11rollsx36exposures/roll=a lot of photos of which I can not remember the content.  This being labor day, I wanted to take these rolls to the local film professionals (unfortunately CVS these days) to get them processed. And now I have all 11 rolls in front of me ready to spark a memory or two the way that only a photograph can do. In this study, I will write my initial reactions to these 11 rolls and site examples after I scan them into my computer. I am sure to find some photos of my only ex-girlfriend (whom I still pray for often). I dropped off the rolls of film at the CVS next to my house and picked them up after one game of frisbee golf, labor day bbq, one game of Texas Hold Em, two root beer floats and a bike ride home across town. All of that took about 5 hours. I now hold the single red envelope containing the 11 rolls of processed film and I would very much like to unravel each roll and view the photographs that have been patiently waiting this day. I will not though. I will open one at a time and reflect. This will be interesting….Ciao for now.

I have seen Barack Obama speak every time he has been in Detroit campaigning. For the first time,  it was 2006 and I was covering the event for the Detroit Free Press. That is when I first understood what he was about. Well actually, that was the first time I even really began to know who he really was. He captivated his supporters at Cobo Hall. I was along the back of the row filming. During his speech, it seemed as though I was the only journalist really looking at him, really listening to him, really excited he was here. I am a (was) a Republican Moderate until I heard Obama speak.  Mostly because I just really like the guy. For what he stands for, yes, most of it. But I remember coming back from that speech, walking on Fort Street the 5 blocks to the Free Press building entrance excited for the possibility of having Obama be president. That was 2 years ago.

The next time I covered Obama in Detroit was June 2008 and I shot with a 1962 Polaroid camera with ISO 75 film.  I arrived at 5pm and the speech was at 8pm. I had a flight that night for Honduras/El Salvador for another asignment for E+Co (www.eandco.net) which took off at 1am. I hadn’t packed or checked my gear. But I knew I wanted to be at this rally.  I got clearance to be “Press” by standing in the Press line. Very difficult. I would argue that I was photographing for my documentary I am making about Detroit. Anyways. I walked into the floor of Cobo Arena to the sound of thousands of people chanting various Obama cheers. “Yes We Can”. As I entered I did this walking 360, spinning around amazed at the site of reporters and supporters, police and babies, signs and stands.

Looking back at the event today, I realized how much the people of Detroit need something to believe in, something to chear about.  My first suggestion would be God, for he is good. During the speech I would turn around to watch people watching Barack. People would have a relaxed look on their face. Relaxed and confident. They would take deep breaths without the little tug at the end deep in their chest. No one was speaking at all until he gave us something to chear about.

Obama speaks about Change. Change from what to what I wonder. I have traveled much in 26 years and seen what we in the USA call “developing countries”.  We call them developing as if we were developed. In a person’s life, learning is life long. Until they are no more. This nation needs change, we need to understand where we need to go next. The racial card has been played for the past 50 years+ and now, I believe, it is time we get over it. I am all about equality, but equality without acknowledgement of color. My new friend from Puerto Rico says, “There are too many people too close together in Puerto Rico for there to be division. People are just people”. Obama is change to me. Sometimes I don’t even think you need to know where the change will take you, or even where it will come from. Just one person saying, “Things will Change” is what we need here and now. When I drive around Detroit looking for photographs, I see that we are not too far from a developing country too. If we cease to develop as a country though, we cease to mature as a nation.

In my travels I have seen how much the world hates our government, America. It is amazing the bubble that we live in. It is not our fault. Other countries like Ghana and Sweden, Vietnam and Cambodia, have a plethora of Americana in their everyday lives. Most of their movies, shows, music and pop culture comes from the States. Now multiply that by a bizillion and that is what we live in. It is hard for us to get out of it. Nor do we really want to. (WE being the average citizen from my observation). When the Georgian war started I was in Sicily and never felt closer to a foriegn war. I wanted to be there to document.

A few of you have asked me to write.

An image that corrupted before I could download it tells the story of a kiss in a train station and it's surroundings.

An image that corrupted before I could download it tells the story of a kiss in a train station and it's surroundings.

Closing an amazing service 32 miles north of Detroit, the call came for those who had sin in their life to come forward and repent. I hesitated and closed my eyes with a breath to contemplate. Opening them I found my pew neighbor on my left had gone up to the front. Encouraged by his faith and humility I approached the alter and raised my hands.

When I close my eyse to pray during the times I am alone, i have to disregard all of the static noise that my mind comes up with to hinder my thoughts to distract. All of those distractions are exactly what I want to write about now. I wish I could write more. If I felt more up to it I would write about the art space I looked at today, the men scrapping the buildings left vacant as they threw out refrigerators out of the 12th story window, I would write about visiting Chicago last week, my amazing friend Amos, what it is like having an employee for the first time, leadership, my grandma, finishing movies, having absolutly no idea where to go next in my life, having no jobs on the horizon, not going to the Emmys again even though I was nominated for another one. I would want to discuss who I think I am and who I think God thinks I am at this stage in my life. I would talk more about my travels, about Sicily. I would want to write about my thoughts on my next project which is about a documentary on Detroit. I would talk about Joshua and Saul. I would talk about receiving God’s anointing. About my friend who just lost her father to cancer. I would talk about how I have received emails from believers encouraged by my faith as well as believers who I don’t even know needed God’s direction in their life. I would talk about biking in Detroit, strange things about me like craving apples if I wake up in the middle of the night and then also my Dad ( who is so cool). I would talk about my sister and how she is awesome and about her son, Calub, who is the most constant joy in my life. Thank you God for him. I would want to address me and my life, about how the 7 countries this year changed me. I would want to try and find patterns in my faith and see how those patterns in discipline affected my everything. I also want to write a book.

Basically, to all who expressed interest in my life, wanting me to write more, I am sorry, I haven’t been in the mood. That is no excuse. I will try tomorrow morning.