From Disneyland to Kenya - Brian's Trotting the Globe Again!..

While I'd LOVE to just boast about my amazing wedding shoot at Disneyland, (surely more on that later) and share my excitement about ticking Kenya off of my bucket list, it's a bit more of an appeal for help.

An appeal that will help me to serve a cause greater than my Self. I hope you will take a moment to read the message below, and support in any way possible. I know it's a tad more verbose than my usual blog post (okay, maybe not) - but I hope you'll agree in it's worthiness.

It's hard in our current reality to imagine that all of our Spiritual sages, saints and heroes of brilliance or inspiration, were all walking among the people of their time.

They were seemingly ordinary people, living their own lives, while exercising behaviors that the common individual may aspire to assimilate as their own.

In about 2006, I encountered a woman who was referred to me for head shots. She needed an image for her cookbook cover called "Harambee!".

 At the time she came to me, I was methodically living my day, void of inhibitions. In other words, my daily meditation practice had brought me into such deep connection with all things around me, that I KNEW, in an absolute, yet difficult-to-verbalize manner, that every person who came through my studio doors was not just a customer, they were my purpose!

When you live that way, even if just for a short time by experiment, you cannot help but believe that there's a higher purpose to all things.

That was surely the case, when I met this Kenyan cookbook Saint named Grace Kuto.

Grace founded a non-profit organization, all with the SOLE, or shall I say "SOUL" intent to make life better for her global family. As an American resident and long-time OHSU Dental School employee, Grace made her selflessness available for many to share in the experience of.

While the beneficiary "appeared" to be her home of origin, the Cwhele village in Kenya, it proved to be an opportunity to serve and fortified hundreds of volunteer lives right here in Oregon and Washington (likely more than I know of).

Grace's refusal to accept a payment from her original non-profit, donating all proceeds of her cookbook to Chwele, and her tireless fundraising efforts, have made me come to realize what it means to work next to a "Mother Theresa" soul. A yet-to-be-recognized/cannonized Saint of selflessness.

I knew it the minute I met her, that I was not going to be charging her for this cookbook project. What I didn't know, is that I'd be making it my own "pet project" if-you-will, in giving my gifts to something greater than myself. We lost touch for a short while between projects and busyness, until one day last year that I had consciously decided to return to that same state of BEing, that led me to my Ultimate life partner (from 8000 miles away) my wife Cathy. (yes, returning to my practice of meditation)

Grace, as it turned out, went through a similar hiatus from that same "realm of connectivity", and contacted me in early 2012 - thinking it was to order portraits of her granddaughter from a few years prior. Instead, it became a discussion on how she could get me to Kenya, to document her story via multimedia talents that she knew I loved to share. Her goal, to have me document the soon-to-be-celebrated ribbon cutting of this center that will serve thousands. Educational programs, medical and dental services, and of course a place of service for hundreds of rotating volunteers from several Universities and organizations.

At a time of great "creative opportunities" on navigating away from the reality that was being gloomily rehashed by the news, my wife steered me out of the house for a personal writing retreat on Mother's Day, 2012. (in sum, she kicked me out of the house for a writing retreat)

I knew I needed it, and couldn't see a better date on my calendar, so I mounted my bike on the van's roof rack, and packed for the Oregon Coast. Before I left, I received a call from Grace. "My videographer had a serious injury, and now I don't have anyone to document my fundraising keynote address". She had NO way of knowing I'd just been studying with some phenomenal cinematographers to master this aspect of my creativity - BEFORE I would be offering it to the general public.

You know you are in the presence of a living Saint, when every fiber of your body dismisses that pang of "Ah!.., but I was almost out of here…" and releases you into the Greater feeling of service.

I said yes, without thinking, dismounted my bike, and drove to Pro Photo Supply to purchase a sturdier tripod. (The camera can do video, but I was determined to deliver QUALITY).

I soon discovered it was not me doing her the favor, since St. Grace Kuto was steering me toward the path of a very successful film documentary genius name Dennis Burkhart.

Dennis had created some extensive footage during his own WEALTH of giving to Chwele, after a successful career and many awards for his National Parks documentaries.

Though eager to remount my bike and arrive at the beach before midnight, I stuck around for the auction. I could not charge for this job and gave the $100 spending money I thought I was going to need at the beach.

Being of service felt great, but it was not enough. I got to hear the stories of the great gains in the lives of a community on the other side of the world. People completely willing to do the work themselves, but with minimal resources and education. Things that, despite my excessive gratitude for most things, I take for granted every day.

As I was packing up my gear, Mr. Burkhart came by to thank me for stepping in to do the video. Unaware that I was seeking a shirt to tug on for video editorial, Grace had just lined me up with great knowledge and resources in Dennis alone. I asked for his support, and he gave me hours of his time.

I would later discover that Dennis was not aware that Grace had already asked me to go to Kenya, before telling me: "If Grace ever asks you to go to Kenya, GO! Your life will be better for doing it." I felt this powerful vibration go through me that said in it's energized way "this is why you said yes...".

Two fundraisers later, I hear countless people speaking MY thoughts, from their own experience. One, stating verbatim, the phrase I thought I created myself… "When Grace calls, you just say yes!"
Camera to my face, nobody saw why that shot went blurry, but I was moved to be there, a year later, recording another fundraising function for Grace in May 2013.

NOW OFFICIAL, on August 6, 2013, I will be parting for Kenya to serve this cause. While Africa has been on my life-hog list, bucket-list, or whatever you choose to call it, I had not spoken it since I was a teen. Now as this reality is approaching, I realize that to be professional about my service to them, I am in a sudden great need of my own.

The difference between a professional and a shutterbug, or any craft of passion, is that you protect your clients, by packing extras of everything. If a camera fails, I've got another one ready to go.
In this case, I now realize that I am with only one camera that shoots video, and I really need to produce another one as soon as possible.

The camera I need is not inexpensive, and will cost as much as this trip itself, but it will be the source of an amazing story. I will be there to record the final stages of construction, the ribbon cutting, the culture, and of course  THE WILDLIFE!!! (on the three personal days I will have on August 19 - 21)

While this might seem more of a request to help me buy a camera, I hope that you can sense my sincere appreciation for the Chwele community that it will serve. $600 will go toward shots, at least $2400 is needed for equipment, and YOUR REFERRALS FOR NEW BUSINESS, will help me to pay my studio bills during what would be my prime earning weeks of the summer.

In return, I will provide you a scenic, multimedia, storytelling mini-documentary of my 2 weeks in Kenya. I will be in great company with local Kenyan dignitaries, OHSU interns, Grace Institute volunteers and many other giving Souls that "said yes to St. Grace". I'm sure I will have no lack of content, and will do everything I can to saddle up a Rhino if I can't find anything more authentic. (not likely, as I'm going to have an AMAZING local guide to serve me while in service myself. He is very interested in photography, so I look forward to a very fair exchange.

If you are able to help, and want evidence of your support (by way of the multi-media movie) you will be prayed upon from here to Africa in gratitude of your support.
Enter your email and the password "Kenya"
and select the option that works best for you to share.

If you would prefer to give a tax-deductible contribution, directly to the Community Centre, you may do so here:

You will be richly rewarded in gratitude, and knowing that 10's of thousands of smiles will be captured by your contribution. If you are not able to help, your support of well-wishing is equally appreciated. This journey will create MANY chapters for my own life, as I do my best to aid a few others.

Brian GerathsComment