My name is Kennedy and I am first generation American. My mom grew up in Ensenada, Mexico and after moving to the states, she worked really hard to learn english. My parents did everything they could to give my siblings and I more opportunities than they had as kids. I grew up in Massachusetts, so I wasn’t exposed much to Mexican culture. Growing up I didn't really have a desire to know my culture. It wasn’t until I was 18 years old, that I felt like something was missing and that I didn't know who I was. Looking back I now see I wasn't just my roots I was missing, it was God.
Now at 23, during my time in Mexico doing the Photo-Storytelling DTS, I’ve done so many things I never imagined, like hiking three hours and 10 minutes down a mountain to a village in the middle of the Mexican jungle, cooking with Indigenous women, or giving out photos to people who have never had one of themselves. I took a huge leap of blind faith to come here, leaving my job and everything I knew. What I didn't expect was that I would not only find my roots, but discover God's heart for Mexico.
In the Photo-Storytelling DTS, we learned how to tell someone's story with a photo, while giving them value. A goal that we focused on is allowing God to show us who people are through His eyes and to then communicate that in a photo. The photography focus is what drew me to this DTS and I am so happy that I took that step to be here.
During my outreach I was able to show the indigenous people of Mexico their value by photographing them and showing them just a fraction of their beauty. The women in Southern Mexico were shocked that we wanted to spend time with them, cooking with them and photographing them. In Chiapas, myself and one of my teammates, Savannah, were sitting in a kitchen with three women while they cooked breakfast. We asked to help cook and they told us they didn't need help, so we decided to keep them company and asked them if we could photograph them. It was so much fun because as we took their photos we showed them and waited for their reactions, which were priceless. Seeing how touched they were by their own photos was such a blessing.
We had photography teams out all over the world, and God was truly using all of the teams to impact the people around them. In many of the countries that our teams where located in, women are not valued as much as men are, so our teams focused on showing these women their value. One technique we studied is to angle your camera from below allowing the subject to appear stronger and more powerful, rather than weak and vulnerable. It was a learning experience for us to work with these women from all over the world and a privilege to share with them how God values them.
To be honest, I never thought I would be in Mexico seeking God like this. I never imagined that God would be using my life to change the lives of people I meet. I did not think I would fall so in love with Mexico that my soul aches to come back and I haven't even left yet. I never thought DTS would change me this much and I am so thankful for everything that has happened in the last five months. I learned how to photograph people with a purpose that is bigger than me. I grew as a photographer and as an individual. I’m so thankful to God for bringing me back to my roots, for making this all possible, and for showing me more of His heart.