Sunday, August 16, 2009

The death of a generation?

As most of you may know, I love sports. I love to watch, read, and learn about anything and everything that has to do with sports. But more than that, I love to play sports. Lately, I've had some very interesting knee problems have sidelined me from playing basketball and have forced me to "retire" my shoes for a while. I actually played basketball early Saturday morning for a friend's birthday, and it really confirmed that I need to lay off my knees. This has posed as a big problem for me in my life and has led to somewhat depressing moments. The feeling of being old at the age of 25 really tugs at me. Are these the things I really worry about? Sadly... Yes, and there is more.

White Castle... these two words could quite possibly mean the death of a generation. For all of you Californians wondering if White Castle really lives up to all of its hype... it doesn't. I find this place to be utterly disgusting. The spots on the box above is not from random lighting, but from the grease stains seeping through the casing of a slider. Yes they're cheap, and yes they satisfy your hunger, but after consuming a few of these, they feel like they can end your life then and there. Are these the things I really worry about? Unfortunately... yes.

--- [Insert break here] ---
Now to the actual point of this post. These pictures were just a part of my Friday evening. I spent the better half of the evening at an incredibly blessing service put on by an organization called "Crossing Borders". Crossing Borders helps support political refugees from North Korea that have fled the country through China in their treacherous journey to South Korea. These amazing missionaries risk their lives in order to help people they have no physical relationship with. But these missionaries also tell us that the only relationship that matters is the one through God.

We met in a beautiful church called College Church, cleverly named as it is a part of Wheaton College. The speaker, Dr. Peter Cha from Trinity seminary, was an amazing speaker with an equally amazing message. The jist of the message was that there is hope, and God calls us to be a part of it. Dr. Cha is a North Korean. His parents lived in Pyongyang, where his father was a pastor. Dr. Cha told us stories that his father told him. Stories of North Korea, before it was even known as North Korea... it was simply known as, Korea. Pyongyang city flourished in spirituality. Dr. Cha spoke of times when church bells would ring throughout the city on Sundays, and everyone would flock to their churches, and worship God. This came as a complete shock to me. I would have never guessed that Christianity and North Korea, as I know it, could have co-existed at any point in history. Sometimes it's even easier for me to think of North Korea as, "The forgotten country". It's hard for me to think that God can even exist in a place like North Korea. And yet, someone like Dr. Cha, who has experienced it all nearly first hand, has hopes that Pyongyang and the rest of North Korea will be restored to what it once was because of his faith in God. And the crazy part is, God calls us to be a part of it.

We live for so much more than we could imagine. While people are dying from injustice, famine, human trafficking, and other inhumane acts... I sit in my cush life worrying about things like, "What effects can White Castle have on my body?" or, "What would I do if I couldn't play basketball again?" Our mentalities in Orange County, CA or Schaumburg, IL in itself are an injustice. God calls us for so much more. I feel so challenged by the message and the presentation on Friday. I would love to be a warrior for God that has a heart for His people, and His issues. I would love to be able to fall to my knees and passionately pray for the change of North Korea and its leaders. And yet, I sit and worry about trivial issues.

They're dying, and it's as if I don't even care. They're dying, and it's as if they aren't God's people too. They are our brothers and sisters. This is a challenge to myself and anyone else who calls themselves "Christian"... let's develop a heart for His people. Let's develop a love for His people and invest ourselves in things bigger than we could imagine. Let's pray for change knowing that with God, anything is possible. I believe God is good and I have experienced God's grace and mercy.... so let's spread it across the nations as we are called to do.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Getting paid to do things you love.

Today I got a chance to get paid to do something I have really grown in love with, photograph. I was asked to photograph a multi-church softball tournament! It was a really nice sight to see churches of different cultures and backgrounds come together and fellowship through softball. It was also a really good chance to practice some high action shots, which I've never really had the chance to do. All in all, I had a great day despite the insane heat and random rain.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Alone in the Woods

I had some time to myself this evening and decided to take a walk around the Busse Woods. It was a some good quality time between me and God. It was a good time to clear my head of all the current chaos and soak up some nature.

Behind a chain link fence.

Tools of the trade.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Where the Pros Go

Calumet, it's where the pros go, and it's where I went today. Since moving to Illinois I've picked up quite an expensive hobby. It's called Photography.

Today, I spent a good chunk of the day driving to and from Chicago, with Peter, on a mission to find a small, compact camera bag. Chicago is about an hour drive from my place so I was really hopeful that they would have the bag I was looking for. Well, Lady Luck must have been on my side today because I found the last one I was looking for! I quickly scooped it up and paid for it as Peter walked around and checked out some lenses.

I had originally left my house only intending to come back with a camera bag, BUT since it took so long, we thought we should spend more time at Calumet... so we did. As Peter tried out some lenses, I took the opportunity to spend more money. I was in the market for a tripod and found a Calumet brand one. I tooled around with it a bit and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it came with a 3-way head and a quick release (this probably means nothing to non-photographers). I took it up to the cash register to ask how much it was and found out that, through student discount, it was a low $65. I whipped out the debit card once again (notice that it is debit and NOT credit) and gladly paid for it.

After leaving Calumet I felt inspired to use my camera, hence the picture above. Peter and I wanted to head downtown to take some pictures, but since it was getting late and traffic was piling up, we decided to head back to the 'burbs and call it a day.

So within the past few weeks I've been blessed with the opportunity to pick up some new toys. Don't worry, most of this is used and was found through the wondrous craigslist. Kudos to you Craig! That small bag on the right is what I drove all the way to Chicago for, but I'm happy I got it. It fits all the equipment I need, and quite frankly it doesn't make me look odd when I walk around with it. I'm sure most of you don't care about the equipment, so just know that it makes me happy.

Anyways, my day ended with lots of food thanks to Old Country Buffet. As a note to readers (if there are any), my entries will typically not be like this one.


Hello all! Welcome to my blog! I'm not really sure how you found it, or what it is you're interested in reading about, but I hope you enjoy my random rants and photos to go along with them.

Why did I start a blog?
In my community group (better known as a small group to some) here in Illinois, we've all been challenged to look deeper into our own lives by journaling. Our goal of journaling is not to look back on old entries to reminisce on good and bad times in life, but to really examine ourselves in our walk with God. I absolutely love the idea of it, and with only one week of our journaling having past, I've already gained a lot of insight on who I am with God. However, those journal entries are semi-private. If you were hoping to find some juicy knowledge about Mark Villasenor through this blog, I'm sorry to say that you won't find it here.

What you will find here are sections of those journal entries. Through photos, pictures, and some words you'll see bits and pieces of my life and my progression in Christ.

Why is this entry called "Challenges"?
I mainly started this blog as a challenge to myself. Since picking up photography I've grown in love with my surroundings and in awe of God's power. I would like to post a few times a week with photos to document the day. I hope that this blog will serve well alongside my personal journal and simply let you, as the reader, know how my life has been going!