On my third trip to South Sudan, half way through the trip, someone gave me a patch of the flag of South Sudan. I thought it was pretty cool. They had one for everyone who came on that trip. I proudly sewed the patch (let’s be honest, my wife sewed it) on my camera bag. It’s the bag that carries all my camera gear and enough clothing and other items that if my other bag didn’t show up, I could still get through ten days in Africa.
Ten years ago, I was working for an insurance company. I could never have imagined that the gift God gave me for photography would take me to such incredible places, to meet such incredible people. I’ve met people who I’m sure will be lifelong friends in countries one of which didn’t even exist ten years ago. I am truly grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.
Later this month, I leave for Ethiopia with the Petros Network, the same people that gave me the South Sudan patch when I met them in 2013. This time I’ll be with them, and I’m looking forward to all that this trip brings. I have no idea what to expect. I’ll be traveling alone until I get to the capital, Addis Ababa. Once I get there, I’ll have a night in the capital, then travel about four hours, I’m told, west into the mountains. I’m working on being able to stay with a local family once I get there. Many of the soul-capturing pictures of people happen when you’re just sitting outside in the village, and I can’t get that from a hotel. This trip is a completely blank slate, and as Kenya was for my wife, at this point all I have are preconceptions. I have preconceptions of what the people are like, preconceptions of the food, preconceptions of the landscape. I’ve tried googling images of where I’m going, but virtually nothing comes up, and that is very unusual. I’m both nervous and excited.
So with that, I’ve now sewn the third patch on my bag. I only sew patches onto the bag that the bag has been to. So I now have South Sudan, Kenya, and one clean patch, Ethiopia.
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