"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

Sweet Zoe Ann’s Doljanchi (1st Birthday)!

Posted in Day-To-Day, Friends, Photography by matt on Sunday, November 17, 2013

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_311

Our good friends and teammates have the sweetest little girl, Zoe, who just turned one. I got to shoot the birthday and thought I’d share a few with you guys.

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_316

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_333

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_254

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_3

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_32

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_52

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_126

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_133

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_136

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_218

2013.10.18.Slemani.Zoe.Ann.Fisher.First.Birthday_238

Advertisements

Meet My Son, Jack Matthew!

Posted in Day-To-Day, Family, Jack Matthew, Portraits by matt on Monday, August 5, 2013

2013.8.4.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital_9

2013.8.4.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital

2013.8.4.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital_8

2013.8.3.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital_25-2

2013.8.3.1.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital_40

2013.8.3.1.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital_2

2013.8.3.1.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital_6

2013.8.3.1.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital_14

2013.8.3.1.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital_22

2013.8.3.1.Cayla.Jack.Birth.Grossmont.Hospital_19

VIDEO: Big Baby News!

Posted in Day-To-Day, Time-Lapse, Travel, Videos, Videos By Me by matt on Thursday, March 28, 2013

On our holiday to Antalya, Turkey, the wife and I thought it’d be fun to announce the sex of our baby via a 40 second time-lapse in the sand! Hope ya like!

If the video isn’t loading for you, watch it on my Vimeo stream here.

CROSS-POSTED: “Murdered Neighbors, Heroic Doctors, And Hope For Iraq’s Future—An Expat’s Take On Living In Iraq”

Posted in Cross-Posted, Day-To-Day by matt on Monday, March 25, 2013

The following is a piece I’ve adapted and cross-posted from an article I recently wrote for Niqash, my favorite Iraq-specific news source:

A photo of a grandfather waiting with his grandson for a heart screening.

Recently, a group of men with automatic rifles entered the street where I live in Iraq.

My wife was alone at our house when she heard the gunfire a few houses over. In addition to their target, the three men killed several nearby construction workers and a security guard. A friend later explained that this group had waited thirty years to avenge their dead family members in a blood feud, and they finally retaliated.

Perhaps the saddest part of the story was how calm the rest of my neighbors were about the assassination. The profane patience required to wait three decades for revenge gave me chills, but my neighbors in Iraq and my friends in America didn’t seem all that surprised. They expect stories like these.

Admittedly, some of the experiences from my years of living and working throughout Iraq have been difficult, but vengeance and hardship aren’t the the stories I let define my time here.

Traveling from Basra to Dohuk and most major cities in-between, I’ve seen first-hand how many Iraqis are patient, kind-hearted people who just want to live at peace with their neighbors and to care for their families.

Even more than that, many of the Iraqi doctors and nurses I work with have chosen to absorb pain, to forgive, and to move on rather than to perpetuate violence. Rather than revenge, some have waited thirty years for a chance to become lifesaving heart surgeons and have even chosen to love former enemies at the risk of their own reputation and safety.

A photo of Hussain, a sweet little boy from Najaf, Iraq.

Mustafa, a taxi driver from Fallujah, heard that a team of Christian and Shia doctors in southern Iraq might be able to save his daughter’s life; to correct her complex heart defect. At the time, Mustafa’s neighbors in Anbar thought he was crazy to take his daughter to their southern ‘enemy,’ but it was their only hope.

For many families in Fallujah, going to southern Iraq for medical treatment would only be a last resort, but Mustafa surprised us all by preferring to go south. After his daughter’s successful heart operation—before going back to Fallujah—Mustafa told us,

“We must take this wall of fear that has built up between us and tear it down, because Iraq is one and we are all brothers and sisters!”

Mustafa brought his healthy little girl back to his neighbors and showed them what the ‘enemy’ had done to save his daughter’s life, the pink scar on her chest as proof.

And Mustafa is just one of many stories; I’ve seen Kurdish cardiologists treat Arab children from Kirkuk; I’ve seen Jews, Muslims, and Christians collaborate to provide medical care; and I, a Christian, have been welcomed into Fallujah and Tikrit by Muslims who suffered greatly at the hands of my country.

I am convinced that simple, kind acts like this can create a new story for Iraq—they bring about desperately-needed healing.

As we approach the Iraq War’s 10th anniversary this month, I am sure there will be negative headlines around the world questioning the war, Iraq’s current status, and how to move forward.

While those are important, I am choosing to tell stories of extraordinary people who defy stereotypes and extend an olive branch to their enemies. I am not so naive as to think Iraq is problem-free, but my stories represent what I believe Iraq is becoming—what God is making of Iraq. And these Iraqi friends are people I want to hold up to represent this beautiful country.

But the question is, what kinds of stories will Iraqis choose over the next 10 years?

Will they continue to be known for violence and strife, or will they become famous for forgiveness? Who will be considered ‘normal:’ the revenge-driven murderers on my street, or the enemy-loving doctors?

Call me naive, but I’m believing in the latter.

###

“Congratulations! You’re Having A Baby ______!”

Posted in Day-To-Day, Family by matt on Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A photo of m'lady getting an ultrasound.

Here, the spring rain looks a lot like beige paint.

Dust blows off the mountains and collides with oncoming clouds, and the city’s coloring somehow gets even drabber. We made our way uphill through the bazaar, pausing to work out signs in Arabic. My wife finally identified her doctor’s name, and we ducked into the building. I scooted old cigarette butts across the floor with my foot while my wife put her name on the list.

“The doctor will see you now.”

Over twenty-five women would hear that before us, but we were too excited to let the four hour wait deter us—we would see our child today.

The next few hours involved a lot of shifting, pacing, staring, dozing, and scraping the dirty rain off my glasses.

When I first heard how uninvolved the men are for this part of their wive’s pregnancies, I’ll admit, I cast judgement. How could they just leave their wives to all of these appointments? Some of the pregnant woman had children with them!

Now, sitting in a waiting room surrounded by nervous women, I get it. Not even their layers of make-up and head-scarves could shield them from my unwelcome presence. Noting their discomfort, I tried to spend as much time outside as possible. I even tried to strike up a conversation with the men waiting outside in the halls, but they just gave me looks that seemed to say “Hush-up, don’t you know this is woman-territory?”

Finally, our turn came. I heard a lady giggle when I went into the “sonar” room with Cayla. If men didn’t come into the waiting room, they definitely didn’t go into the ultrasound room. Just to make sure I looked like a three-headed weirdo, I also pulled out a camera.

Thankfully, the ultrasound tech had experience with foreigners, and she even smiled for one of the pictures. After a minute of wand-gooing and “hmmm”-ing to herself, she told us the sex, how the baby is developing, and our due date.

But, if you’d like to find out all that, you’ll just have to come back later and keep reading!