If you had met me prior to a year ago I can honestly say you met a different Tonya. I’d like to think that I was still a fun, kind and happy go lucky person but looking back the honest truth is I wasn’t any of that. I was stuck somewhere in the in-between of nothingness and the future God had for me. I was empty with empty holes that life had created that desperately needed to be filled with something greater than myself. Holes that were deep, holes that were dark and holes that were taking up space where a great person use to be.
The wonderful thing about God and his love is that He loves us too much to just leave us in the messes we make of ourselves. He wants us to be all He has made us to be. “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace- only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” Anne Lamott
In June 2013 I had decided to go on a mission trip with my church to Mexico with Back2Back ministries to check two things off my bucket list; traveling out of the country and going on a missions trip. I’m thankful that even though my plan to go was by far a spiritual reason, God had a bigger plan!
That one single mission trip changed this Knoxville Photographers heart forever. God started filling up the holes that life had chiseled away with love, a hunger to serve, and the realization that we can either do two things with whats happen to us in our past; let the past put its stamp on us as unworthy of greatness or let God use it as a testimony of greatness.
This past year I’ve been so blessed to travel to Africa, back to Mexico and heading to Thailand in 3 weeks. I don’t know what doors missions will open up, who’s paths it will cross with mine or what great adventures it will hold for me. I do however know that the places I have served are surround with more beauty that my eyes have ever seen, more heartache than my heart has ever felt and more hope than I’ve ever thought was possible. I could tell you story after story, amazing things my eyes have witnessed but they all fall short to the feeling knowing God is in the middle of it all working.
I alone don’t have cure for diseases, cant ‘t stop world hunger or give every orphan a forever home, but I can love every person that crosses my path.
I use to think that being someone great meant everyone knowing who you were when you walked in the room, but now I think being great is everyone feeling like they are valued when you leave the room.
I have no clue where this path God has me on with mission and photography will lead, but I do know it will lead me right where I’m suppose to be!
“No-one has ever become poor by giving’ – Anne Frank
PS Thanks to all who gave to make this trip possible! So many lives were changed because of your willingness to help send me.
Below are photos from Back2Back Ministries 2014 serving with Calvary Industries on a medical mission trip and then a Quinceañera I shoot of a girl I’ve become close to over the past year. So many memories made and more to come.