contemplating realities.

We have been in afghanistan for over a month and are spending about one more month here. the time passes by s l o w l y. there is a peace and a confidence in knowing that you are walking in obedience to the Father...even if that walk exists as a trek through the deserts of a war-torn land. admittedly, the conditions of this place are weighing heavy on my heart. i am feeling tired and weak. i take courage in the fact that i never walk alone. i am at the place where i can truly submit my restless heart to my Father, pray THY WILL BE DONE and REALLY mean it. these words have been my bread; "...more than that we {REJOICE in our sufferings}, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured out in our hearts..."
romans 5:3-5

I have had to ask myself some LOADED questions over the past few weeks. it is easy to agree with “being content in every situation”, but to actually live that out with your chin up and a smile on your face is a different story. To literally be “patient in tribulation and constant in prayer”. I am so grateful for the strength in the eyes of my husband , the awesome community I am surrounded by and the support and prayers of my friends and family in the west.
Despite the raised eyebrows we received from some regarding starting our married life in 
A-stan, I can tell you that this has undoubtedly been an awesome experience for us as a couple. We are living out the vows that we made to each other and experiencing a grace that covers us like the chuppah we were married underneath.

We are continuing the classes that we teach at the NGO {English, conversation, art, drama, religion} and will be spending the next few weeks running an education seminar for teachers and working with students in a small village outside of Mazar. We will also be doing some food distribution to victims of the famine this week. It is easy to get discouraged here as the fruit of our labor is not always evident. But I KNOW that our work is not in vain. As i extend my hands to the poor, as i kneel low to look in the eyes of the orphan, as i photograph the woman who has never felt valued, there is something INSIDE of ME that happens. Some thing in my very core breaks and tha
n sparks to life. The small acts of ruthless grace and redemptive love, the practical declarations of peace that come with simply choosing to live amongst the afghan people are what make it all worth it. And so we walk on…

*[Jesus] worked miracles not to shock and awe or to feed his own mouth but to feed the masses. So, we might not be able to turn water into wine, but if we can help the two billion people who are dying of thirst find water, that is a miracle.

*excerpt from {Jesus for President} Claiborne & Haw


diamonds in the rough

I had the awesome opportunity to photograph at a local women’s prison here in Mazar. An NGO in the area is working to raise support to better the conditions of the facility so I got to use my camera to help with that process. 

The assignment was to photograph the conditions of the facility. 


 I didn’t think that I would even have the opportunity to photograph the [treasures] that make their home inside the prison walls. The [women] shyed away from the camera, avoiding it at all costs as if it would steal their soul. Hiding in corners and covering their faces with their headscarves.

the children were scared of the camera too.

what are children doing living inside of a prison? when a woman in afghanistan goes to jail, her young children become prisoners with her. if she has older children they are sent to an orphanage.

 there are no grassy patches to play in. no sandboxes, crayons or toys. there are [sparks of hope] in the eyes of these tiny people. they are diamonds in the rough.

my first twenty shots were of crying babies. who knows if they had ever seen a camera before. thank GOD for digital i began to show these two and three year old babies their portraits their crying subsided and i even got a few smiles out of them. 

when their mothers saw their children's faces on the LCD they began to warm up
 to me. Within a few minutes there was such a drastic change...they came alive. Before long their faces were unveiled and they were dragging me by the arm from one side of the courtyard to the other, fighting over who got to have their picture taken next. as soon as the shutter closed they would dive towards me to see their faces in the screen. 


as i began to look into their eyes, my heart was shattered as i empathized with the intense pain, anger and angst written on the faces of these broken women. such stony exterior masking delicate hope. diamonds in the rough. 

© 2010 unless otherwise stated all photos are copyright diane schallert and may not be used without permission. thanks.

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