Bloggernacle Back Bench: Artistic missionary photos worth a thousand words

Published: Tuesday, June 26 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

One of Skylar Williams artistic missionary photos from Southern France.

http://notremessage.blogspot.com/

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, is a missionary picture worth a thousand words of gospel discussion?

I love seeing fantastic new ways of using blog technology, and Skylar Williams, an ingenious missionary who just returned from serving in Switzerland and France, took to the streets of southern France while a missionary to take a series of photos that served as artistic renditions of missionary work. I’ll let him explain the process:

“Near the end of my mission, I received my (mission) president’s approval to shoot a series of photos based on the purpose of missionaries. The photos are visually pleasing and thought-provoking, yet subtle and full of deeper meaning. We had a street board which I wrote different messages on, mostly all in French because we were in southern France at the time. I then had my companion hold the board and I took a picture. In six weeks this idea went from my little mission notebook to 40-plus photos taken with an old film camera, printed each (and then) spanned the walls of the cultural hall in our church by the beach of Marseille.” The missionaries then invited whoever was interested to come by the gallery at the church house.

Did it work? Did it bring interest to their important missionary work? Yes and yes.

Williams explains, “We saw a huge bump in being accepted by the general public. Instead of them running from us, they were able to see deeper into our purpose because they took the time to study and search for meaning in the photos we had presented. The gallery was a success and following the end of my mission, I was contacted by several other people interested in doing the same things in their cities, countries and languages. Best of all, this project is only growing larger. I have agreed for this summer to three more photo shoots and galleries, in Paris, Vienna and Oslo.”

Wow. I’m really excited about this project and hope to see it grow across the church. And the photos, are they as amazing as I describe? I’ll let you be the judge. Check out Williams’ missionary photo art blog Les Plaques Noires and contact him if you are interested in learning more about the project.

And speaking of languages, LDS Media Talk noticed that the “LDS Disabilities Website (Is) in Nine More Languages”: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. This amazing resource is perfect for helping “members with disabilities and their families participate more fully in church meetings and activities.” Click in to learn more.

Now let me showcase other amazing endeavors throughout the Bloggernacle:

Power pick: “At some point, abuse will affect my life in one way or another.” So begins this powerful new video from the Voices of Courage initiative, produced by the Women’s Services and Resources arm of Brigham Young University. Please watch and share with your friends, as this educational message of hope and shared community awareness can, as one woman on the video put it, “when we are willing to set aside our fears and intervene, we can spare someone a lot of hurt.” Incredible!

Techie tip: I may need to devote a whole column on this in the near future, but I noticed via a blog commenter that you can try out the FamilySearch Family Tree, the replacement for NewFamilySearch, which is rumored to be phased out as soon as next year. Here is a little about this new program: “The Family Tree is a new approach to genealogy. It is unlike any tool you've used before. You will connect with others who share a common interest in your genealogical lines. Together, you compare findings, weight evidence and decide what information is most correct. The history of your work and the rationale for change are preserved for others to see. You'll find great satisfaction in your family research because you are part of a team working towards the same goal — the most accurate, complete and enduring family tree ever produced.” Hooray to community-based genealogy, and it looks amazing. If you would like to be one of the testers of this brand-new genealogy program, click here for instructions on how to submit a request online. Awesome!

Emily Warburton Jensen loves searching through the LDS blog world for developments and testimonies that best capture the ever-evolving LDS online experience. Email: ejensen@desnews.com

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