Sharing From My Heart

(Written back in December, 2016–haven’t gotten around to sharing until now.)

When my friend who heads up the Congo Frontline Missions newsletter begged me to write an article about my experiences in Africa, I really didn’t know what to do.

“I don’t know what to write about, Mom,” I wailed on the phone in my daily chat with her (Africa has made me forever grateful for technology). “What would I say? I love Africa, I’m doing tons of tourism and seeing incredible places, and don’t even feel like I’m doing missionary work!”

“Just share from your heart,” my mom encouraged.

So, I decided that I would. Coming to Africa has been an amazing experience for me, but I find it hard to write about because sometimes I feel that my contribution to the mission work has been very minimal and indirect. I am teaching Shiloh (Mosier’s oldest, who is 6) first grade, and helping with some of the bookkeeping and office organization. On top of that, I’m currently on the vacation of a lifetime, traveling with my host family through Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania during a time of political unrest in Congo. My host family is visiting other mission projects and has attended leadership training at the East Central African Division, but my main work has been continuing Shiloh’s education and helping Tammy around the house.

(Picture: Me and the kiddos: Caleb [4], Shiloh [6], and Anna [2]. Talitha [9 mo.] must have been sleeping.)

I’ve been staying in nice hotels, eating amazing food, seeing the most amazing sights and experiencing the most amazing experiences. I’ve touched baby elephants at the Elephant Orphanage and fed giraffes at the Giraffe Center in Kenya, seen lions and even a leopard at the Ruaha Game Park in Tanzania, and swam and snorkeled in the beautiful Lake Malawi.

(Picture: A young elephant at the Elephant Orphanage throwing dirt into the air. I actually got to touch him!!)

To be honest, I’ve struggled a lot with feeling that I’m not really a genuine missionary. I’m not going out to unreached villages doing medical missionary work, like the Fishers and their student missionaries are. I’m not teaching English as a Second Language to the people of Congo and Tanzania, like another one of Fisher’s student missionaries is doing. I’m not foraging over washed-out jungle roads to drill wells and bring clean, pure water to the Congolese, as Rittenours are doing. I’m not even directly involved in the work of training new Adventists, solidifying their understanding of biblical truth, as my host family (the Mosiers) does.

(Picture: At the Giraffe Center. These beautiful creatures would come so close we could feed and pet them. I even got a couple kisses out of one of them!)

“I mean, I could have stayed in America and been a teacher of American children and helped you and dad in the office for our family-owned business, and I would have been doing about the same work as I’m doing here now,” I complained to my mom once. Then one day, when I was again feeling discouraged, I came across the following quote:

“Let not your thought or your words be, ‘O that I had a larger work! O that I were in this or that position!’ Do your duty where you are. Make the best investments possible with your entrusted gift in the very place where your work will count the most before God…. Be not envious of the talents of others, for that will not increase your ability to do a good or a great work. Use your gift in meekness, in humility, in trusting faith, and wait till the day of reckoning, and you will have no cause for grief or shame….like vessels of various dimensions we are placed in the house of the Lord; but it is not expected that the smaller vessels will contain all that the larger ones hold. All that is required is that the vessel shall be full and hold according to its ability. If you perform faithfully the duties in your path you will be an acceptable servant, an honored vessel.” That I May Know Him, p. 329.

(Picture: A wild lion spotted at the Ruaha game park and photographed from the open truck bed just 20 feet away.)



Oh, what an encouragement. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord was the One who opened the doors to bring me to Africa. I have to trust, then, that the work He has set before me here, however insignificant and unimportant it might seem, is important in His eyes. Truly, someone has to do the indirect missionary work in order that others can be freed up to do the direct missionary work.

(Picture: The beautiful Lake Malawi. One of the nicest beaches I’ve ever been to!)


Dear readers, wherever you are, whatever seemingly lowly or elevated position might be yours, you are doing an important work for the Lord. Some of you might be working for Him in America. Some may be working in foreign mission fields. But wherever the Lord has you, I encourage you to “be faithful in that which is least.” You may never know till heaven how great your seemingly small contributions are.

Vector Illustration: Portfolio

Folks, I am DONE with my Elementary Education degree! I just completed my last class (Vector Illustration, ARTS 332).

As the title of this post suggests, my final project was to create a portfolio of all my work throughout the class. The instructions said, “The portfolio must be designed with an appropriate level of aesthetic. Create a unique look for the portfolio, but do not allow your design to overwhelm the content.”

I decided to showcase my work like it’s on a work table, or an arts and crafts table. It was really fun, and I think it turned out really good. There’s similarity on each page, but also variety. It took me forever to make though–I think I’ve spent a total of about 15 hours just on this project (not counting the preliminary sketches, etc.).

Here is the cover page – I combined all the crafting supplies from the other pages around the edge of the page title. I organized all my work into 4 categories: 1) Icons, 2) Infographics, 3) Stationery, and 4) Wall Décor. These categories helped to shape the theme that I used on each page.

Porfolio - Cover Page

Page 1: Icons – What better way to showcase icons than to put them on an iPad and iPod?

Portfolio - Icons Page

Page 2: Infographics – Infographics are like posters. Why not “paste” them onto matching poster paper and “cut out” cool designs around the edges?

Portfolio - Infographics Page

Page 3: Stationery – They stood alone, but I added the titles of the work right on the letterhead, and laid a pen (I love how the pen turned out) over the top.

Portfolio - Stationery Page

Page 4: Wall Décor – Wall décor belongs in picture frames (didn’t they turn out soooo pretty! That’s the power and beauty of using gradients!), with pretty gold placards with the pieces’ names engraved on them.

Portfolio - Wall Decor Page

“That’s not how I remember Project 1 looking!” You probably remember it looking something like this:

Project 1

You’ll also remember that neither my professor nor I were quite happy with how it turned out. So, I redid it for this final project. I am much happier with Version 2 (ok, it’s a little grim, but I still like the overall look better).

Project 1 Version 2

Over all, I am SO happy with how my Portfolio turned out. I think it has been my best work of this whole class. And what a great way to end my years of college!!

Vector Illustration: Infographic

This project took me forever to do, but I really like the finished product. The idea was to create an “infographic” showing how to complete a process of 5 or more steps–something that we are good at. Here were a few of my ideas.
Project 3 Ideas
I decided to go with the How to Organize a Bedroom infographic, and came up with a few different layout ideas:
Project 3 Layout
Up until the last minute, I was designing this project according to Layout 1. If it hadn’t been for the second opinions of my family, I probably would have submitted my original idea. Just about all of them who looked at the completed version, found it difficult to read, as each row starts with the same picture in the last column of the previous row. I didn’t think it was hard to understand, but that is probably because I was the creator of the design, so I knew how it was supposed to be read.
Project 3 Version 2
But, on the “testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses,” I went with Layout 3 instead. Once I completed the new design, I did see the wisdom of having fewer icons and more simplicity in layout.
Project 3
This time I went wild with gradients and textures, instead of leaving the pieces flat with black strokes around everything. It added an amazing element of realism to the finished product that made it totally worth all the time and effort. So, are you better equipped now to handle the clutter in your bedroom?

Vector Illustration: Pattern Collection

This assignment asked us to create a pattern collection–a main print (contains all elements of the pattern), secondary print (contains same colors/style, but has fewer elements), and blender print (complementary print using only one or two elements/colors).

I started by putting a couple ideas onto paper.

Project 2 Pattern Design Idea 1 Project 2 Pattern Design Idea 2

You can see that I played with two types of patterns: Organic and geometric. While I liked both ideas, I ended choosing to do the organic design. The resulting pattern collection I have labeled “Viney Hearts.”

My first goal was to create a design that reflects me as a person. I was able to accomplish this to my perfect satisfaction! Vines have always been something that I love to draw, as well as hearts. The vines with little curlicue tendrills, branching leaves, and curvy flowers are practically my trademark, as are hearts with curvy edging. Below is a pattern that I drew a couple years ago for a drawing class at a different school so you can see how “me” this style of vines and hearts is.

There were a couple of things that I did that helped to make my “Viney Hearts” pattern collection so visually attractive. First, as I already mentioned, I chose an organic design. This gave the design an allusion of spring–a feel of fluidity, grace, and beauty. Secondly, I utilized a spring-toned color palette of several corresponding colors which are very pleasing to the eyes. Lastly, I used transparency to add a subtle illusion of depth. So, if you look closely at my main and secondary prints, you can see that I copied and pasted a transparent, rotated layer of white vines, leaves, and flowers under the main graphic layers.

What I like best about this pattern collection is how each of the prints manages to have its own unique style, while still adhering to the overall theme and design. Did you know that you can actually have the patterns you create printed on cloth which you can have made into clothes, or even made into wrapping paper or wallpaper? SpoonFlower (www.spoonflower.com) makes all of the latter, while Zazzle (www.zazzle.com) can put your patterns on ties, iPhone cases, bags, and more! You can even sell your designs on Zazzle! I just might try to sell this pattern there! What do you think? Is it something you would buy?

Vector Illustration: Custom Typography

For this assignment, my job was to create a pretty layout for a quote of 6-13 words, paying attention to hierarchy and style. I started by exploring 3 ideas.

Idea 1: I was going for emphasis of the main words, simplicity of design, and a focus on the text, rather than the background. I loved the inside border, but not quite the outer one. I loved the curly text, but didn’t think that it fit with the board-like font.

WP_20160802_21_09_09_Rich (3)

Idea 2: This time I was shooting to make the text out of something in the environment: vines. Unfortunately, they kind of took over, and I found it to be way too difficult to read and too messy. Not enough emphasis on the text.

WP_20160803_15_09_47_Rich (4)

Idea 3: This time I was shooting for text in the environment: writing with lipstick on the mirror. I loved the mirror idea, and the writing in lipstick, but thought the font too plain, and missed the emphasis on the main words.

WP_20160804_19_38_15_Rich (3)

So, for my final product, I decided to combine the first and third ideas:

Project 1

Unfortunately, I only earned a grade of 87% for this work. My professor stated that my concept was ok, but my execution needed refinement. She said that the type is hard to read and doesn’t look good, and the drop shadow is a bit harsh. She recommended that I don’t outline my shapes, but instead to try using a different shade of the background color and maybe mute it a bit. I do agree with her that my design is lacking in something, though I’m not sure what. I do like the smeary text–that was kind of the point, as it is “writing with lipstick on the mirror.” Maybe it is the color scheme, though, that just is not cohesive…. Maybe it is that the mirror, dresser, and wall just don’t look real enough…. Any thoughts or ideas?

Vector Illustration Class: Icon Re-designs

Second major project for my Vector Illustration Class (ARTS 332) at Liberty University: Completely redesign 3 Mac app desktop icons. I could choose from the following: 1) System Preferences, 2) Finder, 3) Photo Booth, 4) Trash, & 5) Calendar. I decided to do all 5!

Exercise 2 Thumbnail Originals

I first had to do lots of research into different icon styles and ways to simplify designs and make unique designs that are all cohesive. You can view my Pinterest board of ideas here: https://www.pinterest.com/brownsarahellen/icon-ideas/.

I then had to sketch at least 10 ideas for each of the 3 icons that I choose to do–but since I decided to do all 5, that meant sketching 50 ideas! I did get burnt out on the last idea, and only sketched 6 ideas for it.

Ideas for the System Preferences icon:

Exercise 2 Thumbnail Ideas for System Preferences

Ideas for the Finder icon:

Exercise 2 Thumbnail Ideas for Finder

Ideas for the Photo Booth icon:

Exercise 2 Thumbnail Ideas for Photo Booth

Ideas for the Trash icon:

Exercise 2 Thumbnail Ideas for Trash

Ideas for the Calendar icon:

Exercise 2 Thumbnail Ideas for Calendar

And here is the final, vectorized results: I am really happy with how it turned out! It is very unique, very simple, and yet very cohesive.

Exercise 2 Sarah Brown ARTS 332 (photo)

Vector Illustration Class: Swirl Mania

I’m done with my drawing class now, and on to my very last class for my Bachelor’s: Vector Illustration (ARTS 332 at Liberty). For the following assignment, I was to find an illustration that I liked online and recreate it in Adobe Illustrator. I was quite captivated by the following illustration:

Exercise 1b Sarah Brown ARTS 332 (Reference)

It even had a tutorial to go with it. You can find it here: http://abduzeedo.com/swirl-mania-illustrator-photoshop. The tutorial is pretty useful for getting a feel of what to do in step-by-step order, but it did not have good explanations of how to use the different tools it employs (and some were available only in Photoshop).

I started with this free hand image (which is the only part of the illustration that is not a vector), and placed it in an Illustrator document, and then added the Vector “swirl mania” around it.

At first, I kept trying to follow each step of the tutorial, but finally gave up and just used trial and error (and a lot of referrals to the original illustration) to create the different shapes and get the right colors. Here is my final product:

Swirl Mania

It’s pretty close to the original, though you can see a number of subtle differences if you look closely. My, what a lot of blood, sweat, and tears it took to get this to come out right! It was only my second week of class, I only knew the basics of Adobe Illustrator, and suddenly I was forced to figure out all sorts of complicated tools like the Gradient and Mesh Tools (that was the most frustrating!). But that’s how I learn best: the hands-on, learn-as-you-go style.

I am so happy with the finished illustration, and I have a new confidence with how the program and different tools work.