Archive for the ‘ Passions ’ Category

Dealing with culture shock

I’ve decided that every time I leave the US, the harder it is to come back. I am so in-tune to the culture of Latin America, the culture shock of coming back is never easy.

Honestly, I am not thrilled about being in the States right now. After talking to my dad I realized there are a few reasons why this trip back seems so much more difficult than others. First, my trip was only a week – the shortest time I had been out of the country prior to this trip was 2 weeks. My brain, body, and heart were definitely not ready to leave after a week. Second, the older I get, the more clear it is what I need to be doing in the future. The difficult part is waiting for that future to come and trusting in God’s plan for my life. Third, I just flat-out love life in the DR. It’s way better than law school.

So, yep, I’m bummed. I’m trying hard at getting back into my normal Lynchburg routine, but it’s difficult. One thing that made my life a little brighter was finally being reunited with my cat, Tani. The vet isn’t open on weekends, so I had to wait until this morning to pick her up from boarding. She’s happy to be home, and I am glad to have her back. She’s contently purring on my lap, completely sprawled across my legs. That’s nice.

The bridge in Los Calabazos

I kind of feel like I’m crossing this bridge right now in life. It doesn’t appear to be all that safe. It’s risky. You never know which boards are secure and strong and which ones to avoid. Crossing it, however, brings thrills that can’t be experienced anyway else and joy that comes in being brave and making the journey successfully. Law school is something I would never have anticipated being put in my path (and also something I would not wish on my worst enemy). But God called and I answered. During my trip, every organization/mission I spoke with said that having an Spanish-speaking teacher by trade that also knows the law would be a great asset to their work. Even so, I still haven’t seen all the pieces fit together. It’s difficult to feel called to the missions’ field, and yet be stuck in school, acquiring loads of debt. All I want to do right now is be in the DR, but, God will provide, and all will be in his timing.

I continue look to my favorite verses for encouragement – Habakkuk 1:2-5

How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
The Lord’s Answer: “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

~Amber Joy

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Back from the DR already.

I’m back from the DR already. The week went way too fast and I really wish I was still there.

Here’s a summary and some photos of my week (If you have any desire for prints, re-use, etc. please notify me. Being my photography, I own the rights, and do not want anything reproduced without my permission.):

I stayed and worked with Rick and Becky Mackey, and their kids, Ben and Elena. Rick was my youth pastor, and now their on the field in the Dominican Republic, equipping local leaders and churches. I am basically an adopted member of their family, so it was wonderful to be with them for the week. I helped Rick and Becky with their usual routine, plus was able to visit different organizations and missions I could potentially work for in the future. When we weren’t out and about, I spent all my time with the family, relaxing, playing, and talking about life. I was happy to pick up my close relationship with the kids, especially Ben since he’s smack in the middle of middle school mode. He even told me not to leave the country – that meant A LOT.

Saturday – My first flight was delayed 3 hours, but thankfully I was going to have some time in Miami. By the time I got in I had to run to my gate, because it was 20 minutes before takeoff. And guess what, they hadn’t even begun boarding!! On both flights no one was in the seat by me, so that was super nice. I got 300 pages of voluntary, fun reading done, and just relaxed. When I arrived I was expecting no luggage, and miracles of miracles both bags came!

Sunday – We went to church at Nueva Vida in Jarabacoa. In the afternoon Rick took Elena and me on a long motorcycle ride up the mountain, to our old camp, to a local swimming hole, and around town. The rest of the day we relaxed around the house, and watched Courageous.

View from the mountain

At the swimming hole

On the countryside

Monday – Rick dropped me off at a kid’s club run by the pastor’s wife in Buenos Aires. I helped out by teaching the kids numbers in English and overseeing some of their work on handwriting. After kid’s club we visited the Students International camp where we talked to the director for a bit. We also stopped by Vanesa’s dentist office. She’s a long time Dominican friend of our church, and is now a dentist missionary for Students International. In the evening Rick showed Courageous in Spanish to some Dominicans at the house.

Tuesday – I got up early and walked Ben and Elena to school.  Later in the morning Rick took me to Doulos (the kids’ school) to observe/learn about the school. In the afternoon we met with Vic, the director of Kids Alive in the DR. This meeting was great, and very informative.

Wednesday – We headed out to Boma where Rick and Becky meet with a small group each week for a Bible Study. In the afternoon Becky took me to visit a Kids Alive site in a rough area, which was neat to see. I also spent time working on study skills with both Ben and Elena – something they and other missionary kids really need.

Thursday – Rick and I headed to Los Calabazos to teach English. I was able to visit a few families I’ve gotten to know over the years, which was very special. In the afternoon, Becky and I visited the women in her Bible Study in El Montaña. We weren’t going to be able to do Bible Study in the afternoon, so we visited each home. As it turned out,  they had planned a surprise party for one of the women, so we were really glad we made our way out there!

Four of the ladies have kids the same age. Becky has a picture similar to this when they were all babies.

Friday – I went to kids club again, this time leading a craft and overseeing the entire time. After kids club, Rick and I went shopping for gifts for my sponsors. I spent the afternoon watching Ben play soccer – as the high schoolers yelled on the sideline, he’s the smallest but strongest. In the evening we spent time together, playing games and hanging out for last time. The day ended with all of us on Elena’s bed, and Rick praying over me. Very special.

Saturday – Rick took me to the airport at 6:30am. The flight was delayed by an hour, so Rick hung out with me for a bit. Miraculously, besides the one hour delay everything was as flawless as traveling internationally can get. I got home to Lynchburg at 10pm.

That’s basically it! It was a wonderful, wonderful trip. I am so blessed.

~Amber Joy

TOMORROW!

It’s time to go to the Dominican Republic! My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. Just sleep, a drive, and 2 flights sit between me and the Dominican Republic. AAAHHH!!!!

My cat, Tani, is curled up on my lap, enjoying the fact that I am finally sitting for the first time today. I’ve been on the go, packing bags, etc. all afternoon. I’m sad to leave her, and she’s sad to go to boarding… I’m sure she will fight getting into her carrier in the morning.

Want to know something incredible? I’m bringing SIXTY FIVE pounds of gifts. Like I said a few posts ago, it’s going to be greater than Christmas morning.

Now, since I’ll be in the Dominican Republic, I probably won’t be posting every day like usual. When I do post, however, they’ll be 100 times greater than just a daily post.

While I am in the Dominican Republic, be praying for health, safety, and great opportunities to minister.

I am more than blessed to be able to make this trip, and am sure this will be the best Spring Break ever.

See you in the DR!

~Amber Joy

48 hours

48 hours and I’ll be in the DR. 48 hours! 36 until I’m out the door.

AAAAHHHH!!!!!

So much to do.

Maybe if I finish what I want to finish before bed, I’ll edit this and add more content, but not likely…

So, have a wonderful Thursday!

~Amber Joy

PS – If you’re in the North, go out and enjoy the Northern Lights, then share your photos with me. I’m jealous.

ONE WEEK.

ONE WEEK until I’m on my way to the Dominican Republic. ONE WEEK! Unbelievable. I can’t get too excited, though, because I have 5 days of school and work before then, plus one paper to write and a big law skills assignment to complete. Yikes. But once I’m done with all of that, watch out world. I am so looking forward to seeing the Mackeys and smelling/feeling the air. Plus, I will be bringing lots and lots of gifts – it’s going to be more amazing than Christmas morning.

Today, rather than working on all the school work that needs to get done, I got something done that I had been waiting for a year and a half — I got my driver’s door window regulator and motor replaced. For the past year and a half I had to duct tape my window up, and wedge it with a door stop. Not beautiful, but cheap. This month, however, I got a bonus at work so splurged and finally got it fixed. Originally estimated to be a $400 fix, I spent just under $200, so that felt great. I made the guys at the shop crack up as I told them it was Christmas to have a working window! As I drove home I opened and shut the window multiple times, just because I could. So much fun.

Another thing I did was hang out with one of my good friends from school, and also spend time with my roommate.

I also cooked myself a really great meal. So great, in fact, that I’m going to give you all the details to making a balanced, gluten free meal for one in 15 minutes.

As labeled in the photo, this meal contains all five food groups! Starch and grains, fruit and veg, protein, dairy, and dessert. The dessert is actually relatively healthy — see my post from Feb. 24th for the details.This meal was so easy to put together. I rubbed my tilapia with approx. a  teaspoon of melted (homemade) butter then covered it with blackening seasoning. My tilapia took about 13 minutes at 425. Once the tilapia was in the oven, I got my cucumber and orange ready. With 8 minutes left in the time I boiled my water for my minute rice and let it sit. With 2 minutes left I cooked my beans (in the microwave). I pulled out the fish at 13 minutes, and got everything else on the plate as it cooled just a bit. I poured my milk, placed my fish and dinner was ready!

Easy and delicious, in under 15 minutes, not to mention super healthy and a meal any mom would be proud of. (And, yes, I do usually eat like this, minus the dessert. Tonight I treated myself.)

Now my roommate and I are going to watch the movie that she thought we were going to watch last night… I guess school work will just have to wait until tomorrow!

~Amber Joy

Dealing with an uncooperative student.

At Sylvan, we get a lot of students who are being forced to come by their parents or grandparents. Almost none of them initially want to or enjoy coming to Sylvan.

As an instructor, what is there to do when you get a student who just doesn’t seem willing to cooperate?

I have one simple trick up my sleeve – GET TO KNOW THE STUDENT. Seems to easy, right? It often is. If they don’t have any motivation in their work, give them a reason to be motivated by PERSONALLY CARING ABOUT THEM. This applies to students in all environments — not just Sylvan. It’s actually what got me through my student teaching when I had three classes of 36 fifth graders.

Once you move past the required material, and start showing how much you care about them, they’ll open right up. Plus, it’s always fun to have something more than study skills to talk about.

I hope you had a happy Monday!

~Amber Joy

Taking a deep breath…

I had a somewhat stressful end to my day.

On days like these it’s important to remember to stop and take a deep breath… and rest in God’s peace and comfort.

Tonight I’m taking enough time away from my stress and spending time in the longest Psalm.

PSALM 119

    א Aleph

 1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
3 they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
4 You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
6 Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.

   ב Beth

 9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, LORD;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

   ג Gimel

 17 Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.
18 Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
19 I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.
21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
those who stray from your commands.
22 Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
for I keep your statutes.
23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
24 Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

   ד Daleth

 25 I am laid low in the dust;
preserve my life according to your word.
26 I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
teach me your decrees.
27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me and teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I have set my heart on your laws.
31 I hold fast to your statutes, LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
for you have broadened my understanding.

   ה He

 33 Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.[b]
34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.[c]
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared.
39 Take away the disgrace I dread,
for your laws are good.
40 How I long for your precepts!
In your righteousness preserve my life.

   ו Waw

 41 May your unfailing love come to me, LORD,
your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees.

   ז Zayin

 49 Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, LORD, your ancient laws,
and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, LORD, I remember your name,
that I may keep your law.
56 This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts.

   ח Heth

 57 You are my portion, LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
60 I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, LORD;
teach me your decrees.

   ט Teth

 65 Do good to your servant
according to your word, LORD.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

   י Yodh

 73 Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
75 I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.
79 May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
80 May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame.

   כ Kaph

 81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget your decrees.
84 How long must your servant wait?
When will you punish my persecutors?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
contrary to your law.
86 All your commands are trustworthy;
help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your unfailing love preserve my life,
that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.

   ל Lamedh

 89 Your word, LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
91 Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
94 Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.
95 The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
but I will ponder your statutes.
96 To all perfection I see a limit,
but your commands are boundless.

   מ Mem

 97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.

   נ Nun

 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
that I will follow your righteous laws.
107 I have suffered much;
preserve my life, LORD, according to your word.
108 Accept, LORD, the willing praise of my mouth,
and teach me your laws.
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
I will not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a snare for me,
but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees
to the very end.[d]

   ס Samekh

 113 I hate double-minded people,
but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees,
for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
I stand in awe of your laws.

   ע Ayin

 121 I have done what is righteous and just;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Ensure your servant’s well-being;
do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
looking for your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your love
and teach me your decrees.
125 I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand your statutes.
126 It is time for you to act, LORD;
your law is being broken.
127 Because I love your commands
more than gold, more than pure gold,
128 and because I consider all your precepts right,
I hate every wrong path.

   פ Pe

 129 Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
134 Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.

   צ Tsadhe

 137 You are righteous, LORD,
and your laws are right.
138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
they are fully trustworthy.
139 My zeal wears me out,
for my enemies ignore your words.
140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
and your servant loves them.
141 Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
144 Your statutes are always righteous;
give me understanding that I may live.

   ק Qoph

 145 I call with all my heart; answer me, LORD,
and I will obey your decrees.
146 I call out to you; save me
and I will keep your statutes.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word.
148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises.
149 Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
preserve my life, LORD, according to your laws.
150 Those who devise wicked schemes are near,
but they are far from your law.
151 Yet you are near, LORD,
and all your commands are true.
152 Long ago I learned from your statutes
that you established them to last forever.

   ר Resh

 153 Look on my suffering and deliver me,
for I have not forgotten your law.
154 Defend my cause and redeem me;
preserve my life according to your promise.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek out your decrees.
156 Your compassion, LORD, is great;
preserve my life according to your laws.
157 Many are the foes who persecute me,
but I have not turned from your statutes.
158 I look on the faithless with loathing,
for they do not obey your word.
159 See how I love your precepts;
preserve my life, LORD, in accordance with your love.
160 All your words are true;
all your righteous laws are eternal.

   ש Sin and Shin

 161 Rulers persecute me without cause,
but my heart trembles at your word.
162 I rejoice in your promise
like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and detest falsehood
but I love your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous laws.
165 Great peace have those who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.
166 I wait for your salvation, LORD,
and I follow your commands.
167 I obey your statutes,
for I love them greatly.
168 I obey your precepts and your statutes,
for all my ways are known to you.

   ת Taw

 169 May my cry come before you, LORD;
give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you;
deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise,
for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word,
for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, LORD,
and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you,
and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 119:1 This psalm is an acrostic poem, the stanzas of which begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet; moreover, the verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
  2. Psalm 119:33 Or follow it for its reward
  3. Psalm 119:37 Two manuscripts of the Masoretic Text and Dead Sea Scrolls; most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text life in your way
  4. Psalm 119:112 Or decrees / for their enduring reward
As we sing in church each Sunday as the benediction:
Numbers 6:24
May Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face  toward you and give you peace.
~Amber Joy