Posts Tagged ‘ Dominican Republic ’

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


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


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.


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 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

The problem with traveling…

The problem with traveling is you get bit by the travel bug.

Since 9th grade, the longest I’ve gone without leaving the country was 2 years, until I came to law school, that is. I haven’t left the country since January 2010, and I am ITCHING to get out of the US. Thank goodness I get to go to the Dominican Republic in TWENTY NINE DAYS! You can’t even imagine how excited I am.

Before I had my trip to the DR to look forward to, I satisfied my itch by looking through photos from my past trips. Here are some of my favorite places in some of my favorite countries. (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.)

My first trip outside the US was to the Dominican Republic. Here are some shots from my 2009 trip.

View of Jarabacoa from the mountains.

Sosua (3+ hours away from Jarabacoa)

I studied abroad in Guatemala in Spring 2008. Best semester ever. Here are some pics.

In the house I lived in in Antigua.

View of the three volcanoes surrounding Antigua, from Volcan Pacaya.

Tikal - The Mayan Ruins. Also the filming location of Return of the Jedi. I did not see any Ewok.

In January 2010, I gave myself a graduation gift of a 5 week trip to England to visit family. I miss it just about every day. I also took some of my all time favorite photos there, but here are three.

Right by the Globe Theatre.

Big Ben

A walk in the snow on the Downs.

I wish I could be a professional traveler. That would be the best.

~Amber Joy

First post about the Dominican Republic

Daddy and me, 2009

For those of you who know me, the Dominican Republic has defined my life since I was about 5, and has directed my life since 5th grade. My dad went to the DR for the first time in 1993, and came back with a new passion for serving the Dominicans. This passion leaked into my soul too, and I began studying Spanish when I was in 4th grade. In 5th grade, our family made a trip down to the DR.

Here’s an excerpt from my spiritual autobiography:

“In 1999 we took a family vacation to the Dominican Republic, because my dad had finally decided to share a big part of his heart with the rest of the family.  I never expected it to become such a big part of my heart, but the moment I stepped off the plane I felt it.  I felt like I was home and felt God’s presence.  I knew that the Dominican Republic was the place for me.  I was not sure why I felt this way, seeing that I had only been in the country for a minute, but I knew it was from God.”

I’ve gone back four times, joining the team from our church, with my dad by my side. Each time, God’s calling became clearer and clearer.  In college I majored in Elementary Education and Spanish, thinking that God would use me as a teacher in the DR. I still believe I’m meant to be a teacher today, but God has put (at least) one more think in my path – law school. I’ll leave the whole story of that major decision to another post.

Because of law school, I’m left without a plan. I know God wants me in the DR. I know that I’m supposed to be in law school. But how to the two fit together? Here’s my most recent epiphany: Invisible Children of Latin America. And by epiphany I mean  this is something I’ve been uncovering and studying for the past few years. However, I’ve just recently begun to had the opportunity share my passion about the issue. I was able to write about it for the Liberty Legal Journal (see Also, I will be writing a major research paper on the topic for both my International Human Rights class and a nation Human Rights contest. I feel incredibly blessed to have these opportunities to share about such a hidden issue.

So that’s where I sit. A law student, with a calling to be in the Dominican Republic, and the great opportunity to share about the issues in Latin America through writing and research.

Oh, one more thing. I am going to the DR this March to join Rick and Becky Mackey in ministry!  Rick was my youth pastor, and he and his family are now missionaries in the Dominican Republic. The purpose of their ministry is to reach the locals, teach them about Christ, and give them the tools to be Christian leaders in their communities. I will be joining them for a week, doing what they do, and also spending time connecting with people working in the legal field. Awesome, right?

God is definitely blessing me.

~Amber Joy