EMI Update: Traveling to Zambia, Africa

I still can’t believe in the last 2 days I’ve been in 4 countries. I just made it over to Zambia, Africa for my project trip with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) and it has been an adventure! From Colorado Springs to Denver to D.C. to Ghana to South Africa to Zambia; here’s a quick recap of my journey here.

I still can’t believe in the last 2 days I’ve been in 4 countries. I just made it over to Zambia, Africa for my project trip with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) and it has been an adventure! From Colorado Springs to Denver to D.C. to Ghana to South Africa to Zambia; here’s a quick recap of my journey here.

Colorado Springs to Denver to D.C.

My day started at 3 AM Monday morning. I got up early to finish some last minute packing and met my carpool at 5 AM. Our project leader drove another team member and I to Denver to catch a 8 AM flight to D.C. Smooth check in but I took about 20 minutes getting through TSA. I packed a flashlight in my carry on that I didn’t realize was connected to a tiny pocket knife. Opps.

I’m pretty sure I got that thing from the dollar store so I was more than happy to surrender it. After handling that, my bag kept alarming for some type of chemicals. The lady dumped everything out on the table and ran it through 2 different machines. I was kind of embarrassed because I packed WAAY too many snacks. Then the TSA lady proceeds to tell me she has to do a full body pat down right there or in a private room. What is life?? I kept my cool and remembered how I doused all my clothes with bug spray the night before. As she’s patting me down, I thought for sure the spray was setting the alarm off and they were going to take my clothes. Meanwhile, my team is patiently waiting for me in the distance. I thought they were about to see me wearing paper clothes. To my surprise, I passed the pat down and they sent me on my way. We made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare! The 3 hr flight was peaceful and I got some much needed rest.

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Tolu and I are excited to finally be headed to Zambia!!

D.C. to Ghana to South Africa

During the 4 hour layover in D.C. we met up with some more team members. Each EMI project trip is majority volunteers. These are design professionals highly skilled in their area of expertise. We have surveyors, architects, electrical engineering and civil engineers on our team and they are all pretty awesome. One of the civil engineers brought along his wife, Rachel, who is a nurse. It’s crazy how much Rachel reminds me of my step mother! They kind of look alike and have similar demeanors. Did I mention my step mom is a nurse too!? And if that wasn’t enough, it looked like Rachel was trying to smuggle a stuff fish onboard. My step mother LOVES sea creatures and she may have a stuffed fish that looks just like Rachel’s. HAHAHA

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Rachel almost got caught trying to smuggle that fish on the plane lol

A few of our team members were delayed and couldn’t make the connecting flight in D.C. I commended our project leader, Dan, for handling everything while remaining calm, cool and collected. He said he got it from looking at how I interacted with TSA. Lol

As I’m waiting to board my 16 hrs flight, It REALLY hits me that I was about to sit on a plan for 16 hrs! What is life?? The ride wasn’t nearly as bad as it could’ve been. I watched a couple movies, started a blog (which turned into a poem), ate dinner and I had TWO empty seats next to me!

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My two imaginary friends 😂

8 hrs later, we stopped in Ghana to refuel, drop off and pick up passengers. So even though I never left the plane, I was technically in Ghana for an hour. With STILL TWO empty seats next to me, wheels were up for another smooth 7 hrs down to South Africa. I ate breakfast, read a book, worked on that poem (I’ll post when complete), ate lunch and slept for a few hours. I woke up with a stiff neck right before we started descending. I thought Yes I made it to Zambia! NOT! I forgot we had another flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Lusaka, Zambia. The plane arrived almost an hour late! When we (8 team members now) got off the plane, we had 35 minutes to make our South African Airways (SAA) connecting flight. Thankfully there was a SAA employee that led us through the international check point and security. She did more than led us.. This chick ran (with heels on!) almost the entire time!! We looked like that scene in Home Alone when the entire family was running through the airport! I tried to record some of the action, but failed. And take a wild guess who took the longest getting through checkpoint? Hahaha I had no idea that we would have to go through security again (In my mind I was Africa when I got on the SAA plane back in D.C. lol). Somehow my bag got through security with a full water bottle. There was no place for me to dump the water and everyone thought going back through the line would take too long. So I chugged all 20 ounces of water in about 10 seconds. It looked like a clipped from Fear Factor (minus the gagging). I got through security and we ran A LOT more. As the second youngest person on the team, I felt obligated to lead the pack. I failed at that too. We finally made it to gate with about 5 minutes to spare. Thank God!

South Africa to Zambia

 

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Dinner and a movie provided by SAA!

 

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Southern African Airways Breakfast! Yum!

Last flight was about 2 hours and I swear SAA is the best because they fed me AGAIN! By the way, the food was pretty good! Especially the dessert! Those two hours literally flew by and I was on the ground in Zambia! Praise the Lord! After waiting 30 minutes in line for our visas, we realized our luggage didn’t make that connection in South Africa like we did. This is nothing new in EMI’s world and we all handled the situation with help from the Holy Spirit. Another 45 minutes of waiting for our visas and we were officially in country!! We got these cool dual visas that will allow us to enter and exit through Zimbabwe! They may come in handy when we go to Victoria Falls on the last day! We met up with 2 more team members and the staff of the Chikankata Mission drove us to a nearby hotel for the night.

 

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Most of the team and some photo bombers.

 

The adventure is just beginning

We are staying at a Best Western Hotel in Lusaka (the capital) for the night. Besides the outlets and what kind of looks like a composting toilet (but isn’t), it looks and feels exactly like a hotel in the states. In the morning we will have breakfast and head to the project site where we will be staying for the rest of the trip. Our project leader gave us a list of devotionals we will start each day with while here. Please pray that our luggage and the last two team members arrive safely tomorrow! Whelp, it’s already extremely late here and I have to be up by 8 AM! I wanted to post this because I never know when I will have WIFI connection! I hope to update you all soon on the amazing things God is doing through and around me here in Chikankata, Zambia!

With God’s Love,

Jamara Beard ❤

 

Why EMI IS For Me

My Civil Engineering Design Internship this Spring is the first chapter of many as an Evangelical Civil Engineer. Sometimes I question what is a part of God’s plan for my life. Thankfully, this decision was pretty obvious.

Blog Sub-Category: Service & Development
When you’re done here, make sure you read the second part to this blog, Why EMI is NOT All Of Me.
Read in 5 minutes

Engineering Ministries International (EMI) is a non-profit Christian development organization made up of architects, engineers and design professionals who donate their skills to help children and families around the world step out of poverty and into a world of hope. It was at the 2016 EMI Conference that God gave me my Ugly Cry and the confidence to live out my mission. My Civil Engineering Design Internship this Spring is the first chapter of many as an Evangelical Civil Engineer. Sometimes I question what is a part of God’s plan for my life. Thankfully, this decision was pretty obvious. Here are..

5 Reasons EMI Is For Me

1. God’s People, God’s Work

Once I found EMI online, it took me over three years to contact them. Partly because I didn’t know if they were ‘really’ Christians. We live in a world where even the KKK claims to be a Christian Organization. So when I decided to meet the EMI network in the flesh at their annual conference a few months ago, I asked God to reveal if they were really about His work on Earth. Any doubt I had about this group of people diminished by the first night of the conference. One particular session was about how they determine what a ‘good mission’ is. They gave examples of how seemingly beneficial projects could be detrimental to certain communities. While it’s not possible to foresee and counteract every problem, EMI cares enough not to cause problems they are aware of.

2. Passion For Travel

No doubt about it, I got the travel bug from my mom. Not only did we move around a lot growing up, she’s been a traveling nurse for the last 15 years. Seeing her travel the country for work with two kids, reassured me it was more than possible (#NoManNoKids). Traveling has become a true passion of mine. I want to build and live in a tiny house on wheels so even my house can travel with me! So knowing that EMI is called to care for people abroad, I’m elated to pair my purpose with passion.

3. Professional Engineers

As a recent graduate, I understand the importance of gaining experience in my field so I can build my career. Many times I thought this was going to be the reason I settled for a ‘regular’ job. BUT GOD!! The staff engineers at EMI are mostly civil engineers and they have their professional engineering licenses. Even though I’ll be working on international design projects, my mentors will have domestic design skills.

4. Passion For Diversity

On the second day of the conference EMI’s CEO, John Dallman, discussed the organization’s core values: Discipleship, Design, and Diversity. When he got to diversity, he started by saying, “When I join EMI in 2012 as CEO, the staff was 99% white men and I knew that had to change.” John shared how they’ve primarily increased diversity by having international professionals join the staff office in their native land. However, there are no ethnic minority design professionals on US Staff and very few women. At the end of John’s talk, I managed to string together some words  and asked what was EMI’s response to the lack of diversity in America (I was the only minority in the room). A few staff members shared what they’ve been doing and why they think it hasn’t been really working. Even though they weren’t successful, it was obvious they cared. They cared enough to reach out to me a month before the conference and offered me a free conference day and accommodations. Right after the talk, an engineer in his wife offered to help support me if I chose to do this. I ugly cried right in their face.

5. Cross-Cultures In The Office & Church

Not many engineers look like me, and I’ve been a strong advocate for increased diversity in my field. Working with EMI gives me the opportunity to diversify the engineering field while rooted in love. I believe true inclusion in the workplace comes from understanding the differences of others and learning how to love those differences. This creates an environment for people to succeed personally in the workplace and helps break the cycles of poverty in their lives.

During the conference, God showed me how cultural differences often keep the church segregated as well. Have you ever heard the saying ‘The world is the most segregated at 10 am on Sunday morning’? It simply means that churches are divided by ethnicities, culture, and language. We had worship after dinner each night of the conference. After Ugly Crying all day I was ready to give God my all: stand, sing, lift my hands, dance, run around the ballroom, etc. However, when I realized no one else worshiped like me, I was frozen. Paralyzed in fear, I didn’t give God my authentic worship because I didn’t want to stick out any more than I already did. I was only one of 3 African-Americans in a room of 120 people. God reminded me that this uncomfortable feeling was nothing new and was necessary if I wanted to be the liaison to diversifying the engineering field and the church. Challenge accepted.


You may think that EMI sounds perfect for me. You may think I’m ready to find my place on staff and prepare to retire with them. Not exactly. Even though I knew while at the conference that EMI was for me, I took two week to apply for my internship (even after the deadline had passed) because God wanted to make sure I knew EMI was NOT ALL of me. Check out part two of this blog: Why EMI is NOT all of me.


My Prayer:

“Father God, thank you for equipping me to serve and develop with EMI. You prepared their hearts, skills and vision to uniquely align with mine to fulfill a great need on earth. Thank you for using them to give me my Ugly Cry. I prayed for my purpose and You revealed it to me. I asked You to confirm if EMI was for me and You did.1  You are giving me boldness and strength to use the skills I learn while with EMI to be the bridge between the barriers that divide people and contribute to poverty. I’m forever in awe of your omniscience. In Jesus name, Amen.”


Thanks for reading Part one of this two part blog series! I’m leaving for my project trip destination: Zambia, Africa on Monday (2/6)!! I’ll be gone for 2 weeks and I hope to blog while I’m there. Leave your email address in the comments below if you’ll like my blog updates.

  • Follow me on social media (Instagram and Twitter) @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website and read my first two blogs about my EMI experience:
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Pending Review.

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤


Bible References

1. [Psalm 138:3]

Why EMI Is Not All Of Me

I will go through seasons of my life where my passions and purpose slightly change and mirrors others. This allows me to join the Body of Christ while fulfilling my destiny. This allows room for growth and my mission to mature as I do. Thank you God!

Blog Sub-Category: Service and Development
Read in 3 minutes

HOLD UP.. Read the first part of this two part series: Why EMI IS For Me BEFORE reading this blog! Alright, now that you know how blessed I feel to be a part of EMI, lets jump right into scripture:

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:41

I believe that when I desire to do God’s will, God aligns my passions with purpose. Thank God I’m wise enough to understand my passions & purpose because they are the reasons I know EMI Is Not All of me.

My Passions

As you read in the first part of this blog, I am passionate about EMI and a lot of my passions align with what EMI already does. However, I have strong passions that aren’t necessarily a part of EMI’s vision. I’m passionate about helping oppressed Americans break cycle of poverty, whereas EMI is focused on developing countries. I’m passionate about increasing engineering diversity in America, whereas EMI is currently focused on diversifying their staff of local design professional overseas. I’m extremely passionate about racial reconciliation within American cultures, whereas EMI is primarily focused on understanding the cultures of the people they serve overseas.

When I realized this a couple days after the EMI conference, God reassured me that he will honor my passions because the world is still in need. God reminded me how confusing it is to hold a position I’m passionate about without understanding my unique purpose.

Recently, I was extremely passionate about this engineering organization’s mission and gave my all to it’s success. I held multiple leadership positions at the chapter and regional levels, but my involvement with this organization was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Often times I ignored my personal wellbeing and endured unnecessary hardships for the sake of the organization. I held positions that allowed me to create programs from scratch and used them to advance the entire society. When my positional duties were overruled or removed, I was left hurt and confused. I was so passionate about MY roles, MY programs and MY initiatives, I unconsciously thought this organization was MY purpose. I thought it’s mission was my mission. That’s when it finally clicked:

“My entire purpose cannot be contained in a position. This is because my purpose is from God and therefore can not be taken from me. A position most likely can be taken away.”

It would have been great to know this while on that rollercoaster with my last engineering organization. Nonetheless, I can now Ugly Cry because I realize that pain helped me understand..

My Purpose

When God called me to EMI, He gave me wisdom concerning my purpose and how I can walk it out while serving with EMI. As I discussed in My Sweet Spot blog, EMI is helping me fulfill my purpose during this season, but it’s not ALL my purpose. It’s still a M-F position that can be taken away at any time. What about the weekends? I have to understand my purpose outside of this position. EMI was created over 35 years ago from it’s founder vision, not my vision. EMI’s mission is AMAZING, but I believe that God gave me my own mission that I can walk out while serving and developing with EMI. EMI is my purpose partner.


I will go through seasons of my life where my passions and purpose slightly change and mirrors others. This allows me to join the Body of Christ while fulfilling my destiny. This allows room for growth and my mission to mature as I do. Thank you God!


My Prayer:

“Father God, thank you for equipping me to serve and develop with EMI. You prepared their hearts, skills and vision to uniquely align with mine to fulfill a great need on earth. Thank you for using them to give me my Ugly Cry. I prayed for my purpose and You revealed it to me. I asked You to confirm if EMI was for me and You did.2  You are giving me boldness and strength to use the skills I learn while with EMI to be the bridge between the barriers that divide people and contribute to poverty. I’m forever in awe of your omniscience. In Jesus name, Amen.”


Thanks for reading Part two of this two part blog series! I’m leaving for my project trip destination: Zambia, Africa on Monday (2/6)!! I’ll be gone for 2 weeks and I hope to blog while I’m there. Leave your email address in the comments below if you’ll like my blog updates.

  • Follow me on social media (Instagram and Twitter) @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website and read my latest blog about my EMI experience:
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Pending Review.

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤


Bible References

1. [Psalm 37:4]
2. [Psalm 138:3]

First 2 Weeks at EMI

Sorry it’s been soo long since my last post! My delay is definitely not because I have nothing to write about. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. I will be breaking down a lot of the first two weeks, but I wanted to post an overview of what I’ve experienced so far as an Engineering Ministries International (EMI) Intern in Colorado.

26th Birthday Celebration

About 2 weeks ago I arrived in Colorado Springs only a few hours into my birthday. This is the second consecutive birthday I’ve spent with strangers who became instant family. Only hours after meeting my housemates, I woke up to flowers and balloons outside my door! My housemates also took me out for birthday pizza and dessert. I’m so blessed to share a home and office with these wonderful ladies.

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Elizabeth got me flowers and a small gift! ❤
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Meet Emily (front) & Karen (back)! Two EMI interns going to Senegal this semester!
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Elizabeth (top left) was kind enough to open her home to Emily (top right), Karen (bottom right) and I. Elizabeth is a school teacher and friend of EMI.

Week 1: Orientation at the Hideaway

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Welcome to The Hideaway. My home away from home.
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View from the backyard

I spent the entire first week of orientation at a cabin like resort about 30 minutes north of my Colorado Springs home. Unlike most job orientations, this time was dedicated to understanding my personality type, strengths, spiritual gifts and how I can best serve and fulfill the great commission. We also spent about 10 hours understanding different cultures and preparing to live, work, and love others abroad.

It wasn’t until the second to last day that we had a session about how our design skills are used at EMI. It is clear that EMI cares more about who I am and the God in me, than how much book knowledge I have. (Which is great because I haven’t practiced engineering in about 16 months and I’m kind of rusty.)

Most days began at 7 AM and ended around 9 PM. After 9 PM I socialized with the other 12 interns (which didn’t leave much time for blogging).

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Week 1: Day to Day Schedule.

This week was spent with all the new staff and interns from every EMI office. Only 3 of 30ish people actually work with me in the Colorado Springs office. Meeting everyone and then going to different parts of the globe at the end of the week, was by far the toughest part. Some of the interns started their own blogs, which I will list below. It’s interesting to see how God is using others in different parts of the world.

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13 of the 15 EMI interns this semester at The Garden of Gods in Colorado Springs. We are Christian Architects and Engineers ready to use our gifts to design a world of hope.

Week 2: Office Orientation

It’s almost impossible to simultaneously understand the world I live in and the office I work in without Ugly Crying.

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Where it all goes down.

Some of my burning questions coming into this experience were: How do you get work done in a Christ-Centered workplace? How will I meet deadlines while demonstrating patience and being lead by Christ? This past week I got to see how design professionals engage in Christ-Centered work.

Design Professional Office: The culture of professionalism at EMI is as if we are going to work in Heaven Monday – Friday. I know it’s a stretch but think about it. How would you dress if you were going to work in God’s presence? How organized and accurate would your work be? That’s how I would describe EMI.

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Lunch with the interns on the first day in the office. From left to right: Tolu, Alex, Emily & Karen.
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Tolu & I are going to Zambia for our project trip!
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EMI Intern Office Overview

Christ Centered Workplace: Every work day typically begins at 8:30 AM with devotion or worship. Devotionals are unscripted and are lead by a different staff member/ intern each day. After devotions, we pray for specific EMI offices around the globe. I signed up to lead devotion on April 6th!

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We start each work day praying for our EMI offices and worshiping on Fridays.

One of EMI’s core values is discipleship, so I’ve been assigned a mentor, Gala Dallman (our CEO’s wife). Unlike a typical work mentor, Gala will assist with my spiritual and personal growth in addition to professional. Also, I will partake in a weekly bible study with the other office interns. Lastly, every Friday I will volunteer and fellowship at the Marian House (local soup kitchen). What I love about EMI is that they want me to actually build relationships while I’m there.

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Worship overseeing the fishbowl.
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Worship from the 2nd floor.
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The excitement after cleaning a huge soup kitchen oven. Time for lunch.

Fellowship Outside the Office

I can’t remember the last time I’ve had such a vibrant social life! I have to remember to take more pictures. It’s customary for EMI staff to invite the interns over for dinner often. I’ve already had four dinner invites (including one hosted by Karen for Chinese New Year). At this rate, I won’t have to buy groceries until I get back from Africa!

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Dinner at the Frank’s! We made them a card. It said: “Franks. Franks a lot!”
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Karen cooked dinner for us in celebration of Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the Rooster!

Week 3 -5: Traveling to Chikankata, Zambia!!

It’s about that time folks! I’m in the third week of my internship and I leave for Zambia in less than one week! This week I’ll be preparing to travel with my EMI project trip leaders, Dan, Gary and Tolu (the other intern). We also have 9 other design professional volunteers, most of which will meet us in Africa. Our project trip is for the Chikankata Salvation Army Mission Camp in Zambia! The mission has about 300 buildings and a few thousand people live onsite! The site serves as a hospital, college, radio station, secondary school, and so much more. Unfortunately, their water reservoir has dried up and they experience rolling blackouts due to lack of hydro-electric power. That’s where EMI comes in! We are tasked with doing an assessment of the site’s infrastructure with a focus on water, wastewater and electrical systems. Click the following links to learn more about our project!

Aerial video of campus from a drone!
Information on Chikankata Salvation Army
EMI Project Overview

I’ll be in Zambia Feb 6th – Feb 19th! On the last day, we plan to travel to Livingston, Zambia to check out Victoria Falls!!! I absolutely LOVE waterfalls and Victoria Falls is known as one of the largest falls in the world!

My Prayer:

“Father God, thank you for this amazing opportunity to grow and serve with EMI. It’s clear that these are your people and they are about your business on earth. Please continue to direct my path within this organization. Please give me strength through an Ugly Cry when things get tough and I grow weary. Remind me always that this is for your glory and for the good of others. Father don’t let me get comfortable in this place, but remind me to always push towards the vision you’ve given me. A vision that will break cycles of poverty, spread Your love and Your Word to all. Lord protect and guide this team as we serve the people of Chikankata. Let us lead with humility and understand the needs of the Salvation Army. They may be different from us, but let us value them above ourselves.1 Lord thank you for taking the form of a servant and demonstrating how to relate to different people.2 I’m forever in awe of your love. In Jesus name, Amen.”


Thanks for reading my blog! I’ve been working on my youtube channel and I hope to post a blog about it before I leave for Zambia. In the meantime, you can check out my Righteous Anger Playlist Here.

  • Follow me on social media @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website and read my latest blog: My Sweet Spot
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤


Bible References:

1. [Philippians 2:3-4]
2. [Philippians 2:5-8]


Other Intern Blogs:

Marina Acala
Elliot Martin
Tolu Williams

My Sweet Spot

Blog Sub-Category: Service & Development

January 15th,

Yesterday, was my 26th birthday and today I received a pretty awesome belated birthday gift! Today was the first day of a week-long orientation with Engineering Ministries International (EMI)! I’m at a retreat near Colorado Springs with my fellow first-time interns and some staff members. After only a half day, my face hurts from smiling and making my ugly face (basically ugly crying without the tears). I know for sure I’m exactly where God wants me to be.

Quick Observation:

During the first week of each semester in engineering school, I instinctively visually surveyed each class. Today was no different. I’m the only dark skinned person, there are about 50% women, may be 70% civil engineers, and 100% Christians. I may stick out like a sore thumb, but I feel like I’m right at home. It’s clear that EMI desires to be diverse and I’m still passionate about being a driving force behind it.

EMI on Diversity:

One of EMI’s core values is diversity and our CEO, John Dallman, spent some time explaining what that means:

  • Diversity: EMI builds the Church by connecting people of diverse backgrounds, abilities and ethnicities to demonstrate our love for God, our love for the nations and the unity we share in Christ.

My Sweet Spot:

John also gave an overview of EMI’s past, present, and future. As he explained how his life paralleled EMI years before he joined the organization, he encouraged us to figure out who we are and how we fit into God’s plan to reach the world. To simply, figure out our sweet spot, which is at the center of a Me-Need-God Venn diagram.

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Immediately, I knew EMI was my sweet spot in this season of my life. It was at the EMI conference two months ago that God gave me the confidence to be who I am and partner with EMI to effectively reach the world. With EMI I’m challenged to be myself, while I embrace different people. With EMI I can grow in faith, while I spread my faith. With EMI I can develop my skills, while I use my skills to better the world.

John also told us that we are now all married, which is perfect because I’m ready to challenge my new family’s comfort zone by ugly crying all week!


My Prayer

“Father, thank you for reaffirming that I’m living in purpose. Thank you for giving me the strength to live my life out loud whether I’m comfortable or not.1 Please continue to transform my life and elevate my faith this week because I do not want to leave the same. I’m forever in awe of your wonderful works and omniscience. In Jesus name, Amen.”


Thanks for reading my blog!

  • Follow me on social media @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website (this is my 9th blog!)
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤


Bible References

1. [Philippians 4:13]

Why I Ugly Cry

*Now, I know this is kind of lengthy; but considering that my blog is called Ugly Cry Unfiltered I believe it’s justified ^_^.

My Ugly Cry:

“Is the result of an emotional equilibrium balancing pain and joy. I remember my past experiences while simultaneously knowing that they equipped me for a greater purpose still to come.”

If you would’ve looked at my life in January of 2015, you probably would’ve said I was on the path to, what society deems as, ‘success’. I was a 24-year-old black Christian female from Buffalo, NY. I was getting ready to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and become a regional leader for a national engineering organization. I was considering a full-time position at a nuclear power plant with the title: Nuclear Engineer II. I was considering attending graduate school for my MBA or structural engineering. It looked like all my dreams were coming true and I was about to live ‘the good life’. A life many people from my background don’t even imagine living. Right out of college I was going to have a great job, do meaningful work, have status, and more money than I had ideas to do with it. Everyone would classify me as a good role model and positive statistic just based on my resume. I should’ve been happy. I should’ve at least been content. Someone is reading this confused why I’m implying I wasn’t.

While everything looked great on my surface, I was dying on the inside. I began to realize that during the last several years, I struggled through two separate battles. One battle was to get the education to qualify for a ‘successful’ life. However, I want to discuss my personal battle. The battle to be me. This battle was harder and resulted in many more failures. This battle challenged my morals, character, integrity, fears, hopes, dreams, insecurities, strengths, weaknesses, etc., like never before. Two years ago I began to realize two things about these struggles that ultimately moved me to act.

  1. If I was going to truly be happy in life, my personal battle had to be more important to me than my professional battle.
  2. Secondly, there was almost a direct correlation between both battles. The more I won professionally, the more I struggled personally.

The path to ‘success’ I was on would have led to money, power, status and held my soul for ransom. The world reminds me daily that being black, even with my education, may get me killed. The world reminds me daily that because I’m a woman, even with my education, I still may not receive the value and respect a man does. The world reminds me daily that because I needed and benefited from affirmative action, I better focus on winning my professional battle. The world reminds me daily that my Godly heart may hinder my ascension up the corporate ladder. I realized that I was going to always struggle to personally succeed if I really wanted to diversify and unite the world through corporate America. I began to question everything I was told, thought I knew and thought I wanted in life.

  • Why do I have to sacrifice my personal success to excel professionally?
  • Do I have to compartmentalize my life?
  • If I choose to honor God with the money I make, does it matter if I honor God while making the money?
  • As an entry level professional, do I really have to settle for any job I can get?
  • What if I’m challenged on my job to do something God wouldn’t be pleased with?

God revealed a lot of these answers to me the summer after I graduated. My desire to fully understand what my purpose in life prior to entering the work field was so strong, that I intentionally positioned myself to receive, understand and walk in my purpose. I disconnected from my norm and began to seek God through teachings and situations that would force me to grow. This looked like: relocating to Los Angeles, finding flexible employment, praying for transformation through every sermon/encounter with God, etc. While in LA, I asked questions I never knew I needed answers to.

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What does success mean to me?
  • Why am I the way that I am?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • Is Engineering Ministries International’s (EMI) mission my mission?

Believe it or not, God answered all these questions and a lot more. I’ll be interning for EMI as a Civil Engineer in their Colorado Springs, CO office starting January, 2017. To support my missional work click here. I’ll spend 2-weeks during the internship in Zambia, Southern Africa. God also gave me my own specific purpose and mission in life. A mission I’m uniquely designed and qualified for. A mission to help end cycles of poverty through service, empowerment, embracement, and exposure while armed with God’s love and wisdom. God revealed all this while at the 2016 EMI conference through a series of ugly cries. No seriously, my face was scary and tears soaked my face at times. My ugly cry is the result of an emotional equilibrium in my body. I remember my past experiences while simultaneously knowing that they equipped me for a greater purpose still to come. I was ugly crying so hard, that the tears looked like stripes on my face. While admiring my ugliness, God reminded me that ‘By His stripes, we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus’ death is a happy ugly cry effect! Jesus didn’t die for Himself, He died for our sins. However, we can rejoice because we are no longer slaves to sin! Thank you Jesus! God promised to give me strength and confidence to live out my mission every day. My Ugly Cry bracelet (which is intentionally brown like my skin) reminds me of that promise and I wear it every day.

So I am here, Ugly Crying with confidence each day as I live out the many promises of God. I invite you to explore my website and join my mission to help end cycles of poverty while armed with God’s love and wisdom.

With God’s Love,

Jamara Beard ❤