How The Dominican Republic Uniquely Equipped Me

Blog Sub-Category: Unique Qualifications
6 minute read

After graduating from a community college and transferring to The University of Akron, I was determined to take advantage of every opportunity I was given. So when the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time with International Student Volunteers (ISV) in 2013 arose, I took it!

ISV’s mission is to support sustainable development initiatives around the world through life-changing student volunteer and responsible adventure travel programs designed to positively change our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

After only spending two weeks in the Dominican Republic (DR), I’ll definitely say mission complete! Reflecting back on my experience three years later, I can clearly see how it has shaped me for my purpose today. Here are..

5 Ways ISV Uniquely Equipped Me For My Mission

1. First Hands-On Civil Engineering Experience

ISV has several different volunteer projects that encompass their mission. I specifically chose the DR project because it was infrastructure development. After learning carpentry in high school and at the time pursuing a degree in civil engineering, I was excited to build anything. Half of my project assignment consisted of exactly what I learned in school the following semester: how to mix and lay concrete (see pictures below)! I went from doing physically intensive labor every other day in the DR to using advanced concrete mixing and testing equipment in my materials lab class a few weeks later. After seeing first hand what my skills could do, I was motivated to learn in the classroom and graduate.

2. American Privilege Awareness

I may not know what white privilege feels like, but I have AMERICAN PRIVILEGE. While in the DR, a developing country, I realized certain things I will never have to worry about simply because I was born in America. In America, I don’t have to worry about living on mud when it rains. In the DR, I installed concrete floors in floorless homes made out of poorly constructed plywood. In America, I don’t need to learn another language in order to have a good life. In the DR, a Spanish speaking country, I helped teach kids English without being required to know Spanish at all. The American Privilege list goes on. The author of this blog about American Privilege listed some more common indicators.

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3. My Gift Can Save Lives and Prevent Sickness

As a teenager, I desired to volunteer in my community and help those in need. All through college, I would give vague answers when asked what type of civil engineering I wanted to do. The truth is I don’t care what type of engineering I do, I care if I’m making a positive impact in the community. While in the DR, I saw first-hand that my engineering skills could literally prevent sickness and death. For towns with no access to clean drinking water, I could design a well. For farmers who can’t import food to a town because it’s inaccessible, I could design a road. For towns in need of a medical center to safely practice medicine, I could design a building. When I left the DR I knew my gift was way more valuable than a paycheck.

4. Invaluable Cross-Cultural Experience

Traveling like a local creates a unique opportunity to learn life through the eyes of another. My DR experience not only made me more aware of my privilege, but I also learned how to love without judging people for their differences. Now everywhere I travel I skip the fancy hotels (most times I can’t afford it anyways) and immerse myself in the culture so I don’t miss a chance to learn something new. Exposure to different things has allowed me to confidently understand who I am while respecting others for who they are.

5. Cup Upgrade

In Spring of 2014, I served in every student organization I could. By the end of the semester, I received praise for my leadership, but I was mentally depleted. I failed two classes and was put on academic probation. That’s when I officially decided I wasn’t going to try to ‘pour from an empty cup’. Even though I desired to mentor others throughout life, I had to be confident in my own abilities before doing so.

Fast forward to a couple days after God revealed my purpose in life at the Engineering Ministries International 2016 Conference. I barely ate, slept or talked to anyone because God was constantly filling me up with the wisdom and confidence to minister to others. During this time God told me my cup was no longer empty! Excited, I went to the kitchen and asked God to show me what He was doing in me. I grabbed a cup from the cupboard and put it under the running faucet. I let it run well past the point of overflow. As I looked at the wasted water go down the drain, I knew something wasn’t right. The past two days I hadn’t poured into anyone what God poured into me. As if I was overwhelmed, the water overflow represented excess that couldn’t fit inside me. I KNOW what being overwhelmed felt like, and that was not the case. It was clear that God had increased my capacity. I figured I must have a bigger cup! I went back to the cupboard to repeat the exercise with a distinctively larger cup. The first cup I found was the ONLY souvenir I kept from the DR. In the simplest way, God told me He increased my capacity three years ago and I’m just now realizing it. I immediately took a picture of my cup upgrade and Ugly Cried.

DR Cup - Edited.jpg

Once my ministry is up and running, I will have resources that will help people from oppressed communities volunteer abroad. I believe these cross-cultural experiences are beneficial for understanding why the world is divided and will help restore hope and gratitude to everyone involved.

My Prayer:

“Father God, thank you for having a plan for me even before I can see and understand it.1 I thank you for providing a way for me to go to the DR and allowing me to gain such an invaluable experience. I know everything you do is for a purpose and nothing happens by chance. Thank you for increasing my capacity and granting me the desires of my heart to help underserved and oppressed groups of this world. I’m forever in awe of your wisdom. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog! On January 1st, I’ll be sharing my vision for this ministry for 2017. Happy New Year!

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Meredith Kaltenecker, blog editor

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Jeremiah 29:11]

Series Intro: My Struggle To Life-Work Balance

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I hope I don’t get in trouble for this meme lol

Blog Sub-Category: Breaking Cycles

I have lived in LA for 15 months and I seemingly have nothing to show for it. I haven’t been ‘stackin’ my paper’, networking with celebrities, partying my 20s away, etc. Instead, I’ve been focusing on my personal growth and confronting my strongholds. This is the first time in my life my relationship with Christ has truly been my number one priority. God has blessed me tremendously because of it by revealing to me why I was created.

I worked SO hard to understand and love who I am that I refuse to not be that person every day! I’m going to love, laugh, share (not force) my faith, organize, problem solve, etc. because these are the things that make me ME! If I can’t be myself at work, where I spend over a third of my waking hours, how can I truly prosper in life? God promises me in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” While standing on that promise, I’m going to share with you what ultimately motivated me to create this blog: my struggle to work-life balance. However, I’ve more appropriately renamed it: Life-Work Balance (meaning My Life At Work).

Yup, I want to make it crystal clear moving forward that MY LIFE and personal success will always come before MY WORK and professional success. They aren’t even on the same level. My job is only a part of my life. So while my Life is my personal ministry (which is being developed through this website), my internship with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) is my Work during this season. EMI will bring the work balance to my Life. With EMI I can use my current skills to serve while I’m developing skills that are useful for my life. I know God called me to work with EMI because it is an environment uniquely designed for me to personally and professionally succeed.

I believe that personal success in the workplace is when I can confidently love myself and be myself in an environment where I am valued and respected for who I am.

Understanding how to value my personal success in the workplace was a long and painful process. Therefore, this series will contain the following cycles (not necessarily in this order) that I had to mentally break through in order to reach personal success in the workplace and attain Life-Work balance. As I discuss each topic, I will update this list with the corresponding blog link.

Broken Cycles

  1. Misunderstanding value in the workplace.
  2. Breaking the normal life mentality.
  3. The idea of what work has to look like.
  4. The idea that I have to be whatever my boss wants.
  5. The idea that happiness, joy, respect, etc. is not required in the workplace.
  6. The idea that Work-Life Balance, Affirmative Action, etc. are sufficient alone.
  7. Thinking I have to prove something/ I owe someone something.
  8. The general understanding of what success is.
  9. Thinking I have to learn from or follow the path of other ‘successful’ people.
  10. The best way to help people is to first ‘make it’.

These ideals were often reinforced by others around me. As I identified and attempted to break through each cycle, the spirit of the enemy(Satan), kept telling me I was a loser, weird, stupid, difficult, etc. I broke through about three of my cycles before I had a mental breakdown from riding the fence. I was trying to professionally succeed before I was personally successful. I was trying to ‘fake it until I made it’ and ended up falling flat on my face! BUT GOD! That low point was exactly one year before God called me to this ministry. Now I am stronger, wiser, and throughout the next several weeks I will boldly share how I overcame these mental hurdles.

My Prayer

“Father, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to focus on you and not worry about the things of this world.1 You have shown me every day this past year that I have NOTHING to worry about. You are Jehovah Jireh (my provider) and consistently provides everything I need.2 You are Jehovah Shalom (my Prince of Peace) and provides comfort in the midst of discomfort.3 You are Jehovah Rapha (my healer) who is able to heal every emotional and mental state that doesn’t reflect who you are.4 I am forever in awe of your power and grace. Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog!! A new part of this series will be posted every Thursday! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and I hope you remember that God loves you!

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Meredith Kaltenecker, blog editor

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Matthew 6:33]
2. [Philippians 4:19]
3. [Isaiah 9:6]
4. [Psalm 73:26]

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 ❤