A Day in the Life of a JOY Student!

JOY is dedicated to creating sustainable relationships of service between colleges and deserving ministries in the Dominican Republic and other places where children face a cycle of poverty, abuse, and malnutrition. These partnerships encourage young people to invest in a lifetime of service through child sponsorship, hands-on service, and advocacy for incredible organizations who serving at-risk and orphaned youth. Our service trips and on-campus service are catalysts for young people to use their passions for purpose! 

What does a day in the life of a JOY student look like?

Take a look at a JOYful day for two different college students. One is on a JOY service trip and the other is on campus!

A Day in the Dominican Republic

It's a sunny day in the Dominican Republic and our JOY students are there to serve the staff and children at Kids Alive schools! A day of JOYful service abroad has a not-so-typical schedule: 

1. Wake up and meet up with your team

2. Paint a school, help in the classroom, mix cement...serve where you're needed! 

3. Host after-school soccer with children at the orphanage

4. Deliver and organize donations

5. Eat a traditional Dominican meal and get to know the members of the community

6. Spend time in community with your team

7. Get ready for another full day of JOY! 

A Day on Campus

 It's another busy day on campus for JOY college students across the country. And though they're going to classes and meeting with friends like most college kids, JOY students' days on campus are far from typical:

1. Meet with professors to design independent studies or purpose-driven projects that serve those in need

2. Get the word out about your JOY medical drive

3. Hang out with your JOY book club for dinner and community

4. Stop by JOY Coffeehouse to write letters to the children you sponsor in the Dominican Republic 

5. Brainstorm with your JOY team about ways to serve children in need in your community and to advocate for your Kids Alive friends around the world 


Whether they're on campus, serving in their communities, or hosting their own charity drives from home, JOY students are active, purpose-driven young people. They are serving others right here, right now. You can too! 

Do you want to serve at-risk and orphaned youth at home and abroad? There are ways to serve wherever you are!

We're serving in the Dominican Republic in May 2017! Join us! 

Not a college student?

JOY partners with individuals, businesses and organizations too! 

JOYful January- Lessons in Friendship

JOY is dedicated to creating sustainable relationships of service between colleges and deserving ministries in the Dominican Republic and other places where children face a cycle of poverty, abuse, and malnutrition. These partnerships encourage young people to invest in a lifetime of service through child sponsorship, hands-on service, and advocacy for incredible organizations who serving at-risk and orphaned youth. Our service trips are often a catalyst for young people to use their passions for purpose! 

Check out what January JOY students did in the Dominican Republic!

Miami University student Kenzy White traveled with us to the Dominican Republic in January. Read about her experience of learning what it looks like to live joyfully!

Love far surpasses any language barrier, any age gap - it knows no limits. Mateo taught me that we just need to be present, we just need to let others know that we are there, and that love will always be enough.

I went to the DR fully ready to see God at work, to be in awe of Him and the work that He is doing in the lives of the kids that JOY has worked with in the past. I honestly didn’t know quite what to expect, other than the fact that I would get to hang out with some pretty awesome kids and make new friends.

Prior to the trip, I had been praying for safety and for revival to happen in the DR, but little did I know that God was going to spread revival among the JOY team and myself.

Read our Spring JOY newsletter for updates, stories, and more!

On that first day going to the orphanage in Jarabacoa, my eyes were opened and my heart was broken. I was overwhelmed by the generosity, the kindness, taken aback by the amount of love that these strangers showed me. I had heard some of the kids' stories and I knew that they had been through things that were harder than I could ever imagine, but yet they were still smiling and laughing, full of joy and light. My heart was broken on that first day, but those kids quickly put it right back together with every piggyback ride and game of tag that we played, despite the pouring rain. They expressed true joy and showed me that no matter what, a smile can help you get through.

On the second day, God gave me a new friend that would forever change the way I experienced true joy. I was waiting with the team for the kids to come out and play a game of soccer with us, and one of the first kids to walk through the door was sweet little Mateo [name changed :)]. He had his hood pulled tightly around his face and didn’t look too happy to be walking through the rain. He came straight to me and put his hands up for me to pick him up, and that was it, he had stolen my heart with his big beautiful eyes and his cheesy little smile. I think I held him for two hours straight and it felt like my arms were going to fall off, but I didn’t care because this kid was the sweetest thing. He didn’t speak any English, and my Spanish is no bueno, so we didn’t talk much, but this just goes to show that love knows no bounds. Love far surpasses any language barrier, any age gap, it knows no limits. Mateo taught me that we just need to be present, we just need to let others know that we are there, and that love will always be enough.

See our impact, news updates, and exclusive stories in the JOY Newsletter

God used a two-year-old from another country to teach me what it means to be a loving friend, what it means to be joyful in uncomfortable situations, and most of all what it means to be selfless. I was reminded again and again on this trip that we are all in need of someone to be present for us, and that God is that never-ending presence, sometimes we just need a loving friend to help us remember that.
 

Do you want to #spreadjoynow? 

Join us on our upcoming trips in the Dominican Republic (March + May)

Read more stories like Kenzy's and get exclusive content in our Spring Newsletter!

Inside, you'll get up-to-date on all things JOY- our impact, student service experiences, and ways to #spreadjoynow. 

 

 

Stories of Passion + Purpose in JOY's Spring Newsletter

Stories of Passion + Purpose in JOY's Spring Newsletter

In our spring newsletter, you'll get up-to-date on all things JOY, see our impact, and meet students like Cory Pisano:

"Just two weeks ago my pastor at church said at service that “we all end up somewhere, but not all of us end up somewhere on purpose”. That message hit me hard as I pursue this plan of spending two years back serving the children in the Dominican Republic. This whirlwind started with JOY, and I now want nothing more than for it to end in joy." 

Read it now! 

Read More

JOY takes off for Santo Domingo in March. Meet the team!

JOY is dedicated to creating sustainable relationships of service between colleges and deserving ministries in the Dominican Republic and other places where children face a cycle of poverty, abuse, and malnutrition. These partnerships encourage young people to invest in a lifetime of service through child sponsorship, hands-on service, and advocacy for incredible organizations who serving at-risk and orphaned youth. Our service trips are often a catalyst for young people to use their passions for purpose! 

Meet Megan Zelasko!

Megan came to the Dominican Republic with JOY in May 2016 and served at schools in Jarabacoa. This spring, she'll be returning to the DR with us - this time to Santo Domingo!

You can still join us! Apply here. 

 I think that God is calling me back in the Dominican to learn more about the hearts of the children in another part of the Dominican.  I absolutely cannot wait to go back to the Dominican in March, and I can’t wait for the day I get to see Kelvin again.

Check out our upcoming trips for Spring 2017

We asked Megan about her first JOY experience, child sponsorship, and why she continues #spreadjoynow: 

"The second I stepped into my mom’s car after only sleeping one hour the night before and traveling for a straight 9 hours, I knew I was going to go back. In fact that was actually the first thing that I told my mom when I saw her. I knew God had placed in my heart the desire to continue to be grown by Him in a place that was unfamiliar to me the week before.  God showed me what throwing everything to Him looked like in one short week and that the only way to survive in a country that you can’t speak the language is to rely only on Him for guidance.

I knew I wanted to go back to the Dominican Republic the second that I left the children’s home in Jarabacoa. I was still in the country, but God was calling me back to the hearts of the kiddos at the home.  In my two short days spent at the children’s home in May 2016, I met my little “broski” Kelvin. We instantly attached to each other when he took me by the hand and showed my how to each raw sugar cane from the plant. He also didn’t care that I couldn’t speak Spanish past “hola,” “como estas,” and “adios.”

My last moments with Kelvin were my absolute favorite and one of the reasons why I started sponsoring him: before the team left, Kelvin would act like he was riding a motorcycle (sound effects and all) and run up to me and I would spin him around. We did this about 20 times (yes I was counting) and when I said my final “adios” I wasn’t sure if I was going to ever say “hola” to him again.
 

I thought God put on my heart to go back to the Dominican in order to see Kelvin again.  Eventually, God will make our paths cross again, but this time I think He is calling me for a different reason.  I think that God is calling me back in the Dominican to learn more about the hearts of the children in another part of the Dominican.  I absolutely cannot wait to go back to the Dominican in March, and I can’t wait for the day I get to see Kelvin again.


Join Megan and the rest of our team in Santo Domingo, March 18-26!

JOYful January - Seeing Purpose

JOY is dedicated to creating sustainable relationships of service between colleges and deserving ministries in the Dominican Republic and other places where children face a cycle of poverty, abuse, and malnutrition. These partnerships encourage young people to invest in a lifetime of service through child sponsorship, hands-on service, and advocacy for incredible organizations who serving at-risk and orphaned youth. Our service trips are often a catalyst for young people to use their passions for purpose! 

Check out what January JOY students did in the Dominican Republic!

Miami University student Lindsey Rudek traveled with us to the Dominican Republic in January. Read about her experience of learning what it looks like to live joyfully!

I want to live like that, trusting in God more and more each day and genuinely believing that I have a purpose-to spread joy.

Before I left for the Dominican Republic this past January with JOY, I said goodbye to one of my friends who had been on a similar trip and she told me “get ready, because you couldn't even begin to imagine what you're going to experience”. I took it with a grain of salt, but that is exactly how I would describe the two weeks I spent in Jarabacoa and Santo Domingo. There are no words that could explain exactly what I learned and took away from this trip, but there are a few things I will never forget.

What is JOY? Learn more about our mission.

One night our entire group was gathered in the small living area of the team house where we were staying. We had spent the past week together- serving at the schools, building relationships, playing soccer with kids and learning about what true joy is. An 18-year-old boy named Joel, who lives in Santo Domingo, was over to have dinner with us. After we ate, he shared his testimony of how God has transformed his life and given him a new purpose for all of his days going forward. When the power went out at the team house, we lit a bunch of candles and Joel picked up his guitar and started playing the song “oceans” by Hillsong united. While majority of the group sang in English, Joel and a few others sang passionately in Spanish. Seeing an incredibly diverse group come together and worship the same God in two different languages was indescribable. At this moment, I realized that although so many of our lives appear to be totally different, all of humanity shares a similar story. 

It quickly became clear to me that we all want to be living for something bigger than ourselves. It doesn't matter if a person lives in a dirt house with no electricity and survives on some rice and minimal clothing or if someone lives in an excessively nice house with fancy cars and an over abundance of food. The fact of the matter is that you will not be fulfilled until you have found a purpose for your life- something to live for.

At home I am surrounded by people who are searching for their purpose. I have seen people transformed when they come to realize the hope that they can trust in for the rest of their days and the impact this can have on their lives. Seeing this exact same phenomenon happen with people in the Dominican was life changing.

Kids shared their stories of broken, tragic lives being changed forever by their realization that God died for their sins and loves them unconditionally. Prior to this I had been stuck in a bubble, only seeing the stories and struggles of people in close proximity to me. This trip gave me eyes to see the pain of those whose lives are very different than mine, but more importantly it gave me eyes to see the way God’s love and power is constant across the world. And how his love changes everything. This realization encourages me to spread his joy everywhere so that those who are searching can find their worth in something bigger than themselves and devote their life to the one thing that will fulfill them eternally.

The hope and trust in God that so many of the missionaries, teachers, parents, and kids have in the Dominican gives me chills. They believe that what they are living for is worth it. Even when things get hard they continue to fight.

I want to live like that, trusting in God more and more each day and genuinely believing that I have a purpose-to spread joy.


Do you want to be a part of a movement to bind your passions with purpose? 

Join us on our upcoming trips in the Dominican Republic (March + May)

Not a student? There are many ways to #spreadjoynow

XquisiTea: Antonio Patz

Creating this idea, XquisiTea, really goes back to my childhood experiences. Growing up in the city of Minneapolis, there were times where I had no place to sleep at night, due to whatever circumstances that were out of my control. Looking back now, I still remember my experience of being homeless. I have not forgotten these times and it is something that has stayed with me throughout the years.

Business comes naturally to me and I have wanted to connect a business with helping those in need for as long as I can remember. XquisiTea grew off the idea of connecting the 2nd most popular drink in the world, tea, with a way to help homeless individuals. I chose hygiene because it is something we often overlook, yet it is very important for our average, everyday life. Even a simple thing such as receiving their own hygienic supplies will show that society still cares.

Drinking tea then becomes a purpose filled experience. The customers can know that they are making a difference, supplying opportunities and helping those less fortunate than themselves. Xquisitea will seek to start small, partnering with local shelters and building connections in the states.

Our long-term goal is to see Xquisitea make a difference in the lives of homeless people wherever they may be. Homelessness is a global, growing epidemic and although it is extremely hard to fight against a system that cares not about its unfortunate citizens, Xquisitea provides an opportunity to help the homeless in a tangible way.

To learn more, visit: http://www.xquisitea.com

Letters from Rome

A JOYFUL ADVENTURE SEEKER MEETS JOY.


My name is Veronica, I am a 22 year-old Italian girl. I was in Ohio, on a not-so-ordinary-day, during my first trip to the States, this past summer.

Many people would call it a coincidence, but I personally refer to it as a "divine appointment". 

I was at a friend's wedding, mingling and talking to people─ lots of old and new friends─ while eating fancy food and dancing it out, and that's where I met Emily─ a girl around my age who wouldn't stop staring at my tattoo and smiling. First impression? Weird enough (in a good way) to be my friend, lol.

She wasn't at the reception for a very long, but that's all it took for us to connect like in kindergarten. We knew it's pretty unusual for grown people to bond that quickly, we were surprised ourselves, but because of how extraordinarily that happened, we knew our friendship was going to be special.

Now, by that I don't mean we knew we'd become inseparable─ in fact, we didn't─ but somehow we knew there was more to it.

The tattoo my new friend kept looking at is on my forearm and it says "joy". Yep, not kidding. To me it stands for Jesus. Others. Yourself. (the priorities in my life and reasons for me to be joyful) I would love to tell you more about it, but later─ now, let's move forward. She wasn't just crazy about how pretty it looked, she loved it because it meant something to her, too: JOY - The Justification of Youth. She works for it. I had never heard of it before, and maybe many of you hadn't either, until now, but that is all it took to steal my heart. JOY is a nonprofit organization founded and run by young adults with a great heart for service, who want to encourage university students and are willing to travel long distances to bring joy to at-risk, precious little ones. JOY is literally the chosen generation's response to God's calling. If I were to describe it I think I would use a verse from the Bible─ 1 Timothy 4:12

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."

That's what JOY does, and it is exclusively fueled by the hope that God's unending grace and love provides.

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Time passed, I came home to my Rome, in Italy, with no idea of what the future would hold. I got to meet the JOY team via FaceTime and there hasn't been a day that I haven't thought about how God is using them, especially to reach those tiny lives (I just LOVE kids so much, people say I am a so-called "kid-person"), thanking Him for such a ministry, and dreaming and praying that someday I would get to be a part of something like that.

I recently made the big decision of putting an end to my school career and dropped out of university, and have been trying to find my own place in the world, asking God for direction since then. I focused on exploring my own personality, passions, and gifts from a wider perspective in order to understand where the Lord wants me to be and set a goal to achieve. I have had highs and lows and some days I would get really discouraged because of the lack of answers, but in Jesus I found rest and peace.

I still haven't figured out where life is going to take me, but as I continue to pray and wait for clarity, I am willing to walk any path that unfolds before me, experience God's hand at work, and trust in His perfect timing.

How sweet the surprise and growth that comes with all our Heavenly Father has hidden for us along the way─ in fact that is what brings me here today. During my getting-to-know-myself-better process, I found myself thinking about writing more─ which, to be honest, didn't make much sense to me because I've never been much of a writer. Surprisingly, it didn't take me long to get used to that random idea, and soon after that God showed up and once again He surprised me with the sweetest of blessings that far exceeded my expectations. He reminded me that He makes all things work together for my good (Romans 8:28) and that everything happens for a reason. I was revealed the reason for my sudden interest in writing last week, when I got offered to be a blogger for JOY.

Never would I have expected this to happen so soon, yet it did. 

Jesus hears us when we pray and seek Him and His kingdom wholeheartedly.

He said, "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you."

(Matthew 7:7)

All I did was ask.

See how it spread? We don't really have to have to do much─ God, Love does. 

This is what I meant when I said there was more to the sweet friendship I mentioned before─ The JOY team prayed + I prayed = JOY got to Italy!

So, here's to this new path that's unfolding and all the adventures it will bring!

To God be the glory, and may people say "I have heard a lot about their faith" when they hear our names

Joyfully yours,

Ronnie

 

 

Handletteredjoy: Jordan Fowler

Hello! My name is Jordan Fowler, and I am the owner of Handletteredjoy.

I started learning hand lettering and calligraphy about three years ago. I found myself in a really dark place in my life; I was a sophomore in college and suffering from severe anxiety and depression. I went to appointments and learned millions of techniques to help calm me down but none seemed to work until my doctor asked if I had any interest in art. Her suggestion caught my attention and I decided to give it a try. I started looking through Pinterest for inspiration and came across a pin titled, "Your guide to learning fake calligraphy.” Every time I started to feel my anxiety or depression try to sneak into my day I started writing, relaxing, and most importantly calming down. As I started to get better at calligraphy, my anxiety started to go down.

Fast forward to my senior year in college this past March, I decided to start an Instagram account called Handletteredjoy. My intention for this account was to encourage my fellow students, friends, family and maybe even a few strangers with several handwritten bible verses weekly. Before I knew it, this "anxiety reliever" was starting to encourage others and share the gospel. One of the coolest parts was it being a huge encouragement for me to dive deeper into my bible every day. I would look for new verses and get lost in what I was reading. This was one of the hidden blessings of starting Handletteredjoy. After tons of encouragement from my family and friends, in June I decided to open an Etsy shop. I want to share my art and God's words with anyone and everyone. My hope is that everything I paint is an encouragement and a joyful reminder of God's love.

God sure knows what he is doing in every aspect of our lives. Three years ago, I really had no idea what my future would look like, or even if I would have an future. It's incredible how the Lord uses us as disciples of his kingdom in so many different ways. We were all created for a certain purpose and he knows exactly just how he wants to use us. It has been amazing to use my hand lettering as a way to share the gospel with others. With every piece I send out, I hope that it will be a continuous reminder of the love the Lord has for us. As I experienced the negative sides of my depression and anxiety, I also learned the beauty in the unknowns life holds.  

Although the road getting to this point wasn't all smooth and straight, I have learned so much about God's faithfulness and unfailing love. 

To learn more about Jordan, follow her on Instagram: @handletteredjoy and visit her shop on Etsy.

 

 

 

 

 

A Longing- Congressman Peter J. Roskam

I meet more people than most people based on my line of work. Every month I meet with hundreds of people in dozens of businesses, clinics, nonprofits, schools, and government offices. And a wide range of people, too—from factory workers to private investors, from local mayors to world leaders.

And lately the more people I meet the more I end up having some version of the same conversation. The people I’m meeting tell me that they are anxious and frustrated and they are longing for something that they don’t have and they don’t see on the horizon. They may articulate it differently—that is, looking for the right program to turn things around, the right leader to make it happen, or the right trend to carry them. But there is a deep longing among them that is palpable.

It could be that they are longing for significance themselves. It could be that they see larger issues beyond their control and they want to be a meaningful influence for good. It could be that they are nostalgic for a by-gone day when people were more deeply connected to one another. It could be any number of things, but they are longing for something.

The good news is that JOY provides a pathway for that significance, for that meaningful influence and that connection for which many people hunger. JOY invites people into a significant relationship with underprivileged communities abroad.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less,” said C.S. Lewis. How refreshing. How refreshing indeed.

My experience is that the more people hear about JOY and its vision and mission the less anxious they are about the future.