week 7 & 8: reflection

With just two more weeks to go, this last week has consisted of a whole lot of reflection and appreciation. It’s crazy to think that in a mere 12 days I’ll be back in Washington. The Pacific North West will always have my heart, but I’ll definitely be leaving a piece of it in Central and Eastern Europe.

DSC_7673That being said, week 7 was one of the best to date. Ziplining, bonfires and s’mores, friendship bracelets, deep conversations, Romanian mountains, water balloon fights, and great people are all what made that week so incredible. Two girls in particular really stood out to me, and we were able to bond over our shared love of photography and swapping bracelets we made that week. The amazing week I had with them and others made the goodbyes even harder, which has already been the most difficult part of the summer.

But the hellos have been pretty sweet. After three weeks of traveling, the whole C-Team came back together in Frydlant, Czech Republic for our final two weeks of editing and one week of debrief. Seeing the other half of the team again and getting back into a routine of working at the Josiah Venture office has been a breath of fresh air. But as the days dwindle and will soon drop to single digits, I can’t help but dread the goodbyes I have ahead of me. There’s something earth-shattering about spending every day with people who have quickly become your best friends to not knowing when you’ll see them again. But let’s not think about that yet.

Processed with VSCO with a7 presetIn our three weeks of traveling alone, my team clocked something like 2,200+ miles, about four of which were by car, six by bus, and 75 by train. We can laugh about it now, but I never want to see another train again in my life. However, the adventure isn’t over yet – in a week we will be headed to Prague for our final few days together in Europe.

While my physical journey is nearly complete, my spiritual and emotional journeys continue to press on. Please pray that I will somehow be able to process this summer in the coming weeks and learn how to best share my experiences with you all when I come home. While I’m savoring my time here, I look forward to being back in an English speaking country!

Thanks for keeping up with me, and if you would like to grab coffee when I’m back, please feel free to contact me!

country count: 6

Yours Truly,

Rachel Joy


week 6: България

DSC_5879After a crazy week of broken down cars, exploring Budapest, and 30 hours of travel by train, Sunday, July 9th was the first day of the first camp my half of the C-Team got to be at. It felt so good to be productive and finally serving at a camp. We were at a church in Velingrad, Bulgaria, helping with a music camp that JV calls “Fusion.” A lot of the people serving at this camp are people we met at Intern Training or connected with at Media Academy, so it was so refreshing to see some familiar faces and reconnect with them while serving.

DSC_5891This camp was a challenge to me because everything was in Bulgarian. The only other JV camp that I’ve been to was and English camp, where they highly value language and are always wanting to practice with native speakers. With this camp, however, the focus was music and ultimately Jesus, so it’s easier to communicate those things and for students to understand them better if it’s in their native language. There was always someone to translate for me when it was important, but the language barriers made it hard for me to connect with students. But I found joy in taking photos of the action and serving behind the scenes and knowing that I can be doing tasks to help out so that others can be touching student’s lives personally.

DSC_5988Friday was the last day of camp and that night was the concert the campers had been preparing for all week. They preformed eight songs, some Christian, some pop, and some Bulgarian. It was such a great mix, the students had fun, and the turn out was great! It was so cool for us and them to see all their hard work this week pay off. Now, we’re in Bucharest, Romania after another day of travel by train, and tomorrow we have a rest day to recharge and get ready to go hard at another camp somewhere in central Romania.

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For those of you partnering with me in prayer, please pray for energy, unity, patience and faithfulness for my team in these next four weeks. We’re all exhausted and maybe even a little sick of each other, so hopefully our rest day will help, but your prayers are definitely still needed and greatly appreciated. On a more personal level, I’ve noticed in myself my reliance on earthly things to make me happy. This causes pretty quick and dramatic changes in my moods, which is taxing on me and the people around me. Please pray that I will find joy and peace in the Lord, and know that my true happiness comes from Him. Finally, please continue to pray that I can be present and not so fixated on what’s going on at home. While I am excited to return to Washington, I don’t want to wish my summer away.

country count: 6

Thank you endlessly for all your support!

Yours Truly,

Rachel Joy

week 5: chaos.


For those of you faithfully reading my blog this summer (hi mom, hi dad), I apologize for the lack of posts recently. As you can see by the title, the last three weeks have been complete chaos. So instead of a day-to-day journal-type entry, let me tell you a story:

After an incredible week of Media Academy, a camp the C-Team put on to equip nationals to document their own ministries, my half of the team left the comfort of the Czech Republic the next day on an eight hour drive headed towards Belgrade, Serbia for our first camp of the summer. Five of us and bags upon bags of equipment were packed into a decently small car on an increasingly hot day. We made some stops, sang some songs, took some naps, and enjoyed each other’s company – overall, a pleasant drive… for the first few hours. Just a few kilometers outside of Budapest, Hungary, the engine malfunction light came on and the car completely broke down. Four hours on the side of the road, three packs of beef jerky, five tow trucks wanting to make money off us, and multiple phone calls later, the insurance tow truck we called for finally came for us. Praise God for Amy, one of the full time JV staff members traveling with us, because she had connections in Budapest, and within an hour of getting towed, we were fed, clean, and in bed in a free apartment owned by a missionary she knew.

Stranded in Budapest – which is not a bad place to be stuck – we tried to understand what was wrong with the car and plan what to do next, while also trying to enjoy our time in what I’m convinced is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In our few days there, we walked nearly 20 miles, became regulars at a local coffee shop, rode on sketchy subways, and took lots (I mean lots) of photos. While our time was somewhat stressful because we didn’t know what was happening next, it was also restful and I think exactly what our team needed.

After days of waiting for news, we found out it wasn’t simply a dead battery, but the car needed a whole new engine. At that point, we had already missed the camp in Serbia and the first of two in Bulgaria, so that day we set out for a long journey by train to Bulgaria. It was no fun while it was happening, but all that matters is that we’re here now and God provided all along the way and continues to every day we’re here. Camp starts today and after a week of unexpected chaos as well as unexpected rest, we’re about to hit the ground running.

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Thank you for your constant prayers and support, we’re going to continue to need it. After this week of camp, my team has no idea where we’re going or how we’re going to get there. Please pray for clarity, patience, and that we don’t lose sight of the real reason we’re here. Thanks for reading and praying, ciao for now!

country count: 5

Yours Truly,

Rachel Joy

internship week 3: work hard, play harder


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After just a day of working in Josiah Venture’s office, our team leader sent us into Ostrava, the neighboring city, on assignment to capture architecture and to practice shooting with JV’s artistic style. This has been something new for me, as I’m used to shooting whatever I think is cool and in my own style. While I’m still able to do this and while I’ve noticed a lot of similarities in JV’s and my own style, there’s still been a learning curve and it’s a difficult adjustment. I’ve never shot for anyone but myself, but this summer, it’s all for Josiah Venture and for God’s glory, which has been a humbling experience. That being said, I’m already noticing my skill improve, and that’s probably due to the fact that I spend 100% of my time with other creatives, learning and collaborating with them. While I’m not the youngest intern, I do feel like the most inexperienced. Everyone else here practices their craft professionally, while I feel like I’m still out here just doing it for fun, even though I would like to consider myself a professional. So feeling like I have less experience than everyone else has definitely been a challenge, but that’s why I’m here – to gain experience – and it’s pretty rad that I get to do it surrounded by some incredibly talented artists.


DSC_4320day 16

On Thursday, half of our team was sent into Český Těšín, a Czech city on the Polish border, about 30 minutes from Fýdlant, where we’re staying. There, I got to experience what a Czech high school is like, and got to share with them about some of the camps JV will be putting on this summer. Classrooms are small, quiet, and students don’t speak unless spoken to directly. The environment and personalities of students is drastically the opposite of the typical American high school. But it was so interesting to play games with them, get to know them, and watch them slowly open up and start laughing with us. The language barrier will always be a difficult one, but getting to connect with students and bond with them in a short amount of time was such a cool experience.

day 18

On Saturday, the intern’s went over to our intern leader’s house for a big breakfast. Our intern leader, Kyle Evans, was my junior high youth pastor, and I’m close with him and his family, so it was so great to get to spend quality time with them and get a glimpse of what their life is like now that they’re living in the Czech Republic as Josiah Venture missionaries. As we all sat down to breakfast, the drizzling rain outside made the warmth of the house and the smells from the kitchen feel so cozy. It’s moments like these that make me realize how much I appreciate this team and this incredible opportunity we have to be serving and glorifying God this summer.

I’ve said it before, but I will continue to say this – thank you so much to all my supporters! I wouldn’t be here today without your prayers and financial support. You made this summer possible for me and are ultimately a part of Christ’s Great Commission, which is:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Check back on Saturdays and Sundays for weekly updates!

country count: 2

Yours Truly,

Rachel Joy

internship week 2: Malenovice and Frýdlant

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On Tuesday, we finished intern training at Malenovice, Josiah Venture’s event center, about three hours outside of Prague. It was incredible to worship, learn, and fellowship for five days with over 100 other interns who will be spending the summer serving in the thirteen different countries JV ministers in. Malenovice felt like home. Mountains covered in evergreen trees surrounded the log cabins of the event center and blue skies turned to grey skies that hovered over our heads, threatening to dump rain any second.

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Needless to say, this made me a little homesick for Washington, but also provided me with comfort due to the familiarity of my surroundings, even though I had never been there before. Days were spent hammocking between the trees, playing soccer with other interns, learning about the European culture we were about to immerse ourselves into, stargazing on the few clear nights, and getting to know the people we would be spending our summer with.

This time was restful and relaxing, especially after the high mental and physical stress of the Amazing Race, and a great time for the Communications Team to get to know each other better and bond before jumping into work next week. For the first few days, my anxiety ran high and my energy levels ran low, but as I became more comfortable with this huge transition in my life and grew to love the people around me, I became more and more excited for what this summer has to offer and what God has in store. I felt seriously out of place for nearly the first week, but now I know I’m where I am supposed to be and I can take comfort in knowing this truth.

day 11

Since Wednesday, we’ve been in a little town about ten minutes away from Malenovice called Frýdlant. We will be here for the next two weeks, planning projects and preparing for a summer of traveling to camps in countries across Eastern Europe. Most of our time has been spent exploring and simply in each other’s company, but also playing Signs, attempting to read Czech food labels and buy groceries, taking photos, eating good food, and drinking insane amounts of coffee (but maybe that’s just me). On Friday, we got to walk across the boarder into a town called Česky Polsky in Poland, where we explored parks and city squares for the afternoon.

On Monday, we will begin work in the Josiah Venture office for two weeks. This will be a huge change of pace, considering I’ve spent today drinking coffee and eating pancakes for lunch, curled up in a blanket while writing this post and editing photosIMG_3113 2. But I’m excited to plan our summer projects and get the creative juices flowing.

For those of you who are partnering with me in prayer, first off I want to say a huge thank you for your support. Knowing I have people back home praying for me is extremely comforting and motivating. Please pray that my anxiety will continue to be low, and I will be able to stay present and not miss home too much. Thank you all! Stay tuned for weekly updates every Saturday or Sunday.

country count: 2

Yours Truly,

Rachel Joy

internship week 1: Prague

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetTo say that my trip so far has been a crazy adventure would be an understatement. It’s been physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting, but God is good and I wouldn’t want it any other way. He’s been testing me and challenging me and stretching me in ways I never have been before, but I know He does it to strengthen me. James 1:2-4 reads:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

day 1

My day began with a bright and early wake up call to get to the airport. I said goodbye to my family and walked through the airport doors alone. But I didn’t feel alone. God was walking alongside me every step of the way. I passed through security with ease, woke myself up with some coffee, found my gate, put my headphones in and mentally checked out while I waited nearly three hours to board my plane to New York. I texted a friend, “made it through security no problem! things are going so smooth.” I had barely hit the send button when I glanced up, only to see the words Departure delayed to 12:30. In any other situation, this wouldn’t have been an issue, but that departure time meant a two and a half hour delay, and my connecting flight left only three hours after that plane was originally supposed to land. I panicked, but God was still there. I frantically called my travel agent, silently thanking myself for taking the extra precaution of putting her number in my phone. She quickly booked me on a flight to Paris and from there to Prague. And since that flight left later than my original, I was able to connect with my friend of 12 years in the Seattle airport who was also on her way to Prague for a Josiah Venture internship. Blessings in disguise.

The flight to Paris was long but painless, and I strolled off the plane to find the gate of my next flight. I walked up to the board, found my flight, found my gate, and as I turned to leave, something caught my eye. “Boarding now.” Somewhere along the line, there had been a miscommunication and what was supposed to be a four hour layover was now 45 minutes until my next plane’s departure. Long story short, I made it on the plane with about five minutes to spare. But God was with me, sprinting through the Paris airport. He was there in the seat next to me on my flight, he was there through the frustration when they told me my bag wouldn’t arrive until five days later. Maybe it didn’t always feel like it, but I take comfort in knowing He was there.

day 5

For the first three days, all 100+ Josiah Venture interns ran an Amazing Race through Prague and surrounding areas in the Czech Republic. I was physically and mentally exhausted, but I got to experience so much I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Now we’re at Josiah Venture’s conference center in Malenovice, learning all about what it means to be a JV Intern and how to do so effectively and with love. It’s been a hard adjustment period for me, but God has been there through it all. He’s been there through the tears, the frustration, the laughs, the anxiety, and every moment in between. If you asked me yesterday, I wanted nothing more than to go home. But today, I have peace and confidence that I’m where I’m supposed to be, and I couldn’t be more excited for this summer.









Thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me to get to where I am today. Can’t wait to update you more on this crazy adventure. Stay tuned for more photos, stories, and to find out where I’m going next!

Country count: 1

Yours Truly,

Rachel Joy


how you can help (me & the world)

I told myself I would update my blog at least once a week, but here we are, over a month since my last post. But this one is an important one!DSC_0231

I posted about two months back about an incredible opportunity I have this summer (read about it here: my next adventure) and I want to tell you a little more about it and how you can help. I will be spending ten weeks serving with Josiah Venture in Central and Eastern Europe. Josiah Venture is an organization with the mission of equipping young leaders to spread a movement of God throughout society. I will be serving on the Communications Team as a photographer alongside six other talented artists in and traveling to many of the countries that Josiah Venture is based in. We will be working together to share stories of God and His love in Central and Eastern Europe with our art and talents that God has blessed us with. Super cool, right?!

So this is where you come in. In order to go out and serve this summer, I have to raise nearly $5,000 by May 1st. If you donate, not only will you be helping me go to Europe and experience something incredible this summer, you will be helping so many students see God’s love, maybe even for the first time. If you feel called to donate, you can give online by going to and clicking on my photo! Your gifts of not only financial support, but also prayer support, are crucial to the success of this trip.

If you want to stay updated on my internship, I will be posting weekly blogs over the summer about what I’m doing and sharing photos from my time there, so subscribe to my blog! Whether you choose to donate, pray, and/or subscribe, thank you so much for your support!

Yours Truly,

Rachel Joy

what’s in my camera bag!

This week’s blog is a little big more lighthearted :). img_0611For all you photographers out there, or just anyone who’s interested, this week’s blog is about what’s in my camera bag! My camera bag is pretty new – I got it for Christmas this last year. So far it’s really great! I hate bulky bags and that’s almost unavoidable when you’re lugging around a bunch of photography equipment, but this is a great size and still holds my two cameras. When you open the bag, this is what you’ll see.  I love it because not only is there the top flap that covers the whole thing, there’s also a zipper to close the main compartment of the bag. Inside, I have my two beloved cameras. img_0610And yes, I’ve lost the lens cap for one of my lenses. I know, I know, shame on me, but there’s a new one coming in the mail. On the left is my brand new Nikon d750 with my favorite lens, a 50mm f/1.8 on it. I love this combination, this is pretty much what I shoot everything on. The d750 is my first full frame camera, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to, but it’s a wonderful and pretty light camera. Paired with my 50mm, it takes beautiful photos and works especially well in low light. On the right is my older Nikon, a d7000, which is a crop sensor camera, with my 11-20mm f/2.8 lens. I don’t use this lens nearly as much since getting my new camera, and I don’t think I’ve touched the d7000 since getting the d750. Having both of these cameras in my bag fits perfectly, but it’s pretty heavy to lug around for too long, so generally I only take the d750 and bring the wide angle lens along if I think I’ll need it.


And here is everything else taken out of the bag. At the top of the photo is my Nikon d7000 (left) and Nikon d750 (right) again, with the lenses I use on each of them below the cameras, respectively. To the right of the cameras is my battery charger and two extra batteries.  If I’m just going out on a shoot, I don’t generally bring these along, but if I’m traveling, this is something I never forget. I have a pretty bad habit of leaving my camera on, so I’m constantly having to change the battery :). Below that are my countless SD cards. It’s pretty rare for me to need another SD card while on a shoot – especially since both cameras can hold two cards – but I keep them in here so they’re all in one place because I am always losing things. To the right is cleaner for my sensor. I should probably clean them more than I do, but I’ve only done it once because I’m too scared of touching the sensor (scratch the sensor and you ruin the camera)… And finally are my white balance cards. I don’t use these nearly as much since I started shooting in RAW, but I keep them in my bag just in case.

It’s not a lot of equipment compared to some, but I guess that goes to show that the quality of photos has more to do with the person behind the camera than the camera itself. Now go check out some of the photos I’ve taken with the gear you just read about! ( )

Yours Truly,

Rachel Joy


battling self esteem

The worst fight I’ve ever been in wasn’t with my parents, it wasn’t with my younger brother, it wasn’t with a boyfriend, it wasn’t with my best friend… The worst battle I ever fought was with myself. And it’s a fight I continue to have every day of my life. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about; it’s the struggle of not feeling good about yourself. Not feeling skinny enough, pretty enough, fit enough, smart enough, creative enough, rich enough, not enough – for yourself or anyone else. Confidence issues are different for everyone, but for me, insecurities have shown up mainly when I look in the mirror.

I can still remember so clearly the first day I felt insecure about myself. I was in sixth grade, walking through the hallways of my middle school. Walking in the other direction was one of the most popular, beautiful girls in my grade. I remember looking at her and thinking she was just so… curvy. I looked down at my flat chest and pudgy stomach and quickly wrapped my cardigan around myself to hide what I had deemed right then and there as imperfections.

From that day forward, it was my perception of myself as not skinny enough that has dictated my life. Weight struggles seem to run in my family, so it’s never been easy for me. I was always jealous of my friends that ate junk food all the time and still looked like my definition of perfect, while I would look at a cookie and gain weight. The thing is, I’ve never once in my life been overweight. I just always looked at myself in the mirror and wished I was skinnier. I wish I could explain it, but I can’t. Despite people telling me all my life that I’m perfect the way I am, it doesn’t change the horrible, negative thoughts that run through my head about my body every day. And it’s a mindset that I’ve struggled to change for seven years. While it’s seemed to be improving a little more recently, I’m still not 100% happy when I look in the mirror. Not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not fit enough, not enough.

This past summer, I hit rock bottom. Some of my really great friends invited me to spend the day on the lake with them. It’s always been a struggle for me to feel comfortable in a swim suit, but for some reason that day was worse than the rest. I sat on my bedroom floor and sobbed, too self-conscious to even leave the house. I was going to miss a day of spending quality time with some incredible people, doing something I absolutely love, because I couldn’t get it out of my head that I thought I was fat. But thank God for Mama Alexander, who knocked some sense into my head and pointed out exactly what I would be missing out on, and told me I was beautiful. It was that moment that I decided I would no longer let a silly conflict in my head dictate the rest of my life. That day ended up being one of the best of the summer, and to think I almost missed it because I hated how I looked breaks my heart.

Since then, confidence has still been an issue for me, but it’s slowly getting better each day. And I know I’m not alone in this struggle, so here are five of my best tips for feeling better about yourself instantly:Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

1. stop the negative thoughts. I know, easier said than done, right? But something that drastically changed how I feel about myself was when I stopped picking apart everything about my body. When I look in the mirror, I try to tell myself that I’m beautiful right now and push away any thought that says otherwise.

2. drink water! Well you should drink water no matter what, but if you’re feeling down about yourself, it’ll flush out excess water weight and staying hydrated is just good for you. Not to mention, it actually makes your skin glow!

3. wear something that makes you feel good. This can do wonders for your self esteem. Feel good about yourself right here and now.

4. get out and do something. Yes, you’ll probably be worried about how you look for a little while. But if you’re with people you love doing something you love, you’ll quickly forget and just enjoy yourself in the moment.

5. get plenty of rest. Getting enough sleep at night drastically improves your mood, and yet we seem to not prioritize it. Try putting down your phone at night and getting some sleep!

I wish I had all the answers and I wish it was an easy process, but I can say from experience that it’s not at all. It’s a long, difficult process. But I’m here to tell you that you’re capable and worthy, just as much as everyone else is, of feeling confident and being comfortable with who you really are. Remember that you are enough.

Yours Truly,

Rachel Joy