Amanda Dorough | She's Paying It Off

The Story of My Journey to Debt Freedom, One Tiny Step at a Time

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Project Searchlight: Lake Day and a Day at Training Camp

project searchlight

As our week of coaching and learning wrapped up with a surprise visit from the awesome Warren Barfield who was representing Food for the Hungry, W squad decided to finish off our time together with an afternoon on Lake Lanier.

Starting off the day the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.  We took the boat out and each took a turn riding on/being thrown off the tube, but less than two hours later thunder clouds rolled in and we found ourselves taking the boat back to the marina in piercing rain.  Our last minutes together were cut short yet I feel like it couldn’t have been a more memorable way to wrap up the last year we spent as family.

Lake Day

Lake Day

Lake DayThe next day a few of us drove an hour NE to Taccoa Falls College where World Race training camp was being held for the upcoming September I,J, K & L squads.  I’d planned on spending all day Wednesday and most of Thursday helping at the camp, but like all things with the World Race, plans changed last minute and I wound up driving back to Dahlonega on Wednesday night instead.

Knowing that I most likely will never make it back to help out at a training camp in the future (due to geographical limitations of course) I tried to make the most of the day.

I spent most of my time with the K squad girls, observing them in the plane crash team building activity and just talking to them about the race.  There were lots of questions about life on the Race and what to bring/not bring.  My advice?  Leave the Vibrams at home because they will smell like a teenage boys closet by the end of the race (and that smell doesn’t go away), and invest in a good sleeping pad, not one of those crappy ultralight ones, mine popped after 2 weeks of use, then I had to sleep on the floor for the rest of the race. Not fun.

The evening wrapped up with an amazing market simulation.  The racers literally had to barter for their dinner.  I put my many years of market experiences to use, helping out my friends Jeff and Glen try to sell their chicken rice casserole dish. (said in an asian accent) “Come eat my food. Cheap, cheap. Delicious.” “You say no but I say yes, come, come.” “Oh you so beautiful, you need to eat my food, cheap, cheap, arroy mak mak.”  I had a blast.  I only wish I could have stayed longer!

Training camp

training camp


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Project Searchlight: Turning the Big 27

project searchlight


I must admit, my 26th birthday wasn’t super amazing.  Not to the fault of anyone, we were a mere 2 days into the World Race, my team and my squad didn’t know each other well yet.  I was the first birthday of the World Race and while it wasn’t awful, my team definitely tried, I just didn’t feel very special.

The rest of the Race I struggled with jealousy each time a birthday would come up, finding myself over analyzing everyone else’s special day, sizing it up, and the truth was I was selfish, so selfish, and self conscious… I would judge how my friends were treated on their birthdays and I became so spiteful, and of that I am ashamed.

Once I realized how I had been acting I spent the next couple months trying to keep myself in check, especially when I realized I would be spending this birthday with my World Race family as well.  I couldn’t let myself get caught up in expectations, it wasn’t fair to my friends and I could end up with a broken heart.

As Project Searchlight kicked off and the day approached my mind began to stray toward expectations and this is where I know God came in.  With his help I was able to fend off the expectations and keep myself closer to earth.  When the day finally arrived I would have been content with simple Happy Birthday wishes from everyone, but I think, because I finally gave up all my desires for the day God blessed me with a day that was even better than I could have imagined, and for that I’m so thankful.  Some of the elements were purposeful acts of kindness and others came to be just out of chance, but overall my 27th birthday was incredible.

The day started out with a morning session at the AIM offices, followed by lunch and a rousing round of Happy Birthday from everyone there.  Afterwards we headed into town to spend the afternoon at Gainesville’s Town Square, starting off at Innmans Perk cafe where, when the guys working there found out it was my birthday they put on the most ridiculous Happy Birthday song ever and brought out a cupcake with a makeshift rolled-up-piece-of-paper candle, “blow it out quick, it’s a fire hazard.” Hilarious.  They then proceeded to say Happy Birthday every time they saw me for the rest of the day.  Way to make me feel special, and they didn’t even know me.

Cupcake!Afterwards we met up with my teammate Ricks (aka Lauren Ricks) and went over to the pizza parlor next to the cafe.  It was so good to see my awesome friend, even if it was just for a short time, and enjoy parmesan/garlic bread sticks at the same time.


The 4

4 of the 7 Unchained Rhythm girls, Ashley, Ricks, Erb and I.

Then we headed back to the AIM offices for dinner and our coaching sessions.  My awesome coach Tara not only figured out it was my birthday but also got me my favorite ice cream, Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food.  I was speechless!

Coaching Group

Our coaching group, me, Allison, Emily and Tara.

After our coaching sessions we moved the chairs to the side, turned off the lights and had a major dance party (the way to my heart!), which of course involved glowsticks…. and breaking glowsticks open…and learning the wobble…

Dancing!When I finally got back to Nathan’s house late that night everyone was still up, playing Wii in the living room.  I went downstairs to change out of my dress and when I came back up everyone was gathered around, they started singing Happy Birthday and then came out with a cake, and it was a funfetti cake.  Apparently they’d called around to my teammates to figure out what my favorite cake was, an incredibly thoughtful act, and delicious.


-Photo courtesy of Kristen Aperfine

At the end of the day I couldn’t have asked for more.  I am so thankful to my World Race family.  To my team mates and squadmates that made my day so special in ways I didn’t even mention above.  You are truly amazing and I’m so lucky to call you all my friends.


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Project Searchlight: Defining My Dream

project searchlightRight now I’m sitting on an airplane, slowly making my way back to Seattle.  Project Searchlight has been over for a day and my time with W squad has officially closed, and it hurts a little.  There’s a very slim chance that this number of us will be in one room ever again, yet at the same time I’m encouraged by each of my friends dreams.  I’m lucky to share a rare community with honest to goodness world changers.

Back in April, when I first heard about Project Searchlight I debated about whether or not to go.  As I understood it, the primary purpose of Project Searchlight was to help new alumni racers figure out what they should do next.  By this time I had already began pursuing Bolivia.  I already knew what my next was, so why would I need to go to a conference to try to figure that same thing out?

But something kept nagging at me.  Instead of discarding Project Searchlight I on the contrary felt like I needed to attend .  I have to admit, part of the selling point was being able to see my W squad friends together again, but there was something else, a small voice in the back of my head that was telling me to go, so I did.

Now, reflecting on the last week do I still think that I needed to go?  That it was a beneficial experience for me?  Absolutely.

Over the course of 7 days I was lucky enough to hear incredible speakers including Andrew Shearman and Seth Barnes, get valuable coaching, spend time with old and new friends and most of all, rediscover and define my kingdom dream.

So what exactly is a kingdom dream?  Well, it looks a little different for everyone, but I would say it’s a life dream, using God-given passions to bring Christ to the nations, and effectively, change the world.

My kingdom dream is best explained in terms of a story.  It started 3 years ago on a trip to Cambodia.  I had the opportunity to go out into a rural village to teach english to the children there.  These kids were hungry for education.  Their government education system was failing them and they desired so much more.

Continuing on to the World Race I encountered children almost monthly who were so vivacious, so caring and so hungry for knowledge, yet they were being failed on some level, usually pertaining to finances.  From the boys in Mozambique whose teachers would often show up to school drunk if they showed up at all, to the kids in Cambodia who spent at least 10 hours a day learning through different avenues with the hope that one day they could create better lives for their children.

So, one day, as I sat thinking about my passions and how even little old me could change the world it suddenly clicked.  My passion is for children, and moreover that they are given every opportunity possible to succeed in life.  Decent education, and moreover in my heart, extracurriculars aren’t something solely for western cultures and I’d like to do whatever I can to make a change for a group of children, however big or small.

My idea for now is to see if there would be an opening for me to create a program for the children within the community I’ll be living within in Bolivia.  A program that can supplement their education giving the children art classes, english lessons and just time to have organized fun, kind of like day camp.  I’m still in the prayer and dreaming phases.  I know God will open a door when the time is right.  I’m just so excited about all the possibilities!


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Project Searchlight: Braves Game

project searchlight

I’m admittedly not the biggest baseball fan.  I don’t hate the sport, I just get bored really easy, however I do enjoy the whole baseball game experience.  The hotdogs, popcorn, hats and attempts made to get on the big screen.  When you’re surrounded by the right group of people anything can become fun.

My World Race family is definitely the right group of people, so even though the Atlanta Braves aren’t my team (go Mariners!) I decided to join everyone at a Braves games over Project Searchlight, and, between the rain, dancing, second inning power outage, big screen attempts and the Braves victory over the Mets, it was an exciting game indeed!

Braves Game


Braves up to bat!

FriendsEnjoying the game with friends, old and new! Erb, Ricks and Anne!

We may have been in the nosebleed section, but they definitely weren’t a bad seat.

BravesThe experience is all in the details.  I love these seats!

Stay tuned, tomorrow I’m posting a blog on how Project Searchlight went, and most importantly, what I got out of it!



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A Week In The Life: July 10-16

a week in the lifeThis last year,as I was traveling on The World Race I had the idea to give my readers and supporters a glimpse into the life of a World Racer and out of that “A Week in the Life” was born.

While my gusto in this idea only lasted a couple of months, mostly due to (a photo editing website) closing, for 3 months I carried around my Ipod for a week, taking pictures with instagram and then forming the pictures into collages and posting them onto my blog.  I had a lot of fun, but when I couldn’t form the pictures into collages anymore it just became to much work.

Then, about a month ago as I was brainstorming ideas for this blog and the features I want to pursue on it with my return to Bolivia.  One of my favorite ideas?  A revamped/scaled back version of ” A Week in the Life.”   I just want it to be a small glimpse into my life and the awesome things to come in Bolivia.  But, instead of waiting until I get to Bolivia to start I thought I’d get a jump on building my new daily photo taking habit by beginning ” A Week in the Life” a little early, starting this last week with my trip to Georgia for Project Searchlight.  Enjoy!

A week in the life1.  New Kindle, yay!  What a blessing! (more on that to come). 2. Cute little Finley, he made our Project Searchlight coaching sessions so entertaining! 3. Billy Swan, teaching it up at Project Searchlight. 4. Large Frosted Orange drink, Hamburger and Onion Rings at Atlanta’s famous Varsity. 5. Braves vs. Mets game. 6. Missionary Interview sessions. 7. Happy 27 Birthday to me! 8. Surprise visit from Warren Barfield


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PSL: Georgia Bound!

project searchlight That’s right, at 11:55 tonight I board a red-eye flight bound for the sweltering south!

So why Georgia?  Well, Gainesville happens to be the home of Adventures in Missions and The World Race, so now, a year after we left and a month after we returned my World Race squad (W) as well as the other July 2011 World Race Squad (X) are coming together for Project Searchlight, a conference of sorts put together by Kingdom Dreams, a branch of the World Race geared toward helping alumni racers discover their dreams for the Kingdom so that they can pursue it and, well, Change the World.

I’ve gotten a look at the schedule and the week is going to be packed with great speakers, coaching and worship, but I’m also looking forward to fitting in time with my teammates, celebrating my birthday and doing some fun things, like going to a Braves game and swimming in Lake Lanier!

Squad Worship

Worshiping with the squad, nearly a year ago at our Launch in Quito.

So I may be blogging while I’m gone, or I may not.  It will all depend on time, internet and inspiration, but keep an eye out because I know there will be many blogs to come even if I don’t crank them out until I get back!