From the time I was 4, I was teaching my baby dolls and stuffed animals. I would drive the school bus (Mom says I was pretty good about slamming on the brakes and getting on to the kiddos for misbehaving), read them books, grade their papers and basically teach them everything I know. This became even more fun when Kathryn was born and I was able to drag around an actual student. Kathryn, you can thank me later for all the things I have imparted to you!
During my time in my education courses, I was the biggest nerd there. I think I stalked the school supply area at Target, always purchasing the latest design of highlighters and post-it notes. I loved every bit of the information, minus one class but that is a whole different story!
Upon graduation, I accepted a position at Caldwell Elementary teaching 2nd grade and spent gobs of time and money (thanks Mom & Dad!) on my classroom. I was in love. Standing with my kiddos in the hallway, I was amazed that God had entrusted these little lives to me. Mistakes were made, lessons were learned, tears were cried, paperwork was hated, but I knew I was created to do this.
You can imagine everyone's surprise when I knew God was leading me from the classroom into an opportunity at my church. In July of 2006, we packed my classroom unsure of when/ if I would ever open these boxes again.
I would need to write a book to share all that took place from July 2006 to May 2011, so I will settle for bullet points.
- Mentors, old and young, taught me about ministry, service, life, studying God's Word, missions, and so much more.
- Teaching and leading Bible studies became one of my passions.
- Attended Womenary (http://www.womenary.com/) classes that expanded my knowledge of God's Word and deepened my desire to study.
- I lead teams or joined teams to: Guatemala (twice), Belize, Israel, Egypt (technichally 4 times), and places across the states.
- I interned for a sports ministry for the summer of 2009 in Egypt and before I finished my time, left from Cairo to South Africa for 3 months.
- Attended the African Leadership Institute for Community Transformation (http://www.alict.org/)- 3 intense months, 27 students from 24 countries, Leaders & Teachers from around the world, ALICT experiences, classes from 8-5, Worship in a way I have never worshiped, Maddie Kate was born and in ICU back in Texas, so much more...
- I began to learn much about the way God has created me and why He has created me.
- The desire to teach began to resurface (even though for four years I said it would NEVER happen).
- Returned home to Texas in November of 2009, the week of Thanksgiving, to a loving family and beautiful 2 month niece- Madelyn Kate, 1 year old niece- Allison Paige, and 5 year old, sweet Emily Claire.
- November of 2009- November of 2010, represent a time of questioning, a time of discovering why God had placed each thing in my path, knowing my time in Egypt and South Africa would largely impact my journey ahead, feeling the weight of responsibility that such experiences carry, and knowing it was time to move from staff at the church to smack dab in the middle of the community.
- Grandma McAfee- if you know me, you know about Grandma. My 6 months with her hold sweet memories, personal challenges, new friends, and a time of learning.
- In May of this year, I drove away from Grandma knowing it was time to teach, time to serve, time to move in the direction He was pointing.
Let's get a few things straight: Now is not the time to think of joining the education force. School districts across Texas and the nation are letting teachers go and scaling back in large amounts. Job fairs were cancelled. No jobs are posted online. So, I knew God had to pave the path. I knew the job that I would get would be the one where He wanted me.
Now, the question was where. Where to apply. Where to live. Where to be. The answer: Houston. Like my return to teaching, Houston was never top on my list. However, as God has softened my heart to the idea, He has shown me why Houston:
- Diveristy- I crave cultural diversity. I know I have much to learn from other cultures and since I knew God was saying the States, I knew it had to be in a place of great diversity.
- Egyptians- I have some pretty awesome Egyptian friends here that live for Jesus and desire to serve Him with all they have.
- 3 1/2 hours from Tyler. I love being close enough for visits with my nieces!
- Inner city- this is where I want to teach.
- Ministry opportunities are rampant!
2 weeks ago, a friend invited me to come serve at an International Soccer (Football) Tourney, http://www.nationssport.org/. I had no idea what this day would have in store for me. I arrived early and decided just to hang out and help as needed. During the opening ceremony, Alex introduced me to Rohan. The really cool part: Rohan and his wife, Sharon attended ALICT in 2006. Alex had no idea he was going to be there. We started talking and Rohan asked, so what are you doing now?
I always laugh at this question. It's hard to answer. So, I shared my heart. I moved here with the desire to work in an innercity school, in an area where there is a high drop out rate, and I want to serve the community around it. I know it will be hard, but I know it is what I am called to do.
The next few minutes seemed unreal, but often that is how God works. He wants the glory. He wants nothing of it to be given to us. Rohan knew of a school that was attempting to do just this. It would be their first year and they were deep in the hiring process. He wanted my resume that night to forward to the right people. I made some calls to a dear friend in Tyler, edited my resume, and emailed it at 12:30 am, Sunday morning. The following week was a whirlwind: phone call on Sunday, interview Monday, lots of waiting and praying, and a phone call on Friday with an official job offer.
I will be teaching at the Arrow Academy (Bethel Campus)- http://www.arrowacademy.com/. In reading the website, I knew this is exactly where God was pointing me. I did not just want to work with any school in any area. I want to use the leadership training, character development, cultural studies and all that God has allowed me to experience to bring about transformation. I know the journey will be tough. I know it will involve long hours, lots of tears, intense prayers, heart aches, and so much more but I know it will involve blessings as I live out the life God intended for me. I know it will hold a journey that only God can guide.
Listen to me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me. He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; And He has also made Me a select arrow. He has hidden Me in His quiver. He said to me, "You are My Servant, Israel, in Whom I will show My glory." But I said, "I have toiled in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord, And My reward with My God." Isaiah 49:1-5