Into the Heart of Dixie

Well folks, I’m back at it, heading out of State and into the wilds of another place. Alabama is a beautiful state full of trees, hills and mountains and is on the coast which boasts of beautiful beaches (or so I’ve heard) There’s hummingbirds, fruit trees, a cute, small city lined with trees and many southern people who are happy to put the groceries in the back of your trunk and ask you how your life is like they are an old friend.

How did I come upon such a job down in the southern state of Alabama? Here’s a crazy, fun story for you:

Since July I have been applying, interviewing, meeting people, asking around for jobs, showing my resume, giving out contact info, praying, seeking, knocking and finding nothing. Oh, I found plenty of jobs but I none of them sat right. They were too easy, the people didn’t want me, I didn’t like the family or situation, they weren’t going to pay me enough, the list goes on.

In August I went to Belize to be a nanny for a week for a family I knew. While there, I was asked if I would pray about being a nanny for a family down in Alabama. I had just began to sit on the idea of living in NY for awhile. I was getting tired of moving. I wanted to be with my friends and family. But hey, I needed a job and I was willing to pray about.

Fast forward to about two weeks later when I got home. I got a text message from a couple (grandparents of the kids that need a nanny) They asked if I would be willing to have a phone conversation with them to discuss the situation. I had a few job leads, but said I would be willing to talk about it. It was a few days later and we had a lovely conversation, I got to tell them about myself and they got to share their heart and why they were helping their daughter find a nanny for her two children.

I was a little skeptical about the whole thing. I had just gotten use to the idea of settling down at home, that I wouldn’t have to move around again. And yet, here I was suddenly day dreaming of packing up and moving to a state and place where I knew no one and nothing. Crazy. It was so crazy. Thankfully I had a handful of friends that were helping me process it and let me talk it out and had me backed in prayer.

After talking with the mother of the children about what life in Alabama looked like and learning more about her children, I began to realize that maybe it wasn’t time for me to settle down home just yet. I had a few jobs that I was looking at getting and when they fell through I gave the couple a call and let them know that I wanted to fly down to meet their family and see about being a nanny for them.

When I arrived I found this mama, strong, independent and single, raising two beautiful children. She’s so patient, free spirited and loving. She loves to laugh and has such a beautiful soul. She works on film and movie sets and is working 12-14 hours a day. While she’s doing that, her parents are helping drop/pick up the kids from school, make meals, have them spend the night at their house if Mama is at work and other.

I got to see the worst case situation which was mama being gone for a couple nights. This meant I had to take the kids to school, stay at home all day with the girl (or drop her off at school where she goes twice a week) And then pick them up, make meals, and put them to bed. Morning, noon and evening we had fun. We played with cars, pretended to be a family, played tag or hide-and-seek. I taught them how to play go-fish and we ran around outside or chilled in front of the T.V.

And then bedtime rolled around. My first night was awful. I tried to put them to bed (the boy went to sleep just fine) but the girl missed her mother and would not settle down. After nearly an hour, I finally gave up and called the grandparents who happened to be down the road at that time. Nana came over and sat the little girl down and talked to her before putting her to bed. While she was in there, I sobbed. I told God that if it was always going to be this emotional and hard, that if she didn’t go to bed for me, I couldn’t take it. After Nana came out we talked and after she left, I went to bed, exhausted from the evening.

But you know what, God is faithful and good and loving. For the next three nights after that, I didn’t have an issue. Sure, they put a fight (“It’s not bed time!” or “I miss mama!”) But they settled right down and were asleep within the next twenty-thirty minutes. I was over the moon in happiness! After that first night, I thought I wouldn’t survive. But God came through and helped me get through it and let those kids fall asleep easy.

Nights weren’t always easy. The kids would come into my room at night and I would miss a couple hours of sleep. Or I tossed and turned for an hour or two before barefeet padded into my room and tried to join me in my bed and I had to try to fall asleep with a child next to me. I didn’t mind until I was yawning the next day from the lack of sleep.

The days weren’t bad either. The grandparents would stop in and see me, visit or bring cousins to play with the younger ones. They showed me Birmingham, parks and hiking/biking trails. I got to see the grandparents house and explore their cute little village with their daughter on a golf cart (that reminded me of Belize.) I didn’t get to take them to the zoo, but that and the science center are within 20-30 minute drives from the house.

Through it all, it was a great experience. The family trusts me with their children, they have asked the kids if they like me and I got a vote of yes from both. Upon returning home, I gave myself a couple of days to think and pray but had peace the whole time. I’m going! I’m going to Alabama, a state and place where I know no one apart from this family but am so exciting! I have peace and know that this is the direction that God is calling me. It’s so crazy, but it’s so exciting. I’m praying that God will teach me a lot through this time. That I’ll gain confidence in new ways, that I’ll step out and make friends and that I’ll find through the hard times there will be growth of flowers and fruit through Christ.

I still don’t know when I’m leaving, but it I’m hoping to be down in AL before the end of the month. I’ll be driving down with my little car with some boxes of stuff. Right now I’m planning on giving myself a year. We’ll see where the Lord leads or if he tells me to stay. But right now, here and now, I’m content to see where what the Lord can do with me and how, through me stepping in to help this family, he in turn can use the family to farther his kingdom.

Until next time,

><>Heidi<><

The Curve of a Path

I always say I’m going to write more. And I do, I come up with great beginnings, have crazy tales and stories that fill pages of my blog and conclude it all with a cute postage stamp of endings. And no one but my brain ever gets to see them.
This one has been roaming my brain for awhile now. It’s been two months since I moved back to my NY home. Sometimes it feels like it’s been longer. Other days I miss FL so much it’s like I left yesterday. Since being home, I’ve done a lot of babysitting, I’ve applied to 7-10 full time jobs, I’ve looked on nanny website’s and applied to 30 or more. I’ve driven to about 5-7 interviews, meeting men and women looking for someone to join their team or family. I’ve made phone calls, talking myself up to make people believe that I have more then 10 years of experience, even though I have one year of college education. I’ve built up hope and then gotten to meet people or seen the daily environment and felt it all deflate because I didn’t feel comfortable or the job was too easy.
And through these past two weeks I constantly am taking pictures of nature and God’s beautiful creation that we get to enjoy. While babysitting and strolling through the zoo or in the woods of park paths. While walking with a friend on a hike or driving down the road (Don’t try that, it’s not safe!) I constantly have been having these pictures appear on my phone, these pictures of paths right before they disappear around a corner. Or they continue straight until I can’t see them in the distance. Or they are full of overgrown weeds and shrub and can barely be made out.
And that’s how I’ve been viewing life as God has been leading me. He takes me by the hand and we go down a path so straight I can’t see the end. Then it comes to a bend, a surprise on the other side. He helps me plow through a path that hasn’t been cleared in a long time, a hard trail but an adventure like the rest. We come to creeks and streams, wading through cold water or hopping over rocks to keep our shoes dry. But there’s always bends and curves in the path. There are always a corner on the path of life that brings unknowns.
And that’s where I’ve been for the past couples weeks and months. Since returning from Belize, most of the jobs I’ve thought were in the future have fallen through. I turn around the bend in the road and there’s more jobs to apply to, more people to meet, more time that felt like it was spent in pursuing the wrong dream. Thankfully none of it has been a waste. I’ve met a lot of great people, made some connections and found people who want me if I ever went back to those jobs. But that job that God has said, “This this,” hasn’t appeared yet. Instead I just trudge on around corner after corner, thinking there’s a huge surprise and instead, there’s more disappointment and deep breaths to keep myself calm and not blow up.
I’ve recently come down to two nanny jobs. I’ve been praying and praying about which way to go. Do I take the left job or right job. (We all know it needs to be right! HA!) But seriously, if I take one, it’s fun and I get to thrive in new ways. If I take the second, it’s crazy and I get to learn to be confident in new ways. Both are blessing people, both are tugging my heart strings and with children I can never decide.
I have this love/hate feeling with choices. They are great to have, and I’m thankful for them but I don’t like having to choose. And so I’m sitting in the middle of a road, praying about which direction. God can bless us where ever we go. But he always has a direction and adventure that he wants to share with us and we need to learn to listen to his voice and follow that path that he wants to take us on.
In all, I’m enjoying life. Being home with family is great, I love having friends close by and NY state is beautiful to nature (and many paths!) I have jobs galore that pull me everywhere and many positive dreams for the future. I just have choices I don’t want to make yet, and am unsure about.
Thankfully, through all of the craziness, God is constant. He’s our rock, a strong foundations. When life gets weedy, he’s always right there, helping plant flowers of color. He shows us where to build our house so when these rains comes we can withstand the storms through him. He’s always protecting and loving, and leading his children. He knows what challenges are ahead and he’s always ready to take us by the hand and take us around the corner, to that one surprise and new adventure that will change our lives forever.
Knowing what that new adventure is, I’m not sure, but I’m excited to see where he leads me next.

><>Heidi<><

Same Island, New Home

For the past few days I have been in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye Island. While in the previous two years I have stayed at Youth With A Mission: Destination Paradise (YWAM DP) that base is sadly no longer on the island. The Esquivel family have since moved to a house in town, about 15 min from where the base was located.
This house is such an adorable place. It stands next to a river that little motor boats come down on, and is off the main road, giving less traffic and people. It’s less then a 5 minute walk to the ocean, but it does involve crossing the main road. At the end of the drive is Casa Pandulce Bakery, full of delightful smells and temptations.
Getting to see the children and family in their new environment, and ministry has been a great blessing, as I’ve been a little out of how they do life now that they have switched to the ministry Shine (See here for more details: http://shinebelize.org/  Side note, they are also in the process of making a new website)
While Alyssa has been called at this time for the ministry of her family and being a full time mom to her kids (Not to say she never was, but compared to where she use to have me as a nanny) She still does weekly women’s bible studies, encourages the workers at Shine, and helping to coordinate meetings and try new ideas.
Israel has been meeting up daily with men to counsel and mentor them. Getting to go to the RTF training (Restoring The Foundations) has been a blessing as he continues getting with other men of the island.
Watching the Esquivel’s in this new place and new ministry, I think has been good. They seem to be thriving so well. Where at YWAM they were constantly on the go, here they are more relaxed and can spend more family time together. With their old ministry, they had to be up early and sometimes out late. Here, Alyssa can be with the kids most mornings, but other mornings Israel can let her sleep in and watch the kids until he has to leave in the morning. They have their own yard they can play with the kids in, a house that is their own to paint, decorate and build in the way they dream, and probably much more.
I don’t want it to sound like they weren’t thriving while at their old ministry. They had a lot that the base offered (unlike a house bill) They were able to go out to the beach, right outside their house (unlike walking 5 min down the road to a sea-grass covered sand and no dock to jump off) But seeing them in a new space, with more family time, there is a new sense of freedom, love and adventure that flows through this family.
I love watching the devotion this family has for each other, Christ, their new ministry and house. It’s such a beautiful thing and I’m super thankful to get to see this side of their family life, in ways I never have before.

Enough about the family that I love so much. I’m loving their new place. The showers are cold, but toilets are behind closed doors, not curtains (Thank you Jesus) My bedroom has A/C and I don’t have to share with five other people. There are fresh banana’s, amazing tortillas that Alyssa makes and lemonade, cold from the fridge. There’s a balcony/porch outside, which is shaded in the afternoon, and recently has been having a refreshing breeze.
I got to town the other day to catch up with another friend, who happened to be in my school and Casita when I was in the Discipleship Training School at YWAM DP. It was so nice to catch up on life and hear all that she’s doing to serve the Lord here. God has blessed her with perseverance and love and courage and she has always inspired me and still does.
Before I met up with her, I took a 10-15 minute walk through town to the Artisan where there are many vendors selling homemade touristy items (bags, blankets, shawls, jewelry, wood carvings and more) I was looking around for some necklaces for my sisters and I to share. The creativity these people have in their booths kept making me gasp. So many beautiful items and only so much money. But it was fun learning different kinds of stones, seeds and wood that are used to make the different items.
While I have been helping in small ways to watch the kids since arriving on the island, I’ve had a lot of down time and have been using that to scroll through social media, reading books, playing with the kids and talking to Alyssa. It’s been nice to relax after a long week of nannying.
While I’m looking forward to returning home, I’m thankful for this time with this beautiful family. Being a nanny, watching relationships grow and flourish, getting to explore this beautiful island and country, it’s all been a blessing from the Lord. I’m so grateful for the opportunities that God has given me over the past few years. And to be a blessing, that brings Glory to Him, that’s the greatest opportunity of all.

><>Heidi<><

Nannying at Machaca

Here’s a blog of pictures, and me trying to explain the set up of how my week looked. Hopefully between my last blog post and these pictures, something will make sense!

This was my cabin. There’s a set of stairs on each side and my bedroom (that had 5 bunk-beds) is all the way to the top left. The first door on the bottom left is where the toilets were located, and the second door was where the showers were. Right in front of it are two sinks.
This is what the bathroom looked like, just a row of toilets hidden behind shower curtains. I was a little more or less shocked.
The showers. There are three others on the other side. They were not a great shock. But seeing the lizard one night (6 inches or longer) kinda spooked me.
This is the pipe which the ‘shower’ came out of. They are on a well system, which means the water (unless used in the middle of the day when the sun had warmed it) was usually always ice cold. The first couple nights it was refreshing. the last night it was quite cold. P.S: This was my favorite shower HA!

The best part about the whole base was the playground they had imported from USA. We spent hours there and the kids enjoyed themselves so much!

Faith leading us to the playground. It was a huge blessing. I was asked by someone what I would have done if it wasn’t there. The only thing I could think of was exploring more of the grounds and jungle.
The kids loved the challenge of climbing up the slides. This day it had just rained, so it made climbing extra harder and more giggles.
On some days when it was a little more hot, we took a coloring book and crayons out to the playground, to enjoy the outside, but have something to do in the shade for awhile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was harder to get pictures of baby Ben because as soon as I set him down in the rock covered playground, he would try and put them in his mouth. But when he wasn’t sleeping or eating, he was usually right outside with us. Or sitting in his crib so my arms could have a break from all the carrying.

Apart from when he was tired or hungry, this guy was so happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here are a lot of random pictures of Machaca camp. The jungle may be intense at times, but it’s such a beautiful place and the beauty has captured my heart so much. Some of the trees remind me of ones on the island of San Pedro. (Beware, there is a spider picture below!)

Signs to where everything was.
Their sign at the highway. It’s another mile or so into the jungle before one gets to the base

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not a great picture, but this little guy was incredible. He spun his web, and that night we had an awful rain storm. The next morning he was gone, but by that evening, he had spun his web again. This happened one more time! I pointed him out to one of the other ladies and she went up and touched him with her finger, showing me he was not dangerous.

While I didn’t take many pictures, I hope that you have enjoyed the few I have. It was such a fun experience, getting to drive to Punta Gorda and nannying at the Machaca base. I love these precious children and family and beautiful country that God has placed in my life.

 

Until next time!

><>Heidi<><

Babies, Back Road Drives and Bush Bathrooms

I apologize for the length of this post. On my word document where I’ve been writing this up, it was about 5 and 1/2 pages long. I wanted to post every day separately, but didn’t get wifi till my last night, and even then I didn’t have my computer to transfer everything to my blog.
I am currently on San Pedro, where the Esquivel’s have their new home. I’m excited to get to spend another 6 days with them, before I return home on the 17. While I was going to add pictures to this post, I will wait for another day when I have more time and it won’t be adding to this one.
Many blessings and thanks to all who have helped me in getting to Belize. Enjoy this lots,

<>Heidi<><

(P.S. I didn’t actually go through and fix possible spelling mistakes, grammar, or any sentences that may have come to a complete stop or are missing words to them. It’s too long. Sorry for the rough draft of this!)

Day One: August 5th

The trip to Belize was like most of the other few times I’ve traveled down south. I left early in the morning, being dropped off by my dad, I hoped that I would make it through security (always did) and found my gate. I arrived at Atlanta, Georgia before flying out to the sweet southern shores of the island Ambergris Caye.

I guess the only things different about this trip were: I wasn’t staying longer than 3 months. And I wasn’t traveling to the sandy shores of that island right away.

Normally, after praying that Customs lets me into Belize, I head right over to the Tropic Air flight, which takes me on a puddle hopper plane (8 passenger plane) and I arrive 20 minutes to blue green, clear water, salty air, amazing food and happy people. This time, I took an immediate right, instead of continuing on through to Tropic Air, and found the family I’m nannying for!

Alyssa and Israel have three children. Faith is 4, Josiah is nearly 3 and Benaiah is almost 10 months. Josiah was there with Alyssa, waiting for me at the gate. He got all shy when he saw me and hid his face behind his mom. We walked to the car and I looked through the windshield and saw Faith giggling on the inside. She was all smiles. I climbed into the big, gray/tan SUV that filled me with fun past memories.
Let me explain something. I think it’s hard for people of one culture to go into another and not want to change that culture. (I, Heidi Southwick, American female stepping into the third world country Belize, find it hard) Doing things that are different from what I’m use to are sometimes hard. Like buckling two children under 5 into a seat that may not hold them if the van took a turn for the worst and ended up tipping onto it’s side. But I’m also fairly flexible, so after learning their parents did want them to be buckled, I tucked those two cute kiddos in, buckled myself in, and we started off.

I’ve heard stories from my brothers who went to Haiti about the crazy drivers who would drive fast and be swerving all over to miss potholes. Our driver was that way. Israel likes to drive fast. Down here, there’s a speed limit of 45–55 mph, but no one seems to drive that. And there may be two yellow lines down the middle of the road, but it doesn’t stop people from passing others. They call it a highway and the dirt mixed with rocks and concrete reminded of our old back country roads in America.

That drive was suppose to take 5-6 hours and instead was 3-4. And I somehow didn’t end up with gray hair in the process.

If one looks at a map, we started in Belize City and traveled down south to Punta Gorda where the parents are taking an intensive training course to certify them to counsel people. The training is taking place at a Christian camp, where there are some other training’s going on. The camp name is Machaca and is out in the bush. The jungle. Literally off the highway, followed by a looooooong dirt path, and park the car, walk about a quarter mile and finally you find my cabin. Or house on stilts.

And that brings me to what I wanted to most write about. My new living quarters.

I arrived here in Belize hot, sweaty and gross. It was about 10 before I finally found where I was sleeping and able to gather my thoughts as to how I wanted to tackle this first night. I decided that I was going to take a shower and quickly gathered my things together. I headed out of my bedroom and walked outside, down the stairs where underneath the door to the bathrooms resides. I went inside and found 5-6 toilets that were hidden behind shower curtains (that weirded me out at first), all just waiting to be used. One had a toad sitting near it, another had a fairly large spider nearby and another had dead bugs floating inside. I found one that looked somewhat clean, closed the curtain that hung on a PVC pipe and prayed a rat or snake wouldn’t slide up. And afterwords it barely flushed. I decided to never use that one again.

After that I tip-toed my way over to the showers that were also under our bedroom, but farther down from the bathroom. Like the bathroom area, there were 6 showers with curtains hanging on PVC pipe, and the shower themselves being pipe. I glanced around and after seeing a toad in one, spider in another, dead centipede in another, I chose the one with the dead bug. It had a light right above it and bench outside the shower, but nearby so I could put my stuff on without it getting dirty or wet.

That shower was so nice. It felt smooth coming out, it wasn’t too cold, but it wasn’t warm either. It was refreshing. It reminded me of a waterfall, so soothing and relaxing.

I’m not sure what this next week is going to bring me. I’ve lost a lot of sleep, have no idea what my schedule looks like, and have wondered several times what I got myself into. But I’m excited about this journey, what I’ll learn, what I’ll do, how God will use me to build his kingdom, even if I don’t see it right away. This is something new, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

Day Two: August 6th

Well, today was exciting. Tiring. And look at that, it’s 7:16 PM and I’m still not done with my day yet.

I heard last night that breakfast was at 7:30. The past couple weeks I’ve been waking up around 6:30, so I figured that I would have plenty of time to get ready before breakfast. I forgot about the time difference though. Belize is an hour behind NY. And with USA doing their Daylights Savings, Belize is now 2 hours behind NY. (My 7:19 PM is your 9:19 PM. If you aren’t in Eastern Daylight Time, I have no idea what the time difference is)

Back to what I was saying, I wanted to give myself time to get ready in the morning without being rushed. Maybe even have time for a quick devotional. I woke up a couple times and checked my clock to see if I had to get up, as I was still really tired. Finally, around 5:30 this morning, I woke up and decided that it was a good time to get up as it was getting light out, and I was having trouble trying to get back to sleep. (It was later in the day that I realized it was my body’s natural time to start getting up)

I got out of bed, got my things together, and headed out for the mess hall. As the light began to reveal things I hadn’t been able to notice before, I saw that it was quite a pretty area that we are located. Like I said, it’s jungle and the bush, but the palm fronds are beautiful, coconut trees are planted along walkways and the sidewalk had pretty colored rocks, forming shapes and words. I also learned that the walk to the mess hall is a lot longer then I realized. Plus where the family is staying is even farther down the path then I realized. (Earlier I said it was a quarter mile walk…that may be a huge exaggeration. But it does feel far when one has to grab something quick from their room before their ‘break’ is over)

I arrived at the mess hall and found a man and woman in the back making breakfast. I asked if they had water, due to having drunk all mine the night before. They pointed to a filter tucked away behind the door. After getting my water, I took a quiet table (maybe they were all quiet that early in the morning…) and made myself at home. I read my bible (after about 5 months of slowly chugging through 1st and 2nd Chronicles, I’m super excited to begin Ezra) I went through my prayer list and even had time to journal. A few other people had come in and out during that time, but no one bothered me.

After finishing writing, I had still more time, so I was skimming social media, when someone came around, cleaning the tables. I thought it was weird that he was cleaning them 5 minutes before everyone arrived. A bus full of other students showed up and I waited for the family to show up.

Instead of explain every little detail about my morning like I’ve been doing, let me skip to the good parts. I had breakfast, talked to Alyssa quick about how the morning looked, walked quickly to my cabin to change out my bible and journal for a book, and met the parents and kids at the playground.

Basically, I have the kids from 8:30 AM, until 12:00 PM, when we have lunch together. Then I’m with them from 12:45 until 5, then dinner, then again from 5:45 to 9pm.

I have about another hour and half and I’m already yawning.

I completely wore those kids out today. The camp here has a full playground, much to my surprise. They shipped it in from the USA and is great material, size and is loads of fun. There are swing sets, though sadly there are no baby ones. But the kids and I had so much fun pretending we were a troll about to eat each other, or climbing all over the playground, playing with friends who were there, or just looking for colored rocks, sifting through the ones that the playground sits on. (Josiah is great at finding clear white ones.)

It was hard to figure out what to do with Benaiah that he would enjoy. He at that hard age where he puts every little thing in his mouth. I couldn’t put him down because all the rocks were so small and as soon as he got a fist full, it was headed for his mouth. And I couldn’t let him crawl a lot on the playground, as it was hot from the sun. He couldn’t swing. He couldn’t climb. He couldn’t slide. So I held him a lot today. I did let him crawl or walk on the rocks while holding his hands. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the week plays out with him.

Josiah loves to try things his sister can do. She’s swinging, he’s there. She’s climbing up ladders, he’s right behind her. She’s trying to climb up the hardest entrance part (a drop about 5 feet off the ground without anything there, except a rope ladder on the side that they climb up and boost themselves onto the open landing) and he’s right there, watching her do it so he’s familiar with how to go about it when it’s his turn.

What I love about Josiah trying new stuff, is that Faith encourages him to do it. She shows him how to do it better, (or how he’s doing it wrong) She pulls him along and lets him come with her. She constantly yells at him to come with her, to follow her. Faith loves to be a winner. There is a set of slides, paired up right next to each other. The two kids will sit at the time and when I say go, they race to see who can get to the bottom first. Most always, Faith is the first down and she proudly announces, “I’m the winner!”

Today it was raining on and off, so we didn’t spend all our time at the park, though a majority of it was there. We came into the family’s house and got snack, colored, changed diapers, had lots and lots of water (Josiah is like a parched desert. I’ve never seen anyone that little drink so much during the day) I allowed the kids some time on their tablet, to unwind and be quiet while I got their brother to sleep. We played I SPY while we waited for Ben to settle down and fall asleep. I showed them the creek by my cabin (It’s literally only a non-flowing ditch.) Faith was hoping that a snake would try and chase us while we were there. Thankfully nothing like that happened.

All in all, my time so far is nothing like I had dreamed up or am use to. And while my hours got a lot longer, it hasn’t been bad. The kids are great. Faith is super helpful and listens well. Josiah loves to explore (that can be a good or bad thing) but keeps up as best as he can. And Benaiah is so happy and joyful. I don’t have much I could complain about when it comes to the kids. Things like dirty bathrooms, gross showers, the hot sticky weather that makes me drown in stinky sweat, those are the things that I can complain about. But I won’t, because I don’t know that I have had this much fun loving kids since I last saw them over 6 month ago. There’s a lot that I’m thankful for and I don’t want to ruin the good with bad.

Off to tomorrow!

Day three and four: August 7th & 8th

Both yesterday and today it rained at night. Hard. And loud thunder. I woke up to find the rain coming in through the screened window. I couldn’t close it, because that’s all it is, a window with screen in front. Most, if not all, of the windows around here are like that. It keeps everything cooled, but also keeps the mosquitoes (mostly) out. When it’s raining though, all bugs try and find their way into the cabin.

Yesterday was actually kind of relaxing. Benaiah slept until nearly 11 and it didn’t rain at all in the morning, which gave me and the kids the chance to play for about two hours at the playground. We like to play Troll (some of us stomp around on the top of the bridge on the playground and then the ‘troll’ gets mad and tries to chase us away. We play hide-and-seek. Or have races on the slides. Or sell foods and desserts using the rocks that cover the ground of the play area.

After Benaiah woke up, we played outside a little longer, until it was nearly lunch time. I got the kids over to the mess hall and we had lunch.

Speaking of food…

Meals here are similar to the ones I had at YWAM DP (Youth With A Mission Destination Paradise) There is a lot of eggs, chicken, rice, and beans in the meals. Except yesterday we had pancakes and banana’s for breakfast! I love pancakes and banana’s.

Back to yesterday…

After we ate lunch, I ran to my cabin to put some stuff back and grab my raincoat, as it was thundering in the distance and getting cloudier. I made it to the playground where the kids were and found three cranky babies. I guess Josiah wasn’t really cranky. But the other two were tired. I took them back to our cabin and had Faith and Josiah lay down on their bed and gave Benaiah a bottle and laid him down.

Within thirty minutes all three were asleep! And they stayed asleep for another two hours! With the extra time, I relaxed with a book and tried to get onto some social media to see what people up North are doing. It was quite relaxing though, having that time to read and think through life.

After they woke up, I took the older kids outside to look at the nature that surrounded the pathway to their house. We found a big fat, green caterpillar and the kids tried to make a house out of leaves and sticks for him. Josiah would try and put him on a leaf to carry him, and Faith kept telling him he was going to hurt the little guy. Eventually they put on the ground and he disappeared. Faith told me he crawled into a cave and was going to turn into a butterfly.

It was nearly dinner time, so I went with the kids to play the playground until Alyssa came and we went to get dinner. We had soup (with rice and chicken) and afterwords we went to town to the ice cream with a few other friends of Alyssa’s. I wasn’t too impressed with the ice cream, but it was a nice treat.

As I said earlier, it down poured again last night. I woke up at one point and one of the ladies from across the way was going out when it was pouring rain. It was so loud, thunder and lighting and this brave soul scurried down to the bottom of the cabin, probably to use the restroom. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

The kids were very active this morning, full of lots of energy. We ran around on the playground with a friend who lives here at Machaca. Suddenly, large drops started to fall. I had the kids get their shoes on, we grabbed the snack and water bottle we brought and scurried next door to the mess hall, where we eat our meals. We made it just in time, for it soon started to downpour. And for over an hour it didn’t let up.

Finally around 10:45 I told the kids we had to head back to the house. Benaiah was still napping and I didn’t want him to wake up and find us all gone. But I didn’t want to, as it was still pouring rain. I took a deep breath and called the kids over. We got our shoes on, gather our belongings and I grabbed Josiah’s hand. We walked out, still protected by the tin roof of the mess hall. I was debating whether to pick Josiah up or put him on my back, when Faith ran out into the rain and looked at me smiling! I just laughed with her and pulled Josiah out with me into the rain. “Come on, let’s run!” I said to him and we scurried through the dirt and mud and headed down towards the house.

When we arrived, wet from the rain, at the house, Benaiah was still fast asleep. I had the kids sit and color for awhile and soon the sweet talking of a baby was heard. I pulled Benaiah out, crib and all, from his room. He was happy to see me. After a diaper change, I gave him a bottle and had the kids (who by this point weren’t sharing the crayons and coloring book well) go to their room and play with the cars magnate board they have.

We played in the house for an hour before we finally got out our boots and rain coats. By this time it had stopped raining, and the even the sun was out, but I wanted the kids dry in case it started to rain again.

The afternoon is a blur. Plus I’m writing this part two days later, so I can’t remember everything that happened. Lunch, playground, cranky kids, nap, playground again, dinner, playground, and possibly me putting them to bed. Though it may have been their parents.

Day five and six: August 9th & 10th

Thursday morning was like any other, apart from sleeping in about 45 minutes longer then usual. The family appeared at breakfast, we ate, we went to the playground, there was a little rain, Benaiah woke up on the earlier side. We played on the playground again, we had lunch, the kids played some more at the park and finally they took a nap. Benaiah woke up first, so after another twenty-thirty minutes, I took him in and he helped me wake them up. Josiah didn’t like that.

We were starting to pack up and head to the park before dinner when Alyssa came down the drive and reminded me that dinner was 4:15. Why they have it so early, I have no idea. We had supper and after talking to Israel, he took the kids to the park while I took Benaiah. It’s hard to run around the playground while carrying a baby and I knew that Israel wanted to have some quality time without having to worry about the baby. After fifteen minutes it started to sprinkle, so I took the baby with me to the house and fed him some baby puffs while we waited for the rest of the kids and their dad to arrive.

They finally appeared, soaked from playing in the rain. I helped get the kids washed off and pj’s out before I got off for the evening. I took some time to journal and got to bed early.

Today is the last day for classes. Alyssa and Israel are so busy with these intense, long courses, I’m not sure how they aren’t worn out yet. I met them for breakfast and after we ate, I took the kids to the house to lay baby Ben down. I left with the older two and we headed to the playground. It has been sunny all day and we enjoyed ourselves a lot.

After about an hour, it was very hot and I wanted to get Faith out of the pants and get water into both kids. We went to the house and Ben was awake, smiling and ready for some fun. We had snack, all three getting cheerios, plus granola for Faith and Josiah. About 45 min before lunch, I took them back to the park and we played until heading to the mess hall to find their parents. We had lunch, and afterwords, Alyssa brought Benaiah back to lay down, while I went to play with the kids on the playground where Israel had them.

We ran around with our friend who came to join us, and while playing one of the guys from the staff stood over a small stream, staring into it. I called to him and asked if there was an animal (part of me was hoping it would be a snake, I’ve been wanting to see a boa or python or something large) He said there were fish. Josiah and I didn’t have our shoes on and there are fire ants all over, but I scooped him up and we ran over to see the fish. They were tiny, no larger then my hand. The guy had given them some tortilla from his lunch and there were cat fish and some other small fish eating at it. Faith wanted to go in and catch it.

We played a little longer at the playground, until I was chasing the kids and hurt my toe on the hot slide I was going down. I had the kids rest a second before we put their shoes on and I brought the two kids to the house. After having some juice, they passed out on the bed and that’s where they are now.

I’m expecting the rest of this evening will go just as the same as always. Benaiah will wake up soon (usually does around 3) and I’ll get Josiah and Faith up around 3:30. I’ll have them eat a little something, then we’ll head to the park before dinner which is at 4:15.

But will that happen? We’ll see!

(P.S. It totally did happen that way!)

After we had dinner the RTF (Restoring The Foundations) training was complete and Alyssa and Israel had their graduation ceremony with all the other students! We tried to have the kids in the room, but after awhile, they got bored, so I took them outside to play with rocks while I held Ben and watched from the open door.

It was so cool to get to see the impact I had. While I’ve been working behind the scenes, just watching these three kids, these two parents have been working hard at this training (9+ hours some days!) And are finally certified to counsel to the hurting of San Pedro Island. And I helped in a small way of using my gifts. It felt like my last night with the family, but in fact, I get to travel with them to the island of Ambergris Caye where they live.

Last Thoughts
While this post is super long, I’m thankful for those who have stuck through it to the end. Through Christ and your giving and prayers I was able to make it to Belize and do something small that will lead to something bigger and better in the future. When we support and help those around us, God can use it in mighty ways. And for that, I’m very thankful and grateful for the love that many of you have shown to me during the past couple months as I’ve prepared in coming to Belize. Thank you so much from the depths of my heart.
I shall try and write again soon, add a lot of photos and share this week in a more spread out way!

Back to Belize

July 27, 2018

Dear Friends and Family,

I’m excited to be sharing another journey that God placed on my heart. As you may know, for 3 months in 2016 and 9 months in 2017, I served as a volunteer nanny for a missionary family in San Pedro, Belize, as well as Virginia, USA. They have a 4-year old girl, a 2-year old boy and a 9-month old boy. With much prayer and encouragement from my church, I will volunteer for two weeks in August to nanny for the Esquivels on the island of San Pedro. Israel has been working with local men hosting monthly men’s nights and weekly Bible studies. Alyssa is part of the team launching a women’s program through the ministry Shine and monthly women’s nights. I will be traveling to southern Belize to nanny the three kids so that Israel and Alyssa can take intensive counseling training to become RTF counselors. Check out this link to learn more: https://www.restoringthefoundations.org/

I want to ask you to join me in this new experience and journey. A short-term mission trip like this requires financial support, and I believe that through you God will make this possible. I need to raise about $1,000 to cover travel, medical insurance, phone bill, and other expenses. I believe that this investment of time, money, and prayer will be worthwhile and that, through this trip, God will use me to touch lives and bring glory to His name.

While financial support is important, I want to emphasize the importance of supporting me in prayer. This is the most significant way you can partner with me as I follow what God has laid on my heart to do. Without prayer, nothing is possible, but with God, all things are possible. Below is a list of prayer requests for me:

  • Safety in travel to and from Belize and with the family to southern Belize

  • My health and safety in the environment and country

  • Serving selflessly as I nanny so that Israel and Alyssa can use their gifts to serve others

If you would like to be a part of this mission experience through prayer or financial support, please see below. I look forward to serving this family again and am grateful for any support you choose to provide.

In God’s grace and love,

Heidi Southwick

To help financially send to: Syracuse Alliance Church

3112 Midland Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13205

Put on Memo line: Short Term Mission Fund

Email me or provide prayer support: farmergirl@tojfarm.com

Thoughts From a Beautiful Girl

These thoughts have been roaming around in my head for a couple months and I wanted to get it off my mind and written out. It’s the thought of being beautiful in a broken world. (Boys, don’t stop reading, this is good stuff)

I grew up surrounded by boys. For 10 years I was the only girl with 7 brothers. But even after 15 years and having two younger sisters, I never thought much about beauty. I was content in where I was. I had insecurities about myself (having hair grow in normal places, going through puberty and the billion pimples or large manly shoes for my large feet) But I could look in the mirror and pick out my favorite features. Eyes that were my dad’s blue but also my mom’s hazel. My long brown hair. My smile. My skin that tanned easily.

Deep down inside the depths of myself, I knew that I was beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made. God looked at me and was enthralled by my beauty. And I walked in that positive knowledge.

But one day I with a bunch of my friends and we were talking about ourselves and our bodies. Many of my girl friends looked into the mirror and saw their big thighs, love handles, skinny arms, frizzy hair, and countless other flaws. And as we sat there, I began to wonder about it. If these girls, who were stunningly beautiful, didn’t like themselves, was there something wrong with me who wasn’t nearly as beautiful as them?

Was I wrong to have ignored the way I hated things about myself? Had I missed something while growing up with boys, such as realizing that I actually wasn’t as beautiful as I had originally thought? Was this the way that girls were suppose to act, suppose to think and was I doing it all wrong? I needed to fit into the world of women and this must be the way to go about it.

That’s about when the enemy planted a seed that something was wrong with me. I began to teach myself to find the small things I didn’t like. I began to wish away parts of my body I had never thought of before. But in trying to change the bad, I began to lose sight of the good. I remember being so excited when I found stretch marks on my leg because then I shared some flaw like my friend. I slowly “fit” into the group of “imperfectly, flawed women”.

It’s recently that I came to realize that these kind of thoughts are not meant to be for me. I tried hard to convince my friends that I’m as imperfect as they are, but they wouldn’t hear of it. When I tried to tell people what was wrong with myself, “My waist is big, my feet are too long, my nose is bumpy, I have a large belly…” And so on, they would turn and glare at me. “Heidi, you are gorgeous just the way you are, so shut up and stop it.” I would usually laugh it off and stop, but it hurt in a way.

What was I suppose to do after that? I don’t fit in with the crowd of girls that hate themselves because I am too pretty for that. But knowing I’m beautiful and love myself the way I am is almost something to be ashamed of in this day and age. When did girls have to try and fit into the world when they were their own unique kind of beautiful?

With all that being said, I love myself for the way God has made me (okay, I would prefer a size 7 in shoes and maybe straighter nose) But I love looking in the mirror from any angle and finding the little things I love about myself. (My eyes and smile are still my go to.) I love compliments from people, but don’t need them because I compliment myself all the time.

Something I love about recent singers or actors is how they are loving themselves no matter their size, complexion, hair color, skin color or weight. I’ve heard so many songs (sung by women) who are trying to get this generation to stand with them and love their bodies as they are. And that’s what I need more of; women who love themselves, despite how they look.

I do believe that it’s good to be healthy. I’ve been heavier than I wanted to be and lighter than I wished, but despite what the scale numbers try to say, I can love myself for how I am now, while I’m trying to change it. I still wear make up on days when I want extra pop and sparkle or hats to cover my frizzy hair or hope that necklaces will draw the attention away from my blotchy face. While it’s not easy, loving myself in a world that tries to lie and say I’m flawed, it’s something that I find is worth it at the end of the day.

I guess it comes down to: love yourself for who you are, beautiful girl. (or handsome guy) Don’t be afraid of what the world will think when you have a heavenly Father who thinks you’re a beautiful, unfinished masterpiece. Don’t worry what the scale says, what your friends say, or how you see yourself in the mirror. The enemy will do anything to lie to you (I mean, he did it to Adam and Eve at the beginning of time and all through history so I doubt he’ll stop now) But taking that stand for how you love yourself in who you are and who Christ has made you to be, that’s your true beauty.

This has been thoughts from a beautiful girl’s brain.

><>Heidi<><

Bittersweet Moments

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Many of the items that are in bold and underlined are good ways to describe how the past couple weeks have gone for me. And unfortunately many of them are more negative and sad. There has been weeping and a sad mourning. I have broken down crying more times then I wish to count. I’ve have lost something dear to me and I was the one who had to cast it away. This was the time for me to speak up, to love and hate at once. It is a time for me to longer embrace.

I have had to come to a place where I needed to tear someone out of my life, a man who once held my heart. It wasn’t all his fault, I’m not where near perfect. I was holding back my feelings, trying to get through life, not wanting my rays of sunshine to darken. But the choices that were being made towards me and the direction I saw my life heading were not ones I cared for, nor deserved.

There is a time to laugh or dance, and while I look forward to that time, right now I am in a bittersweet moment. I am giving up something so dear to me and have to turn and walk the other way. The life that I had hoped would work out is no longer a life that I want. The plans I made, the dreams I schemed, the love that I felt has all been shattered. According to the one verse, there is a time to kill. I guess you could say that I killed my relationship.

I never wanted things to go this way. I never wanted anyone to get hurt, myself included. I never wanted to have to go through my photos and decide if I should just cut myself out or burn the whole box. I never thought I would have to talk to so many people, trying to heal broken hearts that can’t be fixed. I never thought I would have so many tears in this bittersweet moment.

I say bittersweet for it’s a hard time. It’s not easy to swallow or chew. But it’s sweet for many good things are coming from this sad situation. I’ve seen forgiveness. I’ve seen true sadness and hurt and love. I’ve seen that moment in eyes when they express how sorry they are for all that has happened. I’ve heard people tell me they love me despite what happens, that no matter what, I’m welcome into their home. There is so much I am thankful for through this whole sticky situation. It just sucks it happened this way.

It all sounds so sad, reading what I just wrote. It has been tough. I’ve had so many people that I’ve had to talk to, cry with, share sad news with and grieve over the things that may never or won’t ever happen. But in reality, I am okay. I’m doing good. I had time to people, pray to God and think through these choices and know I’m okay. It hurts and there are times where I begin to wish differently. But I’m okay. And I will be okay.

With all this, I have chosen to leave Florida. It has been a grand adventure and I think that if I had to do anything different, I wouldn’t. It was hard and I hated it here at first. But Florida is beautiful and different, exciting and sunny warm. The friends I’ve made will always be a part of my heart. I loved my job at the preschool and it breaks my heart that I will be stepping out of the precious kids lives. But choices are arising and no one but myself can decide what I’m going to do with my life.

My next step to return to New York by the end of June, where I will live with my family while I find work and grieve the life that I had hoped. I need time to gather my thoughts, figure out where I’m heading in life and what I value. I want to grieve, heal, grow and allow God to clean out some closets that I’ve locked up.

There is a season for everything and this is my season of sadness. But there is joy in the morning, hope for the uncertain, grace for the hopeless and beauty for the broken. I’m not glad things happened this way, but I’m glad for the time I had, and for the future of hope, peace and love.

Keep me in your prayers if you remember, and hopefully I’ll be back, posting about my new, crazy fun adventures in New York with my family and friends. I don’t know what may be at the end of this rainstorm, but you can be sure that I will be looking for the colorful rainbow.

><>Heidi<><

Preschool @ The Springs

Walk with me through a lot of details before I get to the stories of my awesome, challenging, amazing job!

Preschool @ The Springs is where I currently work. They are located in a mega church (Church @ The Springs) have children from ages 1 to 5, and while they say preschool, it’s more of a daycare. We have 7 rooms that have different ages:
Caterpillar and Butterfly – They have 1-2yo, but mostly 1’s.
Busy Bees – 2-3yo, but mostly 2’s.
Grasshopper – 2-3yo and they have a even amount of both.
Snails – 3-5yo, though most are around age 3 or 4 with a handful being 5.
Dragonflies and Fireflies – The actual preschool rooms. Children come in the morning and stay until noonish. (I don’t actually know much about those rooms because I’ve never been placed in them.

The ratio’s for children down here in Florida are different (from what I’ve heard) from the state of New York. I was talking to my sister-in-law recently and I think I scared her from ever moving to Florida.
1yo – 6 children to 1 teacher
2yo – 11 children to 1 teacher
3yo – 15 children to 1 teacher
4yo – 20 children to 1 teacher
5yo – 25 children to 1 teacher
It can be intimidating, having 15 little 3 year old toddlers running around, making messes and going crazy. But thankfully, I have not yet dwelt with that yet. (YET!) And hopefully won’t have to!

Rules and codes are also super important in a preschool. My favorite (not really) is washing hands. When I change a child, I have to wipe down the changing area and wash my hands, even if I wore gloves. Even if I use hand sanitizer after wearing gloves. I have to wash my hands. (It makes me inwardly cringe. I’ve washed away so many of my good germs with the bad.) Change the child, wipe the changing area, wash hands, change child, wipe, wash, change, wipe, wash, over and over and over.
There are school rules about dress (which again is good) and keeping our phones out of the room we are in (so it’s not distracting) They encourage us to write about the preschool, and share what’s going on, but to stay positive and shine things in the right light.
There’s more codes during nap time. The mats have to be at least 18 inches apart. Children need to wear their shoes. They need a sheet, blanket and some like their favorite pillow. After nap time, we have to take their sleep garments and put each one in their own bag that is labeled with their name.  (Oh yeah, everything is labeled with their name. Their lunch bag, backpack, cups, sheets, coats, diaper packages or designated area for things. First and last name too.) Back to the sleeping mats. After the kids wake up and we take their sheets off, we have to wipe down all the mats. All 8 or 9 or 10 mats. Front and back. It’s not much, but in the moment it can feel like a lot. I’m sure if I sat here any longer, I could think of even more to write about. I’ll spare you those details though and continue on with how I’m doing.

My first week I was placed in Grasshopper and I fell in love with the children. They were crazy like all two and three year olds, but they were also sweet, kind, would listen (sometimes) and were a joy to work with.
I didn’t stay long with them though.
The past three weeks I’ve been on ‘provisional hire’. It basically means my background check hadn’t come back yet, so I couldn’t be left alone with the children. Therefore, when we were on the playground and child needed to use the bathroom and there were two teachers, she or I could not take the child in, we would have to radio for another teacher because I can’t be left alone. If the other teacher changed a child and had to wash her hands, I had to stand at the bathroom door so that she could see me and I could see the children. (I usually volunteered to change children, because I could go into the bathroom alone without the other teacher having to watch me). If a child was washing their hands in the bathroom, getting more soap, washing their hands and getting more soap and not listening to me telling them they need to dry their hands, I could not go into the bathroom alone with the child. I had to have a teacher stand at the door so I could grab them and help them turn the water off and dry their hands. It was frustrating sometimes, but mostly an annoyance.

My second and third weeks there I was a floater. Which means that I went wherever they needed me. My hours were regularly 12-6, but I had a few mornings where they needed me at 9.  I would usually start in Grasshopper and eventually I would end up in Busy Bees. Or I would stay in Busy Bees and hop over to Grasshopper to let a teacher wash her hands, or restocked people’s tissues, heated children’s food for lunch, etc.
And mostly I stayed in Busy Bees. These little children (Unlike Grasshopper) were younger, still learning to love their friends well, still learning to use their walking feet, still learning to use inside voices and still learning to listen to their teachers the first time. If I was that age, I would probably have all those ‘still learning’ issues as well.
While Grasshoppers feels easier, I’m grateful that I was placed in Busy Bees (BB) so much. Last week we had the BB and Snail’s swap rooms. Like actual transitioning switch to stay permanently. I don’t know how Snail’s did with the change but BB was having a rough day Monday morning when I got in. I kept telling myself that it was Monday, they were hyper, it was a new room, new change and that’s why they seemed to be more active. Tuesday was a close nightmare. I was with a sweet teacher, Jamie. Both of us were having a workout with our arms from snatching little kids who were trying to run across the floor, to near yelling because children weren’t listening or doing as they were told. It was very rough morning.
The nice thing was I didn’t have to be in the next day until 12 the and noon shift is much, much, much more relaxing and not as chaotic as the morning. I arrived in my favorite shirt, told myself the day was going to be okay, and it wasn’t that bad. (Though I doubt that it had much to do with my shirt) I’ve worked several afternoon’s in the BB with teacher Christina, and she’s really good at keeping the kids on schedule, making sure their daytime paper is filled out, making sure they are listening and doing as they’re told.

This all brings me up to yesterday. Monday. My first day of being officially off of the ‘provisional hire’ and finally able to be alone with the children. Which meant that they (the preschool) were going to put me into a room with 10 children.
Without anyone else.
It. Was. Scary.
Okay, so it wasn’t that bad. It was a new adventure, fun, exciting, challenging and hard. Maybe very hard. I was there in the afternoon alone, so most of the children were already on their mats asleep. 7 down, 3 still awake. Two did okay at staying quiet, reading a book or coloring quietly and listening to me when they would get a little louder. The other was a little more excited. Sadly he had a lot of trouble listening and made some poor choices on how to behave.
About an hour and half later, as the other children slowly woke up, I changed them, gave them snack, started cleaning up their sleeping things, gave them some toys to occupy themselves while this one child tried to gain attention by disobeying a lot. During all this I had two other teachers in and out the room helping be a second pair of hands. With the help of these two teachers, I finally had them all up and given a snack, apart from two that somehow had slept through and noise and chaos of the early afternoon.
After feeding them snack, I had them hold hands, I got to carry a walkie-talkie, (for the first time!!!) and we headed out the door, down the hallway to Snail’s room where there is a door for the outdoor playground. And there the children were let free to run, scream, climb, dig, slid, and swing to their hearts content.

Preschool is not nannying! It’s so different and hard sometimes. Children running everywhere, books being thrown, having three kids on the swing asking “Can you push me higher?” or “I want to go higher!” Or “HIGHER!” But like nannying, it can be so rewarding. There’s one little boy who has this slight southern accent. My first week he couldn’t remember my name and mistook me for another, previous teacher.
(Kid in southern accent) “Mis’ S-aa-ra, can ya push me on the swang?”
(Me) “I’m not miss Sara.”
(Kid) “Oh.” (Pause) “What’s ya name?” (I respond) “Oh.” (Pause) “Mis’ Hii-d-aa, can ya push me on the swang?”
It’s so cute. Just today I saw him outside on the playground, and while I thought he knew my name by now, he had to ask me again what my name is, though at least this time he didn’t call me Miss Sarah.
There’s more rewarding things like the kids that love to chase me, or have me chase them. They run away, laughing and giggling, telling me I can’t get them. There’s the child who wants to be held and points towards a field where cows frequent and asks if they are napping in the shade or drinking water. There’s the children who unexpectedly listening during the day. They sit down when we read a book, they stay on their mat quietly. They give hugs for no reason. There’s the children who will say sorry to their friend for hitting, or even hug their friend. There’s the children who say sorry to me, for not listening. There’s the joy in their faces as they see bugs crawling on the ground, or finding rocks or see their snack is teddy grahams, or get to drink their juice box for lunch.
This job is different from nannying because I am surrounded by ladies who love the Lord and strive to love these children as much as I do. No matter how hard the day is going, or whether or not the children are listening, they all want to see these children grow up to Love God and others. And they talk about each other so lovingly. They encourage me through their actions to love these children well.
When I first started working, I didn’t know if I was making a difference or if anything I did would show up later in all theses children’s lives. But then I remembered that even if I made a difference in one child’s life, by holding them and looking at cows, or hugging them through their hurt, they may look back on their days in this preschool and remember that they had an awesome teacher who loved them as unconditionally as her human heart could.

No day is drama free and easy. But having this opportunity to have children hug me at the end of the day, despite the deep breaths and prayers they put me through, makes each and every day worth it.

><>Heidi<><

 

Less Stress More Busy

In the past month I have have about 5 times I considered sitting down and writing about my stress-filled life and share a depressing look on what it was like to have no job, no car, no close family or friends and no meaningful purpose. But I was too stressed, depressed and dark-clouds kind of mood to actually sit down and share all of it. So here, a month later, I’m finally finding time and more sunny look on life to actually share more in depth of what the past month has looked like.

When I first got to Florida, I found two places that had Preschool Teacher openings. The first place, BBLC, is a 5-7 minute car drive (literally down the road from where my boyfriend lives). When I went in for my interview, I found a blue building, with verses written on white boards and a happy environment. My interview went great, I loved the place and was looking forward to hearing back about getting a job with them.
The next day I had a job interview at a preschool that is located in a church. To be more specific, it’s the church that Devin and I have been attending on Sunday mornings. Once again, I had a great interview, and I loved them. I was told right then and there that I could have the job if I wanted it and I decided to take the night to think about it.
I wanted somewhere close to bike to. Something that gave me enough to save money and not just have to live to pay bills and try to survive. I wanted something that I would love and enjoy doing. Something that would be fun and that I could be myself. I decided that due to the 20 minute drive to the Preschool in the church plus it being only part time, I would give BBLC a call and let them know I would take their full time, higher paying, closer to me, job. That also included giving the preschool at the church a sad call back and telling them I wouldn’t be taking their opening.
I had the dreams of working close to my home, being auto insurance free, I’d be working full time, saving lots of money and one day I would have enough to move into my own apartment, buy a car, maybe it would even lead to a nanny job where I would make more and save more. And close to two weeks later, I began to lose my rose colored glasses. The job turned out to part time. I set up a time to go in and talk about getting started and found out that day didn’t work. I tried for a week, calling sometimes three times a day to get someone who would know how I could start working there and I never got a call back. By that point I was having some people telling me to keep trying, others were telling me to go back to the preschool at the church, and I just wanted the whole thing to end.
At that point, two of my best friends from New York traveled down to Florida for spring break. I decided that I was going to take that time to relax, let my hair down, and forget my depressing life of being jobless.
It worked for the most part. I got to spend two cold, windy days at the beach, go shopping and watch other people spend money, go to restaurants and order the cheapest things that was offered. It was a great week to sit and think about my life and where I was heading with everything.
After talking to my mom about where things were headed with BBLC, she suggested that I take some money from my parents, buy a car, and  go get the job at the preschool at the springs. I didn’t want to. I wanted to be debt free, a biker and money saver. It took me about a day or two to realize that those dreams were great and wonderful. But I really can’t bike that far every day, especially if it rained or I was running late. I had no other jobs that were popping up and everything seemed to be pointing towards this one, money loaded, option.
So taking a deep breath I took the money from my parents and began to look for vehicles located within 10 miles of where I live. That soon went out to just anywhere in Florida because cars get bought so quickly during the tax season. I spent a week or so looking, spending one day looking at nearly 10 different cars. They were all different, yet never worked. They had dents and scratches or the motor clanked or they didn’t even run, or they smelled so bad I didn’t even want to get into them, or they looked trashy or they were wayyyy over my budget. The list could go on and on. It was stressful, awful, wonderful, crazy and I’m so glad I am done going through that because….
Hold on, let me back up. After a couple days of my car hunt, I was greatly

Life was feeling like a slow turtles

encouraged by many people to give the preschool at that church a call and see if they were still hiring. I didn’t want to commit to anything until I had a car, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to give them a call and at least ask if the position was still open. To my surprise, they still had a open position, looked forward to having me join their team, and asked if I could head in the next day to start paperwork. I felt all kinds of thankful. I couldn’t believe how fast everything was happening.
To make a long story a little shorter, I got all paperwork done, finger printed, background checked, and continued looking at vehicles. I got a text message a couple days later that a certain paperwork had come back faster then expected and I was able to start working that next Monday. I still had no vehicle and while I was excited, I was still feeling stressed out about it. It was a happy, depressing time.
Anyways, I started working Monday a week ago! It was glorious and amazing to be surrounded by loving children again. Preschool @ The Springs encourages their teachers to make Jesus the center of everything, to sing songs, read books, invite the children to participate in exploring God’s creation and loving their friends well. It’s so different from being a nanny. I am much better at spending time with two or three kids rather then having nine little children running around screaming. There’s a lot of rules and codes that have to be followed. But the past ten days have been so worth it and I’m super thankful that I went back for this job.
Back to vehicles. I was looking but not really finding anything. Through my hunt of a vehicle my taste went from cars, to accepting trucks, bugs and PT cruisers. I needed something so I would take nearly anything. Then my boyfriend’s dad found this 2002 PT cruiser. I’m not a fan of white and the wood grain stickers. I don’t like the look of cruisers and had it been a month ago I may have passed by it all together. Thankfully I didn’t do that though because I am now the proud owner of this ugly white, wood grain sticker, cruiser.
There’s sooooooooo much more I wish I had time to write about. Devin has been amazing during the past couple weeks, encouraging me to take my time, and keep breathing through the stress. I could go into so much more detail over how thankful I am for him in my life. He’s done a lot while I’ve been down here. A lot.
It’s been a crazy couple months. But through it, God has been faithful. He’s always reminding me of ways that I can trust him. I worry and doubt more then I should. Yet he’s always bringing me back to the quiet place that I thrive best when I rest in his peaceful arms.

Life happens, stress and busyness comes. And while I don’t like the depression and dark look on life, there’s always a hope at the end, a light that I’m going to be okay, no matter what.

Until next time,

><>Heidi<><