Mandy was going there to teach in the local high school. She found out about Bethel from a job fair at her college here in Michigan. The school district had sent representatives to look for new teachers. Many of these remote villages and towns have trouble keeping teachers for any length of time. Living conditions take a lot of getting used to, so teachers usually only last a few years. It is not a job for everyone.
It’s now been ten years….one decade.
As I look back over the last ten years I realize that, while Mandy is now living 4000 miles away, she is still teaching me some very valuable lessons. Not a day goes by since she was born in June of 1981 that she doesn’t teach me something. On that day so many years ago Mandy was born an extreme preemie. At birth she weighed just two pounds. Her mother lived with diabetes and we knew there would be risks involved. Mandy was born three months early and the first few months of her life we watched her weight drop before it started to rise again. We saw her struggle to breathe while hooked to so many machines. We spent long hours sitting by her incubator as she struggled to just live…..and we shed many tears. It took three long months before Mandy was ready for that first trip home in September. Two and a half weeks later her mom stopped breathing in her sleep. Mandy became my strength to carry on over the years after that.
Growing up Mandy faced all the challenges in her life with great courage, and there were many challenges to be faced. One of the biggest is that she lives with Cerebral Palsy. She has never been one to turn away from the difficulties life was dealt her. After watching her grow and becoming her best through her school years I wasn’t surprised when she came home from the job fair to tell me she was going to Alaska. That is just the person she is. Nothing and no one holds her back. After many years of struggles, disappointments and five surgeries she boarded a plane and flew into a new life.
Even though she now lives many miles away she has never stopped teaching me. One of the most important lessons she has taught me is to never give up on my dreams. It almost seems that society today is all about jumping on one bandwagon and riding it to the end with everyone else on there with you. We are constantly influenced by others who seem more than happy to tell us what we should think and who we should be. They feel entitled to tell us how we should live our life. We aren’t perfect and we never will be but that isn’t a reason to give up on the person you are. We all make mistakes and sometimes we will listen to others and do things that take us in the wrong direction but we are all able to correct that course. Don’t be afraid to live life for yourself. Live your dreams - Live your heart! The outcome in the end makes you a better person.
Mandy has taught me that sometimes it is more than OK to hit the reset button and start over.