2014 was a roller coaster of a year for me personally. It was the year which my parents got a puppy (who became my sister), the year I graduated from university with best overall performance, but it was also the year which I made the mistake of going to do primary teacher training at a university who didn’t know how to support me.
Having gained my place on my primary teacher training I excelled on the assignment writing side but struggled a little more with the placement side. It didn’t help that the placement chose for me where not entirely honest in giving feedback. They pretended I was doing well, while telling my university a different story. Part of that probably has to do with not being able to pick up on subtle double meanings, but I always feel if you can’t say what you mean then how can I be responsible for what you expect?
Anyway, I was failed on my first placement without warning and in a very devastating and derogatory way. In short, I was completely devastated. The way I was treated bothered me a lot more than the fact I had failed at something. The thing is you can always bounce back from failure, but rarely do you have moments where you can reclaim your dignity or self-respect in situations.
Not one to settle for unfairness, I was in touch with the student union of my university straight away who agreed that I had a very strong case for discrimination in light of my learning difficulties (ADHD and dyspraxia). I turned up at a meeting for discussing my academic future on the course with a student representative in tow. Needless to say the faculty were extremely surprised and it gave me a little sense of satisfaction to see their faces, when they knew I wasn’t just going to take their lack of support lying down. They suggested a new placement with additional supportive measures in place and from that I gathered my placement would run from January-May 2015.
While on this was going on I went off on holiday to the USA to visit my friends from summer camp, when I told them what had happened they enquired whether it may be a good idea for me to do summer camp again in the USA of 2015. It wasn’t something I had considered, so I took some time to prayer on it, especially given I’d already made some plans at home that summer. Eventually God answered into my heart and said “Rachael you already know what I am going to say to you. A summer doing what you want or a summer in me?”
“God gives us opportunities to grow in him all the time and he blesses us through them, just not always in the way we expect.”RE Harper
So, it was decided, and I contacted the director of the summer camp to interview for going back in the February. Well after that they never got back to me and for a while I was really upset, then I found out that my placement wasn’t going to end until July, so I figured it wasn’t meant to be. Still it bothered me that God had clearly wanted me to do it, yet I wasn’t going to be doing it. I was still heading to the USA towards the end of May to see my two best friends getting married so there was still that to look forward to.
By April, it was clear that primary teacher training wasn’t right for me. I couldn’t behave the way they wanted to in observations and the whole thing was making me miserable. So it was decided I was only complete the masters side of my teacher training and end my placement with immediate effect. The day I made that decision I cam home to a message from my friend Nicoletta asking me why I was included in the staff email for summer camp.
I was so confused so she sent me a screenshot of the email and they had spelt my name wrong in the email address. Quick as a flash I emailed the director who confirmed that they did want me back and had incorrectly sent all the communications to the wrong email address. It left me with just over a month to get my life organised to spend three months in the USA. Not to mention I had to apply for a visa which meant surrendering my passport to the USA embassy in Belfast 3 weeks before I needed it to board my flight to the USA.
“God had kept his promise to me all along, he just did in a way I wasn’t expecting because he sees so much more than I do. He sees the obstacles ahead and sets out a path.”RE Harper
As you can probably guess, I received my passport back with nine days to go and managed to spend another fantastic summer in the united states. I learnt even more about myself as Christian including how to leave burdens and worries with God. I was so blessed my co-counsellor Viv from Australia and in turn our Blue Jay girls blessed us with some of them coming to accept Jesus into their lives. I got to spend time with old friends and make new ones, plus going on some amazing trips.
In conclusion, those few months of uncertainty taught me that God always has things in hand, just not in the way you think he does. If that email for me to return to summer camp would have come through on time, then I would have had to turn it down once I found out my placement wasn’t ending until July. Yet, because it was delayed I was able to go and have an amazing summer in God. God’s timing is perfect and the good things he wants for us will happen if we learn to trust in him.
*You can probably guess why the name of the university does not appear in this article. While I think they could have handled everything much better, it doesn’t change the fact that primary teaching wasn’t for me. Besides, I may never have returned to summer camp if not for everything that happened so it would be illogical to say I regret it when it set off a chain of events that has blessed me so much.