2018 has been quite the year for me. I graduated from college, traveled the East Coast putting on mission trips for teenagers with Catholic Heart Workcamp, started a relationship with a guy who is one of my best friends, moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to start my service year as an LV, went on an epic fall break camping trip in the Smoky Mountains with my community member, plus a whole bunch more. Besides graduating college, nothing on that list was part of my plan for 2018. However, I am very grateful that they were part of God’s plan for me.
Looking back at the beginning of this year, I would have never expected to be where I am today but that’s what makes life fun. The unexpected. I have so many friends who have planned their life out to a T. They know exactly what company they want to work for, the year they want to get married, how many kids they want to have, the neighborhood they want to live in, etc. Planning out my life like that, in all honesty, scares me. You see, we can plan out our life precisely how we want it to be, but ultimately our life is in God’s hands. As Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
In March of my senior year I got my site placement for Lasallian Volunteers. I was hoping to go somewhere exciting like California or New York. I put in my application that I wanted to go literally anywhere but the Midwest. God had a different plan though. I was placed in Memphis, Tennessee, at De La Salle Elementary at Blessed Sacrament.
Originally when I got my site placement, I was told that I would be doing things like teaching religion, co-teaching reading classes, teaching specials classes, and things like that. However, when I arrived at my site, the principal offered me something different. He told me that they were still in need of a middle school science teacher. My background is in elementary education and middle school social studies. Teaching science was never really part of my plan. I trusted God’s plan and jumped right into my next adventure.
This job is a tall order. I am constantly reteaching myself science concepts and planning lessons that are engaging and differentiated to fit all my students’ needs. There are always assignments that need to be graded. Classroom management of middle schoolers has tested me more times than I can count. Sometimes I feel like I am failing, but my students always seem to give me reassurance. This reassurance comes in many different forms and exactly when I need it most. Whether it be in physical form such as a letter or Mexican sweet bread, or verbal affirmation like having one of my most difficult students thank me for making him guided notes, they always remind me that I am following God’s plan for my life. I know that my struggles are nothing compared to what some of my students are going through. At our school there are refugee families, single parent households and some where parents are not even in the picture. There are families who struggle to pay tuition and put food on the table. I know that school is a safe place for many of them.I have built meaningful relationships with my students, and they give me the motivation to keep following God’s call to serve.
Teaching middle schoolers is HARD. Community life can be challenging. Living over 700 miles away from home is difficult. Being in a long-distance relationship is not the most fun. But all of these challenges are part of God’s plan for me. I know that I would not be the person I am today without these things that were not necessarily all part of my own plan.
When I go home for the holidays my family and friends are going to be asking me what my plans are for next year. In all honesty, I really have no idea. I could potentially stay in Memphis, switch service sites, or move back to Minnesota. If I wanted to, I could even move to a different country. All I do know is that I will strive to follow God’s plan for my life no matter where it leads.
So, here’s to 2018 and all the unexpected things God has in store for me in 2019!
Sheyenne Bauer is a first-year Lasallian Volunteer serving at De La Salle Elementary at Blessed Sacrament in Memphis, Tennessee. She is a 2018 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.