You know, if I were to hear this from anyone else, I'd think it was a lie. It's incredible. Also awesomely true.
Okay, so go back and read the last to understand the attitude of uncertainty and fear I had going on.
This is what has happened since:
Thursday, I attend the opening night of the MAS Maryland Tarbiya and Ilm summer camp. The one I paid for early, even though it put me right at the edge, financially. I'm beginning to understand that I need an Islamic immersion every couple months or so, and this was the way I chose to do it this time.
My ride to camp? Mahmood, he of the speeding foot and fascinating mind. I embarassed myself by keeping him waiting. And then hugging one of my friends while he waited. I don't wanna talk about it. I'll get there.
The relief of camp in part had to do with being in a practically all-female environment, too.
Thursday through Sunday- a whole weekend- camp was focused on self-knowledge and being close to Allah, and featured camp bunks, great (I mean ALHAMDULILLAH great) food, nature walks, and lots of learning and reading. And praying. Learning new dua'a, learning the reasons and protections from them, and praying every prayer plus sunnah plus qiyam on time. It was marvelous. And my personal prayer theme was Trusting Allah. I just wanted/want to get to the point where all that I do is what He wants me to do and all that I want is His way, His will, His light, His love. That was my prayer.
Of course, y'all know me- so I'm sure some of that came out in "Just tell me what to do for You!" format. Anyway.
At the end of Sunday when we're all leaving and turning our phones back on, I've got 10 missed calls. Turns out a director for a private school where my parents live wants me to interview.
I called him back: "I can't interview. My grandmother just died and then I went to a Tarbiya and Ilm retreat; it would be incredibly irresponsible for me to miss any more time, especially for something like this."
His response? "We can meet you on a Saturday."
Yes. Yes, we ended up meeting on the following Saturday after 'Asr (around 5:30 local time at this point).
Those of you familiar with the educational world know that this isn't done. Interviewing a teacher on a Saturday?
So I rent (with many attempted interventions from shaytan- remind me to let y'all know why you shouldn't use Pric.eline EVER for car rentals) a car and drive the 520 miles to my parents' house, shower, and meet the director and the vice principal at the school.
This is when I bust the superduper list of questions/reasons why I can't and shouldn't take this job.
"I had a license in Puerto Rico, but it wasn't for this state. I no longer have it; and I've never worked with pre-schoolers before. I don't know if I could take this position without licensing prospects."
Response? "There are four $35, reimbursed classes you need to take in order to get the preschool provider title. As a former EMT, you already are familiar with 3 of them, and the fourth on child abuse recognition is part of your previous training as well. The school holds that license. In addition, if you get a master's degree in education, since you already have many of the credits, we can fast-track you to the private school license. If you want the full state license, and still need some courses after you check that out at the local university, we offer up to 50% of tuition reimbursement for your courses with a limit of a certain amount, of course."
Yeah. That took me a sec to get. But then...
"I don't have the money to move on the spot, especially if you want me to be here and teaching in three weeks. I give a final exam in two weeks, and I"m obligated until then. "
Response? " We've given you top salary for a new teacher, with insurance beginning the day you'd arrive in the city, plus full relocation expenses. We'll give you a day or two around the first date, we understand you'd be moving and all."
RELOCATION EXPENSES? From a SCHOOL?! Y'all better say mashaAllah.
"I don't have a car. And after the bereavement and burial of my grandmother, plus all the travel before her death, my fam won't be in position to help me get one. My getting here daily might involve my being here at the masjid as early as 6:30 AM and then as late as 6:30 PM every day. I don't want to take this job knowing that I may not be able to get here on time every day. What you're paying wouldn't quite be enough for me to handle a car payment."
Response? " Well, let's look through the teacher files and see if anyone is close to you, who ought to be able to carpool... 12312...12345-"
"Wait, 12345? That's my parents' zipcode! What street?"
The street the director reads is the one right behind my parents' house. He offers to call that teacher and ask her about carpool arrangements. We're all pretty sanguine at that point- if she wants, she doesn't even have to pick me up. I can walk to her house even if there's a foot of snow outside, no problem. And I can help with gas, too.
We go to visit the classroom and I ask a ton of questions, all which are answered by the vice director, who's awesome- she's leaving to move to Jordan. She tells me quite enthusiastically how great life as a muslim is in my parents' town, and reassures me that I'd have a connection to the youth through one of the teachers at the school, who's big into MAS and knows a lot of other young ladies.
The director reminds me that he'd love to meet my parents, esp. my mother, as I leave the school. He's given me a printed copy of my contract outlining all the terms including salary and the expected amount of relocation expenses, pre-signed by the director of the masjid's school board.
I go home and discuss with my parents. My father isn't thrilled that I'd be back- but on the other hand, as I let him know, my primary purpose in moving would be to teach, while living such that I can knock out the Puerto Rico debt once and for all. Then I'd be off to nursing school with the advantage of not having to work and being able to live on scholarships/loans if I need to do that.
The kicker? After I'm back in DC, exhaustedly teaching 3 sessions per day at the little English school that could, I get a call from the director of the school. He's offering me a position with a woman who'd pay me $25 per hour for about 2 hours of tutoring for her kids in English daily. With that, he says, about $500 per month over my salary, I could actually afford a car. He goes so far to say that his goal is to have me possibly driving before school starts the last week of August.
And to me, that means I could potentially begin education classes at the city's state school. With a car in working order- and $400/month would get me a great used car, inshaAllah, not to mention new (but I refuse to finance that much if at all possible)- I could get to and from night classes without running my parents nuts.
That's when I said subhanAllah. I was praising God from the minute I got the calls at camp, but this has been one pointer after another, leaving me no choice but to choose this. I mean, I'd be working at a recognized Islamic school, with children at an awesome developmental age. I'd be given the chance to knock out an oppressive amount of debt and live with my family while I do so. I'd be near my mother, who has just lost her mother and craves family. I've been given the chance to redeem and renew myself.
There are still kinks to be worked out; everything is not hunky dory. I had just found a Qur'an teacher in a sister (ummm okay I'll call her Sis H.) I met at camp; so many friends I have are here. I dont' know what's up with Mahmood. ( when I asked sis. H. about being crush-a-licious, she agreed to ask the fam if he's looking to get married...!!!) Issues with taxes from PR are still trying to follow me around; I have to clean my room tonight (yeah) and find someone to take over my lease, lest I be stuck with $650 rent for a place I wouldn't be using and can't afford to hold. But after the blessing of this week... I refuse to be worried. I will just do everything in my power to be responsible enough to get to Ohio and start working for Him there.
I mean... I yelled a question. I asked. And I got a definite answer to act on. How real and good and true and awesome is God!! Takbir!