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The Pages of My Life in Third World USA Part 1
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Homelessness, remoteness, contaminated water, a flooded house, no health insurance, inconsistent cell phone and internet service… just another day in the third world country of the Navajo Nation.
A Brief Explanation
Everyone has a story. For the past three years, I’ve been inconsistently sharing parts of mine through newsletters sent via email. In an effort to make those updates more consistent and much more frequent, I’ve decided to post those updates on this site, writing about my life in story/journal form – aiming to be as honest as I can about things without jeopardizing anyone else around me. Since I will be writing about real events and real people, I will be changing the names of the people and places, other than that this part of my life takes place on the Navajo Reservation.
The land captured me when I was at the impressionable age of ten. The vastness, the multi-colored sand and rocks, the simplicity, the beauty, the untamed wilderness – it worked its way in, around, and through me. I had listened to kids speaking another language and fallen in love with the incredible idea of being able to communicate and understand such a variety of sounds. Beautiful, wrinkled ladies offered wordless smiles as they placed turquoise bracelets and necklaces around my tanned neck and wrists. My journey back had begun. I was Navajo. This land was my home.
“Someday, Lord,” I prayed, “Let me come back.”
In the hopeful faith of a child, I felt the Lord say yes.
Sixteen years passed. I had graduated from high school and college and now had a few years of teaching experience to fill up a decent resume. God had led me from a small farming town in Midwest USA to an inner-city environment, then to Mexico, then to China. My adventures and challenges had been full, many, and rewarding. He had been with me, guiding me every step of the way, and still, between every transition, I had felt my eyes and heart turn towards the Navajo Nation, always asking, “Is it time, yet, Lord?” Each time, I had done everything I could to get the door that led there to budge even a little. Each time, the door had refused to move and I had given myself over to God’s timing and direction, turning to see which door He was opening.
I had grown to love China and all the people there whom I had met and lived life. It was time to move on, though. As before, I asked, “Is it time, yet?” and then began the process of applying to just about any school on the Navajo Reservation that I could find.
Months passed, discouragement hovered close by as I entered the complicated world of attempting to apply from overseas to schools in a state other than the one from which I had received my teaching certificate.
“Hello, my name is Jenny Litfin and I’m interested in applying for a teaching position at your school.”
“Ok, great! We’ll send you an application. What’s your address?”
“Um…I’m actually living overseas right now.”
“Hello, my name is Jenny Litfin and … hello? Can you hear me…? No, it’s not very clear right now. I’m actually calling from my computer – from SKYPE and … hello?”
“Hello, Nina. Thanks for getting back to me. I noticed that you are asking for the background check to be notarized and I was wondering what kind of a notarization you needed it to be… will a Chinese notary work? … Oh, well, I suppose I could have it done at the U.S. Consulate, but that’s actually a few hours away by plane from where I’m at…”
“So, I need to have a reciprocal teaching certificate in your state before I apply? Well, I’m not exactly anywhere in the United States right now, so getting fingerprinted there is kind of a problem…”
After several months of this, I again began to accept the reality that no, it wasn’t yet time. Seeing as how most of my teaching experience thus far had been out of country, and seeing as how summer was closer than I was ready for and seeing as how I didn’t have a job, I began exploring positions in other International Schools.
I soon had a viable lead. Granted, it was the one option I had been avoiding the most, but it was at least financially tempting – a position with the government of Abu Dhabi teaching English in their public schools. I soon began to have visions of how God could use me in that position and though still not exactly excited about it, at least more interested and open to it. The application process stretched into the summer, and just as I was getting myself reconciled to the idea of once again leaving the US, I received a phone call inviting me to an interview at one of the schools on the Navajo Reservation.
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