M-Powering Moments: Kendra G.

This M-powering Moment is special to me. It’s the story of  my cousin Kendra, who recently relocated to the Middle East to teach. This is her story. 🙂

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My name is Kendra Gray and I’m 25. My permanent address is Bowie, Maryland but I’m currently residing in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in the area of Al Ain City, which is about 1 hour away from Dubai.

I was educated in Anne Arundel County Schools, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia in 2009 and in 2011 I graduated with a Masters of Arts in Teaching Secondary English Education from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

After graduating from Clark Atlanta, I joined a program called Teach for America, which placed me in a lower economic area to teach underserved students in Baltimore City Public Schools. I taught English at a high school in the Cherry Hill neighborhood for three years, which also inspired me to take on the venture that I am experiencing now, teaching abroad. I loved my kids in Cherry Hill a lot. They were fearless, relentless and always attempted to make the best out of their situations. Because I started teaching fresh out of college, it seemed like I was always chasing the next challenge. Most of my coworkers called me the “baby” because I started teaching at 22 and most of them had at least five or more years of experience. Needless to say, I felt like I had a lot more vitality left in me to do something amazing so half way through my third year of teaching I decided to apply to teach abroad with a program called Teach Away.

After the recommendation of one of my college frat brothers, I decided that teaching in Abu Dhabi would be the next chapter in my life.  After a long interview process, about six months I was offered the position to teach high school girls English for two years. Months and months went by of answering questions like “Where are you going to teach?” “What grade?” “Where are you living?”  I think after a while people thought I was crazy because I would tell them all the same answer, “I don’t know,” because I really didn’t. I literally only knew I was hired to teach English in a girls high school and that I would be living in an apartment provided by my employer. My ticket arrived in August and I left for Abu Dhabi on August 8, 2012.

In September, I moved into my permanent housing and started working during the second week. I have had a lot of difficult days adjusting to being away from my comfort zone of family and friends. You realize you take a lot of little things for granted like being able to drive a short distance to hang out with your friends or Thanksgiving dinner but then you also realize how amazing an experience like this is when you are face to face with a camel or are looking up at the world’s tallest building, The Burj Khalifa. My school here is very different than in the states. I work with only women in a school of about 1500 middle and high school girls who speak varied ranges of English, which has definitely taken some adjusting.

Overall, the most important lesson I’ve learned thus far is to be flexible. There have been many of times that I wanted to pack up my suitcases and go back home, but I have learned to take this experience day by day and to be mindful of those before you who have paved the road for your successes.  Although I do not know what my future holds, everyday I try to find one positive thing about being 14 hours away and I always find one. Many people are very intrigued by this part of the world, and I am grateful to have this experience because the application process was highly selective.  People ask me if I had to do this all over again would I still do it and I say no, because I am too busy enjoying the now each day to worry about an imaginary restart. I have to finish what I’ve started before I do it all over again.

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M-powering Moments: Conclusion Of Veronica G.

This is the conclusion of Veronica G.’s M-powering Moment. I hope you have been as engrossed in and inspired by her story as I was. I want to add that Veronica is also a good friend of mine. She is a woman M-powered because she is not ashamed of those dark places that she’s been in life. She is a person who will give you her very last no matter what situation she is in. I am honored to know such a woman of strength…and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for sharing with us all her M-powering Moment.–Monique 🙂

Veronica G. (Annapolis, MD)

Eventually I had talked to my mom & new stepfather asked if we could come home & live with them til we got totally on our feet, because where we were staying wasn’t to best environment for recovering addicts,,,,, around July of 2002 we were home with my parents. Shortly after that Ryan went to Truck Driving School at BCC in Essex MD. I went to AACC in Arnold MD completed my G.E.D. at that time I was looking to be an Addiction Counselor,,,,,never completed the course. I had started working side jobs to help support Ryan while he went 2 1/2 months to school. I was his support encouragement & his backbone. Well Ryan graduated October 17th from truck driver school,,,,,,he was now a Professional Trucker Driver. We got married a little less than a month later November 15th 2003. We had already gotten our apartment & moved in on the 1st of November. Well my husband was gone so much and our relationship was suffering because of it,,,,,,I rode with him on the truck for a while, but then I decided well if I am going to ride I should just get my license too!!!! November of 2005 I went to Salt Lake City, Utah to Truck Driving School C.R. England,,,,,three weeks later I had my Class A CDL. Ryan & I have been driving together for 7 years now also our 9 year Anniversary is coming up!!!! Since then we’ve had many ups & downs we’ve both falling & scrapped our knees, but we get up wipe them off and keep pushing!!! Today my life is still nowhere near where it should be,,,,,,but it’s better than what it was and I am thankful for that. I know God has a plan for me still A Purpose,,,,,,,,as one of my favorite artist MJB sang in one of her songs “With All This Pain Comes Favor”!!!

I want to say Thank You to All who have read my story,,,,I also wanna say though I shared a lot of trauma though went on in my life,,,,,,I also had a lot of great loving family moments and good times with friends ( it was not all bad). I hope that by sharing my story it gives someone a little more hope, a little more encouragement, just a little push to keep pushing!!! Because no matter what you have been through or what you are going through right now know you can get through it as long as you never give up!!!!

For those who may be concern about my relationship with my mom. I understand that just as I went through some things in my life, so did she in hers. For a while yeah I had some resentment against my mother & yes some of the things that happen in my childhood had a direct effect on my adult life. However at some point I made my own decision & my own mistakes “that’s on me” and I accept responsibility for my own action. As for me & mom our relationship has healed she is my best friend I love her so much to the depths of my heart. She is my Heart.

I would say the end but this is just the beginnings of what God has in store for me,,,,,,,later .

M-powering Moments: Veronica G. (Part VII)

Well see God already had a plan. He knew where we were going to end up & how it would be. We were suppose to be right where we were. This is why the instruction was to pack one bag & leave!!! When we left that family members house we step out on faith & we did take one bag, we both carried a backpack with as much as we could put in it ( that wasn’t very much a couple of outfits & personal hygiene products) Let me share this we were homeless a little under a year in Baltimore City,,,,,, When I say this path in my life was the most peaceful time of my life it is an understatement. Because we were so at peace with where we were and so happy. We never wanted for ANYTHING!!!!! In fact from the little we had we would give away to other homeless people who were in need. If I have 2 I’ll give you 1. This was my thing and the most important value my mom installed in me as a child was “If you see someone in need & you can help them do it, if you have a sandwich and they are hungry give them half,,,,,,Don’t worry baby God will bless you for having a kind heart. Listen to what I’m saying when we did have a need for something food , more clothes, undergarments, winter coats, winter clothes, socks, toothpaste, tooth-brush,,,,,,from our biggest need to the smallest God had already prepare a way and put someone in place to meet our needs!!!! We were like the birds of the air,,,,,,if God would supply all of their needs why wouldn’t he supply ours. See I don’t think y’all fully understand we were homeless with no money nothing but a backpack & clothes on our back and our cup was running OVER!!!!! We had received so much we had to give it away and the more we gave the more we received. This might not mean much to some but we went from backpacks to rolling luggage because we couldn’t carry all that God had given us. So every morning we’d leave the shelter We would go back to Health Care for the Homeless daily to continue our counseling, therapy & addiction classes. After classes we’d checkout the list of resources that we were given for help with housing, clothes so forth & so on. Checked out most of the places on the list, then we put together our own list of the best places to go to for help also who they were interested in helping ( men, women, women & children, seniors or all ) In the evening when we returned to the shelter we would share this information with the other people who were there,,,,,,we became a family same people would return every evening. On the weekends Ryan & I would go to church morning & evening service we’d be done just with enough time to get back to the shelter for a bed & dinner. At dinner we’d sit at our table have prayer read & have conversation on different verses of the bible every evening. After awhile we noticed more and more people were sitting at our table they wanted what we had,,,,,,some had never even picked up a bible before,,,,,,,some didn’t know God. Like everything else we had we were more than happy to share our God and give some of him away. We then started asking the church for Bibles I think we collected 8 to 10 bibles we gave them to some.of the people at the shelter and we started a Bible study at the Shelter. Several people who didn’t know God accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour right there at that very table. God had placed us their for a purpose. With the information we put together several people had gotten the help they need many of them got a place of their own before we did & we were happy we could help them,,,,,,but were sad to see them leave some we never saw again!!! Well we finished our program at Health Care for the Homeless,,,,,and eventually the Shelter closed when the weather started to break (winter was over) In the meantime while living at the Shelter we’d found some of Ryan’s relatives so when the Shelters closed they let us come stay with them temporarily for about 3 or 4 months. But always when one door would close another one would open,,,,,,our life was like chapters in a book. (to be continued almost done sharing)

M-powering Moments: Veronica G. (Part VI)

I apologize if you guys got confused while reading part 5…my copy and paste skills were not the best and some parts were repeated and put in the wrong place. Please go back and re-read if you had trouble. 🙂 The M-powering story of Veronica G. continues in her own words…

Here is the most amazing part of my story,,,,at first it doesn’t sound so amazing!!! See I met this wonder man who knew who I was & where I came from. He knew my story and loved me unconditionally in spite of, problem was I didn’t exactly know how to love him back. I could believe that someone would love me or want to be with me without an alternative motive,,,,,,but I gave it a try & returned the love the best way I knew how. Well shortly into our relationship I found out that he was an addict too,,,,so needless to say we went on a journey together in the wrong direction. Well we had several places together ( apartments & homes )and things seemed to be ok,,,til he started to get sick & later his appendix burst he nearly die from an infection in his stomach & intestines. He tried to continue working but the pain was unbearable & his body wasn’t healing properly from the life saving surgery he had. He became unable to work for over a year. We moved back to Annapolis 59 Clay Street Town Pine Court March of 2001, eventually this place became a drug house or crack house as some would say we both went back to using. By the end November 2001 We were tired & had been praying for a change,,,,,,,then one day we were just sitting at our kitchen table trying to decide what to do & as clear as a sunny day God spoke to me said pack one bag and leave. ????? Huh, well where are we suppose to go,,,,,, what are we suppose to do I asked. I didn’t wait or listen for an answer excitedly I said to Ryan “God spoke to me”. I told him what I heard we gotta pack one bag & get out of here. We did on my birthday December 2nd 2001, but before we did we had come up with our own plan see we had a lot of nice things & sentimental belongings as well that we did not want to let go. So we packed them up and took them to one of my family members house in Baltimore. She had a big basement and plenty of room for our belongs. At first she even offered for us to stay there til we could get ourselves together. Welp one day she & her children’s father had decided that Ryan couldn’t stay any longer, but I could. Well that just wasn’t going to work because whatever it was we needed to get thru we needed to do it together (words from Bishop Coates). Well off to a shelter we went,,,,,,,,we were homeless!!!! Ah the amazing thing is we were the most peaceful & happiest homeless people you would have ever met in your life. We had found a place in Baltimore City called Health care for the Homeless. There we received free addiction counseling, therapy & we took several classes together. They also suggested a few shelters out in the county where we could stay in the same shelter. The shelters were nice they feed us a hot meals for dinner and breakfast in the morning, but everyday we had to leave before 7 am & take all our possessions with us,,,,,you couldn’t stay there or leave anything there during the day. Remember God said pack one bag & leave grin. He was preparing us for his plan!!!!
( to be continued )

M-powering Moments: Veronica G. (Part V)

As we get closer to the end of Veronica’s story I want you to know this. She has shared with us some of her deepest, darkest secrets…not to shock us, not for us to judge her, and certainly not in vain. Veronica has shared with us because there may be someone else somewhere, keeping these same kinds of secrets and preventing themselves from healing and being free, by releasing. I hope her story has M-powered someone to face their own secrets or made someone think twice about judging another human being for their lifestyle or their actions before knowing the whole story. I want to thank my friend Veronica G. again for being brave enough and honest enough to share. So here is more from Veronica in her own words.– Monique 🙂
I grew tired of my life starting questioning why God would even create me to go.through so much drama, hurt & pain. I had become depressed and suicidal after several attempts to kill to take my own life,,,,and realizing God was not going to let me die,,,,,,I went back to the church this time Rapture Church Bishop Craig N. Coates played a tremendous role in saving my life,,,,,,,I’m not sure if he even knows it!! Even though I was still indulging in drug use & not living my life right I attended his church faithfully the more I went the bigger my appetite grew for The Word of God. After awhile because I was still using drugs I was in and out of church & still battling the demons inside of me. For many years I was on & off of drugs,,,,,,,in and out of drug programs!!!! It was always a constant battle and still is today. But some things that Bishop Coates spoke into my life always stuck with me,,,,,,,,,,and some have come to pass!!! (still to be continued)

Moving Forward: During a period of my addiction I was working Downtown Annapolis at a restaurant called Chick & Ruths (one of the famous tourist spots in Annapolis) This is where I met the man who would later become my husband,,,,,,,,he would come in everyday sit at the counter and have a cup of coffee sometimes we would chat if I wasn’t to busy. One day I left that job after one of my binges. I didn’t see him again for a few years. This was when I got into prostitution, selling drugs & just getting what I needed by any means necessary. Well in December of 1998 I caught my first drug charge hanging with a friend (who I will not name) But this friend convince me to sell to someone I did not know,,,,,,,well that someone was and undercover cop. Needless to say I spent that weekend in jail at Anne Arundel County Detention Center,,,,,Jennifer Rd. I got out without having to pay a bail, cause I’d never been in that type of trouble before. This was the started of another turning point in my life. When the commissioner let me out I told him you will never see my face again I promise you!!! So now I really had to get it together according to the courts I was facing 20 yrs in jail!!! That was it that’s when the change really started taking place. Before my court date came up I checked myself into rehab at The Hope House Crownsville Md. I did not complete the program insurance reason, but I stayed clean. When I went to court the judge gave me a break,,,,I simply told him I knew what I was doing was wrong But I was not a drug dealer I am an addict,,,,I was only trying to support my habit. He ordered me to get into an outpatient program, go to NA meeting & to get my high school diploma or GED. Also I got a 5 yrs suspended sentence 5 yrs probation 3 of those yrs supervised. Well I did all the judge asked plus above & beyond. I went to trade schools, took a few courses at Anne Arundel Community College. Completed several drug programs,,,,,,but still taking the occasional fall back into the crack world,,,,,and this is how I ran into the man who would later be my husband again. I had turn back to my olds ways cause I’d found away to get around the system the courts had put in place for me. Well I ran into him walking downtown to meet a client for drinks,,,,,,he became a client that day!!! I remember like it was yesterday,,,,when he saw me his eyes lit up like light bulbs & he says to me ” Where did you go? Didn’t you know I was in love with you? I came and you weren’t there anymore!!” I was shocked and surprised I had no ideal. To me he was just regular customer at Chick & Ruths who drank his coffee with 2 creams 3 sugars (shrugs). Now this man is telling me he is in love with me. ???? Well he started as a client, but we ended up dating!!!! Once we dating for a short time we wound up living together,,,,,I got back on track with my probation requirements. I wish I could say from that time in my life it was happy ever after,,,,,but it wasn’t ( more to tell)

M-powering Moments: Veronica G. (Part IV)

This is part 4 of Veronica G.’s journey to the M-powered woman that she is today. She wanted to tell every piece of her story in hopes that it would reach another woman that may be in the midst of that same journey, to show that if she can endure all that she has had to endure…you can too and make it through.– Monique 🙂

I thought of all the things I could do with the money,,,,,,needless to say I didn’t do any of those things. My addiction to crack overpowered my will to stay clean!!! I got several checks totaling close to $20,000 & it was off to the races. This time was much worse than the last,,,,,,I lost my job but I didn’t care,,,,,,I spent the bulk of that money getting high on crack, drinking and smoking weed. In 6 months every penny was gone. I was so messed up I could not work,,,,,,,,who would hire me I was a mess!!! When before in my addiction I could work to support my habit this time was different,,,,,,I had to find other means of supporting myself & my habit. I turned to prostitution selling my body for drugs & money. I got tired of the street-walker thing that didn’t work for me,,,,,,,, in that period when I was walking the streets I had been raped, beaten, abducted pushed out of cars & robbed. I had met several men in my short time of walking the streets that were willing to pay much more for my time, then just some random joe on the streets so I decided that if I was going to sell my body I had to find a safer way to do it. I clean myself up got me some nice clothes That’s when I decided I would be a call girl. I had one client for everyday of the week. I thought this is much better one date a day and I was good. No beatings no abuse I thought well this is classier then standing on street corners jumping in and out of cars. This lasted a few years one of my clients even proposed to me,,,,,,of course I couldn’t marry him this man was a millionaire I was hardly good enough for him I thought!!!! There were several other proposals as well,,,,,,,and that’s when something changed in me again,,,,,,,,,I couldn’t keep living my life like this,,,,(to be continued)