Thursday, December 4, 2008


While I was in Alaska this summer I met the most wonderful 17 year old girl. Her name was Kathrine. Kathrine had a baby exactly a year ago and I sat in a dorm room with her and watched her as she cried and cried telling me the story of giving her baby up to her aunt and uncle to take care of. She had been living with her grandparents who had both died within the last six months and was moving in with her alcoholic father and didn’t want to bring her baby with her. Kathrine loves to do Native Alaskan dancing. This summer Kathrine was the drummer for the group of students who did Native Alaskan dancing because dancing reminded her of her grandparents but still wanted to participate. Our group of mentors and teachers awarded Kathrine a full ride scholarship to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. I really felt like I had made a positive contribution to this girl’s life. I was so proud of her when I watched her receive her scholarship and wanted to cry when she was so excited she had also been given a graphing calculator because she, like most of the students there, couldn’t afford one. I remember thinking, “This girl is going somewhere and will do something with her life. She’s learned through her mistakes and has her head on straight now. She knows what she wants and won’t let anything get in the way.”

Last night I found out Kathrine is having her second baby this month.

I feel like a failure.

I know its not really my fault, I just feel like I did so much hard work and it made no difference whatsoever. If that program and all of the hard work we put into it could have changed anyone's life it would have been Kathrine.


Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Oh, Ande, I'm sorry. I know how much you invested in her. I know you don't need consolation at this point, or advice, but I'm your mom and I don't think I can stop it from spilling out on the keyboard . . . you never know the timing of your influence or for your efforts. Don't give up on her so early, or yourself for that matter . . . and regardless of her decisions and circumstances, no good thing goes wasted. Ever.

Tiffany Fackrell said...

I agree with your mom. A seed planted is NEVER a failure. At least not on your side.

Cassidy said...

You have a blog?? What?? Oh man I stink in the awesome cousin category. darn. You are NOT A FAILURE. People make choices. I agree with your mom. . . give her some time! Not to mention the fact that you got her as motivated as you did. That means something.. . I know. I love you chica!!

hennchix said...

Amen to the above comments. Everyone has agency, and sometimes we don't use it in the best way. She will remember everything you talked to her about, and maybe someday she will make changes that will open the way for her to progress. It is hard to watch those you love make decisions that will only bring heartache. Never give up!!!

the binghams. said...

oh ande! you did more than most of us because you loved and cared and tried. so good job :)

I know exactly how you feel though... its the same when you are a missionary- you think that their lives have been changed and its so heart breaking to see them revert back to their old ways. But, agency was our choice- and its a good thing- really :)

the binghams. said...

just because she made a bad choice doesnt make the other things you did for her count for nothing. you helped her with her education, just because she is having another kid doesnt mean she forgot the school type stuff, she probably didnt forget other things you helped with anyway, just made a mistake. people do that. shes probably really remembering your good influence right now as she is going through this crazy time.

jkmoss3 said...

Wow, that is a hard thing to do and deal with. I know how you feel, a few years ago, my sister was struggling with some pretty hard core stuff when she was in high-school. Jared and I thought we would be helpful by inviting her to come live with us. I gave her everything I had. My house, food, time, EVERYTHING. I thought she was making progress because she was away from those people who were influencing her. after a little while at our house , we found drugs, she had parties at our house when we were gone, she got her tongue pierced and tried to hide it. She got kicked out of the high-school here and had to go to the alternative school. She ended up going home before the school year ended. I felt like a complete failure and I still have hard feelings towards her.

but I try to think that we each have our agency and even though I and you tried SO hard to change people, they still have the freedom to choose not to heed our example.

I can only imagine how our Father in heaven felt when Satan fell from heaven. A perfect Father and a perfect example with all the right words and teaching, still had a son fall. It makes me feel better that Heavenly Father never fails, but had a son fall.

I know that is a long comment, but I think I needed it maybe more than you.

You are so awesome, I am so glad that you and I crossed paths, even for a little while, you definitely had an effect on my life.

HeatherM said...

Ande - I am forever late on this comment - it has been stewing quite awhile. Most importantly for Katherine, you set an example. You certainly did not fail at that. I am convinced that someday, when she needs it the most, she will remember that. But, even if she never does - God will. You can bet on it.

Titus 2.7-8 – “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”