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Enota teacher called to work as a missionary

POSTED: August 20, 2011 1:30 a.m.
/Photos for The Times

Gainesville resident Sidney Eure left her teaching job to do missionary work in Guatemala. Eure teaches children living in and around trash heaps how to read and write. She says she feels God called her to make the change in her life.

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Even though Sidney Eure was lucky enough to find a job in her field right after college graduation, she wasn’t completely satisfied with what she was doing.

Something in her very core told the 2010 North Georgia College & State University graduate that her talents were needed elsewhere. Ultimately, she was lead to the mission field in Central America.

"I’d always done missions. Little weeklong trips (with church youth groups) and I’d always loved it," said Eure, a native of Hall County and Lakewood Baptist Church member.

"I was a special education teacher at (Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy in Gainesville), but I started to feel like maybe I was being called to be a missionary."

Eure says she wrote about the feelings in her prayer journal, talked about it with her family and even went on long runs to try and clear her thoughts. Finally, in June she stopped fighting it.

"I love Gainesville and I love being a teacher, but I know that over the past year, this is what God’s been leading me to," said Eure, who just returned from a two-month mission trip to Central America.

"For the first time, I know that I am walking in God’s will."

She credits Robert Puckett, the missions and outreach minister at Lakewood, with helping her to answer her call.

"I was shocked at the support I received when I shared my heart for missions with (the church). (Puckett) jumped right on it and said, ‘Let’s do it.’"

While in Central America, Eure spent the bulk of her time in Guatemala volunteering with feeding programs, building homes and volunteering at a preschool.

"Lakewood Baptist has a preschool right outside of a landfill there. It’s basically a trash dump, but people live there — literally in the trash," Eure said

"They eat what they find. They wear what they find. They raise their children there. It’s generations of people and that’s all they know.

"If we can teach these kids how to read, they’ll be the future leaders of Guatemala because they’ll be in the 15 percent that is educated. If they love Christ, they can transform a whole country with values like protecting the weak and helping those in need."

Although the school is currently for preschoolers, there are plans to add an additional grade level each year, so that the school grows with the students, Eure said.

"The illiteracy rate in Guatemala is so high. Since no one can really read, there are no real jobs and so poverty levels are high. We’re educating the kids from the landfill because they can’t afford to go to school," Eure said. "School there is technically free, but you have to pay for things like uniforms and books, so they can’t afford to go. Most of the country can’t afford to do it — 85 percent of the country lives below the Guatemalan poverty line.

"If people can learn English, they automatically get a job. I was qualified to work at the medical center there, just because I could read the labels. I don’t have a medical background, but I was qualified because I could read."

At first, Eure says she was nervous about uprooting her life, but she says now that she’s glad she did.

"It was hard to make that choice. My mom was scared — it’s a dangerous country — but I think God has really comforted her through this and shown her that this is my calling. She’s nervous, but she’s proud," Eure said.

"My family would love me to be here in Gainesville, but they would never want me to be disobedient to God.

"There’s so much poverty and sadness (in Guatemala). Some of the people there see no hope except for Christ. To share the gospel and give them some sort of hope and vision for their future is beautiful. It’s also very humbling."

Meeting children like an 8-year-old girl who is the sole caregiver for her six younger siblings — the youngest being a 9-month-old that she carries tied to her back — has given Eure a different perspective on life.

"A lot of these children take on all of this responsibility and they do it without complaining," Eure said.

"You never hear them say ‘it isn’t fair.’"

Even though the children don’t complain, Eure says she has seen more than her share of unfair situations.

"I volunteer at a special-needs hospital sometimes. If you’re special needs, you are automatically sent to a hospital," Eure said.

"People there can’t afford to care for them, so even if you have a mild disorder, you could be stuck in the special needs hospital for the rest of your life. There are about 200 kids, but only three nurses. All they do is feed them and bathe them. That’s it."

As a missionary, Eure’s days are long, and her nights are short. She often gets up at 6 a.m. and works well past 8 p.m., but she’s still ready to do more.

She is home for a few weeks, working to raise the $9,500 she needs to fund her living expenses and training costs for the upcoming months. She will return to Central America in October and plans to stay there through the beginning of December.

In January, she plans to join Youth With a Mission, where she will go through a special "discipleship training school and children at risk training" in Costa Rica.

After her training is done, Eure plans to serve as a missionary in Central America working with children who have been the victims of human trafficking and other crimes.

"This is just a response to His call to me. Everyone is called to missions, maybe it’s in Gainesville, but mine right now is in Central America," Eure said.

"I’m here until God calls me to do something else."


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