After two weeks of surviving like this, we were informed that everyone had to leave the area. Moments later there was a knock at the door. It was a police officer coming to tell us that there had been a chemical spill in the area and we were in danger.

My father, who used to have a church in Iowa where I grew up, suggested that we relocate there, since we had still had some family and connections in the community.

We left that day and started the long journey from Mississippi to the town of Waterloo, Iowa. We registered with the Red Cross and were sent to a hotel for almost two months until we got an apartment.

I’ve been able to go back to school as a medical assistant, but I had to start over. Our apartment is much better than the one we lived on in Mississippi and for that I’m grateful.

We have received assistance from the state, but it just isn’t enough to provide for the five children. My fiancé is in need of medical attention, but refuses to see a doctor because he says he wants to die. I also find myself drifting into a depressed state from time to time. The only thing that keeps me sane is knowing that God has a purpose for me.

I plan to graduate and go on to become a nurse so that I can give back a portion of what God gave me to others. I will not give in to my situation. Instead I choose to change it — because my life was spared when so many were lost. — (concluded)