H-E-B regional manager, ACF children’s minister share
By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News
Like the millions of other Americans currently living under stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, Four Points residents are discovering the challenges and joys of the “new” everyday life.
The Washingtons of Steiner Ranch share their experiences and insights as a couple who helps to meet the community’s practical and spiritual needs.
Julie Washington is the children’s pastor for Austin Christian Fellowship in River Place and her husband David is a regional manager for H-E-B. Their home is very active with Claire, 9, and Luke, 8, who are 3rd and 2nd graders at Laura W. Bush Elementary, and Harper, 4.
Julie did not know what to expect once the quarantine started, and quickly learned that working from home is first and foremost a mental challenge.
“Our jobs have changed so I can no longer do the job that I’ve always done for the church because we can’t meet together. And so now I’m not only trying to do it from home, which is abnormal, but I’m also reinventing the way we connect with our kids (at church) … (It’s) a lot of mental drain,” she said.
To try and provide ongoing spiritual support for their young congregants, Julie and her team have created online content — “so that they can basically worship at home on Sunday mornings or really anytime. It’s available all week long.” — as well as engaging with them on social media and offering at-home challenges.
This week they’re launching new curriculum themed “upside down.” As Julie explained, “It’s really about Easter and how Jesus turns the world upside down. But it’s funny because the world is kind of upside down right now. So there’s a lot of lessons in that, and I think it’s a great lesson for kids, like, we can’t control everything.”
For families wondering how best to worship at home, Julie’s advice is to, “just do it together as a family. You know, take the 20 or 30 minutes, sit on your couch… and just engage like you’re actually there.”
She especially encourages the use of kids’ curriculum, “which I would suggest for any family to do. Just do it with your kids and have fun with it. Because I don’t think there’s one thing our kids need more than just to have fun with us and laugh.”
While Julie has continued to cope with the mental trials of quarantine, David’s trials have been more social. “I’m an extrovert, so I miss being out in the stores more… All of our meetings have been on conference calls, Zoom calls, text, one-on-one, email.”
Lucky for David, though, “I still do visit my stores. We’re doing everything we can do to take care of customers right now. And it’s obviously very challenging.”
Nevermind the challenge of not bringing any unwanted viral germs back home or to other stores.
“We don’t shake hands. We keep a six foot barrier. The other thing I do is, I try to go and visit my stores during the slowest times or even before the store opens to minimize my contact with customers. And I do a lot of observing from afar, like either in the parking lot or on the sidewalk,” he said.
Besides those measures, Julie teased that David is, “the greatest hand washer you’ve ever met. I mean, our kids one day are going to be in counseling because of the handwashing.”
H-E-B has implemented procedures such as limiting the number of customers allowed in stores and spacing out checkout lines in order to better facilitate social distancing. Still, David stressed that the public can help to mitigate the impact to grocery stores through appropriate shopping habits.
“I think it’s just important for people to remember that there’s not a food shortage. There’s plenty of food,” said David. “So I think just shopping with that in mind will allow you to be a really great customer… Nobody needs a six months supply of anything. God’s gonna provide everybody’s daily bread. What created the shelves being empty is people being fearful. So I think if you can shop without fear, you’ll be fine.”
While David and Julie have done everything they can to take care of their kids, clients and colleagues, they have also made sure to take care of each other. David celebrated a birthday recently, and Julie arranged for a parade of neighbors to drive by their house and share birthday greetings.
“I think she knew what I needed, and she knew that I missed my friends,” said David.
For Julie, sanity comes in the form of daily 5 a.m. Camp Gladiator workouts on the back patio, “which is really interesting to watch,” added David with a laugh.
More than anything, the couple have enjoyed watching their kids’ friendships blossom through the forced togetherness. Julie explained it best.
“They’ve always been good friends, but that’s all they have now. And watching them learn to play together all the time and create together and make up their own games. They built like a huge fort upstairs that involves every pillow and sheet that I have… Just watching them kind of reconnect with one another. That’s been the biggest blessing.”