I’m not sure why this post didn’t go up sooner except for the fact that my heart wandered and wondered as much as my feet on a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. Washington romanced me the first time with its lush green stretches, moody weather, and convenient coffee shops at every turn. This time I was able to explore more of downtown and as fun as that was, it was all the other things that made it amazing.
My friend L and I loosely planned this trip. Mostly, we knew we needed to get away a few days, and Washington sounded like a good idea. Although we didn’t have everything written in stone, we knew we were warmly welcome to stay with her medical missionary friend. We were alerted right before that she had taken in a nine year old foster child and that was going to be interesting and a building experience as I had just wrapped up the foster fundraising event I help with every year.
I assumed as a missionary her meager dwelling would be cozy with a capital “C” and that a foster girl in that area and that age would be inquisitive, girly, love the ideas of crafts and games. Instead, I met a missionary who had made the most of what God gave her and had what would be equivalent to a multi-million dollar home in my area. And I met a foster girl who was ashamed of being greeted by us at the school bus stop, who had a very different religion from us, and whose idea of fun was pranking, being sarcastic, and running and playing sports. I also found out this missionary was very charismatic and I was unable to process that. She had several amazing stories about curing people’s illnesses with her medical knowledge as a doctor, but also using the gift of tongues to heal people. Everything was so very foreign to me, as I come from a background that discourages seeking those types of gifts and that feels that speaking in tongues is antiquated and obsolete.
Some things were very very obvious. This missionary friend was a very solid believer. I did not once think her accounts were tall tales. The way that God drew her and her family to Him was totally different than anything I had ever and probably will ever hear. Her family asked several times if I wanted to pray with them to receive the Holy Spirit. They also made it clear that they knew the Holy Spirit indwelled every believer upon being saved, and this was a different acceptance. I prayed for clarity. I prayed for discernment. I prayed to not be swayed by grand anecdotes of how they were able to use their gifts for healing and prophesy. There is still a lot I don’t know how I feel about, but I think it pushed me to really consider why I believe what I do, and consider if I could respectfully see and acknowledge their gifts without judgement/prejudice from what I’ve been taught. I knew *I* wasn’t being prompted to ask for tongues. The fellowship and bible study that happened over the next few days though was so good for my soul. At the bible study, we all ended in prayer. I prayed traditionally while hearing the hum of people speaking aloud in tongues in the background. I did not feel frightened or uncomfortable. There was a lot of peace. I didn’t however, feel a need or desire to pray how they pray.
I won’t say much about the foster child to protect her privacy. It was a situation that sounded very bad, but a relative waited to welcome her states away and she was with our missionary friend in the interim. She was ashamed to be greeted by us because people probably asked who our friend was to her. Our friend referenced herself and us as “Aunties”. The girl quickly warmed up to us but also was still challenging many times with her disrespectful sarcasm and accusations. At one point, she threw a bunch of things on the floor and packed up all her belongings and “rejected” everything she was given by us. We helped her with homework, and homework sometimes took hours due to her reluctance. But all in all, there was a sweet innocent child underneath, just not settled enough in her transitioned housing and who grew up without good parental boundaries. I felt like I got a good idea of what life with a foster child could look like for me one day. She was challenging, but I also loved her so much and wanted to affirm her and help her build character she could take beyond this short time with us.
The day we left, our foster girl was incredibly moody and disagreeable. We met her with a lot of grace. Riding home from lunch, I told her I knew she was bottling up her emotions and that it was okay to share how she was feeling. Her foster auntie told her, “It’s okay to be sad, if you are sad they’re leaving.” Immediately, all her walls shattered and she hugged me tight. She replied, “My best friends are leaving me!” She hugged me tight and then my friend we told her how much we would miss her and what a treat it was to get to know her. She kept repeating how we were so nice. How she had never known anyone so nice to her. My heart was so full and broken for this little girl.
She was given permission to text my friend and I, and she still texts her aunties about her day every once in a while. The transition back to her permanent home did not go well, but she seems to be adjusted now.
One of the biggest trip highlights too, was meeting up with one of my best friends, H, and her friend I’ve heard so much about but didn’t get to meet until this trip. She and her husband’s first date was at Chihuly and it was so sweet to see them reminiscing as they held hands around the museum. I didn’t get much time with my bestie but we definitely got some long hugs in.
I’m still processing everything, but I’m so glad we went on that trip. Our host and now friend was such a loving person and we were truly blessed. So blessed, in fact, that my friend L got a special phone call on our light rail ride one day while there, and was offered a permanent position and great pay increase for a job she had temp’d at for almost a year. With everything that happened, it’s a trip I’ll never forget. My greatest souvenir being a hand written card from a precious little foster girl.