I have currently made my way back east into Colorado. This portion of my journey has been very different. Here I have spent more time hanging out with friends and family than hiking and climbing. I didn’t realize how many people I knew here before I started scheduling dinners. It has been wonderful to catch up with people, most of which I have not seen for many years.
The most unusual visit was to a good friend who moved here to be a foster mom to teenage girls with complex backgrounds. I had been in continual contact with her, hearing about the girls’ lives however, I was quite nervous when I arrived because I know that these girls were extremely sensitive. I was afraid that I would say or do the wrong thing and cause unnecessary drama, but I wanted to meet them in person.
I made my way over when the girls were finished school and they were excited to have new company. I shot baskets, played cards, listened to music, and had dinner with them. I was mostly observing because I quickly realized that I wasn’t even sure where to start a conversation. Normally I ask about a person’s background and family, but I knew that was painful territory with these girls. Later when I asked my friend she said “we focus on the present and future plans”. What intrigued me most was how the girls interacted with each other as well as the support team at the house. It felt like I was in the middle of a Big Brother type of tv show. There was drama in every direction, be it needing another caffeine drink, an impromptu hair dye session, or teenage girl drama. There are big remnants of their pasts; I can’t imagine what it must have been like for these girls. As teenagers, they have already experienced more pain and trauma than most of us will in a lifetime. The worst part is that they have no idea what a truly loving and caring home is like. They were all placed in this house, surrounded by people who have dedicated their lives for caring for them, but all they see is a lack of freedom.
Each girl has a team of people working for them. This team includes counselors, teachers, and other advocates. All of the individuals that I met were deeply committed to their work and the thankless daily challenges. The one truly encouraging sign that I saw was in the girl who had been at the house the longest. She appeared to be in a much more emotionally stable place then the other girls. My friends shared that this was drastic progress from only a few months earlier. It is a long grueling, emotionally taxing job, but with God’s help; lives are being effected for the better. God is the only one who can truly heal these girls.
This experience made me feel fortunate for the loving home that I grew up in. I never had to question whether I had a safe place to sleep, food to eat, and people who loved me. I have always had a support system of people who deeply cared for me. I grew up with no idea that there were kids in my own country who lived lives like these girls. I would like to urge you to keep both the girls and the teams committed to helping them in your prayers.
Psalms 72: 4, 12-14 (NIV)
“May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor. For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.”
I have intentionally only included general information about the girls and the location for their safety. If you would like more information contact me with a personal e-mail.
Pictures below are from Lake Tahoe, Great Basin National Park, and various locations in Colorado.