Here's the thing - I'm still somewhat in this whirlwind of transition, so I'm finding that the details are still kind of hazy.
In general, everything has been going better than expected. I don't want to go too in depth, but all in all, the Foster's are great. They respect and appreciate me to the point that they're going out of their way, on a regular basis, to bridge me with connections that could help my teaching career next year. They treat me like the teacher I am, and value my knowledge and input to an incredibly high degree. They're genuinely nice people, and I'm thankful that we have such an open, honest relationship going.
The kids are...kids. The oldest, Elizabeth (13), is a typical pre-teen and has an incredibly sweet heart. The youngest, Katharine (9), is active and sporty, yet still manages to be alllll girl. She's adorable. Then, of course, there's Wells (11). He has a diagnosis that puts him on the Autism spectrum; therefore, life in the Foster house is always a bit interesting. He's a sweet kid with a lot of passion - very intelligent and perceptive. It's been great experience, even after only a few weeks, working with Wells individually, as well as within the dynamic of his relationships with others (especially his sisters). Patience, time management, conflict resolution, problem solving...These are things I could never learn enough about. Anyways, the good moments are outweighing the bad :)
One of my first nights here, Melissa and I met some of her friends for a barbecue on a beach a few towns over. When we walked up to the spot where we were going to sit, we noticed that, across the water (the Long Island Sound), the New York City skyline was visible. I can't explain what I felt - It was just so incredibly strange. I wasn't there, I was here. I wasn't beneath the buildings, I was beneath the trees. I wasn't in my comfort zone. Instead, I was in a place where objects are things to be desired, and status is something to be gained. I was frustrated and terribly sad. Hurt. What had I allowed myself to do? Why had I chosen to be here, and not there? No one could have thought me a bigger hypocrite than myself.
It's really hard for me to balance this passion of mine with what I feel I am being lead to do. My heart aches to be in a certain environment, yet I couldn't be more far from it at this point. And yet, I'm here with complete peace. Complete peace. I rest assured that I'm hear for a reason or two, and that becomes more apparent to me with each passing day. You wouldn't guess it, but this truly is the strangest thing that's ever happened to me.
With that said, I'm learning. I'm learning how to accept what I'm given with a grateful heart, and to do so with the understanding that there is a time and reason for things that, God forbid, I may not understand at the time. Sounds simple enough, but I think it's so easy to say we've gotten things mastered when, in all reality, the knowledge has never been tested. We like to think we're smarter than we really are, don't we? Try getting hit with a death in the family, divorce, illness, a deviation from the "Five Year Plan". We're not as strong as we think we are, either. If we were, where would be the need for reliance? At the same time, though, we've all got a strength in us that exists unconditionally. A beautiful paradox.
I'm rambling at this point, but I can say one thing - I never, in my life, have felt a deeper desire to be submerged in urban ministry and teaching than I do at this very moment.
By the way, how exciting is it that fall is here? Pumpkins, orange Mums, falling leaves, apple cider, cinnamon coffee cake candles, sweaters and hoodies, the smell of the heat in your car...so great.