Yesterday I spent the day with an old friend. Sue is someone whom I spent an entire year with – when we were 7th graders. Her family was in Seattle on a year furlough from where they served as missionaries to the Philippines.
7th grade is a very awkward time for most kids – we were no different. Our junior high school building had burned down while I was at 6th grade camp – we heard the news on the bus ride home. What would we do? Since no school could be built that quickly (it took 2 1/2 years) it was decided that we would bus to another district – for our 7th grade year – some 45 minutes away from our town. This was a brand new school – sitting empty due to a failed levy in their district. The school was an “open configuration” freezing cold – this is Washington State where most of the year it is overcast, cold and/or raining in the fall, winter and spring months. The school had outdoor breeze-ways between classes and all the lockers were outside too. Brrr. It was at this frozen place that I first met Sue.
She was fresh off the mission field and feeling very lost and alone. Junior high is brutal – EVEN when you’re from here – but if you are not – good grief – it’s humiliating and cruel. She remembers two HUGE girls on her bus (must have been 9th graders) that wanted to beat her up – and they kept calling her a “Lesbian”. Something she didn’t understand until much later. Yes – we were pretty sheltered back then 🙂 Most of that year is a blur to her – it’s probably better that way. What I can remember of it – it was horrible – from the LONG bus rides to the freezing hallways – to the P.E. classes and school bullies that once put snot and blood all over the front of my locker. I never used it again after that. I can remember more things than I want to.
Sue and I did everything together that year – it was back in the day when you could actually let your 12-year-old kid go on a city bus ALONE to the mall or Seattle center – or anywhere else and they weren’t in any danger. That’s what we used to do. Sue also remembers choir tour that year when our church youth choir “hit the road”. We had tons of fun and used to laugh A LOT at everything. She had a younger sister, Pam (now a missionary herself in the Philippians ) who at that time was in the 5th grade. I spent a lot of time at their big rented house not far from our own home. Her Mom made this incredible “Sticky Rice” and I finally got that recipe about 4 years ago from Pam and made it myself – great stuff!
After that year – Sue’s family went back to the mission field and I saw her only once more – right before I got married – she even gave me an idea for one of the songs that I used in my wedding – some 30 years ago this fall! But this was the last time I saw her. Before internet – it was hard to keep in touch. She got married to a pastor and so did I. We both moved around so much – and addresses, phone numbers and email addresses changed as frequently as the wind.
Then about 4 years ago – her parents were at the church where my husband was on staff at the time. They came for a missions conference and as it happened – I was sitting right by them during lunch on a Sunday. As we started to talk – I looked more closely at their last name and suddenly put it all together and said – “Do you remember me?” I told them my maiden name and they remembered and we started to talk about their girls – where they were and what they were doing. Sue was not on any of the social networks yet – but I got an email from her sister Pam – who was living in the Philippians. It was so great chatting and catching up. I emailed Sue – working at the time and very busy with 5 children. It took a while to hear anything from her. But I finally did and we did a little catching up through email. About a year ago – she joined facebook and I saw pictures and chatted with her here and there.
Fast forward to about 3 weeks ago. I received a message in my inbox on facebook from Sue – saying she had MOVED up here to Olympia – just an hour from my home. Her husband is the new pastor of Evergreen Christian Community Church – a church we are familiar with because the former pastor’s wife from New Life Church had ties there – her father used to be the lead pastor there for several years. And her mother and brother still attend there. What a small world it is!
We made plans to get together and yesterday she appeared at my front door. I opened the door and all of a sudden I was 12 years old again looking into the face of Sue’s Mom! WOW – it really surprised me! She looks so much like her Mom used to look when we were kids 🙂 I can’t tell you how great it was to see my old friend and to see the years completely melt away in a matter of seconds. I felt at home with her immediately. Sue has a very warm and gentle heart – the perfect pastor’s wife. She and I talked and talked and TALKED – all afternoon – remembering funny things about that crazy 7th grade year. And feeling blessed that we had each other. It warmed my heart to hear her say that I saved her that year – even though I felt like I was lost too. We never realize the impact that we make to others when we’re making it, do we?
This was proof positive for me – that we don’t change that much from the time we are children. We stay pretty much the same people inside – even though we gain perspective and wisdom as we experience life.
I am so glad to have my friend back in the area – and look forward to many more of these special times – shopping, laughing, remembering and being friends – even after all the time and space between us.
What’s your “Blast from the Past” today? Something or someone you remember? Someone who made a difference in your life as a child, teenager or adult? Who are you investing in today? Remember to make each moment count – you never know who you are impacting.