Unexpected Love

Part 4 of the Featured Families Series

Families are in the thick of hosting now.  Some days are hard.  Some days are full of joy.  And some days reveal the depth of change that hosting brings…both in these children, and in the hearts of the host families.

Here is an update on what some of our Featured Families are learning about what love looks like through hosting.

By Virginia Davidson
Hosting two preteen siblings

Davidson 2nd It was time to submit health information for our weekly report.  I nervously approached our teens and asked them to step onto the scale so I could note their weight.  Our host son hopped on and off the scale and skipped away.  Our host daughter’s reaction was quite different.  She did not want to get on the scale.  We had been talking about how God has made her beautiful and I knew she would struggle with the idea of sharing this information.

Beautiful K is not alone in this personal inner battle.  I grew up basing some of my worth on my weight.  I still struggle with this today.  I weigh myself in private and my husband doesn’t even know the numbers I battle with.  As I tried to make K feel loved, valued, and comfortable to fill out the report, I found myself stepping on the scale first, right in front of her and everyone.  Eyes widened and there were some teenage gasps and giggles.  I felt embarrassed. I wanted to run away, but more than that, I wanted her to know that I won’t ask her to be vulnerable and not be vulnerable myself.  She smiled and then got on the scale herself, staring at the number and noting it.  The siblings ran off and threw all of the numbers into the computer to find out what the ratio is from pounds to kilograms, and included mine in their study.  Suddenly it wasn’t a moment of shame or negative significance.  It was a moment of connection and clarity.

I pray that she does not find her significance in the number on the scale or the Nike shoes on her feet, but rather that she finds her significance in Christ.  I pray that God continues to soften my heart to be willing to be vulnerable to help.  And maybe, just maybe, God is redeeming my lifelong struggle with breaking free from my own struggle with weight by using this in her life:  speaking words of love, truth, and value in places where shame and judgment may sit.

As we continue to wake to our host teens’ smiling faces over the next few weeks, we know that God wants us to continue to seek Him, allow Him into the seemingly little moments, to demonstrate His love and truths to them, and the rest of our family.

By Jennifer Williams
Hosting a tween girl and a teen boy

“Expect this to be hard. Expect to love them unconditionally…” This is what my husband and I both thought going into hosting. Williams 2ndWe told ourselves it wouldn’t be the easiest thing we have ever done, but we knew this is what God wanted us to do.

Well, I have to be honest ya’ll…we are several weeks in, and we have had so much fun! But here’s the biggest surprise:  We aren’t just loving them unconditionally; we are being loved back!!!  This brother and sister duo slid right into our family so beautifully.

Of course, it didn’t feel this comfortable the night we picked them up from the airport.  As we left the other host families and made that long walk to our car and then our two hour drive home, I could already see how difficult the language barrier was going to be. I had so many things to tell them and to ask them. But even the simplest things like “Did you enjoy the plane ride?” or “Are you cold?” wasn’t so simple.

Our first full day home was great: they seemed to get along with our kids, and especially adored our 17 month old boy.  But somehow even though we had an amazing first day, I felt exhausted with so many emotions.  As I rocked our baby to bed that night, I was thinking, “Is this how it will be for 5 weeks? Will I be entertaining two strangers in our home? Will my kids feel out of place or left behind?”

But over the next couple of days these two *strangers* quickly have become two beautiful souls that we never expected to show us so much love and kindness. K is the oldest and he is hilarious!!! I didn’t expect that at all. He has brought so much laughter to our family. And little A is a huge help to me! She loves helping to clean up and taking care of our three little kids. They are so good to one another. They help with our chickens and rabbits. They love swimming and being outside. And their English is getting better every day. They have gotten super, super goofy several times…where I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. How can we have so much fun and laugh so hard about things when we can hardly understand one another?! I didn’t expect that.

I also didn’t expect for things from our garden to disappear so quickly. Or our pantry. Or our fridge. These two EAT. They haven’t been picky at all.  I’m so thankful they love all the fresh watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, and tomatoes we pick from our garden, much of which they can’t get easily in their country.  I need to find a way to get chips growing in the yard and maybe a river made of juice and we will be set! Our chickens have always laid enough eggs for us, but I am afraid we will have to stop by our neighbors house to “borrow” lots more because K loves frying a few every couple hours.

We certainly have had some struggles and issues as everyone learns to fit together in our home, but man, are they worth it.   In our house, there are infants, toddlers, small kids, pre-teens and teens…and I have learned that no stage is easy.  It’s hard giving our own three the focus they usually get with our two host kids needing so much of our attention. A few times we have had to sit down and go over again why A & K get a snack just before supper when they can’t have one…or why they can’t drink as much juice as the big kids can.  Our host children need lots of our time and attention even for simple things like explaining where we are going and why.  Sometimes, it’s a struggle getting out of the door or even getting them to put the appropriate clothes on for where we are going. I have to take the time to type out explanations on my phone so that it can be translated into their language. But they need our attention for more important things too.  They shout, “Momma watch!!” Momma!!!!” a hundred times a day because they aren’t used to having someone caring about what they are doing.

Overall, these have been some of the longest days of my life! I am sooooo tired and I miss cuddling on the couch watching a show while eating snacks with my husband. We haven’t watched much TV since they got here, and even that has changed.  As I write this, the big kids are watching Frozen…in their language…and they love it.  I do miss our “old” normal at times…but I love this adventure and couldn’t be happier with how things are going. God really had His hand in having these two coming here for the summer.

Stay tuned for more updates from our families!