Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hosting an International Student

One adventure we embarked upon this past year was to host an international student in our home.
It started off last summer when an opportunity presented itself to host a student from Spain for 6 weeks.
We thought, "Why not?"
Well, it went pretty well, so when we were asked about hosting a student for the school year, we at first said, "no." Sounded like too big of a commitment for us. And we are busy people.

Then we were asked again. We prayed about it.
And an opportunity to host a student from China came and we agreed to it.
And then it fell through.
We kinda decided we were OK with that.
Then several weeks later we were called about students from Taiwan needing host families.
We said, "Sure, we'll see if this pans out."

And a few weeks later, Kenny arrives at our house.

 Kenny arrived pretty timid about his English speaking. He rarely spoke at the dinner table in those first few months.  Eventually, he began improving. He finally started asking what things were if he didn't understand and he was willing to make mistakes in his speaking.

Tate was reminiscing just the other day about the time when Kenny asked if we were going to have a "snake" that night. 
"Uh, no, I don't think so." I replied. 
After he expounded a little more it dawned on me that he was asking if we were going to have a "snack."

Kenny had not learned vocabulary for a lot of animals. Luckily, we have children's books and animal toys that we could quiz him with.
His English improved quite a bit over the course of the year while he was here.

We also got to teach him other things:
How to drive a tractor
How to tie a necktie

 He also experienced holidays with us:
Kenny was a Stormtrooper to fit with our Star Wars theme.
Christmas might have been a bit overwhelming.

We also were able to take him to our nation's capital with us:

And we celebrated his 16th birthday with him!

Kenny was a great fit for our family. He got along great with our young boys. 
I can't imagine that all teenage boys would be able to tolerate that. :) 

Hosting an international student has been a good experience for our family.
But I'll be honest, it is initially a stranger moving into your home. 
And you need to help him, teach him, get him to school, clean up after him, and feed him. 
And then feed him some more. And then some more.
(Remember, he is an active teenage boy)

Our boys have learned about another culture. 
They have come to care for someone from another part of the world. 
Those are good and important things.

But we also felt deeply that this experience and placement was from God.
Without putting Kenny's personal story out there, we felt from the first days that he was in our house that there was something bigger going on. Something more than just a cultural experience.

Our main goal of hosting a student was to share and show the love of Jesus Christ that we have come to know. 
It was on our minds and our hearts, but it wasn't something we wanted to force. 

In February, Kenny went on a Sr.High Winter Retreat with our church.
The boys and I stayed home. 
As I put the boys to bed that first night of the retreat, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray with the boys for Kenny to understand the Gospel and be open to accepting Jesus in his life.
This was the FIRST time I had ever talked or prayed about this with the boys.

Later that night, Adam texted me and said that Kenny accepted Christ.
Kenny had a lot of questions after the main session and Adam had the opportunity to explain the Gospel to him. Kenny wanted to invite Christ into his life.
I told the boys the next morning and their little jaws dropped open.
Watching him share his decision with the church congregation on that next Sunday night, 
I knew that our hosting him was an opportunity that God was using. 
We just had to be willing.

Kenny flew home to Taiwan last Sunday.
But he plans to return to us again at the end of August for his Junior year.