27 Jul
2014
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Preparing to Host a Stranger

Today is the cleanest my bathrooms will be all year. Every nook and cranny has been scrubbed and disinfected. The rest of the house will follow suit in the next few hours. We have a house guest to pick up this evening. We’ll welcome a stranger into our home for a week-long visit.

It’s the sixth year at least one of our kiddos has participated in a Challenger Sports British soccer camp. The coaches for the program are college-aged people from the United Kingdom who travel around different regions of the United States for three months staying in a new town with a new host family each week. I believe the art of hospitality is important to instill in our children. I want them to see us freely sharing our resources and time with others. The best way to teach anything is by example.

Challenger British soccer coach A

Five years ago, I was enormously pregnant with our youngest and chasing around three young boys. We signed our 5-year-old (our oldest then) up for camp and paused at the box concerning whether or not we’d like to host a coach. I’m always up for adventure, but the unknown of bringing a stranger into our home seemed risky. I did research into Challenger, prayed over the decision and dove in. Those coaches are someone’s child. If my child was across the ocean, I’d want someone to watch over them in my place.

Challenger British soccer coach B

That first year hosting was not my best effort. I was waddling around, tired and not sure what this hosting gig should look like. I was a little guarded, wanting to paint our family, country and state in a positive light. It wasn’t until year three of hosting that I finally felt comfortable just being who we are, for better or worse. We threw ourselves into the role of tour guide and haven’t looked back.

Challenger British soccer coach M

I’m always nervous before we pick up our coach for the week. I like to plan and research, know what’s coming, as much as possible. The unknown worries me. It takes a great deal of trust to welcome a stranger into your life. We pray the coach will be a good fit with our family and be open to explore our county. By the end of the week the coach is an honorary “big brother” to our kiddos. He’ll be thought of as family, talked about and prayed over for years to come.

Challenger British soccer coach J

We’ve learned much about our allies across the pond. Our kids attempt to perfect their accents during the week and have a working knowledge of the language differences. It’s a cultural exchange. One of my favorite memories is watching the Summer Olympics hosted in London with two British soccer coaches sitting on my couch. The UK is at the top of our list of international locations to visit.

Challenger British soccer coach C

I’ve cried each time we’ve said goodbye. The chances of seeing the coaches again is slim, even if they choose to come back with Challenger the next year. We could request coaches back to our town, but I want them to see as much of our country as possible. We hosted one coach two years in a row, which firmly rooted him in our hearts. We feel like we know his family, and we’ve never even met. That second summer we weren’t nervous. We were welcoming home family.

I’ll spend the majority of today cleaning, grocery shopping and preparing to welcome someone else’s son. My stomach will tie in knots. I’ll wonder multiple times if this is a good idea, if he’ll like us, if we’ll like him, if we’ll be fun, if he’ll hate my cooking. It’s always turned out wonderful. By Sunday I’ll be teary-eyed, wondering where the week went and adding one more person to our family.

 

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2 Comments

  • Your blogs are amazing, I am a soccer coach for challenger and this was my first year coaching abroad. It’s great to hear the thoughts of the family on the other side even thought you’ve hosted us continuously! I have the same thoughts travelling to a host family, will they like my personality, my jokes the way I coach or that I want to find out how they live; how much different it is from home! You guys are great and I’ve loved meeting new people every week. Thank you for sharing even though you didn’t host me!

    • I hope you enjoyed your first year with Challenger and spending the summer in the U.S. Safe travels back home!