How to Love the World From Your Living Room

love-the-world

Our larger-than-average family lives in beautiful California. Because of where our home is situated, we could literally surf the Pacific in the morning and ski the slopes of Squaw Valley in the afternoon. My children act as if Yosemite is no big deal — it’s practically in our backyard — and a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge is ordinary stuff. I remind them that people come here from all over the world to see all of the places we tend to take for granted, but that doesn’t keep them from thinking our home is not as interesting as the rest of the world.

They want to travel, and travel big. We want that for them, too.

Our dreams often don’t match our realities, though, do they? I once added up the cost of flying all ten of us to Paris. Anyone have an extra $40,000 laying around? Yeah, neither do we. At this point, we also don’t feel a long-term call to the mission field outside of where God has landed us, and so it’s been our heart’s desire to view our home, our town, and our neighbors as our mission field.

A decade ago, we were given the opportunity to host a French exchange student in our home for the summer. Our nearest big city has a sister city in France, and each year they exchange a few delightful French high school students for a few peppy American teens. I remember being pregnant with our sixth child at the time, feeling like our home was already chalk full of activity, but not hesitating to say yes because as soon as the phone call came requesting that we host, I knew that saying yes was the right thing to do.

That response was the urging of the Holy Spirit, and in the months that followed as Marion lived with our family, we developed a philosophy that simply reads, “We can’t take our family to the world but we can bring the world to our family.”

Hosting exchange students has been one of the best choices we’ve ever made. We have lifelong relationships with our first two, now 30 and 24. Marion, our first, calls us her “American parents”, has since returned to visit us twice, and has welcomed us to Paris into her tiny apartment and beautiful Parisian life.

This summer Ines has joined us. Her French fashion sense, fearless foray into English, and fun-loving 16-year-old self has quickly and comfortably settled into all of our hearts. She’s been inseparable from our teens, and two of them are planning to join the exchange next year and spend their summer in France so they can hang out with Ines and her family.

Are there spiritual implications to welcoming exchange students into our home? Undoubtedly. Just living our lives as Jesus-followers has made an impact and the conversations about faith and practice have been rich. In fact, we interviewed our first French exchange student on a fall episode of HomeschoolingIRL, “Homeschooling With Exchange Students” {LINK: http://www.homeschoolingirl.com/episodes/episode-8-homeschooling-with-exchange-students}. What Marion said about our family’s faith blew us away. What she took away from our family was exactly what we had hoped for her stay with us: she took Jesus.

Maybe your family can’t travel the world and point others to Christ, but perhaps this is the year you can begin to pray about the world coming to your home. Saying yes to exchange students is by far and away one of the best decisions we’ve ever made!

 

Kendra

www.preschoolersandpeace.com

Because He extends love and grace…

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storyformed

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