Friday, August 19, 2011


3:46 p.m. Today's project was to attend an orientation for the Homestay program sponsored by International Education Programs of the University of California Riverside Extension. This program assigns foreign students to nearby homes throughout the school year, with the goal of improving their English language abilities.

The requirements are few: you must own your home, speak English as your language at home, have a separate bedroom with a bed, desk and dresser, and their own bathroom; and be willing to give them 3 meals a day and transportation to UCR. The stipend is quite fair.

The meeting was conducted by the administrative assistant for four of us. It's rather different from having a high school foreign exchange student because during the summer, kids as young as 10 are allowed in the program. There is no upper age limit either, because whole groups of teachers may come for TESL (Teaching English as a Second Langauge) training, and choose a private home over a dorm room setting.

A family can choose to only have one student, which we would, or could have two. Most students are Asian, but can be European as well. It was suggested that we have a rice cooker, because that would be a comfort food for many of the program participants.That's fine--maybe I can borrow one from my daughter Heidi if she doesn't use it that often. However, the students are to eat what you eat, and can make their own breakfast and pack their lunch with food you provide, for an American experience. We were encouraged to take them with us grocery shopping, for instance, to pick out some selections that look good to them to try. What fun!

Since the students are at school at least from 9:00-3:00 p.m., we were urged to sit down to dinner as a family each day, something Steve and I have always done with our family. Most weekends, they take part in full-day outings, and we would be obligated to pick them up at a much later time. But since I live about 5 minutes away, that's not a problem. "And if a student is home with us on Sunday," I asked, "May we take them with us to church?" "Of course,"was the answer, so that was much appreciated. Church-going is definitely an American cultural experience they could learn quite a bit from! The opportunity to have a guest in our home hear the Gospel would be awesome!

Romans 10:14 says,

How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

Thus, I'll be quite eager to take them with us to church!

We need to submit pictures of the front and back of our house, and the room they'd be staying in. I already have an offer of a desk in the works, probably much more appropriate than the roll top desk we would have moved into the room. Steve and I have been refurbishing that room and bathroom for the last few weeks, and they are looking move-in ready.

Who knows what the Lord may do in our lives, and in the life of a person whom we will only know for a season? Who knows if we'll even be selected?

There will be cultural differences, and we were advised that the Homestay guest's language limitations can lead to miscommunication. The IEP office is ready to handle all matters of that nature, to make sure both the host family and the student are comfortable.

Whatever our differences, the love of God in the Person of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will win the day every time!

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