Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our new "son"

This may come as a surprise, but then again it probably won't. :)

A few weeks ago we were contacted by {what felt like} a completely random call, asking if we would be interested in taking an exchange student. My stunned response was, "How did you get my number?" That response seems funny to me now, but at the time it was well founded--how does a telemarketer just ask people to open their homes like that? As you should know by now, we love to open our homes to others. The reply of the person on the other end of the line was just that--somehow we had been selected because we were known to open our homes to others (most likely because we are licensed daycare providers). I said, yes we were interested, and was given a website plus a promise that someone would be calling in a few days.

At first I really didn't think anything would come from it at all. The promised call did come, however, and suddenly I felt like someone was asking me to "put my money where my mouth was." A plan began to take shape, but we never knew for sure that everything would come together. We were "just interested" but things moved SO QUICKLY right from the moment we had our first phone call. It still seems so surreal. But God was not surprised. He knew from the beginning. :)

The organization is Youth for Understanding (YFU). Our area representative contacted us and then sent me several emails with students they are waiting to place. As I read through profiles and letters, Patrick's stood out among all the others. Some things I noticed right away: he loves math, he juggles, he has a sister who loves horses, he is interested in computers and computer programming...and the list of similarities to our own family goes on. I was impressed with his English as well. As I began to be more interested in Patrick, I then began to worry that he would be already taken by the time we called back. :) Of course, Mitch told me not to worry.

We met for a home inspection/visit on August 16th, and Patrick was scheduled to fly here on August 27th. When I say things happened fast, I really meant it. We filled our days with rearranging rooms (again). We moved Eden out of her room so Patrick could have his own space. We packed up many books and other things that we are not using right now to make our space less cluttered. Mitch did so much hard work! We talked about Patrick lots and lots. He was able to contact us via email and send us updated pictures. We read letters to the kids and showed them his picture and the excitement mounted. Finally Thursday, August 27th arrived. They were so excited they could hardly contain themselves!

His flight didn't arrive until 10:30 pm, long after their bedtime. To help kids stay awake we put on a movie, and we spent time making a welcome sign.

Joshua, Malachi, and Tirzah all went to bed. Holly came over to stay with them. Micah, Eden, Caleb, and Zeke went with Mitch & I to the St. Cloud airport.

This was the closest they had ever been to a plane. We got to see it land and taxi up to the "gate" (which was outside). We had the full attention of everyone in the waiting area--our excitement over seeing the plane, and the special person on that plane was obviously contagious. :) We all stayed with our faces glued to the windows until we saw the people get off and head for the doors.

We recognized Patrick right away, who gave us a big, exhausted grin and "Hallo."

On the way home we talked, probably way too much. Caleb said to Patrick, "I'll bet you have a lot of questions for us." Patrick said, "Yes, but I don't even know where to start." Later after pondering that for a while Caleb said, "Maybe when you are not so tired you will be able to think of where to start and then you can just fire away!" LOL

Patrick's spoken English is very good, just as reflected in his written English.

{playing a game of Jenga}

Patrick is so kind. He is like a magnet to the kids--they want to be sitting next to him all the time. Josh said, "I love you, Patrick" at least 7 times today. :) We love having him here. All I can think of over and over is how God was leading us to do this--how He put everything together and made it happen. How He gave us a love for Patrick just like for our own children. It is a feeling of joy and gratitude that just makes me want to cry!

Today we went to the grocery store together. My normal trip takes 2 hours, but I knew with all the kids it would be much longer. We had fun talking with Patrick and figuring out what things are and what he likes to eat. I know it was quite the scene having all 10 of us parading through the stores, and a few times we blocked isles. Here we are bagging groceries at our favorite grocery store. Not so bad, eh?

I have tried to imagine what it would feel like to be Patrick's parents and sending my son off to a foreign country for an entire year. I have tried to imagine what it would feel like to be Patrick and saying goodbye to everyone I know for that long. The feelings are overwhelming! One thing is for sure, he comes from a good, loving home. His parents have worked hard and instilled many good values in him. :) We will do everything we can to provide him with a good American experience and help him learn as much as he can this year while he is here.

Patrick came with gifts from his home for each of us. They were thoughtful and beautiful. Our children were thrilled. His mother and sister made this beautiful mobile for Tirzah.

We have enjoyed learning some German from Patrick. Don't ask me to spell any of the words. So far we have learned one, two, thank you, hello, there, here, love, and a couple others. I'm sure it will continue to grow. We also spent some time today sharing music. We had Patrick pull up some of his favorite songs on youtube and our kids played some of theirs also. We look forward to the adventure that lies ahead with great joy.

P.S. YFU still has quite a few students that need good homes. You can visit the site to see student profiles.

1 comment:

  1. I had this huge cheesy grin on my face all the way through reading your post. I'm SO HAPPY for you! The picture of everyone playing Jenga really struck me. He looks completely relaxed and at home. Praise God!
    That mobile, oh my goodness, it's BEAUTIFUL!!! [slaps hand for coveting]
    Praying that God will continue to bless your time together and that He will work in mighty ways in each of your lives for His glory.