This is 2-month-old, Sofia, the youngest visitor to my house
I am registered with an organization called A Candle in the Window Christian hospitality network. This year, as I have focused on hospitality, I have hosted a few families through ACW. This has been lots of fun. Before I was hosting only missionaries, pastors, and personal friends. But through ACW, I have also hosted regular folks, mostly from back home. It turns out that this is a wonderful way of raising awareness about Europe as a mission field.
There is an extra and unexpected personal bonus for me: I get to play with their kids.
One family came through, and their youngest, Joe Jr., was six and three quarters. Joe Jr. loves to play Uno. I don’t have an Uno deck, but I have something better: Solo. Solo is played by the same basic rules as Uno, except that you say Solo instead of Uno when you’ve played your next to last card. Solo also has a couple of special cards that Uno doesn’t have. They are cards in which either you trade hands with another player or everybody passes their whole hand to the player next to them. That makes Solo a much more challenging game. Joe Jr. quickly learned the special cards, and became a Solo fanatic. His big sisters and parents quickly tired of the game, so Joe Jr. played with the only person willing to play him: me. And we played. And we played. And we played. His parents went out and bought Joe Jr. his own Solo deck, and I’m sure he’s still driving them crazy with it.
Another family came, and they needed to go to a part of town that I’m not very familiar with. I accompanied them to the general area, then I whipped out my phone, pulled up the navigation software, put the address in, and handed the phone to Sean, their thirteen year old son. The mother looked at me in horror, sure that I had lost my mind. But Sean led us straight to the place with no problems. And of course, I got my phone back, intact.
My big sofa has a dozen throw pillows in the three colors of the Italian flag. I taught three year old Chelsea and her two year old sister, Sadie, the important skill of couch fort building. Their parents entered the living room, surprised to see the girls playing quietly, with me encouraging this activity. I guess not every host family likes having their couch pillows tossed about. But really, what else are they for, but couch forts, tossing at someone, and hiding under? Oh yeah, I guess they’re also good for resting your head and/or back against.
One family was keeping a blog of their travels in Europe. Everywhere they went, they took their plastic pink flamingo. The flamingo, aptly named Floyd, was featured is pictures of iconic places, like the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, on a gondola, etc. The week before they arrived, I found a six foot tall pink flamingo in a courtyard near my building. I knew that this was more than a coincidence. So when they arrived, I told Elliot, their twelve year old son about it because Floyd was riding around Europe in his backpack. Of course, he wanted to get a picture of Floyd with a giant twin.
I have been invited to come along as the family tours the city; included in family Bible and prayer time; taken out to supper with the family; and kissed good night. People have asked me if I ever get lonely. I do miss my grandchildren, and for me, this is the cost of following Jesus. But because I have opened my home and my life to others, I am rewarded in wonderful ways. The people who have visited me have almost all remained friends. My world has expanded to include many, many people—and their children. I am very richly blessed! God is good!