Okay, okay, I know this is about a week overdue. I have not even been to a computer to check my e-mail for the past few weeks! I want to talk about one of the best host home experiences I have ever had; last weekend we went to Kalamazoo, MI, and despite a very late arrival and an unusual distribution of the team to host families, I had the greatest weekend of the summer thus far! (Quick note: I don’t like to use names of host families in my blog for safety reasons, so most of the names in this post are changed.)
Last Saturday started out difficult for all of us because Rachel was leaving us for the summer. A couple of weeks ago Rachel got bronchitis, and despite all the rest and doctors’ visits, she was not getting better fast enough to keep going on tour. Brandon came up for a few days to help us sort everything out, and we spent Saturday morning praying and saying goodbye. Even though it was really difficult, we all knew that it was much better for her to slow down and get better. We said goodbye and left the camp, giving her time to say goodbye to the other counselors.
As we started driving, I opened up some mail that Brandon had brought me from Cedarville. One of the letters was from World Vision, and it was A LETTER FROM MY SPONSOR CHILD!! I have been waiting for this letter since last October; I guess it had gotten lost somewhere, and then they found it, and it took a few more months to get it over here. I was so ecstatic to finally hear from her, even if it was a translator’s handwriting, and to see a “picture” that she had drawn for me! It dawned on me that she is REAL, that I’m not sending a check every month to an organization, but to a wonderful child with my birthday. That was the beginning of my amazing weekend.
A few hours later we arrived in Kalamazoo. We got there about an hour and a half late, partly because of the morning and partly because the “fast-food” place where we stopped took 30 minutes to get all of our food ready! So we set up and went through a few songs for a sound check; it turned into a sneak preview for our host families since they all arrived on time. :) Once we were done, we found out that the boys would be split up 2-2-1, but the family that was hosting just Will and the family that was hosting us girls were neighbors, so all 3 of us spent the evening with both families in one home until it was time for bed.
Matt, Will’s host dad, picked us all up. We found out that he was a musician, and almost immediately he and Will hit it off talking about guitars and all sorts of stuff. We arrived at Matt’s house for dinner and met his wife, Lindsey, and Jo and my host family: Ron, Valerie, and their daughter Briana. After we were all settled with our food around the picnic table, Lindsey asked Briana about her trip to Italy. About a week before Briana had gotten back from a 2-week missions trip to Italy, where her team shared God’s love through music and drama in churches and a day camp. As Briana talked, her smile kept getting bigger and her eyes began to sparkle. She talked and talked about the way people in Europe are so resistant to the Gospel and how much they worship saints, and she kept saying she just wanted to go back and share with them the truth about Jesus. I had asked her earlier where she wanted to go to college, and she said she was going to work for 2 years and get enough money so she could move to Italy and study there and keep sharing God’s love with the people. Suddenly, I really wanted to pray for her, so I said the famous HeartSong phrase: “I know this is kind of random, but Can we pray for you right now, Briana?” It was a little awkward to ask, but I was able to pray with her, these two families, and Jo and Will, for Briana and her ministry and for the people she would meet there when she went back.
After we talked a little bit more, we moved back inside to get dessert. When we were all done with our cherry pie and cookies, Lindsey pulled out the atlas and asked Briana to show us where she had been in Italy. Lindsey, Valerie, Briana and I moved to the dining room where we could see the atlas better. It was so fun to hear Briana talk in her Italian accent when she described the cities and said some Italian phrases for us. As we talked the conversation moved in all sorts of directions; Lindsey and Valerie admitted that when they were together they were very ADD, and being with them reminded me of conversations I have with my sister on a regular basis. The two of them were so funny to listen to and to talk with, and Briana and I rolled our eyes a couple of times in between adding our own witty comments into the conversation. It was SO FUN for me to relax and talk with these girls like they were my best friends. As much as I love the boys on my HS team, they’re still boys, and I don’t always understand their humor. Spending an evening having “girl time” and being silly was so refreshing for me! At one point I made some witty or punny comment, and all I remember is the three of them laughing and laughing about it. That doesn’t happen for me as often as it used to, and that's okay, but it was refreshing to be able to laugh with them all evening.
Jo joined us later on the conversation, and it dawned on me that I wasn’t sure where all the guys were. Then I remembered that while we were eating pie, I had no idea where Matt was until I heard the sound of an electric guitar coming from the basement. Will had said, “I’ll be right back,” and that was the last I had seen of him. I guess he did come back upstairs to finish his pie, but when he went back down again he was down for good. I had to text him good night!
When it was time for bed Jo and I gathered our stuff and walked across the street to Briana’s house where we spent the night. The next morning Will came over and Valerie drove the 3 of us to church, where we heard that the rest of the guys had had amazing host homes as well! Grant and Dexter stayed with a vocal professor and a literary professor who loved C.S. Lewis, so both of them had the time of their lives! Tommy and Dane stayed with a wonderful widow who just wanted to talk about her husband and hear about Tommy’s fiancée. It was so cool to share stories with each other and to realize how excited we all were to minister through music to this church.
And THEN! After the services, several people came back to our CU table asking about the music major! That NEVER happens!! I was so excited when there was a “line” of about 3 people who wanted to talk to me about piano, traveling with HeartSong, the pedagogy program, the professors, and all sorts of other stuff! I was talking to so many people that it got to a point where the entire rest of the team was almost done tearing down and the only things left on the stage were half a drum set and the keyboards. Whoops!
Already this was the best weekend ever, but two more things added some icing to the cake. When we were done setting up at Lake Ann, Brandon took us all out to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, and we all ate way too many wings. As we drove back to camp my team kept teasing me about wanting to stop at Wal-Mart or to get some ice cream because they knew that my parents were waiting for me at Lake Ann. It was amazing to have my parents here for a couple nights, to see the camp, to give me hugs, and to tell me about how things were at home.
Even though last Saturday didn’t start out very great, God gave me a huge amount of blessings all weekend long, and I got sort of a “second wind” for the rest of the summer. It’s crazy to think that we only have 3 weeks left! Thank you all so much for your continued prayers as we continue to minister at Lake Ann Camp and churches throughout Michigan. Soli Deo Gloria!