Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chapter 3: On Being a Host Family

From Amazing Journey; Amazing Grace

Facing singleness after 25 years of marriage was scary. I had no idea where this strange, new adventure would lead me, but I knew God was with me and I clung to him for dear life!

Not long after my husband left, our son, Allen, came back home to live. We both had emotional wounds that needed to heal. It helped us to heal together.

The greater Seattle area is not noted for being a cheap place to live, and even though I was earning more at work and my son was contributing toward his expenses at home, it wasn’t quite enough.

One of my neighbors suggested becoming a host family for international students. I’d never heard of such a thing. “It’s not quite the same as exchange students,” he explained. “Homestay students pay to live with a host family while they attend school in the USA.” It sounded interesting. Allen liked the idea, too. I had an extra bedroom—why not give it a try?

I got busy and contacted the international student offices in Seattle’s three major universities. I was full of questions. Could a single mom qualify as a host family? What was the remuneration for hosting? How were students selected and matched to host families?

I learned that each school had a homestay coordinator who would visit my home, meet my son and me and learn more about each of us--did we do drugs? Or have a criminal record? We needed to “pass inspection” before becoming a host family. I wasn't worried.

I also learned that:
The student must have a private room with a window, bed, closet, chest of drawers, desk and a chair. They could share a bathroom with the family.


Food was to be provided for all 3 meals; the student could make his own breakfast and lunch, but the host family should make his dinner.


There should be a bus stop within a reasonable walking distance from the home.


The student could only make one transfer between buses.


The entire commute from home to school must be under an hour.


Back in 1992, the buses from outside Seattle's city limits weren’t that accommodating. The entire commute from my home to each of the universities was easily an hour or more. "I'm sorry," each homestay coordinator said. "You live too far away." And they rejected my application! There I was--up against the proverbial brick wall!

“Oh God,” I prayed, “I thought hosting students was a good idea, but I guess not. So, I’ll wait for a word from you, but please hurry, because I’m running low on money, and quite frankly, I don’t know what to do.”

Just a simple, straightforward prayer, but God heard and answered in a most unusual way!

To be continued.

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