This is a hosting perspective from host mama Ashley, Andrew’s sister. For Ashley and her family this was their first experience hosting.
What led you to hosting?
One Sunday morning in April I received a text that talked about a “hosting program” and that a little girl Amy and I had been “following” was available to host and there were many other cuties in need of host families as well. Having never heard of a hosting program I went home to do some research. I was in a bit of disbelief that orphans from halfway around the world would be flown to the United States to stay with random families for just a month before being flown home where they would resume life as an orphan. This just seemed entirely bizarre and so very strange to me.
Upon learning more about the reason host programs exist things made just a little more sense. It was explained to us that in some countries orphanages shut down for a portion of the summer and during this time the children are sent away to “camps.” But not exactly of the same caliber of the numerous summer camps here in the United States. An option for some of these children is to come to the United States for a “vacation” of sorts. This would provide, for many children, their first and only opportunity to be part of a family in the way God intends.
So, I perused the profiles of the God’s Waiting Children Facebook page and landed on one. Once I saw her face, it was like there were no others. Not that the others didn’t matter, but I knew immediately she was the one we needed to bring into our home. Then I read the description of her personality, her dreams and I new beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to pursue her to host. I just needed Adam to be on board. After a few days of prayers and discussion, he said,
“Let’s do it.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Paperwork was filled out, checks were mailed and documents were signed. It was a done deal.
What were your feelings and fears before hosting?
Honestly, my fears were very minimal before hosting. I had no idea what to expect, but strangely I felt okay with that which is completely not the nature of my “like to be in control with clear expectations” personality. I knew God would handle the details of the things I didn’t know. It became for me a lesson in trusting God with the consequences of obedience. If I say “Yes”, then I have to also trust Him with His plan and keep letting Him lead.
Describe your hosting experience
Our experience was in one word, amazing.
It was full of challenge, joy, heartache, love, tears, peace and, thankfully, abundant grace. We fell in love with a little girl who came to us as a complete stranger. Really, our love for her had begun many, many months before, but was allowed to grow and supersede anything we believed possible given the short time frame for hosting. We did not welcome an orphan into our home, but a daughter and a sister. We watched this little girl experience so many firsts with the look of utter delight painted across her face on multiple occasions.
We were allowed to love her with abandon, to hold her, to tuck her into bed at night, to speak the words “I love you” without the need to hear them returned. We were blessed with the opportunity to comfort her in ways that probably would not have occurred had she not been in our care…to give her grace when she did wrong, to assure her our love didn’t stop when she made a mistake, to love her completely as our own.
What has God taught you, specifically, through hosting and loving an orphan.
God has brought to life the picture of adoption that He paints for us in His Word. It wasn’t until I began to love this little girl without knowing if that love would be returned that I began to understand, on some very small level, the love that God has for His children. God pursues and pursues and pursues again His wayward and selfish children. So, too, I learned that I have to be able to love without expecting that love to be returned…to selflessly love with abandon. I didn’t do it perfectly and never will, but I have a new appreciation and deep awe for the God who chose to pursue me despite me being so unlovable. Pouring out love like that is true freedom. Being reminded that any rejection I may feel is only because of my own pride…that true rejection is something I’ve never experienced on the level that she has from birth. I don’t know rejection like she does this gives me great reason for grace and mercy and unfailing love.
Now that they have been gone back, what are you feeling now, and what are any future
Our family has experienced a great loss since we said goodbye just days ago. There is a bed upstairs that shouldn’t be made. There is a chair at the kitchen table that shouldn’t be empty. There should be more cucumbers and tomatoes in my refrigerator and more fruit on my table. There should be clothes hanging in her closet. There should be the sound of her chasing our cats through the house. There should be more laundry to do. There should be another bike in our backyard being ridden. There should be the sound of her sweet voice saying, “Mommy, can you help me please?” There should be another hand to hold. There should be another precious face to kiss goodnight. There should be another sweet girl to whom I can speak the words “I love you.”
Sad is hardly an accurate word to describe my feeling since she left. I’ve had a knot in the pit of my stomach since she’s been gone. I find myself crying at inopportune times. My daughter is halfway around the world and it’s miserable. BUT I have hope, much hope, that we will stand before a judge who will declare her ours in the coming months. Hope that the next time she’s on a plane it will be to come home with us as our daughter. So, our plans are for adoption. We began the process prior to even meeting her knowing that God was calling us to her and then having that knowing confirmed during her stay with us this last month.