This was so beautifully written, I just loved this entry. The best part about this hosting experience shared is that it is from the perspective of a host sister! This summer, Joanna’s parents hosted 10 year old Ruslan, and she so beautifully, eloquently shares their summer experience of opening their home and hearts to this sweet (see these pics!) boy.
We waited nervously at the airport, scanning the crowd for his face, we had only seen two pictures of him and weren’t sure how easily we would recognize him, we were determined not to miss him and watched the arrival doors like hawks. As soon as he walked through the doors we knew we had nothing to worry about. He was much smaller than we thought and at age 10 he was about the size of an 8 year old. Despite that we instantly recognized him. He walked over and we introduced ourselves, in return he flashed us a shy smile. “Do you SEE those dimples?” we exclaimed. The first thing we noticed about Ruslan were his dimples and his face splitting smile. The second thing were his beautiful eyes. I didn’t know it then and I’m still not sure how he did it, but this tiny, orphaned boy turned out to be one of the best things that happened to us this summer.
I can’t put my finger on it, I don’t know when it happened. But he stole our hearts. He slowed us down. He showed us how to love even when it’s hard and how to say “I’m sorry”. Ruslan was with us for almost two months (longer than most hosting programs as we are in Canada) and brought so much life to our family. The memories he helped us make are priceless. The way he inspired us to be better people (while at the same time testing our patience to the limit) still blows my mind.
As the days and weeks slipped past we got to know Ruslan and he got to know us. He was no longer a child in a picture needing a host family for the summer. He was a little boy who loved to eat fish and watch the movie BOLT. He was the little boy who found ‘boy humor’ hilarious. He was the boy who would tell us big long stories in Russian not realizing we couldn’t understand a word he was saying. He also happened to be a boy who still thought hugs were pretty cool and thought babies and little kids were the best thing ever invented. He became real.
Sometimes you hear of orphans and orphan hosting and it kind of blows past you. It’s not personal and doesn’t seem real. Hosting changes that. Hosting changes you.
As quickly as our summer started it seemed to be ending. At the beginning of July he marched off that plane and into our family without ever looking back. He left the same way. After a sad and tearful last day together we arrived at the airport to send him back home to Ukraine. He said goodbye and all to soon Ruslan walked out of our lives and back onto that plane. We are so very thankful for the time we had with Ruslan and feel blessed to have been a small part of his life. We are better people because of him.
Hosting can sound scary. The thought of bringing a child you don’t know into your house (especially an older boy who has grown up in an orphanage) for a couple of weeks can be scary. Dealing with the language barriers and the occasional outburst of emotion can be overwhelming. But the fact is that hosting is more good than bad. The laughs outnumber the tears. It is 100% worth it.
“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?” ―Francis Chan
Thank you for sharing, Joanna!
More of their summer hosting experience here: http://