Learning to Live - The Host Family Experience
Emily Lopynski, a long-time Floris UMC member, is currently a Border Fellow in El Paso, Texas. She has graciously agreed to provide us with regular blog posts to help people interested in the Wesley Fellows learn more about what exactly a fellows program is all about.
One component of the Border Fellows program is to live with a family. Living with a host family provides the fellow with the opportunity to experience what life looks like for Christians in the “real world” and the families the opportunity to experience a mutually encouraging relationship with the fellow.
Living with a host family in the United States has been both challenging and life-giving for me. Some of my favorite memories this year are the times I spent laughing with Etna, my 72-year-old host. She is a fun-loving, laughter-filled, young-at-heart woman of God. It’s been a gift to laugh and joke around with her at dinner, at “tea times” and during game nights. I’ve treasured our “get deep real quick” conversations.
Etna has not been afraid to engage me in my musings about the world, discussions on the challenges in the church or tackle any of the issues I’m wrestling with. She listens openly, shares her thoughts and consistently points me to the Lord. I hope to one day seek the Lord as passionately as Etna does.
Now, I have to say, living with a new family is not all peaches and cream. It took us—Etna, Abby, the other Border Fellow, and me—at least 4 months to adjust to living together. It took us about the same amount of time to understand each other enough to live well together. We also had our struggles with expectations.
With our busy schedules, Abby and I often didn’t get home until 7 p.m. during the week. We also had commitments throughout the weekends that are part of the Fellows program. We found that we weren’t able to be home as much as anyone would have liked and it was tough to try to figure out how to balance all of our work, volunteer commitments and social life with family life. The three of us had to determine when and how we could spend time together as a “family unit”. [I guess that’s a preview to what’s ahead].
All in all, I am deeply grateful for the hospitality, joy, and grace, Etna shared with me during my Border Fellows year. I will carry the memories and lessons I learned with me as I take the next step in my journey.
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