Saturday, July 23, 2011

Where to begin?

Remember this?

Well, it is happening.  As in, right now.  Last Tuesday, I picked up 16 Chinese students from Dulles and carted them up to Maryland for some fun with some wonderful host families.  It's been fun, it's been funny, it's been exhausting, it's been more work than I ever could have imagined, it's been a blessing.

We are hosting two teenage boys, and my parents are hosting two as well.  However, my parents are so busy that I have been helping out a lot with their boys.  This means cooking for four teenage boys, a baby and a husband.

Me.  Dinner.  For 5 boys.  Six, a couple of times, because I included their teacher as well.  I've felt a little like Laura Ingalls in The First Four Years when she cooks dinner for Manly's friends at harvest time and she forgets to put sugar in the pie.  Thankfully, I am on top of my game though and have chosen to just skip dessert altogether each night.

We hardly ever eat dessert, ok?

Just cupfuls of chocolate chips.

Whatever.  Don't judge me!

Thankfully, I planned ahead and made a few big meals before the kids got here.  On Tuesday, after getting up at 6:30 to drive to Virginia, wait forever, drive to MD, run home, run back, take the kids shopping, and send them off with their host families, all in 100 degree heat, I brought three boys and their teacher home to my house and fed them rotisserie chicken, wilted spinach and cucumber and tomato salad.  I put out approximately a dozen proverbial fires, fed more friends who stopped by to pick up hostees, greeted the husband and baby I hadn't seen all day, set up sleeping for the boys, made lunches and fell into bed at 11:30 at night.

The next morning I got up, fed everyone, dropped them at class, went shopping to replace a flat air mattress and buy sunscreen and more water, came home, cleaned, dealt with a broken computer, dealt with 12349 other things, scarfed down a sandwich, made food for kids who forgot lunches, then ran back (baby in tow) to pick up the kids to take them to Great Falls, VA.  That was special because it was 100 degrees again and we literally melted the second we got out of the car.

You know what?  That's just the first 30 hours.  I haven't even gotten started.

But it's all been worth it.  While driving to MD after picking the kids up the first day, we passed by my old apartment.  I pointed it out to the girls in my car and one of them looked and said, "Your apartment!  It is fab-oo-lus!"  (For the record, our old apartment was lovingly dubbed "the ghetto apartment" by our YL kids and was full of roaches and weird neighbors and homeless people who tried to live in our laundry room.  But I actually thought it was fab-oo-lus, too.)  They laughed and laughed in their classes, taught by a dear friend of mine, and worked hard.  Several of the kids called the falls "spec-tac-oo-lar" and they all laughed at each other playing "switch if" and devoured popsicles and ice cream from the snack shop.  Two kids went to Bible studies their first night with their families.  Their smiles, their looks of excitement, the way they are JUST the same as my former students, my full table, the laughter and voices in my home...I love it.

I am wired for this.  For people in my home, for big meals and talking at the dinner table, for feeling proud of my country and the beautiful sites nearby, for my eyes filling with tears of gratefulness that I live in a place where I have full religious freedom while other kids in this world have never even heard of a Bible.  I am wired to welcome friends into my home and to boss teenagers around and to think of fun things to do and see.

I may be so exhausted I can hardly think straight, I may not have worn makeup in four days (what is the point when it just melts off your face?  Gross!) but I am learning a lot this week about myself, about others, about joy, about God, about my incredible child (who has put up with being traipsed about kingdom come in a billion degrees with barely a peep) and about another culture.  Kids are kids no matter where they are from, they laugh at the same jokes and move the same and gesture the same and fight the same and I love them the same.


  1. I keep meaning to tell you - I had been hired for that SAME JOB one summer, but had to back out because I got my teaching fellowship and I couldn't do both!

  2. What amazes me so much about you is that you can write a beautifully-written post with such emotional clarity amidst one of the busiest weeks in your life! You are incredible, Taylor! I'm sure this week is going to be such a wonderful memory for these students..and you!


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