This week our Oregon Children's Choir hosted a children's choir visiting all the way from China. We volunteered to house four girls.
We were nervous:
Will they like us?
Will they speak English (They did, beautifully.)
Will they like our food?
Will they have fun?
What an wonderful adventure! The unexpected snow made it difficult for some families to meet the bus, so we brought eight girls home, scrambling at midnight for enough extra blankets and pillows to make up beds on the floor.
We all felt shy at first. Pets make good ice breakers. The cats, and even our excitable puppy Poppy, were oohed and aahed over. The boys were oohed and aahed over too. The oldest fine young gent found a fellow Harry Potter fan. Middle gent was delighted to suddenly have eight more big sisters in our house. Youngest gent was shy, but talked about the girls non-stop while they were gone, and even giggled a little when he got tickled on the belly. Our lovely ladies enjoyed their new friends too, although lovely lady with autism mostly hid in the basement playroom, as she felt very shy with all of the new people.
Hearing Chinese spoken in our home. Delightful.
Cheers when we served food from the Asian market.
Listening to the girls sing a Chinese song with our daughter.
Hearing the choir. We attended an evening concert, and it was absolutely wonderful.
Hugs. Hello hugs and goodbye hugs.
Isn't this what these kinds of exchanges are really all about? Meeting new people. Trying new things. Learning that a smile goes a long way. Making new friends.
It was hard to say goodbye after such a short time. I wasn't ready for the girls to go.
"Mom," five-year-old gent asked me tonight, "When are our Chinese girls coming back to our house?"
That's what the boys called them, "our Chinese girls," as though the girls somehow belonged to us. I suppose in a way they did. They stepped into our hearts when they stepped in through our door, just as though they were all a part of our family.
I told him that they were on their way back to China soon, and his face fell.
"But I want to play with them some more, Mom. I will miss them."
Me too, bunny.
"I know!" my little problem-solver says. "We can go to China tomorrow to see them!"
Dear young friends, you are in our hearts. If you ever make your way to Oregon again, you are welcome in our home, always.