Discover Yourself by Sharing You with Someone Else

Episode 9 is Here!  

                                                         In Italy with our sweet Sabina

It’s great to be here with you today. Thanks for taking this time with me. I have something you will really want to spend some time doing with especially with everything going on in our world, so let’s shift our focus on something else and something good and positive. Today’s topic is about a time in I grew a lot in getting to know myself better and opening my eyes to the world without even leaving home! Never in my life have I ever learned more about myself and why i do the things I do than when I have had to share my life with someone else. Now I am not just talking about say marrying someone and then living together or having a child and teaching them all the many things. No, I am talking about another way to learn these things, it was when my family and I truly were awakened through hosting an exchange student and sharing our cultures with one another.  I found myself explaining so much in detail to help someone else understand my culture and help them to get to know who I am yet all along the way I begin to put a whole lot more thought into who I really am and how God created me to be. Let’s talk today about how this opportunity brought a whole new revelation to life by saying yes and allowing it to unfold.

I never before thought so much about why I do things the way I do than a time such as this. I even began to question if I need to change anything. I know that this whole experience made me desire to be more open minded to people and their views and thoughts and reasons for this and for that. It developed within me a whole new understanding and appreciation of myself and others.  I believe it was an awakening for me to myself. But I also found it to be a beautiful gift of knowledge and acceptance for myself and for other people from all over the world. I think it is important to travel and experience the way other people live so you can appreciate all sides of life and to realize that God made the whole world and He loves each of us so much. So lets open our eyes to how allowing our lives to expand our horizons to new experiences that can change our lives forever even without going anywhere. You can obtain this at any age right from the comfort of your own home! And after the past couple of years it may be just what you need. 

My kids were always bringing home the exchange students from their high school. We were mesmerized by their accents and the words they used to explain things. It was always a time we enjoyed with them and learning about them and how they lived. It made us want to go to their home country and see it for ourselves. Before social media we could only imagine what life was like for those living in different parts of the world, far, far way from us, over that great big ocean. We only seen new media images or looked in books with their pictures. But now you can use all sorts of applications and programs to get to see their lives in real time. But it is a much different learning experience living in the day to day with them. 

Let me now share my experience with you. So one day I received a reference call by an international exchange student representative about someone I knew who was going to host. They also asked me if I would consider hosting one of the students who was soon approaching the deadline of not being able to come have his experience abroad. I told the rep I would talk to my family and consider it. Truly we didn’t have the room but we would talk. Our son had moved out and our daughters had finally got their own rooms and we didn’t want to have to ask them to share a room again. 

So we got to talking to this young man name Helge from Germany. His middle name was Alexander and he asked me if I thought everyone calling him Alex would be easier and I agreed especially for the kids from school. Alex was fun and we just felt a true connection so we talked and prayed and decided we wanted to host him.  He was awesome and we even fell in love with him as if he was our own son. His father had died when he was just 11 years old and so he connected really well with my husband. He connected really well with the entire family as we took him on family vacations and he met everyone of them. Such fun he was and I found myself dreading the time he would have to leave us and go home. His mother even came over to visit while he was with us since she had to travel to America on business and she was a delight to meet. She took us out to dinner. She was forever grateful to us and the experiences he had and she said she never worried about him knowing he was with us.  He brought so much joy and laughter to our lives. The day came and I cried and cried. He hated seeing me that way. But we were relieved to know he made it home safely and we stayed in touch. 

We were in the thought and prayer process of selling our home and moving elsewhere when the organization asked if we would host a hard working, determined teenaged girl from Germany. We were hesitant so we asked our boy if he would get in touch with her and see what he thought and if he thought she would be a great fit.  He confirmed that she would be awesome. So we decided to host her. We had her placed in a school, one that had a dance program she would like.  Then we found out about our move and we let her know that if she wanted to stay in that school we would work to find her a family. She said “No, you are my family and I will go wherever you go.” 

So in the year since Alex’s stay with us he came back and spent three weeks that summer. In that time he was such a great help to me in packing and getting ready to move. I don’ think I would have made it without him.  My husband and our oldest daughter had already moved staying in a hotel. Our son was working and living elsewhere. It was just our youngest daughter and I and our sweet fun German son. We spent his last week living in a Motel 6 with 4 kids, two dogs, a cat and a fish so we couldn’t venture much. But the weekend before he left we finally closed on our new house and got our stuff moved in. He got to spend three nights in our new home, before I had to journey with him back to Lubbock to put him on a plane again. I cried so much. He hated my tears and said why are you crying? I said because I will miss you. He tried to comfort me in the fact that he had came back and he would again. I told him I loved him so much and he was so important to me. It was the last time I got to hold him in my arms and tell him those things. I haven’t seen him again. He didn’t keep up on his English and he doesn’t do social media so he lost touch with me.  

So the next week our girl Sabina arrived and she was just so sweet and grateful. She was just about everything I could imagine. She worried about her piercings and us accepting her, but I have found the most colorful people to be some of the most amazing and those things did not bother any of us. She thought everything was so big and always seemed so captivated by it. She seemed to be grateful for everything. It amazed me how her diet was so much lighter and different. She loved cooking things for us as well and seeing what we thought about it. She made many friends and was adventurous. She always introduced us to her friends and said this is my mother and this is my father, my sister and my brother. It was so sweet. She too was fun. 

I overheard her say one day as she was talking to someone in the hallway of our home, “Why would I go to church when I don’t even believe in God?” I simply smiled and thought oh honey you don’t even know the family you are living with yet, just wait.  To make a long story short she later admitted that if church in Germany was the way it was here she would go everyday. She loved music and dance and so she found herself loving worship time at our church.  We had a tough first year in our move but she was with us and she helped us too through it as we shared our lives and new experiences together. This tough time I think drew us even closer to one another. It was also nice having a tall person in this short family to help us out around here as we continued to find the arrangement of how things would work best in this new home. 

I found myself once again dreading when she would have to leave us to go home. She said that the most favorite spot and time in our family was sitting at the bar in our kitchen each evening as we gathered around and talked about our day. She had talked about love and how she had discovered love and gave more thought to how she could share love with her own family moreso now having experienced it in our family and witnessed it in this family.

When the time came for us to travel to take her back I stayed behind for it was so agonizing for she and I. They truly had to almost pull us apart more than once. But the beautiful news is she came back too and she kept coming back. And when we made a trip to Italy she met up and vacationed with us. Oh my how helpful she was to us even though we had been there before, but this time we rented a house and she explained to us the recycling system and showed us how so much operated there. We used the train and bus system to get around. She was helpful now in the shoes that we were in when she came to our country. She kept up on her English even teaching it to others in her home country. So we are in touch weekly. We use FB messenger and the free Marco Polo video app. She is currently helping me with my podcasting work and my website. Here we are thousands of miles apart but still sharing life.  She is our girl, our daughter, our sister. And we never part our ways in person or over the airways without our last words being I love you. What a lifetime gift we have.

Aside from being a host mother I have also been an area representative and then a Coordinator of 11 western united states for an exchange program and I interned as a college admissions counselor fo foreign students as well. I want you to know that you truly have to understand their ways are not always like your ways. They are not trying to be rude or disrespectful its just that they were not brought up in their culture to understand that and understanding with one another you must be. I say this to you because I have been presented with some surprising phone calls when host parents were upset because the young person would not eat when they had dinner planned or they wanted to eat right when they got home from school. I had to point out they just got here and their time clock is still very off from ours. I was surprised how host parents didn’t automatically realize that. They are not accustomed to certain foods and do not have any idea what those things are like. Give them time and patience. Speak slower giving them time to process what words you are using. In time they will get more accustom to it. You know how when we are trying to learn a new language it helps to practice it but here they are living in the midst of a new language.  I also consider they had certain fears as did their parents and I would think about how if our roles were switched. How I would need to know my child was in a home that they felt welcomed and cared about. The kiddos are often times amazed by how large things are here in America like Walmart, our stores and big the sections of food selection. They are used to small stores and going every couple of days to shop. Everything may be bigger. They can feel quite overwhelmed by so much. Our church services are often times so very different here than there and so they may not know what to expect.  Patience, help them to feel safe and accepted. It will pay off for them and for you. Remember its a commitment for a certain period of time. Question everything before you assume. And do not be afraid to ask questions of them and your rep. Keep an open mind. Discover new things and feelings within yourself. Allow yourself to learn from one another. There are so many things that will surprise you.  Allow yourself to be changed by this experience. Given yourself a new opportunity to shift your focus on someone else and some of us need that. There is nothing like submerging yourself into some new to your life. I realized that the media and certain aspects in life make specific impressions upon people in other areas of the world about how America is. They collect all these impressions from what they see and hear from others. I love the fact that by allowing them into our homes they see what we truly are and it is usually the opposite from what they have been taught. Its good and its forever changing for them. They have some first hand experience that they can impress upon others when they share their American experience.

Both of our students were happy to go to Texas and live for a year. Alex thought of Texas as people who had big guns, rode horses everywhere and ate bloody steaks. They both were so amazed how we flew our American and Texas flags and they both went home and hung up Texas flags in their bedrooms in Germany. 

If you have any questions about my experience please contact me and I will be happy to share more. I know of other friends who are currently hosting and they do so each and every year. Their son is grown and on his own and they share their home with usually two students. There are many who will not get their opportunity to experience American and learn who we really are. I think it is really important for us all to get to know one another and have personal experiences and testimonies to share from first hand opportunities. We will then have our own experience to go on verses here say. There are many Americans who will miss the opportunity to learn from and be changed by hosting. Vice Versa. All because the deadline for this year, this semester is soon approaching. If you miss this one there will be a next. Some students come only for a semester while other students remain all through the school year. There are many organizations but at the end I will give you the website of one you might consider and please tell them that you heard about this on my podcast. 

Because we began having grandsons and new careers and commitments and kiddos having to have to come back home its been a while since we hosted and I believe in my heart we will again one day so I am not sure of all the details but if you are curious about hosting please contact an organization and ask as many questions as you feel called too. I spoke to Katie Ward-Suggs  and I will list the site and her name in the description of this podcast. She says she currently has 8 REALLY deserving kids that still don't have their host family for the fall! These kids come from all different backgrounds and have tons of different interests and hobbies! You get to look through their profiles and which countries you are interested in. If you have ever considered hosting, NOW Is the time! Covid has made this year more challenging than normal and these kids deserve to join a family! Will you be their hero!? You can contact this organization through 

Until next time ….life is forever changing. May the Lord God be with you and unite us all in His Love. Ask Him and look for good ways for you to be changed and forever growing in new adventurous ways to add to the beautify and quality of your life. Be good to yourself and to others.  -Diana Hudgins


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