My Giving Parents.

As a little girl growing up in a Christian home and a Christian church, I saw this acronym many times (that I’m sure many of you have seen before) about the true meaning of joy:

J – Jesus First

O – Others Second

Y – Yourself Last

My parents showed us true-life examples of putting others first for our entire lives…by helping other families out with meals, clothing and even financially if they were able to. By serving faithfully in every church we’ve ever attended as Sunday School teachers, van drivers, a deacon, singing in the choir….that list could go on and on.

And they also served others by always being one of the first to volunteer whenever a missionary or someone else came to our church and needed a place to stay during their visit. We always thought it was so cool to have someone from Hondurus or another “exotic” locale come to stay at our home and share all about where they were serving. As an adult though, I can’t even imagine the extra amount of work this added to the large load my mom was already carrying as she was being a stay-at-home-mom to five boisterous children.

My parents both truly have the gift of hospitality and the warmest, most open hearts you can imagine. They have been this way for as long as I can remember…and they have continued to be this way well into their retired years. They have been such wonderful examples to their children (and now their grandchildren) for year after year after year.

One way that they serve others now is by volunteering to host two foreign exchange college students each year during the weekend before Christmas. Their church is actively involved with International Friendship. This is a ministry (that is set up on different college campuses throughout the United States ) which attempts to befriend foreign exchange students that come into our country and show them the love of Christ in practical ways. For the weekend visit, an email is sent out to all the foreign exchange students on the campus and they can sign up for a free trip to visit with an American family and to have the opportunity to learn more about how that family celebrates the Christmas season in their home.

This past weekend, my mom and dad were the host family for two Korean boys…Jungho and Juntae. I missed out on most of their visit because of my eye surgery, but was able to spend Sunday afternoon at their home with most of the rest of my family meeting these two young men and learning more about their culture while at the same time learning more about them.

One of us happened to mention the word “camera” and a few minutes later Jungho had his camera pulled out and ready to go. Hmmm…he reminds me of someone else I know….who could that be?? After he snapped some photos, he kindly uploaded them to my computer for me so that I would have access to them as well. I really enjoyed looking through them this morning and seeing what he had decided was important enough to take photos of:

Juntae (in the left photo) and Jungho (in the right picture) posing next to my parent’s Christmas tree.

The boys posing with my dad.

They apparently were fascinated that my dad did a lot of the cooking (something he has enjoyed doing since he retired…my mom enjoys that too!)

Jungho also took a bunch of photos while we were eating, but I think my family will thank me for not posting those.

And then he wanted some photos of the whole crew…and that’s when the trouble started.

Here I am (third from the left) being my innocent little self. But do you see who has strategically placed himself behind me?

Yep ~ it’s my baby brother…Mr. Has-To-Tickle-His-Poor-Innocent-Sister-Everytime-He-Sees-Her Jon.

He does this every dang time he sees me…I have photo proof HERE.

And finally! Here I am a safe distance away from my torturer…my mind is already racing with grand plans of revenge.

Anyone have any good getting-back-at-him ideas? My revenge plans, unfortunately, are pretty lame-o so far.

Hopefully Jungho and Juntae weren’t too traumatized by the sight of my torture. The rest of the trip at least went fairly smoothly for them!

The only sad part of the visit was when I found out that 35 students had signed up for the weekend visit and they ended up only being able to find host families for 17 of them. I wish that I had known that sooner…Bill and I have already decided to be a host family (something that is way out of our comfort zone mainly because my house doesn’t ever seem to be clean enough for company!) next year if they need us. I think it’s time for us to start being an example in this way for our children now.