I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that we had some doubts. I was taking meticulous notes every time I talked to Lisa or Dennis. We had heard that there would be a maximum of 30 people in the program at one time. That must be a gigantic passenger van. Who would drive it? Where would we park it? I had read it seated 15. Would children sit in their parent’s laps? I was concerned. I started spreading the word to our small group of people that we could have 5 families – up to 30 people. I wondered if it was my imagination or were people starting to avoid me at church?
I anxiously called the preceding church to find out about the van key. “We are starting our host week this week, too. Are you sure you read the schedule right?” No, in fact I read left to right instead of vertically. Second attempt to locate the van proved successful. The volunteer coordinator took some extra time to tell me about some of the funny moments with the families that week. I was excited, but very nervous. I found myself wondering if our families would miss the indoor basketball court and the slip-n-slide. We didn’t have those things.
We were delighted to learn that the maximum of 30 was for the entire program and not our host week. We had 15; four families. We set out to pick them up from the Day Center in the WIHN van. Luckily we had the foresight to buy gas BEFORE hooking up the trailer at the end of our host week.
I did not realize how much math would be required to coordinate the week. Did you know that a standard loaf of bread will make between 12 and 14 sandwiches? We bought 8 loaves for Week 1. We also calculated the amount of milk, juice, and snacks we’d need. But there were some things we just couldn’t plan – like a 10 pm store run for feminine products or the desire for buttered popcorn with a movie. Now we have a plan for those things.
We made the beds in each room and marveled at the outdoor scene from the floor to ceiling windows – the trees and our peaceful playground area. We thought – how nice for our families. Yet it wasn’t until our families arrived that we realized that there were no curtains or blinds for them. How silly of us to expect them to change or sleep in front of a window. We quickly got to work setting up makeshift curtains or construction paper blinds.
I also did not realize how much joy could fill our hearts and our daily lives. I was overwhelmed by the enjoyment of spending time with our families. Many at our church did not know what to expect. I did not even know what to expect. But after completing two host weeks, we’ve grown and we aren’t the same. As I pulled the van out of the Day Center parking lot Sunday morning, I was sad. I wondered how our families would spend their day and whether they would be happy. I wondered what would become of them and whether our brief encounter made a difference in their lives. And I knew – no matter what – that I would miss them.