Hospitality: Village Homestay-Style

Taylor Thompson, MC
July 18, 2017

 Taylor Thompson

Nihao!

This week we had the opportunity to go to the villages in the southern part of our province and stay with host families:  two Americans to each Chinese student who volunteered to host. Most of the villages we went to have had little to no gospel contact. Our supervisors could not visit some of these places previously for security purposes (foreigners coming to an 80-100% Muslim village without explanation is a little suspicious).

 Taylor and friends

Through some miscommunication, Annalea and I ended up with two host families! So, instead of four nights with the same family, we spent two nights with one family and two nights with another. Both of the students hung out with us during the day, so we were able to invest in both girls during this time.

Growing up in Mississippi, I thought I knew hospitality, but these families put the South to shame!  “Grace's” family is Hui (Chinese Muslim). They own a small bead-craft store and a family noodle shop, and live in a one-room apartment above the store. Grace's mom and sister slept at their aunt's house so that Annalea and I could sleep in their bed with Grace (just one bed for the family). Though they did not have much, they gave to us constantly from the little they had. They made wonderful meals and taught us to cook. They taught us how to make the crafts from their store and were upset when we insisted on paying for the souvenirs we wanted.  They wanted to give everything to us as gifts, even when they might not sell that much in weeks!  They went out and bought us towels because they only had enough for their family. The aunt even tried to give me the book she was reading, but finally relented when I convinced her I could not read Chinese and it was too heavy for my suitcase.

 Taylor and friends

The other student, “Cloris,” is Han Chinese. Her family lives in a village home. (Picture Mulan's family home.)  They had no running water. The restroom was a dirt floor squatty potty in an outhouse. They had one faucet that they used to fill buckets to take to the kitchen and living area. They insisted on taking us to her aunt's house to bathe because she had a shower. Again, they were beyond hospitable. Cloris's mom also cooked wonderful meals - mostly vegetables because of the expense of meat.  Her dad drove us around town so we didn't have to pay for a taxi, even leaving work early one day to drive us.

I could go on and on about the things they did or gave up for us, from their food to gifts to their bedrooms. Most of all, they made us part of their families. They ate with us, cooked with us, washed dishes with us, grocery shopped with us, played games with us, put up with our awful badminton skills, danced with us, and genuinely loved us.

 Group of friends

Living with the families, they saw us have our quiet times each morning and prayed with us before each meal.  The Father used the week mightily as we were able to share constantly.  Both families took us to their temples, and we got to talk about the differences. At the Hui temple (mosque), we saw a sacrifice table and got to share about our once-and-for-all Sacrifice. At the Han temple, we saw many plastic idols, each with a different “power,” and we told them about our all-powerful G0d.

Two of our roommates for the summer stayed with a host family on a sheep farm. The family squatty potty was an outhouse in the pasture, and instead of a small hole, this one was about 30 feet deep. The family did not emphasize to the girls to cover the top of the hole, so they occasionally left it uncovered. One day the girls walked out to the outhouse and heard a faint baa-ing coming from the hole. A sheep had fallen in the hole! The sheep are valuable to the family, so this was quite upsetting. They tried to lower a rope and food bag so the sheep would climb inside to be pulled up, but it would not get in the bag. It stayed in the squatty overnight. The next morning the uncle climbed down into the squatty – 30 feet down into a literal pile of poop – to rescue the poor, little lamb. The family hosed it off and then sold it. It had a few broken bones from the fall, so they sold it for a low price to send it to the butcher. Our supervisors went to the sheep market to price a sheep to reimburse the family.  Truly, the Father works in mysterious ways, because the money to reimburse the lost sheep was enough to allow the student to come to the English camp next week!

Please continue to remember us before the Father in the 12 days we have left here.  Pray for the English camp we will help facilitate next week. The camp is focused on vocabulary and U.S. culture, but we will be living with the students for a week with opportunities to share our own stories. Ask for open hearts as well as wisdom and boldness in sharing!