Friday, May 11, 2012

when i was a guest

I talk a lot about having guests in my own home and how it is my recent passion to have a larger home so that we can make rooms available for others.  The first post is here and the second post where I dive in deeper into this thinking is here.

But I've never written about my experience as a guest and so without further ado. I give you my thoughts on being a guest in one's home.

From December of 2005 to June of 2008 I was a guest of the beautiful country of Japan.  If you look to the right of this blog post you will see a variety of "labels" which link together all my thoughts on one particular subject.  The label titled, "over and about" is my label for those years living in Japan and the processing afterwards upon returning home. You should read some of them.  It's interesting to me how this blog got started as a means to communicate with my family and then turned into me processing a different culture and now it is ... a way for me to still process but in my own country to who knows who!?

During the first four months or so I was a guest in my "director's" home.  I use the term "director" very lightly because although that is probably his official title Mark and his family are more friends than co-workers.  Actually Mark always hated (at least when I was there) the official titles and such that our company gives us.  Aren't we all just staffers working together and having fun?

Living with Mark, Jin and their three kiddos was one of my favorite memories of Japan.  I. Loved. Every. Second.

The blessings I received from living 3-4 months with my friends were:

  • sharing a tiny room with my new teammate and growing to love love LOVE her, 
  • my heart was bonded to my teammate (who was also new to Japan) Mary and the family I lived with, 
  • it helped ease me into the culture, 
  • sharing special moments like late night movies with Jin and Mary that were spur of the moment (and multiple viewings of Pride and Prejudice the 5 hour version... mostly starting at 10-11PM~ yikes!), 
  • sharing an early morning cup of coffee, 
  • getting to hear Mark's vision for campus life as he processed throughout the day, 
  • feeling like I was a part of the family, 
  • time with the kiddos, 
  • and of course horribly embarrassing myself but being accepted for "who I was" just as I was.  I remember panicking at one point that I wouldn't be accepted when the team found out what I weirdo I was (am) but all that was put to rest by living alongside my teammates.  I fully FULLY believe that this was crucial for all the craziness that Japan would throw at me later on in life.  I was secure in my relationship with my teammates so much so that when life came at me and went tipsy turvy I had those relationships to help me get through.

Lessons Learned
A lot of these lessons have been learned as I processed and thought through afterwards.  I owe a huge apology to Jin for not being as aware now of what I should have contributed. Jin, if you read this, I'm sorry.
Three major lessons I learned are:

  • keeping your area clean.  I can't decide how I feel about this.  I think as a host, if you have to understand that your guest may not have the same consideration for cleanliness as you do but then again as the guest, you have to remember that you are a guest in someone's home.  That they have graciously opened their doors to you and to treat their home as a gift and not like you're a sloppy college kid.  I'm sure I wasn't sloppy but I know I wasn't super clean either.  I like having my own messy space even in my home but I've learned with Hubs that my mess needs to have its boundaries and not go spilling into all areas of the house.
  • servants heart.  This goes with the above.  As a guest I wish I had engaged and served my host family and friends better.  I wish I had seen how fleeting the time was and sat with them for more meals.  I wish I had left them alone for family time for more meals. I wish I had babysat more and let Mark and Jin get out. I wish I had cleaned my room. :) I wish I had cleaned other parts of the house that I didn't live in. I wish I had simply said, "Hey, I'd like to clean. Whats a job you haven't done recently or you hate doing and I'll do it?" and then proceeded to do it with gusto.  I wish I had served more.
  • and last, I learned how to live and behave in a ministry home.  There were never moments of "lets all sit down so Mark can preach" kind of moments but in looking back I can see little wisps of wisdom that were passed on to me from both Mark and Jin as they moved around their daily life.  In fact, a lot of my most precious moments are from spending time with Jin in her kitchen....

I'd like to say that the time I lived there was "magical" but honestly it was just plain ol' every day life.  Except that there were wonderful people to share it with.

I hope someday I can open my door to guests to live alongside my family and when that day arrives, that I'll be as gracious and kind a host as Mark and Jin.

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