We had quite an experience this weekend, one I had hoped for, but not out loud - just a secret wish. You see, maybe a month ago I noticed a RYFO event posted on facebook - a "Dessert's On Us" or something or other. I was intrigued and checked out the details. It was to be in Orange County on February 1st.
|ryfo.org Check it!|
I followed the posts regarding this event, secretly hoping in some way it would work out that we would be able to go. This would require a 12 hour drive, which for us, we've made a million times, so really that part was no big deal. It would also require Greg to take a Saturday off. This was a bigger deal since he has only been at his new job about 4 months and it seemed the last time he attempted to take a vacation day, there weren't enough available hours for him to do so. We'd been toying with the idea of scheduling a routine surgery Greg had to have to coincide with a trip to California - as a sort of "recovery", but the surgery date ended up being late February.
So as the last week of January began, I sadly shrugged off the idea of making it to this RYFO event. But then, as if it was all planned out the whole time, God sent me an email and laid it all out.
|My email from God!|
Okay, that's not exactly how it went. I just really, really want God to communicate with me like that. I'll even take a real, paper letter via US Mail. I realize the reality in which God "speaks" to us: through His Word, through other people, through prayer, but as of late, I am pretty sure He doesn't use email. (Not that He couldn't if He wanted to. He can do anything, I know this, but....) I digress.
Anyway, I received an email that put the wheels in motion for a trip to California. Yes, we'd have to leave in three days, yes, Greg would have to get a day off, yes it would require expenses we hadn't budgeted for, but then again we were picking up a check we'd been waiting on for 5 months the day before we needed to leave. So, yes, God worked it all out just for me, just so I could go to my little RYFO event. Okay, He worked it out for a number of reasons, this I know was one of them. But then I thought, "Is this event even for us?" I asked (the RYFO President), Nick and he agreed to let us come. Actually, he was super-awesome and was happy to have us. I was so excited to be able to meet the people involved in this awesome thing we were also a part of. To meet them face to face, hear what they had to say, to be able to buy a RYFO t-shirt and not pay for shipping...
|A different brand of fan|
The event was great! We got to meet Nick & Emily, Simeon & Johanna, Audrey, Erika and a number of other great people, some musicians, some families, and Dr. Jeff the cool Chiropractor who is the only Pro Services guy on the RYFO map (that orange star in California).
A number of things stood out to me as we talked with people. The most common response to meeting us was kind of an awe at being a host home. It was an odd thing to hear people thank us for what we do and comment on how great they think it is. It seemed kind of like what we do is some mystical service that most people can't do. We were met with wide eyes or squinted eyes seemingly trying to understand or comprehend the host home experience. We were able to offer some explanation of what it looks like when we get to host an artist. That seemed to help. But still, I realize for most people, that what we do is nuts. And if it doesn't sound crazy to some, the impossibility of how keeps them from doing.
So, I'd like to share a few practical and completely impractical things we've learned being a RYFO host home over the last year:
We get to witness the water to wine and the feeding of the 5000 miracles every single time.
Living on a teeny-tiny budget, we shop, portion, and eat for 2 people. We carefully watch our spending. We took some hard hits over the last year and a half (as most people have) and had to watch our savings dwindle down, down, down. We adjust what we can of course. We are the
most frugal people in our family the world.
|That Diet Coke was a gift! See, God loves us!|
When we receive a stay request, we plan for what meals we will need to prepare then we shop with faith. We usually blow our food budget for 2 weeks for one stay. But we love it. We love that we can provide some healthy meals for these guys and girls who eat more Taco Bell and pizza in one tour than one should eat in a lifetime. We love that we can send them off with a case of water, some sunflower seeds and a few other snacks for the road. We love that when there is orange juice in the fridge it means that we had or are having company. We love cooking up all the ground turkey in the freezer for one meal (which is portioned for 6 meals) and adding little potatoes to it to make it stretch and hopefully feed 10 of them with the possibility of also feeding the two of us. We love thinking we couldn't possibly have made enough food, but then, miraculously we have some leftovers and everyone had enough. Sometimes without having room for dessert!
God multiplies it and makes it gourmet.
Surprisingly enough, we never go without or are hungry even though we spent that food budget. God provides every single time.
No one says anything about the bedding from 1980.
|Wake me up, before you go, go|
How we ended up with the sheets I remember from my childhood, I don't know - I guess Mom gets the new ones and we get what she's getting rid of. Mind you, they are in good condition, it's just obvious from the patterns they are from the 80s.
I am a little worried that the bands will come in and be a tad disappointed when they see they have to sleep on air mattresses, or one of two twin mattresses we have for guests or even the floor. I wish they could walk in and see a king size bed for each fitted with down comforters and heavenly pillows in their own private room their own private bathroom, but that's just not what we've got. We have been totally blessed with a 3 bedroom house. We can split up the sleeping in our guest/music room and in the office (if Greg is not working), in the living room and even in the dining room (which actually doubles as our work out room -we've made it easy to move furniture around to give a lot of floor space). And one bathroom is all we have for the guys/gals to share.
We've had 10 guys stay at one time and I can tell you that not once was there a complaint about the accommodations. On the contrary. We received more thanks and compliments from those 10 guys than you can imagine. They live on the road. They share a van for hours upon hours with each other. They sleep in the van, eat in the van and "shower" in the van. Our 80s bedding is of no concern to these artists. Any space they are allowed to utilize, they do and are grateful. They have been nothing but respectful.
You will never have enough if you think you need more.
|Ding dong! It's Jesus!|
Yes, we have a three bedroom house with a driveway, a front yard, a backyard and a garage. I do not tell you this to boast. I see pictures of host homes that are more beautiful than ours, with swimming pools, woods for backyards, even separate quarters for quests. I am not jealous - okay maybe sometimes, I am... but I will tell you this: If we moved and we lived in a one bedroom apartment, our desire to host bands would not change. And since that desire would not change, we would continue to offer our home as a refuge to these traveling artists. They, of course, have the option to accept or decline. I do know this though, that most of these guys and girls would rather sleep inside on the floor than in the van. They would rather share one bathroom than have to visit the Walmart bathroom on the road after they've slept in the parking lot. They are thrilled to sit in a quiet place with wifi that doesn't include McAnything.
If we have a roof to offer, we will. We will let other wonderful homes with amenities we don't have share their blessings. Isn't that the beautiful thing about Christ's children? That we are all different and that we all have different things to offer? He has given each of us a desire to take care of those traveling artists. I do not think it makes a difference how much we have to offer, but how we choose to use what we have.
If you're intrigued and want to become a host home, but are stuck on the logistics or just stuck, know this: There will never be the "right time" to become a host home - there is never a "once we are settled into a place with more room", a "once we have a steady enough income to provide for our family first", a "once we've gotten enough blankets, pillows, plates, forks, stuff, in the cabinets". Those times may never come or they may come once you take that step of faith and use the servant's heart God put in you.
We feel most alive when we serve Him, and for us, serving Him as a host home brings so much joy to us. I think it may bring joy to the recipients of the stay, but even if we never hear about it, ultimately it is Christ who we are serving (loving) every single time that doorbell rings.