Posts Tagged ‘hospitality’

The Shero Family

For the last five days, Sherrylee and I have had the privilege of hosting Phillip and Laura Shero and their three children in our home.  They are long-time missionaries in Uganda and currently involved in a huge project, launching Livingstone International  University, a Christian liberal arts. If you are interested in learning more about their project, go to this Youtube site and watch their three-minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URyp-r7l6TI

The Sheros are just the latest in a whole series of missionary families that we have hosted in our home from a single overnight to 4-5 months.  Most are on furlough, some are returning to the U.S. permanently, and some are “regulars” who stay just short bursts once or twice every year.  Regardless of how long they stay or what country they have come from, they have always been a blessing to us—and we do our best to be a blessing to them as well.

We are eager to host them well because we have been so well hosted in our travels. The gift of hospitality comes naturally for some—but not for all, so a few minutes ago, I asked Sherrylee and the Sheros to just name some things that are important to remember when hosting missionaries for several days or weeks.  Here’s the result of our brainstorming:

  1. Don’t own them! Just because they stay in your home doesn’t mean that you are supposed to plan for them, organize them, or protect them from other church members.  In fact, having them in your home may very well mean you see less of them than other people!
  2. Give them a key to your house!  The key needs to be more than just symbolic, it needs to mean real  freedom to do whatever they need to do, to come and go as they please, and to not have to depend on you. (And don’t expect to get it back. I’m sure there are keys to our house on every continent!)
  3. Make everything that you need easily available for them. If you have two cars, can you loan them one?  Give them your security key and password for your home wifi network.  Show them where all of the remotes for the TV, DVR, etc. are and in what order to use them.  If you use it in daily living, make sure they can also use it!
  4. Give them the space they need to pack, unpack, and repack.  Especially the missionaries to Africa carry back huge amounts of luggage filled with essentials that are unavailable to them except when on furlough in the States. For days before they leave, they may have 10-15 loads of goods they are trying to pack into the same number of airline-regulation trunks, perhaps in your loft or den or their bedrooms and the halls.
  5. Don’t go shopping with them! Missionaries may need to spend a year’s worth of money today to get what they need, but they don’t know if you understand why they need to buy 10 pairs of shoes. And maybe they need to buy a certain brand of electronics because that brand is repairable in their country and the cheaper or better brand that you prefer is not—but they don’t want to have to explain every decision like this that they need to make.  It’s just so much easier if you are not there.
  6. Don’t insist on feeding them! Missionaries often eat around the clock because they are always being invited to breakfasts, lunches, coffees, dinners, for desserts, and meetings in between with snacks! At their “home,” they often would just like to skip a meal or just have Cheerios for breakfast, or grill themselves a cheese sandwich for lunch.
  7. If you REALLY want to do something special for them, have a group of the people they need to visit with—as large a group as your house will accommodate—over to your house.  If they have 10 couples that want to spend time with them, that is 10 meals out or 10 days of long evenings with kids that are tired, or 5 visits and 5 disappointed couples.  You can do something HUGE for them if you would invite their 10 couples over for a grill out or just for dessert and prayer time—but with lots of time for everyone to have a few minutes with your guests.
  8. Invite them to do something fun!  Offer to take them to a ball game or play golf or go to a movie or take them to your favorite fishing hole.  Sometimes they have so much they have to do, that they don’t feel like they can take time for themselves.  Make them an offer—but it has to be one they can refuse without feeling guilty.
  9. Treat them as part of your family.  Let them raid the refrigerator, come down in their pajamas, leave their bed unmade, get up whenever they want to—treat them as you would want to be treated!
  10. Finally, and this is directly from Phillip Shero:  Serve them Blue Bell Ice Cream—preferably cookies and cream!

Having missionaries in your home is truly having the opportunity to entertain angels; these messengers of God will bless you richly!  Just don’t do it “unaware” of their special needs.

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