Today our Japanese exchange students go back to Japan. I wish I could say we really had a swell time with them. I love the idea of hosting exchange students who really relate. The first set we had two years ago, Shino and Azumi, were really interactive with us and we have many happy memories of them; in contrast, these three are such close friends with each other that they don't need anyone else. Their teacher Marcel says he finds the same frustration in class. At least I can hope therefore that it's them and not entirely us.
We were hoping to be able to relate enough to speak of faith, but at every contact with faith they have been very hard, and when they're not interested they claim not to understand. We showed them the Jesus film for children, which is very sweet, and the Miracle Maker, which is a claymation film of Jesus' life for kids, very artfully done and captivating. Of course in both I find a couple of objections that I would have preferred done differently (in Miracle Maker, John the Baptist seems effeminate to me, for example) but at least there's a forum in which we can tell something of our faith to the less-receptive.
My most frustrated point was yesterday in getting to church. Last week they seemed very intentional in getting us there late, so this time I made every effort to get them to church on time and they still managed to keep us from getting out the door. It's really not hard for them; they just get up as late as possible, eat very slowly, go slowly downstairs again to get hardly anything they need, and stay there until the clock says we're late, then come up. What do you do? I wish I were cleverer and had managed something that could bodily force them gently into the van on time. I wouldn't have minded so much, if it seemed they were trying at all to cooperate.
That and a few other things make me ponder whether I'm cut out for exchange students. If I knew they were interactive ahead of time, I think I would be. Our family really has a culture of interaction and I detest the cold indifference. I have a great desire to host kids who have a chance of being receptive and just maybe somewhat appreciative, and this is the second hosting opportunity where we've felt this same chilling unfriendliness. I know a lot of that is pride in me, that I "should" be acknowledged with just a "hi" as they come in from outside and file past me, that I "should" be able to expect that they cooperate with something I want, that they "should" at least offer to pick up groceries rather than step over them when they get out of the van, when I spend so much time making sure they have a good time and abundant meals; that they "should" try to speak English, since that's the premise on which they came. It's pride. It's also cultural and personal expectation, which is also pride especially when they have no cultural or personal understanding of us. Still it is discouraging, especially when our desire to share Christ has little or no likelihood of succeeding with them.
So I'm personally looking forward to this drawing to a close. It's been a long month. Part of me wants to keep trying, and maybe as the memory fades this will increase; part of me wants never to do it again...and if that's pride, then Satan would win and I've failed. I try thinking of other ways, such as hosting college students, or foster kids. It's definitely a matter for prayer, as God must have placed this desire in me for a reason; my main hesitation is my own huge inadequacy, and yet He is my adequacy so that's no argument. Anyway, as for today, I'm glad it's today and that this was for a month and not a school year. There's still the hope that we somehow made some positive impact for Christ; that would redeem it all.