One of our primary goals with the internship is to make sure you have real life experiences with real local people. This means we endeavour to place interns with host families so that they are immersed in local language and culture.
Here is how one of our interns expressed her experiences with home stays.
For the majority of our internship, we were hosted by local, Muslim families. This was an incredible experience for me, as it gave me such a deeper insight into the culture and a real-life picture of how people live, the structure of the families, and how Islam affects their daily life. It was difficult at times, since my language wasn’t very good, and most of the time there was only one person in the home who spoke English, but I’m so glad we did it! I really don’t think the internship would have had the same impact if we were only in hotels with our team the whole time.
In America, we consider ourselves friendly, but it has limits. During my stay with different host families, I learned a lot about what it means to show true hospitality.
For the first week, me and another intern stayed together at the home of a professor from the University where we studying. As soon as we arrived, we were like part of the family. They insisted we call them Ibu (mother) and Pak (father), showed us our room, made sure we knew how to work the shower and where everything was. In the morning, they asked us what we normally like to drink so they could get it for the rest of the week. Every morning Ibu would send us to class with a bag of cookies for a snack, and in the evenings Pak would go over our language lessons with us, making sure we were practicing. I was surprised at how hard it was to leave them at the end of the week. We spent nearly an hour exchanging gifts, taking pictures, and saying goodbye.
The second family I stayed with, I was by myself. This family was just as welcoming, proudly showing me off to all the neighbors the first night. They found out I drank coffee, and so each morning there would be a cup waiting for me on the table downstairs. The first day, the mom had some traditional chocolate bread for me try, and ended up sending it with me in a tupperware when I left for class – the entire loaf. Each day when I got home, there would be a new person who had come over to meet me and take pictures with me. Only the oldest daughter spoke English, so her and I talked quite a bit so she could practice, and also she helped me with my language study. During that week, it was hard not having my follow intern there at the end of the day to talk things over with, I felt pretty lonely at times.
Staying with local families opened up a lot more conversations, and I was able to ask questions that I probably would have been left wondering to myself, had I been staying in a hotel. I was continually amazed at the lengths people would go to for the their guests. They consider it an honor to host you, and can never do enough for you. It really made me want to be a good guest for them, in return. I really hope I can learn from their examples of hospitality.
Learning to adapt and overcome uncomfortableness is part of identifying with the local community of the people group you are trying see reached for Christ. The field workers we work alongside do this on a daily basis. It is not easy, but this one of the key lessons to understand if you feel God is calling you to plant churches among unreached people groups.