The Hostess with the Mostess – A Pre-Arrival Reflection

Lydia Romanin grew up in Los Angeles, California, and is an alumna of Wheaton College. She enjoys writing, listening to people’s stories, piano, and baking. She, her husband Nick, and their three kids currently serve with China Outreach Ministries at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Join her over the summer months for a blog series sharing and processing her experiences hosting a Chinese family.

Host.

This summer, we will have a female Christian student, M, and her mom, Mrs. M, staying with us.  They will arrive in the middle of June and leave in the beginning of August. M has shared with me that she is excited for her mom to experience living with a God-fearing, Jesus-following family. We are all hoping that God will work on Mrs. M’s heart during her stay with us – that she will see Christ lived out.  

As I document our family’s journey through cross-cultural hospitality this summer, experience life with M and Mrs. M through our stories told in this blog series. Through my posts about M and Mrs. M, I hope to share with you our interactions and commentary significant, comical, and awkward. Stay tuned for more scribbles from my diary as I document what it is like being the “hostess with the mostess” for God’s Kingdom (corniness intended).        

Stranger.

Have you ever been a stranger in a foreign place? Maybe it was that time you studied abroad for a semester. Or that time you traveled to a different state or province. As a stranger, you don’t know the customs, you don’t know the local slang, and sometimes you don’t even know where to find a bathroom. As the word itself points out, everything just feels…“stranger” than normal. As comical as it can be to travel to a foreign country, it can also be frustrating, stressful, and difficult.

My husband and I were strangers somewhere once – strangers in Mongolia and strangers in China. Sometimes in China it felt like I was looking into a snow globe, from the outside looking in at a bustling city running on its own cogs and gears, and with its own rhythm and dynamics. Looking in from the outside was the norm. Feeling like I was part of the machine, inside the snow globe, was a rarity. 

I always had my apartment, though. My little piece of America that I could always go back to at the end of a culturally frustrating day. In my apartment, I didn’t have to deal with the “Chineseness” of China. I didn’t have to rack my brain every few seconds of the day, wondering “How do they do this in China?” or “What would a Chinese person say?” My apartment was the place I would recharge for the next day’s cultural stressors and learning curves.

Transformational Hospitality.

After getting married, my husband and I realized that both of us, perhaps because of our experiences as strangers in a foreign country, had a heart for hospitality.  We wanted our home environment to be a place where people could recharge, feel relaxed, and feel safe. We are not the Ritz-Carlton by any means, but when we bought our current home, we decided we would leave one room for the guest or guests who needed a place to stay. Now, as missionaries to Chinese studying in America, we want to help Chinese people feel that though they might be strangers to America, they never need to feel like a stranger in our house.

We desire our house to be a place where people feel loved by Jesus – a love so powerful that it is transformational.


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Soli Deo Gloria.

One part of being a loving host that is not readily apparent is extending your hospitality without the expectation of being thanked. It requires doing it completely out of a servant attitude. To be hospitable is to serve even when your guest rejects it, and even more so, to be willing to extend and continue hospitality despite the rejection. It is easy for us to force our ideals of hospitality on someone. It is easy for us to assume that our hospitality should make someone feel grateful, or to feel that as a host, you are entitled to expressions of gratitude. But being a loving host parallels the actions of Christ. 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that “Love is not self-seeking.”

If hosting is all about our own glory, it is easy to offer a self-seeking hospitality. But if it is all for God’s glory, self-righteous hospitality is but a fleeting thought, for we know that we have a higher purpose and plan – God’s purpose and God’s glory.

Prayers of a Broken Host.

This summer, we will have a Chinese student and her mom staying with us. Although it is a bit intimidating to know that Mrs. M will have her first and perhaps only taste of an American family’s hospitality through us, we know that we can rely on prayer and God for wisdom. God will give us wisdom and patience for cultural differences and misunderstandings.  

Having non-family stay with you is like having an extra pair (or two) of eyes observing all that you do and an extra pair of ears listening to all you say (as if the eyes and ears of our three children were not enough). Yikes! That’s when you wish you were sinless. If only. What am I going to do with Mrs. M all day?

God, would you help us pursue righteousness? Help us model forgiveness and repentance before our guests. May your grace be evident through our slowness to anger, in our stayed tongues and our loving efforts. Make your loving kindness shine through our sinful lives so that those who are strangers to you can become your children.  

Having someone from another culture stay with you can be challenging because her norms are not our norms. This can cause communication problems, big and small. I know the student because I see her every week, but I have never met or spoken with her mom. What willll it be like to have her all of a sudden living with us day in and day out?    

Lord, please give us understanding. Teach us how to love M and Mrs. M in ways that they understand. Father, give us insight to be culturally appropriate in our words and our actions.

Having someone older than you be your guest can also be an awkward dynamic. She’s raised her own child before, most likely using very different methods. What will she think of how we raise our kids? She has experienced much more life than we have. How can we express our differences respectfully but in the spirit of Truth?  

Forgive us for thinking that only she will be transformed through this time, for more often than not, you transform us through our guests. Teacher, give us good questions during conversation. Help our parenting be a way for her to see the gospel of grace lived out. Anoint our lips with wise speech, not foolishness. Keep our hearts humble and teachable.     

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Shenyang

About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Stories from Xiamen

About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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Stories from Chongqing

About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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