Recently, we had the blessed opportunity to host Vyonnah, from Kenya. On her way to becoming a student at Oregon State University (Go Beavers!), Vyonnah needed a place to stay for a bit. Having visited Africa this past spring, my kids were really excited to host someone from one of their favorite places.
Vyonnah arrived wide-eyed and willing to try anything! We had the priviledge of watching her eat her first American food… candy bars, donuts, cinnamon rolls, berry pie (we obviously have a sweet tooth around here), tacos and our family favorite elk steaks with mashed potatoes and gravy. (She even helped with the butchering!)
While Vyonnah enjoyed other new things like floating the McKenzie River in a drift boat and learning how to ride a bike, we learned more and more about life in Kenya. Vyonnah may have felt blessed by our hospitality but we were blessed even more by her spirit.
Our biggest joy was sharing Vyonnah’s birthday with her. It seemed only right as Kazden, my 8 year old, spent his last birthday in Namibia. We loved showering her with all our customs, from a surprise party to balloons & banners to a personalized cake and gifts from everyone in the family. It all made her cry, and then it made us cry, and then she cried some more.
The night I picked her up in the train station at midnight, I wondered if having Vyonnah stay with us would be a positive experience. As I lay in bed reading the book, “Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival,” I read about the Polish custom to always leave an extra table setting for the “unexpected guest.” We had our unexpected guest. It’s an old Polish tradition, “When there’s a guest in the house, then God is in the house.”
I knew we would be blessed by Vyonnah. In a short time she has become part of our family and we will continue to welcome her into our home again and again.