By Lori Brutton; Host Mom to Elina Baikalykova (2016-2017; Kyrgyzstan/IL)
Anyone who knows me knows that I fly by the seat of my pants but also that giving opportunities to children will be my first choice in flying! When I first saw the post on Facebook by another teacher friend I immediately thought “What a fun thing.” I contacted Nickie and the next thing I knew we were starting the process. Choosing from the students available was a family endeavor. Having two older daughters, no longer in high school, I thought I better make sure they didn’t mind having a little sister. When I read Elina’s application letter I instantly fell in love and knew she would be a perfect fit for our super off the wall family. Being a mom I couldn’t imagine my teenage daughter going half way around the world to a family I didn’t know for 9 months. I was determined to be the best host mom ever!!
Here we are over half way through the year and I cannot imagine our lives without her. She has brought so much joy and wonder to our home. We have learned so much about the world out there and in turn have shared all the great things about our community. Elina fit in quickly with everyone around her. She started school just a couple days after arriving and was in love with American High School.
Some of the best times have been when we all face time with her family. Watching her fascination at all new things. Her face lights up and it just makes you happy. I’ll admit, I had to get used to driving a kid places again, but even that reminded me that I am sharing her with so many others. She enjoys volunteering and helping others. Her first weekend here she even asked to attend church with me and was intrigued about our religion. This led to many great conversations about diversity in religion and beliefs.
There has been nothing hard about doing this…however, I suspect May will be the hard part. But I know that the blessing of having Elina in our lives will live with us forever and that we have made a life-long friend across the world who has taught us so much more than we ever imagined possible.