Mission Ideas

Service Opportunities: Friendship Families

Caroline and her husband have done a tremendous job leading a local program, Friendship Families, where families can welcome and “adopt” an international college student. I asked her to share a little bit of her heart in opening up their lives and their home.

Each year hundreds of students come from all over the world to do cultural exchange in our city. Most stay only for a couple weeks but others stay here for a few years. The students that stay here to attend college feel that they are fulfilling their “American dream”. For most students it is their first time away from home. Soon after the excitement of being in a new country wears off they begin to realize that they don’t know where to buy clothes for a season called “winter”, they have run out of every toiletry they packed and they really just want to eat something familiar. Sure, they might find someone from school to give them a ride to Walmart, but with 42 different shampoo/conditioner options written in English, more than likely they will leave feeling frustrated. 

What would happen if they had a family come alongside them to help them learn all about their new “home” away from home? For starters, Walmart would not seem so intimidating and they would have a local able to introduce them to the culture. Imagine picking your very first pumpkin, attending your first American wedding or celebrating Easter and learning that it was about so much more than a rabbit. By being a part of a group called Friendship Families, a group of local families that have adopted a student during their time in America, this has allowed us to see joy that comes from inviting a student into our home and lives. For our family, our adopted student hasn’t just had the opportunity to learn about us but she has also shared about her family and culture back home. Just the other day we were talking about how when she graduates in four years, she will have watched my children grow up from infant to kindergarten and how we get to watch her grow up too!

If you have the desire to open your home and life to a student, it is something you will not regret. For those thinking they would never have the time to commit, I’ll be the first to admit I thought so too. My husband so graciously reminded me that we eat meals everyday- no biggie to add another plate and we also go and do family activities, like going to the pumpkin patch-no biggie because our car has extra seats. The friendships between your family and your student will be deep and they will last a lifetime.

Next year the Friendship Family program anticipates having almost 40 new students. If you would like to know what the program is all about or if you would like to get involved, I would encourage you to check out the program and consider attending our end of the year celebration for our first group of graduating seniors. Last school year, before all of the students went home for the summer a few sent us messages saying that without their family they didn’t think they would have ever left their school’s campus and they would have been very lonely. So many left for summer break feeling like when they returned for the Fall Semester they knew they would have their American family here waiting on them with open arms.

Not everyone who reads this is local to Spartanburg, but this is something that you can do too! Do you live near a college or university? They more than likely will have international students attending! Connect with their Dean of Students and ask how you can serve their students. They will be excited that someone cares!

And if you are local, email us and we will connect you with Friendship Families so you can learn how to make dumplings, watch someone pick apples for the first time, and have the opportunity to love and welcome someone to your table and into your home and heart!

Blog, Mission Ideas

Service Project Ideas for the Fall

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Every season change reminds me how much I just love the season to come! Okay, maybe not winter, but that’s just me… I’m a summer and fall kinda gal! And after a great summer, I’m even more excited about the new season coming. What’s not to love about cooler weather, beautiful leaves, mountains, and apples and pumpkins! If you don’t live in the south, I’m sorry…. hehe

In the midst of all the Fall Family fun, I want to make sure that we, as a family, are focused on the most important things, the eternal things,  and I pray that is the desire of your heart as well. Here are some simple and fun ideas for ways to serve others this Fall. 

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Love and Serve a HomeBound Neighbor or Friend. 

Who doesn’t love getting flowers?! Let your little one go with you to Lowe’s or Home Depot and let them pick out a small mum or other fall plant. Schedule a time to stop by and let them deliver the sweet little gift. The cool thing is  that both of you will love it! Your neighbor will love the visit and gift and you will love watching your little one take part in something simple. Offer to rake their leaves and help them with their yard! This is a fun way to serve and love and little ones love to jump in the pile of leaves at the end of a hard days work! 

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Adopt an International College Student.

We live in a college town and there are students from all over the world, right at our door step! We decided this year to not miss out on helping one of those students get settled and have a great experience here in America. You could invite your student apple picking with you and your little one. Or invite them over to make s’mores or roast hot dogs. Invite them into your home and share your lives with them and share Jesus too! Become a friend to someone who is “different” than you and watch how blessed both of your lives become! If you are unsure where to start, just contact your local college or your local Baptist Association office more than likely has a way to connect you. 

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Mail a Missionary Package.

This is a perfect time to put together a package for that family that you know and love that serves Jesus in a really hard place! Find out things they love, but chances are anything that you put together – especially handwritten notes and pics will put a smile on their face! It will also more than likely arrive before Christmas and who doesn’t love extra goodies around this time of year! Make sure to check their security status and whether they can receive packages beforehand! You don’t want them paying customs and taxes on a gift you send their way… 

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Host a Neighborhood Fall Festival.

Get together with another neighbor and put on a neighborhood fall festival. Now this could be a bit more work and planning,  but I’m sure all the neighborhood kids would love it! This is a great way to introduce yourself to those neighbors that you haven’t met yet. It’s also a way to love and encourage neighbors that you do know! Pull out the last of the summer fun like water balloons or sidewalk chalk. Carve Pumpkins! Grill hotdogs and make s’mores (are you seeing a trend in food here yet?) just have fun and love and serve those truly at your door step! 

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Serve friends when they are sick. 

I’ve noticed since school started back, so have the mommy posts about sick kiddos and germs spreading. When you notice a friend mention sick kiddos, take a few minutes and reach out to them and see if you could help out! It’s hard being a mama, much less with a house full of sick kiddos! If it’s a really close friend, just show up with that container of soup and flowers and leave it at their door. (cause you know you don’t want to catch anything either! ha) Have your little one draw the kiddos a card and pray for them. 

What ideas or service projects have you done with your little ones in the Fall? Share your fun ideas below in the comments or over on our Instagram Post! For more fun ideas, be sure to follow our On Mission Moms Pinterest Page!