Sunday, March 27, 2011

Inspired Conversations with Angel and Shantel

I have to thank Shantel McBride and Angel Shannon on AM 630 K-TALK for helping me pull some things together in my mind. I listened to them for the first time today on Inspired Conversations and yes, it was a truly inspiring conversation. They said quite a few things that hit close to my heart.

In the beginning of the program they said that there are many reasons for people coming into our lives but they are always there for a reason. It reminded me of Luyao's letter to her potential host family. She says, "Do you know, Chinese people believe in something called 'Yuan'. It is like the fate that decides who you will meet and where you will go. All I expect now is that the Yuan can connect us together. I believe we will give an unforgettable time in our life." Luyao's letter made an impression on me because of many reasons.

When we first started this grand adventure it was just a way to get my daughter a discount so she could go to France on exchange, a goal that she's had for years. My friend and neighbor knew how much I had been researching companies, their policies and ideals so that she could have a safe experience there. She asked if I would like to help as a local coordinator. I had no idea how much my life would change by knowing each one of these amazing students and families who have come into my life.

We started with a very closed world of our family and neighborhood friends and books upon books upon books of "culture". I would initially say that we "ended with" but, there isn't an end to this story. We progressed to knowing such rich cultures and such a group of peoples who are completely different from our own and have so much to offer in so many ways. These students are the future generation of leaders. They share with us their lives and traditions and we share ours. The hosts that I have met have all been such great people and I feel blessed to have met them. We come from so many different walks of life, different faiths, different neighborhoods, different circles of friends. Yet, we all want to share our culture and receive a foreign exchange student into our homes. This is going to be such an astounding year full of experiences. As I told my new friend and host mom Julie, two people came together and worlds collided to create a family.

When we chose our new daughter, Alda, we knew that she needed to come into our lives for a reason. Maybe it's as simple as her teaching us to play the accordion and for my daughter to be a little sister for the first time in her life. But, I have a feeling that there will be so much more to our story. Alda, we are so excited for you to get here and share your life with us for the school year. I know that it won't end there and now, it is so much more than a way to get Alyssa to France. In fact, our daughter we chose isn't even from France, she is from Spain. Here is the really funny part though, All of my children's names start with A's. When we found out that the girl we chose was named Alda we all had to laugh. She fits in perfectly doesn't she?

Another concept that Angel and Shantel conversed about was fear. Fear was definitely prevalent in my mind when we started this adventure. We fear the things we don't know. And I certainly do not know the other side of the world and wouldn't send my child there. This is where my research started. I wanted to really get to know a family who I could trust with my daughter on the other side of the world. Of course, we have to use our best judgement but that is very different from simply fearing what we don't know. Angel and Shantel suggested doing something you fear every day. Our fears are simply stories that we are telling ourselves. Why live in a world of made up scary stories? My friend "gave me a what for", which is really cowboy language for telling me off. I was so afraid of the horse that I was riding that I was creating these terrible pictures in my mind of being bucked right off and trampled, yet the horse was very well behaved. She said, "Danika, you are making up a story in your head and it just isn't true. You need to be in reality and see that you are on a great horse who is carrying you right now. He is doing what he is supposed to be doing. Don't live in fear by making up pretend stories."

Thanks Angel and Shantel for a great program! I am looking forward to listening every Sunday.


  1. Love this post!! I was reading Do Hard Things this afternoon, and was thinking about the overcoming fear part at the beginning of the book, where they are talking about stepping out of your comfort zone. I couldn't help but think of our new son that is coming to join our family as well, and how courageous that is, for someone to take this leap of faith that it will be a great experience. Also, I have such admiration for his parents in allowing him to do this!! I also was initially curious because of wanting our son to do an exchange, but it also has turned in to much more for us. All of the what if questions are pretty much out the door for us now, we are just like, "hurry up and get here already!!" Thanks again for all you have done and I'm so excited for summer to get here, be finished and our new family member to join us!!

  2. Tonya, that is one of my very favorite books! Alyssa heard about it and wanted it so I ordered it for her, changed her life! She's always telling her brothers to "do hard things". I wish that I had that motivation when I was a teenager. I had to wait till I was 26 to really start caring about life and who I affected.