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Blog > Part of the Family: Pete’s Story

Part of the Family: Pete’s Story

by Peter Barth – HCC Volunteer & Host Family

My wife, Jess, and I first met Ning Guo in 2018 when he and several other international students came to our home for Thanksgiving.  He, along with the others, were so gracious and polite, and our kids took to him immediately. We served a traditional Thanksgiving meal and played several wild rounds of Uno.  Over Thanksgiving turkey, we learned about Ning’s studies, where he’s from, and what he enjoys doing. Being that our family is close to the Albertville Outlet mall, we offered to drop Ning and the others off so they could experience the craziness of the Black Friday sales. We were having so much fun with them that we didn’t want the evening to end.

After saying goodbye to Ning and the others that evening, Jess and I (and our kids) realized we really wanted to stay in touch with Ning.  So we invited him and the other same students to our traditional Christmas Eve worship service, and then to our home for pizza afterwards.  It was then that we learned a little more about the pressures Ning and other students face in their studies. We also learned about his parents, and their fears about his travels to the United States.

A few months later, Ning and a couple of his friends invited our family to their apartment for a traditional Chinese New Year celebration with hot pot.  We were thrilled to meet Ning’s girlfriend who was visiting from China.

For Easter, Ning joined us for a traditional Easter dinner and even did an Easter egg hunt with our kids. Having him at our holiday events just seemed natural since Ning and the others fit in so well with our family.

 

I was able to have dinner with Ning several other times over the summer and fall of 2019, and when it was time for him to return to China, I offered to bring him to the airport. Ning allowed me to say a quick prayer with him while at the airport, and we parted ways, wishing each other the best.

Jess and I were surprised at how hard it was to watch Ning return to China.  Over the last year, it seemed like he was part of our family. Our kids will always have fond memories of him, and he’ll be remembered at holidays for some time to come.

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