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From a YES host: Still experiencing…

June 10, 2010

Marsha Witte is the host mom of Elia Homange from Arusha, Tanzania. They live in De Witt, Iowa, and Elia attends Central Clinton High School.

In this post, Marsha reflects on the last week of the hosting experience…

Elia and the WittesElia has one more week in DeWitt, yet he continues to make the most of his days. Yesterday, Elia and I attended the weekly Lions’ Club meeting. Elia was interviewed by the local newspaper, and there was a very good article in Wednesday’s edition of The Observer. At home, Elia spends lots of time on the driveway shooting baskets.  He likes to help with the lawn mowing. I will miss that!

Elia continues to study. We are amazed at how much time he can spend poring over a physics textbook just for fun! The exchange students at our school were told they could be finished on the seniors’ last day, but Elia wanted to continue attending some classes. The principal gave him permission to come and go at school whenever he wanted. A neighbor loaned him a bike, and Elia rode it to school the last week. Elia made the honor roll again the last quarter. He wrote a nice thank-you and delivered it to all of his teachers with an apple. I assured Elia that the teachers would understand the significance of the apple! There were not many wins for the JV soccer team this spring, but it was a great way for Elia to spend time with the guys until the last days of school.

Next week is Vacation Bible School at our church. Elia and I have volunteered to work with the kids. The Bible story themes are going to be introduced by African animals (for example, zebras TRUST in one another to stay safe during journeys; just like Abraham and Sarah put there TRUST in God as they traveled to a new land). It will be appropriate to have Elia there to talk about the African animals. He is great with kids and will have fun playing with them. He will also teach them The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili and share a DVD of his church choir performing.

Everywhere we go, people ask Elia, “When do you leave?” It is a reminder to all of us that our time together in Iowa is almost over. Before Elia arrived, I made a list of places and events that I wanted him to experience. We continue to check things off the list, but will not get to everything. Does anyone ever get to the bottom of a list? However, Elia was exposed to an amazing variety of Iowa and family experiences.

We have started working on the packing. It is easy to sort out the winter clothing, but Elia has accumulated so much that he will not be able to take everything home. I know Elia is disappointed that he does not have enough money saved for a laptop. We have looked. Elia still thinks it might be possible to find a used one. I hope to make him feel that all of the experiences and the items he did buy are more important than the laptop.

As Mark and I send Elia home, we wonder how this school year in Iowa will affect his life. We are thankful for the follow-up programs IRIS provides to the YES students. It has been a joy to host Elia. We expect him to succeed because he is bright and determined and will work hard to make his dreams come true

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