Recent Hospitality Tours have taken groups to St. Matthews, SC, and to the Smoky Mountains. Overnight trips present the first chance many internationals get to see the inside of an American home, and develop a relationship with a Christian. On Sunday, students attend their host’s church, which often puts on a special class for the students. The result is lots of fun and friendship, mixed with a genuine taste of Jesus’ love.
On the weekend of Oct. 20, Dr. Raj and Michael took 10 students to enjoy rural St. Matthews. This trip “out in nature” was a much-needed breather for Internationals who had many deadlines surrounding fall break. Thank you to the volunteers at St. Matthews Parish Church for faithfully hosting this wonderful annual retreat.
Also in October, IFM took its first trip back to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina since 2019. Two vans set off Friday afternoon, full of students and families excited to see fall leaves and hike in North Carolina. Volunteers from First Baptist Church of Bryson City hosted the students. A student from Ecuador reported that his favorite part of the trip was eating around a campfire at the pastor’s house on Saturday night. The wife of a doctoral student from India sent the following:
“Thank you IFM for organizing an amazing trip to the Smoky Mountains! I appreciate the effort and planning that went into making it a memorable experience. Everything was so organized. We liked the Fontana Dam and hiking in the Joyce Kilmer memorial Loop trail most. Enjoyed the stay with the nicest host family ever.”
For IFM, it is a joy to connect our students with loving American hosts, while offering the chance to see America’s natural beauty. If you have a church outside Columbia and would like to partner with us to arrange a trip providing homestay opportunities to our students, we would love to speak with you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A number of families in Columbia also “hosted” students at their Thanksgiving meal. With Christmas coming, we already have students asking to spend the day with a new American friend. We have been delighted to hear stories of how friendships that started over a holiday meal have lasted for decades! This is a great way to make a one-on-one connection and let our international guests see how the love of Christ shines through your home and hospitality. To host a student this Christmas, sign up at ifmusa.org/meal-with-a-friend.