We are hosting a group of college students from our supporting church, College Heights Christian. As I write this on the couch of our living room, Marcus is getting ready to lead the group on their second 'culture quest' - what amounts to a video scavenger hunt. The group's schedule is pretty busy but I find myself surprisingly relaxed and able to not be overwhelmed by their activities. Not only this, but their presence and the various planned events allow our team to have extra contact with people and more time with our friends. While some might worry that exposing our friends to a group of fifteen college-aged students would be detrimental or 'too American', I find that since we try to frame up these encounters simply as that, encounters among friends, that they are beneficial to everyone involved. Tonight, the group will be participating in a live art project with some friends from the Atopos crowd followed by a picnic together. Tomorrow they will be touring out beautiful city, led by one of Marcus' friends, Angelo. Tomorrow night, the group will be hosting an Encounter Coffee House. Sunday, the group will be hosting and leading our church's Gathering. This is one of the very first times, if not THE first, we've had a foreigner teach via a translator. Monday night the group is hosting a Grill Night at the beach to which we are inviting our friends to come and hang out. Tuesday night we are gathering with some Catholic friends for a fellowship and prayer time followed by a meal together. Wednesday evening they will be co-hosting English conversation sessions. So yes, they are busy. And yes. Many of the things they are doing sound 'fun' - and they are!
Is it worth it? Does our community here in Ancona benefit? Do these students really benefit? Does our supporting church grow through this? Does the mission of the church (on the macro level) get advanced through this kind of 10-day experience? Would there be a better way for these students to use the money they raised and time they set apart? These are all questions I hear others raising and they are all ones that we are trying to answer as well.