It’s almost summertime, and you’ll be receiving guests in your home. All kinds of people will visit you on the field. There’s family; they want to see you. There are teens wanting to travel overseas and ministry groups. You’ll get musicians, builders, painters, and tourists.
Many years ago now, a missionary friend shared some surprises they experienced when a youth group came to help. The teens had not been prepared for ministry, and the missionaries were at a loss about how to correct important issues, once the team arrived.
We’ve had our own “interesting” experiences, due to poor communication and preparation—our fault, mostly. (You learn as you go!)
After one especially crazy visit, I thought: what if our family could come up with a standard questionnaire that everyone (even relatives staying for a while) has to read and sign before coming? I wanted it to be informative for them as well as for us.
Let me share our basic outline to give you an example. (Of course, you’ll adapt it for your specific field and needs.) This is what we did:
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THOSE VISITING THE K FAMILY IN SPAIN
Greeting—We’re thrilled you are interested in visiting us in Spain, etc.
About our family—Introduce parents, kids, and pets. (NOTE: I always include that we speak English at home and Spanish outside the home. This helps weed out those who think they’ll get full Spanish immersion. Not so! They need to understand that ahead of time.)
About our field
Where we live
Unique aspects of our ministry
For guest to fill out (leave spaces for them to do this):
Marital status: Married Divorced Single If single, do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Can you tell us about your salvation experience? (Include when, where, and the circumstances.)
Have you been baptized by immersion after your salvation? If so, when?
What are you presently doing in your home church?
List any interests or hobbies you may have.
Do you play any musical instrument, or do you sing solos? If so, please let us know about it.
Do you know any Spanish? How did you learn it?
Why do you wish to come to Spain? (NOTE: This helps you know if the person is there to help in ministry, to sightsee, to learn something in particular, to travel, to be immersed in the language, etc. It helps you understand what he expects from his trip.)
Do you want to come to Spain? (NOTE: This helps you know if a wayward teen is being sent to your “family reform school” against his will.)
In your own words, what do you expect to get out of your trip to Spain? What is your purpose in coming?
Do you have any food allergies or any other allergies?
Are you diabetic?
Do you have any other dietary limitations we should know about?
What foods do you hate?
Are there any health issues we should be aware of (such as: asthma, medications, physical limitations, etc.)?
If you are a minor, is there anything your parents will not let you do here (for example: ride a moped, bicycle, run, play racquetball or handball, etc.)? Is there any physical activity you should not do? If so, please list.
Helpful Information (Anything that would help a guest know what it’s like in your home. I’m using ours as an example.):
- We have wireless Internet at home.
- Details about phone cards or use of phone.
- Our meal times vary from the States because of the “siesta” time in the middle of the day. We have a light breakfast (coffee, tea, cereal, toast, or whatever) around 9:00 a.m., the big meal of the day at 1:30 or 2:00 p.m., and supper anytime after 8:00 p.m. You will get your own breakfast.
- Driving will be done by us. This is because of insurance regulations. We will take you where you need to go.
- We do not have Wal-Marts or other big shopping stores. If you want souvenirs, we can take you. (Let us know the souvenir needs you have, so we can plan.) We also have very few malls and none on a scale like in normal cities in the States. Here, most people go from little store to little store and enjoy the experience.
- I will do your laundry. Bear in mind that we have a small, apartment-sized washer (like everyone else in Europe), and it takes 1½ hours for a load. Then, we dry outside. So, don’t expect immediate service like you might have at home! Be patient, and plan ahead. Use your towel and pajamas at least twice, please. You may use our iron. For groups, please label clothing.
- We expect you to make your bed each day and pick up your room.
- We ask that you not bring an Ipod or any other music listening device. We feel it is important that we be responsible for the music and entertainment (TV, videos, DVDs, Play Station, etc.) that are seen and heard in our home. Please understand that we strive to have entertainment that is age-appropriate and that pleases the Lord.
- We expect you to help us with daily tasks when asked to help.
Dress Guidelines: (NOTE: I do a section for church and camp, for both men and women, and a section for dressing in our home, doing ministry, etc. I try to be clear on what we consider modest for women and exactly what fits in this culture for men.) You might also address climate and appropriate dress for the season.
Things you will need:
- Valid passport (and visa, if necessary)
- Plane ticket(s). We recommend flying to (airport closest to you).
- Upon arrival, move on through the doors, and we will be there. If your luggage never shows up, talk to one of the attendants in English. If they can’t help you, someone will. You will need our home address and phone number. Here they are: Phone: Address:
- If for any reason (traffic or whatever) you don’t see us right away, we’ll be there soon. We promise! Just wait either outside or inside. Stay in one place. Our cell phone is (number). Call that if you have waited a half hour after getting your luggage without seeing us.
- Money. Bring a Visa or MasterCard charge card. Bring some Euros in cash—50-100. You can get them at your bank, but you will probably have to order them, so allow a week to get your dollars changed to Euros. The exchange rate right now is about $1.38 per Euro. If you want, we can give you cash for your dollars. (We do NOT recommend American Express checks! Contrary to their ads, they are a huge hassle to cash, and they cost money to buy and then more to cash. You will do better using a charge card or cash.)
- Camera. We can recharge your batteries. Also, if you have a digital camera, bring a memory stick. We can download it for you.
- Your Bible, notebook, pen, etc.
- A smiling face and happy disposition. Everything you see, taste, and do here will be new to you. Come ready for an adventure!
I have read the questionnaire and general information and promise to comply with house and dress rules.
Your signature ________________________________________________
If minor, signatures of parents _______________________________________ (father)
After each person who plans to visit you for any length of time* has returned his questionnaire, you’ll have a good idea:
- if he is saved
- if he’s active in his church
- why he wants to visit you
- if he has any special needs
- how you should plan food and activities
You can start praying specifically for his visit.
Your visitor will know ahead of time your expectations. That way, there are no surprises, and he will know how to pack.
If you are having a group, make sure you communicate frequently well ahead of their trip. Help them know how to prepare. Make sure they have an idea what they will be doing. Get questionnaires from every member of the group, including the leaders.
Be up front with what they will need financially. You simply cannot feed twenty extra people for a week without some help. If you need to rent a van or will incur another added expense, let them know, and let them come prepared. Do your homework ahead of time, and everyone will be happy.
We learned a lot from our visitors, and we pray they learned something from us. I know yours will be blessed from sharing your home and ministry.
Use hospitality one to another (from 1 Peter 4:9).
*We send these questionnaires to people coming for a week or more. I ask the diet questions of everyone who’s coming for a meal.
- Lou Ann Keiser