One Guy's HLI Experience by Gregg Landry

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I sometimes wonder if God thought it would be hysterically funny to make people fascinated by and attracted to their very opposite personalities.  This was definitely the case for me. You see, I am by nature an introvert but by the necessity to survive I have begun to become a bit of a reluctant extrovert. This transition was required because my wife Christie has managed to not only master the art of being extroverted; she’s elevated it to an art form.

Since our marriage over 21 years ago I can hardly remember a time that we have not had a houseful of people on a regular basis thanks primarily to that 90+% “E” in Christie’s Myer’s Brigg’s score. So, I guess that for us, hosting HLI students was an obvious and easy decision; one that I assumed would simply just be more business as usual.

I should state at this point that God (I think) also finds it hilarious to disrupt our ideas of business as usual.

Perhaps out of mercy for the constant sanding down of the rough edges of my introverted nature (particularly in the early days of our marriage) God saw fit to provide me with boys at the birth of each of my two children. Fast forward 15 years and I was quite comfortable with a house of the male majority, even the dog is boy.  So, not surprisingly as HLI approached, I became aware of a growing apprehension. A small question had become lodged in my brain and refused to go away. “What if we get girls?”

Remember what I said about God and business as usual? You guessed it, our first pair of students… Young ladies.

I think the apprehension I was experiencing came from the awareness that after 20 plus years together with my wife I had to admit that I really didn’t know anything about women and probably never will because they are aliens.  I also believed that the younger they get the more alien they truly are.

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Anyways, my wife travels for work regularly and I remember once sending her a text message which said something like “One of them is crying. What do I do?”, then later, “They’re both crying! What do I do?!” A few days later I sent this one… “They’re doing it again! You need to call them or do something!”

I wondered more than once in the first few months if I’d find myself by the end of HLI regularly hiding in a closet and rocking myself while chanting “You can do it, just hold on, you can make it.” and yet despite my fears I resolved to stay present to our young ladies and God, and very soon something began to happen.

I can’t fully explain what or how exactly change was taking place within me but it was. Before I knew it I had become the father of two young women and I was quite enjoying it. In the few short months that followed, these girls managed to unlock a room in my heart that I’d never known had even existed.

I treasure so many memories from my three years as a host dad, but it is for the discovery of a part of me that I’d otherwise have never known that I’m most grateful to the HLI program. I feel that I have been given immeasurably more than I ever offered in return.  Additionally and finally, I should say to fathers of daughters, I envy the gift you have been given by God; it is something remarkable and special. To the fathers who allowed me the privilege of caring for theirs for a time, I am in your debt, and to God, I say thank you that there is no status quo that you can’t disrupt.

Mary McKellick