On Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at 8:00 p.m. my brother Josh and his wife Leah Skyped me to tell me that they were going to host a foreign-exchanged student. I knew that this would be an amazing experience for them. They're a funny, exciting, spontaneous couple and the student that would be staying with them would have the time of their life.
After a lot of changed plans and frustration, Wan Hua, aka Jayla, was on her way to the U.S. I was in Ecuador and was not able to be with everyone when they welcomed her.
When I got back from Ecuador I was able to meet her.
She fit perfectly right into her new family. She's funny, beautiful, smart, creative.
She has been able to travel to many places: Memphis, D.C., Honduras, Belize, Mexico, and many more. She has even been to my parents' hometown in Mexico.
She got to experience her first snow.
She got to experience her first cruise.
She got to experience prom.
She got to participate in many school activities, such as athletic events, band and choir concerts, etc.
Finally, on May 22 she graduated from a U.S. high school.
Jayla, I'm so glad we met. I'm so glad that you became a part of our family. The Ramirez and Shelnutt family will not be the same. You set out on a journey to discover yourself and I hope that your time in Benton helped you. You are a brave girl and I am encouraged by your free spirit. You left a lot when you left your home country of Taiwan while many people can't find the strength to leave behind their hometown.
I'm thankful that your family was supportive of you when you decided to come. I'm glad they let us borrow you. I hope that you go back a better and stronger person. Never ever ever forget that you are loved and that you have family in the U.S. and Mexico that will remember you forever. You are truly special. 我好爱你!
The Ramirez and Shelnutt family will have to start saving money for a trip to Taipei. I hope your house is big enough for all of us.
If you ever get sad or lonely, watch this video.
I hope that your journey back home goes well. While we are all sad to see you go, I know that you are anxious to be reunited with your family. We will try to celebrate all your accomplishments but it will be hard not to get sad. Dang it, Wan Hua.