Befriend an International Student

You may never be able to travel to exotic locations around the world. BUT this does not mean that you can only learn about other places by reading books and watching movies. You can learn about another country in your own home! Curious?

One of the best ways you can learn about another culture and country is to befriend an international student. Most cities with colleges or universities have many students from other countries. Some families choose to host a high school student for an entire year. (My grandparents did this.) Other families, like mine, just become friends with a local college student. We have been friends, now, for two years – meeting a couple of times a month on average. We love having him in our home, eating meals with him, and including him in our activities.  He loves our children and calls us his “American family”.

What does this relationship look like?  We are friends! We ask him about his culture and country.   We have tried to learn a few words in his native language. We try to learn about his religious beliefs. We have had many great conversations about what we believe and why we believe it. We have taken him to the airport, and picked him up again when he returned.  We have given him advice on job searches and interviews.  We have watched movies.  We have helped him move…several times.  I have cooked many meals (including one meal similar to one he might have gotten at home in his country). And recently he cooked for us!

The best part of this relationship is that my kids are learning about another culture.  They are also learning how to be respectful of someone with different beliefs. They have made a new friend, and they love having him come to our house.

If you need help to find a student to befriend, try contacting an organization like International Students, Inc.


Need Ideas for Travelling with Kids?

Here is a link to a great series of videos about a family that travels with their kids.  You can get some great ideas or just watch for fun!  These are free right now with Amazon Prime.  (Pricing on Amazon changes frequently, so make sure you double-check the price before watching!)  You may also be able to find some episodes on your local PBS station. 

Season 5: Includes videos about Cabo Mexico, Wales UK, Rome Italy, Churches of Rome, Tahiti French Polynesia, Moorea Island French Polynesia, The Yangtze River and 3 Gorges Dam, Vietnam – Hanoi & Ha Long Bay Adventure, Bangkok, Jungles & Elephant Adventures, Hawaii – Oahu & Honolulu for Kids, Park City Utah Ski Family Adventure, South Africa Safari Family Adventure, South Africa Cape Town and Sharks.

Season 6: Travel With Kids takes you to the Big Island of Hawaii for Families, Los Angeles California with kids, South Africa’s Garden Coast, South Africa’s Wildlife Adventures, Bora Bora Island French Polynesia, Cancun Mexico With Kids, Huatulco Pacific Coast of Mexico, Belize Islands and Jungles With Kids, Belize Caribbean Coast With Kids, Beijing & The Great Wall of China with Kids, Fiji & Castaway Island, Botswana, Africa Safari Adventure, Maui Hawaii For Kids.


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Brazil Resources and Printables

Looking for ways to teach your kids about Brazil?

Check out these printables from Homeschool Creations.  They are FREE!

Homeschool Creations also has a great post with a lesson plan for how to study Brazil in a homeschool family!

You can also check out my post with activities about Brazil here.

The National Geographic Kids Brazil page has lots more info, too.

Need some ideas for books about Brazil? Here are some links:

Missionary Kid Stories by [Brannon, Jennifer]           






These are only a few of the books available.  You don’t have to spend a fortune either…check out your local library to find free books and resources to check out!


(This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on some links and make a purchase, may receive a small compensation.)



Family Activity – King Tut and Ancient Egypt

My oldest child is learning about Ancient Egypt and at the same time reading through Genesis and Exodus at school.  This has been a great way for her to learn about the environment and culture during the time of the old Bible stories about Abraham, Joseph, and Moses.

Our whole family has learned a lot during this time, and we have watched several interesting documentaries about Egypt during our family movie nights. Here are some links to some of the videos we have watched:

  • A Film about how Egyptian chariots may have been constructed
  • A Documentary about how the pyramids may have been built
  • And this short video about where the Israelites most likely crossed the Red Sea

NOVA (PBS) also has a neat interactive feature on their website where you can explore many different historical sites in Egypt.

We also read a book about King Tut,

and checked out another book at the library. 

We have mummified a chicken leg and have built a pyramid with sugar cubes, too. 

I recently found another neat project at a local thrift store.  I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my kids, and they loved it.

We spent several days painting the different parts of the kit and putting them together.  They were able to make the mummy and decorate the coffin with all the supplies included.  My kids thought this was great and plan to take King Tut’s coffin to school as “show-and-tell”.

If you want to purchase a similar activity for your kids, you can find one on Amazon here.

We have used this to talk about Ancient Egypt, but also to learn a little about modern-day Egypt.  Currently, Egypt is a country rich in history and with many popular museums and historical sites.  It is an Islamic country where Christians seem to be facing more and more persecution.  We can pray for missionaries there to be brave in sharing the Good News about Jesus.

We can also pray for ministries like SAT-7 to reach many more people. This is a Christian television ministry that shares about Jesus in Arabic and other languages all over the Middle East.  They even have a SAT-7 KIDS channel that broadcasts children’s programming in Arabic!


(This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on some links and make a purchase, familiesformissions may receive a small compensation.)

Free Video Ideas for Amazon Prime Members

Does bad weather or sickness have you stuck inside the house?  Do you need some quality ideas for things to watch?  If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can watch some great videos about traveling around the world for free.

If you have never seen the Globe Trekker series, you are sure to enjoy these videos.  Different people host each show and travel around the country they are featuring.  They discuss things like nature, food, celebrations, people, religions, and traditions.  Each episode is different and has different areas of focus, depending on the country featured.  Kids will like seeing the different activities and places.

Click on any of the pictures below to go straight to the video:

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(Affiliate links)

There are more to choose from, but this gives you an idea of some videos that are available. (Remember that Amazon pricing can change at any time, but at the time of the post, these are free.)

Also, free this weekend is an American Girl video “Melody”. Amazon is allowing people to view this for free in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  It is about a little black girl in 1963 and the struggles that she faces.

Product Details

Not an Amazon Prime member?  You can sign up for a free 30 day trial.  (Just remember to cancel it if you don’t want to stay subscribed.)  Click below!


(This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on a link and make a purchase, will receive a small commission.  I strive to only recommend quality products and links to my readers!)

Uttarayan – International Kite Festival in Gujarat, India

Here’s a fun idea for a family activity … make a kite together! Every year millions of people in cities all over Gujarat, India celebrate the International Kite Festival. This festival marks the end of winter and the coming of summer based on the Hindu calendar. It is usually celebrated January 14th and 15th. People of all different beliefs celebrate this festival together.

There are organized kite competitions, with some very fierce competitors trying to battle it out and break each other’s strings. The strings of the most competitive are prepared by tying them between trees. Glass bangle bracelets are broken into very fine pieces of glass and attached to the string with a special glue. The glass-covered strings, when rubbed on a competitor’s string in the sky, cause them to break. This eliminates the competition.

I don’t recommend that you use glue and glass on your string. 🙂 Just get some lightweight sticks, string, a glue stick or tape, and some tissue paper. You can look up tutorials on how to make a kite online or just wing it and invent your own. Let your kids decorate it with stickers or draw on it. Whether these kites ever actually fly is not important… just have fun and use the time making them to talk about people in other places, like India.

Need some information about India?

  • India is a country with tons of diversity in cultures, regions, and religions. For a book with fun pictures for kids, check out I is for India by Prodeepta Das.
  • If you want more information on culture, languages, and religious beliefs, you can check out Operation World by Jason Mandryk. This book gives parents some great ideas about how to pray for India.
  • Want a historical true story of a missionary to India? Check out books about Amy Carmichael or William Carey. You might even be able to find these at your local church or public library!

Quick ideas for prayer and conversation:

  1. Pray that religious freedom is continued to be allowed and that laws are not passed or upheld that would punish those who want to convert.
  2. Many languages in India still do not have the Bible in their language.
  3. Pray for the safety of missionaries that live in India. Also, pray that they are allowed to stay and work in that country.


(This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on a link and make a purchase, receives a small commission.  I strive to only recommend things that I am familiar with and trust to be of benefit to my readers.)

Need Reading Ideas?

I recently saw a great post with some reading ideas for parents that want to read more books about missions to their kids.  Many of us have this as a goal, but we don’t know where to start.  Hopefully this post will give you some ideas!

Check out this post on the IMB website for some great ideas:

A Reading List for Missional Parents Raising Globally Minded Kids 

One of the books they mention is Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time.

I own this book and find it to be a great resource.  It gives descriptions and summaries of many different books based on the part of the world they are written about and the age of the child you will be getting the book for.  If you are teaching about a region or country, you can look for books from South America or Brazil, specifically.  Take this with you to your local library or request books online ahead of time. This can be a huge time-saver for homeschooling families or moms with small children! One bonus of this book is that the books are not all about missions… many are just about life in different countries and cultures.  This will broaden your child’s idea of what the world is like.

Don’t be overwhelmed with the idea of needing to read tons of books or follow a specific program!  Just start….get one book.  If your kids aren’t excited about the first one you try, keep trying.  You will eventually find a book that piques their interest!


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Three King’s Day (Epiphany) – Around the World

Did you know that in some countries the Christmas celebration doesn’t end with Christmas day? Many people celebrate King’s Day or Epiphany on January 6th (12 days after Christmas). In the Western part of the world, this date is to celebrate the coming of the Magi to see baby Jesus and people meet to eat and celebrate together. In the Eastern part of the world, the celebration of Epiphany is more related to celebrating the baptism of Jesus. The focus tends to be on blessing water, blessing homes, and eating together.

In Mexico, people commonly believe that the Wise Men/Magi or Tres Reyes Magos were named Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar and travelled by horse, camel, and elephant to deliver presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to baby Jesus.

Growing up in Mexico, we followed some of the traditions of the Día de los Reyes (Day of the Kings). One of these is the tradition of buying a balloon for each small child and letting them attach a list to it. They let the balloon go and send it into the air…it is said that the Kings then receive the list (much like writing a letter to Santa Claus). The children leave their shoes by their bed or the door on January 5th, hoping that the Kings will leave them gifts on the morning of January 6th. My brother sent off a balloon for a year or two, but I felt I was too old for this tradition when we moved there. Of course, this didn’t stop me from putting my shoes out. 🙂 Usually my parents only gave us small trinkets in our shoes, since we had just celebrated Christmas, but many Mexican kids received larger gifts.

Rosca de Reyes

Another part of the celebration that takes place in Mexico is the Rosca de Reyes, which is a special sweet bread in the shape of an oval ring. It has candied fruit on top and a miniature baby Jesus doll hidden inside. Families and friends get together to split the Rosca de Reyes and each participant gets a piece. The person who ends up with the hidden doll inside their piece is supposed to then treat everyone there to a tamale dinner on February 2nd (the Day of the Candles). My parents participated in this with the neighbors, and the person who got the baby Jesus usually hosted a taco dinner, instead.

In Brazil, the Day of Kings is called Día do Reis. The night of January 5th is a night of celebrations with music, food, and treats. Many people put away their Christmas decorations then, as well.

France has two different kinds of kind bread or cake, depending on where you live. If you are from the North, you will probably eat a flat, round, flaky cake that is filled with frangipane or fruit. This is called Galette des Rois, and it usually has a trinket or bean baked into the cake. If you get the piece of cake with the bean in it, you are king or queen for the day and you get to wear a cardboard or paper crown. If you are from the South, the cake might be more crown-shaped and is usually filled with fruit.

Filipino children also leave their shoes out for the Kings to leave treats on Araw ng mga Tatlóng Hari (Three Kings Day). In some parts of the Philippines, three men dress up as “kings” and ride around giving treats to the children in the area.

In my research, I could not find anything about King’s Day celebrations in Zimbabwe or Indonesia (the other two countries found in Missionary Kid Stories). I did however, find information about many other countries. If you search for King’s Day or Epiphany, you can find information about how other countries around the world celebrate, too.

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Types of Missionaries – Missionary Pilots

I was recently talking about different types of missionaries with my kids because I want them to know about all different types of mission work. I realized that there might be parents out there that are only familiar with a few types of missionaries. So, I have decided to write a series of posts that will help grownups and kids both learn more about the types of mission work being done around the world. I will try to include links to websites where you can find missionaries with these jobs. I will also try to include activities that families can do that tie into that type of work, when possible.

First up…

Missionary Pilots

(Photo from

There are missionary pilots serving all over the world. They normally fly in countries where there are people groups that are difficult to get to (like Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Philippines, etc.). They usually live near a base, where the planes or helicopters are kept in a hangar, and they fly out to villages and remote areas when needed. Many times, they can do a flight in an hour or two that would otherwise take days. They help all kinds of people:

  • Doctors taking vaccines or medicines to remote locations
  • Local people who need emergency care or transportation to a hospital or clinic
  • Missionaries that are working to translate the Bible into local languages in villages
  • Local pastors that are traveling and preaching in different villages
  • Missionaries that need supplies

Here are just a few websites that include information about missionary pilots. Take some time to read about a few…some have their own blogs or newsletters that you can subscribe to.

(Photo from

Want some activities for your little aspiring pilots?

  • Look up countries like Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Philippines on a map or puzzle of the world
  • Make paper airplanes and watch them fly. Have a competition to see which one goes farthest.
  • Look up take-off and landing videos on missions websites like the ones above. Imagine landing and taking off from the small, slanted, grass runways!

(Most of the links in this post are to direct you to another source of information.  There are, however, a couple of affiliate links and Families for Missions might receive a small commission if you click on those and make subsequent purchases.)


Family Activity – Service Project

A fun way to teach kids about missions is to do a service project. I suggest finding an organization in your area and coming up with an idea for how to serve them. You might even ask them if they have needs or ideas.

Our family lives near a shelter for homeless men that are trying to get back on their feet. They offer a warm place to stay, meals, and Bible classes for those interested. They also serve the local community by giving out food boxes and supplies.

In the past, we have donated money and supplies. Last year I tried to come up with an idea of how the kids could get involved. They are young, so finding ways to involve them is a little trickier.

I went to the local fabric store and purchased fleece. (If you watch for sales or buy remnants, you can get the fabric inexpensively.)


Then we cut it into scarves to donate. My daughter helped cut them out and loved it. My son couldn’t cut as easily with the fabric shears, but he helped stack and organize the scarves. (He had fun counting them.) 🙂 We talked about how blessed we are to live in a warm house and have warm clothes and plenty of food. We talked about the needs that people in our own community have. They both went with us when we donated the scarves.

This was something they talked about for weeks afterward, especially on very cold days. It made an impact in their little lives and they asked if we could do it again this year.

There are other ways you can help locally, even on a budget:

  • Serve food at a local homeless diner
  • Play piano or sing for a local nursing home or shelter
  • Make Christmas treats or cards to take to nursing home or shelter
  • Purchase supplies to donate (clip coupons and watch sales to make this affordable)
  • Help clean or do yard work for a local organization
  • Collect coins to donate to a local organization – Let your kids do chores to earn extra money to donate

Do you have other ideas?