When I was in junior high, my brother's high school soccer coach approached my parents about a German exchange student named Jens. (Pronunciation is like "Yence.") He was staying with a different family but things weren't working out and he needed a new place to stay. I'm pretty sure we had a family meeting about it and eventually decided to invite him to live with us.
I really feel like all of us hit the Exchange Student Situation Jackpot here. While he didn't get what I'm sure all foreign exchange students wanted (a high rise in New York or a beach-front billionaire family in Los Angeles), he moved into our family home near Seattle. He became very close friends with JP, our dog Einstein took a particular liking to him, and we took him on family vacations to Las Vegas. We were the lucky ones too. Even though he annoyed me sometimes (don't all older brothers?) by telling me the endings of movies, he fit into our family. He was respectful and kind and followed the house rules. He was a great soccer player and even participated in the home movies my brother and his friends would produce.
After he went back to Germany, he learned to sail and joined the German military and otherwise became a very accomplished individual. He got married and had a baby one month before June was born, an adorable boy named Linus.
This past Sunday Jens was in Phoenix! He is currently stationed in Florida for training and he flew to Phoenix on a training exercise. My brother coordinated a lunch between all us kids (my parents weren't in town) and our kids.
I suggested we eat at Haus Murphy's, a local joint in Glendale that was featured on the Food Network and has authentic German food. To be even more authentic, we each had a beer to go with it.
I still can't believe that it's been over ten years since he lived in our extra bedroom on 140th Way, and that we each now have children. It was so nice to catch up and laugh like old times.
He said he'll pick the restaurant next time we visit Germany. :)