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A Visiting Guide


Many of these tips relate more to visits within our community (i.e. people from one team visiting people from another), but if we can learn to be more considerate of each other, we may also become more considerate of others whom we visit from outside the community.

1. Give notice of your intentions, with regard to arrival times, meals, etc. Within the community it is OK to arrive right on meal time if you have notified the host team about your intentions. However, when visiting people outside the community, it is usually best to arrive just after meal time, and to specify that you will have eaten before getting there. If people specifically invite you for a meal, that's a different matter.

2. Bring appropriate gifts. A gift on arrival is one way to overcome the impression that you are presuming upon the goodwill of the people you are visiting. Too often we assume that our lifestyle exempts us from generosity and genuine consideration for the needs and wishes of others. Try pretending that you are rich, and that you want to give your host something that he or she will really appreciate. When you have a few ideas, then work back from that to what you can reasonably afford. Don't start by looking around for something that you don't want, or that you were going to throw out anyway, and just give that.

Most of us raid bins occasionally. However, gifts (between ourselves) of things that you have retrieved from bins (which still need to be sorted, cleaned, etc.) often mean more work than blessing to your host. If at all possible, do the sorting and cleaning before you make your contribution.

Contributions toward the cost of food can either be in kind (groceries) or cash. Unless you have more provisioned food than you can eat, cash is best, because your host can then use it to purchase precisely what he or she needs. Note: System hosts are often shy about accepting cash, in which case you could just turn up with some groceries. A peek at the sort of things they already have is a good guide as to the sort of things they would appreciate.

3. If your hosts offer you the use of their laundry facilities, you should recognise that it is a gift which will save you much time and money. Don't drag the job out over days, as your hosts will want to use the facilities too. Don't leave the job for your host to finish. Don't presume that you can use their cleaning agents when you have soap, etc. of your own. Don't assume that an offer for you to use the machines at the start of your visit means that you have full rights to them throughout the visit. A second round of laundry just before you leave may not be appreciated either. Weekly laundry jobs leave a lot of mess behind. Clean it up.

4. Use your own bath towels, toiletries, and cosmetics. Respect your host's privacy. If they have to hide things away from you so that you won't use them, they may not appreciate your return.

5. Don't monopolise the bathroom. Keep showers short. Use bedrooms for as many grooming needs as possible.

6. Don't "take over" the house. This includes such things as not moving the furniture or rearranging the cupboards. Put things back where you found them, not where you would like them to be. You may need to keep reminding yourself that this is not your house. You would not want your host to come into your house or mobile home and start rearranging things and generally taking over. So don't do it to others.

7. Haircuts are best done in your own accommodation. If you do cut hair while visiting, remember that sweeping is often not sufficient to remove hair from bathroom floors. Mop as well. Go outside to shake the hair off cover towels; and don't leave unshaken towels for your host to wash, as it could result in a whole load of clothes being covered with hair.

8. If you do car repairs while visiting, clean up after yourself. That includes cleaning the hand basin (and wall if necessary) so that there is not a greasy ring to show that you have been there. Don't leave guest towels black.

9. Be quiet and polite to neighbours.

10. Keep children under control. Teach them the same consideration that you have learned from the above rules. Don't assume your hosts are live-in baby-sitters.

11. Co-ordinate with your hosts with regard to special needs that your children have. It is your responsibility to prepare special or early meals for your children. Assume that you will be the one providing the ingredients as well, unless it is made clear otherwise.

12. Don't leave personal needs (e.g. showers) till the last minute. Plan your departure well in advance, especially if leaving for overseas (as friends all like to farewell you just before you leave). Even if you are not going overseas, it is good to leave the last few hours free for fellowship.

13. Make it clear when you plan to leave, and then leave on time. If there are changes, then let your hosts know, as they may have plans which are to begin just after you leave.

14. Don't leave a mess behind. Visitors often overlook dirt and mess more than those who have to live with it after you have gone.

15. Send a letter or card thanking your hosts for their hospitality after you have left.

If you follow these rules, you will probably receive a warm welcome wherever you go.

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