Thursday, June 19, 2008

Home Exchange FAQs and stuff

Hello friends! New post time. I wish I could tell you what this picture is but -- er -- I don't know. Looks great though, doesn't it?

Okay, on my other blog ( )I posted some stuff about the whole concept of home exchange, but I couldn't quite manage to transfer the text over here, so I will just attempt to reconstruct it. Shouldn't be too difficult, but I'm not sure how long I have before Bridget (one year old on Sunday June 22) wakes up. She is not very tolerant of any time I spend on the computer in her presence. No, not tolerant at all.

Anyway, the Egeria logo is now complete, painted with my own little hands, and if I do say so it looks pretty groovy. I was in a fantastic state of mind doing it because I was listening to one of my very favourite online radio shows, Our Life in Christ. There is a link to it from Ancient Faith Radio, and unless I am mistaken, from this very blog. I was listening in particular to the show about Proskimede (the preparation of the Gifts before the Liturgy) -- it was fascinating and actually very moving to hear the prayers read out as I worked. I love this faith so much. There is such astonishing richness it is still arresting after 20 years or so, and it will never stop being that way.

On to home exchange chat! Okay, there are lots of places on the web to go for FAQs about home exchange, but our Orthodox version will be a little different, hence the reason to go with Egeria as well as/ instead of another club. I guess the first question would be:

What is Home Exchange?

The basic idea is that you sign on as a member at our website when it is up and running (we project that will be September, perhaps a tad earlier). The cost will be low compared to many other clubs but it can't be free for reasons I will list below.

So, when you sign up you pay your fee (probably 50 dollars Cdn or so), and this makes you a member for one or two years depending which option you choose. NB: We will do a promotion to ramp up the number of listings (since the whole thing sort of depends on having lots of members!) so that if you are among the first, say, hundred people to sign on your membership will be good for a lot longer, plus we will offer any other perks we can think of.

Anyway, once the club 'matures', the idea is that you have your pick of listings by other Orthodox Christians (and their friends) with whom you can exchange homes according to what is mutually agreeable in terms of time and duration. These will be from around the globe -- we already have some interested parties in Oxford, Devonshire, New York, Victoria and Romania! We will work hard toward getting as many listings in as many diverse places as possible, so that your membership will be really useful. Keep in mind that every membership will also generate funds for IOCC -- International Orthodox Christian Charities, who do amazing work in many countries in the name of Christ, not only for our Orthodox brothers and sisters in crisis, others as well.

When you have contacted another member in the club whose home you wish to visit, the two of you simply begin to correspond about your plans. One great thing about home exchange is that if it suits both parties you can stay much longer than the typical two weeks, because you aren't worried about the crazy cost of accommodation -- it is free! Some people even arrange to exchange for several months. And if you have pets or plants that need care, that is something you can work out together too. Also your house-sitting and mail collection are automatically taken care of. In your host country, you get to "live as a local, not a tourist" as the home exchange literature points out, which is really delightful. You get a whole house or apartment instead of just a room, you have the option of cooking your own meals, and you may have access to other amenities such as a car, bicycles, even a boat! Whatever the two members decide to exchange they can exchange -- it's all open for discussion. (It is usually recommended for the sake of clarity that the members draw up an exchange contract, or guidelines. On our official website we will have printable samples.) Another typical practice is that the members arrange for friends or neighbours to drop by and welcome the guests. This provides the travelers a local contact who can advise them as to where to eat, what tourist traps to avoid, where to go to church, what sights are not to be missed, etc. Perhaps the person will even be willing to take you out as a guide and/or act as a translator if you wish. On your side, it is also is a way for you to get feedback that your guests have arrived and all is well with them and with your house.

Home exchange is also extremely child-friendly. If you exchange with another family-with-kids, both parties will have kids' rooms and toys when they arrive, allowing everyone a real home base and room to stretch out.

Well, speaking of kids, it's time I got back to mine! I will post again soon, and thanks for visiting this blog! Spread the word and look out for the next post with the next FAQ. I will update regularly!

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