Written by Juanita Fox
“He just keeps coming back,” jokes Fran Rapp, a Garden Spot Village resident since August 2011.
Lasse Mortensen just grins in response. Lasse first met Fran and his wife Sally, when he was a 16-year-old foreign exchange student from Denmark. The Rapps welcomed him into their home for the 1996/1997 school year. Lasse attended the school where the Rapp’s daughters attended and quickly learned about American culture.
When Fran and Sally started their family, they opened their home to foster children, then international teachers and students. This openness to other cultures provided a diverse upbringing for their girls and allowed them to create friendships around the globe.
Fran and Sally’s hospitality was a gift to Lasse. His mother encouraged him to participate in the American-Scandinavian Student Exchange program. Having herself spent time abroad in her youth she recognized that a it would be a valuable lifetime experience. Sally and Fran were happy to host Lasse and invited their community to welcome his as well.
A teacher, Fran was well connected with the community. He and Sally hosted a welcome party when Lasse arrived and introduced him to his peers, their church family and his teachers. In addition, Fran encouraged him to become active in the school community. He told Lasse, “It’s going to take time and energy to settle into the community. Take advantage of opportunities presented to you.” With this encouragement, Lasse joined the wrestling team, the choir, the school musical and an intramural soccer team.
Lasse reckons that Fran’s advice was some of the best advice he’s ever gotten, and that the experience of having to settle into a new culture and staying with the Rapps, did a lot to help him develop into the person he is today.
When he returned home, Lasse remembered his American family and looked forward to a return visit. Over the past 25 years, Lasse has visited numerous times. Recently, he brought his wife, Simone and their children Edith and Alfred for a holiday to the United States. The family started their trip in New York City and spent a few days exploring the city before driving to New Holland for brief stays on their way to and from Williamsburg, Virginia. It was Lasse’s fourth visit to the Rapp’s home since they moved to Garden Spot Village.
Lasse and Simone enjoy visiting because, Lasse says, “Everyone at Garden Spot Village is friendly and happy.” Their children enjoyed visiting the train room, the fishpond in the Legacy Garden and the fish tank in the Village Square. Alfred and Edith also enjoyed a trip to nearby Lapp Valley Farm for ice cream. They loved petting the calves and giggled when a calf tried to eat the flower on Edith’s dress.
Fran and Sally say it’s easy to host guests at Garden Spot Village because of the support they receive. “Garden Spot has a system for accommodating guests,” Fran explains. “We rent cots for them to sleep on and because we have two full bathrooms, we have a spare bathroom to share with them.” Although Fran and Sally choose to host Lasse and Simone in their home, available guest rooms make it easy to host extended family and friends for a small fee.
Fran, Sally and Lasse look forward to the next time the Mortensens can visit their American family in New Holland.