Well, after I got married and we had our first daughter, my father and his wife decided to visit us. They came by the time she was turning one, in the summer of 2004, maashaa'Allah. I was wearing niqaab by then, but I didn't mention it at all and just went to pick them up at the airport. They didn't say anything about my face being covered initially and we got them home, settled down, and just let them relax. We had stocked the freezer and fridge with a variety of zabihah meats for their visit and for the first couple of days let them sleep in and recover from their flight. They enjoyed getting to know their granddaughter and we went to a couple of places for sightseeing and shopping.
During their stay, we did a couple of things that exposed them to Islam. We used to sell Islamic clothing, accessories, lectures, etc. at different functions and we took them one evening to a masjid in Philadelphia while we were vending. As brothers and sisters passed by, gave salaams, and interacted with us, my father asked me what the response was to their salaams and then responded a couple of times. It was quite cute. The whole experience served to show them a large Muslim community, predominantly American, with focus and a good sense of brotherhood/sisterhood.
The other thing we did was when we took them for drives, especially long ones, we played 'The Lives of the Prophets' by Imaam Anwar al-Awlaki in the van. I mentioned in passing that it is the one time when we have a chance to listen to the series without interruption, just so they understood that it was for us, not them. Well, every now and then my father would make a sound of agreement with something being said, so I knew he was listening at least some of the time. His wife commented that it was very relaxing and soothing to listen to while we were traveling. Well, you KNOW that hubby and I were just grinning away at each other about that!
Of course, they saw us pray whenever and wherever we were for the duration of their stay, heard us refer to Allah throughout our day, and generally saw how our life was being lived. Our daughter was saying many words by then, so she would say "AlhamdulIllah" after she sneezed, "bismIllah" before she ate, etc. We also introduced them to black seed and black seed oil, explaining that the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, told us it is a cure for everything except death. That interested them greatly, as they like natural remedies and nutritional supplements.
When the time came for them to leave, we gave them gifts including a framed ayah of Quran translated into English (the last ayah of Surah Al Baqarah) that we had made. My husband decided to slip two simple books into their gift bag as well about Understanding Islam and Muslims. He told them that it was just in case they had any questions or wanted to understand a little more. We hugged and kissed them goodbye at the airport and my father said, "May Allah keep you safe and blessed."
On returning home, I talked to my father and he said that within a month of getting back they had to call someone to fix their hot water heater. The man who came was a Muslim and my father engaged him in conversation telling him about us. He talked to him about the black seed oil, which he liked to use. My father had taken us to the Markfield Islamic Foundation when we visited and had a look around with us, so he was familiar with it. He told me that he was planning to give them a call to see if they could tell him where to purchase more of the black seed. I thought to myself that at least it was some kind of connection with Islam.
Qadr Allah, by 2006 my father and his wife divorced. He was 68 at the time and it was a huge life change for him. He started thinking of different options such as coming over to the the U.S.A. so he could be closer to us, moving to Portugal, etc. We just called him more often and remained supportive and loving.
In the meantime, my mother came to visit for 2 weeks. By then I had a 5 month old daughter as well, so she got to see both her granddaughters, mashaa Allah. It was the last week of Ramadan, so we were fasting and she saw each day how we broke our fast and heard us get up early to have suhoor. My older daughter was 3 then, and she used to go downstairs to keep Grandma company in the early mornings while she had her cup of tea. One day my mother told me that she had sneezed and my mother said "bless you". She responded, "You can't bless me, only Allah can do that." My mother was taken aback, quite amazed at the clarity and focus. She saw us pray, saw the children living as Muslims, learned what we didn't do, and what we did.
When Eid came, she was uncomfortable to come with us to the Eid prayer, so I tried to leave it open for her. She changed her mind and came, holding the baby and just sitting at the back. It was in a rented hall, so there were no issues of her entering a masjid. She even draped a shaylah over her hair for the duration. One or two mornings I played 'Quran for Little Muslims' for the children and checked to see if she was listening. She didn't really seem to be taking anything in, so I didn't take it any further. We enjoyed her visit, spent a lot of time letting her relax and do a little shopping. We gave her gifts from the girls that showed their love for Grandma and sent her home with hugs. Maashaa Allah, it was a good visit.