Well, I see that we share many things in common when it comes to hospitality blunders. I am enjoying all your stories. Funny how the most trying moments make the best stories after the fact.
Once we had a family coming through town who needed a place to hook up their camper for a couple of days. We had never met them, but we arranged for them to park in a friend’s driveway. When they arrived with their four boys, we told them that we had arranged hospitality for them, but they insisted on staying with us. We had a very small house (around 900 square feet) and my parents were visiting. It was one of those moments, and what could we do but say, “Oh, sure.”
Our one tiny bathroom then became shower central while the family took turns getting showered (they had been on the road a while), and I remember going into the kitchen to pray for grace once I realized I was fixing for dinner for the gang. One of my girls came in from the back yard to tell me that the boys were being pretty rough with her tricycle. I remember explaining to her that they just might be angels, so we had better be nice, but I could tell that she didn’t buy it.
After doing a quick inventory in the kitchen, I proceeded to make the old stand-by, a very large vat of mac and cheese. And they were the kind of guests who were very grateful and easy to please. (Not like the visitor who once told my mother-in-law that he would rather have spaghetti when she had served him a pork chop. Believe it or not, she fixed him spaghetti, and my children still refer to him as the paragon of rude behavior!)
But back to my story. Despite the rough start, it turned out rather well. The lady had been very lonely for some female company and my mom, bless her, sat down and had a cup of tea with her while I fussed around in the kitchen. Meanwhile, my dad visited with the husband, and the boys stayed occupied in the back yard. We all felt like God had enabled us to provide for these needy people, despite the fact that we were totally unprepared. And we got the surprise blessing.
5 thoughts on “Unexpected Company”
I like this story, you told it at the retreat you did for us here in Toledo. If I can paraphrase badly, I recall you telling your children…”they might be angels, let them ride…” lovely words of generosity and training kids to love others (and you are funny too.)
In “Stepping Heavenward,” the central character pays a call on her pastor’s wife. After they’d talked for a they had this exchange:
“But I am staying too long. Were you particularly busy?”
“No,” she replied smilingly. “I am learning that the man who wants me is the man I want.”
I’ve always liked that image of sweet, patient availability. Not something I can claim to have accomplished, though!
I’ll bet I speak for many when I say that posts like these (and comments like Valerie’s) are the main reason so many of us keep coming back to the Femina blog. Truly, these words are “apples of gold in settings of silver”; especially the last two sentences of the post!
Ha, that bit about you standing in the kitchen wondering what to make reminded me of a time recently when my husband suggested we invite over a few ‘yoofs’ as he calls them — we have a good share of young men and women in high school and university in our congregation back home in New Zealand.
The impression I got was that we’d maybe have around 8 people over, and because I knew that whichever boys he’d invite would eat lots, I prepared maybe enough for about 12. So after evening church I was bustling away in the kitchen, got it all ready only to walk into the lounge where there were about 20 young people, most of them boys with healthy appetites. I got such a big fright that I said something totally tactless like, “Oh well, if there’s not enough food you can always go home and eat bread!” and was immediately embarrassed for saying it! But I went straight back to the kitchen (a kitchen with pretty bare cupboards as I was emptying things out for going to the States) and made some sort of pasta concoction that had lentils in it. (?!) It turned out alright in the end, and I’m pretty sure everyone ate enough.
But what made the evening great was certainly not the food, but the discussions we had like the debate over environmentalism and Christianity, the jokes and laughter and the numerous games of Mafia.
It was a blessed evening, despite it all!
One of the beautiful things I learned from my mother is her graciousness with unexpected guests. It’s not just that I come from a culture where no one bats an eyelash if someone calls up and says “we’d like to come over for tea.” No, with my mother, it was more than that. She had a huge giving heart. Even on the days when she wasn’t feeling her best she would always say “yes, sure, come over.” She would then proceed to go to the freezer where she always had an assortment of stand-by things to serve. She would warm up the goodies, cut some fruit, make some tea, bring out whatever cheeses she had in the refrigerator along with the pita bread and “voila” she had the table set up beautifully with the sweet little Arabic tea cups and all. And in the end, no matter how she was feeling when she started, the evening always ended up blessing us all. I love that about my mother. That is the model I also try to set for my girls.
I love your examples, Nancy.