Saturday, June 13, 2009

Guest Writer - "Missionary Guests"

Last week I shared some thoughts about hospitality in our lives. I closed the week sharing a sweet yard sale memory of when my family left for a foreign mission field. Today I've invited Carol, a dear friend of mine, to share her story of the beautiful blending of both ... hospitality and relationships with missionaries. Be blessed by Carol's words and then check back tomorrow for 10 Things to Delight Missionary Guests!

Panama, Bangladesh, Russia, Japan, Chile, Ireland, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Greece, England, and Slovakia…a tour of the world right here at our own dining room table. What an incredible joy and privilege it has been for our family to open our home to missionaries (48 so far) who share the love of Jesus in all these places. They represent camp directors, seminary professors, pilots, radio personalities, church planters, mission board representatives, puppeteers, and college campus outreach leaders. Some of our guests are from America, while others are foreign-born. Being exposed to, and getting to know, individuals from other cultures, has been a wonderful experience for our entire family. Visiting around the table long after a meal is over, or staying up late listening to stories, are moments we cherish and eagerly anticipate. When they tell stories about swallowing flies while speaking in a supporting church, we laugh with them. When they share how their husbands were kidnapped by a militant group (and were later found dead), we cry.

And we have learned some things along the way.

They are as eager to know about us as we are to know about them.

They want to be a part of our family when they are with us.

They want to eat old-fashioned American foods. (I should not have made a rice dish for a Bengali man whose culinary staple at home is RICE!J)

They are human beings…just like us.

They get exhausted, hungry, thirsty, sleepy, and excited…just like us.

They like to take showers or baths…just like us.

They like sports, cooking and decorating shows, and the news…just like us.

They like to make new friends…just like us.

And keeping all those things in mind makes it easy to keep them in our home. We happen to have a guest room that stays company-ready all the time. With the choice of paint colors, d├ęcor, and lighting, we have tried to make it a place that makes them feel special, comfortable, and private. Bath/spa items are left on the dresser for our visiting ladies, and books or University of Tennessee ball caps or T-shirts are left for our men. Thick, thirsty towels and washcloths are left on the foot of the bed, to ensure they never have to ask for one or go on a search.

We show them where they can iron a shirt or wash a load of laundry. If we can find out ahead of time, we like to make sure we have their favorite breakfast foods and beverages available. If they are here for our church mission’s conference, we acquaint ourselves with their schedule so we are prepared to feed them when they do not have a planned commitment, and show them how to get everywhere they need to go.

For almost 12 years now, we have had this wonderful and amazing opportunity. New lasting friendships have been made, and we look forward to the ones the Lord will bring our way in the future! With technology like SKYPE available, we are able to “see” each other when we visit online. Memories have been made that we will cherish for years to come!

- Carol

2 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Great post.

I enjoyed reading your blog this afternoon...Had some time to do some blog hopping...always enjoy finding new blogs!
Hope you will visit me. This month I am posting on our Disney trip.

Patty Fortner said...

I sometimes forget that opening my home to "new" friends overnight doesn't have to be intimidating.

The picture you paint of simply welcoming them into the family for their stay is VERY INSPIRING.

Thanks, great post. : )