“All true friendliness begins with fire and food and drink and the recognition of rain or frost ... Each human soul has in a sense to enact for itself the gigantic humility of the Incarnation. Every man must descend into the flesh to meet mankind.” ― G.K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World
As we’ve returned to La Carpio in the last few weeks, reconnecting with ministry participants, it has been amusing and a bit disconcerting to hear peoples’ responses to our sabbatical time. A sampling of comments and questions include—“So, you travelled around the world for a year?” “Oh, you’re back … they said you didn’t care about the poor anymore.” “So, how many months were you at the beach?” “So, you’re done wandering around like a lost Gringo?”
Most of the comments were designed to give us a hard time, which when translated means, “I’m glad you’re back. I’ve missed you.” These comments, these welcome backs, reveal a certain type of acceptance, and a form of hospitality—at least on the margins. Welcome, and everything that comes with it, was something we experienced during the past months in an overwhelming, and encouraging manner.
In late May, we flew into Raleigh, NC, and were taken immediately to a pastor’s home whose family welcomed our family with a big meal. That night and the next, we slept in a rental home of one of the church’s deacons. Later, we left Raleigh and drove to Troy, NC, in a loaner vehicle from another pastor on staff at that church.
Our destination in Troy was a lake house that belongs to a missionary family here in Costa Rica that let us live there for a week and unplug—enjoying kayaking, hiking, swimming, reading, playing games and resting. Back in Raleigh-Durham, good friends showed the kids and Andrea and I more hospitality and welcome. A culinary delight there was the “Rise Competition” which consisted in sitting around a table for hours, eating copious amounts of gourmet biscuits and doughnuts and critiquing and ranking them as if we were celebrity chefs.
Later, in Washington, DC we tried to soak up as much history as possible, walking miles in and around the mall with Seth's mom who flew out to meet us. One night, we got to have dinner with my second cousins who live in Alexandria, VA. They’d never met our kids. They spent the entire night drawing our children into discussions to make them feel welcome, listening to who they are and what they’ve experienced. It was a special night, and one of the truest experiences of hospitality I’ve ever had.
Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith
Farther North, outside of NYC, we were welcomed into the home of a young family that were friends of friends, but now are ours, too. We shared two days in their home where they welcomed a pack of five strangers as if we were special people. Besides conversation over great home-cooked meals, we also got some great tips on navigating the city and seeing the sights. We dropped off our rental vehicle in Queens and took the bus to Boston, where we met some more new friends.
Our hosts there picked us up at the bus station and took us to their home and welcomed us as if we’d know each other for years. They even loaned us their vehicle so we could hit the sights in and around Boston before we flew home that weekend. They too are pastors, and are living their faith in such a practical way that reveals their love for the Lord.
“A life of hospitality begins in worship, with a recognition of God's grace and generosity. Hospitality is not first a duty and responsibility; it is first a response of love and gratitude for God's love and welcome to us.” ― Christine Pohl
We feel so blessed to have been able to take a sabbatical and are very grateful to everyone who gave so that we could have rest time here in Costa Rica, and also do some travel on the East coast in June. Being on the receiving end of such welcome and generosity was a strong, concrete example of God’s grace and His love and acceptance of us.
A special thank you to everyone who welcomed us again, or for the first time, in the US in June. We thank you for your love and welcome to us!
Romans 15:5-7 “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Quote of the month
""At the margins is the only place the Church will have credibility."