Whew! Finally, we are here! We are back in Houston to take up our work among Internationals after a year of off field assignment. In some ways it has felt like a marathon in that it seems it took FOREVER for the transition to be complete! In other ways it felt like a dash, running so hard and so fast that that we were out of breath. More than once, Butch and I said to each other that we are just getting too old for this! On our second Sunday back, we were reminded of why the dash was worth it.
Butch and I love sharing our home and sharing hospitality. Being back in Houston and reconnecting with our International friends was at the top of our make it happen list! It took us one week to unload a truck, unpack boxes, clean the china and call some of our friends for a Sunday dinner. I love these moments around the table. I love the chatter and the laughter. I love the “Can I help you?” I love the “We are just waiting for Mum Nell!” I love the discussions of the various relationships our country has with others or the discussions regarding visa complications. I truly love hearing about the new romances our young friends are engaging in! But I have to say that my smile is biggest and my heart the most full when I see their faces light up when we do something showing a bit of our understanding of their culture.
They saw various artifacts around the house and were duly impressed that we had been to and had a basic understanding of their home country. They appreciated the rugs as well as various things in other languages. However, I will never forget how their faces lit up and their voices cried with excitement when Butch brought out the tea. I am sad to say we did not even use our nicest service set. Nevertheless, the glasses, the rock candy, the decorated tray said one thing to them….HOME! “You surprise us! How do you know this?” “These are Persian glasses!” “Where did you get the nabat?” I should say it all ended with a nerf gun fight in which I was clearly the victor!
Internationals are not looking for or expecting us to know how to do everything just right. They are simply overjoyed when we open our homes and our lives to them; when we are willing to step a bit outside our culture and open ourselves to diversity; and when we show that we understand that homesickness is a common trait in any culture when hearth and home are far away.
So, who’s coming for dinner? Where are they from? How might you show them that they have a home away from home?