"...Given to hospitality." (Romans 12:13)
"Use hospitality one to another without grudging." (I Peter 4:9)
One element of my life here that was a massive leap and learning curve for me was hospitality. Obviously, I grew up with people coming over for dinner. We went out with people and went places with people. Especially when we were younger, my parents often kept many travelers in their home.
But here, it is so different (or at least it feels that way!). Partly, it is the culture that it is acceptable just to pop in for tea. Also, there's a limited amount of places to stay and we're conveniently right off the main road through the entire country.
When Leon and I first arrived on the farm as a newly married couple, my MIL wasn't home for at least six weeks because of health issues. Also, within the first three months, we had over 60 people to the farm -- either for dinner or for an overnight stay. It was SO overwhelming to me. Most of the entertaining preparation fell to me and I was clueless.
One weekend, we had the guest preacher and his wife from the States staying by us (which was a blast). Then, my MIL's cousin and his wife decided to stay the weekend. Then, some people who used to live here decided to pop in for dinner. THEN, my MIL decided to invite the Pastor and his wife over for dinner (which was fine, obviously!!! but she forgot to tell me.) So the math to that dinner party was 9 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 2. Now in the States, it is perfectly acceptable to say, "Hey! Come on over! The more the merrier!" .....And order another pizza.
Here, you don't do that. For a dinner table with that many people, you have organized two different roasts (chicken and beef), 5+ vegetable dishes, rice and potatoes, plus a dessert (or two).
Huge disclaimer: we have an amaaaaaaazing cook on the farm and other maids to help with the prep and clean up. However, it is still an immense amount of work.
But here's something I missed at the beginning of my marriage.....
An imperfect dinner is an entire success with a smiling, relaxed, comfortable hostess.
A perfect dinner leaves absolutely no impression (except possibly a distasteful one) with a stressed out hostess.
The Lord has really been working on me to be relaxed about unexpected guests. It is fun and easy to entertain when one is expecting it. It is a completely different thing to entertain on the fly and at an inconvenient time.
Once, Leon and Andy worked on the generator until 10:30 on a Saturday night. Literally, as they stood up from their work to go to bed, there was a friend needing a place for the night. Another time, a distant relative's friend needed a place to stay. Leon told me at 4:30 and I had to come up with an alternative dinner plan and dessert pronto. But you know what...That guy later committed suicide. Fortunately, Anton and Leon were able to speak to him about the Gospel. Was he saved? We're not sure although he claimed he was.
I am so glad for the opportunity to entertain here. It is one of the biggest ways we can impact our farming community. People know we are Christians. It is just so important to visibly demonstrate it through being a gracious hostess.