“Well, this isn’t what I expected!” I thought to myself as I etched my stiff body off the floor of the small van and climbed out.
My body was instantly socked as the rain poured down relentlessly from the sky.
“Isn’t rain supposed to indicate a fresh, “air-refresher type” of smell?” I wanted to say out loud, but fear of the unknown stopped me.
The humidity of this new land encompassed my entire body and from that moment on I realized that I was no longer in my winter homeland.
Nervous giggles and knowing looks were exchanged between me and my four, sixteen year old friends. We then coaxed our tired, jet-lagged bodies up the muddy driveway to our new strange home.
I felt tears stinging my eyes as I longed for the familiar sights and smells of Canada.
The door to this unfamiliar home opened and we were greeted with three sets of smiling white teeth and an excited, “Come in, Come in!”
Everything was different. The cement flooring, the smell of curry in the air and most of all, the poverty. I felt so far from the comfort and protection of my own home.
I decided right then and there that I absolutely hated Sri Lanka.
We were shown to our new bedroom. I glanced begrudged around the room. Then my eyes fell upon it. One double bed.
“Five girls are supposed to sleep on one double bed!” I could feel the bed mocking me as I gaped at it.
“I’m way to too young and unprepared, to go on a month long mission’s trip!” I thought to myself.
After the shock of the one bedroom, I received news that rocked my world.
Shanti, our host mother, proudly announced to our very carsick group,
“It’s time for dinner.”
“Dinner? At 11 pm?” I could feel my stomach doing summer salts.
Kristin, being our smart and fearless leader, led the way downstairs to our fateful destiny - that tiny, circular kitchen table.
In 2 minutes we were all staring down at over-filled plates of “noodles,” “beef” soup ( to this day I have no idea what it contained). Tomato and pepper salad, and the most intimidating of it all, a tall glass of water. All the stories of drinking unpurified water in foreign countries came flooding back to my memory.
I remember looking across the table at Kristen. She gave me her “look” which really meant,
“You better eat what you’ve been given!”
The seconds seemed like hours as I sat, frozen in fear, at this meal that I was sure would be the death of me. Each bite sent shivers down my body and fire to my mouth.
Finally, I painfully swallowed the last bite of my beef water soup and as politely as I could, asked if we could be excused to get washed and ready for bed.
The bedroom door slam set off an alarm of giggles, laughter and tears. As I looked around the room at my homesick, giggling and crying friends, I saw my opportunity to sneak into the shower. My very pale, white skin was turning a dusty brown color (despite no sun rays). A shower sounded quite wonderful to me!
While I was making my way to the shower, I heard voices coming from the kitchen. I peered down the stars and saw a sight, which will be forever etched, in my mind.
There was our host family. The wife, father and nine-year daughter, sitting around the table eating their dinner.
They waited five hours for us to arrive and then honored us by serving us first. Letting us enjoy what they had carefully prepared for their new foreign friends.
I went back to my room. Conviction pierced through my heart. Our selfish giggles, disgusted looks and heartless attitude came flooding back to my mind.
I solemnly went back to my room and explained the amazing picture of love and hospitality that this family, who never met us before, did for us.
Needless to say, our self absorbed attitudes changed after that fateful dinner.
You’re not just making another dinner, or letting a needy family “take advantage” of you, or entertaining your husband’s friends for another evening. You’re getting the opportunity to show the power of love spoken through servant hood in the disguise of something called hospitality.
What will your family, friends or strangers see when they peer down at you from the top of the stairs?
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