Some of us have a gift for hospitality and some of us find it hard. But all of us are called on to be hostess to a variety of people. When we live in a foreign culture, hospitality can take on a whole new meaning.
Being ourselves and doing what comes naturally seem to be the keys to being a good hostess, no matter who are our guests. When we are trying to figure out what is “right” or what will look good to them, we are thinking more about ourselves than our guests. When we put their comfort and needs first, our responses will be natural and put them at ease.
All of us have visited homes where the hostess is constantly fretting about whether she got everything dusted or that the kids have gotten toys out since she cleaned the room. We felt uncomfortable and a burden to her. We want our guests to feel relaxed and to be confident they are in good hands.
Lea mentioned that fixing some of our national food for our guests is often appreciated by our guests. When doing this, I’ve found it helpful to know if there are any ingredients in our food that they might find unpleasant.
When I have Chinese guests, I don’t cook with beef or cheese until I find out if they like them. Our Nigerian friends are not used to eating many vegetables, especially uncooked. So for them, I wouldn’t serve a tossed green salad. But most people are delighted to see how you can take the same basic ingredients and make something so different and delicious.
Celeste, who is a South African living and serving in the USA, says she keeps a guest book and guests find it interesting to read who has slept in the same bed as they have. I’ve had some wonderful people stay in my home, I wish I had thought to have a guest book to have a record of all of them.
Sometimes our guests want to help us and we must be able to receive from them too. Years ago one lady and her husband stayed almost a week while ministering in our church. I treated her like a queen and waited on her hand and foot. I was so happy to have her stay in our home and I wanted everything to be perfect. One day I found she had been crying and after some coaxing learned why. She longed for her children and wanted to do anything she could for mine. She liked being a home maker and she wanted to be able to do dishes again or sweep the floor. I had kept her on a pedestal and she wanted to be a friend. I was sorry that I had misread her needs, but I learned a valuable lesson in hospitality.
Bloopers and Surprises
Lea gave a whole new meaning to Rolled Roast with her blooper. She said, “I made a roast one evening for a couple of our leaders. When I took the roast out of the pan and was transferring it from one pan to the next for cutting, it fell and bounced all the way into the living room- right in front of my guests! We all had a good laugh. I then cleaned it off and baked it some more before we ate it.”
I had quite a different surprise for my guests one time. I was entertaining some Americans who were just traveling through Malaysia. While they sat and watched, I was setting the table. When I reached into my cabinet to get a trivet, it just didn’t look like it usually did. Upon closer inspection I realized it was a snake coiled up. With as little flurry as possible, I got a broom and swept it out of the cabinet. I intended to give it a good whack with the broom handle and sweep it up. But with the first whack, juice sprayed everywhere. I was horrified because I thought it was snake “juice”. As it turned out, my broom handle had been in the laundry room and absorbed water from my laundry drain! At least they had a story to take back with them to the US.
This, by no means exhausts our topic, we’ll return to the topic of hospitality again at a later time. Any who want to send in your comments on the topic of hospitality, we will keep those together and use them in a future article.