Invited to the Table

It has been such a joy through the years to be invited to the table by family, friends and those we did not know. I grew up in a home where hospitality was offered on a regular basis. My mom could bake her famous Hot Milk Sponge in half an hour and never needed more warning than that to invite friends over for tea. My mom always encouraged my twin sister and I to invite our friends to our home and made them very welcome. At times she helped us plan fun parties and special events that we hosted. I love this photo as it is the only one I have with both my grannies, my mom, my daughter, an aunt and cousin all together. It was taken in our home in Cape Town and I think this was my granny's birthday celebration.

My parents still host me regularly and love to have me at their table (or relaxing on the couch with our food on our laps!) Brett's mom, affectionately known as Ma, loves to welcome us to her home in South Africa and it is such a joy for us to spend time with her and the rest of our South African family. Brett's sister Sally hosted us and served very traditional food made with water lilies called Waterblommetjiebredie (see if you can pronounce that!) The table is set with the national flower of South Africa, the Protea.

On another occasion we were able to take some people who were traveling with us to see the ministry that Sally and Brett's mom help run. We stood in the kitchen and heard about the amazing work they do in feeding thousands of poor children. (Check out Life Community Services.) We were honoured to eat at the centre that is used to serve so many needy young people. You can see Ma with her apron on, explaining how this simply stocked kitchen serves so many meals each week. Inspiring! 

Building lasting family relationships takes time, commitment and financial resources. Brett's mom visited his other sister in Maryland, USA and we realised that this would be a good time for our whole family to connect and also for Ma to meet her newest great-grandchild. So we all traveled to the East Coast and spent the July 4 weekend together. You can see the joy on Brett's mom's face to have part of her family that she doesn't see very often around the table!

A year ago Rebecca, who is like a daughter to us, was married in Tuscany. A group of 18 of us stayed with the bride and groom in a big, old villa near Florence. The week was filled with rich fellowship, fun tourist activities and preparations for the wedding. The night before the wedding, friends and family from different countries around the world gathered around the large dinner table, held hands and prayed blessing over Rig and Rebecca.

The following day this same table was set with exquisite Italian dinnerware and flowers to create one of the most stunning table settings I have ever seen. The 34 guests who attended this intimate wedding, were treated to a gourmet Tuscan dinner served family style. (On a later blog I will share more photos as Rebecca and Rig's beautiful wedding photos were featured in Italian Vogue Bridal Magazine!)

After the wedding we enjoyed a Tuscan picnic in the garden of a local artist, before everyone headed home again. We had left-overs from the abundant provision of food at the wedding and this pretty table was filled with tasty treats and the wedding flowers. We were thankful that we had the time to relax together in the warmth of the Italian countryside and spend our last day together. The guests in this photo live in India, Ireland, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan and the USA! Isn't that amazing? 

Through the years Brett and I have been hosted by people all over the world and have received such warm hospitality. Last year we took a group of people who volunteered their time with our non-profit rēp to South Africa. We stayed at T'Niqua Stable Inn in Plettenberg Bay. The owners Michiel and Bettina Meyer have beautiful Percheron horses and took us down to the coast for a picnic in a carriage! It is not every day that one can picnic out in the veld overlooking the Indian Ocean and even have a table on which to arrange all the food. It was transported down there on a horse cart! Such fun! 

A few years ago we went to Egypt right before Arab Spring.  We were so deeply touched by the hospitality we received from the local Egyptians we met. This delightful woman, Nirvana invited us to her home in Cairo right after meeting us and prepared a special meal for us. She cooked fish that her dad had brought from the Red Sea and even though her baby was due in just a few weeks, she opened up her home and heart to us. We felt such an affinity with the people we met in Egypt that we returned to visit again. Hospitality bridges people from different cultures and opens doors for on-going connection and community building.

A table can be so much more than a table. It can be an oasis, a fortress, a bridge, a door, a key, a gift, and the start of new ways to be generous. I encourage you to make the time to "Set the Table" today.

Questions:

When have you been impacted by an invitation to the table?

Please share a memory of a special dinner you have attended in the comments below.

 

10 things I love about Cape Town

I love Cape Town and struggled to pick 10 things, so let's say this is just the start! In no particular order:

1. Cape Town, my home town, the Mother City

2. Our national flower, the Protea that grew in our garden!

3. Lemon Merengue pie, made the South African way!

4. Llandudno, the seaside village where Brett and I grew up

5. Guinea fowl, birds with attitude (love the polka dots)

6. The Biscuit Mill/Neighborgoods Market, my favorite market

7. Beautiful arts and crafts that are sold by talented artisans

8. Walking down memory lane- I used to sit in a desk like this!

9. Onion jam from Woolworths, or Woolies as it is called.

10. The Cape Town harbor; we used to sail here

And of course spending time with our precious family and friends.

Just Add One! And the winner is...

What a joy it has been for me to open my mail each day and see the examples of people from all over the world who have been opening their hearts and homes to others.

India, South Africa, Thailand, Canada, Egypt, Nigeria were just some of the countries represented.  A friend in London shared photos of how they as a family are reaching out to foreign students, neighbors and friends.  

I loved seeing all the creativity that was shown. Beautiful tables were set, High Tea offered in the heat of Thailand with paddling pools to cool the guests' feet.  Ginny packed baskets for friends who were traveling with her in her car and Jodene offered a sleepover to the fiancee of a colleague who was struggling with a relational issue. 

We offered hospitality:

Many stretched and offered hospitality in ways they had not done for a while.  Others had difficulty choosing which event to share with me because having an open home is just part of their daily life and they are regularly inviting people in.

We were guests:

Cate set a table for a quiet time with her and Jesus.  

Margie was offered hospitality by a widow in India who had received a home through their non-profit, HandsonHouses.com.  She was given a bottle of cool water and encouraged to sit down for a while.

My mom and dad reached out to elderly friends and visited their home with a gift (and came home with a beautiful handmade item.)

I visited Griselda, who had been our housekeeper for close to 20 years, for the first time in her lovely home.  We spent time catching up on news and shared our hearts with each other.

There were touches of beauty and loving care:

These photos bring me so much joy as I see the way in which you have lived generously, sharing your lives.  Thank you!

And the winners are...

I was so excited to shop for the treats that made up the napkin collections and wish that everyone who entered the Just Add One could have won a collection of hospitality goodies.  But that is not to be! Unfortunately there  are just 3 collections to be given away.  I had external judges and the results are as follows (drumroll please...)

  • Random drawing:

Lynne Lundy from California!

Lynne prepared a meal for a friend and served it in such an attractive way (see below).  Congratulations Lynne!  Your collection of napkins and other hospitality items will be arriving in the mail.  Have fun with them!!

Two people were selected by an external judge based on the story that they shared:

They will each receive a collection of napkins and other hospitality items.

1. Abigail Fortunato in Cape Town

 

Abigail, who is only 21 really jumped on board and did two events in her back garden and even made a video of the one event. 

 

2. Penny Armstrong in Thailand

Penny planned a fancy tea for her birthday and invited the women in her community.  She was very creative and used what she had on hand to make a beautiful and memorable event for everyone.

You can see more photos of the tea in the Just Add One album on Facebook. Congratulations Penny!!

 

Keep inviting and keep sharing!

This is not the end!  Please keep adding one and more than one to your table.  And please share your stories with me. One by one, we can build community and touch lives!

Please also encourage your friends to sign up to receive our Heartistry newsletters and blog updates!

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A silly little ditty as the Just Add One campaign comes to an end:

Just Add One has been a blast
(Doesn’t mean the fun is past)
Many folks have done their part
Reaching out to share their heart
Men and moms, missionaries too
Students, couples, quite a few
Canada, Panama, and the Cape
London, Cairo made us great
Florida, Africa, India too
USA added quite a few
Cocktails, car trips, meals and more
Sleep-overs, salmon dinners, parties four 
Birthdays, barbeques, baskets and beer
Teas, and treats, from far and near.
Quiet times to “May I Add Ten?”
Wonder when we’ll do it again.
I would like to thank you all
These past weeks have been a ball!