After posting an article on the excuses we can make to the challenge to be hospitable I thought I would write about our family’s experiences.

 

When we first got married we lived in a nice house my husband had built before we got married.  But it was on the market so we could move north to the family farm.  We invited a lot of our friends over during that time.  Everything was new and everything was wonderful!  We did the full entertaining thing – 3 course meals, fondues, and fancy desserts.    (I do believe there is a difference between entertaining and being hospitable and it is a change that has evolved in our lives)

 

Then we moved to the family farm.  In order to be our own family we decided to live in the workman quarters in the shed.  The family affectionately called this “the Goondie”. This is an Australian word.  It was one large room with a bathroom on the side.  We set it up with a kitchen/laundry, an office, dining room and bedroom.  It was all there for all to see!

 

In this setting we determined we wanted to be hospitable.  But…. We had limitations.  We could only fit one other couple in our tiny space – so we invited couples for dinner.  When we invited families we dined outdoors in our little patch of grass.  Once we had the whole family and friends for breakfast – all out on the little patch of grass.  There would have been about 18 people.

 

My oven was a little on the not very reliable side … I cooked things over at the “main house” during the day and kept them warm in my oven ready to serve to our guests.

 

18 months later we moved across Australia.  We travelled across with a 20’ caravan.  I was pregnant with our first child.  We lived for about 8 months in the caravan park.  Our annex had our library, laundry and sitting area.  The van was kitchen, dining, and bedroom and office!  We continued with our desire to be hospitable.  We still had limitations.

 

Our little “house” could still only fit in an extra couple.  But the people we invited during these months have been our firm friends over the last 12 years.  One friend still talks about her surprise at the table set proper and a delicious meal being cooked in such conditions!!    We continued to invite couples or enjoy the outdoors with bigger groups.

 

Another limitation was my kitchen – I still didn't have a very good oven – I learnt to use my Electric Frypan as my oven – cooked a mean pizza and I even tried baking a cake once!

 

I only had one of anything – one caserole dish, one baking tray etc.  So every meal had to be worked out what would be cooked where.  I had to watch how many electrical appliances I had running at once.  Cooking was a major scheduling event!

 

Once baby son started to crawl and move about I wanted a house.  God supplied one where the rent was low.  It was great.  It was still small – one room for baby, one room for the office.  We slept on a sofa couch in the lounge – this saved money on furniture and space.

 

We were able to fit a lot more people in the dining room – we could fit 6-8 around our table!  We had a lounge room to fit about 15!  But… we were on a very very tight budget.  So we started having a lot more shared meals – someone brings the dessert and we cooked the mains.  Or with bigger crowds we did Potluck – everyone brings something to share!    We didn’t have enough cutlery and crockery for this size crowd so we used plastic and paper!  No one complained because the fellowship was great!

 

At times I’ve done just dessert, or afternoon tea which are cheaper alternatives.  I cooked lunch  for a group of ladies once – so much cheaper than going into town and doing lunch– but just as fun!

 

A few years after this we moved again – onto our farm.   Young children, one of them very sick, and starting homeschooling mark the first few years here.  One aspect of hospitality that I am reminded of here at this time in our life was one friend and how she showed us hospitality.  It was easier for her to move her family (for a night out) than it was for us to move our family at that stage.  So they would come down, bringing all the dinner ingredients with them, she’d use my kitchen and cook our dinner, which we would all share together.    What a delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon/night!

 

Two of the main limitations that affect our hospitality these days– my time as a homeschooling mum of 4, and my husband is away a lot – 80% of the time for ¾ of the year.  

 

Hospitality is still high on our list of priorities and the one thing I have learnt from all our circumstances before is that there is always a creative answer.    We continue with Potlucks – especially good for catching up with our church family.   When Pete is home Sunday lunch works well for us.   We’ve invited others to join us when we head out to the great outdoors and share a campfire meal.  We invite people to join us in whatever is being served (last minute invitations are great) – it may have to be stretched out with an extra loaf of bread but once again – the fellowship is great.

 

I share these things with you to encourage you to look at what is in your hand, to think outside of the box and be creative as you answer the cry in your heart to share your life with other people.

 

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