Last week, Pam and I decided to go check out a little tea room we'd heard about in Churubusco, called "The Quiet Corner." It turned out to be a much grander adventure than either of us anticipated!
We found ourselves driving on gravel roads through fields and past farms, til we came to a homestead in the woods, by a frozen lake. The farm house was on a hill, and at the bottom of the hill was a little cottage-like structure, which was the tea room. Things seemed vacant, but we got out of the car to do some exploring. All around the property, there were tables and chairs set in among the trees and around the lake, and there was a gazebo with chairs as well. Posted on many of the trees were teapot-shaped signs like this one:
Even in the barrenness of winter, the scene was beautiful and peaceful. The tea room itself was closed, but there were menus in the door, so we took one to see what sorts of treats they offer. On the back of the menu was the story of how the tea room came to be, and we learned that the owners were an older couple who had been medical missionaries in India for some time, and the wife missed the relationships that they had built over cups of chai in India, and wanted to provide a place for that once more.
Pam and I were so curious and so excited, that we knew we just had to meet these people. So we climbed the hill to the house and rang the doorbell. An older gentleman greeted us at the door, along with a beautiful old dog who bounded out and promptly welcomed us with "puppy kisses" and wagging tail. We explained our hopes of having tea at the Quiet Corner, and the gentleman kindly told us the tea room was closed for the season. Not quite ready to leave this peaceful place, we introduced ourselves and said that the story on the menu interested us very much because we love and serve internationals too. Interested in our connection, the man introduced himself as Mr. Rinker and his dog as Duke, and he sat down on the porch to talk with us.
We felt an instant kindred spirit-ness after a couple minutes of talking about the Lord and the people we love, but it was a cold day, and while we were very "bundledorfed" in hats, scarves, and mittens, Pam and I knew we needed to get inside and warm up. So we said a hesitant farewell.
"Nonsense," said Mr. Rinker. "You ladies came here to have tea. My wife is at Bible study right now, but why don't you come in and have some tea or coffee with me and we can talk more!" Duke led us around to the basement of the house, where chickens strutted around aimlessly, and we entered a cozy little room with a wood-burning stove and a couch, affectionately labeled "The Man Cave."
It was like being at Mr. Tumnus' house - at least, how I imagine it would be. We had tea, and shared stories, and looked at pictures. Mr. Rinker is a poet, a teacher, and a missionary, as well as a carpenter-artist - he was the one who made all those signs on the trees.
When our schedules pressed us to leave, he asked us to return "before the tea room season starts again in April," to meet his wife and bring them some of my stories, and to talk more about our mutual love for international ministry. I assured him we would, quietly planning when to return with more friends. Then Duke escorted us back down the hill to our car, and we said farewell to our new favorite quiet corner.