I've decided to become a diligent student of the fine art of International Hospitality. This is a different art than Southern Hospitality, which I grew up on, the kind that is very laid back and help-yourself-to-anything-you-find.
I like that kind, because if I visit a southern friend and they ask if I want some "sweet tea" I can just smile and say "no thank ya, ma'am," and they say, "well you just let me know if you want anything!" and we move on.
But if I visit a Burmese friend, like I did today, and she asks if I want something and I say no thank you, she proceeds to place a plate of fruit, cookies, orange soda, energy drinks, and tea before me, and urges me to eat anyway!
Or if I visit a Chadaen friend, as I did this morning, she doesn't even ask, she just prepares a plate of three kinds of cookies and candy and plops it under my nose with a tall glass of juice, and sits back to watch me eat it. And if I try to leave an hour and a half later, she says, "No no, you not finish your juice! You not like?" with a mildly offended expression on her face that I can't resist, so I swallow the rest.
Or if I visit a Mexican friend, like I did last week, I enter the room and she immediately whips up a batch of homemade gorditas and tea. And I feel incredibly rude, because at that moment I recall that the last time she came to my house, she brought fresh flowers and two kinds of desserts... and all I thought to bring was her washed out tupperware container.
So I need to learn. I need to observe, and take notes, and think before I act, and buy more cookies. I think I may get a little cooler for my house, where I can stockpile snacks and drinks and gifts that are strictly set aside for hospitality purposes.
I do feel like I've come a long way since the summer two years ago when I came and nearly cried when I saw my Indian housemate drinking out of my mug. I'm much more relaxed about the things I claim as my own... learning over time that this world is temporary and everything I have is "on loan" anyway, and nothing - not my mug, my house, or even my momma's special homemade cookies - are mine to hold too tight.
But I gotta keep growing, keep learning, keep stretching. And I think in this season of life, one lesson to learn is how to not only let go of things, but to pour them out generously on others. Please pray for me as God develops these puny little hospitality muscles into something strong and beautiful!