Saturday, June 15, 2013

Princess Tea at the Hobbit Hole

"Ella, what is your favorite thing to do in Fort Wayne?"

Without hesitating, the six-year-old little girl with pigtails and freckles on her nose answered, "Coming to your house."

Well, if that doesn't melt your heart, nothing will! Tonight, Emilee's friends, Adam and Jenny came to visit us with their three daughters, Ella, Natalie, and Laura.

After dinner, Hannah and I made a pot of tea, and sat in our kitchen nook... and the little girls wanted to know what we were doing. So we got a tiny tea cup out and poured a little of our tea for Ella to try. She looked in the cup, then at our cups, and said, "Why does it look different?" Well, we explained, we like to put milk and tea in ours. So Ella insisted on having milk too, tried it, liked it, and shared it with Natalie, who also liked it. So the tiny cup was drained quickly and had to be refilled.

They  went outside to play, and about five minutes later, Ella came back and asked for more tea... and then ran to the door to announce to her family that she was going to have a tea party with us. So of course, Natalie ran to join us. She stared at the tiny tea cup and said, "Can I sit on the lap?" Hannah said, "The lap? Do you mean my lap?" We laughed as she climbed up, and Ella dragged a chair in, and Natalie pointed to the tea pot. "I need some tea from that, and then some sugar, and then some milk." I love it... she is picking our tea tradition up pretty fast. She used the spoon to stir it carefully, gently blew on the steam, and took a gulp that splashed down her chin. "Here, take some smaller sips like this," I demonstrated how to hold and sip, and batted my eyelashes. "That is how the Princess of England drinks her tea!" Oh, that was all those girls needed to hear. They took turns sipping like princesses, and begged for more... with more sugar.

Hannah explained to the girls that at our house, the first cup of tea means you are getting to know each other, the second cup means you are friends, and the third cup means you are family. "So now, we're family!" I said to them. "We're like sisters...!" But they didn't think that was right. That unspoken expression on their faces said there were too many years between us. So I ammended my statement, "We're like your aunties! Is that ok? Can we be your Aunties like Emilee?" At that they smiled big - they love Emilee a lot, and yes, we could be aunties. 

Hannah and I agreed we need to get a couple more little girl-sized tea cups, and we promised them that whenever they come over, we will have little princess tea-parties. After all, our house is their favorite place in Fort Wayne! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Abbess of the Southern Homestead

Mile log: 579

Meet Abby. Or "The Abbess," as she has recently been christened. She is doing life with us at the Hobbit Hole this summer, and teaching English, doing Bible study, hanging out with girls, and learning all sorts of great cross-cultural lessons in the process. She is totally creative and brilliant. She's got me reading Moby Dick with her this summer, and wants to start a street act called "Shoeless Shakespeare," which you will hear about later, I'm sure. She loves British television, has a crush on Benedict Cumberbatch (but then, who doesn't?), and has the sound of the Dr. Who phone booth as her ringtone.

Abby has decided that "The Hobbit Hole" and "The Lake House" across the alley are in such tight-knit community, and have such a comfortable family-feel, that they should collectively be known as "The Homestead" - our house being the "Southern Homestead."

Tonight we were just hanging out in our dining room - me, Hannah, Brie, and The Abbess. We had costume dress-up time, ate a bag of marshmallows, and giggled until we couldn't breathe. Others from our family dropped in and added their own special elements to the evening, and the four of us just got to sit  here and receive it all as it came, with an open back door and plenty of chairs... One of those community ministry moments: if you are open and available, all sorts of spontaneous fellowship can occur.

I love how our family just keeps getting bigger, and our table just keeps growing to make room for more... it is a dream come true for me. I love having a new little sister around to tease and tell stories and come up with crazy ideas... and I'm really loving our morning Bible study through 1 Thessalonians, our prayer time together, going to visit families and teaching English together. I love how, as is true with each new person who joins our community, Abby brings her own flavor of Joy and Hope, Salt and Light, Love and Grace to life, and as she abides in Christ, he is working in her to make the ministry even deeper, richer, fuller, and more incredible.

Welcome to the family, Abby!