Hospitality is always something I’ve taken for granted. My mom practices it every Sunday lunch, and often during the week. I’m used to getting together with my friends at their houses, dorms, or apartments, and until the last few months, I have taken that for granted.
When I moved out to Texas to be with Aaron for his last few weeks of training, we had the blessing of enjoying the hospitality of a couple in the church we attended who invited us, and a dozen or so other young people, to dinner and Bible study every Sunday night. The nights with the Hills in Texas are some of my fondest memories from those few weeks. We knew we would be leaving that behind when we came to Germany, and that was hard to bear.
I should have shared this story last week, but life here has already become busier than I could have expected!
Back to last weekend, our first in Germany. After a few days of trying to recover from jet-lag, land on our feet, and get Aaron started on in-processing to this new job (all without phones or cars) we originally thought our weekend was going to be a quiet one. I had spent several days more or less by myself in a strange town, so when Aaron returned from work on Friday to tell me that the Chief had invited us to spend the night with his family in Wittlich, I was excited, despite also being pretty tired.
The reason we were to stay with the Chief and his family that night is very complicated, but the gist was that he was going to help us meet up with the Commander the next day, so that we could look for cars in Ramstein (about an hour and a half away).
Chief Cord picked us up around 5pm two Fridays ago, and took us to his house in Wittlich, swinging by the local grocery store to pick up some bottles of wine to go with dinner. We arrived at the Chief’s house and I was surprised to see that he was speaking literally when he said “we have plenty of room for you – we live in an old hotel.” The quaint German hotel has been beautifully modified to fit the Cord’s needs, with a dining area and the old breakfast room repurposed to create a homeschool room for the Chief’s two children.
The place was very comfortable, and the whole family put us at ease. We soon sat down to an amazing dinner of Shepherd’s Pie (Kaylee Cord is an AMAZING cook), which made me at least feel quite at home – this being one of my favorite dishes that my mother makes!
Sitting around in the living room after dinner, having unlimited wifi access for the first time in days, playing with the children and the family’s two cats, and talking with the adults while sipping Italian wine was literally like heaven after the cold and empty hotel flat in Lutzerath. For the first time since touching down several days before, I felt comfortable, and safe. And with those two feelings came a sense of gratitude for the people who had re-arranged their weekend to open their house to two young people in a foreign place.
I’ve had friends before describe hospitality as heavenly, but I’d never felt that myself until that weekend. Now I know what they mean.
In the last few weeks I’ve run into other Americans newly arrived at the Maas, and I’ve tried to extend as much welcome as I can, because if I’ve learned anything, the comfort of friendship and kindness in a foreign land is like a warm fire on a freezing day. I am beyond grateful that our stay in Germany could have started off on such a foot – may I have the diligence to do the same for others in the years to come!