Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Sweet Sunday in Holland, MI...part 2

The sense of belonging, family, and intense joy caught me by surprise as I sat among people I'd met less than a half hour ago.  Their music filled the green picnic space, and memories flooded back of living in Mexico, of eating spicy, tasty delicacies at my favorite Latino restaurants over the years, of dancing to live bands at dimly lit clubs, but their was a difference with this experience.
This family had invited me, a stranger with braids and a baby on her hip, into their weekly tradition of fellowship, and true communion is what I felt.  There was no need to pretend or protect.  They learned my story, and I learned some of theirs. I felt loved and welcomed. What a gift. What a rare treasure God had added to the blessings of this Sunday.
They had made cherry delight!  This is our family birthday tradition...I've never known anyone else to make it. It was August 14, the day before my birthday.
One woman, after asking about my experience of having a baby in Nigeria, shared that she has recently moved to Holland with her husband, a seminarian at Western Theological Seminary.  He had studied sound design as his undergrad, and I invited them to join our team to record indigenous music in Nigeria.  I do hope to see them there some day.  But if I don't, I know I found fellow servants, working on their section of "the wall" as those in Nehemiah did.  Loving those in their midst and sharing God's heart of hospitality with their world.  They gave me hope for community, for family that creates family and builds the kingdom.
Eventually we got around to playing volleyball (the original reason I had approached them), but I had forgotten what had brought me to these dear people, because what I think I really sought had already been deeply satisfied.  I felt cared for and known.   God did that, and he used them...and my pastor friend on this sweet Sunday.

The young woman with the one-year-old baby went to my high school and college...graduating 10 years after me.  The family sent her and her husband to get me after I told them I'd come back later to play volleyball. 
Mariama fell sleep and was cared for by the family while I played volleyball when she woke up.

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