One of the things I love the most about the table is that you have to learn to serve and be served. The host/hostess works hard at each meal, by being hard at work in the kitchen, serving everyone around the table, and clearing each course for the next one. We LOVE having people over for that reason - to get a chance to serve people. But it is also a lesson in allowing yourself to be served, because I think it truly is a gift, and this can be hard to accept.
Around the table, time stops. All of the worries during the week, or of those to come, are forgotten. This dinner, in the picture above, started around 8:00 p.m. and ended around 12:30 a.m., but we had no idea what time it was until we came home, because we were lost in the meal and the conversation around the table.
Around the table, stories and cultures are shared. This night here, we shared about our call to France, meeting the Fraleys, whom our hosts, who were some of the first members of the Montpellier Church, know and love dearly.
Segun is from Nigeria and his wife Christine is French, and we met Eunice, who is from Cameroon. While eating an African meal in a French speaking home served in French style, we shared stories of our cultures...among many things we learned of the gratitude and genoristy of the women in Nigeria, and the neighborly love of the people in Cameroon.
We also shared languages - we learned from their 9 year old son to say "chez moi" or "a la maison" not "a ma maison". And later he showed us how he could count to 20 in English. It was the first time God used our French to connect to another in a deep way, as we listened to Eunice's story of how much she deeply misses her 4 kids and husband when lives 1/4 of the year in Montpellier. As she shared, we connected through French and tears.
Around the table, simply...is connection. It is one of the important ways the French connect. It's a place to slow down in the midst of busy weeks, and a way to really hear and see each other. Because of this, we have loved having people over, people we've met at Church and people we've met outside the Church. This is one big place community is happening...in France.