Thursday, February 18, 2010


A favorite Klein family past-time is discussing the many happy memories we have of time spent with the many friends the Lord has blessed us with. Traveling and meeting people has taught us much, but one lesson that is basic is that of the importance of hospitality.

This lesson did not come instantly for us. Years ago, any time we expected to be away from home overnight, we planned to find a motel along the way. Staying with a host seemed too much of an imposition, especially as our tribe expanded. And getting a motel room (or two...or three... depending on the fire codes), allowed a certain feeling of privacy. For example, only a few anonymous neighboring motel guests would hear the occasional FRANTIC pounding on the bathroom door.

But, in 1999, something changed our perspective, and we had the chance, out of necessity, to experience hospitality first hand: We took our first trip to southern Mexico.

The two day (24 hour) drive through the interior was briefly interrupted by an 8 hour respite at a hotel (that is Spanish for hotel ). But the 8 or so days at our destination was at the home of our missionary cousins...all 800 or so square feet of it!

That first trip, which combined a week long stay, 10 or so extra people, lots of pasta, toilet paper, canned green beans, and bushels of extra dirty laundry not only introduced us to a new culture, but the necessity of hospitality.

If an afternoon rain comes, you run to the roof,
snatch up your laundry, and hang it inside your house!

In the States, it is so less common to stay in the home of your friends, but in Mexico, its nearly a certainty. Mi casa es su casa! Though we felt a little under and on foot, we were told that they had actually hosted a couple of dozen folks at one time! The idea of sending your guests to a hotel was thought pretty strange and certainly unnecessary.

Limonada....the pause that refreshes!

The intimacy that comes with hosting a family (or being a guest) is something that is not natural to many of us as Americans. But we noticed that with time, we really preferred the togetherness. Also, we began learning ways to try to be better guests (including, but not limited to: bringing large cookware, extra toilet paper, and extra food!). We tried to demonstrate our appreciation. And before we left, we all wished we could return the favor!

We were much more sensitive to parenting gaps, too! "Please get off the table!" Ug!

The perfect plate-less thing to serve for a big gathering:
tostadas topped with guacamole!

After the first few trips to Mexico, when we were back at home, we realized one hindrance to hospitality was in the layout of our house. Our house was not really designed for offering hospitality. The dining area was small, the rooms were not very open. From visiting various homes, we began to get ideas that would make our home more open. For example, we sold our couches and coffee table, cut and finished a pass-thru in the wall which connected the kitchen and living room, tiled our "living room" and set it up appropriately as a large "everything" room. Since we generally had people over for a meal anyway, the couches weren't as practical as places to serve a meal.

If you only remove one serving from a dish of tamales, you have a tamal.

The world tells us we need to have a showpiece home, classy decor, and gourmet fare to offer our guests. But our experience as guests was that it was the fellowship and love that really made a visit become a precious memory. (Though we never had any complaints about the food either!) Knowing that we were welcomed, having time to get to know others, gathering around for devotions and songs and prayer, that was the most comforting thing about our time with friends! Running out of hot water or places to hang the laundry added to the camaraderie and fun!

Why is it that helping to clean someone else's kitchen is so much more fun???

We also found that the extra cleanup and meal preparation time made for good chances for the children to work with others and enjoy true teamwork. Many opportunities for mischief are avoided when everyone is occupied with something helpful or potentially yummy to do!

We Klein girls love to learn new home organization tips and recipes
from friends.

If we'd have not had these expressions of hospitality, many of our travels would have been robbed of the best memories we now treasure. So, we are thankful for what God has taught us, through something that initially made us feel pretty awkward.

And besides all these important benefits and lessons, we have realized we have saved tons of money through the hospitality of our hosts! Many of our travels would not have been possible if not for God's provision through other's hospitality!

Taco soup: an offer you can't refuse!

We are thankful for the many wonderful examples with which our family has been blessed. They have helped us realize the need to learn a foundational part of Christian character, and a foundational ingredient in real Christian fellowship: hospitality!

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