“What is a difficult situation for you?” I ask him. He stares into space for a long time, weighing his words. I wait patiently, curious to see what he comes up with.
Two days in advance he sent a message: “Are you at home and can I stay with you during Pentecost?”
Jelle was in Greece with Judith, but I know him well enough to answer without consultation: “Yes, come!”
“Wonderful!” he responds. Jelle and I then exchanged three words via the app to confirm this.
“I will give you an insight into plain and joyful Dutch living rather than a tourist tour,” I tell our guest. We get milk from the nearby farm and cycle through the field. Cycling and singing are the most natural things in the world for our friend, who is from Nigeria.
How can Dutch people sing without dancing? It is not hard I tell him;-)
I sometimes cycle barefoot for fun. When we get home, he enthusiastically tells Jelle that he has learned to cycle in Dutch: with bare feet. But Jelle says casually, “I haven’t cycled barefoot in my whole life. Janneke is just kidding you!” We had so much fun together.
The wonderful thing about having a guest is that he helps you to look at your life with different eyes. He is amazed at things that we consider quite normal.
We celebrated birthdays with relatives and took him along. He was one of the proofreaders of my workbook on a Rule of Life and asked if we could go to that beautiful place: The grape corridor in Monastery New Zion.
We drove to Diepenveen, went to evening prayer, and had a picnic on the Kranenkamp estate next to the monastery. Another family birthday, an international service, a special prayer in the Catholic Church, paddling in the Rhine, sitting along the waterfront, cycling through the woods, and walking in the Arboretum. What a gift!
Laurens was swimming carelessly for hours in the river. We talked somewhere between two glasses of water about how to deal with adversity what adversity actually is, and how it looks very different in different cultures.
“What is a difficult situation for you?” I ask him. He stared into space for a long time, weighing his words. I waited patiently, curious to hear what he would come up with: “If you don’t have food for a week, it will be really hard.”
And that was perhaps the greatest gift he gave us. Our guest shifted our perspective on the worries of our everyday lives.
Share it with someone; don’t go through life alone.
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. ” Hebr. 13 : 1 and 2