Tag Archives: Missionaries

Company’s Coming

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.

I brush the toilet, close shower curtains to hide the bathtub ring, and shine faucets. A clean hand towel completes the deception.

I stuff dishes into the dishwasher. Gross pots and pans go under the sink. Front edges of the refrigerator shelves are washed, and I swab random spots on the kitchen floor.

Attempting the ancient balancing process known as fling shoey, I toss more shoes into the closet than block the front entrance.

The doors of all bedrooms, offices and extra bathrooms are bolted shut.

Thus, the whited-sepulchre process of cleaning for company is complete.

Why do I stress so?

When children, my siblings and I welcomed visiting kids as reinforcements in the ongoing War Against Grown-ups. Together, we reversed Mom’s earlier cleanup process with relentless efficiency. Once, my brother, our friends and I threw a superior batch of mud pies at our church’s windows.

We didn’t have company for a while.

As Dad was a pastor, our family hosted evangelists and missionaries, often with little advance warning. Watching Mom perfect the God-help-us-they’re-here drill, I learned her technique.

We children celebrated when Brother Alleman visited. Though my sister and I slept on the floor, Brother Alleman’s big smile, his faith-filled stories, and candy bars he brought won our hearts.

As a teenager, though, I wished my parents weren’t quite so hospitable.

One morning, returning after an overnight campout, I encountered a teen boy I’d never seen before, asleep on our sofa. After recovering, I helped Mom fix breakfast for him and 20 other out-of-town church members, strewn throughout our house. They’d mistakenly thought our church held services Friday evenings.

At least, that situation lasted only one night.

One female ex-gang member shared my room for months — but we became good friends. She demonstrated how to throw a knife in less than a second.

When I left home, I declared I’d live a normal life.

Normal? I married a country doctor with a solo medical practice. With my cohost often failing to show and only my children to help(?), I invited few guests. Eventually, I gave up.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Recently, though, with Hubby’s slower-paced job, I dusted off my having-company drill. We’ve rediscovered hospitality.

Mudballs and gang members aside, having company has become a treat again.

Almost as good as Brother Alleman’s candy bars.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Does the prospect of company stress or bless you?

“We’re Stranded!”

Even spelled on a SCRABBLE board, the word “stranded” packs enough panic power to send us to our vehicles with snow shovels, boots and sleeping bags as well as food, water and Prozac.

Image by Bindue from Pixabay.
My parents and older brother in 1952.

We Midwesterners have two words for those “stranded” in the tropics: oh, please. That goes for you, Swiss Family Robinson, Tom Hanks, and snowbirds who grouse about sand in their bathing suits.

My family and I have collected a portfolio of strandedness Gilligan wouldn’t believe.

My parents, newlywed missionaries in New Mexico, were gathering firewood atop a mountain when the year’s only rainstorm struck. Torrents washed away the road, leaving their Model T half-buried in mud. Having left coats at home (they’d anticipated a three-hour tour), Mom and Dad spent the subfreezing night there. They burned the firewood to stay alive and dug out. Thus, began a long, creative career of strandedness, generously shared with five children.

Fast-forward two decades. My medical student husband and I skated our car down interstates between Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Muncie, Indiana, where Hubby would work in a clinic several weeks, staying in a decrepit, deserted dorm. I’d planned to drive home to Indianapolis, but remained until conditions improved. Much skinnier then, we fit in his twin bed. Sort of. Glad to be alive and together, we decided that despite resident ghosts, being stranded wasn’t half bad.

Image by parker from Pixabay.

Sharing the Minneapolis airport with thousands of angry people — including our teenagers — during a nationwide blizzard wasn’t nearly as much fun. Snarling, would-be passengers formed mile-long lines at ticket counters, restaurants and restrooms. Areas under drinking fountains morphed into sleeping quarters. A stranger accosted me:

Strange Woman: Where did you get that shirt?

Me: Um, at a consignment shop.

Woman: I gave my husband a shirt exactly like that for his birthday.

Me: The consignment shop was in Atlanta.

Woman: (baring her teeth) I’m from Atlanta.

That encounter, along with a 24-hour TV loop featuring the Sports Illustrated bathing suit edition, didn’t brighten my day. Leaving Minneapolis never felt so good, though our trip home from Indianapolis would have proceeded faster if a single sled dog had towed our minivan.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay.

Years later, amid another hair-raising drive during an ice storm, Hubby and I managed to reach a hotel. Fortunately, our room featured a king-size bed, not a twin. I could banish swimsuit models from our TV with a single remote click. Nobody demanded the shirt off my back.

The aforementioned folks marooned in the tropics might question my strandedness. Too bad. They should write their own blogs. Since this is mine, I affirm my official status: stranded.

Though, sometimes, stranded isn’t half bad.

Image by Olichel from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever been stranded?

Should We Bless This Food?

My mother taught me the “God-is-great-God-is-good-and-we-thank-Him-for-our-food” prayer early, so saying grace comes naturally. But as a child, I wondered about blessing food containing onions. Onions were poison. Yet, Mom persisted. Fearing death, I changed my prayer accordingly: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. …”

I picked out the onions, hid them in a napkin and sat on them, plotting secret disposal.

A prominent U.S. Senate chaplain dealt with similar issues. Reverend Peter Marshall’s wife Catherine, who later would write Christy, a best seller, tried to disguise leftover holiday turkey as hash. Reverend Marshall declared that God knew he hated turkey hash; therefore, he would not give thanks.

Lucky Reverend Marshall. He didn’t sit on a napkin full of hash.

Unblessable vegetables have cropped up in my poll. My husband offers theological treatises on why God never meant humans to ingest lima beans.

He also dislikes fried chicken, a lifelong passion of mine — and my mother’s. When I was dating age, she warned me about men like him. Mom never stopped frying chicken, but for 65 years, she cooked alternative pork chops for chicken-hating Dad.

Other poll participants have experienced similar disagreements, describing black-eyed peas, liver, mincemeat pie, marshmallows, sushi and tapioca pudding in vivid, unmentionable terms.

Some struggle to bless food in restaurants, especially at today’s prices. Others, like me, rate lukewarm soup as an abomination before the Lord.

However, I’m not always sensitive to others’ dietary abominations. When I went to college, my mom, who had German background, sent me a special treat: pickled pigs’ feet. Upon seeing the bones in our trash can, my Jewish roommate concluded I was a closet cannibal.

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay.

Missionaries struggle with related scenarios. A prominent Ecuadorian town official offered missionary friends roasted guinea pig. My sister-in-law in Honduras informed me that armadillo does not taste like chicken. Once a guest in a South American jungle home, I forced myself to munch mooshy strips of spoiled bacon. Later, I discovered they were baked bananas.

I have learned to eat onions — though they remember my early rejection and exact revenge.

Before leaving the subject of unblessable foods, we should address the elephant in the room. Not eat it, though some Asians and Africans consider elephant meat a delicacy.

I refer to elephant-sized appetites, including mine. Should we bless thousand-calorie-a-bite cheesecake?

God is great and God is good. He blesses us with cheesecake — also with bathroom scales, fitting room mirrors, high school reunions, and mean doctors/dieticians/trainers.

With tons of green salad, too … topped with a slice of onion.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What foods do you consider unblessable?