Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hospitality is Blessing

Joel and I are planning a bucket-list trip to New Zealand for this winter. We decided to just do it! We are guessing that it will probably become the most expensive trip we will ever take and possibly the longest journey we will ever go on to get anywhere (at least in miles). While our responsibilities are few and our time off is plentiful, we are just going to do it and do it well!

Since, traveling to NZ is so expensive we decided to plan this journey through a travel agent. Joel was recommended someone at work and we have been very appreciative of her diligence especially since we are really too busy right now to invest loads of time into this important process. After we booked our car and told our agent that we planned to camp the national parks of the South Island for 2 weeks, she mentioned that she knew a couple from her church that we should get in touch with.

We don’t know our travel agent from Adam and certainly have never met this couple that she knew from her church, but she said they were Kiwi’s themselves so we decided it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone native.

One email to them turned into an invite to dinner at their home. Joel and I were really surprised that an email would evolve into such an offer with perfect strangers.

We showed up at their house last Tuesday and were immediately swept up into a sea of generosity. We were welcomed like old friends. We were walked through the whole house, even the rooms where their child had made messes that most new people would hide from visitors which made us feel like family. We were offered wine and beer, appetizers and seats on their beautiful patio while lamb grilled on the Barbee and their son played in his dinosaur costume.

They hand drew us a map of the South Island with a recommended route for our trip, they offered us their NZ maps and books to barrow as we planned. They even let us barrow a copy of a book their parents made of a similar journey they took after retiring. They gave us invaluable information about the culture, social standards, sunscreen, hiking, views, parks, people, towns, just a washed us in NZ history and nature until I felt like I was already there, walking with them through a vineyard or wandering a deserted beach.

They served us the most delicious meal I have ever eaten out of someone’s home complete with NZ wine. Lamb with rosemary, scalloped potatoes, roasted tomatoes and zucchini, asparagus, homemade bread, and dessert, all traditional Kiwi delights.

They shared their stories, their faith, their personal photography, their favorite adventures and travels, and listened whole heartedly as we described why we want to visit NZ and what we hope to find there. Before dinner they prayed for us the most genuine, beautiful prayer I’ve ever heard.

After four and a half wonderful, holy hours there, Joel and I returned to our car. We felt full in every possible way.

“Do we treat people we don’t know like that?” Joel asked me.

“If we don’t we should start.” I said.