Saturday, July 14, 2012

Re-locating patriotism while wanting to re-locate...

So this year, the 4th of July was different at our house. Oh, it arrived right at the beginning of July - like it always does (hence, the name, right?). And it arrived with all the pomp and circumstance -- grill lit, beef stock-piled, we even saw fireworks from our backyard. But this year, well, this year was different because the three teenagers in our home had just returned from their first time abroad.

If you want the Mason Jar filled with only red and blue M&Ms....well, you'll have to pull them out yourself! Thanks, Cate!!

Traveling to Argentina and serving alongside the people changed my kids. Traveling is fun -- but the serving, well, the serving means they gave of their hearts, they grew, they changed and they fell in love with the country and everyone they met.

So when I began decorating in red, white and blue, they were torn. The struggle of loving another place and still feeling that love for home was evident. We had a long conversation about how loving the people of Argentina while still loving America is possible.

We then dissected the American history lessons of the school year that was affecting them. And then moved on to the controversy of the current presidential election which has them disheartened (I am with them on this one, by the way.). And then we made a decision to celebrate our freedoms and the people who fought and died for those freedoms, anyway.

Cate's beautiful flag to adorn our front door.

I was proud of them for working through their feelings and then embracing their red, white, and blue. We had a wonderful 4th of July!

But man, if something didn't happen this week that undid so much that we discussed and has sent us all wanting to flee south of the equator: My girls made cookies for the new neighbors. That simple. They made cookies.

They always do. We live in a new neighborhood and so as homes get built, new people move in and my girls consider it a privilege to welcome them with cookies.

This week they made cookies for three families -- one new, and two they had visited before but felt led to give them a treat.

The first stop was to the brand new neighbor. Bless her heart, she obviously did not expect such a welcome because she barely cracked the door open wide enough to pull the cookies in. Ok. Well, she'll get to know us soon enough and perhaps be more welcoming then?? The girls were undeterred and proceeded to the home of a neighbor they had received gratitude from with their first delivery months ago and wanted to treat them again. This time a new baby had arrived and the girls were invited in. (I should interject that I have told them NOT to go into homes....but the lure of seeing the new baby over-rode their ability to obey....)

Now, you should know, Cate and I have had a little cough after changing climates between stormy rainy Florida and dry sunny Arizona. Apparently, my little Red coughed a couple of times while they were visiting the baby. So....grandma of the baby shows up at our home the next morning concerned that Cate has infected the baby with....wait for it....whooping cough. Whooping cough.

Now, please know I was very sympathetic as I assured her Cate does not have whooping cough or anything else contagious. I was sympathetic as I also assured her the excessive worry stemmed from the exhaustion a new baby brings. I didn't flinch when she told me they had washed the baby as soon as the girls left to remove all the germs. I was calm, assuring and kind.

But when she left, my heart hurt. I at once wanted to scream, cry and flee. We unwrapped the last batch of cookies -- the neighbors had not been home and we were saving them to deliver the next day -- and ate them!  And this image kept popping into my head:

These are Mate cups. I never saw more than one in the same place at a time because Mate is a drink of friendship -- a hot tea that requires the giver to carry around a thermos of hot water to refill the cup as he passes it around amongst friends. We were offered Mate repeatedly from the moment we arrived in Argentina. No one asked if we had a cough before offering from their cup. No one asked about our germs, current immunizations or anything else before reaching out, hugging us, kissing our cheek and then offering this drink from their own cup, their one straw. A drink of welcome, friendship and affection.

Goodness, I must say that I miss that. But rather than whine and moan about it -- perhaps the real lesson would be to keep baking cookies. After all, we were not sure about Mate at first. We didn't know what the cup contained or who was passing it to us. We declined the offer more than once before we finally said yes and took a sip.

So, while we will continue to love the warmth and kindness of our new friends in Argentina, perhaps living the warmth is the lesson we need to have here, at home.

And so we will keep baking cookies. We will keep welcoming our neighbors. And we'll pray that as a result, we'll make new friends who are as blessed by our welcome as we were blessed by the love found in Argentina!


Greetings! said...

I can appreciate your experience. It is the greatest challenge to keep baking and smiling! But I am confident Jesus was there, a twinkle in His eye and a warm smile....through the face of your girls. Together they can win their hearts.