How many people do you think you cross paths with each day?
Perhaps it depends on where you live, what you do for a living, and how active you are within your community… but I think it’s safe to assume that each of us comes into contact with tens, if not hundreds of people on a daily basis.
The interactions you have with these people might vary in extremes – from the man selling newspapers on the street corner, to the barista at Starbucks who knows your name, to your older sister who you get together to help plan her next dinner party.
Sometimes we talk a lot with the people around us. Other times we listen. And most often, if we can be truly present, we learn from each other, even if the words or actions we exchange are brief or seemingly insignificant.
Last weekend, Amanda, Anicka and I were hosted by a family from a local church that we’re helping run an English camp with this summer. When we arrived to their country-style home, I immediately noticed their large front porch overlooking the hills and pastures. The centerpiece of the home was the long table on their deck, which could easily accommodate 20 people.
Without even knowing this family, I could tell that they valued spending quality time with people.
Our weekend with the family was magical From 8 am to 11 pm, we spent the day with our hosts, whom we called our “adopted Czech parents.” As we ate our breakfast, we spoke with our mom, who was so eager to hear about what our life was like in the States. With the help of facebook, we were able to show her photos of our family and friends. She told us how much she enjoyed seeing our homes, as she will most likely not have the opportunity to travel to the States.
Our dad, who greeted us with a firm handshake and spoke in a loud, affirmative voice, began to light up when we were so curious about his love for coffee. After bouts of laughter, we consumed what all of us consider one of the best cups of coffee on the planet. Amidst sips of frothy espresso, he told us about his thoughts on culture, politics and made jokes about Czech and American customs.
Even though they spoke little to no English, I felt like we were communicating with our Czech parents on a very deep level. Our dad drove us into town so that we could walk the streets and see how things have changed (or stayed the same) since Communism. Our mom taught us how to make traditional Czech fruit dumplings, which we filled with apricots and topped with cottage cheese and powdered sugar.
The whole day was spent in togetherness. They told us we were like their three daughters … and then said they wished they had three sons that we could marry so that we could become part of their family.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever see our “adopted Czech parents” again, but I know that they came into my life for a reason. They reminded me about the importance of spending time together – and how wonderful it is when we let people into our lives! When we are willing to share, to learn and to grow with each other, we enrich our lives so much.
All relationships, no matter how small or brief they may seem, are valuable. From the way I see things, each person enters into our lives with a purpose, and most often we’ll never know why. But even with this uncertainty, I find joy in knowing that we are never along on our journey. How amazing is it that God puts people in our lives for a reason…