The last thing I wanted to do when we got off that plane was go to a big lunch. I was so exhausted. We had been at an intense conference for 2+ weeks. My brain was completely wiped out. We left the hotel in Turkey at 4:30pm the day before and were taken to the airport to await our 11:30pm flight (this was our only available ride to the airport). Our flight took us to Istanbul for a connecting flight that wouldn't take off until 10am the next day... a long night in the airport! We finally arrived back in Spain at 1pm, only to find that we needed to go out to lunch with the head of the church denomination and our pastor. Ordinarily, this would have been awesome. But today, all I wanted was a shower and pajamas and a spot on the sofa for the next day or two.
So, still in the clothes we had been wearing for over 24 hours and still looking every bit as disheveled as you can imagine someone who just slept on 2 planes and in an airport would look - yes, just like that we went out to lunch. No stopping at the house first, no brushing our teeth, no nothing.
We arrived at a 'campo house' (a small house in the country) were we were immediately thrust in to what seemed like a giant family reunion. Lawn chairs were circled up under the grape arbor and bowls and plates of all manner of nibbly foods were passed around with abandon. Every food was completely homemade... olives that were grown and pickled by the owner, ham that was raised and killed and cured by the owner. Even a white wine that came from the grapes of the very vines that we sat under, crushed and fermented and bottled by the owner.
We must have looked like deer in the headlights, because we were asked on several occasions if we were alright and if we needed to go home. "Oh no. We're fine. Just a little tired from travel. And trying to adjust our ears and brains back in to the Andalucia Spanish dialect. But this is wonderful! Thank you." Expert liars. We were physically fading away.
The campo house was surrounded by vegetable gardens. Cabbage and broccoli, onions and lettuces and spinach were everywhere. Fruit trees were covered in the last of this year's harvest. The quince trees were about to break from the abundance.
It was finally time to eat lunch (3:30pm), so we all headed in to the house to sit at the longest table you have ever seen. I've only seen longer ones on TV, like at Downton Abbey! Food seemed to come from all sides. All homemade. It came to the table in butter tubs and repurposed coffee cans, plastic buckets and foil and saran wrap. And just when you thought you couldn't eat any more, they would announce the next onslaught of foods. We had seafood paella and homemade bread and roasted goat. Fresh salad. Little pastries filled with goat cheese and quince jelly. Cookies and desserts just poured to the table. A carrot cake. Dried and candied figs (from the trees outside). And just when you thought it was all over, out came the fruits. Fresh fruits, harvested from the trees on the family property. All the while, the matriarch is continually coming to our end of the table and saying that we haven't eaten enough.
Somehow, even though we were exhausted, we were having a blast! Watching all of the interactions. Listening to all of the chatter. Laughing at all of the jokes. Kids were running in and out of the room, playing chase and going in and out of the house. We were having so much fun! Billy and I sat back and just watched for a second, and at the same time we had the same thought. This is my grandmother's house!
Billy's grandparents in Sudan and in Rowlett, my grandparents in Arkansas, and my great-grandmother in Waco... this was how we remembered things being. Home grown food, homemade everything, everything stored in whatever container could be repurposed and recycled for the job. Lots of bustle and chatter and laughing around the kitchen. People talking about the crops or the gardens or the state of this year's weather. Lots of jokes. Women sharing stories and recipes. Food that just kept coming, and a grandmother that never felt like you had eaten enough yet.
This felt like home.
It was after 7pm when we finally made it to our house. A full 26.5 hours after we had left our hotel the day before. But I wouldn't trade that afternoon for anything! Yes, we were exhausted. But it was also the first time that we really felt like living in Spain was something like 'home' for us. So blessed!
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!