Published February 9, 2010

Shelia Shares....
"Giving & Receiving"

I was visiting at the Sunday morning worship service. After church, the host family invited me to their home for lunch. Since I enjoy getting to know new people, I accepted. There were 14 of us around the table.

What a spread with real mashed potatoes, turkey in gravy, home-grown creamed corn, finely-cut carrots, cinnamon applesauce, homemade wheat bread and carrot cake, creamy cracker pudding and a strawberry dessert with whipped cream for dessert. Anna, my hostess, knew how to cook.

Not only was the food good, but the conversation was pleasant. It was a joy to sit with people who dressed differently than I did, but served the same God. I felt so at home.

When we finished eating, Anna passed around two containers. In the one, we put our forks and in the other, we put our knives and spoons. Since these utensils were real silver, she would wash them by hand. Then we gathered our dinner plates. We started at one end of table. The first person handed their dirty plate to the person beside him, who placed their plate on the top and passed them to their neighbor. Soon the stack was gathered near Anna. We did the same with our salad and dessert dishes. When we were excused from the table, it was a simple matter of carrying the collected dishes to the kitchen.

Anna began to fill her dishwasher with plates and cups. Lena began to wash the silverware and dishes that wouldn't go into the dishwasher and Elsie dried the dishes. I asked if I could put the leftovers into storage containers and Anna directed me to a cupboard where she kept empty containers. Shirley and Christine helped find containers and fill them with the many leftovers. When all the leftovers were in containers, we put them in the refrigerator. Within 15 minutes, everything was done. The kitchen was back in order – and 14 people had been fed a wonderful meal.

Anna could have been the all-sufficient hostess and refused our help. It would have taken her much longer to do the clean-up and we would have missed the fun of chatting while we worked together.

I learned a lesson from Anna. After the delicious meal, I wanted to show my appreciation. Helping in the kitchen wasn't much, but I felt I had given something back.

Many of us find it easier to give than to receive. We've been taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive. However, Anna's gracious acceptance of our help made each of us feel at home. We felt trusted. We felt like family, not strangers. We received the blessing that comes from giving – and the work was quickly completed.

Continue to give and serve out of a grateful heart to God. But, don't hesitate to allow others to give and serve you. Graciously allow others to be blessed today.

- Shelia

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