It is early hour and the Magnolia tree in my back yard is bursting with deep pink hues. The way the light falls is new to me. Many things are new to me in this place. The past six weeks have been incredible. We purchased a new house which is to be both all-year mission station and part-time family home. It is a magnificent work in progress. Here is a list of this house’s accomplishments in these few six weeks since we stepped into her space.
She has hosted a mission team from Ohio and currently one from Arizona. It has been a gracious hosting of many bodies sleeping warmly under her slate roof. It is still early winter and already a few storms have raged over these tiles but she is an old house and has experience of these things. Surrounded by harsh rain and howling wind she keeps the sleeping missionaries safe for tomorrow’s work. The house is large and rambling with busy hallways and quiet nooks. I observe a girl missionary sitting on the stairway. She has a sweet smile on her face as she watches a bird in one of the many trees surrounding this gracious house. I say a silent prayer for her… as well as one for the girl missionary.
She has hosted friends. Friends who travelled many miles to get to these African shores. For two weeks every room was occupied and beside quiet fires at night, the house encouraged tales of the day’s excursions to be relived. Into her old walls our house absorbed new stories about places familiar to her and she smiled as the tales got embellished with each telling. As each day passed the friendships grew and changed and relaxed and our new old house has become a part of memories to be cherished.
A woman has mourned in this house and two sisters have embraced and loved. The passing of my brother-in-law was sudden and the shock of it is still being felt as it will for years to come. This house had space to offer a mourning sister. A quiet room with a view of the oak tree in which two brown owls nest was a sanctuary for a grieving heart. Two sisters were able to pull up a chair and reach out and touch. As I’ve mentioned, this is an old house and she understood, drawing us close.
I have seen my son be a man in this house. Her old walls needed work and her insides needed help and my son saw this and he obliged. Alongside his cousin, then his father at his side, he worked night and day and then day and night and in the process he restored some of her dignity. When a man fixes something broken, he himself is restored. This house has strengthened my son.
My daughter-in-law has watched her baby grow into a boy in this house. Maybe it was the change in the air or the way the light shines through the many widows, or perhaps the tall trees forcing him to look up high or maybe it was just that time, but a mother’s baby turned into a boy. He chases after his daddy and his grandfather, toy drill in hand, ready to fix like the men of the house. When the sun sets after a long day of exploring the toolbox and discovering little critters in the garden and forgetting how to walk and now knowing only how to run, this exhausted little boy for a short while turns once again into his mother’s baby as he dishes out sweet goodnight kisses. This house will keep him and help him grow tall each year as he returns for another adventure.
This old house watches as a grandmother gently knits a scarf for her grandson to help him ward off these harsh winter storms. She patiently keeps watch over the fast growing boy as his mother finishes her studies of law. It is a time of transitioning and transformation – new to us but this house has seen it all in the families who have loved and lived here before.
As for me … I do what I do. I walk through the house and slide my fingers along her walls, trying to feel who she is. I sit in far corners and look at her trying to discover what she’s like. I walk through her immense garden and discover her soul. I take her in and I embrace her and I set myself a course of making this house a home. A home for missionaries and for friends and for family. A home filled with God and his work in us. A home filled with the Holy Spirit and fit for his work through us.