Lydia opened the refrigerator door and took out a jar. “Here,” she said, handing it to me, “I want you to have this too.”
It was a fitting, and not surprising, conclusion to a wonderful day with my Romanian friends, Lydia and Peter, and her parents Ioan and Floare.
I’m grateful to our common friend who knows about my work with homeless elderly in Romania and thought I’d want to meet Lydia, who also lives in North Carolina, just 30 minutes away.
At first Lydia and I just exchanged emails and she read my Elder Orphan Care blog. But even before we met face to face, she and her husband began making donations to EOC. Eventually we scheduled time for coffee and Lydia asked about other ways she could help. During my next visit she filled my car so full of needed items for the elderly I could barely see to drive.
Last week my friend Janna decided she wanted to treat our April mission-trip team to a Romanian meal, so she asked me to contact Lydia to see if there’s a grocery store in Charlotte that carries Romanian food.
Lydia responded with the requested information, but then she did what I have come to expect from my Romanian friends, both there and here.
She invited us to her home. She said her mother could teach us how to make sarmali (cabbage rolls). She insisted they would buy the ingredients, we’d fix the rolls, then share a meal together.
And so it went. Floare smiled and motioned “this much” of each ingredient. Lydia translated as needed. Amazing aromas began to fill the kitchen. When the rolls were ready to boil, Lydia said we had time to visit the grocery store we’d asked about initially.
In the European aisle at the International Mart, Lydia pointed to a large sausage and said it was especially delicious. She suggested we buy it to serve with our team meal. I looked at the price tag and determined it was out of my budget. But after I checked out with the few items I bought, Lydia handed the sausage to me. She had purchased it as a gift for our team.
Back at her home we feasted on the cabbage rolls. Hours after we arrived, we left smiling, stomachs and souls full.
Because Lydia and her family are so generous and hospitable, last night our mission team enjoyed a delicious Romanian meal. It would have been far easier for Lydia to simply give me the address to the grocery store. Instead, all our lives were made richerbecause when I asked for information, I received an invitation. “Always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13b NLT).