December 05, 2007

Party Crashers

It's things like this that make ministry so interesting.

Last spring, a Hmong family began coming to church. First, the children showed up for Vacation Bible School. Then parents and children starting attending worship occasionally. I saw the oldest son at the high school where I substitute teach. One of the younger daughters is in my son Tristan's 2nd grade class.

Not too long ago, May (the mother) stopped by the church. She mentioned to me how sad she was that my family was moving. She even cried as she told me that were were one of the few people with whom they've made a connection so far in their new community. And she concluded by inviting me to a big party at her house the following Sunday.

"Great!" I said. "Where do you live?"

"Just up the road," she said. "You won't miss it. There will be a bunch of cars parked out front, and a hugh crowd of Hmong people." In a rural community like ours, with very few Asian families, those sounded like pretty good directions.

The day of the party arrived. My family piled into the car and took off up the road. Soon we came to a house with lots of cars parked in front, and what appeared to be lots of Hmong people milling about. Obviously, this was it.

We walked around to the back of the house, where a large party tent was erected. Immediately, several people greeted us with big smiles: "Welcome! You're late, have some food!" They ushered us into the tent, sat us down, and began piling food onto some plates. "Here, try this: it's squirrel. From the mountains!"

We had sent our boys off to find their friends. They returned to us, having not found them. "Here, have a soda!" our hosts cheerfully offered to them.

Having not seen the family that invited us, I asked, "Where's May?"

"Oh, she's inside," someone said. "I'll go get her." A few minutes later, that same person returned. "Who?"


"Um," I asked, "who lives here? Who's house is this?" I asked for the family I knew by name, only to be greeted with confused looks.

"I'm sorry," I said, "it appears we've arrived at the wrong party."

"That's OK! You're our neighbors! We'll get to know you! Here, have some food!" At least they weren't laughing at us. I almost wished that they were, though; it would have been easier to leave. If only these people weren't so darn hospitable and gracious!

Finally we left. A little farther up the road, we came to another house with a lot of cars parked in front, and a lot of Hmong people milling about. Fortunately, this time we were at the right place. Also fortunately, this time squirrel-from-the-mountains was not on the menu.

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