Why I haven't been blogging...
Many things have been pushed aside in the last couple of weeks, as I've been preparing for an Event. This Event is (was) a Ladies' Tea--the first such undertaking of our work here in Poland. Until a couple of years ago, we had no need for such an Event, because there was only one lady attending our services, and we visited back and forth all the time. Now, we have a number of ladies who attend services (some believers, some not), and I thought the time had come to host a ladies-only Event. And so was born the idea of a Ladies' Tea. I wanted to make an Event of the occasion, because I wanted to attract as many as possible. I did not want a didactic Bible study, nor did I want to introduce frequent meetings that would put off, for example, working mothers who do not have room on their plates for one more obligation. At least one of the ladies I planned to invite has a husband hostile toward her "church" activities, and I knew a personal invitation to a special event would make him more willing to allow her (albeit grudgingly) to attend. So, I planned an evening of fellowship, spiritual conversation, and dainty refreshments served with various teas.
Several weeks ago, we handed out invitations. (The picture on the invitation was taken by my dh, and the tulips were blooming in our backyard.) Much too late, we discovered that the date we had selected was Polish Mother's Day, and one of our church ladies would be away on vacation that day. And who could have foreseen that the new Pope would come to Krakow the very weekend of our tea? But, we went ahead with our plans.
We (my co-worker and I) selected a menu and a theme, and I began to write a short devotional, which I translated into (imperfect) Polish myself, and then began practicing aloud. I organized a cleaning schedule, and enlisted the services of J, E, and K. We washed windows and floors, I bought flowers, and I kept practicing my Polish "speech." I baked some delectable cookies, including Lemon Love Notes, and practiced my Polish. On Friday, May 26, everything was finally as ready as it could be, and I practiced my Polish devotional a few more times. It was only about 5-10 minutes long, but I'm sure I spent 10 hours preparing for it.
At 7:00, my guests began to arrive, bearing gifts according to Polish custom. I received two boxes of chocolates and a gorgeous bouquet of peonies. When everyone had come, we had six Polish ladies, and two Americans besides myself. Those numbers may seem small to the uninitiated, but for Poland, that is awesome. The ladies were delighted with the tea set-up, and amazed that my co-worker and I had made everything ourselves--"Even the mints!" (Just cream cheese mints--an easy recipe, but unusual to them.)
We had lots of food and fellowship for a while, and then we had a short time of "organized" activity. I had asked each lady to bring a personal treasure to share, and we did that. One lady had a whole folder, which she said was only a small portion, of the letters and cards her teenaged daughters had made for her when they were small! I had the largest treasure--an afghan my 91-year-old great-grandmother crocheted for me when I was married. That was nearly 18 years ago, and it still looks new, because I do treasure it and use it for special things, not daily. And one lady who had forgotten about this activity said that she had come with her greatest treasure--indicating her daughter, who was with her.
I followed this up with my oh-so-practiced-but-please-Lord-let-it-bless-someone-anyway devotional based on Matthew 6:13-21 and Matthew 13:44. After I finished, one lady told a cute joke that followed up the theme. (Note to self: learn to tell jokes in Polish.) Then we had prayer requests, and I had asked someone else to pray aloud for each one, because I wasn't up for praying aloud, off-the-cuff, in Polish. We lingered then, enjoying a bit more tea, a few more goodies, and the "afterglow" of a wonderful evening of fellowship. The ladies were surprisingly touched by a small gift we had for them--heart-shaped pins affixed to pretty cards that my co-worker had made.
I am so, so, so pleased with the way that this went, and this will not be the last such event. Two people told me that the devotional was well-done and spoke to them, and that was all I wanted. I know it wasn't grammatically perfect! So today, I finished washing up and putting away the dishes, and the kids got to feast on the left-overs--dainty, heart-shaped sandwiches, homemade cookies, and tiny fruit kebabs. I'm so glad it's over--it has consumed my time and attention recently--but I am so glad I did it, and I'm already making plans for the next Event.