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During our years in Jamaica, we had the opportunity to go to L’Abri. No, the photo isn’t of L’Abri. Just one of a similar chalet in a nearby town.
It was a wonderful trip and had almost nothing to do with the Bible College. As it turned out, it was the summer before our last year there…we just didn’t know it. For all we knew at the time, we had many years ahead of us in Jamaica.
The original plan vs. what actually happened!
Originally, a group of friends were going to go to the Holy Land and wanted one of the Bible College teachers to go along to teach their way through the trip. Ron and I were willing to go but then things got pretty hot over there so plans changed. Interest had been in L’Abri and Francis Schaeffer, so they started looking in that direction. With that plan change, we would be completely redundant!
They told us to come along anyway. They paid for a good part of the trip…they had to because we had no money. But I know we did have to pay for some of it. I just don’t remember any of the details now. It has been way too many years.
So we did. The Levys watched our 2 girls. When we found out about the trip, we had just decided to try for #3 child so stopped trying…but it was too late. Our early tries were successful! It meant I would travel pregnant but travel at the end of the first 3 months when the very mild symptoms I had were gone. I can’t say I had a lot of energy and the jet lag was no fun on top of being pregnant, but overall, it was a great trip.
We were on our way!
So about 10 of us, including some kids, left for London, then eventually L’Abri. We left at different times and met at L’Abri in Switzerland. Plans tended to be fluid which was often nerve wracking because we were not familiar with Europe like many of the others were.
After a couple of days in London, we went to Switzerland where L’Abri was. Nothing was cheap so we didn’t eat at any of the nice restaurants anywhere. In France, it was particularly challenging to find food we could order and be understood. That took me by surprise.
In L’Abri, we were welcomed with open arms as a group. Why? Because Francis Schaeffer wanted to talk to the Jamaicans about the changes going on in their country. There were plenty of changes to discuss! Our socialist government at the time was becoming quite friendly with Castro. For those with any money, they were quite nervous about changes that would be coming.
Eating in Schaeffers’ home 3 times was quite an honor
During our week there, we ate at the Schaeffer home 3 times! I have no memory of where we stayed at all, but I remember those 3 meals well. Most of all, I remember the time we spent in the kitchen with Edith Schaeffer before the second and third meals! We were able to ask her a lot of questions about her life and hospitality in general. She was delightful!
Visiting at the table was difficult because people were peppering Francis Schaeffer with questions and he was answering them. Those times in the kitchen with Mrs. Schaeffer were delightful. We could ask her questions and talk about all kinds of topics! The woman was amazing!
She always had fresh flowers on the table. Her meals were simple but filling. She had a soup and fresh bread. I think we had a salad with whatever was fresh from the garden. I don’t remember what else came with the meal. It was not heavy on meat. There may have been some sort of casserole. It was almost 40 years ago! I didn’t write that down. I have friends that probably would have.
What I learned from Edith Schaeffer
From Edith Schaeffer, I learned that simple is best, especially when you are offering hospitality. Food that can be fixed beforehand, served easily and simply, foods that are nourishing…all go together to make a meal that is delightful and serves the people who come together around it.
Thoughts of fancy entertaining that makes me look good and talented are not the way to go. But rather, serving others is what seemed to motivate her. Ministering to Francis Schaeffer specifically motivated her most…along with glorifying God, her heavenly Father!
You could tell she adored him! You could also tell she loved Jesus. She was very wordy. If you look at her book The Tapestry, you can see how wordy she was…and that was with an editor! It was like she was afraid you were going to miss something of the truth of the gospel. So she tried to fit all of it in one or two long sentences. She would have hated twitter! She definitely was not a sound byte person. But she used her words well!
I’m very glad I met her and her husband. He was very intense…and focused. I’m not sure he would have been able to have a light conversation…certainly not with a stranger. She was a delightful, warm and friendly balance to him.
A couple of years later, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and moved to Rochester, MN where he lived most of the last 5 years of his life. They ministered to many from their home there and he had the opportunity to speak to large groups as well.
During our visit, he was recovering from an intense time with Dr. Koop where they had been having their video series on the book How Should We Then Live? taped. He was incredibly tired.
We weren’t surprised to learn in 1978 that he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He returned to the U.S. in Rochester, MN where he lived for the last few years of his life and was treated there intermittently. He lived until 1984 when he went on to be with the Lord.
He described the last 5 years of his life as the best years of his ministry!
Challenge: How are you using the gift of hospitality? Do you tend to feel you must entertain to do it well? You don’t. I wish you could have seen how simply Edith’s food were.
Yes, she had a tablecloth and had fresh flowers from her garden on the table. That happened to be her style. Yours might be different. Maybe you are a paper plate, bare table person. Then go for it! The important thing is to serve the people you have and care for them. The food is a by product.