The Visitors

  I have decided that this past week should be officially designated as “Visitors’ Week”. From last Sunday to this Sunday there has been a steady stream of Visitors both expected and “un”. I just counted and 19 different people have passed through the house, some invited by yours truly, some coming for meetings, some invited by my Boarder(Maria) and some who invited themselves!

     When my Dad died, three years ago, I was faced with some huge decisions and adjustments. I was left with our family home, but little in the way of financial resources with which to keep it. I consulted with friends, advisers and mentors, I prayed, agonised and prayed some more. Before all this happened I really was not the sort of Christian who could boldly ask the Lord to send me “signs”; boy! how I’ve changed!
   The Lord has sent neighbours to rent my driveway and garage(and to help shovel!) and to encourage me by admiring my gardens . He has sent strangers from every continent on Earth, to Board here, and, for a moment in time, to become “family”. He has sent generous friends who have eased my financial struggles with timely gifts.
   After all of the above, I truly feel that God is calling me to stay here, despite all the obvious reasons not to. 
  So I have embarked on the journey of living alone ( Ha Ha).
Small “Furry”
Large “Furry”
First of all I knew that, in order to make ends meet ( or almost meet!) I would need to take in Boarders. As an only child ,and after many years of caring for my parents I think that, given my own choices, I could most happily live alone, with my furries for company but I also truly believe that Christians are called to live in community and that it would be monumentally selfish to live in this big old house all by myself, so “Life with Boarders” began.
The CTM Office
  Then, with the closure of St. Matthew’s last Easter, it became evident that God was also calling me to offer Office Space here for CTM.
The Office, with Furry


Over the past 28 summers my family has billeted close to 300 Day Camp Team Members, so I’m not exactly inexperienced in living with “Open House” but I am still in awe of the way God continues to stretch and change me as the as the constant stream of “visitors” tramps through my front door.
    There are Team members (current and former) who stop by unexpectedly for lunch or tea. Some of them are seeking advice, or a reference, some want to “talk shop” about Day Camps or to bounce ideas about their academic lives or their relationships.
  There  are Clergy, or Clergy spouses who come for coffee and stay to chat about day to day issues, with the assurance that anything talked about in my kitchen will go no further.
   I guess it really struck me this week that a new pattern is emerging whereby God is using this place in such a profound way and I sort of sit back in wonder watching the parade ( and making tea!)
I have known for a very long time, that directing Day Camps is not a conventional 9-5 “job” but the Lord is showing me that I need to be more open ,more ready to have my space invaded and most of all that this Ministry is all about “People over Program”- a concept long espoused by the creator of Day Camps,the Rev. Brett Cane, a mentor to hundreds , myself included. 

I am passionate about the Program and spent a goodly portion of the week sending messages to Churches, encouraging them to sign up, but surely this week “People” are at the core of what I should be doing.
    I am so thankful for this space to offer to God. For this time in which He has called me to be more open, more willing to listen. 
      I  constantly ask that He give me the words that He wants spoken and, just as I claim each room for Him, when I sprinkle Holy Water at “decoration changing” time, so I ask, each day, that I be open and ready for the visitors who come through my door.
Chinese New Year- “High Tea”

     A new week has now begun and I’m starting it off with a Tea Party for some neighbours. As I was about to plan my menu I discovered that today is Chinese New Year’s Eve, so I’m going to have a Chinese High Tea, which I think is quite an amusing concept. 

      There are my poor unsuspecting neighbours getting ready for crumpets and cucumber sandwiches and they are about to be met with Spring Rolls and Moon Cakes, washed down with  Lapsang Souchong Tea
( delightfully described by an acquaintance as “the tea that smells like burning tires!!!)
  So here is the recipe for Moon Cakes……it is up to you whether you want to be intrepid and try the Lapsang Souchong too!!! 

   Moon Cakes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  •  2 large eggs
  • 6 Tbsps. butter or margarine, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup plum jam
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut
 In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.In a large bowl beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture forms ribbons ( about 5mins.) Remove a small quantity of egg mixture to use later for glaze. Gradually fold in melted butter , alternating with dry ingredients. Turn dough out onto a board and knead gently. Form into a long “snake” and cut into 12 equal pieces. Combine filling ingredients, mixing well.
Take one piece of dough and form into a 3inch disk on the palm of your hand. Place a generous tsp. of filling in centre of disk and pinch dough over it ,enclosing completely. Gently roll into a smooth ball then flatten into a 2 1/2″ cake. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Cut a cross shape in the top of each cake and glaze with reserved egg mixture.
 Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for approx. mins.
Makes 12 Moon Cakes

3 thoughts on “The Visitors

  1. your home really is a place of peace and solace and boundless hospitality, valerie. i'm glad i get to be a visitor.

  2. How lovely to hear how things evolved for you. Your family was always so welcoming to me that I can’t imagine anything else but an open door at your house. I would love the moon cakes, but think that Lapsang Souchong tastes like a burnt stick!

    1. Lapsang Souchong is my favourite Asian tea! I had a pot for dinner a couple of days ago and a friend gave me a fresh jar of it as an Easter gift

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