This is the first week of our inviting posture, so one of the things we've been talking about is inviting as a way of moving deeper in relationships here. We're planning an event we're calling a "Global Awareness Experience"--it's designed to help those who attend gain a better awareness of different levels of poverty in the world. We were challenged on Tuesday morning to start inviting people to this event--people already connected with our NC community, people we work with in ministry, and others we've met in the area. I'd decided to invite some of the women from Granny's family, and was hoping to talk with them in person on Wednesday. But instead, we were challenged to do the inviting on Tuesday afternoon, mostly so we could talk about the process in our conversation on Wednesday morning. This meant I needed to do my inviting over the phone.
1. I really don't like talking on the phone, unless it's someone I know really well.
2. Making a phone call myself is even higher on the list of things I don't like to do.
3. Communicating over the phone is even harder when there's a language/accent barrier.
4. There are some aspects of this dinner/event that are better experienced than explained beforehand, so giving details was going to be complicated already.
It was late afternoon on Tuesday before I talked myself into picking up the phone and making some calls. I called Emily's cell phone, and invited her and her husband Solomon to come to the event, trying to explain what we would be doing without explaining too much. When I asked if she thought they'd be able to come, she said "I will try my best!" I asked her to talk about it with Solomon and let me know on Wednesday what they thought about coming, and she said, "I have no problems!" =)
The next afternoon, I was out at Granny's as usual, and when Emily had to leave a little early, she asked me to walk with her to the corner. She asked about the event, saying she couldn't understand me very well on the phone the day before. I explained things a little more, and she said she would like to come. On the walk back to Granny's, I invited Anna (who I'd tried to get hold of on the phone the day before, with no success). She also said she'd like to come, and we decided that she'd maybe bring her sister Christinah as well, come by taxi, and that I'd drive them home afterwards.
We ended up not doing the usual Bible study on Wednesday, since we'd gotten there later than normal. Since we were just hanging out, I had more time to talk one-on-one with several of the women that I've been getting to know. Sarah and I were talking with Sophia, one of Anna's daughters, when Sophia said to me, "I heard that you are looking for women to study the Bible with." Doug usually meets with several of the guys on Fridays to read the Bible together, and I've been talking with him about doing a Bible study or just meeting with the women in the family at the same time on Fridays. I'd also mentioned something to Emily and Anna about this earlier in the evening, saying we'd have to talk about what we could do together while Doug was off with the guys. I guess word travels fast. =) Sophia pointed to herself and said, "Me and Champagne. We want to read the Bible with you." (Champagne is another of Granny's older granddaughters.) Then a little later, Anna called me aside and said that Sophia and Champagne wanted to come to the Global Awareness event as well--would it be ok if they came, too? I told her of course!
As I left Granny's that evening, I realized that in this first week focused on inviting, I ended up being the recipient of invitations, far more than being the one doing the inviting. I'm often reticent in extending invitations, wondering whether my invitation is wanted or welcomed. I've started to see the other side of it--I know how welcomed it makes me feel when others invite me into their lives, and I want to make others feel welcomed in this way, too. God's been teaching me this in many ways, but this week especially I've seen these tentative invitations of mine be warmly accepted by Granny's family as they embrace me and invite me into their lives as well.