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Cynthia:

Hospitality can have an incredible impact on people. You can bond with people, create intense friends, and sharpen your relationship with the Lord as you spend time with other godly people.

The Story of Katrina von Bora:

A good example of this is Katrina van Bora. She was, of course, Katie Luther.

She married Martin Luther in 1525. The duke gave them the Black Cloister, the monastery where the monks used to live. And because they had no income, she started a boarding house. Students at Wittenberg University needed a place to stay.

 

Cynthia:

They all wanted to talk to Luther. After dinner, they would sit around and ask him questions. , He would answer at length, and the kids wrote it down. That became table talk. That’s where it came from.

He had an incredible impact on these students because provided a home.

Dr. Mel Tavares:

 

Can you tell me some things that you have done with hospitality?

Dr. Mel Tavares:

Sure. Thank you for that back information, the backstory on Martin Luther, and Table Talk. That is central to everything I do hospitality-wise. The table is ever so important.  Everybody gathers at the table.

Now, I have it in the dining room, but we are always around the table. And so that is pretty important.

Three Categories of Visitors

There are three categories of hospitality: friends and family, the neighbors, and the ones that drop in.

The second group is the ones who I would say primarily are from a church. They come because of I host a meeting of some kin

The third one is a special occasion: baby shower, bridal shower,  or graduation. It could be in my family or a friend.

It is always around coffee or tea, dessert or meals. When we have a meal, there’s lots of storytelling and laughter.

Dr. Mel Tavares:

Of course, a Bible study gets a lot more in-depth. In all those cases, though, we’re connecting. And I just love that. Years and years, decades later, some of those friendships have still been forged. They haven’t dissipated. Even though I’ve moved 300 miles away, I’m still friends with these people. So it’s pretty amazing.

Cynthia:

Yeah. There is something about being around a table with people as you share a meal or something to drink that you bond like you don’t any other time. We need that despite social media Can you tell me how you can get people away from their phones these days?

Technology Interruptions

Dr. Mel Tavares:

Lead by example, so we don’t bring our phones to the table. Now, even in a world of younger generations, everything is about their phone. So my children’s generation, the millennials, that’s been a part of their very fiber.

If the conversation is engaging enough, then I don’t feel they will spend the time on the phone unless we’re recording each other, taking pictures, doing snap filters, whatever. But if conversation is real, and I will say heartfelt.

Heart to Heart Conversations

People need that so desperately. You can’t get that from the phone. When that heart-to-heart is taking place over a cup of coffee or tea or a meal, people leave their phones alone. Engage them on a heart level, the phone takes second place.

Cynthia:

How do you get them to really unburden themselves?

Dr. Mel Tavares:

We make them feel very welcome. Make a point of going out to the door, welcoming the person, calling them by name, hugging them if they’re a hugger, and immediately asking something about their lives.

Don’t discuss the weather. Ask about deeper issues. You know, how’s your husband recovering? I’m so sorry to hear about your mom and whatever it is and to be able to connect immediately. If they’re coming to our home, we should know something about them that will allow us to connect on a heart level.

“I’m going to fix your coffee, keep talking. I want to hear how things are going.” That will open them up.

Cynthia:

So you’re simply saying that you provide a listening ear and you show true interest and they open up.

Dr. Mel Tavares:

True. That is exactly how I do it. Yep.

Cynthia:

It sounds like people are hungry for that.

Our Lonely and Transient World:

Dr. Mel Tavares:

People are hungry. This is a lonely world. You alluded to that a minute ago, talking about, you know, social media, but it’s so obvious that we are more disconnected than ever.

We can live in a neighborhood with people now and not even know their names. That is not the way it used to be. We always had neighbors in and out of the house. It’s a very transient world.

So even if we stay put, neighbors move and the house is sold and somebody else is in, and we have to be very intentional to connect with people because they are seeking a connection with someone.

Cynthia:

Are you saying that you’re intentional then when a new neighbor moves in that you take them something?

Dr. Mel Tavares:

My current neighborhood is a little more challenging because we live in an urban area with many apartment buildings around us.

The houses on my immediate left or right, I can take them something. I’ll send a text to them. I try to get their phone numbers immediately and say, hey, I want you to know I’m here.

If you ever have an emergency, whether it’s, you know, you’ve got a run, something’s happened, and you need to have your kid watched or you need, you know, your dog or whatever it is going on, please know I’m here. We’re here.

Dr. Mel Tavares:

We’re neighbors. We’re here to help each other. And that is also something they don’t hear very often anymore.

Dr. Mel Tavares:

So by doing that and saying, here’s my phone number, would you mind giving me yours? It immediately bonds us. And then I make a point. If I see them outside, I make sure I step out and I talk to them, that sort of thing.

Reactions to Our Faith:

Cynthia:

Do you find people at all intimidated by your faith?

Dr. Mel Tavares:

I don’t think they’re intimidated. Not everyone’s going to embrace that for themselves. There’s some sense of stability when they talk to me. They know I am who I am, and it is my faith that holds me solid.

I think inviting someone to our home and allows them to feel the peace. God is here, he’s present. It’s a home where his spirit resides. And so they step into the house, they feel something different immediately.

Dr. Mel Tavares:

For new believers, we have the opportunity again. They don’t necessarily have that calm peace, the abiding that we experience. Bringing them to our home allows us to role model that for them.

Finding Peace

Cynthia:

Are you finding that even believers then have their unsure themselves, perhaps fearful, uneasy, even though they’re believers?

Dr. Mel Tavares:

Absolutely. We are in a post pandemic world. People expected I expected that at some point we would return to normal, but rather than return to normal, everything has compounded and gotten worse.

Believers who are not as well connected to the Lord on a daily basis, may not have that peace

Dr. Mel Tavares:

It’s an opportunity for us to pull in moms, especially moms with children that are struggling and juggling everything. They still have some fears and some concerns, what’s going to happen?

We have the opportunity to pour into believers and to give them hope. Our homes give a perfect setting to be able to say,  “It might be a little bit crazy out there. But here it’s calm, it’s peaceful, it’s joyful. It’s a safe place. It’s a place where we laugh and we share and we have memories and we connect.”

Dr. Mel Tavares:

And even if they have to go back to a chaotic life for that little bit of time, they’re home safe with us, and it’s a good thing.

I would say that, you know, it just came to my mind. I minister to many women who are in domestic situations or difficult marriages, things that make their home life very difficult.

Maybe their job is also difficult. And they’ve got a lot on their shoulders. And so particularly when they come in and they can just have, even if it’s just an hour and a cup of coffee, just to breathe.

Hospitality Tips:

Cynthia:

What kind of tips would you give to someone who is just beginning who would like to sort of be hospitable in the future?

Dr. Mel Tavares:

There are some very practical things that I’ve done.

One, I have a cabinet that, a dish cabinet that I put some certain things in: serving trays, dessert plates, coffee cups, the spoons and forks. I like to have a stack of those that kind of go with the season.

Right now it’s all floral kinds of stuff. And just have the cabinet stocked.  I have a few things in my pantry that are ready to go: a variety of teas, a variety of coffees, creamers, crackers or some packaged cookies.

Dr. Mel Tavares:

I have a bin in my pantry that is for snacks and drinks for children, because if they bring along kids, there’s just certain things like almost every kid will eat goldfish. For example, the goldfish crackers. So having the crackers, having some capri suns or something.

And I like to either have cookies in the freezer or home baked. I like to bake them ahead and have them ready.

Dr. Mel Tavares:

They thaw very, very quickly. You can pop them in the microwave and defrost them. If you were to come to my house, I can immediately be thinking and going to the freezer, grab the stuff, put it in the microwave, get it thawed out while I’m getting the coffee or tea or whatever’s happening.

Then keep on hand a few drinks that can be iced, whether that’s tea or soda pop or seltzer water or regular water.

Your Housekeeping:

Dr. Mel Tavares:

People don’t worry about your house. When I get up in the morning, I make sure everything is decluttered, then I wipe down the bathroom.

 

Dr. Mel Tavares:

And then don’t worry about it. I’m there to have a heart to heart. I want to connect. So nine times out of ten, people hang out around the table. I want the rest of it kind of to stay in a decluttered mode so that if somebody is coming over, it’s not as stressful to me.

I’m much more likely if somebody calls and they’re having a hard day to say, “You know, the house is empty right now. Come on over, let’s have a cup of tea and talk.”

Cynthia:

I love that.

Dr. Mel Tavares:

Yeah.

Cynthia:

I need to work on the declutter thing because I start little projects and I leave the little projects and piles here and piles there.

You have got some great suggestions in terms of keeping stuff on hand to pop them right out. Can you give me just a little summary of anything else you think you might want to say to someone who is thinking about hospitality?

Dr. Mel Tavares:

I would say that some people have a gift of hospitality, an actual gift. I know a person who’s very gifted. It just comes easy. I’m not that person. It doesn’t come easy. But we are all called by the Lord to be hospitable and to encourage one another.

Cynthia:

And that is wonderful. Thank you for your time.

 

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