To concerned cries of "Careful, Mom!" and "Sweets, what are you doing?!" I carefully climbed a chair in the corner to capture this shot of my sweet family. It was Sunday afternoon, and we were in letdown mode after the frenzy of sweeping, setting up and serving our church plant by opening our home for the second week in a row. A lovely side benefit of having church in our home is a clean downstairs in which to relax or hosts guest afterwards! On this particular occasion, it was just the eight of us. For reasons unknown, our children were surprisingly delighted with the simple meal of chili awaiting in the crockpot and that certainly helped to set a pleasant mood.
As I looked around the table, it warmed my heart to see every chair filled. I thought back to a dozen years ago when the table was purchased. It is a precious memory in and of itself, a time when God provided in a marvelous way as we were striking out on our family's missionary journey. Driving down a winding Michigan lane, we passed a roadside tent with furniture for sale and decided to take a minute and stop. It turned out the owner would purchase the final model of different store pieces to re-sell, so there was an assortment of just about anything and everything. As we talked, he asked questions and learned of our need to purchase affordable household items to ship to Chile. At the time we had only three small children ages five and under and had gone from living for a year in a furnished missionary home to a small rental with just bare necessities. We needed to be free to travel to language school in southern Texas when our final support came in and God said "Go!" Any furniture we purchased would be directly stored and then shipped to Chile at the completion of our training.
With this in mind, the owner walked us through the tent and several other storage rooms, taking note of what might work for our family's needs. We tried thinking ahead to the less-spacious housing in Chile where traditional American-style furniture would be far too large. Reaching the rustic wooden table seating eight in a square when fully opened, it seemed a perfect fit. At this point, however, I thought we were mostly dreaming because I could not imagine a new dining room set and four bedroom sets within our budget! The children's twin beds and dressers were simple yet when it came to our bedroom, he asked us to choose between several beautiful pieces. Finally done, he carefully added up the cost of our choices on paper. He then presented the total to us with the question, "Do you think this will work for you?"
To be honest, we had no idea because we'd never made a purchase of this magnitude all at once. We asked for twenty-four hours to talk and pray, seeking advice from missionary colleagues already on the field to compare with the cost of items available in Chile. Quickly we realize that the owner had offered us an amazingly generous price. This man we had never met before was also a believer and simply said it was a way he could support God's work. To top it all off, he added one more item to our list: a lovely glider rocker made of solid wood. Through three children this had been a dream item as a young mother. I asked the price and his answer was, "This one is free."
Years later, perched in a corner and looking around our dining room table, I remember his generosity although I do not remember his name. We first unpacked our table in a cute little home in Santiago (emphasis on little!) Five of us sat around the table then. Next the table took its place in Iquique. The store owner's generosity has touched more lives than he will ever know, as for nearly ten years this table has hosted dozens if not hundreds of breakfasts, almuerzos and onces for people we love in this city. Eventually, seven of us sat around the table regularly as a family. And now every single seat is filled as we eight Garcias surround the table and call it home. Because God provided far more than a table. In this month to celebrate adoption, I celebrate that He also provided: a family.