“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves . . .”
I stepped off of the plane with a stomach full of butterflies. There was excitement mixed with fear. I’d just landed in Newfoundland for my first ministry teaching job. I knew no one. I was surrounded by rock and water, miles away from family.
It was such a huge change for me. I kept busy teaching, ministering in the church and settling into my apartment. I loved this new life, but I definitely missed my family. There’s something special about family. I kept busy with my responsibilities, but began to pray for “family” in Newfoundland.
God answered my prayers in an abundant way. He blessed me with a Malachi 3:10 blessing, “…if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
I met a very special family who became a blessing to me. They became my “Newfoundland” family. They invited me over for meals, reached out to me when I was sick and just generally looked out for me.
I began to spend many hours with this family. I was invited over every Sunday for “Sunday dinner.” If I was lonely, I could drop in and find someone to watch a movie with or chat with. When I had a rough day, I could always find one of them to talk to. They became a huge blessing in my life.
Not only was this family a blessing to me, their extended family became a blessing to me as well. They accepted me as part of their family and invited me to all family functions. The extended family got together every holiday and had a huge meal. I always knew that I was welcome and I began to spend holidays with this family when I was away from home.
Their family functions were wonderful to attend. They loved each other and had so much fun together. There were no harsh words or family drama. Every one cared about each other.
I learned so much from them and such things that I have carried with me as I started my own home. Some I’ve not been able to put into practice yet, since I live in a small mini home. I also need to work on more of them!
· People, not the meal are important.
I often fall into the trap of worrying about how good my meal will be, but really this is secondary to reaching out to people. People may not remember the meal, but they’ll remember the kindness you showed to them.
· You entertain to bless, not impress.
Another lady who I met in Newfoundland taught me this important lesson. She was so good at inviting visitors at church over for lunch immediately following the service. She didn’t have anything “special” planned, but she shared what she had. Her house may not have been just “spring-cleaned”, but no one noticed. People appreciated her friendly, down-to-earth style.
· Space isn’t that important.
I sometimes use the excuse that I don’t have enough space. Often when I was with my “Newfoundland” family, it was crowded and we didn’t have as much space as we could have used (there could be 20+ people there), but it didn’t matter. Everyone was happy to be together and made the best of the situation!
· More than one dessert takes everything to a new level.
Ok. So this one is a bit funny, but it’s so true! There’s nothing like a few good Newfoundland desserts! Google them – you won’t be disappointed!
· It doesn’t have to be fancy.
Everyone has their niche. Some people have the “touch.” Everything matches perfectly. Decorations are beautiful and you feel as if you’ve stepped into magazine pages. Others have a simpler house with more traditional decor. Regardless of how a house is decorated or a meal is presented, it’s not about the decorations or presentation! It’s about showing others that you care about them.
· Some of the best memories will be made.
As I look back to my seven years spent in Newfoundland, some of my most special memories were made with my extended “Newfoundland” family. They took me in and blessed me in a very special way.
I’ve been in Nova Scotia for the last four years, and I’ve been able to spend Christmas with my family and my husband’s family. I’m thankful to be close to family again, but every Christmas I dream of being able to go back to Newfoundland for one more Newfie Christmas.
Jessica Hiltz is an elementary and music teacher living with husband Jonathan in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. As a freelance author, she enjoys writing on a topic that has affected her life as a Christian woman and that has brought her closer to other women concerned with the same area: infertility. Having found that life is fulfilling in full-time Christian service, Jessica can most often be found enjoying the company of children, whether it be in the classroom, at the piano, or in children’s church.