I hesitate to put any of my poems out here on the internet, because I am not a poet by any means. However, sometimes my emotions just come out best in poetry form and I like to write poems for family and friends. Being raised on the mission field in Sanyati, Zimbabwe shaped who I am today in so many ways. One way was getting to see the love shown by the missionary "uncles" and "aunts" we were raised with. I wrote this poem a couple of years ago for Aunt Gayla Corley's birthday. I share it today because Aunt Gayla and her husband, Uncle Charles, are going through hard things right now and they are on my heart. Many years ago, they lost their only son, Chip. Their choice to keep living in Zimbabwe and serving the Lord and loving others had a huge impact on me.
As I pray for them today, I would like to share this little poem that describes how my Mom and Aunt Gayla loved and served and fed so many people over the years.
A hostess with the most-est, you ask?
Actually, there were two who were up to the task.
For in Sanyati, when it came to party-time,
It was always, “So, Gayla, your place or mine?”
“Shirley, you do the anniversary with whistle and bells,
And, I’ll do the birthday party and the farewells,”
Celebrations galore and always people to feed—
How did they do it, you wonder? Good question, indeed!
The nearest groceries in Kadoma, over an hour away,
No take-out or deliveries or pizza guys to pay.
No frozen lasagnas or cinnamon rolls to thaw,
No restaurants down the street. Aren’t you in awe?
What, no syrup? No mayo? No hamburger buns?
That might have stopped some, but not these fearless ones!
Always making things from scratch and working their plan-
Adapting recipes and ingredients was the lay of the land.
If it was pizzas you wanted, it was pizzas you got.
What if it was a taco salad basket you sought?
Sherbet ice-cream? Chocolate cake? Steaks on the grill?
Shirley and Gayla could make it happen, whatever you willed.
With their laughter and their smiles, you would never know,
That in one day they had gone from Plan A to Plan O,
Electricity off? The water has stopped? The lorry is late?
Even if the group grew from thirty to forty, you would still have a plate.
Whether it was a lace tablecloth with candle-light,
Or grilling on the anthill, with the moonlight bright.
The hungry were fed, and starved souls found respite,
As Shirley and Gayla worked their magic, night after night.
Around their tables I sat, time after time,
Daily watching their lives—the rhythm and rhyme
Of obstacles and heartaches, yet they found mercy and grace
To keep loving others, to keep running the race.
Their smiles were genuine, their love was sincere,
They chose hospitality and reaching out, rather than fear.
As a child and a teen, I watched these hostesses most kind,
And I was fed much more than the food on which we dined.