I spent last week with my Aunt Gisela in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is one of my favorite aunts. She has the gift of hospitality. Staying at Gisela's house is like being on a retreat, and it’s very easy to be spoiled by Gisela. She serves you tea in the morning and takes lunch orders at 9 a.m. She makes everything from scratch. She serves you by not only opening her home and making things for you, but also by giving you the gift of her time, which is a lost trait in many homes.
She sits down and asks questions and is honestly interested in you as a person. I believe that good hosting includes an ingredient of personal involvement. I have become aware again of how often I overlooked this aspect as Julie and I hosted people in our home over the years. I think that the gift of personal time exceeds all possessions and services.
I asked Gisela about her years of caring for my grandmother, Emily. Emily lived with Gisela from age 84 to 101. We agreed that my grandma's great health and positive outlook had a lot to do with Gisela's incredible acts of love and service.
In a nutshell, this is what Gisela said was their daily routine: Tea time (yerba mate tea) in the morning and scripture reading together. After breakfast, Grandma Emily would do her own dishes and plan lunch with Gisela. Then she would walk in the backyard, do laundry, or do some cleaning. At noon, they had lunch, and then Grandma took a long nap. In the afternoon, Emily would care for her garden, write some notes, or help Gisela with chores. At about 4:30 p.m. it was time for coffeecake, often homemade bread with homemade jam, cheese, and cream.
I remember during one of my visits in the past, the evening routine was sacred. At 7 p.m. sharp, Emily would sit by her shortwave radio and listen to one hour of German programming from HCJB radio. Interestingly, my grandmother never learned Spanish even though she lived 80 years in Argentina. Gisela would then give Emily a hug and pray with her before she went off to bed.
This was Gisela and Emily's daily routine for Emily during the last 15 years of my grandma's life. On a side note, Emily was never admitted to a hospital for more than a few hours to get a general checkup. Only in her last two weeks of life was she taken to the hospital to die in peace.
Gisela raised five children. They are all grown and are taking off in life. Gisela poured her life into her family and has the same love for God as Grandma Emily had. I thank God for godly grandparents and relatives who have lived wonderful lives, and who have become beacons and references for living out my faith today.