What do you do when you want to get to know someone better? Where do you meet? Where do you tend to gather? I would dare to say that most people, in almost all if not all cultures the answer to these questions would have something to do with food. When you want to know someone better you share a meal with them. You invite them to your home, you cook for them, you open up your heart, your home, and you family life. To share in deepening a relationship with someone. Often you may cook something special for those people too, you cook a meal that you love, or that represents something about who you are and who your family is. Turns out this was true in the US, and is true here too. :)
A few years ago Chris and I committed to continually inviting people into our home to intentionally develop relationships with people in our lives. We have hosted small groups, we have invited individual families over and we have offered ourselves and our home to whomever will come in our door. It is so fun and wonderful! We love having our home full of people enjoying each other, and having fun together.
I would say here in Cambodia there is a whole new element that is so much fun! It is the element of new foods. New foods for our family, and new foods for our friends here in Cambodia. It is so fun when we invite someone over and they cook something to bring that is special to their family, or we go to their home and get to try something they love to cook and often cook for their family. It is so fun to bond with friends while cooking together, whether it is them teaching me to cook Cambodian food, or me showing them how to make some American food.
Food is a connecting point. Here we seem to have many meals where people are teaching us not only what a new food is, but how to eat it. Or we are doing the same for them. Even when I am cooking just for my family and someone is here we discuss what it is, if there is something they make that is similar and what we like about it. When I shop in the market here my conversations with the sellers is often about how to cook with a certain vegetable, or what is normally made with that vegetable, or how to eat a certain new fruit.
It is so fun to share our home culture with friends here in Cambodia through food, as well as learn more about this new culture we live in through food. I often feel like just like learning to speak Khmer helps us understand and connect with our friends here, so does sharing food, and trying all the yummy things that they love to eat. (there are things we don't like that we have tried but overall it's usually pretty yummy.)
It is also such a comfort to us! We have friends here who cook amazing Mexican food and when we met them it was so fun have something that tasted like home. It also connected us with these amazing friends that we love so dearly now!
I love how God has woven this connectedness through out cultures, how He created food not just to nourish our bodies but to nourish our hearts, our souls, and do the same for others. I love that God made us to gather around the table/floor and speak about the things He is doing in our hearts, to gather around food and open up to others. I love how food can make someone else's home feel more like home, because you brought something to the table too. One of my favorite things is when people bring food to our home to share and they instantly have to make themselves at home to prepare the food they brought to share. It is so beautiful, and fun!
Get out there, invited people into your home, go to their home when you are invited, share food, and open up your hearts to each other! You need each other! If you have small children, invite families with small children over and let the sound so playing fill your home as you, talk more loudly to enjoy adult conversations. Share your heart. Share who you are.