Monday, March 28, 2011

Helping Military Families as They Move into Your Neighborhood :: A Guest Post

Guest post from Alicia at Experiencing Each Moment.
I have been a Navy wife for 10 years, and in that time have moved out of state 6 times.  As military moving to cities with no family, and usually no friends, we truly depend on those who show hospitality.  
I love that Webster's defines hospitality:
1.  the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2.  the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
And better yet is the Biblical parallel for each:
1.  Hebrews 13:2  "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."
2.  1 Peter 4:9  "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."
We recently transferred from San Diego to Great Lakes, IL (Chicagoland), so I have a fresh take on what being the "new kid on the block" is like.  We experienced many examples of hospitality:
  • We had friends here who went out of their way to take pictures of our two potential homes and email them to us since we had no other way to know what they looked like before we had to decide on one! 
  • These same friends left a note on our front door when we moved in "welcoming" us!
  • Our neighborhood was having a block party and even though we hadn't received keys to our home (and were still living in a local hotel) our neighbors invited us to this festive bonfire. 
  • These same neighbors chatted casually with me about which doctors I should pick AND which to avoid!  Very critical!
  • Some Campus Crusade missionaries brought bottled water and sodas to our house for us and our moving crew on a very hot day. 
  • They also made food for us that night since we hadn't unpacked our kitchen items! 
  • Friends and acquaintances along the way have donated winter items to us since they know our San Diego wardrobe lacks them and also told us about places to get great deals. 
As I look back over that list, several things stand out:
  • Some aspects of hospitality were planned (cooking a meal in advance) and some were impromtu (doctor suggestions)
  • Most were done to us as total strangers
  • Many of these people did more than one thing
  • We feel gratitude to this day for each one of these acts, even though they are all so different
A final observation is that HOSPITALITY BEGETS HOSPITALITY:

  • I can't wait for the day that some military friend calls me and says, "Alicia, we're moving to Great Lakes, and I have no idea what the housing looks like.  Can you take a picture for me?"  Yes, I can!!!  I was given a selfless example by friends who went out of their way for me, and I will happily pay it forward!
  • All the tips that my neighbors have given me on cheap(er) items and doctors, I've been able to pass along to neighbors "newer" than I am. 
  • When the missionaries offered to bring us food, it gave me a chance to invite them to dinner (without having to cook!)  They accepted that invitation, and we had the privilege of learning how God led them into the ministry and what God was currently doing in the ministry!  They host about 50 single sailors every other weekend (talk about hospitality), and after they so kindly gave to us, we have now had the opportunity to give back to them!
Because we are part of the Body of Christ, when we demonstrate hospitality (to military and non-military) 3 John 1:5-8 says the following result happens:

"Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you.  They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.  It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans.  We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth."

What ways do you exercise hospitality to military families or the "new kids on the block?"


  1. In the past I have tried to welcome new neighborhood with a sweet treat. I always include a note with our names and phone number letting them know they are welcome to call with questions of any sort.

    Isn't it amazing what another person's hospitality can teach us? It also reminds us to pass on God's love to others!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing these examples of hospitality, Alicia!

    I second what Annette said--I like to bring a plate of cookies or loaf of bread to new neighbors. It is so valuable to have helpful neighbors. We help each other care for pets when we're away, and assist with snow removal, etc.

    When we moved in to our house 3 years ago, we started an ice cream block party that has become an annual tradition! Here's a link to the first one:

  3. I love how you point out that hospitality begets hospitality! That is so true! We learn by example and it's all the easier for us to see and understand how blessed it is to RECEIVE - and so we are therefore eager to GIVE. I've learned a lot about hospitality by what my family has received from others. I make mental notes about what works and what doesn't, what's fun and what isn't, etc., etc.

    Great list of suggestions for welcoming new neighbors in to the area. Thank you for sharing with us today!

  4. Thanks, Alicia! Having moved somewhat recently, much of what you shared I could relate with personally! I, too, made notes on what was helpful so that I could pass it on when I have the opportunity.

    One thing I learned was to always make room for new friends. When we moved I quickly realized that many were willing to make a new acquaintance and demonstrated hospitality to our family--and I am very thankful! The problem? They already had a "full plate of friends" and weren't so much looking for someone new to really get to know. I am thankful for those that took the extra step and were willing to take the time to invest in a true friendship. A good lesson for me! Never get too comfortable, and take the time to invest in a new friend!

    Thanks again for sharing! You certainly have the experience--and we are thankful for you and your family serving us as you do!

  5. We're in military housing too. I always stop by when we get new neighbors with a plate of homemade cookies, and introduce ourselves. I include a homemade card with a "cheat sheet" ( our names, husbands's command, names and ages of our children because I know as soon as I get back home I'll have forgotten all their names already!), as well as our phone number and email address, and an offer to be available for ANY help they may need!

  6. What great thoughts, everyone! Amy, I want to say that I can truly identify with the "full plate of friends" feeling. No matter how nice many people can be, they usually have already taken the energy and time to develop those friendships and sometimes aren't looking for more. It can be painful at times. The last time I was the one who had always been around was in youth group at my church! Looking back, I sure hope that I made visitors feel not only welcomed, but included. And it's a fresh reminder to be on the look out for those around me who need connection just as much as I do!

  7. Alicia, I'm at Great Lakes now. I'm in the middle of planning a Hospitality Night at Immanuel Church in Gurnee for our MOPS Group. I may like to pick your brain! :-)