Seth surprised me with a new table for Valentine’s Day! We’ve needed one for a while. We were still using the old bachelor table that Seth bought in 2004 when he first came here before he married me. It seats four, but we were squeezing a family of five around it, and in less than a year, Carson will graduate from his highchair. As it was, I couldn’t always put the meal’s fare on the table along with our settings; and when we had a guest (often), it was tight.
But getting a new table wasn’t as easy as just going to the store to pick one out. We wanted the kind that had additional panels to add or remove based on how many were eating; and we’ve never seen those sold here. We have seen a couple in Afrikaner friends’ homes, but they are old, unbreakable tables passed down from a few generations ago. So Seth began researching a couple of months ago, asking at different industrial shops (that’s where he got my free wooden blocks for the phonics game!)
No one made them; no stores sold them. One man gave him a quote for what he could try to engineer in his spare time. We have learned in Africa to keep asking around, and you’ll eventually find someone/something you thought didn’t exist. After discussing a friend’s table and taking pictures of its workings and getting contact information for a carpenter they knew, we found a man who made our table!
It’s not perfect, but almost—sturdy, and beautifully stained, and American-size BIG! (You don’t realize how big everything is in America until you live somewhere else!) With the extensions in, it’s double the size of our “bachelor table.” (We’ll order chairs later. We’ve got furlough plane tickets to buy!)
I gave a little cheer and said something about, “Good-BYE old table!” And then Seth reminded me of how central that little table has been to our lives.
Aw. That little table that Seth bought at a pine store in Johannesburg, transported up here to our rural province all by his lonesome, stained himself with care and precision (to save money)…I used to hate the orange color of it. He picked a stain color that was supposed to be more like a rich cherry wood, but on pine, it came out orange. The end chairs couldn’t fit between the legs. But oh my, how many conversations and memories we have had around that table!
The first meal I cooked as a newlywed in Africa. Multitudinous numbers of guests through the years. Just about every church member and friend we’ve ever known here has sat at that table. White guests as well—Americans and South Africans. Sitting with our new teammates and teaching them Tsonga. Team dinners. And every couple of years, a new baby face popping up, sitting in the homemade booster seat at the end. My first efforts at homeschooling were all at that table—another huge clue that we were outgrowing it! Holiday and birthday meals. Ohhhhhhh. Goodbye, old table. (sniff)