Sunday afternoon the Carmichael family and Alessandra received an invitation to dine at the home of one of the church members. Alessandra was worried about not liking the food and learned that the family was divided on its opinion of Congolese cuisine. Rob and the kids enjoyed it. Cathy, not so much. They simply advised their guest to fill up on the appetizers of peanuts and pineapple and do the best she could.
It was decided that the walk to the other neighborhood would include a quick stop at the Hotel de Palme. Rob explained, “It was built in the early 1900’s for King Leopold. He used to be the owner of the whole country. He was supposed to come from Belgium to visit the Congo, but I don’t think he ever did.”
The family started off around 4:30 to be able to spend time at the hotel before dinner.
“Wow, it is beautiful!” Alessandra commented as the family walked up the unkempt path to the wide veranda. “Who lives here now? Is it still used as a hotel?”
“If someone can afford the price,” Rob said. “But some of the rooms are being used like apartments by those who maintain it.”
Alessandra was speechless for a minute as she took in the beauty of the grand hall and staircase. The aged dark woodwork of the steps and walls proclaimed their stately elegance just as they had for nearly a century. “It’s so gorgeous, it almost makes me want to cry. There’s not much beauty here in Congo. It’s almost like a trip home.”
Cathy and Rob agreed and said that they walk to the hotel on occasion just to get a mental break from the dirt and ugliness. The group stopped their tour and continued to the home for dinner.
Beauty offers a rest all its own. For Alessandra and the Carmichaels, stopping by the Hotel de Palm was almost as good as a vacation. The grandeur refreshed their need to take in organization and structure. And yet, cannot this be found in the Creator? Psalm 90:17a offers, “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us…” God Himself is beautiful, and the strength of His loveliness is reflected in His creation. In seasons of hardship and places of ugliness, may we find rest in the symmetry of God’s perfected creation, drinking in His beauty and offering Him honor.